How do I even say it? After I finished watching the first episode of Woman, I was just speechless. It was so brilliant, so beautiful, SO GOOD that I couldn’t even think of how to describe it. And even after watching it for the second time a couple days later, I still feel like I’m processing it. O_O So……..my thoughts are all over the place so sorry for a lack of organization.
First of all, if you’ve seen Soredemo Ikite Yuku or any other of Sakamoto Yuji’s dramas, you would probably enjoy Woman. I already had high expectations for the drama because Sakamoto Yuji is a great writer. And it really delivered. Secondly if you enjoy Mitsushima Hikari’s acting, you are in for a treat. And lastly, if you want a moving and realistic human drama, this is probably your cup of tea. Trust me, I usually avoid dramas about little kids/single moms but I still love Woman because it is so beautifully written and has such great actors.
So, Mitsushima Hikari plays the role of Koharu, a widow and a single mother who is raising two young children on her own. Her husband, Shin, (Oguri Shun) died in a subway train accident really early in their marriage. I know what you might be thinking–omg another single-mom-survives-with-kids-story but it’s not all that. I think this story is more about the bonds of family that remain even after death, alienation, and hardship. Sounds corny when I say it, but the script really makes it work. In the beginning of the episode, Koharu is happy despite her husband’s death, as she tells her daughter, Nozomi, that they must smile and remember Shin so that he will always be watching over them. Then she puts on a determined face and talks to Shin at his altar, saying that she will definitely make her kids happy. Then it shifts to a lot of scenes of Koharu determinedly balancing several part-time jobs while still taking care of her kids. Seems like everything is happy, that Koharu is holding up well…..and then..
Everything just breaks apart. Koharu struggles financially as she tries to keep up with the raising prices of her rent, daycare, and preschool. On top of that it is hard for her to hold steady jobs while still taking care of her kids. She tries to get welfare aid to help out with the rent and schooling fees, but that too falls apart. Koharu is not exactly always high-strung or agitated throughout these times, but all of the stress just piles up more and more until she has a sudden break-down. I think there are about…four meltdowns in just this episode alone but none of them feel overdramatic or forced. I think my favorite one is when Koharu chases her son’s stroller down the staircase (it fell accidentally) because she believes that her son is still in the stroller. Eventually it drops, and she looks back up the staircase to see that her son is safe and sound. She covers her face with her hands and just breaks down crying out of relief.
Towards the end of the episode there is an awesome scene when Koharu meets with her mom for the first time in 20 years. The two of them separated over what seems to be an affair that her mom had (which then resulted in the split of her parents & Koharu’s resentment towards her mom). I won’t spoil it for you but Koharu realizes why Shin really died and lashes out at her mom. For me, I think the best moment of the scene is when Koharu’s mom tries to give her some money, but Koharu pulls away her bag and repeats twice “I don’t need it”. Just the tone of her voice in that one sentence is so sad, so full of hurt and anger. 😥 Uhm I know I’m making Woman sound like a a tear-jerker (as in, it aims to make you cry buckets of tears) but I don’t think I would classify it as a tear-jerker. It is just so raw and emotional that you can’t help but cry and feel for the characters.
Ok I was totally rambling during this post. =_= I have this weird belief that the more a jdrama leaves you speechless (in a good way) the better it is. I mean..if it’s REALLY breathtakingly good that it leaves you dumbfounded, then it has to be good right? I got this experience with dramas like Soredemo & Gaiji Keisatsu where they were so good that even though I attempted to write about them, I couldn’t really put my thoughts together so all I could say was things like “it’s really epic” and “it’s a must-watch”. T_T Well if I could describe Woman in one word, I guess the word would be “release” or “catharsis”.
Anyways this drama really made me realize how many crappy dramas I’ve been watching recently. I debated over whether I should say this or not, but yes I will say it…….Last Cinderella (which was the most recent jdrama I finished) was utter crap ESPECIALLY in comparison to this drama. I mean, eventually I figured out that Last Cinderella was going waaay downhill (and by the end I gave up on it) but somehow I still had enough motivation to write about it for each and every episode. But then I guess Woman only put things into perspective even more and emphasized how crappy Last Cinderella really was. While watching Woman it was like I had this great feeling of liberation, sadness, and happiness all mixed into one because of how great it was to watch a non-crappy jdrama. Just the first 5 minutes made me absolutely elated, that’s how good it was.