Yesterday’s Curry. Today’s Bread: NHK still working its magic

UntitledNHK (roughly speaking, the BBC/PBS of Japan) is dazzling me once again with its ability to craft endearing, engrossing drama series. This time, it’s got me charmed and delighted with Yesterday’s Curry. Today’s Bread (昨夜のカレー。明日のパン), a 7-episode series which follows a young widow living with her father in law, a co-worker smitten with her, an ex-flight attendant who can no longer smile and several other characters.
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There’s a bittersweet feeling to the descriptions of and flashbacks to (especially at the end of the episodes) the past. They convey this sense that the good times—those comparatively halcyon days—are over and the present wasn’t supposed to turn out the way it is, so now what do we do? Can we just loiter in this present, which though not great, has at least become pleasant enough?

As the protagonist Tetsuko puts it in the first episode, “Everyone says to move on, but is pausing here so unacceptable? I don’t want to move forward yet.”

But over the course of the series, the characters find that in the present, there are still Continue reading

The j-drama I couldn’t handle: 高校教師

After hearing the plot basics of the 1993 j-drama 高校教師 (High School Teacher), I really wanted to watch it. For mainly two reasons: to see (a) how this teacher-student romance (a j-drama/anime archetype right up there with step-siblings getting together) would be treated and (b) 90s Japan (which I have some peculiarly idealistic nostalgia for despite never having been in Japan in the 90s). To my wondrous delight, I found the series available via d-addicts. After a night of torrenting, I had the DVD-ripped episodes ready for bouts of procrastination of the emotional-rollercoaster variety. But it was a ride I didn’t have the stomach for. Continue reading

Old cravings flare anew

Every time I think I’ve kicked (outgrown?) the j-drama addiction, I get hooked on some new series. Over the summer, that series was 私が恋愛できない理由 (roughly: The Reason I Can’t Romance). What really pulled me into the series were scenes of the two characters here, Saki and Takumi—the emotions that resonate between them during those moments. While the drama has other characters (almost overnumerously so) who are melodramatically interconnected (e.g. Takumi’s wife—yes, wife, no, that doesn’t give anything away), I rapidly became engrossed in the unfolding of interactions between Saki and Takumi, pretty much watching the drama just to see what would happen with them hoping they would continue to share something special together.

There’s something spectacular about the scene above, a turning point when rapidly everything changes between these two people who have a fundamentally deep need for each other, yet with all they’re entangled in, have significant challenges in forging the sort of connection each wants to have.

I can’t say I recommend the series, but if you like the notion of people who are capable of transforming one another even if only momentarily yet possibly profoundly while meeting in the midst of tough circumstances, you might find Saki and Takumi as compelling as I did.