Pretty Proofreader, also known as Jimi ni Sugoi! Koetsu Garu Kono Etsuko is a 2016 Japanese drama that focuses on Kono Etsuko’s career life. Etsuko has always loved fashion, so she applies to a publishing company with dreams of becoming a fashion editor. But instead, she gets assigned to the unlively proofreading department.
Pretty Proofreader is based on Koetsu Garu, a novel written by Ayako Miyagi.
The drama has a total of eleven episodes, and it is 13+ restricted. All episodes of this show are available with English subtitles on Viki – Pretty Proofreader – full episodes
My Expectations: I discovered this drama while searching for entertaining Japanese shows to watch. Although I noticed it a few times, I skipped because I did not feel it was going to be good. Finally, after some time, I decided to give it a try because of the main actress. I absolutely adore Ishihara Satomi, she is an amazing actress. Also, Japanese dramas are short and straight to the point, so I had high hopes of not being too disappointed.
(Warning – spoilers ahead)
Review: This has definitely become one of my favourite shows. It has everything I usually look for in a drama. I can confirm for sure that it exceeded my expectations. I thought it was going to be another classic romantic comedy, but instead, I got a perfect slice of life storyline with excellent acting. Everything was well structured. The writing is brilliant, and the show is very educative. In each episode, we got different stories that were really heartwarming, sincere and lesson filled. Although this drama had a bit of romance here and there, it definitely was not the main focus because the main couple does not start dating until the last episode. Still, I really admired how they both supported and encouraged each other. They were adorable together. The drama focused more on character growth, support and acceptance between co-workers and friends.
There is a lot to be learned from Kono Etsuko’s career journey. One of the most prominent lessons is to never give up on your dreams BUT always remember that everyone is allowed to have more than one purpose, so do not remain stuck for too long on the plans that fail. Find your fulfillment in something else. I will outline more lessons later on towards the end of the review.
After watching Pretty Proofreader, I have really come to appreciate how much work goes into publishing a book. It was sad to see that the proofreading sector hardly got recognition for a job well done, but once a mistake was found, it was ultimately their fault. Now I know for sure that editors get a lot of credit for their work, but I am not sure if all publishing companies have proofreading departments and how well they appreciate the members of that department. All the same, it gives a lesson that we should value the unsung heroes in various work fields. This is why I was so excited when Yukito decided to write his book about professions that hardly get recognition for how much they contribute to society.
Another thing I truly enjoyed about this drama is the cinematography. The landscape scenes were stunning. It definitely made me want to visit Japan even though I already have the country on my bucket list for travels.
Also, the opening theme for the series is cute. The song is catchy, and the scrapbook animation they used was fun to watch. I was able to find a short recording section of the opening song on YouTube –
#1. Kono Etsuko –Ishihara Satomi is beautiful. I have seen her in 5-Ji Kara 9-Ji Made, Dear Sister, and I am currently watching Takane no Hana and Heaven. She definitely brought life to her character in this drama. All her scenes were believable, and her expressions were great.
Kono Etsuko is shown to be smart, confident, determined, extremely honest and funny. She is also quite tactless, but as the show progresses, she becomes better. I love that even though she did not get her desired job, she was still very passionate and hardworking. Etsuko tried her best to perfect each task assigned to her. She went out of her way to verify the facts and also met with writers to make sure that everything written in a manuscript is logical and correct. While working in the proofreading department, she still maintained her glamorous fashion sense and gradually began to appreciate her job as a proofreader. She always had the best comebacks whenever someone tried to belittle her. And her cheerful personality never failed to brighten up the mood of everyone around her. I find it cute that whenever Etsuko got super excited, she would start talking very fast in a high pitched voice. I really loved a good number of her outfits in this show, but I will talk more about her fashion in a separate post. All these great qualities are what quickly made her enter my list for top female lead characters. Her story showed that sometimes adversaries in life can be an opportunity for growth. Another key lesson from her is that even though certain things in life do not go according to plan, it is still up to you to make the best out of your current situation.
One of my favourites scenes of Kono Etsuko is when she puts a few rude guys in their place by showing them that women are not only concerned with sweets and fashion –
By the end of the show, I could tell that Etsuko was meant for the proofreading department. Yes, she loves fashion, but there was a different kind of pleasure she got from proofreading. I am glad that they made out a way for her to take part in both sectors.
#2. Orihara Yukito –This is the first drama I have watched from Suda Masaki, so I do not really know much about him, but he impressed me with his role as Orihara Yukito.
Etsuko perfectly describes this character. This is what she said to Yukito – “you are always honest to yourself and living a slow life at your own pace.”
