**Subtitles are available here.
Spoiler Warning: If you haven’t finished the drama, do not read.
The show kicks off with a strong pilot featuring two prominent actresses, one of whom we haven’t seen for a while, that constantly reminds us what it means to be a good mother and a children kidnapping in the background. Midpoint, the show gets a little shaky with the lead constantly making wrong choices and the rich housewives side story doesn’t help either. It isn’t until 2/3 of the show that some plot twists appear and shed some light on the supposed ‘villain’, complete with a backstory and finally, the revelation of the kidnapper/kidnappers. So is the finale able to deliver and wrap things up nicely? In many ways, it does but at the same time, it’s less compelling than I had wanted it to be.
I quite like episode 9 even though Kazuki’s decisions are questionable at times. I can understand why he agrees to follow Yumiko. He’s been dreading to know more about his mother and since he won’t get the full story from both his parents, he thought Yumiko may be his best chance (though at some point, I did wonder why he won’t sit down with his parents and have a proper family talk?). Anyways, moving to Hokkaido itself doesn’t sound too bad considering he gets to start afresh at a place nobody knows him. Sometimes it helps for a kid in his situation.
But of course, in the end, he decides to stay (what a waste of a holiday trip to Hokkaido).
As for Yumiko, her backstory triggers sympathy, letting audience understand her actions. It hurts of course, in her position, to kill someone, not deliberately but in defense, and yet, imprisoned. In Japan, as has been shown countless times, it’s not a society that takes ‘former convict’ lightly and certainly would affect the convict’s family too. Knowing that her son would face social stigma if she stays, she takes the hardest route any mother would take, that is to cut all ties. However, years passed and she thought of getting her son back. I think wanting to return to her son’s life is nothing wrong, in fact natural, but it’s the method she used that I feel doesn’t justify all her emotional baggage or sufferings.
Instead of planning such elaborate plot, causing such ruckus and almost destroying Aki’s family, she could try to talk to the ex-husband first and see where it goes. Doing so many things behind just makes her more suspicious and not exactly an angel either. Knowing Aki, I don’t think she’d have much problem letting her into Kazuki’s life if she had asked politely.
The finale is a bit underwhelming for me. Maybe because I don’t really care much about the kidnapping to begin with so knowing the identities of the kidnappers doesn’t really matter to me in the end. Furthermore, I’m not really convinced by the justification behind the kidnapping. Of course I feel sorry for Kouhei’s troubled childhood, having an abusive mother who later develops dementia and still, he needs to care for the very person who never showed love to him. However, by indulging his mother’s actions is still wrong on so many levels. Even if the children come from neglectful parents or how it reminds him of his past, that doesn’t mean he could just kidnap the children. There are far better ways to help. Why not become a counselor or report to children welfare?
Yumiko finally comes to her senses and decides not to pursue someone she has lost years ago. She doesn’t really have to go though, but maybe this is for the best.
Overall, it’s still watchable despite the obvious flaws in the screenplay. The kidnap case is not compelling enough which ultimately prevented me from truly feeling the character. It’s like a side dish that I don’t really care about, whether it’s there or not. In fact, during the entire course, I was more drawn towards Yumiko and Aki’s plot. At times, it feels like the screenwriter just wanted to toss in another element for suspense and it ends up underdeveloped and rushed in the finale. Acting wise, they’re all good. Still, I wish Kanno Miho’s character hasn’t suffered from poor writing at some parts. She deserves a better role, rather than being relegated to damsel in distress. The drama however managed to show us some acting potentials from the younger generation Takanori Iwata and Hayato Sano.