I came from a family where both my parents showered me with love and affection and gave me everything that I need, even those that I demanded on a whim. Watching Hikari Mitsushima portray a daughter who lost her Mom to another man and her Dad dying a broken man moved me in more ways than one. But discovering that all she knew is wrong can be anything less than traumatic.
The problem with reviewing a drama that is so realistic and acted so honestly is getting emotionally involved with the characters. Anyone rude and cruel to these characters becomes your enemy, and you begin to loath and hate them.
Such is the case in Episode 3 of Woman. Koharu (Mitsushima) and her two kids were visited by the man who was the reason why her Mom abandoned them. But this man, Kentaro (Kaoru Kobayashi), appears to be quite gentle, pleasant and kind. He even offered to take care of Koharu’s kids while she goes to work. The gesture was like a peace offering and in time Koharu finds herself sharing dinner with her Mom and the kids.
But the hurt both mother and daughter felt inside cannot be contained. In time, the same painful memories are brought out in the open.
The Death of Shin: Before I continue, Koharu was able to reveal how her husband, Shin Aoyagi (Shun Oguri) died. The previous episodes only gave us a few hints, but enough to keep us guessing. Shin was pushed into the train tracks after a student accused him of molesting her. An onlooker decided to take the matter into his hands, thus when the police called on the unsuspecting Koharu, her husband’s death is not enough. It seems accusing the dead man of being a child molester should be mentioned for additional shock value.
Mother and half-sister versus Koharu: The confrontation between Koharu and her mother was complicated further by the appearance of Shiori (Fumi Nikaido). Without notice, she started revealing some shocking news. With hurt and anger in her eyes, she accused Koharu of being married to a molester and that Koharu’s father physically abused their Mom. While the husband part appears to be an issue Koharu has tried to deal with in the past, the news regarding her father is not.
It’s Koharu’s time to kept silent – gathering her things and taking both the kids with her, she left the house.
Is this the final straw that would keep them further apart? Is Shiori justified in revealing this news about Koharu’s father? Is everything she said true? We may not be able to know about all these or we may. The drama continues, and the story is being revealed to us little by little. Unlike other shows with predictable plots and even more predictable characters, Woman is an entirely different case.
The show’s director, Nobuo Mizuta, switches between two different (and unrelated) scenes and use such technique multiple times during the episode. The result is heightened anticipation as it forces the viewers to wait and see. During the final confrontation between Koharu and her mother and half-sister, Mizuta cut the scene to show the kids reaching up and failing to grab a glass sphere. As it fell to the floor, he switches back to the confrontation. This deliberate and abrupt change made the scene more dramatic.
Fumi Nikaido, once again, exceeded expectations by providing a powerful and emotional performance. The same can be said of Yuko Tanaka and Kouru Kobayashi, but Hikari Mitsushima is flawless!
Her subtle performance is one of the best of the season. It was delivered at the height of Fumi’s passionate defense of their Mom. Another actress would have succumbed to high theatrics, but Hikari gave a performance filled with restraint and dignity. That is what you call first class acting!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars