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Hashiridase

Canada

Hashiridase

Canada
Completed
Hidden Blade
27 people found this review helpful
Feb 18, 2023
Completed 1
Overall 9.5
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10

An incredibly intense espionage thriller

Before getting into the review, here is some historical background for the film:

The film is set during the Second Sino-Japanese War and WWII. There are several powers in play at this time: the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese Nationalist Party or Kuomintang, and Imperial Japan. Imperial Japan invaded Manchuria (located in northeastern China) in the early 1930s and established the puppet state of Manchukuo. It was here where they hoped to establish a base from where they would continue their expansion into Asia.

In 1937, after many years of conflict, Japan occupied Shanghai, Nanjing, and Beijing. The Nanjing Massacre occurred at this time. After the fall of Nanjing, which had been the capital of the Republic of China at that time, the Kuomintang moved the capital west to Chongqing, under Jiang Jieshi's leadership. During this time, the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang formed a temporary alliance, suspending the years of civil conflict between them, although their vie for power continued.

In 1940, Wang Jingwei, who was once a member of the Kuomintang but had always been in opposition against Jiang Jieshi, collaborated with Japan to establish the Wang Jingwei regime. They claimed to be the leadership of the Republic of China, when in fact they were a puppet government of Japan, overseeing the Japanese-occupied territory in eastern China, under Japan's control. They established their capital in Nanjing and used the Kuomintang flag. The Axis powers recognized the Wang Jingwei regime, while the Allied powers still recognized Jiang Jieshi as the leader of the Republic of China.

From 1937-1941, Japan had left a few neighbourhoods in Shanghai unoccupied, because that was where the American-British joint settlement and French Concession were located. Many people fled to this area to live at that time. After Pearl Harbor in 1941, the entirety of Shanghai became occupied by Japan. Many cities were bombed during these years, including Guangzhou, which experienced bombings for 14 months in 1937-1938.

During this era of war, which is also called the War of Resistance in China, espionage networks were established to try to undermine the enemy. Hidden Blade tells a story about these individuals.

---

Even without knowing the historical context, Hidden Blade presents a visual feast of vivid characters and imagery. Cheng Er uses a non-linear narrative approach to reveal the stories of these characters. The main characters, Mr. He (Tony Leung) and Mr. Ye (Wang Yibo), are both enigmatic and morally ambiguous. We meet Mr. He, the charming man who hides intimidation behind a pleasant smile, and Mr. Ye, a rootless man who does not shy away from violence. Tony Leung does not disappoint as the veteran actor that he is, as the man who can tell stories with just his eyes or a slight smile, and he delivers a charismatic performance that reaffirms why he is such a revered actor. Wang Yibo delivers a phenomenal performance to match. Mr. Ye is a compelling character who is mesmerizing, perplexing, suave, and incredibly human at the same time. Wang Yibo does a fantastic job of portraying this complex character with mysterious motives, who seems to hide much more than he lets on behind his cool and composed appearance. He excels at playing a character whose inner turmoil is silently repressed.

The cast of side characters are also worth mentioning, with memorable performances from all of the actors. I take half a star off only because I feel that the female character stories could have been explored further. Zhou Xun makes a special appearance as Ms. Chen, and although her part is brief, she captivates the audience from the moment she walks onto the scene with her package of pastries and she leaves an emotional impact on the audience even in the short time that she has on screen. Jiang Shuying (Ms. Jiang) and Zhang Jingyi (Ms. Fang) are both charming as well, however their opportunity to showcase their strengths is quite limited.

The cinematography is well-executed and the attention to detail is remarkable. In one interview, Cheng Er reveals that even the ties that are worn by the characters are all actual ties from that era that have been collected. The music also compliments the scenes beautifully, adding further to the tension which Cheng Er builds so skillfully throughout the film. The choreography of the fight scenes is also top-tier and will not disappoint.

