Sorry for the random post, but this is actually a discussion carried on from the "Kaseifu no Mita" thread (The thread is here: http://www.d-addicts.com/forum/viewtopic_100169_60.htm
). Yanie and I got a little off-topic, and since its all about Kimura-san, I've decided to carry it on here. So, on to the discussion.
yanie wrote:Yup. I meant the last time Kimura's dramas still broke 20% even in the middle of the series, was CHANGE (2008). I believe Mr. Brain had 16% at the lowest point?
When you say that "Change" (2008) was the last Kimura Takuya drama to hit 20% in the middle, that isn’t quite accurate. Yes, "Mr. Brain" (2009) hit its lowest point at 16.3% for Episode 03. But, in Episode 04, the ratings went back up to 21.0%. Therefore, it did break the 20% mark in the middle of the drama. Not to mention none of the episodes after that fell below 18%, and the finale of the drama scored a rating of 20.7%.
yanie wrote:When I said 'lost it', I didn't mean it's Kimura's fault that the drama gets below 20% rating.
Haha! No worries, I didn’t interpret it that way as well.
yanie wrote:This is just my POV, but seem like in the past, people would watch ANY Kimura's drama without exception. Does it mean ALL Kimura's dramas for 10 years in a row, has equally excellent cast, excellent script, excellent music, excellent direction, etc, which deserves 20% rating? Seems to me, there were actually people who watch those dramas just because Kimura is in it. If not... was it just plain luck that Kimura's dramas kept hitting the "20" number for a decade?
We all have different opinions, and I respect your opinion as well
. But, just to add to the discussion, here is what I think.
Did ALL of Kimura’s dramas have equally excellent casts, excellent script etc.? I agree, not all of them. I also agree that it’s not, as you put it, “plain luck” that his dramas have hit 20% for over a decade. Clearly when someone has a track record like Kimura’s, plain luck doesn’t cover it. So, I agree. Kimura’s star power and ability to attract ratings do contribute a lot to the ratings of his dramas.
I also agree that there are people, die-hard fans, who will watch any drama as long as Kimura is in it, but if you look at the trend in the ratings of his past dramas, that has not always been the case, even during his supposedly peak years of popularity.
Even though Kimura was thrust into the spotlight in “Asunaro Hakusho” (1994), his real big break as the main actor in a drama didn’t come until “Long Vacation” (1996), which started at a rating of 30.6% and eventually earned an average rating of 29.6%. So, one would expect that every single drama after that got record high ratings? Not quite. Right after that, he starred in “Kyosokyoku” (1996), which averaged at 23.5%. Yes, it did break 20%, but it’s not quite as high as one would expect from a drama starring Kimura Takuya, who was hot property at the time. Besides that, he also starred alongside Tamura Masakazu, who was also a ratings puller. However, Kimura did demonstrate that he had a pull on audiences because the drama’s first episode rated at a high 28.2%. Why did it drop so much? While audiences were interested in Kimura, his presence wasn’t enough for them to invest in the drama itself.
The next year, once again Kimura demonstrated his star power when the first episode of “Love Generation” scored a rating of 31.3% and the drama eventually averaged out at 30.7%. This would cement his place in the history of romance dramas. But, right before that, he actually starred in “Gift” (1997). The drama started out at a rating of 23.0% and averaged out to one of the lowest averages in Kimura’s drama career, which was 17.85%. Did it mean that Kimura had lost his star power? “Love Generation” (1997) would demonstrate that he still had it. So, why didn’t “Gift” (1997) get a higher rating? It may be a cult favourite these days, but it was also known to have had a weird plot; something not quite in keeping with the taste and trend of the time.
The year 2000 saw the story of a romance between a wheelchair bound librarian and a talented, but struggling hairstylist. “Beautiful Life” (2000) started out with a first episode rating of 31.8%, which was already high, but it would average out at a rating of 32.3%, higher than the rating of its first episode. So, Kimura clearly had the power to draw audiences, but from the increased ratings, it was also clear that “Beautiful Life” (2000) in itself was a great drama that engaged audiences.
In 2001, “Hero” went down in Japanese drama history as the only drama where all its episodes rated above 30%. In 2003, “Good Luck!!” started off with a first episode rating of 31.6% and averaged out at a rating of 30.6%. However, clipped between these two monster dramas is another drama that many love as a cult favourite, but it was not considered popular during its time. “Sora Kara Furu Ichioku no Hoshi” (2002) started off at a rating of 25.7% and eventually averaged out to 22.26%, quite a contrast to “Hero” (2001) and “Good Luck!!” (2003). Many attributed it to the fact that Kimura's character wasn't a hero, not anywhere close the kind of role that audiences liked to see him in.
