Call Centre no koibito Episode I

The reason I picked this drama is simple! It had an entertaining plot line and after watching a bitter sweet and tragic love story, nothing’s better medicine than funny and witty! Does this drama uphold that for me, Let’s see!

The Episode starts off with our hero Tokura Wataru in a talk show where he has appeared as a guest to discuss his best seller book, the queen of complaints. However, before the hostess can ask anything, he starts shouting into the camera “Aoyama Kyoko! Please contact me! Wherever you are, please contact me!” until he has to be forcibly removed from the set.

Going back in time, he narrates how his life was before he met her (Kyoko). He was doing great at his job in a television shopping program and was at the head of his game, selling products like hot pancakes! His bosses were happy with him and he was happy with life. However, a mistake by the MC (Nankyoku Aisu) on the program lands him in trouble. While selling pruning shears, the MC declares that the shears can “cut anything” leading to great sales, but even more complaints from people who declare the shears cannot cut metal! 😀
The story, he narrates, is of the professionals who handle the hidden part of television shopping-the complaints centre. Sitting in a bar that night, he is having drinks with a colleague while complaining lightly about the host MC’s words. Unbeknownst to him, she is sitting nearby and hears him.

The next morning at work, he receives a transfer order. However irrational and unjust the decision is, there is nothing that can be done about it. His boss tells him to be patient for six months or a year, after which the boss’ll transfer him back. With a heavy heart, he packs his stuff and is leaving the company when he runs into Aisu. She tells him to give a message to Kyoko “You should just keep handling customer complaints, don’t overstep your boundaries” when he reaches the “end of the earth Chiba”. Not really getting what she means, he heads off to Chiba.

First he takes the train and arrives at the outskirts of a town where he misses the bus going to town by just a few minutes. He has to board another bus later which drops him off at a stop in the middle of nowhere. On the drive, he reads through the customer complaint manual. Taking in his surroundings, he asks the driver if he’s at the right stop to which the driver tells him that he’s still got a long way to go. As he’s wondering whether he should call a taxi, the bus driver tells him there are no taxi’s in this part of the town.

Better yet, the mobile is out of signals range. What follows is the longest and most arduous walk he’s ever had to experience. Thirsty and tired, he wonders where the convenience stores are. Halfway through the walk, his suitcases wheel breaks down and he ends up having to carry his luggage with him as well. In the end, he finally manages to get to his destination. Once inside, he simply collapses from thirst at the reception.

One of the workers comes out to greet him and seeing his weary state runs off to get him some tea. Wataru spots a vending machine close by and rushes to get himself a drink but is short of coins. He’s lying there chanting water water when a woman walks by and seeing his poor state, pours water on him. He straightens up immediately, grabs the bottle and cup from her hand and starts drinking. By the time he’s drunk to his content and turns to thank her, she’s already long gone.

Anyways, the boss comes out to greet him and take him for introductions to the whole staff. As soon as they enter the centre for accepting orders, all women ooh and aah over the “Tokyo Dude”. His eyes fall on a duo while descending the stairs and the two women wink and him, causing him to almost stumble. God, I love his expressions! Humor like this is one of the reason I love Japanese dramas!


His boss warns him that the women around here have no way to release their pent up stress from listening to customer complaints all day long and that once your caught, it’s impossible to be free! 😀

Taking him to the customer service centre, the boss introduces him to the staff there who are unfortunately too busy dealing with calls at the moment to give him more than a nod or a passing glance even though it is just four people.

Here is their intro:

And last but not least

Wataru remembers the words Aisu had spoken to him as he watches Kyoko take a customer’s call.

That night, Wataru wants to head home after his welcome party where the boss gets too drunk and starts vomiting on the road while exclaiming how much he hates the country side. His boss informs him his residence is not totally ready since his transfer was on such short notice. Wataru asks where he should spend the night then. He is told to freely use the night room in the call centre for the time being.

Once back there, he finally goes over the events of the day and concludes he hates the countryside as well and wonders why he has to suffer like this. Spotting a phone, he decides to call his girlfriend, Shizuka. Before he can make the call, the phone rings. While he’s trying to scramble through the manual trying to find answers to the customers complaints who has called in the middle of the night, Aoyama appears behind him and takes the phone, answering the customers questions with utmost care despite having just woken up.