As a movie depicting times of war, there are several scenes that are difficult to watch and Cheng Er does not shy away from showing the cruelty of what people may have experienced. General content warnings without spoilers include torture, suffocation, death of an animal, implied rape (not depicted), as well as genre-typical violence that one may expect from an espionage war thriller.

Overall, the cast and crew have created a incredibly intense thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat and leave you thinking about many scenes even after finishing the film. There are many parallels drawn throughout the film and it is a film that only gets better with rewatching as one lets the details marinate. At the end you're left with a lingering admiration for the individuals who struggled to free themselves from the oppression that they lived under. In doing so, they have sacrificed their own lives, their relationships, and even their own values in their effort to forge a path forward, towards a future where the nameless ones might once again stand in the sunlight.

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Completed
Juhan Shuttai!
4 people found this review helpful
May 12, 2018
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
This is such a perfect example of why I love Japanese dramas. The story is heartwarming and the cast is solid, delivering characters that you can't help but cheer on. It follows the everyday challenges that the characters face at work in publishing, and in life. Kurosawa, the main character who is full of passion, was fun to watch, and her cheerfulness never came off annoying or exaggerated. The side characters were also well explored, given the short length of the drama. This just goes to show that you can have a great story without stereotypical villain characters. Instead the characters are seen struggling against their own fears and weaknesses, each dealing with them in their own way.

If you're looking for a feel good drama, look no further. Every episode left me smiling in the end.

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Completed
My Mister
3 people found this review helpful
Aug 21, 2018
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 9.5
Rewatch Value 9.0
Yes, this drama moves slowly at times, so it depends on the kind of drama you like to watch. If you're someone who loves the slice-of-life type show that lingers on moments of reality, then this could be your type of show.

I started this show because the director is behind two of my favourite dramas of all time, Misaeng and Signal. I loved those dramas because of the realistic way in which they depicted human relationships, and My Mister is no exception.

This drama features a lot of stories around loss, as well as the aftermath and how different characters cope with loss. All of the characters felt relatable in the ways that they dealt with loss. As I mentioned earlier, this isn't one of those dramas filled with thrilling moments of action. Certainly the corporate drama has some tense moments, but at no point did the drama fall into the trap of using overdramatic cliches to drive the story along, despite having some familiar elements (the ones you may expect in a typical corporate drama, where characters are vying for higher positions). The ending was appropriate and realistic.

In terms of the main characters, I have to commend Lee Sun Gyun and IU for playing their roles well. Their relationship is likely my favourite platonic relationship in all of drama land, in that it really highlights how each character grows with the relationship. It is certainly not one without imperfections and power imbalances, but I was never disappointed in the direction the drama went with these characters.

The family and friends are a really lovable crew when it comes to supporting one another, and they make the drama a heartwarming one to watch. Like any family relationship, the brothers have their ups and downs, and they have their likeable and unlikeable moments as well. By the end of the drama, I was left with an appreciation for the different character dynamics and how they came to be who they are now in the current timeframe, in which we get a glimpse into the lives of their small community. My only complaint is that the workers at the company are more two-dimensional. (But then again, if you're looking for a really good drama focused on company workers, there's Misaeng.)

Music choice was also well done.

Overall, I would strongly recommend this drama if you're a fan of this director's previous works and are looking for a drama that really does a good job in depicting the nature of human relationships. It was at times very serious, but also heartwarming.

If you're looking for something lighthearted, a romance drama, or something filled with exciting action, I would give this one a pass.

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Completed
Scent of a Woman
3 people found this review helpful
May 8, 2018
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.5
Rewatch Value 9.0
What made this drama so enjoyable?
Certainly not originality. It's an idea that's typical of Korean dramas and there are scenes typical of romance dramas, but the combination of cheesy romance moments, superb acting (especially from the main, Kim Sun Ah) and strong supporting characters (Uhm Ki Joon) is perhaps what made this drama so enjoyable. The chemistry between the cast was great. The viewer is able to sympathize with Lee Yeon Jae, Chae Eun Suk, and also at a few rare moments Im Se Kyung (she is a rich bitch that I did not despise as much in a drama). The result is a drama filled with tears and also moments that make you smile.

