Wakamonotachi 2014: Ep 7-11 Review + Afterthoughts

Update: The final episode of Wakamonotachi is a bit of an anti-climax with most of the scenes in Episodes 9-10 already summing up the drama. 

With one final episode to be released soon, the Japanese drama Wakamonotachi continues to reveal new twists and turns as the stellar cast put on a show that is not perfect, yet can be quite a thrilling ride with dramatic and comedic scenes out to impress (or depress) the viewers.

The Story so far: Asahi (Satoshi Tsumabuki) raised his younger brothers and sister due to the deaths of their parents. Satoru (Eita), the second son, was incarcerated for swindling an old lady of her millions. Hikari (Hikari Mitsushima) is the only girl among the five – is having an affair with a married man, who happens to be the Doctor she works with at the ICU for pediatric patients.

The other members of the family Haru (Tasuku Emoto) and Tadashi (Shuhei Nomura) are both students, with Haru still clinging to his theater club instead of looking for a job while Tadashi is on the verge of manhood, discovering his first love.

There is an unwritten rule among movie reviewers not to reveal important plots, but this may not be as applicable to drama reviews as many J-dorama bloggers/reviewers tend to show the detailed analysis of current and previous dramas. 

This may also be the case with other Asian dramas- most particularly Korean dramas – which are considered more popular and more lucrative. Many Asian countries including the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and also the US, Canada and some countries in Europe have been celebrating the rising popularity of K-dramas. But not all enjoy these seemingly light, fun, entertaining highly-polished dramas.

So once again, I’m going to ask: Can Wakamonotachi compete with the best Asian drama during its broadcast?

Most definitely so. With only one remaining episode, the drama has proven to be quite the tearjerker it aims to be from the start.

What makes it such an engaging drama? On the other hand, what makes it disappointing to some? Is there a middle ground in all these? Let’s see.

Episode 1-6 center on Mitsushima’s character, but also reveal a lot about the family’s secret – the father’s death and why Asahi is determined to lead the family and support his younger brothers and sister through life. 

No one is perfect as we witness how each of them blunder and make serious mistakes, but at the end of the day, it’s the essence of being “a family” that rings so true throughout.

Episode 7-11 is shared by almost everyone regarding spotlight. Tsumabuki and Yu Aoi who both started out tentatively in their quest to form a new family began to have new hope in the future, but not everything is smooth sailing as the baby is premature and struggles to survive. Can she makes it?

The Highs and the Lows: A list of highlights and disappointments (?)

Masami Nagasawa, who appears to be just a supporting role, grabs some of the spotlights – revealing the story of an abused and exploited aspiring singer who wants to prove herself to her Mom. I think Nagasawa returns to form here, and it says a lot about her growth as an actress. If you’ve seen her in Crying out Love in the Center of the World, then you can appreciate her dramatic talent.

Ai Hashimoto, who may be considered, one of the most antagonistic (or annoying of the characters) suffered a similar fate as the victim of revenge from Tadashi (Shuhei Nomura) as she fell for Haru, thus the rivalry between brothers.

At the end of the day, what makes it an engaging drama? It’s all about being young and making mistakes – stupid mistakes for some, that makes it special. No one tries to out-act each other, even when Satoshi Tsumabuki appears to be doing his brand of “over-acting” – which maybe a point of contention to other viewers.

An observation of this writer and confirmed by other viewers is the “look and feel” of a particular generation:

… but everything in this drama reeks of the Showa era (definitely feels like a period even before 1994). Not that there is anything wrong with the Showa era, of course (I actually love Japanese dramas and movies that look back on that period with a sense of nostalgia), but it seems like they took a bunch of characters from the period of the original drama (the 1960s) and plopped them into the present day. If it weren’t for the smartphones, the shot of the Sky Tree, and the present day hospital scenes, I would have no trouble believing that this drama is supposed to be taking place some 30 or 40 years ago. [ read more ]

Why is it so easy for the brothers to forgive Shinjo and put all the blame on their sister Hikari? This was considered one of the negative points raised by other reviewers as outlined in details by Heisui @My Drama Tea

I don’t know about a middle ground, as I think you either love the drama or hate it. Perhaps some of you may want to watch it after a few years?

With that said, I want to end the review by quoting a fellow reviewer:

This show has a sneaky way of tugging at your hearts. [ source ]

and I believe that’s what this drama is all about.

 

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