So let me preface this article with, I don't watch many dramas.
Yep, that's right, on MyDramaList, I prefer more movies and the odd variety show, and that's pretty much it. I have ADHD, so it's a big struggle to focus on anything past two hours, and I suffer from "don't drop" disease, so if I get into a long drama I can't stand, I'm stuck with it till I finally muster through the last episode. Seriously, if you know anything about me, you'll know I adore horror - I still haven't gotten around to Kingdom or Strangers From Hell yet.
So when Netflix kept pushing Boku dake ga Inai Machi at me because I watched a few Japanese films, I wasn't sure what to do with it. Usually, I'd keep scrolling, find my next film, and forget that it was there. However, Netflix pushed this at me about twenty different times. I caved and watched the trailer, and I decided, you know what, it's twelve episodes and they're half an hour episodes - it's not going to be a massive loss to me if I don't like it.
So I kicked back, grabbed a coffee and some snacks and let episode one start its streaming dance across my TV screen.
A six-hour binge later, and a lot of tears cried, here I am; let's shine a spotlight on Boku dake ga Inai Machi and discuss a few things - spoiler-free - about why it's worth your view.
Acting & Actors
The first thing I want to focus on about this drama is the actors themselves and their acting. I've seen a lot of films where we have flashbacks or time travel to where the characters are children again. Quite often, it's very obvious the child actor isn't always one hundred percent sure on what they're doing - sometimes, it's even the industry professional adult actor - and the child just doesn't feel like the character we've been introduced to. I don't know if this is usually just due to the actors not getting the acting right or in the case of the child actors, they haven't had the experience or extra acting lessons, etc., that they may need, but it seems to be something a lot of things just let go.
In Boku dake ga Inai Machi, I did not have a single issue with this. There was not one child I couldn't recognise as their adult counterpart, and nor was there an adult I couldn't relate to their child counterpart. This is something somewhat rare for me to encounter when watching a medium with this aspect, so the fact that all the actors pulled it off is something I am amazed at and proud of all the actors that took part.
Can we just appreciate how even the child counterpart looks like they genuinely would grow to his adult counterpart? Absolutely stunning casting.
The acting ability of these actors is also no joke. Everything felt genuine and real, as though this were happening in Japan, and it wasn't just a series. If it weren't for the time travel aspect, this could have been a documentary on a crime case, and I'd have believed almost every minute. Most notable, of course, were Furakawa Yuki and Uchikawa Reo for their joint performance as main character Fujinuma Satoru. Together, they created such a stunning character that I couldn't help but feel for in so many different ways.
I'd speak more on other characters and show their adult/child counterparts, but the plot could easily be spoiled by one wrong image; I don't want to risk spoilers, so I'll keep it short and sweet.
Can we please have a moment to appreciate some of these shots?
I'd include more, but there are too many potential spoilers, and I'm trying to keep this as spoiler-free as possible. Still, there are so many beautiful and just stunning shots that left me speechless during my binge of this, and I have to give a shout out to Kiyokawa Koshi, the series' cinematographer, for these shots. I definitely want to watch more of what he has created, he left me stunned with the art he has produced in Boku dake ga Inai Machi.
Okay, so, I'm not big on time travel or crime, to be honest. A lot of the time, I feel the plotline is overdone, or it gets too complicated, or there are too many factors to have to try and consider. Sometimes the director attempts to go too dark with their plots and it just doesn't fit what's going on. Other times, it's just lousy screenwriting, but either way, I'm not too keen on crime - another reason why me writing this article took me by surprise.
So let's remember here for a moment: this surrounds child kidnappings and murder. Be wary of content of the like, harm to children, some considerable scenes with blood and two spoilers: implied, but not explicitly shown sexual assault and explicit on-screen child abuse. If you'd like more details on this, please comment or PM me!
That aside, this plot is so intricate. Everything connects in such stunning ways, I was left flabbergasted, my mouth dropping open, and one of my friends who watched this before got lengthy paragraphs of me screaming as the episodes went on. The inevitable big reveal was done in such a stunning way that it was so much fun to watch - no spoilers here! -, but the director gives us enough hints as time goes by. I clicked a little earlier than the director intended, I believe, but the full reveal still came as a massive shock to me. Even when you're pretty sure you know, the director leads you astray and fills your mind with red herrings. Shimoyama Ten does an absolutely stunning job in his role as director. Everything connected in such a beautiful collection by the end that it was just brilliant.
There are a lot more points I could talk about when discussing this series, but I promised myself I'd keep all my articles spoiler-free (unless absolutely needed, e.g. trigger warnings) so I'll leave it here for now.
This is, so far, the drama I've watched in the quickest time (in terms of gaps between episodes, when I chose to sit and binge some episodes, etc.). I honestly have not had a drama suck me in and make me tear up both happy and sad, being on the edge of my seat, be unable to turn away and chew and suck on my nails to relieve some tension. It's also only the second drama that I've seen where I've put off watching the last episode for a while because I just didn't want it to end at all.
Boku dake ga Inai Machi has shown me an entirely new universe that I can't wait to explore in other ways. I can't wait to watch the live-action film (Erased), I can't wait to watch the anime nor can I wait to get the manga in my hands to relive this in all of the ways possible. I don't think there's ever been a media I've watched that has made me want to consume all forms of its content, so Boku is somewhat special for me in that aspect.
It's also gone as far as to make me want to try more crime-based dramas, time travel based, or both time travel and crime - if you have any suggestions, please let me know!
I gave this drama a solid nine out of ten (compared to the average user rating of 8.6/10 from 2,701 users), so it seems me and the rest of MDL are in agreement. Give this a try! It's well worth the 6 hours (12 episodes of 30 minutes) of time to watch.