Haiku reflections on Japan

Sweet dramas

Dealing with loss of

a loved one or a talent 

would test anyone

Back to television now, I watched a sweet drama a while ago called Aikurushii. It translates as sweet but I think charming is a better translation.  It is the story of a family coming to terms with the illness of the mother (and her subsequent death) while sticking together with the help of neighbours and friends, and the importance of friendship.  It is narrated by the younger brother, Horo.  It’s a drama I just wasn’t able to switch off from, as it really was charming with a charming cast.    The acting is very well done by all.   I’ve seen the actor who plays the father, Naoto Takenaka, in lots of stuff and I think he’s great.  Such an expressive actor.  The actress who plays the mother Mieko Harada is most famous for playing Lady Kaede in the Akira Kurosawa film Ran (her spine-chilling ambition driven by revenge is fantastic) but I don’t think I had seen her in a tv drama prior to this.  It did not take me long to recognise her as Lady Kaeda despite the almost 40 year gap.    There are times when Aikurushii gets a bit soppy but not to an off-putting extent.

Another one I watched recently is Orange Days.   I’ve seen one or two dramas where one of the characters is deaf or has some other disability and they have been a bit soppy but this one is probably a better one.   The deaf girl in this is still struggling to come to terms with being deaf as she only became deaf a few years earlier and while still able to play the violin she cannot play it as well as she used to.  She also has to deal with sometimes pitying but well-meaning people around her while her new friends are deciding what they want to do on leaving college.  It’s about realizing your dreams or (SPOILER ALERT), in the case of one of the 5 main funny and sweet characters (who also features in two other enjoyable dramas Best Divorce and Last Friends), accepting what has been set out for you i.e. taking over the family business.

A drama of a different calibre, called Tokyo Dogs, is about a mismatched pair of detectives chasing a particular criminal and protecting a witness they both fall for who has lost her memory (which if she could regain it would help in locating the elusive criminal).   Some of the supporting cast are a bit annoying (the brown-nosing, harsh female detective who instantly agrees with the boss after offering a contrary opinion only a moment before, the stalker-ish girlfriend of another cop) but one of the main two detectives is enjoyable to watch if a bit puerile himself.  This one is a real laugh out loud kind of comedy.

As I’ve said before, I’ve often come across a Japanese drama which I had to switch off before even getting through the first episode or in some cases after a few episodes because it has been maudlin, predictable, slightly wierd, or whatever.   High school dramas are the worst but I find myself a bit too ‘old’ for those anyway, so avoid them.  These 3 dramas I’ve watched have been really enjoyable.   Of course they’re also good for refreshing your (real, not textbook) Japanese if you’ve been out of Japan a while or you don’t have many Japanese speakers around you to speak Japanese with.  They also offer various slices of Japanese life which might surprise people.

I’ve also watched a few Korean dramas lately.  I’ve watched a few films from Korea which are always well-made, but no tv dramas until recently.  I like listening to the Korean language too and I think Hangul (or Hanja as some call it) is just the coolest looking language script ever.    While I won’t be taking it up yet, it would be nice to explore it sometime in the future.  Korea is also beginning to interest me as a place to visit.

 

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