Thursday, 7 April 2011

Just finished: Long Love Letter

I have a theory. If, amongst all the dramas from the past few years listed on a jdrama site, you find one dating from before 2006, it’s probably going to be good. Because it’s from a time before getting raws off the TV was easy, so someone had to muck about with buying/renting and then ripping the DVDs. And if they go to all that trouble, then it’s probably worth it.

I haven’t checked this theory, but it was definitely in my mind when I chose this series from 2002. The synopsis helped. After a lot of crime/mysteries/rom-coms, I needed something a bit different.

The first episode is mostly about the characters. The schoolkids and their friends, but mostly about the two lead characters – the former teacher Misaki Yuka (played to perfection by Tokiwa Takako (Kabachitare!)) and new teacher Asami Akio (Kubozuka Yosuke (Ping Pong, Ikebukuro West Gate Park) at his charismatic best) – and the romance between the two.

During this first episode, small things keep happening that point to something big. Such as part of a scene that repeats, or the way people’s image ripples when they walk past a certain point. All this is leading up to the end of the first episode, when the entire school disappears. They slowly discover that it's been sent into the near future, in a post-war, post-desertification landscape. The schoolkids who were inside (it was out of term time, so there are only twenty or so who were doing a catch-up class) have to learn to survive.

It’s very entertaining, and quite unusual for a jdrama to be so brave in killing off major characters. This does make things more tense, of course, so I’m not complaining. The cast, too, is very good and even if you’re a newcomer to jdrama, you’ll be surprised how many familiar faces appear as students.

But the science-fiction bits aren’t really explained properly and I kind of wish they hadn’t even tried. On the whole, though, I really enjoyed this and it certainly made a change from what I’ve been watching recently.

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