J-drama Review : Hallelujah Chance! (Proposal Daisakusen/Operation Love)
I can’t believe I’ve never written a review for this series before. It was one of the very first J-dramas I watched and probably the one that turned me into such a big Yamapi fan. It was also the first drama that I was able to get my boyfriend to watch with me after constantly telling him about how much I loved it.
Iwase Ken is a happy-go-lucky guy who never realized his feelings for his childhood friend, Yoshida Rei, until it was too late. On her wedding day, he makes a desperate wish to be given the chance to live his life again and confess to her, and hope that she accepts his feelings. Lucky for him, the fairy who lives in that church hears his plea and gives him the chance to go back to the past and make the necessary changes, with three conditions:
- He can only go back to the times that appear during the wedding slideshow photos
- He must be on the picture, and
- He must return to the present once the photo is taken.
This is one of those series that my sister made me watch with the promise that I’ll love it, and of course she was right. I enjoyed the humor and the twists in the story a lot. The series is only 11 episodes long (minus the SP) but I still cried (and of course laughed) so much while watching it. I really loved the friendship between Ken, Rei, Tsuru, Mikio and Eri. They’re such good friends who have been through so much together. This drama showed that when you have your friends with you, everything else doesn’t matter.
Another thing I loved was the soundtrack. There’s really only two songs that plays constantly throughout the entire drama, and they’re both good. “Ashita Hareru Kana” is a song about love and its uncertainty for the future (The English translation of the title is “will it be fine tomorrow”). It’s quite emotional and has a lovely melody. I love the piano version as well. Of course, after hearing it, I had to learn how to play it. My very first youtube upload was of me playing the piano version of this song.
(The video was taken back in August 2008. I made a few mistakes, but I was hoping people wouldn’t notice XD I don’t have a link to the sheets because they were emailed to me, but if you want a copy you can always leave a comment here and I’ll email them to you. I also made a tutorial for the song because a few people asked : Ashita Hareru Kana piano tutorial)
The second song “Chiisa Koi no Uta” is also about love and holding on to the person beside you. The lyrics perfectly describes the relationship between Ken and Rei. The song is simple and there’s really not much melody, but I still love it. It’s very upbeat and plays in your head repeatedly after hearing it a few times. I always imagine Yamapi running when I hear this song XD
The background music for the series is really nice too. I really like the opening theme.
(The following parts contain lots of spoilers, so stop reading now if you plan to watch the series.)
A few thoughts on the people chosen for this drama:
Yamashita Tomohisa (AKA “Yamapi”) : Iwase Ken
I absolutely loved him in this series. This one’s my favorite out of all his other works. He may not be the best actor, but I think he did really well in this series. He played the goofy yet sweet guy well and he interacted with the rest of the cast in a natural way. The only thing I didn’t like was that there were many parts where he looked like he was about to burst out laughing, and sometimes his reactions are a bit too exaggerated. But other than that, I really liked how he played his character. His “Hallelujah Chance” pose cracked me up.
It might just be due to the fact that I’m such a huge Yamapi fan, but I laughed whenever he laughed, and I cried whenever he cried. One of my favorite parts was in episode 8 when the fairy told him that the best thing to do would be to simply start forgetting about Rei in the past, so he wouldn’t be feeling so much hurt in the present. That scene where he went off to the gaming center alone and left his friends during their New Year’s tradition of watching the first sunrise together was really heartbreaking. I cried uncontrollably when he slumped to the ground and broke down because he was unable to forget about the girl he loved no matter how much he tried.
Normally, I don’t like guys who are slow and indecisive when to comes to love, but I really liked Iwase Ken. Again, this could just be my Yamapi-obsession speaking, but I think he was just a late bloomer in the romance department. When he finally realized that he couldn’t live without Rei, he did what he could to change the present. I do think that he could have done a better job at it. I mean, he kept leaving cryptic messages and giving Rei such confusing signals, hoping that she’ll realize his feelings for her – just tell her directly why don’t you! But I guess that’s what made the story interesting (and sometimes frustrating). If he was able to express her feelings for her in the first episode then we wouldn’t have anything else to look forward to in the next episodes. He’s such a coward when it comes to love, but you can’t help but feel sorry for the guy.
Nagasawa Masami : Yoshida Rei
I think Masami played Yoshida Rei pretty well. I liked how she portrayed her character – calm, responsible, cheerful and caring. The only thing I didn’t like about her was that I found her to be overly “cute” at times to the point where it seems as if she’s trying too hard.
