It's been a year since I last saw these, and recently I went back and watched them again. Especially since the first time round I watched a couple of these episodes at work on Viikii, watching a couple of minutes here and there whenever I had a quiet moment. That's not the best way to watch any drama, so after Silent Regrets put up some good quality versions, I thought it was high time I gave these my full and undivided attention.
Of the five, choosing a favourite is difficult. On balance, it would have to be the fourth. It's the funniest and saddest, ending on a sad, wistful note after a lot of comedy from Juri. Also the music is fantastic, and the song that appears throughout is beautiful. It's a shame that there doesn't seem to be an official release, but I recorded the two versions and put them in the same mp3. You can download it here.
The one that impressed me most after a year was episode three, “My Neighbour's Neighbour, Akira”. Someone comes to visit their old friend who'd moved to the big city, only to find they'd moved on from how they were in their former days. A visit to the hospital for a pregnancy test is inter-cut with scenes from their last camping trip together. This time, I found this quite moving. I don't know why it didn't connect with me first time around.
Perhaps the least satisfying is the last one, “One morning, Hinata suddenly” which I feel mixes imagined scenes with reality too easily, plus it's the third episode in a row to deal with the same topic: growing up, moving away and growing apart.
All five are meditative and considered in their subject matter and there's a feeling of melancholy running through them. Meanwhile, the main theme of bags is tenuous, but at least it is vague enough to give the people involved a certain freedom. I enjoyed watching these again - they certainly stand up to repeated viewings. I almost bought the DVD when I was in Japan, but at around £40 it was a bit pricey for a single DVD. Even if it did have a "making of" as an extra. Ever since then I've regretted that slightly. Not enough to change my mind and buy it online, but it would be nice...