Kyoko tells him the reason she wasn’t at the welcome party was because she was answering customer calls at the centre (Now that’s a dedicated employee!). Wataru can’t believe she stays overnight at the centre and asks her to forget what he was saying before the phone rang. She tells him its already forgotten, switching modes is already her specialty. However, he can’t seem to take a hint when she turns back to sleep and starts chit chatting asking question after question. While listening to him, she starts focusing on his face and then a sudden slap from her quiets him down. She explains there are a lot of mosquitoes around before going back to sleep. The incident is witnessed by a worker of the call centre. Wataru is left speechless and more confused than ever.

It’s a bright morning the next day. Wataru gets ready and heads to work where he runs into a group of women from the call centre who are gossiping about him. When he greets them, he is promptly ignored. When they witness Kyoko coming in, they run over to her side, expressing their concern for her. What was a normal incident was translated as:

Wataru begs Kyoko to clear the air about the misunderstanding but she tells him shes already forgotten all about it. His own attempts end futile. Kawabe and Uno Ben walk in behind him and tell them Kyoko has no interest in people who stand in front of her yet her heart always goes out to the people on the calls.

Next, they all sit down to watch the latest show on television shopping. They’re all bored with the program already and don’t like Aisu as the hostess much. Only Kyoko says nothing as she silently watches the show. Soon its lunch time and everyone goes off to lunch, leaving one line open and asking Wataru to stay behind and take the calls.

Just as he decides to call his girlfriend and picks up the phone, he turns to see Kyoko standing there. Assuring her he will be fine, he tells her to go ahead and enjoy lunch. He finally ends up getting the call through and starts his whining. 😀 Somewhere else however, someone is listening to his conversation on speaker phone. (I’m afraid it’s all the women from the call centre and considering what he’s saying, he’ll have a very bad time ahead!)

Ah no, it turns out its just his colleagues who were worried about leaving him behind so came back to cheer him on. The workers tell him he’s the useless one around here as he is using the phone for personal calls and is even sexually harassing people. Wataru apologizes for the personal call but tells them the sexual harassment was just a misunderstanding. The phone buzzes with a complaint for Kyoko but the others stop her from taking it and ask Wataru to take it. Man, he is in for a big letdown! 😀 Everyone tells him to please not mess it up. He takes the call.

 

The call is a disaster. The person on the other end is an old man who is unhappy that the pruning shears are not cutting ‘something’ but Wataru fails to listen well and ends up making the customer even more angry. Kyoko tries to take back the phone and talk to the customer but the damage is done and he hangs up on her. Kyoko and the others try to correct Wataru’s conception “We are just supposed to listen to peoples formal complaints not talk about their lives” but he doesn’t listen and tells them it’s stupid to be concerned with their lives and there’s nothing written about it in the manual either.

 

 

The others don’t take his complaints and earlier harsh comments about them to heart. Feeling embarrassed about what has happened, he storms out. Kyoko still seems hung over the person who called, worried about why he was so agitated and the strange end to the call. Kawabe walks up to him as hes sitting outside sulking by himself and tells him how everyone is desperately clinging to their job here. Its given them hope and all the people who live here have a way to earn something for themselves. Wataru wonders about Kyoko and her reason and Kawabe tells him she is not a native of the area and “drifted in from somewhere” and had always been interested in listening to people’s complaints and responding to them rather than taking their orders. Wataru comments that she really is different.

 

Just then Ben comes running up to them and tells them to quickly come back as there is an emergency with the customer who had just called. When they get back, the customer is on the line, wanting to talk to Wataru, still angry and agitated. On the news behind him, there is a headline running about a man having taken hostages somewhere. The customer asks Tokura which blade is used to cut branches. Tokura guides him but there is impatience in his manner and voice. When he asks Tokura something else, Wataru tells him to read the manual which is when the complaitant becomes angry and tells him he doesn’t have time to read all the details and someone shouts save me from behind him. Everyone turns to see the scene on television. The person there has someone hostage and it is the very customer who is on the phone with Wataru.

 

Now this is trouble! Kyoko tells everyone she’ll look for callers history and everyone else disperses to work with her. Wataru is frantic and tells them they should alert the police but everyone ignores him. It has caused trouble at the main headquarters as well where the whole company is scrambling to try and remove their name from the bad press.

