This was a hard drama to start. I really dragged my feet on it because I know from reviews that this series would be worth the watch. However, when you know that the story isn’t going to be a happy one, and anticipate a particular ending; it’s very difficult to convince yourself to start.
“Boku no Ita Jikan”, translates to approximately “The Hours of My Life”. We follow Sawada Takuto (Miura Haruma) in the last year of college as he attempts to find full-time employment. He ends up at an interview, where his peer Hongo Megumi (Tabe Mikako) ‘s phone goes off. He covers for her, and says they’ll meet again much to Megumi’s surprise. They eventually reconnect, and life carries on. Shortly after starting his new full time job, Takuto is diagnoised with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. As he learns to adapt to his disease, he begins to do his best to live an active life.
As you can imagine, given the plot summary, this drama isn’t for everyone. I’m not someone who particularly enjoys melodramas, and can say that I’ve rarely ever watched them. There’s a particular ‘mood’ I have to be in to start watching. Kinda the idea of listening to sad music to make you sadder, watching something like this is the same idea. I would watch a few episodes, stop, come back and watch more, until the dam burst and I watched episode 5 through 11 in one day.
One of the best points of this series was how it handled the topic matter, a young adult being diagnosed with ALS. We knew from episode one what was going to happen, but it never interfered with the story. We knew what would happen, it was a matter of when and perhaps how it would be delivered. Something that a lot of recent dramas have forgotten how to do. As someone who likes my fiction closer to reality, this story hit home. It showed the slow, but progressive changes in dramatized real time, allowing us to connect. There wasn’t just moments of doom and gloom either. There were a lot of human aspects that made it real.
Especially with Takuto, there were a lot of moments where I connected with Takuto as a human being, not just a ficitional character. We’ve all been in the moment googling our symptoms on WebMD, and getting positively freaked out by the worst results. To see Takuto do the same, gave the series a great moment of grounding.
In fact, Takuto himself is a great character. From the start, he’s a flawed guy. He comes off pretty “frivolous” as he puts it. He says things that hurt people, or are off putting. I don’t always agree with Takuto. However, as the story progresses we see how his circumstances, not just developing ALS, made him make the choices he’s made. That he expresses himself in such a manner not only due to circumstances, but in his actual backstory. Takuto’s story is one that many people in and out of Japan have either experienced themselves, or witnessed second-hand. So it’s familiar, but in a way that’s unique to the drama.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a great story if we didn’t have a great supporting cast. I was genuinely surprised when I recognized a majority of faces from other projects, making for a great individual casting. It’s one thing to cast a bunch of talented individuals. It’s another to have them all have the correct chemistry needed for a project. For “Boku no Ita Jikan”, the talent and the chemistry is all there.
There is most notably, Saito Takumi as Mukai Shigeyoshi, Takuto’s senior. A character that you think is one way, but has some shifts that change your perspective. His character manages to have his own individual arc, that also contributes to the layers of the story itself. While I’ve personally never been a fan of Kazama Shusuke, his portrayal of Mizushima Mamorou might have changed my mind. From physical appearance, to his overall personality throughout the drama, his performance was truly endearing. We should all aspire to be a Mamorou to our friends, and seek out Mamoru in our own friendship circles.
(Plus or minus his idolization of Winry from FMA.)
I did pull a “OMG that’s really young Nomura Shohei” when Sawada Rikuto appeared. He was a character that I despised at the beginning. Mostly because like it or not, we’ve all seen his type of ‘character’ in real life, and had our run-ins. I had my notions of how his character would be throughout the series, but was pleasantly surprised by being completely wrong. The reality of coddled geniuses in Japan, and how Rikito became that way, helicopter parenting anyone?, really allowed for a drastic change. But only after Rikito has chosen to change for himself. It was fantastic to watch, making Rikito a fitting younger brother for Takuto.
I could carry on, about the cast because really there was no character that didn’t contribute actively to the story. The natural chemistry from one to another, in respect to one another’s role in the series was perfect. It was so cohesive at times I felt like I was really peaking into someone’s private life.
About the only character that frustrated me, was Murayama Hina (Yamamoto Mizuki). She’s secondary cast, and mostly was Megumi’s friend so I couldn’t be actively frustrated with her. Her problems were real, but so trivial in comparison to main plot, that I understood why her character was there and what she needed to represent. I really resented the ‘coupling’ that was done with her character, since the relationship wasn’t healthy at all. It was really misleading and while it did eventually develop into a somewhat healthy one, it was something that made me uneasy. I can allow it to be an exception to the story’s overall delivery since it did make sense, and didn’t detract from the story itself.
I found myself genuinely surprised by the ending. It wasn’t a magical twist or anything, but it did exemplify how people’s perspectives throughout the story changed. We were lead to believe that Takuto, was iron-clad on a particular decision. We are shown the in’s and out’s of his conclusion, and I strongly agreed with his expected choice. However, this changes. Takuto even in his declining circumstances, still manages to surprise us a bit and continual change. It was so well done, that I couldn’t even be frustrated with it, I just ended up crying.
This drama is the first 10 out of 10 I’ve given so far, and might be one of the only series that gets it. It’s a drama that has flaws, but even with the flaws and potential drawbacks manages to connect with the audience and still deliver a serious story. One that is rooted in the reality of terminal illness, with it’s in’s and out’s, up’s and down’s, and that life is so much more then just the illness. It’s a difficult to watch premise, but the payout and emotional satisfaction in the conclusion is well-worth the watch.