Cast of Good Luck

Shinkai Hajime (新海元) played by Kimura Takuya (木村拓哉)

A rookie pilot and my favourite character ;) Not the top of his class, in fact he took the longest to graduate but dedicated, committed and genuinely compassionate towards his colleagues and passengers.

Shinkai Hajime is cheerful, impetuous, impulsive, compassionate, determined and passionate. Punctuality is a problem for him although he does take his job seriously and has a genuine concern for colleagues and passengers. He tends to be very open-hearted and honest with people.

Kimura portrays him very well and Shinkai's "triumph of the human spirit" although laughably miraculous – is also very touching and extremely convincing. It is so Kimura's credit that notwithstanding such an implausible recovery, with this whole-hearted performance he is able to be so convincing and heart-felt. You so want him to succeed that you don’t care that such a recovery is a miracle. Shinkai is very dynamic character, refusing to give up no matter what happens. He even runs fast on crutches!

Shinkai's relationship with Ogawa is so hilarious. The two are just oozing chemistry, genuine affection, love and prickly passion. I think these two will be very happy together. Another plus is that despite the fact that he is a good-looking young pilot, Shinkai does not come across as a “player”. The relationship that has developed between Shinkai and Ogawa has been gradual, odd and heartfelt. Despite her prickly exterior, clearly Shinkai finds something appealing about her. Notwithstanding the fact that far more gentle, pretty and glamorous flight attendants throw themselves at him – he isn't interested and is drawn to the more honest and genuine Ogawa.

Just look at the episode where Shinkai and Ogawa have planned a date as have Togashi and Koda. Shinkai and Ogawa are so excitedly cute about their anticipation. When the plane arrives at Narita at an extremely late hour, although Koda and Togashi want to see one another, they both lie and end up alone. By comparison, Shinkai and Ogawa are completely open with another and manage to meet at a 24-hour diner – albeit only briefly before poor Shinkai falls asleep. Ogawa gives Shinkai a nice smile though as she looks at his sleeping figure.

In terms of being compassionate, the way he cares about Ogawa is very touching. He could easily feel sorry for himself - having lost his mother at such an early age. As Ryoji tells an astounded Ogawa, when Shinkai's mother died, it took Ryoji 10 days to return to Japan. At that time although Shinkai was only a secondary school student, he arranged the funeral and looked after his baby brother. Upon his father's return, Shinkai had wept and hit out at his father but after that had never reproached or blamed him. As Ryoji puts it: "He's dumb and hasn't got much to recommend him – but for that alone, I'm very proud of him." Shinkai and Ogawa are very much alike in that respect, both have encountered tragedy and rather than allowing it to defeat them, they have found ways to go forward and continue to embrace life.

He appears to be culturally sensitive or at least courteous. In Hawaii (episode 1 and episode 3) he speaks English, in episode 7 he speaks English to the Phillipino cleaner on the plane and then says thank you in Thai to the hotel receptionist. Small things but they make a difference.

I like Shinkai's interractions with (almost) all of the characters. With Koda, with crazy neighbour girl, with Fukaura, with his brother and father, with Naito Jane….. most of all with Ogawa. Just not crazy about the Shinkai/Togashi relationship. I hate to say it, but Shinkai is very much like a Nora Roberts' hero. When he decides he likes a girl, there's no internal angsting or doubting (do I don't I?) - he just goes for it and knows he likes her.

Ogawa Ayumi (緒川) played by Shibasaki Kou (柴崎幸)

Ogawa is a cranky, bad-tempered ANA mechanic who is constantly arguing with Shinkai. She fears flying and she has an "unladylike" capacity to eat a lot.

A lot of people don't like Ogawa Ayumi. Some go on appearance – Shibasaki Kou is not your conventionally "pretty" girl although she can look extremely alluring in some pictures. I have no idea what make of motorcycle is, but she has it made to look like an old British "cafe racer" style motorcycle, indicating that she has style.

One article I read says: "Kou Shibasaki provides the romantic interest in his life. She plays an ANA mechanic. It would be interesting to get some figures on just how many female mechanics the airlines employ in real life, but in this fictional world, equality reigns."

I, too suspect that there are very few female mechanics employed by Japanese airlines in real life – certainly Ogawa is the only one in the series, but it was very interesting to watch her in the role.

They clearly wanted to make Ogawa unusual in every way. Strong-minded, wilful, independent – doing a man's job and riding a man's motorcycle yet still incredibly vulnerable. Her fear of flying is a direct contrast to Shinkai's fierce love of soaring through the skies.

Along with Togashi and Shinkai, Ogawa understands that Koda must be extremely rigorous in his observance of the rules. She almost idolises the strict Koda – something which clearly makes Shinkai somewhat jealous. Keep an eye out for the scene where he accuses her of having a thing for older men. Shibasaki's acting is good – see my introduction for more of my thoughts on the subject.

