Our column Oldies but Goldies continues with yet another drama adaptation of a manga: Kimi Wa Pet!
Kimi Wa Pet (きみはペット, You're My Pet) was aired on private channel TBS in spring 2003, late night Wednesday. The series is made up of ten, 45-minute episodes (aside from a 60 minute pilot).
The drama is an adaptation of Ogawa Yayoi's 14 volume josei manga of the same title, published in Italy by Star Comics.
Iwaya Sumire (Koyuki) is employed as a reporter for a daily newspaper, a job which makes up her whole life. It's not easy for a woman to advance in a profession where sexism is rampant, and Iwaya is eventually molested and demoted by her boss. In spite of her tough exterior, the woman feels the consequences of the events and begins to experience stress and depression.
One evening, on her way back from work, she finds a boy sleeping in a cardboard box outside her home. She soon decides do adopt him and care for him, as one would do with a pet. The boy (Matsumoto Jun), nicknamed Momo, becomes then a house pet, unbeknownst to work colleagues and to the man Sumire is dating, brilliant Hasumi Shigehito (Tanabe Seiichi). It soon becomes obvious, however, that Momo's presence has a beneficial effect on Sumire's psyche...
Momo too, however, has his own problems. Goda Takeshi (his real name) used to be a classical dance prodigy, but he was rejected from the international scene for being 'too short', and is now looking for his own path in a dance company where he works along with his girlfriend Rumi (Ishihara Satomi) and his friend Junpei (Eita).
At first, the relationship between Momo and Sumire is entirely platonic: Momo would play the part of a pet for Sumire while she would offer room and board. However, Momo soon begins to have feelings for Sumire, which she can't reciprocate because of her own standards and expectations. Her requisites for a perfect man are height, education and a higher wage than hers, and she finds the idea of Momo as a companion wholly unpalatable. Still, it's not in her boyfriend that Sumire finds solace... is her relationship with Momo love or just pet therapy?
The manga the series is based on has been highly praised: it deals with everyday problems such as career difficulties, troubled love, adding to it all the clash between a younger man and an older, richer and more experienced rival, the former overtaking the latter. The irony of the manga is preserved faithfully in the drama version.
Unlike other shows with a similar target audience (josei manga fans), like Suppli, Kimi Wa Pet focuses less on the details of the work place, yet it reproduces more faithfully the struggles career women have to face in male-dominated environments.
The drama's cast consists of actors who are now very well known in japanese show biz. In the same year as Kimi Wa Pet, Kyouki participated in Hollywood film The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise. Matsumoto Jun scored a number of main roles in tv productions, thanks also his participation in the 2005 drama Hanayori Dango, and the idol group Arashi.
Even some secondary actors, still new faces at the times the drama was produced, gained some success following the show's popularity: Ishihara Satomi, Sato Ryuta and Eita.