ALS (amytrophic lateral sclerosis) also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a truly terrible disorder. Sufferers experience progressive nerve degeneration, particularly those which affect motor skills and voluntary muscle movement. Early symptoms include weakness or cramping in muscles, excessive clumsiness, and slippery grip. But these annoyances often develop into full-fledged horrors, as ultimately one loses the ability to control or even initiate basic movement. Walking, chewing and swallowing, even breathing—all of these are gradually made impossible. Worse still, while ALS remains somewhat rare, it is usually fatal...and no cure yet exists. Boku no Ita Jikan (“The Time I Was In,” internationally titled “The Hours of my Life,”) acquaints viewers with ALS, while painting an intimate portrait of a certain afflicted young man. This drama exults in the ordinary, from sets to characters and even plot points. Yet the propensity toward simplicity is exactly what produces any brilliance it might find. Main character Sawada Takuto could be any 20-something in Japan, but he could just as easily represent any young person anywhere. His goals appear unremarkable, his relationships familiar, his hobbies commonplace. But because they are also realistic, the generated reliability helps to connect viewers to the show. If nothing else, it will leave one questioning themselves. "How have I lived until now? Have I taken my time for granted?" I would categorize this drama as inspirational, though also quite tragic. Many uplifting moments occur, yet these can be just as painful as the tearjerker scenes. For those wondering, a rather good love story does exist (and with surprising maturity, despite at least one "fish kiss"). There are a few cliches, unfortunately, including the most dreaded irritant: noble idiocy. Veterans of the genre might not enjoy Boku no Ita Jikan as much as others, either; there have been stronger, similar forays, though it brings a youthful flair to the table. Miura Haruma starred in one of my first experiences with Japanese cinema about a thousand years ago, coincidentally another disease-oriented tale (Koizora). Though I've barely seen him after, I never forgot the effect that initial performance had on me. Meeting Miura-san again in Boku no Ita Jikan, I’m pleasantly surprised at his immense growth from then. His turn as Takuto is delightfully ordinary, yet powerful in its modesty. Most memorable will be his optimistic smile, though there were times I was floored in how deeply I felt Takuto’s fears. An actor with potential indeed. I found leading lady Tabe Mikako only decent, though she performs well for the most part. Her Megumi takes the longest to “settle” and characterization seems somewhat fluid until around the mid-point. Chemistry with Miura Haruma is consistent, if more strongly felt in later episodes. Saito Takumi looks his best, though character Mukai Shigeyuki possesses a selfish streak. Due to subtle writing and this actor’s innate charm, Shige nevertheless remains painfully human. He might be a flawed jerk in many contexts, but he also has the potential to be genuinely friendly, observant, and likable in others. Nomura Shuhei is also notable, as he develops Rikuto into an surprisingly adorable and complete supporting character. Pretty music accompanies Boku no Ita Jikan. Of particular note are vocals from Rihwa (“Harukaze/Spring Wind”) and Yuzu (“Yorokobi no Uta/A Song of Joy”). Sound effects are also utilized to a heart-rending degree, including the sound of a ticking clock bridging between scenes.
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