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Completed
Let's Go Watch Meteor Shower
2 people found this review helpful
May 8, 2018
36 of 36 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 7.0
And so the fourth (fifth?) version of Hana Yori Dango: I was not expecting much from the mainland version, but I'm glad that I did end up watching it in the end. There were it's dramatic moments that I did not like, but then again, the story of HYD comes with drama. Ye Shuo and Shang Guan were my favourite for the other two characters of F4 out of the versions I've seen. More episodes meant that their own stories could be expanded on. Zhang Han also quickly became one of my favourites for the leader of F4. The main girl was very obstinate and strong-willed, which at times felt a bit much, but in the end this version got the most tears out of me (as far as the first season goes in any case!). The characters of F4 feel more relatable in the sense that their wealth did not seem quite as over the top as in some other versions. So if you like the story, I'd definitely recommend it.

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Completed
The Producers
2 people found this review helpful
May 8, 2018
12 of 12 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
This drama ended up being a lot better than I expected initially.

The set-up in the beginning is more like a mockumentary style, which I wasn't a fan of as I thought it made the whole pace a bit slow. After the first couple of episodes though, they smooth out the bumps and things start flowing a lot better. If not for the awkward pacing in the beginning (which is somewhat characteristic of mockumentaries I find), I would have given this drama 5 stars.

The best part of this show was the cast. Cha Tae Hyun and Gong Hyo Jin are amazing and their roles in this drama are no exception. Kim Soo Hyun and IU also did well in their roles. I loved the development of characters and the relationships between them. The characters are all somewhat petty, but they each have their own charm. There's a lot of dry humour and cheesy humour. The dynamics between the characters are what made me continue watching past the first few episodes.

I thought it depicted the romance aspect quite well too. The way characters dealt with situations felt realistic and there were no overdramatic moments that are so characteristic of kdrama romances.

There are a lot of Korean culture references and cameos, and if you've watched a few Korean variety shows then I'm sure you will enjoy them.

This drama isn't one that is full of action and dramatic events. One might consider it to be slower in pace, but I never felt that the drama dragged too much (after the initial couple of episodes, as I mentioned). If you can make it through the first couple of episodes, I would say this drama is rewarding with its charming array of characters that leave you with a satisfying feeling at the end.

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Completed
City Hunter
1 people found this review helpful
May 8, 2018
20 of 20 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
I started watching this drama with my doubts. When I saw the previews, I thought, "oh...another cop/revenge show with a good looking lead that they'll exploit just to get fan girls to watch."

But in the first episode, it showed that it would be the storyline that would be focused on more. And it is a good story. I wasn't sure how Lee Minho would do in this role, since it's quite a different character from what we'd expect. (Would it be just another lady killer prowling the night?) But--as each of the characters were introduced to us, we were shown different sides and watched as Yun Seong carried out the tasks in a way that he believed was right.

What I love most about this drama is that with this type of storyline, the acting and the actions taken by the characters could have all become a bit too over the top and take on the over-dramatic quality that so many Asian dramas have. But here, everything was just right. The characters showed that they could be calm, calculating and collected, but also passionate when the situation arose, which made them so much more believable. So for that, I have to say the writers did a great job for putting absolutely no annoying characters in this drama.

Nana is perhaps my favourite female character in a kdrama, for always maintaining what she believed in and being such a great support for Yun Seong. There was a good balance of entertainment from the side characters as well. I also really liked the prosecutor character, who is determined to catch the City Hunter, as this was what he believed to be the just way.

The ending, while some may wish it was more expanded on, I felt was appropriate for the drama. There were heartwarming moments, but also lots of action and the viewer is always drawn in to cheer for the City Hunter whenever he succeeded. There is a hint of romance, but it doesn't overshadow the main action of the story.

