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Thursday, August 2, 2018

Erika Toda: "Gakeppuchi Hotel" drama episode one recap

 Also goes by the title Hotel on the Brink

Air Dates: April 15 to June 17, 2018 on NTV 10:30 Sunday nights    Episode rating: 10.6%

Main Cast:

Erika Toda as Sana Sakurai, GM of the struggling hotel
Takanori Iwata as Naoya Ukai, guest who is the GM of a prestigious hotel
Ikkei Watanabe as Masao Tokisada, hotel's deputy GM
Kosuke Suzuki as Akito Tanzawa, hotel auditor
Minami Hamabe as Haru Horai, assistant newbie chef
Tomoya Nakamura as Ryuji Eguchi, gambling hotel chef
Ryo as Kozue Edagawa, hotel's bartender who drinks on the job
Daichi Saeki as Yozo Hattori, hotel employee who doesn't seem to have a position
Mari Nishio as Naomi Yoshimura, hotel roomkeeper
Chad Mullane as Pierre Tanaka, foreigner who is the hotel's bellhop

 Big cast for this show and even left out a few names, I'm looking forward to Rina Kawaei who will be joining the show in the third episode. Been close to four months since the last drama recap so hope I can remember how to do them, will try to keep these short but most of the time the first episode is the longest recap as we get introduced to the characters and the plot is being set up.

 Don't know what Gakeppuchi means but am presuming 'on the brink'. Erika has the lead role in the series as Sana Sakuri who is the general manager of the Grand Inversao Hotel which seems to be in the middle of nowhere and we haven't learned it's location through two episodes. The hotel is well known but is struggling to attract guests and has a debt of 270 million yen! One problem could because of their room rates, think most go for over 200,000 yen a night.
 Sana's father was the GM of the hotel but he passed away five months ago, her brother also helped in the running of the hotel but he's long gone as it was mainly his fault the hotel is so far in debt. Sana has no experience at running a hotel but is giving it her all but unfortunately for her there's some obstacles at the hotel. Mainly it's the staff as there's a few who feel she shouldn't be running the hotel, chief foe of Sana's is the deputy GM Masao.
 He's been with the hotel for many, many years and he thought when Sana's father passed away he would becme the GM which did not happen. Through two episodes he's been scheming to make things more difficult for Sana and he has a few partners. One is the hotel's accountant Akito though think deep down he likes Sana but is being pressured by Masao to make her life difficult. Also a nemesis of Sana's is the hotel's bartender Kozue, haven't seen her serve any customers yet but to date her alcohol intake is making up for the lack of drinkers.

 After two episodes my favorite character has been Haru who is played by Minami, what a bright future she has as an actress. Haru is the new pastry chef and she's so gung-ho about everything she does. Haru needs to be as she works with the hotel's chef Ryuji who is so disinterested in his job. He appears to me to be quite talented as a chef but there's other things which interest him more such as betting, he's constantly listening to races on the radio and is losing a lot of moolah.
 There's a whole bunch more of characters but won't be getting to all of them in this post as it seems one of the minor ones will be featured in the upcoming episodes. One of them is the bellhop Pierre who looks like an American but isn't though the guests expect him to speak perfect English. There's also the janitorial crew of Naomi and Nagayoshi who have both been with the hotel for many years. The main desk clerk's name is Taishi and what a mean looking dude he is, the man rarely speaks and has yet to crack a smile. One other character is Yozo and don't know what his official title is yet but he knows all that is going on at the hotel and has a way to sneak up on others to scare them.

 All of these shows will also have stories revolving around the guests, this episode featured a grandmother and her her granddaughter coming for a visit. Every five years the grandmother visits the hotel but this was the first time without her husband who had passed away since the last visit. But this hotel holds special memories for the grandmother as it seemed to rekindle her marriage during every visit plus it was the scene of their marriage.
 The pair are staying in the most exclusive suite at the hotel which is the Pordosol, it's also the most expensive at 300,000 yen a day. The grandmother and husband were not well off, one reason they only visited every five years was it took them that long to save up for the vacation. Meanwhile her twelve year old granddaughter is very leery of the situation, she thinks the hotel is so overpriced and really isn't anything special. She could be right and her grandmother did agree with her to a certain extent but the memories it holds for her are priceless.
 What ended up making the stay for the two at the hotel memorable was shortly after the pool was cleaned out even though it was just April. Because of it being cleaned it allowed the sun to reflect off it late in the afternoon which gave the rooms the look of a kaleidoscope, seeing the image of one was the most endearing of all of the grandmother's memories and made the stay there worth every yen. But why was the pool cleaned so early in the season you may ask? That's because of a request from the another guest in this episode who turns out to be the other major character in the drama.

 The guest, who was quite a mystery to the hotel's staff, was a young man by the name of Naoya. When he first registered he was quite unkempt looking and the staff didn't want him staying, that is except for Sana. Naoya had desired the Pordosol suite but that had been taken by the grandmother so he settled for the hotel's other regal suite, the Gallo. The hotel has a Portuguese theme to it as the name of the hotel, the suites and many other things have Portuguese names.
 Naoya gets settled in his 220,000 yen a night suite and ends up having many odd requests such as a list of twenty below the radar magazines he wants found. His suitcase was jammed packed with blank postcards, we soon learn they're because Naoya is a fanatic at entering contests and the postcards are what he sends his entries in on. Masao the deputy GM though has other ideas about the cards, he thinks Naoya is a spy and is sending the cards to his superior telling them what a shabby hotel the Grand Inversao is.

 But as the saying goes looks can be deceiving and that fit Nayao to a T. The hotel's auditor Akito loves to read magazines about hotels and in a current issue he noticed an interview with.... Naoya! He definitely isn't some bum off the street as he's the deputy GM of the Baliston Hotel which is one of the most esteemed ones in Japan. To Masao this confirms the fact he's a spy and thinks he's visiting the hotel to buy it for a cheap price as the hotel is so in debt.
 But actually Naoya has heard many nice things about the hotel and thought he could learn much from his visit. To his dismay, though he didn't show it often, he's disappointed by the place as his room isn't sparkling clean, the staff fight among each other plus so many other issues which didn't make the hotel a world class destination. Naoya was the one who had requested the pool to be cleaned, none of the staff would do the chore so Sana the GM was the one stuck with the task.
 Naoya chose not to take a dip but think he asked for it to be cleaned for another reason. Seems he realized what effect the sun would have on it late in the afternoon and he actually did the hotel a favor by having Sana clean it. In the final scene the whole staff has learned who Naoya really is and confronted him in the dining room to ask what his intentions were. He explained there were none and he just wanted to visit the hotel to enjoy himself which hadn't been happening and he listed all of the problems with the place. In the waning seconds of the show he's offered his help to Sana, Naoya has told her he'd be willing to stay on and become the hotel's deputy GM and it was naturally to the dismay of Masao. As the credits were flashing by Sana, who couldn't understand why he's willing to help, has accepted the offer for him to be her assistant as the first episode comes to it's conclusion.

 Bit of a sluggish beginning but this ended up being a fine episode, not as wacky as I thought it would be. Though Erika is the only one who could be considered to be a biggish star this cast is among the most impressive group I've ever seen in a drama. All are terrific actors who make most dramas better than they should be and as mentioned Minami has done such a fantastic job through the first two episodes. Check out the recap for that show in the next post.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds bit silly if Masao would think a guy would write and send a card to his superior other than callin the fella. This hotel might be home to the CIA m8, intercepting calls n stuff. You'll see Naoya pullin a bird outta his pants and throwin that thing outta window