Why can’t these two just be together forever?

29 07 2010

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I fuuuuureaking love Eita+Ueno Juri.

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^^I would love to use the single above line as my full review for the series Sunao ni Narenakute, but alas, if only things were that simple.

“Back then, we didn’t know what real love was. Nor did we know that it could hurt someone this badly.”

Sunao ni Narenakute, aka Hard To Say I Love You, opens w/ a bloody scene where Eita‘s character, Nakaji, is banging furiously at a locked door. He is trying to get to someone. The scene ends w/ Nakaji‘s voiceover narrative of the above quote & then, we flash back to the start of it all.

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April 12, the day it all begins.

SnN is the story of five young adults- Nakajima Keisuke, Mizuno Tsukiko, Nishimura Hikari, Ichihara Kaoru & Park Seon Soo (or, as per their online names, Nakaji, Haru, Peach, Linda & Doctor respectively)- who meet through the worldwide social networking program that is Twitter. They soon learn that the identity that one another has created for themselves isn’t quite what they illustrated it out to be in the cyberworld. But everyone is accepting, & through mutual honesty, lenience & support they become extremely good friends. In fact, they become the best of friends, there to laugh together but there also to nourish & take care of each other when the hardships hit. Of course, no co-ed group would be complete without someone liking someone else within the bunch & in this case, it’s one giant love quintangle. We watch through their eyes how love can- & does– affect us & our relationships, whether this is btwn family, friends or lovers. At its worst it can rip you apart, changing & marring lives relentlessly, but at its best it can bring you unequivocable strength & liberate you to be who you are. It’s up to you how to embrace it.

*****SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!****** I will not be holding back, so be warned ;O If you plan on watching this, I’d definitely be sidestepping what I am about to say…******

The first thing I did after I finished SnN was check in on the global village to suss out the general reaction to the series & maagawd was I given the shock of my life.

There is a monsoon of negative criticism- people are tearing the series apart, sledging w/o remorse from the plot to the characters to Eita‘s tight black leather pants (& of course his hair but come on, as if we didn’t all foresee that), condemning it as an abominable waste of the super-talented superstar cast…

…Hontou ni? Honki deska? Is it wrong that I actually liked- perhaps even loved– it? Is it tasteless of me for feeling an abundance of good in the series? Am I losing my senses? *sprints across Tokyo like a lunatic grabbing onto Eita‘s frazzled hair*

I know. I know the series was far from perfect. There were unfilled gaps left, right & centre, but that was one of the things that I liked about it. Maybe I am eternally under Kitagawa Eriko‘s spell, but throughout this series, it was one of those rare occasions in my dorama life that I was at peace w/ not having everything making complete narrative & logical sense. I realised, especially after SnN (& resigning myself through those six seasons of LOST,) sometimes not everything has to add up.

I never really needed explanations as to why the characters were the way they were. Sure I was curious at times but for the most part, I was able to accept them just as they are. Nor did I ever get too obsessed w/ where & how they would end up, rather, I was simply content seeing them right there at that moment in time. Seeing them not knowing what it was they exactly wanted, seeing them trying to work out what they were doing w/ their lives, seeing them live day by day, trying to keep up w/ the rest of this world, trying to stay true to themselves… it was all truly pinching me at the flesh.

It’s true, SnN isn’t Kitagawa Eriko‘s best piece of work in terms of the originality & sensibility of the plot; in fact, she recycles several sequences from her previous series- for instance, how Doctor grabs the blade w/ his bare hands when he tries to save Haru from those rascals is practically cookie cutter Hiroto in Tatta Hitotsu no Koi; or in the final scene where Nakaji repeatedly yells out Haru‘s name jovially from the other side of the street is v. reminiscent of Sena+Minami in Long Vacation. But there upholds a universally binding relatability to the characters in SnN. The setting may be modern day Tokyo, but the complexes these five friends are faced w/ exist through all of time. I think this is one of Kitagawa Eriko‘s absolute gifts- she creates people who aren’t necessarily perfect but it is through their faults that we naturally grow an attachment to them. It’s either because we see a part of ourselves in them, now or in the past, or it’s because they remind us of a person around us. They feel real. They feel raw. We’ve seen it, done it, been through it ourselves & by the end of the series, you’ll realise that you’re perfectly complacent w/ having known them & gone through this chapter of their lives w/them. And really, you shouldn’t need anything else.

Nakajima Keisuke // Twitter name: Nakaji (played by Eita)
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What is it about Nakaji? What is it about this hobo-dressing, Troll-doll-haired, soft-porn photographer that drew in the in-house good girl, the bad girl, the married woman & the gay magazine editor (& I swear on my apples that Linda‘s cougar boss  woman was eyeballing Nakaji‘s goods whenever he was within proximity, too -_-;)?

No, it’s not because of his cool Aztec-y lace tasseled bum bag thing (btw, I did love his style *blindly hearts on Eita‘s leather pants*) nor is it (completely) because of his despicable good looks. The bottom line is, Nakaji a good man. He is a good friend & a good son, not so much in an outwardly obvious way, but he is so gravely committed to looking out for the people around him. At times he tends to blurt out some rather insensitive comments (like in episode 8 when Peach confesses her feelings for him & he asks her if it’s a joke- I mean, come on, Nakaji, it’s the super brittle Peach here) but over the course of time, you learn that this is simply his defense mechanism. Even whenever he is w/ Haru & the situation presents itself for him to express just how much she means to him, in the end, he always covers it up w/ a half-hearted one-liner or a teasing laugh. But you can’t blame him because you know that’s not how he feels inside. He is someone who cares for people from a distance & it is this lonely warmth about him that makes you want to be near him. And when you are w/ him, he makes you feel like you are the only person in this world. As Linda best describes Nakaji in episode 5;

“You take pictures of people kindly, as if you’re engulfing them. You look at people closely while keeping your distance.”

Of the group, he is probably the most concerned for the well-being of the people around him, which is why it cut him so deeply when he finally realised that Linda had been silently & painfully harbouring feelings for him all along. You could see that, in the scene after Linda passes away (see, I told you I would ruin it for ya) & Haru goes to find Nakaji by himself on the rooftop of the hospital, alone, hunched up & crying, the thought of himself being that close to someone all that time yet not knowing they were in suffering really pierced his heart. It was as if he thought that made him a bad friend & a bad person. If he had it his way, Nakaji would be the one always watching over them, & never the other way around.

