It’s not quite Prada, it’s just Emotion ….

atelier underwear emotion anna wintour

Never did the world make a queen of a girl who hides in houses and dreams without traveling 

 Roman PayneThe Wanderess

Atelier    (2015)
Also known as
Written by
Naoko Adachi
Directed by
Hiroki Hayama    &     Ryûta Orgata
 Mirei Kiritani,     Mao Daichi,     Mayuko Kawakita,    Wakana Sakai,    Ken Kaito,     Maiko,     Masako Chiba,    Dori Sakurada,     Nicole Ishida
Country of Origin

oh! brief

The storyline for the dorama is coming-of-age of the female protagonist, Mayuko Tokita who studied textiles at University. She starts working with a small, high-end lingerie design business in Tokyo called “Emotion”. (Emotion is the actual shop name and not merely a translation of a name from Japanese). The dorama focuses on Mayuko’s struggles to find her place in life, her profession and her journey from country-girl to an employee in the fashion industry. The setting for this drama is an haute couture (boutique-style) lingerie shop that design custom-made underwear (bra and pantie sets). In fact, Atelier means ‘underwear’ in Japanese. A key aspect of Mayuko’s life journey is her struggle with her boss, Mayumi Nanjo, the creator and owner of Emotion. Mayumi is a fictional icon in the lingerie industry in Japan and has held an established brand of more than 25 years.

oh! talks drama

If the dorama’s objective was to portray a woman struggling with self-identity and personal growth, then, they nailed it! Mayuko comes to the city bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and faces a world of new challenges, all differing from the life she knew growing up in the country.

Central to the entire story is the conflict between the two main characters (Mayuko and Mayumi). Their different backgrounds, points of view and coming from two vastly different generations. The conflict, however, is overused a little, in my opinion. But, having said that, an affection develops between the two women

During the process of ‘growing up’, Mayuko questions the concept of feminine beauty and challenges Mayumi to change how she’s been doing business and what has worked for them in the past. She causes trouble and disobeys orders outright, but never in an overtly disrespectful manner. In fact, she is without malice or mean-spirit, just challenging the confines of her employee and the industry itself. But she is ignorant, and in all honesty, knows so little about haute couture. I think Mayuko is an opinionated and passionate character.

Knowing what I do of Japanese culture, I wonder how writer Naoko Adachi got away with Mayuko’s insubordination? Not only are Japanese deferential to their elders, they are also extremely polite and very customer-centric. Japanese customer service is above-and-beyond its western counterparts.

There is a healthy dose of corny philosophy regarding underwear and the essence of a woman. I guess it’s not off the mark as it is the item of clothing we cannot go without, but one that is hidden from view and therefore entirely personal. I expected to find some very sexy pieces, but the items designed and displayed all appear to be things one would use daily and not those used for intimate evenings or scandalously delicious pieces that might be hidden beneath one’s clothes – pity!

If it weren’t for the mild histrionics throughout and the mid-series twist where two employees suddenly up and leave, the dorama would have been immensely boring. I expected some mystery and intrigue, perhaps even sexual tension, but sadly all are lacking. I guess the idea that lingerie incites desire and sexuality were completely overlooked during the writing of the production. The customers who come to order items, never come to find that ‘hot date-night’ number that will knock the socks off their husband or boyfriend. It was sorely missing! In all honesty, the divorce of sex and sexuality from a drama series on lingerie makes me wonder if Japanese are celibate or have live in a celibate, sexless, genderless society?

The acting was passable, no award-winning performances from any of the cast. There was no glitzy cinematography or breath-taking scenes with stunning lingerie, nor any steamy backstory with sex and intrigue. The show was just meh!

oh! that’s a wrap

Overall, I had mixed feelings. When the show ended, I actually had no clue that it was the end and I anticipated a follow-up or more seasons. No such luck! I felt betrayed. I had hoped the show would open up and deliver more.

Watching Atelier, I was struck almost instantly that there was no bad-mouthing, no swearing, no nudity, no drugs – it bordered on being mind-numbing. But that was also part of the attraction I guess. I’ve watched other Japanese dramas, this one was different.

I won’t be adding Atelier to my ‘Watch Again List” – will you?

oh! tidbits

Mayumi Nanjo’s look is apparently based on the longtime doyenne of Vogue Magazine, Anna Wintour.

oh! soundtrack

Dorama Atelier

oh!  gallery

While there are a fair number of photo stills for publicity and Netflix releases, I have only chosen a few favoured stills, including behind the scenes photos.

oh! trailers

oh! nooz

Netflix to deliver Fuji TV original content


Mirei Kiritani Stars in Netflix Japan & Fuji TV’s “Underwear”

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