Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Japanese "Deaf" Drama Starring Suzuki Ami

Story from Japan Today, November 13, 2008:

Ami Suzuki shows warmth in new daytime drama

Singer Ami Suzuki, 26, takes on the challenge of portraying a hearing-impaired character in “Love Letter,” a new TV drama celebrating the 40th anniversary of TBS’s “Ai no gekijou” daytime dramas. Suzuki plays the lead role of a young woman growing up, who communicates through sign language. She travels to Shodo Island in Kagawa Prefecture, where she falls in love for the first time and makes lifelong friendships.

Suzuki expressed her concerns and aspirations when she said “I want to express my true feelings through sign language. With music, I can express things like love clearly through the words, but on stage I have to convey things that are not expressed easily, so that’s tough. But I think I’ll be able to convey the warmth of people through sign language.”

The drama starts on Nov 24 and is on weekdays at 1 p.m.

More information from Asianbite:

Set on Shodoshima in Japan's Inland Sea, the story follows the experiences of the hearing-impaired protagonist along the path to adulthood, such as her first love and her first breakup. The 15-year span of the story is divided into three parts, with Suzuki playing the character as an adult. Rio Yamashita will play the character in junior high, while Yukina Matsushima fills in for the elementary school version of the role.

Well let's see how they do with another deaf drama. Has it really been 4 years since the last one, "Orange Days?" (And is Suzuki Ami really 26?) I have blogged about the challenges of representing deaf people in Japanese dramas. I hope "Love Letter" does a better job.


Rachel said...

So how do you feel about the drama "Love Letter" now that it's been completed? Have you watched it? Just curious about your opinion.

visual gonthros said...

To be honest, I stopped watching it half way through its run, mostly because the story wasn't so interesting. It was another unrealistic portrayal of a poor (but beautiful) handicapped person overcoming oh so many difficulties and living happily ever after. I grow tired of seeing Signed Japanese being passed off as JSL and deaf people being portrayed unrealistically. Sure, it's only a TV show so perhaps I shouldn't be so critical (I have given up yelling at the TV when there is a blatant mistake). I was talking with a deaf friend last night and he wonders why, with so many real deaf actors and actresses, that hearing people always play the deaf characters.

What did you think of the drama?

Rachel said...

Oh, I never noticed that you responded to my comment! My reply is very late.

I only got to see a few episodes. Some later ones, and some earlier ones. I was disappointed with the lack of sign language in the earlier episodes, and felt it was unrealistic that the girl didn't want to use JSL, and just wanted to write in Japanese. I agree, the story wasn't really that interesting.

However, my chances of learning JSL are so scarce since I'm from America, so I'm happy to watch anything I can, even if it's just signed Japanese. But, I feel the storyline has to be interesting. Otherwise, what's the point.

I watched a Taiwanese movie called "Hear Me" which was almost entirely in sign language and used a lot of deaf actors. I wish I could watch a movie like that made in Japan.

Anonymous said...

Hi, do you know where to watch Love Letter online w/ eng subs?

visual gonthros said...

Sorry I don't. There might be some fan sites out there that make English subtitles for J-dramas. But this activity might be deemed illegal because of copyright issues. The big music, movie and TV companies can't seem to get enough money...