I think alot of people would query the point of the affair btwn Nakaji & Kiriko-san. As someone who would have no problem at all picking up any date, why did Nakaji voluntarily keep himself as this married woman’s secret lover? Was it really for love?

Nakaji & Kiriko met by chance years back, falling wildly head over heels for one another. But as you’d have it, Kiriko-san’s family crashed into financial distress & because of this, she was forced to marry a man for his business capital & rescue her family from economic doom. However, this does not stop Nakaji from liaising w/ Kiriko behind the husband’s back.

I’m not sure that they did ever whole-heartedly love each other in the sense that they would both want to give up everything else & spend the rest of their lives w/ one another, but I do believe Nakaji & Kiriko were once in that moment where the line btwn lust & love becomes absorbingly blurred. And now, to me, Kiriko-san was hanging on because she needed to feel like she was still “wanted,” that, as a married woman she was still attractive to the opposite sex. Nakaji, I feel like, was hanging on because he believed he needed to look after this one time woman-of-his-life, even when Haru enters the picture & he starts to develop feelings for her, he still feels this sense of care for Kiriko‘s fragile personality. There is a scene of Nakaji, post break-up w/ the married woman, he prepares to toss the ring he was going to give to Kiriko into the river before a kawaii little girl strolls by. He decides to gift the ring to this girl & tells her to take care of it because, in his words, it’s “kind of like a toy.” I personally felt like he realised that, as much as he & Kiriko valued each other in the past, the affair was always immature & headed nowhere. Things change, people grow & sometimes you just have to let some things go. They really didn’t owe anything to one another.

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Also compelling was the evolution of the father-son relationship btwn Nakaji & his oyaji (as Nakaji called him,) because again, it felt so true-to-life. There was a silent admiration btwn the two, as indicated by the photo taken by the Dad that Nakaji had hanging on his bedroom wall & the neighbour letting slip that his Dad is always boasting to her about his son’s photographic talents. But their times together often resulted in impassioned bickering- it was like they were both putting up a wall to guard themselves from the other. They didn’t want to, or know how to, show any affection. They didn’t know how to be honest w/ ea other or themselves. To them, expressing their vulnerable side was like exposing a weakness, & by exposing that “weakness” they felt like they would lose their strength to protect the people close to them.

Even when Nakaji‘s Dad is diagnosed w/ cancer, he chooses to hide the news from his son. His thinking was, Nakaji doesn’t need to know because there is nothing he can really do & if anything, it will only trouble him. It’s as if these guys think that a man shouldn’t cause worry for others. Eventually Nakaji finds out, but the two continue to butt at each other.

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On the same day Nakaji learns about his Dad’s illness, Peach goes to Nakaji‘s bachelor pad (to try to, em, exhibit her feelings for him) & she notices a pile of reference books on the subject of cancer on his bed. He later compiles an extensive list of hospital information, goes back over to his  father’s box of a house & w/ an outstretched arm, hands them over to his father. Later on, they go down to the riverside & have a heart-to-heart talk about life & their mutual love for photography. The Dad senses Nakaji‘s mood is low & prompts him why, to which Nakaji responds by telling him that a close friend had just died. At long last, the two are talking openly to each other-

Dad: “Well, things like that happen.”
Nakaji: “If you’re going to act like a father, at least say something more considerate.” There is a brief moment of silence.
Dad: “…I’m not going to die just yet. But I will some day. And so will you. Well, it will be a long time from now but you will. Everybody dies.”
Nakaji is sitting down on the ground, & as his Dad says this, he looks up at him. “Well, if you put it like that, it’s true.”
Dad: “Everybody dies one day. Staying alive is a battle.
As long as we’re alive, we should give it our all.”

Something goes off inside your heart. For all of Nakaji‘s seemingly self-centered mannerisms, he still looks up to his father. You can see here how much his father’s words mean to him. And you see it black & blue here w/ your own eyes that he is exactly the way Linda describes him. Forget all the showy acts of being proper you see from so many supposedly kind people in this world, Nakaji is the real deal. He is the type of man you can depend on.

And to refer to Eita‘s acting as f**king awesome would be a dangerously gross understatement. I’m insanely thrilled & grateful that the producers have (*touch wood*) permanently established him as a leading man in the dorama world. In the scene I mentioned earlier w/ Nakaji grieving over Linda‘s death at the hospital, Eita‘s body language was so convincingly real I didn’t even need to see his tears to feel his pain. The way he curled up his limbs, the way he was banging his wrists against the ground, the way he just let that mess of hair drop past his eyes & then the way he gripped it all back spoke much more than any amount of wailing could ever inflict. But when he did audibly let out his cry, I joined him. Eita, you are my favourite (Japanese) actor. Even w/ your newest Daddy duties, I still freakin’ love you (especially the way you would just longingly gaze at Haru, in person & in photos *waves ❤ Eita+Ueno Juri ❤ flashing hearts banner under starlit midnight sky*)

Mizuno Tsukiko // Twitter name: Haru (played by Ueno Juri)

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I’m going to start off by saying that I love Ueno Juri.

I love the fact that she doesn’t scream princess syndrome. I love the fact that she seems like the girl-next-door (albeit a little koo-koo… but def in a cool, upbeat way ^_^) I love the fact that when she dolls herself up, she looks like a million dollars. But most importantly, I love the fact that she can act.

Her character in SnN, Haru, was the most naive of the bunch. She was pure in the sense that you could pretty much take her at face value & she also didn’t have as much of a backlog of issues to hamper her. The only hiccup comes from her darling little ottoto, Shu, who had already gone through rehabilitation for drug abuse (gosh they start young these days *shakes head*) & well, is now getting back into it again, thanks v. much to Haru‘s genius star student, Matsushima Kenta. We get a light insight into Haru‘s self-willing responsibility in supporting her younger brother but they never really elaborate on Shu‘s story, which I think is a shame because it really could’ve brought another layer to Haru‘s character. Seeing how she dealt w/ adversity in her single-parent family def would’ve given both Haru (& challenged Ueno Juri) extra dimension as the big sister.