I know many fans weren’t too happy with Masami getting the lead female role in this show (most of them are YaMaki fans) but I’m fine with it. First of all, I’m not really big on the YaMaki pairing, and secondly, I liked her in this drama. Some people say she’s not pretty enough to be the object of Yamapi’s affection (it’s a TV show people!) but I beg to differ. I think she looked gorgeous as a bride (although I hated her her hairstyle in the “past”).
Eikura Nana : Oku Eri
Don’t really have much to say about her. Her acting was okay, and I liked the character she played. She’s a bit too shallow and liberated at times, but she knows what it means to be a good friend.
Hamada Gaku : Tsurumi Hisashi
I loved this little guy. You can be sure that funny things will happen when he’s around. Plus, you gotta admire his persistence when it comes to winning over the girl he loves. In my opinion, he may be short and he may look like a child, but he’s more of a man than Ken is. He knew how to put his pride aside and follow his heart.
Hiraoka Yuuta : Enokido Mikio
I love Yuuta but I don’t really have much to say about his character in this drama. I found his relationship with his girlfriend a little weird. Wait, let me rephrase that. I found his girlfriend extremely weird is what I meant. She’s too spoiled and a bit crazy if you ask me. And the fact that he tolerates it makes him weird in my opinion too, but at least they’re happy.
Fujiki Naohito : Tada Tetsuya
Ah~ Tada-san … the “bad” guy in the series, who isn’t really “bad” at all. Its not his fault that he fell in love with Rei and had the guts to ask her to marry him. And it definitely wasn’t his fault that Ken was such a wuss that he couldn’t prevent it from happening. Of course, viewers watching the drama would naturally root for Ken and hope that he ends up together with Rei at the end, but I’m sure many of us didn’t want to see Tada-san get hurt. I mean, he never did anything wrong, he was a nice guy all throughout the series. But I guess that was the problem. If you watch enough Asian dramas you should know that the nice guy never gets the girl in the end!
Anyway, I loved Tada-san. He’s probably my favorite character next to Ken. He’s such a caring and selfless guy up to the very last episode. I also liked the fact that he knows what he wants and he’s not afraid to take action to get it. I actually wouldn’t have minded if the drama ended differently, with Ken just giving up and Rei and Tada-san living happily together. He deserves to be happy too after all. But I’m sure many viewers wouldn’t be too happy with that.
I almost forgot to write about the fairy in this review, which is pretty stupid of me. He only appears at the beginning and the end of each episode, but he was an important character in this series. Without him there would be no second chances for Ken, no “Hallelujah Chance!”.
I really liked the fairy’s character. Mikami Hiroshi played him really well. He was funny and unpredictable. I loved seeing how he would appear next, and which food he would eat at the start of each episode. He was not just a fairy in this story, but also a mentor and teacher to Ken. In that short amount of time, he was able to teach Ken many things about love and life, and made him realize his potential.
There’s just so many things about this drama that made me love it so much. I’ve already mentioned that I really liked the friendship between Ken, Rei, Eri, Tsuru and Mikio. In fact, although the series is called “Proposal Daisakusen”/”Operation Love”, I think friendship is the main theme of this drama. Rei and Ken were childhood friends after all, that’s where their love began in the first place. And Ken probably wouldn’t be able to do the things he did if he didn’t have his friends supporting him.
Even Tada-san became a good friend of the group towards the middle of the series, which made things a lot more complicated for Ken. There was one line that really stuck with me. It was when Ken interrupted Tada-san’s confession (deliberately), and he felt bad about it afterwards:
“Why is fate always so despairing? When humans want to become happy, why do they make others miserable?”
I think this was an important theme in the drama. Ken really wanted to make himself happy, but at the same time, he couldn’t bear to see Tada-san miserable, which is why he failed most of the time. This happened several times in the show. I’m not saying that you have to step on people to achieve happiness, but I guess I took this to mean that you can’t always please everyone. There is no “ultimate happiness”. I won’t use this line as an excuse to be selfish and cause pain to other just to make myself happy, but its definitely something to think about.
There was another line that Ken mentioned in the last episode which I liked.
“I realized that the regret from not doing something at all is more painful than failure”
I liked it because it pretty much summarized the entire drama.
