This is a drama I finished over a year ago but felt compelled to review since it was special to me and had both a unique and touching storyline. While the pace may move a bit slow for most, and it is not a trendy drama by any means, it has a lot of heart. If you are a firm believer in the idea that family can be chosen rather than inherited, then it’s worth giving a try.
Genre: Melodrama, Romance
Starring: Takenouchi Yutaka as Okada Kengo, Ueto Aya as Makihara Risa
Frequently Used Vocabulary:
- Nagareboshi (流れ星) – Shooting Star
- Kurage (クラゲ) – Jellyfish
- Byouin (病院) – Hospital
- Kekkon Suru (結婚する) – Marry
Summary: Kengo is happy living an ordinary life working at an aquarium and engaged to his lovely fiancé, but things get complicated after an unexpected tragedy strikes his family. He encounters the troubled Risa, who is currently working in the sex industry in order to pay off her brother’s debt. The two find out they are able to work out a solution to their problems via a contract marriage. This unexpected partnership results in more emotional involvement than either of the two had bargained for.
Review: Yes, the plot is admittedly a bit slow-moving as compared to other more popular J-dramas, but I felt like the emotional pay-off was well worth the wait. There is romance, but the drama is more centered on familial bonds, even between people who don’t share a drop of blood. Those are the most touching moments for me. Risa’s brother’s character was a bit much at times, but I fell in love with most of the other characters. I’ve read reviews where Kitano Kii, who plays Maria (Kengo’s teenaged sister), is criticized but I had no issues with her acting or storyline. I connected even more with the relationship between hers and Takenouchi Yutaka’s character since I also have a sister who is much younger than me. It was a beautiful portrayal. It is definitely a tear jerker, and if you don’t like melodramatic storylines, I wouldn’t go near this. For me, it was a well-needed break in a world of zippy romcoms and slick idol actors. I don’t want to spoil too much, but there are definitely a few twists and turns that should keep it from being too predictable. If you love family dramas, watch it. If you’re expecting lots of love scenes between the leads, I’d suggest you skip it, although for me their scenes were somewhat sufficient. Takenouchi Yutaka and Ueto Aya did a fantastic job portraying their slowly building romance.
What I learned about Japanese Culture: I hope I’m not spoiling anything major, but what does stick out to me from watching this drama would be hospital procedures. It is interesting to see how family members are mostly responsible for the patients and are expected to visit frequently to take care of anything the patient may need that is not related to their illness. Another obvious difference would be with Risa’s occupation at the opening of the drama. She sort of works as an erotic masseuse? I’m not sure how to describe what it is she does, but men come in and the women dress up for them and give them regular massages. It’s been awhile since I watched the drama, so the details may be a bit fuzzy. It didn’t seem socially acceptable in the drama, but I have never come across anything like this here in the States. But I could be wrong.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you thought of the drama if you’ve watched it! Who was your favorite character?