Nevertheless, I could overlook this glitch because of who Haru was. She was a simple girl w/ simple, wholesome dreams. She never longed after anything too superficial or stupendously glitzy or glamorous. All she wanted was to do her best & be a good teacher to her students. She always tried to be honest w/ herself & encouraged everyone else around her to do the same. And this was what made her so easy to like. I think she somewhat represented the side in all of us that wanted to see the good in everything & willing to give everyone a chance, not in the fake Miss Universe “I want World Peace” way, but she looked at the world through a pair of child-like eyes w/o ever compromising on her set of morals & values.

As a teacher, she was inexperienced, but I liked that she approached her teaching through the eyes of the students. In her contemporary Japanese literature class, she encouraged her class to discuss & analyse lyrics from the songs of their favourite J-pop / J-rock bands (I remember they mentioned GReeeeN, Spitz & Mr Children~~ yea-ah!) She was later ridiculed & shot down by a senior teacher at the school (boo to the silly old woman who, really, should’ve been thankful that they were loving on real bands & not those rainbow fairy groups from JE Wonderland *de-CAPS the letter A in KaTTUN*) but we take notice that Haru is someone who adapts to meet the needs of the people around her.

We further see the extent Haru takes her duty as a teacher when she follows Matsushima-kun to fish him out of his drug-dealing activities. She becomes outnumbered, as Matsushima-kun’s gang emerge to make for some angsty dorama moments, but even so, she still tries to coax her student back onto the right path. And rather than crumbling into surrender, she tries to fight & looks for opportunities to escape those skinny-ass schoolboys. She isn’t cursed, er, blessed w/ Yankumi powers but, matte, matte! She is armed w/ a Twitter GPS function enabled mobile phone (!) which gives the carte blance to Doctor to track her down & come to her S.O.S. JaeJoong fangirls unite, this is your moment:- (*blocks ears from squeals* Dokta! Doktaaaaaaa!)

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Doctor gets beaten up. He gets beaten up good (btw, I had to totally LMAO when they were in the ambulance together; he’s lying on the stretcher in one mammoth helpless disaster & Haru still precedes to call him “Doctor.” ^^;;;;;;) Haru decides to go out w/ him after this incident despite it being blatantly obvious to you & I that she still has feelings for Nakaji. But I still found it difficult to judge her because after all, Doctor had done alot for her. She felt like she should give him a chance. And I agree, he earned it. Let’s also not forget that Nakaji was still playing fool (or tool depending on how you look at it *raises eyebrow*) for staying w/ Kiriko-san & had emphasised to Haru that Kiriko-san was the woman he loved (apparently.) So, if you were Haru, you wouldn’t be hanging around waiting endlessly for something that may just never happen either (well, maybe I would, because I do really, really like Mr Bad-Hair xD)

In episode 8, we get another glimpse into the quiet strength of Haru‘s character when we learn of how the friendship btwn Haru & Peach came about. It was in high school & Peach had became the subject of hate from a large number of female schoolmates. They lashed out at her apparently coy demeanour & blamed her existence for their boyfriends straying away from them. They isolated & psychologically bullied her. Nobody wanted to or was game enough to be her friend, except for Haru. Haru stepped out one day & stood up for Peach. She set the catty girls back in their place, making it clear that Peach had never tried to be take anyone’s boyfriend away & they only have themselves & their boyfriends to guilt. Haru is actually v. strong & I respect this righteous side of her. Unlike Peach, she is someone who can be alone & live well by herself.

# Nishimura Hikari // Twitter name: Peach (played by Seki Megumi)
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Peach was actually quite similar to Mizukawa Asami‘s character in Last Friends. On the surface, both appear to be sociable & full-of-life, the vibrant girl that men just tend to flock to. But this lighthearted facade exists only to conceal their unbearable solitude. They made it seem like they were fine floating from guy to guy but deep down their insecurities were boiling over. They were utterly afraid of being alone.

Peach‘s self-esteem issues however did not change the fact that she was a dedicated friend, esp to Haru. In the latter half of the series, there were moments when Peach could’ve made a hard move on Nakaji but she restrained herself. In her words to Haru, “I know I’m pretty loose around men but I kept myself under control last night… I was able to do so because I love you.” In spite of how she treated herself, Peach was fiercely loyal & loving to those who returned the same allegiance. She would give all to those who had given to her. She also proved that she was someone you could trust when Linda first revealed his sexuality to her- she didn’t run off immediately & broadcast it to the rest of the world. This was def the saving grace to her character. Even though she was promiscuously self-abusive, there was still this v. faithful side to her.

What I found most provoking about Peach‘s psyche was her battle w/ her numerous suicide attempts. In my eyes, she never really wanted to die but I think feeling pain was her way to feel like she was alive. She would cover up these scars everyday by wrapping a scarf around her wrist several times. In a sense she was camouflaging not only the physical blemishes, but also the emotional scars behind them, her tears & inner torment w/ seeking validation- she didn’t want to see it everyday.

I think Peach‘s pregnancy & subsequent miscarriage was necessary to urge the growth of her character. Following the loss of  her unborn baby, she could’ve gone back down the dark path but she didn’t (thankyou Kitagawa Eriko!) For the brief duration she was pregnant, Peach‘s heart opened up, as she said to Haru in episode 4, “Call it maternal instincts or what not” but having someone else to live for, having life growing inside her… it clicked inside that to be able to look after someone else, you first need to look after yourself. That coupled w/Linda‘s subsequent death really forced her re-evaluate the meaning of life. She finally saw how much of a miracle life is- & that you only get one shot at it. I guess seeing Linda wrestling something beyond his control (& ultimately losing) made her accept the things around in her life that essentially were only as bad as what she was making them to be.

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In the final episode, we see her reading the last eMail that Linda sent to her before he passed on-

Peach, these are the friends you’ve always wanted… I was a weak person. But I’m very happy I was able to meet such good friends. You’re the weakest one after me. So, let’s both do our best.”

