Based on the autobiographical book by Lily Franky (a Japanese actor, writer, illustrator, designer, essayist, lyricist, photographer, novelist and band vocalist), the dorama tells a heartwarming story about a mother-son relationship. Growing up in the village of Chikuhou, Nakayama Masaya (Ma-kun) is a spoilt kid who takes his mother's love for granted. In search of independence and a better life, he moves to Tokyo. Being separated makes him realise how precious his mother is. Upon hearing that his mother suffers from cancer, he decides to bring his mother to Tokyo and to take care of her. Unfortunately, their happiness is shortlived as the cancer slowly progresses.
I was introduced to this series from its theme song which sounds very sad (sad in a nice way) from the videos (which unfortunately have been removed now) here. Initially, I was not sure that I would like the series as it sounded so 'ordinary'.. and ordinary means boring.. It turns out that not only I like it, I LOVE it!
Although, the dorama is based on the book (i.e not exactly the same), I find nothing is severely exaggerated or over-dramatised. The story and the characters are believable and certainly there are many occasions that people can relate to based on our ordinary lives.
The first episode serves its purpose well and keeps me eager to catch the next episode. However the following few episodes depicting Ma-kun's university life are pretty boring. But everything goes back to the heart-wrenching mode as the cancer kicks in. There are some episodes where I feel the pace is way too slow. But overall, I think the pace of the dorama is way too fast. For examples, Masaya's university education finished within 1 episode and Okan's restaurant business lasted less than 1 episode. With that, the series focus more on the high-s and low-s of Masaya's life, thereby increasing the impact of Okan in his life and essentially making the series sad, and touching, rather than boring autobiographical types. In fact, I feel that how can their life be so 'suay'. For "few minutes" they enjoyed a happy occasion and for the next "hours" they were in some shitty situations again.
While the story focuses mainly on Masaya-Okan relationship, the main underlying theme is truely mother-child(ren) relationship. I don't know it's a coincidence or it's dramatised that everyone around Ma-kun has problems with their mothers. Being touched by Okan's motherliness, they all start to appreciate their mothers and try to mend their broken relationships.
The amount of details to show late 80s-90s period is also convincing. Everyone is using public telephone (no handphone yet!), the lights are still the "pull-string" types - not switch types, and I even see a SNES (super nintendo)!
Perhaps the reason why I love and find the show very touching is because I can relate to many parts. Firstly, I am also a Mama's boy. And yeah, I also damn bloody scared of cockroach. And as much as I am irritated with Ma-kun's rudeness to Okan, I can understand as I am also like that. I maybe less rude but still, it's rude. Lol. I loved my mum's attention when I was younger. But once puberty kicked in, even simple questions like "How was school today?" became very infuriating.
Secondly, I am far away from my family. And it's true that only when you are far from them that you start to appreciate them. Watching this makes me treasure those phone calls. As a third person watching the show, I sometimes feel like "aaargh you stupid.. why don't you just tell your mother/son about your condition!". Reflecting on my own life, I act exactly the same way.. I never tell really "baaad" stories as I don't want my family at home to worry about me. Similarly, I always hear good things when my parents speak to me. But from my sister, sometimes I realise that there may be some 'war' brewing at home. We simply don't wanna make our loved ones worry about us.
In all, I really had great crying sessions. I cried without fail for every episode. Even the happy events are very touching and I cry happy tears. While usually I can watch doramas non-stop, I needed rest in between episodes. Not that my eyes were tired from watching, but they were painful due to all the crying. Each episode is beatifully linked with a heart-wrenching event which makes it difficult to stop watching before the series end.
This really leaves me a great impact and somehow changes my view on what is important in this life. Life is so short.. You never know when accident, illness, and death comes. Really have to treasure whatever moments I have with my loved ones. One of the most significant impact on me is that when I start working, I will stop leeching my parents money. Though I am tempted to buy a new laptop and a new phone, I guess I will wait until I have my salary. I think my parents have sacrificed enough for me and it's time for them to enjoy their fruits of labour.
The mom was treated with CDDP a.k.a cisplatin. My #1 most hated drug because of my FYP. But that's aside, at one point of time, I was thinking that life can be meaningful if I can help these cancer patients to alleviate their suffering. But seeing how the condition deteorirates.. death.. etc.. I guess I am too "weak" to witness all of these.. Just not where I can be..
While usually I enjoy school or friendship theme in doramas, I find family theme to be more touching now :) And while certainly I enjoy laughing, I enjoy crying more when watching doramas. Haha.. Call me weird..
The touching OST which always made me cry, no matter happy or sad events were happening...
And seriously, among everybody in the world, MOTHERS ARE ALWAYS THE BEST!