To enjoy this drama, I decided to see it for what it is, fictional story. To enter the story, without judging the main leads, but rather empathizing with them. This is an important, otherwise the question of mortality can start to overpower things. What most intrigued me, is the question: what exactly lead to the these two liking each other so much, and having an intense relationship, despite the age gap. That is the heart of the story.
Akira, looks like a young man, let’s face it, especially that body! Other things that make him feel older are his developed masculine traits, such as, taking initiative, trusting his instincts, and decisiveness. Dithering is not his style, and he clearly communicates his wants – when he feels like it. He is confident in who he is.
He loves his mother, but isn’t close to her, and doesn’t fully respect her, he looses more respect for her, upon discovering the letter from his estranged father, and then again, when she shares her unscrupulous story. Ultimately, he doesn’t care what she thinks, not even in a rebellious way – he simply isn’t fazed by her opinions, as he doesn’t trust them. I don’t blame him, she is secretive, and when is comes to big issues, is subtly controlling. This is amplified as the story progresses. She does not handle things well, especially after Akira turns 18. Her behavior is justified when he is 15, but not when he turns 18. She becomes vindictive, trying to sabotage Hijiri life, even though Hijiri faced and accepted full consequence during the infraction three years prior.
He is longing to look after someone special. He is longing for privacy in a relationship, something of his very own, something separate from his daily crowd, someone to stimulate him, and that he has to work to pursue. Runa, meets none of those, and is the opposite with her pathetic (especially as she gets older) and aggressive pursuit of him.
This is only speculative, but he must be a deeply loyal person, you don’t see thing in his other relationships, so I wonder were the total, almost life long loyalty to Hijiri comes from. Perhaps this is explained more in the manga. Why did he never falter in his love for her? This is never made clear, and why is he so infatuated with her, with so few interactions? Although, he did get to watch her everyday at school. Perhaps as he gets older the loyalty also comes from the desire to protect her, and seeing the serious consequences she got.
She looks young, is physically small. If you see the two of them together in public (not is his baggy junior high clothing), from a visual standpoint, their age difference doesn’t look scandalous. This adds to her confusion and attraction to him.
Confidence is something she struggles with. One cause for this are her parents who don’t nurture her realistic dreams, and don’t know her worth as they think she can meet no guy better than, Kenshi. That she should be grateful for his interest. She is so young. What’s with the pressure? As for her Kenshi, I think he accepts her, loves her, and would continue to do so, even as she gained more confidence throughout their marriage. The trouble is the stiffness in their commutation, Kenshi doesn’t think about communicating his belief in her, his acceptance, and doesn’t realize how deeply she wants to feel understood and cherished. All those things are within the couple’s reach, they just don’t reach for it, which leads to misunderstandings, which makes her more vulnerable to the sincere affection of another, who openly communicated and affirms her deep needs. Yes, initially he expected her to move to Osaka, but look at how quickly he self-reflected and supported her dream of teaching. He may not have fully understood her decision, but supports her.To make matter worse, Hijiri mother-in-law’s (and mother) towards her crushes her feeble self-esteem further. Hijiri is always working so hard to try to feel worthy, it’s hard to watch.
Her Sanpai, is the most supportive person in her life, and it was surprising how candid Hijiri was about Akira. Their interactions are always fun to watch and we see Hijiri at her most relaxed and her true self. All the teachers at the school were a good bunch and accepted her. Although the principal, who is a total oddball. When it comes down to it, she always gave Hijiri the benefit of the doubt and didn’t make a fuss out of those questionable photos or other accidents Hijiri made. Her workplace was mostly a positive place, and that lack of angst and drama is much appreciated.
This is where she is at, trying her best to pursue her dreams, despite the heaviness of a lack of self worth. Then along comes Akira, who instantly adores and accepts her for who she is. He believes in her and supports her in whatever way he can. Unaware now much she is longing for these things. He becomes precious to her. She does set boundaries with him (although he barely respects them), but they don’t have conviction, and he can sense that.
Thoughts on the final couple scenes – spoiler ahead.
It fast-forwards five years. Estimating, Akira studied for three years, and entered the workforce for two years. We know very little of what he has been through, but it looks like he had is head in a good place and did his best in studies and work. There must always be a part of him that loved Hijiri, and she was with her in his heart. The people close to him, who know of his history with her, must have sensed that he always missed her. This is one explanation why his mother (who redeems herself with this action), goes into the safe and nullifies the contract. She is happy with the man he has become, and that he has matured in the sense of not losing a sense of self with Hijiri. This is a big move on her part because she is basically allowing and accepting her son to marry young, and knows part of him will never experience certain things in life, since he has given his heart full away since he was 15. It also mean that she has fully forgiven Hijiri. This is most clear with her kind smile as she holds the contract. Which also means that she is willing to accept her, as she guesses Akira will immediately go to find her. Now, she’ll be able to get to know Hijiri for real, and be open to future daughter-in-law 9 years older than her precious son. That can’t be easy. Ultimately, her heavy interference was a gift to them, because Akira can approach Hijiri as a man, and not as a smitten, but sincere adolescent. This will make their relationship a healthy and more balanced one.
Hijiri life over the five years took two paths. The hard path, and one she can be pitied for, is that her lifelong dream of being a homeroom teacher becomes impossible in Japan, and resorts to go to Thailand to teach. It’s not what she wants, but the only actual option. But she made the best of the situation. She accepted no one else’s pursuit for five years, probably longing for Akira, but she didn’t know Akira’s mom will ever nullify the contract. Would she stay single by choice for how many more years? The positive path, was taking the opportunity of a fresh start and growing as a person – it’s wonderful to see a snippet of that at the end. She’s happy, relaxed, and comfortable in her own skin.
It would be interesting to watch Akira’s during his school years and work. How did he turn down girls that liked him? Did he have many female friends? How was he in groups?
Aso, how was Hijii with eligible bachelors during this time?
For my curiosity, I would have liked to see a little overview even 10 seconds of snippets of both Akira and Hijiri during this time. Maybe the manga explores this?
One more thing
On a side not, no matter how much I looked I couldn’t find the mange with English translation. If anyone has, please let me know in the comment section!
What are the themes: Life can become very complicated
What is a good for: To watch a drama that will pull you into that word, so much so, that you will think about it during the days.