She is walking across a bridge, stops at the peak of the arc, unties the scarf from her wrist & lets the wind carry it away. The sun is shining on her & finally, we safe for her. We feel that she has fully come to terms w/ being who she is & we know that from now on, she will appreciate life for what it is. I most definitely think Seki Megumi succeeded in conveying these graduating elements to her character. Despite not having a great amount of screen time, the transition in Peach‘s emotional conscience remained completely unobtrusive. I also liked that she didn’t overplay the girliness in front of the men (because you know, that can quickly get v. v. irritating *rolls eyes @Ariel Lin*)

# Ichihara Kaoru // Twitter name: Linda (played by Tamayama Tetsuji)
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I was surprised at how low-key Tamayama Tetsuji‘s role was in this series for someone of his calibre but that didn’t make me think any less of his character or his performance. I really appreciated that Tamayama Tetsuji didn’t even come close in trying to upstage Eita, but instead he assumed himself into fulfilling his role ingenuously. From what I’ve seen of him, he never overshadows but justly complements every other element of the production (& yeah he’s pretty fine looking ^^_.)

From the beginning, through Tamayama Tetsuji‘s delicate nuances in his actions & his looks, we are able to pick up hints that there is something afflicting Linda. By contrast to Ruka in Last Friends who was trying more to hide who she was, I feel like Linda was more trying to act like the person he believed others perceived (or wanted) him to be. For all those comparing the two series, it’s a fine line but this is the major difference I see (& it wasn’t just for these two, it was for all the characters.) Yes there are some similarities btwn them but SnN is much less about feeling ashamed & more about wanting to connect w/ the people around you.

Whether it’s when they first meet, or when Linda drugs himself so he can go through w/ sleeping w/ his cougar tramp of a boss (who is this 40+yr woman abusing her authoritative status in the workplace by wooing the younger male employees & promising them work benefits in return for sexual favours) in order for her to agree on using Nakaji‘s photography in their popular magazine, It, or when he grazes his face up against a sleeping Nakaji, somewhere along the line, you will realise that Linda has feelings for Nakaji. You realise, yes, the man is gay. You realise this poor guy has been feuding w/ his own identity. And w/ a single “moment of weakness” (as Linda himself labeled it) he decides to take his own life. Why did they have to make his homosexuality such a depressing, oppressing controversy?

I think it’s important to establish the perception of male homosexuality in Japan.  From my understanding, the Japanese are a culture who highly regard tradition & conformity, & while the idea of homosexuality is broadly accepted, from a person-to-person social standpoint, it is still a relatively conservative subject. According to a piece of text I came across, “Japanese gay men and lesbian women often conceal their sexuality; with many even marrying persons of the opposite sex to avoid discrimination.”[source] Even, for instance, “university students may discuss the fact that they are gay with their close friends in a relatively carefree manner, when they go on to enter employment, most will put on a straight face so as to fit in the workplace.”[source] It’s as if within society, they feel a need to conform to what is perceived to be “the norm” & “conventional.”

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So in Linda‘s case, we clearly see these effects coiling into his life. Fueled by his boss’ (inappropriate) courtship of him, Linda‘s colleagues have targeted him as the rival because he has all the physical attributes that make him the “type” of man who is stereotypically popular w/ women. “The good looking ones get it all,” they sneer behind his back (episode 2.) Can you imagine living an identity that isn’t your true self because you want to, need to conform; but then being spat at & satirised for being this person you’re not? And you struggle on, unable to express in fear of greater social implications? It would take much strength to maintain your dignity (& sanity.) By no means am I advocating suicide but I definitely don’t look down on nor convict Linda for his actions. I don’t think reasons behind suicide are for anyone to judge.

Linda‘s death was one of the question marks I had w/ Kitagawa Eriko‘s logic in her storywriting. It wasn’t so much that it did happen but it was moreso how it pretty much just happened. Somehow, despite gashing himself in the neck & losing all that blood, Linda survives. Which is fine, I guess. I can handle miracles. At this point, Kitagawa Eriko has us feeling comfortable. She has us believing that Linda will live on. But a couple(?) of days of sunshine zap by & Linda suddenly plummets into a critical condition. Before you know it, his heartbeat stops. This was pretty much my one & only “WTF?” moment. Why “bring him back to life” only to gun him down not long after?

But listening to Nakaji‘s Dad’s words about life & death steered me back into looking at the big picture- Linda had given it his all & in the end he was happy. I guess his temporary revival served as the path to lift the burden off Nakaji‘s heart, who otherwise, would’ve lived on blaming himself for Linda‘s death for the rest of his life; & also allowed for Linda‘s last messages to his four friends, which ultimately helped create closure for them & for the story.

#Park Seon Soo // Twitter name: Doctor (played by Hero JaeJoong)
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This is the first time I’ve watched JaeJoong act… & my verdict? Not too bad. I mean he’s no Eita or Tamayama Tetsuji & it did take him a little while to warm up but I think he did manage to bring out the earnestly positive side of the character pretty well. In the more dramatic moments however, being amongst the cast that he was, JaeJoong‘s young acting experience did peer through but I could forgive him because it wasn’t all that unwatchable, & well, he’s puuruty.

In a way I saw his character as the comedic relief; not in the HAHA!ROFL~~^O^;;;;; way per se, but many of his moments tended to help lighten the drama of the series. His sometimes goofy carefree courage, esp when he was around his love Haru, would send a smile or a chuckle or two to your lips. He did act like a boy, in fact, at times I did feel like Haru was kinda babying him, but nevertheless, Doctor was most unexpectedly endearing. This boyishness, his young-at-heart spirit, his brotherly loyalty, his all-out attitude to love- it felt unnatural to dislike him (although I may have cringe when we found out he was texting  Haru, like, 20 times a day; gaaaaahhh.)

But that’s not to say that Doctor didn’t have his obstacles though because you know he did. Being a Korean native, & constantly not achieving sales goals at work, he was early & often the pitiful target of cultural discrimination in his workplace. His seniors would frequently slur his existence in the company, humiliating him in front of his deriding colleagues. In episode 1, we see Doctor‘s boss slowly pour a full glass of water over his head. He stands there, dead-still & silent, copping the disesteem. I’m sure he could retaliate but the risk of losing his job when he has a younger sister to support through school, is not worth it in his eyes. He places his sister above everything else. So he swallows his pride & soldiers on. And I’m not sure if it was intentional, but the part vacant, part dolly-like look in Hero‘s eyes really worked in letting you feel his helplessness.

Outside of his work environment though, Doctor‘s Korean nationality doesn’t have that much of an impact, except for his apparently not-quite-as-authentic Japanese speaking skills (not that I could tell.) Even when he was at home w/ his sister, they spoke Japanese w/ only the odd bouts of Korean, which, unless I missed something, I did find rather unusual given that they had both grown up in Korea. But I guess, practice makes perfect, ne?

