Autism is not easy to understand because if there are ten autistic people, there are ten cases. You have to learn each case otherwise you'd be lost completely. Here's a 31-year old autistic man whose intelligence is only of a 10-year old child. Due to the lack of understanding, people around him get confused and sometimes mad at him. His family watches over him warmly, and with the help of his childhood friend, he opens up his world little by little, but basically he just keeps on walking his own way. This heartwarming drama follows his life and how people around him change their views and actually learn from him. "--Fuji Creative"
Cast & Credits
Boku no Aruku Michi achieves this by creating a character to cheer for, a lead that would overcome obstacles inherent in his disability. This series is about a 31 year old autistic man named Teruaki (played by Kusanagi Tsuyoshi) becoming more independent than he (and the characters that surround him) would have ever deemed necessary or possible.
I found it amazing that the reason I was tearing up was not because I felt sorry for Teruaki, but because of the positive occurances that he was the cause of. As Teruaki expanded the understanding of the world, he would inadvertently provide unsaid advice to those close to him. Thus, the focus wasn't the autistic man relying on others, but others relying on him. This is a refreshing take on "disability dramas" and a welcome change from their usual reliance on pity.
Admittedly, Kusanagi-san is on my vote list for favorite actors and while I may be fairly biased, this drama only helped boost my admiration of his acting ability. One may say that all he did was look blank and depended on his supporting cast for emotion, but I feel that his role was much more complex in that he had to accurately portray an autistic person while evoking emotions on camera that he had little control over.
To emphasize his extremely subtle emotions the show depended greatly on the musical score. The score's tone drifted intricately between melancholy and pride, leaving it up to the viewer to interpret the scene within those guidelines. In doing so, the music helped give the theme of independence a greater voice, further drawing the audience into Teruaki's world. As a very odd aside, some of the music reminded me of the computer game Monkey Island. Take that as you will.
The supporting cast was decent to very good. Of particular interest was the role of Ootake Satoe, Teruaki's mother, which was acted exceptionally well by Nagayama Aiko. Many of the tears I shed came from her pride in her son. Karina seemed a bit dry as Teruaki's childhood friend Miyako, but as the series went on it made more sense. She is very beautiful and to her credit she seemed to portray maturity well for an actress who is 23 (her character is 26). As her character grew, I became more comfortable in her acting ability.
The writing is decent. Each story line, while executed fairly well by each cast member, was very slow paced and thus the entire series can seem to drag on. It is not until later when you realize the growth in each character that the viewer may become more involved to the point where the pacing does not matter. In this respect, the series may definitely not be for everyone. As somebody who just finished Heaven's Coins, this slow, positive story is a welcome change to the hair-pulling frustration of the former series.
This show was very positive, poignant, and while admittedly very slow, it never drifted out of the bounds of possibility. It seemed real, and the emotions it evoked were just as well. It was enjoyable, lighthearted, and inspiring -- a great feel-good drama that offered a bit of tears on the side.
(Originally posted January 20th, 2007.)