This year I’ve started having a lot more “screentime” due to the fact that I have a Moviepass (which is awesome!), but I am also trying to watch more dorama, anime, and other Japanese TV. Actually, almost all the tv I watch is on TV Japan since I am a Japanophile, and I love some of the documentary and travel programs.
Anyways, here’s what on my watch list at the moment:
Segodon (Taiga) – Really good historical drama. I like most of the actors in it, plus my celebrity crush Kitagawa Keiko has a part.
I just finished up watching the Japanese drama Anone あのね (2018). The 10-episode series was excellent! It’s one of those doramas that I could watch all the way through in one sitting if I had the time. However, I did watch in three sittings, so that was maybe the equivalent of three long movies? I don’t know, but it was so good that I kept wanting more. If only I didn’t have to get up early in the mornings. 😀
***** SPOILERS FOLLOW *****
Anone is a slow-paced and contemplative story, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot going on. On the contrary, there are plenty of plot twists and revelations. You realize early on that each character has a lot of baggage, but they all have goodness in their hearts, some more open about it than others. And that’s part of what kept me interested. What will we learn next about this character’s past, and how does it affect the decisions that drive the plot?
Speaking of plot, there’s one main thread involving counterfeit money, and while that is interesting, I found myself most wanting to know how characters’ interpersonal relationships would unfold. The relationship between Harika and Hikoboshi-kun was the primary romance and had the highest emotional weight. However, a close second was the relationship between Aoba-san and Mochimoto. I liked this relationship because it involved two middle-aged characters who enter their relationship knowing it will be short-lived. So, it was great to see the two romance plotlines, one involving young adults, and one with older adults, develop in tandem.
But wow, episode 9 was super-emotional. The hospital scene where Harika rejects Hikoboshi was so incredibly sad. Harika lying to Hikoboshi with her voice, while denying her lies by shaking her head was an amazing bit of storytelling. One of my favorites scenes ever.
Also in episode 9, the relationship between Aoba and Mochimoto reaches its resolution in another emotional scene. But this one is handled in a more mature and practical way owing to the fact that the characters have more years and experience behind them. It was special in its own way.
Both scenes were based on self-sacrifice, but whereas the hospital scene was filled with youthful innocence and idealism, the scene with Aoba and Mochimoto was one of practicality. Both were amazing to watch and I am feeling emotional again just thinking about them. 😭
From this review so far, you might think this is a dark and sad tale, but there are a lot of funny scenes as well. I found myself laughing out lot several times. Aoba and Mochimoto’s interactions from the very first scene were clever and silly.
Speaking of that opening scene, I was wondering why it involved characters that I thought (from previews) weren’t going to be important. But they were charming and engaging and I was happy that they stayed an integral part of the show. When their story quickly took a turn towards the criminal, I was disappointed. However, that didn’t last long since you could tell that they were honest people who just got dealt a bad hand.
And so it was with most of the other characters as well. Good hearts put in bad situations, through no fault of their own.
I have to mention the “ghost” element of the story. At first, when the ghost appeared, I was afraid that Anone あのね had “jumped the shark”. Thankfully, that element became plausible, interesting, and added a ton of depth to Aoba’s character. It’s amazing how screenwriter Sakamoto Yuji could add so much color to these characters in only 10 episodes. I feel like even the Asadoras, which last half a year, don’t do that very often.
Of course, such interesting characters can lose their impact if the actors portraying them aren’t believable. I’m happy that Anone’s cast was great. I admit my Nihongo is basic at best, but I felt that there was a high level of realism each actor brought to their characters. Hirose Suzu 広瀬 すず was fun to watch, and she had the most emotional scene as I mentioned before. I’ve only seen the 19-year-old actress in Anone あのね and Umimachi Diary, but she’s really good!
The other veteran actors were solid as expected, especially Kobayashi Satomi 小林 聡美 (Aoba) and Tanaka Yūko 田中 裕子 (Anone). I never once thought that the characters were unbelievable or unrealistic.
Last, but definitely not least, is the soundtrack. It’s wonderful. The theme song is intimate and moody, and reminiscent of the best tunes from the Legend of Zelda. There are a bunch of other great songs from the drama as well, I think it would be a great soundtrack to add to your collection.
It was a looong week for me at work. So busy and lots of things on the horizon. But it’s good and I am thankful that I have a career (graphic design and branding) that is interesting and I enjoy.
But after this week, I was looking forward to a night of relaxation, and so poured a glass of wine, put on a Japanese drama, and watched all five episodes.
Coffee-ya no Hitobito / 珈琲屋の人々 is a story of an ex-con who runs a small coffee shop in Tokyo, and the relationship that develops between him and the widow of the man he killed. It sounds like a bizarro plot and circumstance, but the way the circumstances are developed is such that it is not such a stretch. Anyways, besides the main plot, there are other characters from the same shopping street who have their own intertwined stories. It’s a good human dorama, but I was thinking there would be more emotional moments. I’d rate it as “Somewhat recommended”. 😌
After that, I did a little doodling using the Wacom tablet and Krita, which was fun but difficult. I can definitely see that it’s something I want to do more of.