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My favourite Doctor moment came in episode 10 when he & Haru were just about to board the plane to go to Korea (Doctor had to return to his home country to take over the family business as his father was ill- how Korean, you may say.) Nakaji finally faces his true feelings for Haru, flees to the airport (Dear Eita, why are you always sprinting after Juri-chan?) & rocks up at the departure gate, screaming out “I love you!” to who was currently Doctor‘s girlfriend- w/ Doctor standing RIGHT there. No question Doctor conducted himself w/ alot of grace here. I mean, if I were in his shoes, I would’ve found it a steep challenge not to give the other guy a taste of what I was thinking in the form of a fist. Instead, Doctor handles the situation w/ the maturity you would expect from the heir to an affluent family business. He simply looks at Haru & says, “Let’s go.” This was the moment I first looked at him as a man (this & also in the brief glimpse of Doctor back home in South Korea, where all of a sudden he is walking w/ a slightly arrogant swagger. I may have thought he was going to break out in a dance xD)

As the seasons pass, we see how time heals but the memories live on, & through the thick & thin of it all, true friendships remain.

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In the final few scenes of the series, we are taken forward in time (a year maybe?) Peach is now working fulfillingly in a clothing store & Haru has become a full-time teacher. Doctor returns from South Korea to meet w/ the two girls at The Emotion Cafe. They anticipate Nakaji to join them but he doesn’t come. As much as Haru wanted to see him after these years, she’s okay when he doesn’t show. And while Doctor still likes Haru, he realises & accepts it is something that could never be & instead uses all his energy into making his family business thrive. You can see how much they’ve grown up, how far they’ve come along & how honesty has liberated their lives- even Linda‘s.

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Now to get this off my chest- the single biggest beef I have w/ this series is how they marketed the series as a Twitter drama but in truth, the social network only acts as a communication mode btwn the five friends- it never really shapes the way the story unfolds at all. W/ all due respect, I do wonder if Kitagawa Eriko gets the whole Twitter phenomenon, its power as a social network (or if she even has an account at all) because the essence & the importance of Twitter to popular culture isn’t truly reflected at all in SnN. This series could’ve been made 5yrs ago & instead of Twitter, it could’ve been MySpace. Or it could’ve made 10yrs ago & instead of Twitter, it could’ve been ICQ. Or it could’ve been made 500yrs ago & instead of Twitter, they could’ve used calligraphy ink on papyrus scroll paper & have their messages delivered to one another via intelligently trained, mystical pigeon. Or it could’ve been made 20000yrs ago & we could all be fist-banging our pectorals, howling like… er… okay, you get my point (山P def would’ve been cast as the main lead for the latter scenario ^^;;) What I am trying to say is, I wish they hadn’t highlighted the Twitter theme so much before the series even began & just let Kitagawa Eriko‘s style do the talking. She isn’t ever here to produce stories specific to one passing phase of time & that is why so much of her work is so loved & celebrated all around. I know I will be able to watch SnN years down the track & still feel akin to the story of these five young friends.

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I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been drowned by the poor v. average camerawork of the TVB series of late (TVB series are a family staple in my household; to us, it’s like food xD) but as I was watching SnN, I was taken away by the stylistic vision of virtually every single frame. The director crafted many camera angles that often made us feel close, giving us views that were as if you were standing in the scene yourself, watching them w/o them knowing. To me, the way we viewed this series was a juxtaposition of Nakaji‘s personality- we were keeping a close eye on them yet keeping our distance; we were watching over them quietly.

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The sweeping bars during the transition of scenes added a nice stylistic touch, perhaps suggesting the contiguity of time. I also admired the intricate use of light & shade. It seemed like no matter how many shadows there were, there was always a strong focal source of light. Almost always during the day scenes, we could see the sun. And it felt like the sun was always purposefully positioned. At night, we would either be faced w/ the delicate moodiness of the moonlight or be warmed by the glow of fairy-lights & fireworks. They say a picture tells a thousand words. I think the phrase is not only about the subject but also of the emotions of the person behind the picture. A picture reflects the personality of the photographer just as much as it captures the spirit of the subject.

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And now, please, can I mention the soundtrack already?

Fully, this is probably my favourite Japanese dorama OST, ever (do yourself a favour & check out my sidebar for a playlist of some of the tracks used in the series ^_^.) And that’s not “favourite” as in iHEART 嵐!嵐!嵐!嵐!嵐! *Arashi for Dream*, this is stuff that my music senses genuinely respond to. My shoulders sway from side to side, my head bops from soft to hard &, heavens, give me my Grammy, I am singing! *dusts off karaoke mic*

From the music to the lyrics to the timing of when the tracks are played, the OST to SnN is truly indispensable. To rip a passage from cr1st3ll3 over at her blog, the soundtrack really excels in using “distinctly English lite-rock music that accompany almost every scene in the series. Most of the soundtrack against which the story of SnN unfolds brims with melancholic charm, featuring raw, husky vocals and minimalist, acoustic instrumentals. Most of the songs seem like quite obscure and dated to the casual listener, yet lend a well-rounded contrast to the “modern-day Tokyo” setting, as if reminding us that the story of love, loss, and friendship that holds the many threads of the drama together is truly a timeless tale.” <<< I am definitely nodding my head.

The opening theme, Great DJ by the British indie pop duo The Ting Tings, spins off the hippest vibe you could possibly ask for. You know that this is a youth drama. Speaking of which, I’m glad that they cast who they cast as if the guys & gals were any older, it would’ve felt too forcefully contemporary. If they were any younger, it would’ve felt too pretentious. Or, heaven forbid, if there were any Johnnies, it would’ve been LMAO outta my chair.

A few of The Ting Ting‘s other songs; Be The One, Keep Your Head & That’s Not My Name, also feature in the series, as well as Stereophonics‘s awesome Maybe Tomorrow. But perhaps my personally most favourite choice of English song used in SnN is the classic Hard To Say I’m Sorry by Chicago. This is soft rock ballad work at its best. I feel like the lyrics so easily express the mood of the series, esp that of our main character, Nakaji. The loneliness, the longing, the distance… in fact, I would go so far to even say that they should’ve named the series word for word after the title of this song.

