If you read my previous blog, you will know that among all HSJ members, Nakajima Yuto is my ichiban. It’s the main reason why I recapped “Suikyu Yankees“, I followed Date like crazy (though Anne and Hasegawa Hiroki are awesome), and now here’s HOPE. The drama is an adaptation from Korean drama titled “Misaeng” that became very popular in South Korea. As for HOPE, it didn’t get that much attention when it premiered with a measly 6.5%. Nevertheless, there is always hope as the story shows us how one can rise above the odds.
Here is a very quick recap of HOPE~Kitai Zero no Shinnyuu Shain~ : Episode 1-2
Ichinose Ayumu (Nakajima Yuto) used to aspire to become a professional Go player; however, setbacks happen and due to age limit in becoming a professional player, he reached the limit and ultimately failed.
Armed with only a high school diploma, he finds himself doing menial jobs and one day, his mom, Ichinose Yuki (Asaka Mayumi), decides to make him try in Yoichi Production, a general trading company. She asks him to become an intern for one month and see how it will pan out. Ayumu is reluctant to try it out especially upon learning that he got in with the help of Matsubara-sensei, his Go coach.
Yuki assures him that he’s going to be fine since he always has a good memory and that he always become the best. Ichinose had enough listening to his mom’s and turns to blame game. Apparently, he blames Yuki for losing his final Go game to become a professional since she collapsed from overwork.
Nevertheless, Ayumu proves to be a good son and still heads to Yoichi for the one month internship program. Wearing his dad’s suit, it looks oversize on him and Yuki worries over this since Ichinose-papa always say that suits are combat uniforms so they have to look decent. The workplace is male dominated and Ichinose heads to Sales 3rd section where he is assigned. He meets Aki Kosuke (Yamauchi Takaya), his section senpai, who immediately notices his oversize suit.
The intern work proves to be a challenge to Ichinose, he’s puzzled how to use the photocopying machine, he’s unfamiliar with certain computer programs since he’s only a high school graduate, and he got lost with an English-speaker caller so he asked Katsuki Akane (Yamamoto Mizuki), the only female intern, for help.
Word quickly spreads that Ichinose is only a high-school graduate and some of those with degrees finds it unfair that they worked their ass off to get to the company while Ichinose probably got in because he has connections. Speaking of connections, word has it that Ichinose’s connection is none other than the Managing Director, Takano Yoshiro (Kazama Morio), to whom the 3rd sales section chief, Oda Yujin (Keinichi Endo), have some unresolve issues.
Ichinose being referred by the MD (managing director) is definitely a huge deal for Oda since you can see a shift in his mood after learning about that. He asks Ichinose to go with him and while they are in the car, he asks him about his strong points, and Ichinose can’t even answer that question. Not only that, when the two meets a client, Ichinose was silent all throughout the meeting so Oda asks him to go home afterwards and that he didn’t have to come back.
Ichinose tells him that he will be in trouble and Oda says that he doesn’t really care if he entered the company using connections (of course you care) but Ichinose is already 22 yrs old and he can’t even name anything that he’s good at. Ichinose says that he seriously pursued his dream, to become a professional Go player, but it has an age limit so he has to give up. This irks Oda more and tells him that they are serious with their jobs, unlike Ichinose who sees the job as a substitute because he failed in his original dream.
Oda leaves him alone and Ichinose finds himself walking towards Japanese Go Assembly Hall. He sees his former coach, Matsubara-sensei, and the two got talking. Matsubara likens the Go stones to the window lights from corporate buildings. He says that in those windows, someone is frantically fighting and he doesn’t mind if Ichinose will be one of them. Ichinose goes home to see a new suit courtesy of Yuki and it makes him weepy, Ayumu admits that deep within, he’s scared; scared to fight again for a dream and then fail at the end.
Armed with a new resolve, Ichinose goes to work the next day and tells Oda that while he is nothing at the moment, he will do his best for the remaining time of his internship. Oda tells him that his speech is something that a junior high student would say, but he still give a task to Ichinose and that’s to classify the files in a usb.
While Ichinose starts to work, Aki receives a call complaint that there are defective iron steel from the batch they sent to Indonesia. The merchant wants it to get settled right away so Oda orders that all defective items be scrapped before they get shipped to Indonesia. For this job, the interns were asked to do this despite their misgivings.