I would definitely recommend this, as it was a nice break from all the cheesy, romantic, or overdramatic dramas out there.

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Completed
Moon Embracing the Sun
1 people found this review helpful
May 8, 2018
20 of 20 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 7.0
Noting that this is a historical drama that is directed more towards a younger audience than most other dramas of this genre, this drama did not disappoint me and gave me just what I had been hoping for.

The child actors won me over so that I would be interested in the storyline. I was glad that they were given the amount of showtime that they were given, so that they were able to develop the characters before we see them when they are older. And what a truly lovable group of characters. There are the antagonists one expects from a Korean drama, the ones we all love to hate. One notable character that always provided entertainment was Hyung Sun.

The acting was also well done for the most part. There were only a few moments during the show in which I felt the acting may have been a bit lacking, but these were points I was willing to overlook in favour of how much I liked the rest of it. I thought Kim Soo Hyun did a good job of showing that he could play more than just a pretty boy part. His acting as the King definitely made this show more enjoyable. (Something I had not expected so much at first.)

The storyline lends itself to certain cliches, but these I were happy to accept as a part of a romance drama. The drama part of it certainly had many moments of tears, but I didn't find it too excessive. In light of the rest of the drama, I felt that the ending fit.

The set was also beautiful and the music was well chosen.

Was there anything incredibly exceptional about this drama? Certainly it wasn't one of those thought provoking dramas, nor was this a drama focused on the intricacies of politics--it had its imperfections and repetitions. However it is a story about staying true to one's ideals and it was interesting to watch a show where the King is someone young, with all the passion that comes with youth. The chemistry between the characters was also quite satisfying. But overall, I enjoyed this drama because it gave me the tears and laughter that I was looking for in a sweet romance drama, set in a historic time. Not a perfect drama, but a good one to pass the time with.

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Completed
Kazoku no Uta
1 people found this review helpful
May 8, 2018
8 of 8 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
A truly heartwarming drama. It's a pity that it was shortened.

At first Hayakawa Seigi may come off as a selfish, arrogant guy still stuck in the past in his own little world. But quickly we see that there's more to him and it's really admirable how he stays true to himself and his ideals. Odagiri Joe does not disappoint. The children are of course adorable, but they also show how discerning children really can be. The characters each have their own charm that keep the drama from being boring. It's nice to watch something with such a positive mood where all the characters are really supportive of each other, and I found myself rooting for them also.

This just goes to show that a drama does not need to involve too many dramatic or action-packed elements to still be considered an excellent watch. I would most definitely recommend this if you're looking for a lighthearted, feel-good Japanese drama.

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Completed
Cunning Single Lady
1 people found this review helpful
May 8, 2018
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
The way this drama started off, I was unsure if I would be able to like it, but somehow it ended up becoming one of my favourite kdramas. The story is very typical, and the characters presented also seem very common. Initially, Na Ae Ra seemed naive and needy, while Cha Jeong Woo appeared to be your typical arrogant rich guy. As the drama continued, there was nothing particularly unique about the story, but what won me over were the main characters. I thought this drama did a brilliant job of finally presenting a strong female character rarely seen in kdramas, and demonstrating a broken relationship where both sides were guilty and had to reexamine themselves, to make equal contributions towards rebuilding the relationship. Na Ae Ra matures throughout the course of the story and it was nice to see the female lead of a romantic comedy not just being pulled along by the male lead.

As for the side characters, I wish they could have been better developed, but there is your typical array of characters that add enjoyment to the drama.

If you're looking for something unique, this drama isn't what you're looking for. However if you're one to love a good romantic comedy, cliches included, I would recommend this, as it was enjoyable throughout. Because of the strong main characters, and the excellent chemistry between them, this drama was a lot more fun than expected, despite the predictable plot elements.

