This is a love story between Akira Kuroiwa, a 15-year-old boy who knows nothing of love, and Hijiri Suenaga, his new 25-year-old homeroom teacher. One fated summer, Akira begins to realize he has feelings for Hijiri, but Hijiri has a long distance fiancee. The story follows the pair over the course of several years.
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"Don't judge the book by its cover"First let me start this review with a mini rant
The only concern I see people having with this drama is that they said it normalize pedophilia. My defense on that matter is you would only consider a person a pedophile if he/she is occasionally attracted to children which in this case she's not because she was not attracted to him because he's a child. I know most will not agree with that argument but let's say you are correct and she's a pedophile. Does this drama normalize that psychiatric disorder? BIG NO. She's attracted to him but didn't take advantage in fact she was despised the whole time, the school, students and the society. The drama won't make you feel they are romanticizing that idea. As for the matter that it might affect the thinking of underage viewers. Do those kids have parents to guide them? Then what about stories like Robin Hood, mistress protagonist, serial killer etc. are those stories being normalize just because they were made? If you are inclined to call it a trash just by reading the synopsis then I am sorry but with that kind of logic I just couldn't help but think you are DUMB.
Chugakusei Nikki portrays the forbidden love between Hijiri, a middle school teacher and Akira, one of her students. The drama follows their story for the course of several years. There will be time skip in the middle of the drama, 3 years to be exact, when Akira is 18 years of age. The characters are well written, Hijiri was portrayed really well as an inexperienced teacher, adult yet not matured, and also Akira as rebellious and confused teenager. Side characters are interesting too especially Haraguchi and Shotaro, it's also interesting to see their love story develops. Their love is somewhat similar yet different. The plot is sensitive but the drama handled it tastefully, it is nowhere near as creepy as you might think. This show is also grounded to reality in that every emotion these characters portray is very relatable. What I also like is the pacing it's very balanced which makes every episode engaging. The drama also knows how to play with our emotions. The director is just so good on how to build tension and also how to end every episode. Expect roller coaster of emotions, it's highs is wonderfully high and it's lows is absolutely devastating, there's even couple of scenes where I was on the edge of my seat and to think this drama is not a thriller.
~ A good rain chooses the right time to fall and so it falls ~
~ When it comes to spring, the rain is certainly falling ~
~ It follows the wind and secretly enters the night ~
~ While the wind is blowing, the rain continues to fall until night ~
~ And moistens everything softly, without any sound ~
~ Silently, almost making no sounds at all, it makes everything wet ~
This poem in episode 1 summarizes the whole drama. It is a metaphor to the kind of love between Hijiri and Akira, a pure love similar to dramas such as Sekachu, Endless love series, Koizora, Be with you, Heavenly Forest etc. Pure love genre if you would know is what popularizes Asian drama. It basically portrays a couple that faced many obstacles. Pure love in sense that even after so many years they still long for each other. We haven't seen this genre for quite some time and I already see upcoming dramas with similar genre. This drama will trigger another pure love era.
Cinematography is just captivating. I love how they capture the green landscape on camera, the shot during sunset, falling rain drops, fireworks and that weird fish eye effect they always use. Those are not just gorgeous shots but also serve as a symbol to what these characters feel. That's beauty about Japanese drama, it is full of symbolism and just like what I always said, great cinematography is similar to great painting, it is not just beautiful but also captivates you, will make you move closer and examine the painting and not just say "oh this painting is beautiful". Music in this drama is just perfect, it underlines the mood and helps showing the emotions of each characters. It is a really great piece of background music. With great drama comes great ending song and "Prologue" by Uru is just like that. It's not just a great melody because if you read the lyrics it will make sense why they choose it as the ending song.
The acting is just brilliant but other than the acting, the casting needs more praise. They just casted right people for the roles, Arimura Kasumi for example, she has this cute, inexperienced image and if you watch the drama having that image made her portrayal of hijiri so effective. They also cast a rookie for the role of Akira, it a nice decision by them as it requires a certain rawness to the character. It doesn't mean Okada Kenshi is not a great actor though. He is indeed fantastic as he provides the intensity and angst to the role. They won't call him a super rookie is he is not. The side characters are also well casted, if you follow Japanese drama long enough you would be familiar with Yoshida you and Natsukawa Yui, they were both underrated actresses. Their characters played an important role to the story and they played them really well. Aside from Akira, it's the portrayal of those characters made this drama so much better.
Final episode will be tomorrow but I decided to make this review because what ever happen this drama will go down as one of the best Japanese drama I've ever seen and definitely my best Japanese drama this year. End game won't decide the rating this drama should get in my opinion because just like they said the journey is more important the than destination. More than just a drama but also an experience.
I've just watched the last episode and I don't want to spoil anything but it is indeed one of the best Jdrama ever!!!
