A-Z Drama Challenge: Dear Sister

After having taken a brief detour into KDramaland for my C entry (Coffee Prince for those curious), I am back in the game with JDramas with “Dear Sister”. And just… wow. The perfect drama that came at the correct time of my life. It was truly a blessing and is my second 10/10 in this challenge.

Before I dive into everything that makes “Dear Sister” a blessing and perfect we have to get into the premise. “Dear Sister” is the story of two sisters, Fukazawa Hazuki (Matsushita Mao) the elder sister, and Fukazawa Misaki (Ishihara Satomi) the younger. Growing up the duo behaved like normal sisters, if not a bit stereotypical. Hazuki the eldest was raised strictly to get a good education, get a good job, marry young and have children. She’s always felt that her mother’s affection went strictly to Misaki. Misaki was the rather carefree child, never excelling at school but incredibly personable with men. After graduating high school Misaki disappeared for several years, and has resurfaced at Hazuki’s house with her own plans and secrets. Reluctantly, Hazuki takes her in and once again their sisterhood dynamics ensue.

Now that description is purposefully vague and fluffy, because this series is way more enjoyable the less you know. This drama excels at giving just the right amount of details, establishing traits and plot point early on. It then does what many dramas fail to do, and build on all the points throughout the 10 episode run. There’s minimal rehashing, and when it occurs it’s succinct and has additional perspectives added to it.

I have to say that the story also knew when to show, not tell. There were a lot of hints and nods to future plot points without spelling it out. There were a lot of moments of ‘oh yeah that makes that earlier scene make sense!’ during my viewing experiance which was the best feeling.

Between those two points was also the pacing of the series. I have to admit that I thought the series was going to come off rushed. After all 10 episodes isn’t a ton to go off of, but I was completely surprised. The pace was quick, but tidy. They optimized scenes to get the best impact within a given episode and set up the next one. The result is that scenes that needed more time to get their impact had the time to flourish without dragging down pacing. Other scenes of course had their impact, but never lingered longer then needed. A bit kudos to the directors and screenwriters for making that all happen.

full cast
Sourced from Orion News.

You can have the best directors and screenwriters in the world, but the story wouldn’t work without good casting. And holy shit did “Dear Sister” manage to get the casting of a lifetime. The chemistry between siblings, friends, lovers and more was off the charts, and I never say that lightly. Ishihara Satomi was absolutely brilliant as Misaki.  Misaki was distinct from clothing, to how she carried herself and the subtle changes between how she acted around family, then romantic interests was amazing. The way Misaki could connect with some, but not other characters was stunning.

Misaki would not have been as marvelous without the perfect counter balance. Matsushita Nao as Hazuki was another stunning choice. Hazuki was the relatable sibling of the series, and it worked in her favor so well. Hazuki always had the right intention in her actions, but sometimes due to her rather up-right tendencies got a little mis-construed. However, she was honest and earnest and genuinely wanted to keep her relationship to her sister positive. It’s easily one of her performances I’ve seen thus far. (Not to mention how much tiny she makes Satomi seem in drama!)

I can not emphasize enough the sibling chemistry these two had with one another. It was off the charts, dynamic and true to life. For the sister’s alone, “Dear Sister” is an amazing representative of the best and worst that sisters can be. Each sister has her own personality, and interests while still showing the common threads that make them who they are and how they relate to one another.

Screen Shot 2020-04-20 at 5.37.20 PM
Sourced from Fuji TV.

Of course, the supporting cast was pretty damn on point. Gotta toss my credit that this title ended up on my list due to Eito being played by Iwata Takanori, and even had a cameo by Naoto in the latter episodes. Eito is a character I’d love to talk about in depth but doing so would put this review way into spoiler territory. What I can say that Eito has the perfect amount of emotional payout if you give it a watch. The change in his character within 10 episodes was so satisfying. Eito and his own brother, Sakuraba Soichiro (Tanabe Seiichi) added another layer of exploration with sibling dynamics as well.

I could go on about the casting chemistry forever. It’s seriously the best in showing so much more then just romantic relationships, which is rarely seen in dramas as of late. There is also so much more then just sibling relationships that I can’t talk about due to spoilers. All the elements of the story, discussed and undiscussed here made this series a pleasure to watch.

I have to admit that this series will always have a special place in my heart for helping me cope through a rather devastating event. So take this review with a grain of salt, but I’ll be grateful forever to this series for helping me through a personal rough patch.

Screen Shot 2020-04-20 at 5.37.08 PM
Sourced from Fuji TV.

“Dear Sister” is a deceiving title, that’s so much more then a romance. It explores sibling dynamics, and adult life in a realistic, sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter matter. It’s a tale of sisters putting each other through a bit more then they would bargain for, but neither one ever questioning how far they would go for the other. It’s a drama I highly recommend for anyone, especially in times like these.

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