This is Japan, where the Sakura tree is made famous for its beautiful blossom. For those of non-Japanese persuasion of culture, Sakura is Cherry Blossom. OK, enough seriousness, this is a Fawlty Towers in Japanese style. Yes, it doesn’t have John Cleese, yes, it’s not slapstick humor, yes, it’s in Japan, but heck it’s a damned good comedy and full of surprises, and it kicks you in the gullet too, and its also called Gakeppuchi Hotel! OMG
This is a new comedy and here is what it’s all about.
There is a rundown hotel in the suburbs that is managed by a luck luster manager that inherited the hotel and doesn’t manage it at all. In fact, the hotel has a massive debt of 300 million Yen, is run down and just about to fall apart. Add to this a plethora of understated bad employees, each with a mental genetic disorder, or at least that is what it seems they have, and you end up with an amazing sit-com that grabs you everywhere…yes, in the gullet again, that sounds so much better than a kick in the groin, which is so painful.
Let’s take a look at the characters in this classic to be, yes, classic to be.
Naoya Ukai (male lead)
Takanori Iwata plays “Naoya Ukai,” he is a mysterious new hotel guest. Actually, he is much more than a guest and is, in fact, a VP of a leading Paris Hotel that has come to check out the place and considers upgrading it into something grand, returning the old glory of the hotel to what It once was. He first appears as a rather unkempt individual that goes around doing whatever he likes. He eventually (in the first episode) comes out and tells the startled and confused rabble of employees that he is willing to turn the hotel around, with their help.
Sana Sakurai (female lead)
Toda Erika plays “Sana Sakurai.” She is an exceptional actress in an exceptional role, and she portrays a general manager that is at her core a hard worker and needed Ukai to push her out of her “coma” and into an active, pro-active state. It is possible that both she and Ukai knew each other in the distant past, but that remains to be seen. Toda is well known in Japan, and has played in the “Liar Game” and “Code Blue,” and she also portrayed Misa Amane in the movie “Death Note.”
Hamabe Minami plays the chef “Haru Horai,” this is an active and young chef that enjoys her work and wants her food to be appreciated. However, she is under the management of the more experienced, and yet lazy head chef Ryuji Eguchi”, played by Nakamura Tomoya. Ryuji was once a great chef with national acclaim but now prefers to spend his time watching sports rather than create amazing dishes.
Otawara Taishi portrays “Cookie,” the hotel reception attendant. This is the creepy role, every sit-com needs one, and Cookie is a ghoul like a character that is always frowning. With him at the reception is the bell-hop “Pierre Tanaka,” played by Chad Mullan. He is meant to be the English speaker but tells everyone that he cannot speak the language, and is really too lazy as well as clumsy, which obviously leads to many slapstick humor positions.
Kozue Edagawa plays the nasty bartender “Ryo,” she is more interested in drinking her concoctions than serving them and spends most of her time complaining about everything. Also, she and “Ikkei Watanabe,” the staff manager, played by Tokisada Masao are planning to swindle everyone all the time. Ikkei is actually one of those small-minded, small-time thieves that never really succeeding anything, and are just plain genetic jerks.
Obviously, there are more characters in the play, but these are the main ones, and they provide us with loads of fun and action.
I will not divulge what happened in the first episode, that’s for you to find out, let’s just say that this is an explosive start, and if the rest of the series continues in the same vein, we will have a truly winning series on our hands.