I was maybe 13 or 14 when I first watched this show and being such an idealist romantic sucker then (more than I am now, that is) – I fell completely in love with this show, PRIDE. In my high school years, I used to rewatch it pretty often but its been probably 3 years since the last time I watched it. I remember in bits and pieces and lately having been struck with a sudden returning interest towards Jdramas (I blame that dog-family drama!), I picked up this series for the nth time and well well well, slightly older and wiser now – my viewscape has definitely changed especially in understanding the characters’ actions, decisions and more but damn if those sparks aren’t (still) literally flying out of the screen between these two pictured above, Aki and Halu.
Such beautiful names for such beautiful people; Aki is fall and Halu is spring and as Halu puts it in his defense-mechanism ways of guarding his damn heart so tightly, “you’re fall and I’m spring – two seasons that will never connect.”
They play love like a game, she still waiting for an AWOL boyfriend for the past two years to return (and for the record: this dude is an ASS) and him not able or wanting to strike a serious relationship due to the promise he made with his much-respected late coach about prioritizing ice hockey and the more subtle (or so he thinks) reason: his perception that he is unable to both give and receive love thanks to his parentless childhood.
What’s cute and now obvious to me as I’m rewatching this show is the fact that both of them are clearly using this as an excuse in order to get closer to one another and both building up walls so high that the only way to break them is to let each other in… which they do, slowly but surely and with such sweet, sweet romantic-yet-realistic air. Aki is slightly traditional in her thinking – the kind of girl who at the end of the day, just wants to set up a family of her own sort-of-woman – and he totally has the male ego, or pride, of course totally going on but KimuTaku plays that shifty expression so well, the one that indicates, bright as day, to the viewers that Halu is, as we all have long suspect, hiding his childhood insecurities underneath all that facade; he wishes he would stop being abandoned time and again by the ones he love.
Lest I go on about the romance and you think there’s only that to hold the story together – wrong. Halu’s professional life and passion as an iceman – or ice-hockey player – gets equal airtime and before bromance became the fad, PRIDE was already displaying lots of it in all the best ways – the camaraderie and brotherhood in sports; gets me everytime, I swear. Therefore, worthy mentions of the side characters are necessary – the bestfriends Yamato and Tomo as well as on the girls side, Chika and Yuki. Together, they’re all just… awesome.
PRIDE took place during that transition between fall and winter and strangely, this setting itself seemed so appropriate metaphorically and figuratively. There’s that wordplay of their names with the season, an ironic contrast but I believe it also stretches to signify the so-called cold, cold heart of Halu (but I don’t buy it one bit- he is in truth a big ol’ softie inside its adorable).
I’m halfway through right now and though I remember and therefore know what’s to come, every scene still gets me like its the first time I’m watching. This is KimuTaku at one of his best, especially in the romance department – I’m still grunting over the mess that was the overhyped Tsuki no Koibito– and honestly, rarely do Jdramas depict the romance in an obvious fashion as done in PRIDE. I find that great and obviously heartwarming. Though it was produced in 2004, PRIDE carries that stylistic elements of older Jdramas from the late 90s – early millenium. I’m sure you’ve heard me say this plenty before but that to me, was exactly what made me love Jdramas then: that introspective tone especially in terms of the actions and decisions of the characters – so elemental, so real.
PRIDE is the sort of drama that reminds me why I am a drama-watcher, and in a good way.
I love Yuko Takeuchi here more than I do KimuTaku – but I have plenty of love for him as it is, not to worry – because she is just so… endearing. She’s not the kind of woman I would ever see myself as personally and legit, in truth, but for holding her own and not being ashamed of that; I admire and respect that.
PRIDE is beautiful – well-written, well-directed and oh so, substantial in its execution.
7 years down the road and I’m still watching it like it’s my first time. Ah, love.