TWO NAMES: ASHIDA MANA & SUZUKI RIO.
Obviously Ashita, Mama ga Inai was one of my most anticipated winter jdramas because of the awesome casting of Suzuki Rio, whom I totally loved in Woman, and Ashida Mana, who was excellent in Mother. (Both dramas were AMAZING by the way!) So of course I couldn’t pass up the chance to see the two of them collaborating together in Ashita, BWAHAHAHA!
Ashita Mama ga Inai tells the story of a children’s home where abandoned/orphaned children live. We’re introduced to the story through the character Maki (Suzuki Rio), a young girl who is placed in the children’s home after her mother is arrested for assault (on her boyfriend). Maki finds herself surrounded by children who have been orphaned/abandoned and who seem to have little connection to their biological parents. Despite this turn of events, Maki continues to believe that she will not be permanently separated from her mother & that she is different from the rest of the kids at the children’s home. Well of course that’s not the way things are gonna go. >_< Maki’s mother abandons her for good and Maki must face up to the reality that she is now just like the rest of the children in the children’s home. Another girl, Post (Ashida Mana), takes Maki under her wing and helps her adjust to life without her mother.
So, it sounds like there is a lot of potential for a really serious realistic story right!?!? Well, don’t go into Ashita expecting a super realistic story because as far as I can tell, it’s not meant to be realistic. There are a lot of serious, moving scenes & it touches on many topics of identity/self/parenthood/etc., but there are also a lot of unrealistic parts. I’m not sure how to describe it, but you know those children’s stories where the kid characters are in an orphanage or boarding house or something, and they have a really villainous teacher/caretaker/stepmother etc.? It’s kinda like that. There are a lot of elements of the story that feel like something straight out of a children’s story. The caretaker (<is that what he’d be called? O_O) of the children’s home is totally on the children’s-story-villain level…I mean, he walks around limping with a cane, goes around calling the kids pets, etc. etc. I don’t think this is even supposed to be a criticism of the system, it just feels like he’s meant to be a really overexaggerated villain figure in the story. Another unrealistic part would be when Ashida Mana’s character (Post) potential-adopted-mom turns out to be a crazy woman who is obsessed with turning Post into a living doll. UM……..yeah. So pretty much all of the adults in Ashita are portrayed as heartless people. I’m not saying the drama shouldn’t show some of the adult characters in a negative light, it’s just that most of them are shown in such an overexaggerated way that they don’t feel real.
BUT DON’T LEAVE BECAUSE ASHITA IS TOTALLY WORTH WATCHING. OMGAWD. Back when I was watching Woman, I made the totally naive statement that I preferred Suzuki Rio over Ashida Mana. WELL EVERYONE MY EYES HAVE BEEN OPENED!!!!!!!!! ASHIDA MANA, IS THIS THE LITTLE GIRL I SAW IN MOTHER?!?! OMG!!! HER ACTING PUTS ACTORS WHO ARE TWICE HER AGE TO SHAME!
I cannot believe how much Ashida Mana’s acting has improved & how much she has matured. I love the way Ashida Mana is portraying her character and she totally nailed all of her scenes. Her character, Post, is a little spitfire and totally a hoot to watch. Post is a girl who was abandoned at birth (left in a mailbox, hence the name Post) and has never known what it’s like to have a mother or father. (Judging by the title it seems like the main focus will be on the mother and not the father O_O) She’s very independent, has a bit of a rebellious streak, and takes on the role of the leader of the children’s home. It seems like she can take on the whole world in stride but in fact she herself is unhappy & wonders whether having parents really make her life better. I’m mainly looking forward to seeing how Post will be influenced by Maki’s character and whether she will ever be able to trust a potential-adopted-parent enough to show them her real self.
In contrast, Suzuki Rio’s character Maki is a darling but she cannot outdo Ashida Mana’s Post. >__< Of course Ashida Mina is a more experienced actress than Suzuki Rio is so I guess it’s to be expected. However I also feel like Maki’s character is portrayed as a super naive and idealistic young girl when there could actually be more to her than meets the eye. She seems to have a very deep and loyal love for her mother, even after she sees her mom assaulting her boyfriend & hearing her mom’s ranting about how her boyfriend can’t live without her, etc. etc. In ep1 it kinda implies that Maki is aware of her mom’s dark & obsessive side, but it’s unclear as to whether she knew about it before she saw the assault or if she only found out about it after the fact. I’d like to think that Maki knew about her mom’s dark side beforehand though..I mean considering how obsessive and dependent her mom was, there were probably other instances where she showed warning signs. O_O Also even though Maki is portrayed as too trusting & naive, I think there is more to her unconditional love to her mom than that. It seems like her way of coping is to only think of the positive side of things; she focuses on the good characteristics of her mom while blocking out all of the bad things. And of course, she only uses this coping mechanism even more after her mom blatantly abandons her to cope with the fact.
I’m not quite sure how Maki’s story will go from here. Will a previously naive and innocent girl become more cynical towards adults & the world? Or will she balance a new sense of realism along with her more idealistic views? It seems like she has more of a positive personality than say, Post, so it may be interesting to see how she approaches her situation in comparison to the other children.
“The little girl who lost love. I wasn’t abandoned by Mother, it was I who abandoned her.” -Credit: Dramawiki
Well I may have sounded like I have a lot of criticisms for Ashita, but I just want to make it clear that I am really enjoying the drama so far. The acting is amazing & there are plenty of touching moments. Ashita isn’t a tearjerker but it is definitely aiming to make us feel a pang in our hearts. >__< I guess the thing that makes me feel unsatisfied is that thought in the back of my mind..”Just think of how much better it could’ve been…if only..”. I feel like Ashita has so much potential, so many themes to explore and yet something is holding it back. It could’ve been even better if only it had gone beyond the overexaggerated scenes/characters. Anyways I’m really hoping that the rest of the drama will be a solid watch!! Ashida Mina for the win!