Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Last Friends + SP

Last Friends tackles issues that afflict the current generation. Michiru's mother has brought a man back to their home and she is bullied at her workplace. She starts cohabiting with her boyfriend who turns out abusive and violent at home. Michiru met Ruka who was her classmate before she left Tokyo many years ago. Ruka is an aspiring motocross racer who has gender identity disorder and is secretly in love with Michiru. Takeru is a hair and make-up artist at day time and a bartender at night time who is attracted to Ruka but hides a childhood trauma of female body. Eri is a air stewardess who does not believe in true love but is in constant search of finding her own love. She provides support to Ogurin, her superior, a timid man troubled with his wife's extramarital affairs. The five of them live together in shared house and provide one another with emotional support and friendship.

The special episode is set 1 year after the main dorama. Eri and Ogurin returned from overseas and decided to visit the share house.

My opinion:
This type of thing is not my cup of tea. I bought this more than 2 years ago but only watched it now in 2013. Haha.. I was interested in this dorama because of Nodame Cantabile. Ueno Juri (who plays as Nodame), Eita (who plays as Mine), and Mizukawa Asami (who plays as Kiyora) star in this dorama as Ruka, Takeru, and Eri respectively. After watching Nodame, I developed a liking towards Mizukawa Asami too. Haha.. The dorama also shared a high rating (close to ~20) so usually it is a good sign.

Anyway, the promo picture and the story do not exactly tally. Nishikido Ryo plays as Michiru's abusive boyfriend while Ogurin who stays together in the share house is not shown in the promo picture.

As I mention earlier, this is not my cup of tea. So while the story and characters are not bad per se, I don't quite enjoy it because the pace is too slow. Everyone has a problem but the focus is largely on Michiru. I mean it is okay because Michiru is the main character but I was hoping that the issues of the other characters are addressed too. 

In the end, it is not clear whether Ruka did a sex change operation and it is still not clear what happened to Takeru (was it sexual grooming by his step sister?) which resulted in his trauma and whether he overcomes that trauma. The resolution of Sousuke (Michiru's boyfriend who is played by Nishikido Ryo) is akward. After raping Michiru and then saw Michiru's happy pictures at the share house, he decided to kill himself. Hmm.. how convenient. There is no telling on why he is so possesive and abusive too.

At least Eri and Ogurin have good ending. It is obvious that Eri is slowly developing feelings towards Ogurin while Ogurin is the "slow one". Good to see that he dumped his wife for Eri. And I think it is a nice touch that Eri accepts Ogurin despite his weaknesses. It is a rare thing in the modern world that a strong, pretty, capable womam will setlle for a nice but "perceived weak" family man.

I have a more mixed feeling regarding Michiru-Ruka-Takeru's ending of forming a dysfunctional family. So errrm.. Takeru likes Ruka but he is afraid of woman's body. Ruka loves Michiru and she stated that she won't marry a man. Michiru develops feeling towards Takeru but again she has Sousuke's child and Takeru likes Ruka anyway. Since none of the relationship will work, they decide to just stay together as friends-family-husband-wife in the share house. Haha it's too early too judge since there is a special episode which I have not watched yet.

The SP is an utter rubbish as it is 99% recap of the main dorama. Ruka only appeared in the last 30s -__-". There is not much going on except perhaps Takeru's reconciliation. Ogurin went to Michiru's ex-workplace and it was revealed that Michiru's ex-colleague, who used to bully her, is also abused by his boyfriend. Sadly, it stops there. No reconcilliation between Michiru and her ex-colleague. Really a waste of 1 hour 10 minutes.

My afterthoughts:
This dorama really presents current issues in family lives such as domestic violence, homosexuality (although it is more of a gender identity disorder rather than a straight lesbianism), rape, extra marital affairs, etc. I personally have no biased against the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transexuals, etc. I mean I try to understand perhaps they are born that way and it is not their choice. It is a struggle to live that way. However, on the other side of the coin, when they "threaten" traditional family life with gay marriage or adoption, the impact can be scary too. Perhaps it is easy to take the shortcut to live like Takeru-Ruka-Michiru's ending the series to live together as friends or whatever you want to call it. But imagine a few years down the road, what will happen to the child? Imagine many years down the road, what will happen to them when they are old. It is indeed a scary thought.

In the midst of all these issues, one may easily miss out that eventually, the there of the dorama is about love. Or perhaps more accurately summed up by the OST "Prisoner of Love". Love despite extra-marital affairs, love despite domestic violence, love despite gender issues, love among friends, love in a family and so on. It is ironic that love can be something beautiful as well as something so painful.

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