This one is an older drama, but quite possibly THE BEST melodrama I may have ever seen. I think one of the things that really makes this one stand out above and beyond others is that it’s a true story. So often in drama land things are completely fictitious and unrealistic. The situations and dialogues in over 90% of the dramas that I’ve seen are idealized or nightmarish fantasies of what might possibly be a reality. I like call it drama land because frankly, the majority of dramas exist in an alternate reality.
This drama is in a world all of it’s own. Taken from an actual diary that became famous in Japan it’s the story of 15 year old Aya who suffered from spinocerebellar degeneration. Starting high school she discovered she’s having increased problems with coordination and gets a devastating diagnosis. She will slowly lose control over her body until she dies an early death. Oh, but her mind will remain intact. The titles of the episodes themselves are heartbreaking such as: “The Beginning of my Youth”, “Why did the illness choose me?”, “I live now” and “Far away, to the place where tears are exhausted”
While this drama was released in 2005, it’s timeless. The artistic cinematography is some of Japan’s finest work and only enhances my love of Japanese dramas in general. There’s a quietness and a gritty strength to this drama and you can see it in the colors, the scenes, the music and most importantly, in the acting.
Erika Sawajiri plays Aya. Making a huge name for herself in 2005 she blew everyone away with her acting skills – and this girl steals your heart and plays her role believably. I cried so much. And then, as Heidi Klum would say – one minute you’re in and the next you’re out. She made some bad choices and got some bad press and flew under the radar for awhile but she’s back in 2013 with a best Actress Award for the 2012 plastic surgery horror movie Helter Skelter.
And then we have Ryo Nishikido. There’s just something about this guy’s demeanor that makes him perfect for highly psychological characters like the twisted boyfriend in Last Friends.. ooh he gives me the chills in that one. In this one he’s the sensitive but quiet guy who’s got issues but stands beside the woman that he grows to admire and love faithfully. I cried with him, heck I cried for him, and then I cried because Haruto doesn’t exist.
Yeah, I cried.