** Dividing this into non-spoiler and spoiler reviews.
It’s easy to miss a show like Naomi to Kanako, especially when it’s not subbed. That would have reduced its chances of getting into regular foreign audiences’ ‘to-watch’ list. The absence of younger famous ikemen may also make some shy away from it (if you prefer to watch cute guys XD). On hindsight, that’s probably one of the stronger attributes of this particular show. Just take a look at the cast and you see they’re mostly women. I never really gave it a thought when I first started the show but as I reach the end, it just occurred to me how few male counterparts there are in this and the only one in the beginning is a DV husband (luckily the second half features a more gentle man). That said, I like the ‘girl power’ theme that lies beneath another more powerful aspect – friendship. Now, I’m not saying the show is perfect, it has plot holes (but so do a lot of mystery/thriller/detective dramas) and I’ve seen far more appalling ones. Some parts are kinda predictable but I still like this show for what it’s worth. For one, I really like the focus on the friendship between Naomi and Kanako to the point that it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside, yearning for a true friendship as theirs (of course one that doesn’t involve murder lol).
The friendship between Naomi and Kanako is the core of the show and I appreciate how it’s portrayed by both Hirosue Ryoko and Yuki Uchida. Excellent and convincing performance. Here’s hoping this friendship carries on even after filming. Hirosue used to be one of my favorite actresses (Shotgun Marriage!) and I’m glad she’s still acting though it’s past her prime. The way she carries her character Naomi is endearing and how far she would go to save her DV victim friend from misery is very convincing. Sometimes, it may seem far fetched for a friend to go that far as to commit a murder for someone else, but I’ve no problem believing her resolve here. Uchida Yuki plays the victimized friend very well too and it’s really nice to see the dynamic between these two. Naomi, the more confident one and Kanako who lacks courage and in need of a push. Moreover, character development is good because we see Kanako gaining more confidence and poised as the show progresses while Naomi had few moments where she faltered even though she’s ultimately the stronger half. The way they encourage each other to look forward. Not forgetting Yoshida Yo too for acting as the resilient and persistent sister of Kanako’s murdered husband, searching for the truth behind her brother’s disappearance. I also like Atsuko Takahata, it takes some time to get used to her faking the Chinese accent when speaking Japanese, but whenever she appears, I tend to laugh. Her character brings some humor and in a serious show like this, I appreciate the timely comic relief.
Plot is not the strongest feature of this show but it’s not trying hard to be. Instead, they focused more on relationship between Naomi and Kanako with the murder and Yoko Hattori’s pursue as the side plot. Some episodes have good cliffhangers and intense while others fall short of expectation. Still, as an overall package, it’s watchable. If this get subbed in the future, give it a try, if you’re into friendship-themed drama mixed with suspense. The theme song, NO MORE by EXILE Atsushi and Ai is worth listening to and very fitting for this drama. It’s one of the best things in this.
While I can’t say committing murder is a good thing and it’s obviously not what the show is trying to say to the audience. It’s not as if it’s shouting ‘If you have a DV husband, just kill him, he’s a human scum, he doesn’t deserve to live.” Though the old lady, Ri, did have a line which she mentioned twice (first half and in the final episode) that may sound like she’s saying it’s the right thing to do, but no, we have to look beyond that line and see the underlying message. It is to overcome your fears, take the necessary step forward and appreciate your life. Live your life as you want and not let it be controlled. Episode 6 has a particular scene which I really like.
If you don’t want to be spoiled further, do not read past this.
Can I just say how much I really want Kanako to be with Rin? He’s such a sweet guy! Gosh, my heart melted when he celebrated Kanako’s birthday with the traditional buns. Not even Naomi’s little cake can win this lol
If only Kanako has met this Rin earlier than her DV husband, they’d have lived happily (and we’ll never have a show to watch ^^;;)
At the same time, Yoko is so persistent! The way she haunts Naomi especially. It’s like having someone follow your every step unrelentingly and I have to say, she’s a good sister and if her brother wasn’t an abuser, she’d have all my support in her pursue for the truth. I think this is the first time I watch Yoshida Yo play a ‘villain-ish’ role. She’s so lovable in Kounodori 😀
Oh yeah, this scene. I hate how she asked Kanako to commit suicide. I see where Yoko is coming from and Kanako deserves some sort of punishment for committing murder but to ask that is a tad far.
But I also like how Kanako has grown since first episode and able to hold her own fort by denying the murder firmly.
Kanako is also pregnant with Tatsuro’s child. Not sure if it’s a blessing or curse but at least she’s looking at the bright side of it. Though initially skeptical, Naomi comes to understand Kanako’s feelings about the child and I like how these two keep overcoming challenges and making up. When Naomi shows up at Kanako’s apartment to flee together, I was like, “Yes! About time both of you make up!”
So at the airport, I thought for a second that Naomi wouldn’t make it and get arrested while Kanako flees to Shanghai. I really half expected that.
On one hand, I don’t want them both to be caught, coz duh…I’m rooting for them. But on the other hand, letting murderers go free doesn’t really sit right with me. The ending is kinda open? They manage to leave the country but I’m not sure how long that’ll last. I mean, surely, the Japanese police can still pursue them in Shanghai, though it may require more efforts and depends on the international relations between China/Japan. So perhaps, if they can escape to a well hidden countryside (as Ri mentioned of her friend’s place), I suppose they’re safe. It’s probably the best ending the show can offer. Plus, this also means that Kanako has a chance to be together with Rin (perhaps after he earns enough money in Japan and returns to China).
The last scene of Yoko smiling weakly though…is making me wonder whether my interpretation is wrong? Did she smile (as she turned over) because she saw both Naomi and Kanako getting caught OR did she smile because she accepted her failure?