Oh, and about the ratings.
yamapinku-rabu mentioned before that there was a big cup game and news coverage over the terrible north-east Japan earthquake[/b] on the day the second episode premiered. I'm expecting an average 15-16 % rating for the following episodes.
The football match and news coverage did affect ratings a little but the degree of drop attributed to it should be around 1-2%. Heyx3 and SmapxSmap which aired prior to and after First Kiss, and also clashing with football & news only registered 2% drop from previous week. The total tv-viewer ratings went close to 81% in total on Monday, highest over the last 3months compared to an average of 70-75% on a Monday night. The huge ratings jump registered by football & news were made by people who wouldn't have watched First Kiss anyway and didn't watch epi 1.
A 6.5% drop in ratings the largest epi 1 to 2 drop registered by a Gekku drama over the last decade. Understandably, the production team and cast will be under some pressure right now, probably to the extent of changing the intended flow of the drama. The intended framework according to the scriptwriter's notes was to continue the light-hearted tone, Mio being a brat for the first 6 epis then with a dramatic turnaround by epi 7. Perhaps they'll make Mio less bratty faster or something.
Personally i enjoyed ep 2 immensely but kinna figured out where the potential problem could lie. I'm not sure if anyone noticed but the framework & setting of epi 2 is very sitcom/ theatrical play based, quite different from the usual epi setting of a usual dorama where it's telling a story. For epi 2 of First Kiss, it felt as if i was watching a play. For most of us here who've watched our fair share of American sitcoms, it probably wouldn't be an issue but for an average Japanese viewer, it might be a turn off.
Since epi 2 is usually the lowest rated epi in 50% of japanese dramas. The worst could be over, but rather than looking at the ratings (cos you do have seasons where ratings are just generally low), think Fujitv would be looking at the relative rankings of dramas instead. If First Kiss doesn't secure at least a top 3 ratings this season, it's a failure. Hana Kimi appears to have stabilised around the 16-17% region... same goes for Yamada Taro 15-16% after 2 epis. It's be interesting to look at how Hotaru no Hikaru rates tonight since it had the 2nd higest opening of the season and generally feedback's been very good for this in 2ch and Mixi.
Even if First Kiss flops, don't think Mao chan will be that badly affected. Her acting isn't exactly faulted here (unlike Misaki Ito in Sapuri or Nakama Yukie who was demmed as too cold for a renai drama). The sucess of a drama is more than just about the cast, usually TV stations measure the star's ratings power by the opening epi cos it's usually the primary factor that attracts viewers to try out a drama. Decision to continue viewing after epi 1 will very much depend on the storyline & production standards. With the exception of Kimura Takuya, there's probably no one in the j ent industry who is able to generate good ratings with a lousy script.