Something else that made me think (and Ckloy pointed this out the other day as well) was the fact that although Rei and Tada-san seemed to have the perfect relationship (they never fight, they respect each other and share similar goals), their relationship failed. On the other hand, Ken and Rei spend about 90% of their time arguing and they don’t see eye to eye on many things, but they both realized they can’t live without each other. I think we all wish for a relationship where we are in constant agreement with our partner, but we don’t realize that the petty disagreements we usually have actually bring us closer sometimes. We learn more about the other person that way and end up growing as a couple. At the same time, it shows that the you’re comfortable enough with each other to be able to voice your opinions. Sometimes love (and life) doesn’t have to be so perfect.
I suppose what I liked most about this series is that it showed me that sometimes, no matter how many chances we get, the past isn’t something you can easily change. Many people (including me) wish for a chance to turn back time and fix their past mistakes, but we don’t realize that sometimes there are things that are just meant to happen. If there are thing we’re unhappy with, we can always use the present to change it instead of constantly living in regret and thinking that there’s nothing that can be done.
I rate this series 5 out of 5. I must have watched it at least four times from start to finish, but its one of those series I’ll never get tired of. I love the story, the characters and the balance between slapstick comedy and heartbreaking drama.
The only thing that I didn’t like was seeing Tada-san sad and hurt, but I guess that was unavoidable. I also wish that Ken didn’t declare his love for Rei at the wedding itself, that must be awkward for everyone. Some people were touched by his speech, but all I could think about while he was delivering it was “No~ Why here? Why now??”. It might just be me though. I’m not a fan of shows/movies where the bride runs out in the middle of the wedding to be with another man, especially if the groom is such a nice guy.
Nevertheless, this series definitely makes it into my top 5 dramas of all time.
This show was so popular that an extra episode (Special) was even made after it ended. I won’t be writing the SP here, I’ll be making a separate review for that some other time. But I will tell you that I loved it. Without the SP, I probably wouldn’t rate this series as high as I did because it left a lot of things hanging, which the SP wrapped up perfectly.
Of course I have to share some of my favorite scenes with you:
- Ken, Tsuru and Mikio chasing after the parachute of happiness. They’re all so cute and immature. (Ep 1)
- Ken returning to the past and ending up in their class’s haunted house. I love the knife headband! (Ep 2)
- Frankenstein Tsuru, LOL (Ep 2)
- Catching noodles in the locker room (Ep2)
- Ken’s quest for coffee milk (Ep 2)
- Ken finding the Randy Bass action figure (Ep 2)
- Rei seeing the bandaid on Ken’s arm (Ep 2)
- Ken giving Rei a piece of his eraser (Ep 2)
- All the scenes of Ken running~ kyaaaaaaah!
- Ken giving Rei his baseball uniform’s 2nd button (Ep 4)
- “Eri is a girl” – Tsuru’s so sweet, haha (Ep 4)
- All the strange situations Ken finds himself in when he returns to the past
- Grocery shopping with Ken and Rei. I especially love the part where they put stickers on each other’s back, LOL (Ep 5)
- Ken an Rei’s first kiss <3 (Ep 5)
- Water balloon fight! (Ep 7)
- Firework-watching location FAIL (Ep 7)
- All the scenes of Tsuru chasing after Eri.
- Don’t Knock New York, LOL (Ep 8 )
- I’m not really sure if this is a favorite of mine, but its definitely something that I remember clearly from the drama – the scene of Ken breaking down at the arcade and just crying over the fact that he can’t get over his love for Rei. It was just so sad T__T Poor Pi (Ep 8 )
- Ken’s friends going back for him after he refused to join them in their tradition of watching the first sunrise of the year (Ep 8 )
- Eri finally agreeing to go out with Tsuru <3 (Ep 9)
- Ken getting a ring that’s way too big, because he was scared that it wouldn’t fit Rei. This was sad and sweet at the same time (Ep 9)
- Tsuru getting lost at the mall and yelling for Eri over the PA system (Ep 10)
- Mikio, Tsuru and Ken filming Rei’s parents’ wedding message for her. Her dad’s original message made me laugh (“I hope you guys break up”, LOL), and his final message made me cry … A LOT! (Ep 10)
- Ken’s conversation with Rei’s mom, especially the flashback of when they were kids. 5th grader Ken is more straightforward than present-day Ken, haha. (Ep 10)
- Tada-san’s cufflink bet. He took fate in his own hands – literally. Can that guy get nicer? Made me cry T__T (Ep 11)
- The conversation between Rei and the fairy where Rei finally had the courage to open the “door of miracles” that was mentioned throughout the entire series. (Ep 11)
- Ken’s smile at the end of the final episode (Ep 11)
Watch the show on drama crazy HERE.