Then again, if that had happened, maybe we wouldn’t have had these two brilliant Japanese tracks (no, surely they could’ve made it work :)))

Every now & then a song comes along, you hear it & you’re like, “Yep, I’m gonna be playing this for the rest of my life.” And in SnN‘s case, they’ve given me TWO such treasures.

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Hard To Say I Love You by Weaver & Sunao ni Narenakute by Sugawara Sayuri <3333333333

To give you an idea of how much I like the song, the track from Weaver is officially my phone’s ringtone (bare in mind my last 6 tones have been Arashi &/or other JE *coughs*Akanishi “KAT-TUN no more” Jin* tracks ><;) I would dedicate an entire page to how perfect these two songs are for the series but I don’t think I would be able to dissect it any better than what cr1st3ll3 did HERE (´ー`)

All I can say is, they need to release the CD now so I can download buy it & forever relish in the memories of Eita+Ueno Juri.

Which brings me back to right where I started. Seriously, can I be greedy & ask for more?

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Decision made! A “My Favourite Nakaji+Haru Moments” post shamelessly coming soon your way <3

———
[ LOVE to Querbeet Subs for making it possible for me to watch SnN. Pictures from the series used in this post were capped by me from their hardsubbed files ^_^ ]

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30 responses

30 07 2010
zooey

Oooh, was hoping to write about this drama but you beat me to the punch. I’ll come back and read this thing in full, though I scanned parts of it and laughed out loud when I came by the line about Eita’s Russ troll hair and tight leather pants. I also liked it that you mentioned the similarities of certain scenes with past Kitagawa Eriko projects. I was like rolling my eyes by the last episode when Nakaji kept saying Haru’s name and Haru just looked at him wanly, like she found the scene too sappy, that’s why she restrained herself from shouting back, “Nakaji!” >> haha gehhh). She literally looked like the mom who was waiting for her kid to stop the antics. And what’s up with Doctor, really? Is it customary to move to another country to be bullied at work, and have no money just because he didn’t want to take over his father’s company? C’mon now.

And the sliding bars, remind me of Sliding Doors. Ranting adjourned.

30 07 2010
jicks

[ ******SPOILERS in this comment!****** ]

Well, you probably guessed it, I liked the final scene. Sometimes these simple things make me giddy no matter how many times I’ve seen them before. I liked his big cheesy grin, his dirty tan & his semi 5 o’clock shadow thing ^^;;; I also thought Haru’s reaction was fitting to her character. I think you could see she was touched but she just wasn’t the PDA type of gal. Had she yelled back “Nakaji! Oh Nakaji!” then it would’ve bn a(n) (even more) brazen Long Vacationness situation & I would’ve have crushed my head. But I guess why I enjoyed this series as much as I did was that I really value these guys as legit actors & I thought they didn’t under or overdo the acting. Which is why, something like Buzzer Beat didn’t work for me. I mean, Pi, if you ain’t feeling what you’re supposed to be feeling, how the heck am supposed to feel it too? ><;

Well, even though we appear to have opposite sentiments for this show, I still anticipate reading your review on this series :)) (no pressure hehe) While I was a little (alot) into the pre-series excitement over the golden couple pairing, in the end I’m glad they didn’t turn it into a giant Eita+Juri love-fest. I was more than satisfied w/ simply seeing them onscreen together & the way he would look at her *stars in eyes*

2 08 2010
zooey

For the record, I didn’t hate it >> HATE IT. It just didn’t measure up to my expectations of the show. Didn’t really care much for Doctor and Peach but for a while I was really waiting to see things progress between Haru and Nakaji. It was just too bad that the relationship took a detour…

Just realized how much you really love Eita after reading your reply– it came complete with a description of his dirty tan and 5 o’clock shadow. LOL. I actually liked it when his hair was shorter at the start of the series, same with Tamayama Tetsuji. Too bad, only JaeJoong seemed to have a stylist that’s why he (out of the 3 boys) was the only one whose hair remained all nice and bouncy from start to finish. :)

2 08 2010
jicks

lol @ JaeJoong’s hair all nice and bouncy. Definitely. It’s far softer, shinier & bouncier than what my hair could ever be.

I love Eita>?? *clears throat* Maybe just a little^^; Always have kinda liked him in all his supporting roles over the years. Last Friends was probably when I truly started to look out for him. Then when he got his first lead role in Voice, I made a concerted effort to stalk all his movies & dramas… but then realised that I’ve actually already seen alot of them lol Still have some to go but I really think he’s getting better & better w/ every role he plays *punches self in face to stop the loving on Eitaness* xDD

30 07 2010
doozy

[ edit by jicks: ******SPOILERS in this comment!******^_^ ]

jicks! I love you for this meaty review and for loving SnN as much as I did and perhaps even more so!

There is a monsoon of negative criticism- people are tearing the series apart, sledging w/o remorse from the plot to the characters to Eita‘s tight black leather pants (& of course his hair but come on, as if we didn’t all foresee that), condemning it as an abominable waste of the super-talented superstar cast…
Dude, I did the same thing as you did and also had the same reaction. I mean, I recognize that the show is flawed, but I love and connected with its characters because like you said, they feel like real people. They have their strengths and weaknesses… they’re flawed but likeable because I know where they’re coming from. So when I read those unfavorable comments, for a moment there, I was like, “wat the heck?!” I mean, I know I’m not a regular/seasoned J-dorama watcher but have I really lost my grasp on what is a quality drama? Anyway, I promptly got over that when I listened to the OST (great ringtone choice, btw!) as it brought back so many memories and Sunao ni Narenakute even made me a little teary.

I love the fact that she seems like the girl-next-door (albeit a little koo-koo… but def in a cool, upbeat way ^_^)
Totally LOL at the “koo-koo” because it so aptly describes Juri’s appeal.

