Here’s another TV series that was based on a great manga. (I know, there are a lot of those!) Sexy Voice and Robo was originally a seinen comic by Kuroda Io (黒田硫黄) that was published around 2000-2003. The drama starred Suzuka Ohgo (大後 寿々花) as Nico Hayashi, a teenager with a bizarre talent for changing her voice. At first, she uses her ability for innocent pranks, but she eventually ends up talking to guys on the phone doing enjo-kōsai, which is like low-level phone-sex. It’s there that she meets Iichiro, a robot obsessed geek played brilliantly by Kenichi Matsuyama, (of Death Note, Gantz and Norwegian Wood fame).
The pair eventually team up to work as “spies” for a local gangster, using their skills to solve different cases and help people. The show starts out with an odd-ball premise but it really gets better with each episode as the unlikely team become closer as friends. The show also peers into some shadier aspects of Japanese culture such as Iichiro’s otaku obsessions, and young girls participating in “compensated-dating”.
Some Americans might recognize Ohgo from “Memoirs of a Geisha” where she played the young Chiyo Sakamoto. Matsuyama has been in far too many famous roles to list here (I will plug my favorite, Detroit Metal City), but his portrayal of Robo is spot-on; he captures the humor and sadness of an inner city tech nerd perfectly. He also uses his MacGyver like skills to help solve crimes.
I have a particular fondness for this series because it was the first drama that I watched in the Japanese language without subtitles so I remember struggling with the translation. But even if you don’t study Japanese, the show is a definite classic. You can get the dvd and the manga from Amazon.