Check my Blog for other reviews & other JDramas stuffs. (｡◕‿‿◕｡)
Story/Emotions: Such a controversial topic was handled delicately and realistically and still represented the positive possibilities which one person should pursue when caught in the harshness of life. It is not just a love story, but a pure and beautiful life changing one at that. You quickly forget the age difference between the main couple when you look at their characters and their process of falling in love with them. At first one might question their beginning of love, but what this drama does make you realize is that you never quite know what exactly makes you fall in love with one particular person and why that one person is the only one who holds that special spot in your life. Other people even though having the same specs or even better ones still don't make the cut in your life. Their love story from start to end remains realistic at best. It is the love that empowers them to discover themselves . Their is a perpetual question of whether you give in to the love or realize your personal dreams; especially when faced with such a difficult love. But this drama beautifully shows how love gives them the motive of achieving other things in life as well. The opposition is all expected , yet you ride this roller coaster begging some understanding and happiness for the couple. Their journey is a long one and this drama will tug at your heart. It is an extremely incredible feat that the director and writer managed to make a love story even more interesting than a thriller. And this is a story you are not bound to forget for a long time.
Characters: Not one character is such that you wouldn't empathize, Even the most difficult of characters are still the one who you will warranty your understanding. Both Akira and Hijiri's characters undergo a growth that is otherwise only superficially shown in other dramas. Full marks to all the characters , even the minor ones. No character in this drama is dull or stupid. The highlight being Akira's character who grows from a boy to a fantastic and extremely capable young man who doesn't give up even in the toughest of times. His is an astoundingly clear-headed character. The depth of the awareness of his own emotions is displayed right from the beginning. Even his childishness which is often the part of your first heady days of love (couple it with his adolescence) is hardly blamable. But the transition that he undergoes post the first half of the story is a real piece of cake. Akira's mother also has a very strong character and is also one of the strongholds of the story. Yoshida Yo's character is a brilliant one and one that will have a lot of impact on the viewer throughout the story. Her depth of character reading of the people around her is a personal goal.
Acting: This a department that elevates the drama to the all time lists in my opinion. This story commanded exceptional acting due to the complexity of each of the characters and the story line anyway. Even the minor characters are made memorable by the respective actors. Akira's mother, the renowned middle aged actress does the mother's part exceptionally well. You would hate her persistent opposition throughout the drama and yet understand her protective heart for Akira. She is fiercely portrayed and has some of the toughest scenes in the series. Yoshida Yo gives another brilliant performance as Haraguchi. You are bound to like her character the best in the series and it is all thanks to this great actress. This also gives you a rare example of a fierce and extremely outspoken Japanese woman that is hard to come by in japanese society. Arimura Kazumi is a little shadowed due to other stellar performances but by no means is her acting lacking. She plays the naive and kind hearted teacher to the best and you empathize with her hardships and even with her initial confusion over Akira and her fiance. It was a pretty tight spot to pull without making her character hateful but she still manages to display the precise emotions. Machida Keita is also decent although his is the only character that you would find less attractive in spite of having the perfect high specs.
The real gem of this Drama is and will always be Okada Kenshi. I can pretty much write another full article on his acting. Enough has been said about no one believing this to be his debut role and having a huge potential and everything is 100% true yet I somewhere think it still doesn't do him enough justice. To begin with he clearly steals the show every single time he is onscreen. You will not get over his smile, the slightest twitch of his lips, the slightest change in his expressions and light in his eyes and the body language which is all so powerful that before even Hijiri falls in love with him , you will find yourself spiraling down that lane unknowingly. It is crazy how many emotions he can make you feel through his character. It seems that the role was written just for him and there is not one scene where I can pinpoint that he needed improvement. His looks already make you wonder if he is the handsomest man out there and to top that those acting chops are sure shot lottery to stardom.
Music: The background music has never been so apt and fitting. It played with my feelings big time. Some of the scenes while already memorably written and acted out , became absolutely ten fold phenomenal because of the background score. This background score will always remain on my playlist and still makes me go through a 100 emotions , all that I cherished while watching the drama. The Prologue by Uru will also remain etched in your memory.
Rewatch: Anytime! And every time it will make me feel sadness and happiness on a new level. For a love story it has amazing rewatch value for you will have new found appreciation for all the symbolism, dialogues, acting and cinematography. You are bound to discover something new every single time.
In gist, this was an extremely impacting and emotional drama that will grow on you with every passing moment until it becomes an obsession for you. It is bound to play with your feelings big time and yet inspire you throughout the journey that you live along with the characters. To each this will be a personal journey. The drama satiated all my drama expectations and made me reevaluate all the other dramas I had watched till date and mentally I deducted at least one star from all of them. In a world where kdramas rule the roast, this will make you hungry for Japanese dramas and leave very big shoes to fill in it's wake.