Therefore, even during Kimura’s peak years, while he demonstrated his consistent star power, it was clear that the character he played and the plot of the drama, along with other factors, such as cast members and soundtrack, played a big role in creating dramas with monster ratings. The Kimura dramas that are ratings legend all had this in common: Kimura’s character was some sort of hero and plots that were not only engaging, but also, in keeping with the trends of the time (as an example, “Long Vacation”, “Love Generation” and “Beautiful Life” were all pure romance or “renai” dramas). I think that both “Tsuki no Koibito” (2010) and “Nankyoku Tairiku” (2011) suffer from the latter. In a time when the trend is live action, light entertainment and mystery/thriller/suspense, both these dramas fall out of the current trends, which mean that they appeal to a more specific audience rather than the general public. Both dramas broke 20% on the first episode, but when the plot itself didn’t/doesn’t fit with expectations/likings, they lost out in the ratings game. Still, the fact that they started out above 20% showed that Kimura is still a ratings pull.
On the topic of the types of character that Kimura plays, it soon became clear that people wanted something different from him. Rumblings of discontent against his similar role-type (ie heroic, charismatic etc) began with “Pride” (2004). Still, the drama started out at a rating of 28.0% and averaged out at 25.1%. However, its effect came along in “Engine” (2005) which started out at 25.3% and averaged out 22.42%. While the drama still rated quite high, its rating isn’t that different from some of the dramas aired in those seasons. “Last Christmas” (2004) (Oda Yuji’s return to the Getsuku time slot since his starring role in the legendary “Tokyo Love Story” (1991)) had an average rating of 21.6%. Although, despite these few exceptions that came close to rivaling him, his drama came in with top ratings.
2007 saw Kimura returning to dramas after a break in 2006 (he only did the “Hero Special”), and the first episode of “Karei Naru Ichizoku” scored a rating of 27.7%, a very high rating for a drama during its time. Clearly, the audience had missed Kimura in a drama, and with a promising and meaty role, his pull was undeniable. Not only did every episode break 20% and it averaged out at 23.9%, already becoming a hard feat during those times, in the place where it was set and was considered most relevant, the Kansai region, it started out at 30.5% and averaged out at 30.4%. By 2008, ratings had declined for real and with a few exceptions, it was rare for a drama to break the 20% average. But, Kimura once again proved that he had what it took when “Change” debuted at 23.8% and averaged out at 21.7%.
Then, came “Mr. Brain” (2009). While by Kimura’s standards, it does seem like he has lost his touch, one has to take into account one thing: the time slot. “Mr. Brain” (2009) actually aired in an experimental drama time slot (As can be found here: http://japan-now.livejournal.com/851746.html
). As it has been discussed in the drama’s thread itself, every drama in that time slot barely scored higher than a 10-11% average. Before “Mr. Brain” (2009), the other drama that had the highest rating in this time slot was “Rookies” (2008), which averaged out at 14.8%. So, for “Mr. Brain” (2009) to have maintained a 20% average by the end of its run, it is actually quite an amazing feat. As for “Tsuki no Koibito” (2010), it’s been discussed to death in its drama thread about why it rated that badly (aside from having its ratings also affected by the World Cup), and even then, all things considered, it did quite well, coming out as the 2nd highest rated drama of the season losing out only to “Rinjo 2” (2010). In reverse, there are people who have commented that if it weren’t for Kimura being in the drama, the ratings might have fallen way lower.
“Nankyoku Tairiku” (2011) is still ongoing, so I can’t analyze the trend on this drama until it has fully aired.
yanie wrote:Starting 2009, along with TV rating slump in general, seem like people "who watch Kimura's dramas just because Kimura is in it", has decreased. It also doesn't mean Kimura has lost his popularity, I believe he has not. The decreasing number could be cause by many factors, including the fact that Kimura's fans is getting alot mature by now, though it doesn't mean they're not fans anymore.
I definitely agree with you here. Demographics affect the viewing habits of people.
yanie wrote:So, I only meant, he lost that 'magical power' to bring in the ratings^^ That's all.
yanie wrote:Of course, I agree. But for the last decade, Kimura's dramas were always a special case^^ But now, Kimura's dramas has lost that "special" factor and become even (in the same league) with other dramas.
I believe Kimura used to be labeled the "Legendary Rating Man" or something like that^^
Even if the audience don't think so, we can't deny the fact that the TV producers and media had always seen Kimura Takuya as a figure who can guarantee "high ratings".
Is a matter of opinion, I guess.
Because no matter how much criticism he receives, he is also one of the few stars that can still consistently pull in the ratings and generate the hype for the first episode. Despite how I've listed down the different factors that contribute to the makings of a great drama (ie engaging plot etc), does that mean that Kimura's track record is propped up by these factors? That if we took him out of the picture, the dramas would have been just as successful anyway because they had all the ingredients needed for a successful drama? That is not true either. We have seen many cases where the plot is engaging etc., and it seems like the drama has all the ingredients it needs for success, and yet, the drama doesn't score high ratings. There is no denying that all these dramas with monster ratings have one thing in common: Kimura Takuya. His star power gives them the edge; gives them a higher springboard from which they can leap.
Like I have mentioned earlier, he has always been a ratings puller, and with his track record, there is no denying that his star power does contribute to the ratings of his dramas. However, looking at the trends in his past dramas, it is often an engaging plot/plot in trend with audience taste + a good cast + a good soundtrack + that little something extra, which is Kimura’s star power, that give birth to dramas with exceptional ratings.
Of course, this is just my opinion, so no offense meant.
And, yes, can you imagine of Kimura-san and Matsushima Nanako starred in a drama together?