Re: Linda’s outcome
When the show was giving me the feeling that it was going to nix Linda, I was literally shaking my head “no” and pleading, “not Linda! let him be, please! why o why?!” hoping somehow magically that my head shaking and pleading would save Linda. But darn you, writer! (rhetorical questions) Did Linda really have to die in order to give others’ closure and character growth? Did he really? He was doing so well recuperating… maybe he shouldn’t have gone on that rooftop to get some sun and wind.. darn you, sun and wind!” Linda, why did you go for your jugular? Why couldn’t you just fall asleep that day in biology when they were talking about blood vessels and circulation? Lindaaaaaaaaa!
Okay, so I did feel like his death was a little emotionally manipulative to wring out tears but damn, I cried. Tears were streaming before I was even aware. Darn you, pervie old woman boss! Darn you, SnN! *shakes fist vigorously*

Other random notes:

– Re: Nakaji’s wardrobe… Honestly, I didn’t really notice the leather pants until a couple of episodes in and then was like, “good golly! Is he really wearing black leather pants in the summer heat?!” I guess I was too distracted by his crispy, untamed mane. (Similar reaction to when I saw his Dragon Ball-Z style in Nodame)

– That scene at the beach playing with the fireworks… his gaze, the sparks softly lightening up her face, their off-the-charts chemistry… I second your title post question.

– While watching, I kinda renamed the show… Sunao ni Narenakute a.k.a. Everyone Loves Nakaji (even little kids and cats!) ahahha.

Anyway, I really have nothing more to say about this lovely drama that you haven’t already covered. I did a lot of mental nodding a lot while reading your mega-review. I think I might have mental neck strain. ahhaha. Domo arigato!

Looking forward the Eita + Juri galore!

31 07 2010
jicks

[ ******SPOILERS in this comment!****** ]

Hey doozy! Thankyou for your nice comments :)) High five for fellow loving on SnN!!! And pls, do not apologise for “long” comments- I love them! In depth discussions are beaut ^_^ I never knew you were an Ueno Juri fan!

gaahahaha Everybody Loves Nakaji. That’s awesome. Kinda did feel that way I have to say! I’d gladly come back as a cat to be near that hobo ^^;

Re: Linda’s outcome, lol @ your lil monologue you were having w/ yourself! But oh yeah I see what you are saying. His death was far from necessary. Like I said it was one of my question marks but hey, I suppose it reminds us (& Peachy) that life is delicate & we should cherish every moment.

Re: the fireworks scene- OH YES. The gaze <3 When they both ran off to buy more firecrackery things together *slaps self in face* Er,, will probably elaborate on this scene in my upcoming post xD

lmao, Dragon Ball Z hair. You're right, it's Super Saiyan Eiiiiitaaaa… kamehameha!!!!! *more hearts on Eita’s fried hair*

And yeah, the more I play the soundtrack, the more my emotions for the series get stirred up.

I must say, sometimes the more I see/hear/feel people hating on someone or something, the more I end up liking them (& vice versa) It’s like I have this need to defend the victim lol But honestly, I think alot of the times when we go to watch something, the mood or “the place” you are in has an immense effect on the way you view the story & ultimately dictate the way you feel about the series (or movie etc.) It’s a fine line but there is the ENJOYABILITY of a series VS the QUALITY if the series… but it’s not always easy to distinguish btwn the two. For instance, I’ll admit I enjoyed Boys Over Flowers for the most part but the quality of it (acting, plot etc etc)… well, you already know what I think ><"

I guess in the end, it's a matter of what you are willing to take a series for at the time you are watching it… & truly, it is a matter of "different strokes for different folks." I'm just glad I have someone on my side lololo *high five*

3 08 2010
doozy

woot woot! *high five back*

Love your new ipod! :)

30 07 2010
doozy

Addendum: My favorite character out of the bunch is actually Haru, for her strength and perseverance. And plus, it’s Ueno Juri!

(umm… also, sorry for the long-ish comment post.. hehe)

31 07 2010
totallyclueless

i didn’t read it because of the spoilers. I just agree with you Re Post Title ;) ;)

31 07 2010
jicks

^^hehe. Well, when you’re done w/ it, I’d love to hear what you think. Hope you enjoy the goodness btwn them as much as I did xD

31 07 2010
Ender's Girl

Aaaaahahhhhhhhhh must. not. scroll. down. beyondspoileralert!!!!!!!!

Seeing the length of your review I wanted to dive right in!!!!! XD Will exercise (my seldom used) self-control and restrain myself…. for now, ahahaha =D

Why do I get the niggling feeling it ain’t gonna end well? @__@

31 07 2010
jicks

lol Since when did living in a Johnny’s World did the term self-control exist? ^^;

Re: the ending… I would love to drop hints but I’m not that evil *zips lip* xDD

Btw, totally got your telepathic Byakuyakouuuuu signals lol Will get onto it soon (may need to put Tsuki no Koibito on hold. Oh well gahahahaa><)

2 08 2010
cr1st3ll3

Okay so I haven’t even read this yet but I have to say- I was totally going to write Part II of my review last night. Then I got lazy… BUT NOW YOU HAVE MOTIVATED ME, RAWR.

2 08 2010
jicks

lol Well, until then, I will continue to stalk your page!

Looking forward to it (the review, not the stalking haha) :))

4 08 2010
mshaydown

wow this is a really LONG post about sunanare! in regards to the camerawork, I believe that the japanese take their drama series productions very seriously since the movie industry over there is of a much lower profile. Almost all of the jdoramas I’ve watched have had excellent filmography and you’d almost be able to expect that sort of quality as standard.

4 08 2010
jicks

hey, thanks for commenting! yeah it is kinda a long post, but i do have a habit of getting carried away esp when it comes to pretty looking japanese actors xDD *palms face*

i also agree about the cinematography in jdoramas- i guess that is one thing that really makes me (& a plentiful of other peeps) a fan. thanks again for stopping by :))

6 08 2010
wolforion20

I still have a few more episodes to go, but basically already knew about the outcome. As much as this series has frustrated me with certain respects, i.e. Doctor’s clinging and possessive attitude towards Haru and the characters inability to say what they were really feeling (but that was actually the point of the drama – how hard it was to say the truth, like “I Love You”), I absolutely love this drama. Eita, Ueno, and ensemble did a wonderful job. After seeing Tamayama in the Nana series, it was interesting to see him in such a low-key, seriously suffering role. I just wanted to take Linda home with me ^_^

8 08 2010
jicks

Hey, you had a crush on Linda>? xP Well, when you finish the series…

***START of (semi)spoiler***
…I’d love to hear what you think of Linda’s outcome. I bet you weren’t too fond of it, ne?
***END of spoiler***

Ima liking how soulful Tamayama Tetsuji’s eyes are becoming… or maybe I just never noticed them before?? ^^;;Oh he was in Nana?? I barely remember his hotness Takumi. Actually I know there were many other established names in both the films but er, I only had eyes for Mika lol ;O

Re, the ppl not being able to express their true feelings thing- yeah, I do admit I had a moment or two w/ Doctor’s clueless boyfriendness but I could see where he was coming from, & it was good to see a “second fiddle” who actually had such realistic faults for once (& wasn’t so stupidly perfect that made you wonder why the girl doesn’t just go for him ><) But the fact that he was such a devoted big bro kinda helped make up for it in my eyes :)) And yeah, I was cursing all the characters thru the screen during several moments of the series but I always think of this as a good thing (the fact that I am having a reaction not the pottiness of my mouth that is lol) I mean, if we didn't care about a series, we wouldn't even respond at all is my opinion.