It is quite clear that Ogawa develops feelings for Shinkai quite early on. She clearly doesn't want to, though. Ogawa takes her job extremely seriously and resents Shinkai’s somewhat reckless, carefree attitude. At the same time though, she appears to be drawn to him despite her negative feelings towards him.

Similarly, note how Shinkai is drawn to Ogawa when he needs to talk to someone. In episode 2 when he is dealing with his confrontation with Koda, in episode 4 when talking about the Shanghai flight and also in episode 9 when Ogawa is the only person who still believes in Shinkai.

Koda Kazuki (香田一樹) played by Tsutsumi Shinichi (堤真一)

Chief pilot, he's called a cyborg by Shinkai because of his authoritarian ways. He has a Past which involves Togashi Noriko. He is one of the more complicated characters in this drama. Previously a top pilot with Grand Share Airlines, he is now chief pilot and operation audit supervisor. It's interesting that Togashi notes how Koda was just like Shinkai in his younger days.

An horrific air accident in the United States twelve years earlier is the reason why Koda has become so hard, never tolerating any imperfection from his subordinates. He fears that another tragedy might occur if he eases up on his subordinates the slightest bit. We discover that Koda is the person who has been sending 300,000 yen to the Ogawa girls every year (approximately $2,398). Not a fortune, but it expresses the guilt he feels.

He demands a great deal from the staff. Any staff member who receives a complaint is grounded and he has an almost pathologically strict approach relating to health.

lthough very hard on Shinkai, he appears to have a soft spot for him. He frequently selects Shinkai as his co-pilot or to assist him during the drills. I can't believe he made poor Togashi wait for 12 years while he got over his Past.

Togashi Noriko (富? ??子) played by Kuroki Hitomi

Chief Flight Attendant. Togashi has a Past with Koda the Cyborg and gets along very well with Shinkai. A senior air stewardess, she plays a rather glamorous "mother" role as she supervises the other staff and remains calm regardless of the situations. Turning down an opportunity for a promotion, she would rather continue flying. She is one of the few people who has seen Koda's human side. I am not a huge fan of the way Togashi appears to flirt with Shinkai. It's possible that she treats Shinkai-Kun as her younger brother, but there is definitely an arch air of flirtation in the way she treats him sometimes. Togashi Noriko is very sexy and attractive – but she should stay with cyborg. Kudos to Kuroki Hutomi though who turns in an amazingly different performance to her role in Golden Bowl. Instead of being the shy, insecure little housewife, she's suddenly a sexy, glamorous and confident flight attendant.

Fukaura Urara (深浦 ???) played by Uchiyama Rina

I originally found her character profoundly annoying but after several viewings have grown to rather like her. Fukaura is a junior flight attendant and her only ambition is to snare a husband – preferably Shinkai. She treats Ogawa (given that she is a mere mechanic) with something bordering on contempt and projects her own agenda (husband-hunting) onto Ogawa.

Notionally she only appears to be in the show to add tension to the relationship between Shinkai and Ogawa but to be honest, their relationship is so solid that someone like Fukaura never stood a chance. Shibosaki and Kimura are probably too good at conveying their attraction and mutual feeling.

I don't like the way she treats Ogawa with contempt, for instance says gokurousama (usually said to a subordinate) to her instead of otsukaresama deshita but perhaps I'm reading too much into it. Keep an eye out for Fukaura in episode one when she initially chases Shinkai, episode 2 where she tries to snare him when he's down and episode 5 when she threatens to sue Koda.

On the plus side, Fukaura is goal-oriented, to the point and doesn't beat around the bush. She knows what she wants, isn't afraid to fight for what she wants and doesn't try to pretend about it. Episode 5 also shows a rather touchingly vulnerable side to her so I have removed my references to her as "Annoying Flight Attendant".

Ota Kenzaburo (太田健三郎) played by Danta Yasunori (段田安則)

Referred to as "Chief Purser Ota", he is the manager of the flying crew. Like the others, he is dedicated to his job which he performs smilingly. Upon his first encounter with Shinkai, he can't help but adjust Shinkai's tie. Although he dislikes Koda intensely for unfairly grounding him for two years, he is determined to do his job correctly and never lets his personal dislikes cloud his judgment or his professionalism.

From episode eight, it would appear as though he has a teenaged son who lives with his estranged wife. Compassionate (for instance towards Ogawa when she is afraid of flying), he is always calm and composed during times of stress and always wishes to do the right thing (for instance provide gifts (durians!!) to the mechanics when they are inconvenienced).

