Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sunao Ni Narenakute [Hard to Say I Love you]

As I mentioned in my post about the j-drama Majisuka Gakuen, once in a while, I will pick up a drama or television series, usually so that I break-up the cycle of watching anime most days. I haven't actually watched any anime in well over a month! There was a total of 3 j-dramas that really caught my attention and in addition to them, I have been watching a British tv show as well (more on this will come in a post at a later time). One of the j-dramas I picked up and just finished is called Sunao ni Narenakute. To be completely honest, I started watching it because one of the actors is a singer that I quite like - Jaejoong, from the Korean group JYJ. I remember that back in 2010, when this drama first aired, I was determined to watch it, but never did. So, coming across it again about 3 weeks ago, I decided that I should watch it once and for all.

Sunao ni Narenakute follows 5 individuals whose lives intertwine due to social media. In this case, 4 of the 5 have a Twitter and follow each other. One of the five who goes by "Linda" online, suggests that they should all meet up in real life. At first he tells everyone that they should wear a red flower in order to be identified but then says, "Just kidding!" The first person to arrive is "Doctor" a young man from Korea who works at a hospital in Tokyo. He is wearing a red rose when Linda finds him and Linda explains, while laughing, that he was only joking about the red rose. Doctor looks very confused at first but eventually figures it out. I think I can count about 5 instances in which Doctor didn't quite know what was going on, since his first language is Korean, but for the most part he understood and connected well with everyone.

The next to arrive is "Haru", a woman in her early twenties who is a provisional teacher at a local high school (she failed the exam to obtain her certification in teaching). Haru brings her best friend with her. While she doesn't use Twitter, she does eventually join and follows all the members from the meet-up; she goes by the name "Peach." Finally, "Nakaji" arrives. Nakaji is a photographer who often posts the images he takes on Twitter. All 5 strike up a friendship and decide that whenever they're together, they should be as honest with each other as possible. As a group of young twenty-somethings, many things happen that cause twists and turns in their lives. As they each open up with each other, they all learn that each one of them holds secrets and pain hidden away.

Left to right: Nakaji, Peach, Haru, Linda, and Doctor
The first one to open up about her secrets is ironically, Peach. Because she isn't originally part of the group, I honestly thought I wouldn't see much of her, but she does become a major character. Peach is pregnant with the child of a man who is already married. He wants her to abort the child. Peach is so overwhelmed that she tries to commit suicide. Through this attempt, everyone learns about her many troubles and offer their support, despite not having known each other for long. This first reveal brings about a chain of confessions. Doctor isn't really a doctor. He works for a company that sells medical supplies. As their lowest seller, he is constantly humiliated and bullied. He also lives alone and takes care of his younger sister with whom he came to Japan. Nakaji can't find professional work as a photographer. As such, he mostly works as an assistant for gravure magazines. He is dating a woman who is already married. Haru was honest about her profession, but she harbors a secret love for Nakaji. Furthermore, her younger brother has a problem with drugs and it is soon hinted that her mother may be having an affair. Linda, who brought the group together, actually did it as a social experiment. He planned to write an article about the results and publish it in the magazine he works for. However, the editor wants sexual favors from him and while he eventually gives in, he is disgusted with himself and confused. He soon comes to the realization that he is actually gay....

Crazy right? But yet, this drama was quite realistic. It really brought to light that many people are unsatisfied with their lives and feel lonely so they turn to social media where they can become someone else and where they can, at least for a little while, delude themselves into thinking that they're living the life they want to live. However, by meeting friends online in real life, everything changes. It's not necessarily that everyone agrees that it's better to not lie, rather, they realize that life becomes much more bearable when you have good friends in whom you can confide in. Each one of these young people had problems they didn't feel like they could speak with family about, so they turned to each other. They took the support system they created online, into a support system in real life among people that were trying to survive their trials and troubles. This drama showcases that while social media can get you tons of friends, unless you're interacting with them in real life, you can't really trust them completely. This is further reinforced by the fact that as the story progresses, there are dwindling references to Twitter and its use among the 5.

Overall, I quite liked the drama. There were a few things that bothered me though. One (or rather two of them) are two subplots that the drama had worked on and that were resolved in the final episode with just one scene. One of these is in relation to Haru's younger brother and his drug use. It was brought in early on in the series and we even learn that he bought drugs from some of Haru's students. Once the students are arrested, we promptly forget about her brother in favor for the more important subplots to be resolved until the very last episode. I don't understand why so much time was spent on Haru's younger brother in the beginning since it was hardly relevant by the end. The other subplot is in relation to Haru's mother and her "affair." It's hinted a few times that Haru may be the daughter of this other man, and this could be HUGE to the series, but it's just resolved in like 2-3 sentences during a short conversation. Like, it really didn't go anywhere and I'm not sure why it was added at all. Frustration factor? I also really disliked that Linda was hardly focused on during most of the series. It wasn't until episode 8ish or so that we really start to see Linda struggling with who he is. And while Peach remained relevant throughout the drama, the main focus was on Doctor, Haru and Nakaji. I liked Haru, but it felt like these three dominated the drama because of the romance issues between them, not necessarily because they were facing worse hardships than the other two.
The gang helps Doctor complete his brochure for a sale
Would I recommend this drama? Sure, it has a lot of angst though, be warned! It won't blow you away or anything. I mean, the thing about this drama is you have to watch all of it for the message to really sink in. If not, halfway through the drama you'll 99.9% feel like this is a drama about a love triangle more so than about the ways a friendship can help you overcome obstacles. Seriously, watch it until the end. It makes up for some of the more, "ehhhhhhh" moments ;).

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