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Completed
It's Okay, That's Love
1 people found this review helpful
May 8, 2018
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 9.0
This is one of the few kdramas I'm aware of that touches on mental illness, without just using it as a plot device. While I'm not fully satisfied by the accuracy or the depth into which they've delved into the topic, as far as I'm aware of, it's not something that's explored as much in conservative Korean culture, so for that I think this drama deserves recognition.

This drama also explores a more mature relationship between characters who each have their own flaws, which is refreshing in the romance genre of kdrama. The two main leads display superb acting skills and make their characters charming and believable. While overall the drama has a more serious tone, the strong side characters provide plenty of humorous moments. It was nice to see such supportive friendships between the characters.

The soundtrack is also one of my favourites, and differs from your typical kdrama OST in their song selection, which I appreciated. The soundtrack definitely added to the tone of each scene.

The pacing was also excellent as I never felt it drag and the storyline kept driving it along until the very end. There were heart-wrenching scenes, but it never felt too overdramatic or exaggerated and everything--the events, the characters' reactions--felt realistic.

I can't think of another drama where I enjoyed everything so thoroughly and I would definitely recommend this drama for those who are looking for a more mature romantic kdrama.

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Completed
Empress Ki
1 people found this review helpful
May 8, 2018
51 of 51 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
I am rarely ever so wrapped up in a drama and its characters.

This was my first long sageuk that I watched and to those that are scared away by the length I can say that this drama never dragged at any point. The pacing was really quite excellent up until the end, where I actually felt that it was a bit rushed.

I will talk about the characters first because they are the reason I enjoyed this so much. If you want to watch a drama about happy characters who make admirable choices and lead happy lives this is not your show. These characters are all full of flaws and there were numerous times where their actions infuriated me, and yet all the actions that they took were believable in the context of their situation. Seung Nyang is fiercely independent and is difficult to read at times, but her stiff, cold attitude is part of why she is able to survive in her circumstances. Wang Yoo is your typical heroic knight character, but he gets more interesting as he takes on a more active part in the political drama. And Ta Hwan--I must say I was impressed by Ji Chang Wook's acting, and that he was more than just a very pretty face. Ta Hwan is actually quite a pitiful character and could easily be disliked for his foolishness/uselessness/delinquency--call it what you will. Yet I could sympathize with his character. He is a victim of the vicious characters around him who are all vying for power, and many of his faults can be attributed to his upbringing in that toxic environment. All these characters do despicable things, but in the end I came to adore almost all of them. I actually liked the other characters more than the 3 mains. El Temur is such a superior antagonist and he was a huge part of why I enjoyed the story.

Which brings me to the soundtrack--the soundtrack is epic, which is appropriate for a historical drama. El Temur's theme was my all time favourite leitmotif.

Visually, this drama was astounding. They chose a vivid colour palette for the scenes within the palace, which was quite pleasing to watch. This was definitely a high budget project.

As for the storyline, I realize this drama received a lot of criticism for not being historically accurate. I will just review the storyline that the writers have given us. The political intrigue drove the storyline forward, and kept me interested throughout the entirety of the show. Only a few aspects bothered me. One of which were the cheesy loveline scenes at the beginning. One thing to keep in mind is that these characters generally do not have healthy, equal relationships. I would not watch this show looking for great romance. That being said, I did enjoy watching the intricacies of the relationships. The only other aspect that bothered me was the last story arc that I felt could have been better explored--they were nearing the end of their 51 episodes and I felt they tried to pack too many elements in. Even so, I was quite satisfied with the ending.

Having said all that, this drama had me on a rollercoaster of feelings throughout its length, which I actually didn't feel to be so long in the end. The complicated collection of characters and the interesting storyline pulled me along.

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Completed
Blossoms Shanghai
1 people found this review helpful
17 days ago
30 of 30 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.0

人情

There is a scene in one of the initial episodes, where the protagonist's mentor holds up a slip of paper and asks what it is. The person who he is speaking to identifies it as a stock warrant. The mentor replies, "Wrong. It represents a social tie."

