“Sex is the consolation you have when you can’t have Love” -Gabriel García Márquez
These lines pretty much spell out the entire conundrum of this drama. What happens when you lose trust in your relationship and grow jilted? Life becomes your center stage, and you like to set pieces of puppets into motion as per your comfort. You get disconnected from your own emotions and feelings, as well as others. The situation gets even worse if you are a famous porn author suffering from “Writer’s Block.” This show could be the “Kijima Rio / Kijima Renjiro” perfect playbook where he shamelessly evokes his apprentice Kuzumi Haruhiko’s lust and love. Still, this drama has much deeper shades of dark and twisted elements. Based on the popular web novel “The Novelist,” this drama follows the journey of our two main protagonists as they rediscover the difference between seduction and plain romance through a carefully scripted storyline that delivers their audacious chemistry well.
While Japanese BL dramas are mostly classified by their realistic vocal tirades by characters with high sexual chemistry, Pornographer’s slightly different temperaments showcase the complexity driven by Rio’s need to sabotage any and all kinds of relationships. The addition of his suave Editor Kido Shiro adds a nice twist to this possible love triangle while leading to believe that they have quite a robust compatibility. The storyline is not devoid of flaws, but despite that, it manages to hold your attention. The intimacy between Rio and Kuzumi may not be off the charts but is tastefully executed. Delving into the mindsets of each character might be an uphill task. However, I will try my best because they are so varied and vivid that they call for complex and detailed analysis.
Takezai Terunosuke portrays the role of Kijima Rio. He is a popular erotic porn novelist. The storyline focuses on his close yet disastrous relationship with his new apprentice Kuzumi and his Editor Kido.
Yoshida Munehiro plays the role of Kido Shiro. He works as an Editor of Erotic Fiction novels. On the surface, it seems that he has a professional relationship with Rio. But it’s clear that they had a past and are intimately acquainted with each other.
Izuka Kenta plays the role of Kuzumi Haruhiko. He accidentally crashed his bike into Rio. Unable to afford Rio’s hospital expenses, he agrees to work for the novelist instead. Their relationship becomes steamy and tumultuous over time.
Pornographer delves into the intricacies of trust and intimacy that is beyond conviction. A young student Kuzumi Haruhiko crashed his bike into a stranger. The stranger Kijima Rio turns out to be a pornographic novelist, and he fakes an injury to his dominant hand. Left at odds, the two come to an agreement where Kuzumi agrees to work as Rio’s apprentice. Although repulsed at first when he discovers that Rio writes erotic novels and transcribes the same, with time, Kuzumi becomes closely acquainted with the writer and his writing style. As Rio pours out his salacious and lusty contents, Kuzumi starts imagining them in those exact situations. Rio becomes his “Sensei,” and he even grows despondent with the sudden appearance of a competitor. The storyline delves deeper into their relationship as they both fight their base feelings- Kuzumi is at odds with his attraction while Rio fights his need to connect with his apprentice.
But love and lust cannot be held off for too long. Will Kuzumi accept Rio and fight for his affections, despite his easy lies and deceit? Will Rio break through the walls built around his heart and follow his heart?
My Thoughts About This Drama
Pornographer would just be a classic case of poignant eroticism translated into seduction if it wasn’t for the realistic expressions of discord displayed by our main protagonists. Kijima Rio is a broken man who has lost touch with reality and his ambitions while Kuzumi is supposedly his beacon of light. But this is a Japanese BL, so conflicts are obvious, and the leads have to transcend through a pile of emotions before they arrive at any possible conclusion. For me, the show was highly metaphorical because Pornographer portrayed the basic tendencies of the majority of audiences who enjoy the salacious and yet provocative erotic stories. On the outside, they might act as highly responsible citizens who would love to mask their sex drive, but beneath the veneer, their basic tendencies boil out to the surface.
A chance accident sets the precedence for deceit, lust, and fate as our main protagonists Kuzumi and Rio, circle around each other!
University student Kuzumi Haruhiko accidentally hits a man who turns out to be popular erotic novelist Kijima Rio. The meeting is quite interesting because Kuzumi displays his responsibility by actually taking Rio to the hospital. That acts as the stepping stone to major exploitation because Rio uses Kuzumi’s kind nature to his advantage. Without inquiring about the genre he writes, Kuzumi unknowingly agrees to be Rio’s apprentice. Kuzumi is surprised when he figures it out later that Rio writes highly-erotic novels. As he slowly transcends the distance between vulgarity and admiration, he begins to appreciate Rio’s writing style. What Kuzumi once considered as ugly morphs and makes its way into his sexual fantasies. The growing admiration gives way to an attraction as Kuzumi begins to fall for Rio’s easy charm. While these events transpire, you notice the contrast in the characters. Kuzumi is innocent and naively believes everything that Rio states, while Rio is like a seductive damsel in distress. He poses and prances along while trying to hold Kuzumi’s attention. Rio obviously knows the effect he has on Kuzumi, it seems practiced, and he oozes sensuality.