The interns paired-up except for Ichinose where they have to check each container for rusting pipes. For some reason, Ichinose was still wearing his suit while the rest have change to something more apt. Later on, Oda keeps on calling Ichinose but he’s not answering so he called Kiriake Shinji (Seto Koji) to tell him that they can return since they got a reserved inventory. He tells everyone that they are heading back, but Niimura Keita (Sakurada Dori) decides not to tell Ichinose seeing how serious he is with the job, add the fact that he can’t accept a high school graduate getting a coveted internship at the company in contrast to a ToDai graduate like him.
Poor Ichinose, after he’s done sorting the good from the bad in his little container, he goes out to see that the other containers were all empty and his co-interns just left what they have sorted outside. Ichinose goes back to the company, feeling dejected, to sort the files that Oda asked him to do earlier. Katsuki sees him and tells him about the intern welcome party, Katsuki drops Ichinose to the venue and the guys starts snickering because he fell for the Niimura’s prank. Oda arrives and actually congratulates the boys because he got a call from the steel boss that they did a good job in sorting the defective steel because it’s highly likely that the bad ones will infect the good ones.
Well, Ichinose’s co-interns have the nerve to share the glory that was supposedly reserve for Ichinose, and he doesn’t have the courage to say that he did all the dirty work as evident by his equally dirty suit. He decides to skip the welcome party and just heads back to the office to finish sorting the files. Ichinose thinks that his effort was not enough so this things happen to him so he can only do one thing and that is to work seriously than everyone else.
The next morning, Aki and Oda finds Ichinose asleep on his desk. Oda orders him to take his dirty clothes to the cleaning service and Aki marvels at Ichinose’s work. Flashback, Kiriake isn’t too evil since he told the truth to Oda that it was Ichinose who cleaned up everything since they all went back early.
Anyway, before Ichinose leaves the company to go the dry cleaners, Hitomi Shogo (Kiriyama Akito) approaches him and asks him to be his presentation partner. In Yoichi, the presentation is their last exam for their internship that will be the determining factor whether they will be accepted or not. That’s why Aki teased Ichinose that he should go for Katsuki. However, Ichinose seems to be instantly popular since he got lots of request and he even finds some bribe on his table. haha
The next day, Aki quizzed him on common abbreviations and terminologies that are used at work and he’s pretty successful at it. Aki is pretty happy with it and when he asks Ichinose to photocopy something, Katsuki sees him and invites him to be her presentation partner. Those words definitely hit the right spot as Ichinose returns to his desk feeling all giddy. However, his good mood instantly turns sour when Aki tells him that everyone wants to become his presentation partner because he would make them look good since they all view him as the weakest.
Later on, Ichinose was tasked to bring some receipts to the MD and while he’s busy pasting those receipts to the scratch papers, Nagai Yoshihiko (Kaji Masaki) asks him to borrow their stamp pad. When Ichinose left to MD’s office, little did he know that Nagai took a draft copy and unknowingly dropped it in the lobby. Unfortunately, the draft copy (which happens to be very important) was picked-up by the MD and was very unhappy about it. Drafts should be disposed properly and not lying somewhere in the lobby.
Ichinose knows that it must be Nagai’s mistake but being the goody-two shoes that is, he starts owning to someone’s mistakes and got some shouting from Oda. He later learned from Aki that Oda and the MD have some bad blood up to this day. Later on, Oda sees a different stamp from the draft and learned that it was Nagai’s fault all along that the document dropped in the lobby. Oda wanted to tell Kobayakawa (Toyama Toshiya) about Nagai’s carelessness but pitied at Nagai upon learning that he’s a new dad.
Nevertheless, Oda ends up having some serious drunken ramblings when he went out drinking with Aki and Ichinose and they see Koyakawa and co. partying for the getting a 300 million contract. Oda tells Kobayakawa that their guy got yelled at because of the mistake of his subordinate, which is quite weird since Oda was the one who did the yelling. Anyway, Ichinose is quite happy deep inside for being called “our guy” like he really belongs to the 3rd section.
The next day, Ichinose heads to Hitomi to tell him that he agreed to be his presentation partner. Hitomi decides that their theme will be about trade and culture and since he obviously have the gift of tongue, he will do the talking while Ichinose will work on the presentation materials.