From episode 3 we can see that he is not afraid of admitting when he has made a mistake and is always looking to improve himself. Clearly a big fan of Shinkai, he is a team-player and very dedicated to his career. Perhaps his only shortcoming is that he doesn't seem to be able to handle violent / distressed passengers very well - see episode 1 (angry business man) and episode 6 (ungrateful cow).

Shinkai Ryoji (新海 良治) aka Shinkai's dad played by Ikariya Chosuke

I once read an article at Reading Times in which the writer said that one of the most moving parts of the series was the relationship between Shinkai and his father Ryoji. According to the writer, Kimura rarely acts in dramas that deal with family relationships. In looking through "Beautiful Life", "Pride", "Long Vacation" etc this is probably true. He has a bad almost non-existent relationship with his parents in "Pride and "Beautiful Life" and his parents aren't even mentioned in "Hero" or "Love Generation".

The writer mentions that although there was some exploration of sorts of the father/son relationship in "Sleeping Forest", it was a very cold relationship. Therefore in "Good Luck", the portrayal of the father son relationship between Shinkai Ryoji and Shinkai Hajmie is extremely heart-warming.

As a result of Shinkai leaving the family home to pursue his dream to become a pilot, the relationship between father and son has become somewhat strained and cool. This is apparent from the first episode in the drama and continues as we see that father and son rarely talk directly to one another but deliberately address their remarks to Makoto who says: "what he says", "what he just said", accepting his role as the go-between between the two Shinkais.

When Shinkai brings Ogawa to his father's house, a rarely displayed affection is displayed and we are given a glimpse into the heart of the extremely lovable Ryoji.

Ryoji is a gruff old man who finds it hard to express his feelings. When Shinkai brings Ogawa back to his father's house, he explains that his mother died after giving birth to his brother and that at that time his father was a deep sea fisherman. After his return, he opened the boat business so as to be able to stay in Japan and care for them. Left to look after his two sons, although not approving of his son's choice to become a pilot, he grudgingly accepts it.

He also clearly takes an instant liking to Ogawa, making sashimi for her and endearingly does "his" version of trying to "sell" Shinkai to her by telling her that Shinkai is a good person. In an extremely cute move, he also garnishes the sashimi platter with two happy-looking yellow flowers, causing a completely baffled Shinkai to mutter twice, "What's with the flowers?".

Naito Jane (?藤 ????) aka Cool Multilingual Pilot played by Takenaka Naoto

Naito Jane is a multi-lingual, flirtatious and irreverent captain. Married 3 times previously, he has his hair dyed blond and is rarely serious. To be honest he's only here for comic relief, but I did like his character a lot. A captain, he likes to tease and taunt the co-pilots – kind of like a cat batting about a mouse. He likes dabbling with different languages and baffling Shinkai as he switches from French to Cantonese to English. Notwithstanding his chequered history with relationships, he still has an optimistic outlook on life, although is clearly a player. He appears to genuinely like Shinkai and to respect Shinkai's ability as a pilot, although he also enjoys teasing the younger pilot.

Ogawa Kaori (緒川 香織) aka Xun Chuan's Older Sister (緒川香織 ) played by Ichikawa Miwako

Not a very large role, but the actress who plays Ogawa Kaori is very sympathetic-looking with her large dark eyes and serious stare. The two sisters are clearly very close. Apparently a nurse, Kaori is the older and unlike the other members of the family, does not appear to disapprove of Ogawa's choice of profession. Kaori realises before Ogawa does that Ogawa has feelings for Shinkai. Polite, sweet and friendly, she seems inclined to approve of Shinkai even when Ogawa is still determined to hate him.

Abe Takayuki aka tall cute-ish engineer (阿部貴之) played by Kaname Jun (要潤)

Ogawa's direct supervisor, he is always looking out for her and also apologising for her when she blurts out things she shouldn't. There is a faint hint that he might have tender feelings for her but it's completely possible that they are of a fraternal sort rather than romantic. He seems to spend most of his time speaking to Shinkai about where Ogawa is or is not and how she's feeling.

Pak Mee Suk played by Yoon Son Ha

Shinkai's pretty but somewhat insane Korean neighbour babbles in a combination of Japanese and Korean thinks that Shinkai is someone named Sho-Chan. She also calls his brother Makoto - Takeshi. She has a disrespect for fire extinguishers, knows old granny remedies for sore throats, gives durians as presents and appears to enjoy playing with our boy Shinkai's head. Really funny - I liked her a lot. She and Kimura were hilarious together.

Azumi Ryujiro played by Azumi Shinichiro

Shinkai's former classmate and current colleague. He doesn't really do much in the series ....I think he's included because he's a television announcer in Japan or something like that. In the documentary on the DVD, he does admit to being very nervous and intimidated by the fact that he was acting with Kimura Takuya. Particularly funny in episode 3 when Shinkai "persuades" him to step down from his standby duties to Honolulu.....

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