Kuzumi’s carefully constructed romantic world comes tumbling down when faced with Rio’s past rendezvous, Kido. Although they play off as Editor and Writer, their relationship is anything but professional. The way Rio reacts to Kido’s proximity or Kido’s apparent interest in his writer’s personal life raises tension while watching. To make matters worse, Kuzumi’s imagination projects a very vivid and steamy interaction between them, which drives him crazy. These events are pretty interesting because you can see the way Kido cares about Rio. Their relationship is obviously beyond friendship, even though Kido is married with a kid. There is a touch of sensuality wrapped with warmth. Rio is someone special to Kido, and that grates on Kuzumi’s nerves. So much so that he indulges in a late-night sojourn with his Sensei Rio. Most of the kissing scenes in this show are deftly shaded in the dark and project at the character’s basic hidden tendencies- for Kuzumi, it’s love, while for Rio, his emotions only betray his lust.
It might have been a dream night for Kuzumi, but reality crashes in on them too soon. Rio goes on the defensive when he realizes that he has played the seduction game for too long. He backs off, and his tactics seem to have the opposite effect on Kuzumi. Instead of getting hurt, Kuzumi latches onto the hope that they can have a future. It’s quite pitiful because both are in a precarious situation. Kuzumi cannot figure out why his Sensei is suddenly driving him away, and Rio tries hard to rebuild walls around his heart. That is until he reads Rio’s previous works and figures out the entire deception. It’s heartbreaking because Kuzumi was genuine in his affections, and Rio blatantly misused them. I’m not certain if he was just lonely and decided to take Kuzumi for a ride-along. But to lie about something that Kuzumi holds dear to his heart is a huge level of disrespect, and I was appalled as well. Rio’s callous attitude grated on my nerves. Until now, he has only presented an attitude that borders on narcissism, and I’m not a huge fan of Rio’s shallow desires.
Their next encounter ends up being a major confrontation scene because Rio admits his deception and decides that sexual gratification is the way to appease Kuzumi’s anger. They have a major showdown where Rio tries to give him a blowjob, and Kuzumi is horrified by Rio’s actions. The image he had in his mind about Rio is destroyed completely, and that leaves him shattered. I was shocked by this turn of events because on the surface, Rio looks like a highly cultured individual. During his earlier conversations, he explains how he isn’t interested in writing erotic novels and that it is just a means of livelihood. But this scene is in direct contrast to Rio’s statement as he displays his horny nature. In his world, every problem is solved by a policy of “give and take,” and that is centered on sex. I have no idea why his point of view is so screwed up because Kuzumi wants to have a real relationship, and Rio is trying to reject his advances by displaying his deviant tendency.
This show focuses on the basic tendencies of human nature. Something in Rio’s past has changed his perception about relationships or commitments, and he fails to understand or accept Kuzumi’s love.
The show’s finale episode left me with a bitter taste. I’m not saying it wasn’t satisfactory, just that I felt at odds with the entire series as a whole. As Kuzumi confronts Kido and figures out more about Rio’s current situation, we realize that Kido might possibly be the reason behind Rio’s skeptical nature. Kuzumi decides to take matters in his hands and warns Kido off. What I found interesting in this situation was Kido’s reaction. Although Rio seems more affectionate towards Kido, the latter has tight control over his emotions. But the mirage disappears when Kido admits that he doesn’t like seeing Kuzumi with Rio.
I was hoping for possible reconciliation and a “Happily Ever After.” The show gave me one and canceled out on the other. Kuzumi forgives Rio, and they share a passionate night with promises. But the next day, Rio leaves without a word, and Kuzumi is left behind with memories. Why Rio runs away like that doesn’t really need an explanation! He is afraid of catching feelings, or maybe their one night of passion is enough for him. The drama has an open ending with lots of possibilities. I’m still at odds with the ending, where each character seems to have moved on with their lives, but are still stuck at some point in their past. I’m hoping to find some clarity in the sequel “Mood Indigo.” My mind is leaping into the unknown, and I want to understand more about each of these characters.
What turned Rio into this unemotional mess? What kind of relationship did Rio have with Kido? If Kido loves Rio, then why did he get married to someone else? Will Kuzumi and Rio meet again? Will Rio’s skeptical attitude allow room for any future romances?
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]
The show is streaming on popular web portal Viki, and all episodes are available for free
For now, enjoy these candid shots with the show’s main cast, who seem to share a friendly camaraderie off-screen as well.