Oda tells Ichinose that they should be careful since there are people who are good at talking but will turn mute when speaking in public. However, Ichinose is confident with Hitomi. Meanwhile, Katsuki learns that Ichinose have chosen Hitomi and was surprise to know that everyone have asked Ichinose to be their partner. Kiriake asks her if she wasn’t like that, that she only asked Ichinose because it would make her look good. So when the two were left alone at the photocopy area, the usual hang-out of interns, she cleared to Ichinose that she didn’t ask him to be her partner because she wants to make herself look good.
All the interns were busy the next few days before the presentation and before the said event, Ichinose and Hitomi were caught in a scuffle as the latter insist on making Ichinose wear a more fashionable suit for their presentation. Frankly, I prefer plain black suit than those with patterns. Anyway, the suit is special for Ichinose since it was given by his mother so his rejection to Hitomi’s offer came out too strong.
Ichinose tells him that he forced his way with preparing the presentation materials so he should not force him to wear that suit, and even tells Hitomi that he probably chose him because he has connections and therefore, he can be use, and that he (Ichinose) never thought that he’ll be accepted (by the company).This irks Hitomi and asks Ichinose that if he has been working all this time thinking that he will not passed. Besides, Hitomi really wanted to win together with Ichinose.
The big day comes and almost all of the department and section head are present lead by the Managing Director (MD) who gave a short speech to the interns. Each pair of interns were given 10 minutes to their presentation. One by one, the pair goes to give their presentation, some fail while the other succeeds. The Hitomi and Ichinose pair are the last to go and Hitomi is close to breaking down by the time he got the mike.
He was clearly nervous, he can’t speak clearly, and he’s jumping from the order of their presentation. This forces Ichinose to take over, but he’s worst. haha. He can speak well but he’s speaking from memory, and was just talking what was written on each slide. Seeing Ichinose’s predicament, Hitomi muster enough courage to take over once again and in the remaining 5 minutes, he managed to show his speaking prowess.
Afterwards, the MD asks a question to the author of the presentation, mainly Ichinose, and asks him if he ever has anything to sell to Hitomi, what would it be? Ichinose says that he will sell Hitomi a suit. Recalling Hitomi’s earlier words, Ichinose says that Hitomi considers their suits lame because it kills their personality (being almost the same with anyone); thus, he will sell him a suit but not because he thinks that it kills their personality since he considers their suits a symbol of partnership.
Apr 2016, four former interns stand at the lobby of Yoichi Productions, they are Katsuki, Kiriake, Hitomi, and Ichinose.
Notes : In Ichinose’s household, I will use their first name to avoid confusion then I’ll switch back to Ichinose in the office setting. Also, I just breeze into the 2nd episode since I think that the presentation should be the highlight.
The first two episodes hit the right spot to make this drama semi-tearjerker while at the same time it thrives to inspire those who are lost at what to do at some point in their lives. Yuto is still raw with this kind of story so the freshman thing at work suited him. Gahd, I felt his embarrassment when he said that he’s only a high school graduate. That take some guts to admit.
Speaking of work, I like the camaraderie in the 3rd section, Aki is my ideal senpai, someone who doesn’t throw his work to you but gives you enough work to improve yourself. Oda has his own moods especially those that involve the MD but he cares for his subordinates and that’s important. I love the smile from these two when Ichinose arrives to say that he will start working at the 3rd section.
As for the other interns, I don’t know what to expect with Kiriake, he looks like the type who keep his emotions all bottled-up until he explodes. Sometimes he’s friendly but there are times when he looks menacing. Then there’s Hitomi, the jock who looks like he is just enjoying things. Then there’s Katsuki, if this is a Korean drama, I’m sure that there will be a love angle but this is the Japanese version and since they usually stick to the genre then I’ll hold any hopes that she and Ichinose will be romantically involve. Anyway, wouldn’t it be cute if Ichinose and Katsuki be romantically involve? I actually see that as a possibility and I also see that Kiriake will be like the 3rd party. haha.
I don’t know what sort of relationship Matsubara has with the MD that’s why he agreed to let Ichinose join the internship ans what sort of bad blood does Oda has with the MD so let’s see what will happen to that.
For first impressions, I’m still hopeful with HOPE that it will deliver a solid story and a rosy ending for our Ichinose. Biases aside, I will definitely watch more of this since I would love to see our interns grow and so. (I’m now on 4th episode)