 

The others trace his records and find out he has done a lot of shopping from them over the past few years but had recently stopped. As it happened, he had originally started purchasing couple set things but changed recently and bought the pruning shears. Kyoko and the others start thinking of the reasons he might be facing to make such a choice in the recent past. Wataru is confused and wonders what everyone is up to. Minutes later, the newsperson announces details about the suspect who has taken hostages and it turns out exactly the same as what everyone had predicted.

 

Kyoko has an idea and realizes why the suspect bought the shears and what he wishes to use them for. Back at headquarters, things are frantic and they call Wataru telling him to open up the lines and respond to peoples complaints. Aisu tells them to stop playing detective and get back to work. While Wataru talks politely, the rest tell Aisu to shut up! 😀 Here the others tell Aisu they want to send back Wataru as he is of no use to them but Aisu refuses and reveals she is the one who had him transferred. When Wataru asks why, she refers to him as a bug and tells him to stay there and deal with complaints until he retires.

 

 

The customer calls again and demands to talk to Wataru but Kyoko talks to him and asks him if what he really wanted to cut was a big metal sign in front of the window in his room so he could get sunlight inside. The customer asks how she knew and admits she is right. In flashbacks, he tells us how happy he and his wife were to be living together even though it was a small house and they had little light but then the bank put a signboard infront of their window, blocking all sunlight.

 

 

The bank further gave him a hard time with his loans resulting in his business going bankrupt and he was unable to find another job. That was when his wife left him. He purchased the shears so he could cut down the sign since they said it could cut anything but it didn’t work. Losing all hope, he simply went out onto the streets and walked around listlessly. That was when he happened to reach the bank officers house by mistake and saw beautiful peaches on the trees there. He was hungry and asked for a few peaches but the owner refused, misunderstanding his intent after seeing the shears in his hand.

 

He wonders where his life went so wrong. Wataru takes the phone from Kyoko and starts talking to the customer, telling him they both share the same fate as even Wataru can no longer see his future. However, Wataru was a little too emotional in comparing each other and the customer points out his fault. Angry, the customer moves towards the hostages he has taken but Kyoko stops him as she tells him someone else bought the same shears for the same reason as him. And it was his wife. She had called the previous day with the same complaint that she was unable to cut a large metal signboard.

 

If that sign went away, we might be able to start over as a couple, were her words. The customer is startled and surprised. Kyoko tells him he is not alone. He realizes the meaning behind her words and breaks down in tears. Here, Wataru is overcome with emotion and starts crying too.

 

 

A somber and serious Kyoko suddenly shouts into the phone:

 

The customer looks to the couple he has taken hostage and prepares his shears. Heading out, he goes into the garden and cuts a peach from the trees. Everyone in the complaint centre office cheers as they watch it unfold on tv. Even Wataru is amazed. At headquarters, everyone is happy the dilemma is over but Aisu tells them to use the whole event to their benefit and feature the item in the show once again.

 

Everyone goes to the beach to celebrate their silent victory. Wataru confides that he will not be running back to Tokyo. The customer taught him that no matter the kind of job he had, as long as he had it, he was fortunate. The others are pleased with his attitude and invite him to join them for drinks. As they are happily chatting away, he spots Kyoko sitting away by herself. He asks her how she knew the customers feelings so well and she tells him it was obvious the same way it was obvious he was thirsty which is why he drank all the water from her bottle the day he arrived.

 

He turns to the others and grins at them that Kyoko really is a little different when she walks up to him and slaps him again (I am so loving the slaps! Haha, his expressions are so hilarious!). She tells him there was another big mosquito but she let it get away this time. No one else seems surprised. With that, she heads back to work. Poor Wataru is left screaming after her.

Hope you enjoyed episode I as much as I did! I’m not sure if Ill be continuing the recaps ahead though. Ive yet to see another episode of it but it is a nice reprieve from the last japanese drama I watched which was a bittersweet tragedy and made me cry buckets! Right now on my list are this drama and another and from what I’ve seen of the first episodes of both, my mind is swayed towards the other option! Let me watch more of this and then decide! However, if there’s someone out there who does want more recaps, lemme know and I might just go for it! 😉

 

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About hitomiakiko

Architect and Aspiring Writer

Posted on November 25, 2011, in Asian Cinema, Entertainment, Japanese Cinema, Potpourri, Recaps, Stories, Uncategorized, Written Excerpts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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