8 08 2010
wolforion20

[ ******SPOILERS in this comment!****** ] -edit by jicks :))

I know it is the show of being a good series when I feel for the characters and get so involved I want to scream at the screen. But it doesn’t change how annoying and frustrating plotlines can get.

I was so sad when I realized it was Linda’s tragedy that started the first episode. I was like no! no! Why Linda? He was the eldest of the group who kept everything to himself. I felt bad for him and wished that he was able to express himself better without taking the final plunge into non-existence.

Tamayama does have some very soulful eyes. You could never get bored looking at them. As Takumi, he was attractive, but an ass, and I just enjoyed watching the two Nanas more, esp with Hachi and Narimiya.

8 08 2010
jicks

As Takumi, he was attractive, but an ass, and I just enjoyed
^^lmao, I do have to agree… but hey, it’s a rock star world xD I don’t mind when someone as good looking as he is acts a little bit like a jerk lol

Narimiya Hiroki, oh boy. This is still my favourite role of his to date, everything else he’s been in since, I don’t know what to say but… I wish he would get himself into better roles, esp in dorama land xO I like watching him while I am watching him but once the series is over, I have to say, most of the time, I barely even remember seeing him.

7 08 2010
My favourite Nakaji+Haru moments « [Candy.Me]

[…] ※ Related Post: Why can’t these two just be together forever? ※ […]

8 08 2010
wolforion20

Yeah, tis to be expected of Rock star roles and he did do a good job. Not having read Nana or watched the anime, I really was kinda at a loss to exactly what was going on with Takumi’s character, which I wanted a little more info on.

LOVE Narimiya, but agree his roles haven’t necessarily been the best even though he is a pretty great actor. My all time favorite role as of now is his “J” in the Bloody Monday series. :P

9 08 2010
jicks

^^Oh J. Yeah he was pretty cool I think… all I remember was that green soda xD But uh, I may have ben much more infatuated w/ slash distracted by a certain M.H. ^^;;

But re Narimiya Hiroki, yeah I think he’s a pretty good actor but I prefer to see him amongst a loaded cast rather than being THE (only) MAIN lead.

What other actors do you like apart from Narimiya?

10 08 2010
wolforion20

Yes, green soda and sweets. Kinda reminds me a little of L from Death Note, except he was a total sweets junkie.

Other actors…

Well, for Jdramas
Miura Haruma (he broke my heart in Koizora and loved him in BM), Matsuda Shota (huge LG/HDY fan), Matsuyama Kenichi, Kimura Takuya (in his Sleeping Forest and Mr. Brain roles), Tsutsumi Shinichi, Eita, sometimes Kamenashi Kazuya and MatsuJun, and the guy who played Junzaboro in Lunch Queen

14 08 2010
jicks

and the guy who played Junzaboro in Lunch Queen
^Oh yes, Tsumabuki Satoshi xD I actually only watched Lunch Queen just recently & will admit that he was pretty charming in it but if you are wanting to fall a little harder for him, do check out Orange Days if you haven’t already.

L!!!!! *hearts* Matsuyama Kenichi really made the Death Note movies for me, couldn’t think of anyone better to play the role. I like most of the actors you mentioned, too! *high fives* Miura, Shota-kun, Kimura (of couurrrrrrrse), Eita (duh) & Jun (but that’s much more for the fact that HE IS MatsuJun more than his actual acting ability lol.)

lol “sometimes Kamenashi Kazuya”— pls explain!! ;O

14 08 2010
wolforion20

Eh, well, as an actor, I sometimes like Kame. I must admit to being a huge KAT-TUN fan. Don’t know why exactly, but I like their music. Kame as a host and singer isn’t too bad (though I agree with E.G. about their style being totally weird and ridiculous), but even though he does have some okay acting skills, a lot of his acting and dramas just fall short.
I have have had several others tell me to check out OD, too. I really should since its coming so highly recommended from others ^_^

16 08 2010
jicks

Don’t know why exactly, but I like their music.
^^Hey! That’s pretty much how I feel towards ALL JE songs lololo

Ah well. It’s all fun & games. It’s almost like having free happy pills xD

20 10 2010
thuthuy

I love you now! U have great opinions on one of my most fav drama all time !
Thank U so much !

20 10 2010
thuthuy

Besides, I bookmarked all your posts related to Sunao ni Narenakute because I wanna read them over and over again.
Love this part so much as that’s what I thought but can’t express myself to words.

” In the scene I mentioned earlier w/ Nakaji grieving over Linda‘s death at the hospital, Eita‘s body language was so convincingly real I didn’t even need to see his tears to feel his pain. The way he curled up his limbs, the way he was banging his wrists against the ground, the way he just let that mess of hair drop past his eyes & then the way he gripped it all back spoke much more than any amount of wailing could ever inflict. But when he did audibly let out his cry, I joined him “

21 10 2010
jicks

:))

I know this sounds a little corny but I’m truly kinda touched that you’ve gone to the effort to express your thoughts & make all these kind comments. Truly appreciate it^^ (And I guess I’m just glad that there are other people who loved Nakaji+Haru in this series as much as I did ;OO)

I think that scene you pointed out was probably my single most favourite of Eita’s (as opposed to Eita+Juri) in the series. I mean, all along as I was watching, from having seen other series of his before, I knew in the back of my head the dude was a good actor but I think because he made it all so natural I didn’t blatantly take note as such. Until this scene rolled around, it fully smacked me in the face that he really has matured so much over the yrs- I remember thinking, “Fudge, Eita, you’ve become really farking good.” (Y_Y)

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