This is the essence of the show. Blossoms Shanghai describes a time of economic reform in China in the early 90s, when it was undergoing rapid change. It is set in Shanghai, where many people come with the hopes of becoming rich. We're introduced to a vibrant array of characters, and it is the many intricate relationships formed between them that are at the heart of this show. The characters are multifaceted, and we witness their ups and downs as they follow their ambitions, seeing how they've built themselves up from where they were before, with the help of those they've met. Those at the height of their success were not always the strongest, and it is always faster to fall than it is to climb back up. They come in and out of each other's lives, changing and adapting just as the environment around them is constantly changing. Hu Ge plays a charming and confident protagonist, who draws upon a combination of his wit, social network, and luck to become the well-respected Bao-zong. What really stole the show for me were the female characters. They're not afraid to be ambitious, loud and spirited, or calculating and tenacious. The actresses, Ma Yili, Tang Yan, and Xin Zhilei, are all phenomenal in their roles. Although romance does play a role in the characters' motivations and influences their growth, it is not the main focus of the show. You Benchang's performance as A-Bao's mentor is noteworthy and the minor characters are also not to be forgotten.

And of course, Wong Kar-Wai does not disappoint when it comes to creating a visual feast. The cinematography is beautiful, the music sets the mood, and the foreshadowing and shot choices are deliberate and well thought out.

All in all, this is a memorable show that stands out for its vibrant characters, strong acting and brilliant directing. I've taken one star off for rewatch value, mainly because the parts that focused on the stock market and the history of its development were of less interest to me. Those looking for a lighthearted watch may not find it enjoyable, as Wong Kar Wai's style tends to lean more towards drama (but never tipping into overdramatic). What really hooked me in are the characters — just as time continues forward, the relationships they form with one another ebb and flow. Although these relationships may be as transient as the passing time, the impact they've had on each other will stay with them as the person grows.

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Completed
49 Days
0 people found this review helpful
May 8, 2018
20 of 20 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 9.0
A brilliant drama that doesn't always focus so much on the romance, but rather on the things the main character chooses to do when she is given a chance to leave an imprint on the place and the people she has left. The idea isn't all that unique--the idea of a girl who has a limited time left to live, but the way they executed it was really good in my opinion.

How to describe it? Well at first when it started, I wasn't sure if I'd like the main character, since I was afraid she'd be another shallow heroine who took advantage of her cuteness. But I quickly came to love her as the character developed and showed her maturity that wasn't at first expected.

The other female lead in this drama also provides a good contrast to the bright and cheerful main. They each help the other to grow and find strength as they remember those important to them.

There is also a couple that comes into focus later in the drama that shows how the lives of seemingly unrelated people intersect. They are one of my favorite couples. I liked that the characters were all really well developed, and in the end I couldn't help but love them.

It is a great drama about human relationships that makes you cry, but at the same time is not a depressing drama as it has plenty of moments to make you smile.

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May 8, 2018
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 4.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
I was also hesitant in continuing this drama, because at first I was feeling a little annoyed by Hikari's character. But then, as the drama progressed and showed everyone maturing, something about the realism kept me watching until the end, wanting to know what happened to the characters.

In the end, I found this a really great Japanese drama about life and making decisions. The characters that annoyed me at times throughout, was only because they were portrayed as being very human and prone to mistakes, which I came to appreciate. It's not a drama about a student-teacher relationship. Rather, it's a drama about how the characters learned to deal with the relationships around them, with a student-teacher relationship being one of the ones that needed to be sorted out. The characters all have moments where they show their strengths and weaknesses, but they are above the stereotypical characters seen so often in dramas, which was the strong point of this drama. The scenarios and choices made were much more believable than what one usually expects from a drama.

I just wish they chose a different soundtrack.

It's not a typical romance drama, but it sure does have some really touching relationships and is definitely worth the watch if you're looking for something heartwarming and real.

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