Bullet Point Review: It’s All About The Looks
Also known in romaji as ‘Hito wa Mita Me Ga 100%’.
Mild Spoilers Ahead…
- Although It’s All About The Looks is advertised as a makeover drama, it traditionally isn’t one, as the characters don’t undergo a major physical transformation by the end of the series. Rather its focus is on the particulars of the process of the makeover itself, critiquing the expansive knowledge, skills, time and money it requires, as well as applauding the ones who choose to take out time to learn and apply these skills onto themselves. The drama is well aware that a physical makeover is only a quick fix to a more complex problem, equivalent to sticking duck tape on a wall crack. And to become what is deemed fashionable, it’s more of a lifestyle change — from getting up early to do your hair and make-up, to buying expensive beauty products to consciously eating and drinking food items that are beneficial for your skin — and it might not be for everyone.
- The plot centres around Jounouchi Jun (an aimable Kiritani Mirei), Maeda Mitsuko and Sato Seira (a hilarious Mizukawa Asami and Shiori Fujiwara) three chemists who have recently been transferred to the research team of a cosmetics company. Following in the footsteps of The Devil wears Prada and closer east, MBC’s 2015 drama She was Pretty, this drama too places women vaguely interested in fashion or beauty in a workplace that is devoted to it, in the hopes of indirectly instigating them to get a makeover. But our trio here, themselves resolve to work on their looks the moment they hear that they would be working for a cosmetic company in the most fashionable part of town. This and the fact that nobody at their new company looks down upon them for not being fashionable (or for not being interested in fashion) and in turn encourage them when they start to research and learn about the different beauty trends, is what I most liked about the show. The trio soon develop a warm relationship with Kunikida-san (Suzuki Kosuke) and even receive the occasional advice from the most stylish girls in the office Morimura-san and Kishine-san (played by Okazaki Sae and Adachi Rika).
- Each episode concentrates on a set of fashion items or trends our trio decides to research on, from branded bags, earrings, jeans, scarfs to duck lips, shampoos, and selfies. As scientists, they study about them through online articles, magazines and even observe what their colleagues are wearing, before emulating it onto themselves. The results are rarely fruitful, and they are never able to replicate the looks like in the magazines and so, in most cases, they require help from a professional like Kunikida-san.
These portions are the most hilarious and the use of manga like animations, with skits presented as DIY videos, and cutaways to character’s reactions framed similar to manga panels, help elevate a lot of the punchlines. The jokes are a hoot, never made on the characters physical appearance but on the item of the day, like how impractical a clutch bag is with its limited storage space and the lack of a strap. Or how off-shoulder tops shrinks themselves to a regular top after being washed. Or the logic behind a t-shirt designed to keep you warm is paired with shorts. My absolute favourite is in one of of earliest episodes, when Maeda-san exclaims after a successful makeover research session, ‘I am so fashionable that I don’t want to step out! What sort of dilemma is this?’
- A major portion of the drama focuses on Jounouchi Jun, the one with the least amount of experience in…everything outside of chemistry. Though it isn’t explicitly stated, Jounouchi has social anxiety, established by the scene in which Sakaki-san (Narita Ryo) is taking shelter from the rain, and Jounouchi, instead of going up to him and asking him to share the umbrella with her, imagines multiple scenarios where he either refuses to or makes fun of her. As someone with social anxiety, this scene describes to the tee about what goes on in one’s head before any social interaction or confrontation. In another earlier scene, when Jounouchi is mistaken for a waiter at a party, instead of just telling the guests that she doesn’t work here, she continues to wait tables.
She is someone who easily accepts defeat. Her first reaction to the initial failed makeover sessions is to quit and get a new job. Although, she is a smart woman — she is aware that merely changing her clothes isn’t going to change her personality, she is also extremely lonely. Thus, when she is attracted to Sakai-san (and resolves to ask him out), her feelings for him are the catalyst that help her take more initiative in re-inventing herself. That’s why the plot twist at the end works so well. It forces Jounouchi to think of what exactly was the point of her ‘makeover’ when her goal isn’t achievable anymore. The answer, as cliché as it sounds, was never about the destination. It was always about the journey. Jounouchi enjoyed researching different beauty and fashion trends with her colleagues, irrespective of whether she applies them to her life or not. And even without any definite goal in sight, she continues her research, because that’s when she has the most fun.