Honestly, I did not care much for Yukito at first, but as the story progressed, I began to appreciate how insightful and considerate he was. Yukito is a very mature and chilled character. He does not get angry quickly, but that also affects his ability to express his discomfort with specific situations. This became an issue when he had to deal with his new editor, who kept staying in his house till late and doing unnecessary chores. I honestly wish he had said something to the editor himself, instead of having Etsuko frustrated to the point that she had to storm in and point out how uncomfortable she was with the situation. But overall, he is a charming character. One of his good qualities that I admire was how quick he apologized whenever he hurt Etsuko’s feelings. I also found his smile to be very cute. He is one of those people that make you want to smile once they smile.
His insightful nature became more prominent with his choice of topic for his new novel. His book was really inspiring and informative. The scene where he shows his latest work to Esuko is my favourite moment of the entire series. Yukito got inspired by how much passion Etsuko put into her work and how frustrating it was for her that members of the proofreading department never get the recognition they deserve. This goes to show that as people, we never know who we are impacting or inspiring, so do not ever feel like you are irrelevant or unimportant. Keep doing your best because there might be someone who looks up to you.
I was so happy that Yukito finally found what he was passionate about. I understand how frustrating it can be to not know what direction to take. Also, working on something interesting does motivate you to achieve the best result.
#3. Morio Toyoko – Morio gave me a lot of mixed feelings for a good number of episodes. I was very skeptical about her. At first, it seemed like she looked down on Etsuko and was always avoiding her but also felt comfortable enough to hang out in her house. And when I discovered that the man she was dating was already married. I was quite confused and concerned.
As the story progressed, I got to understand Morio more. I love such characters because of the development and growth they go through. If the writing for her had taken a wrong turn, she would have come off to be the typical one-dimensional second lead lady, but I am so glad that they killed that cliche.
Yes, she felt inferior to Etsuko, but with time she grew past that and began to focus more on herself. This change made her realize that she did not need to beg a married man for love and that she was neglecting a sincere friend just because of envy. She also started showing more passion and sincerity towards her work and others. I definitely warmed up to Morio Toyoko by the end of the series.
#5. Kaizuka Hachiro –Hachiro and Etsuko always bickered like an old married couple. I love the nicknames they had for each other. She called him octopus, and he called her Kou Etsu because her name in some way translates to proofreading.
He might seem annoying to some viewers at first, but he is actually a great character. As an editor, he cares about his writers and goes the extra mile to make sure that their books come out perfect. He really impressed me by not giving up on Yukito and continuously encouraging him to try and write something substantial again. Also, when octopus met a writer who he had disappointed in the past, he tried his best to help out. So kudos to a character that was willing to own up to his mistakes and work to better himself. Here is a clip of my favourite moment from him –
#4. Co-Workers in the Proofreading Department –
Etsuko had a significant effect on her colleagues and the entire mood of the office. Evidence no. 1 – Office decor: I find it so funny that I did not take much notice of how different the office looked compared to when it was first introduced. I saw her bring in a few decors here and there but never took to heart the final result until it was pointed out in episode ten.
Anyways she made other members of the department start taking extra measures to verify the facts for each manuscript. Even Ms. Fujiwa, who was always against Etsuko’s methods, went out of the office for research. Ms. Fujiwa and Etsuko’s relationship is an excellent example of how unlikely connections can blossom into a good friendship. I was so impressed by how everyone in the office supported and cared for each other. They helped Etsuko when she made mistakes and were so worried about her the one time she did not dress up as usual or give her daily cheerful greeting.
There were a lot of gems given out in each episode. I have already mentioned a few, so here are more lessons that could be learned from this drama.
- Everyone struggles at some point, that is life. So do not undermine another person’s pain just because you cannot understand or relate to it. Be kind, and if you are capable, try to be a sound support system through someone’s struggles.
- Refrain from making assumptions or speculating based on what you see.
- Communication is essential. Do not expect people to know exactly how you feel, voice it out.
- Envy and jealousy can ruin you, Be yourself.
These are the little things which we might not really pay attention to, but as humans, we are prone to go against most of these lessons. Sometimes I also fall to the disease of making very drastic assumptions, but I try my best to stop it once I notice.
Before I end this post, let me share with you all a very hilarious moment in the show. I call it Etsuko’s bad outfit day –
I honestly laughed way too hard at this scene. The sequence of Etsuko’s realization took me out.
Okay… overall, this drama was very positive and inspiring. It made me very happy. There was no unnecessary tension. It was perfect from start to finish, and I could definitely rewatch it. I really recommend this series. So my rating for Pretty Proofreader is 10/10.