Koinaka ~ J-Drama Review

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Drama Synopsis

Aoi Miura was a boy who always botches things up at the crucial moment despite all his effort and hard work for preparation beforehand. Although he is constantly put down by others for his failures, Aoi always manage to revive his self confidence with the support of his childhood friend, Akari Serizawa. To the shy and indecisive Aoi, Akari’s bright personality and her willingness to accept him for who he is secretly paved way from friendship to love in the young boy’s heart. Unknown to Aoi, Akari also shares the same feelings towards him but the fear of losing their friendship should their love be unreciprocated has prevented either party from confessing to each other.

One day, a boy named Shota Aoi transferred from Tokyo to the same school as the childhood lovers in Toyama Prefecture. Through a minor event involving Aoi’s best friend, Kouhei Kanazawa, Shota became friends with Aoi and Kouhei, and subsequently came to know of Akari. Being a gloomy person, Shota was attracted to the cheerful and friendly personality of Akari, and fell in love with her at first sight.

Trouble brews in the mean time as Akari’s father becomes knee deep in debt. At the same time, an argument between Akari and Aoi has given Shota an opportunity to create a misunderstanding between the childhood lovers. Thinking that Akari might have feelings towards Shota, Aoi told Shota to go in his place with Akari to the annual Toyama Prefecture’s fireworks festival*. Disappointed that Shota came instead, Akari left to find Aoi whom she then confessed to indirectly through a kiss on his lips. Unbeknownst to Aoi, this will be the last that he will see of Akari until ten years later as she needs to escape from the debtors with her father.

Before leaving, Akari wrote a letter to Aoi in which she confessed her feelings and asked to meet him a year later at the place where she was supposed to meet him for the Toyama annual fireworks festival. This was, again, foiled by Shota who stole the letter before Aoi could read it, and went in place of Aoi to meet Akari. With both parties thinking that they were dumped by the other, they went on with their separate lives and only met ten years later in Tokyo when Shota arranged a meeting between the two. The reunion rekindled the buried feelings that Aoi had towards Akari but also feelings of bitterness towards Shota who is now dating Akari and being much more successful in life than him.

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!spoiler alert!

The drama revolves around how the Aoi grew as a person and mainly how the childhood lovers resolve their misunderstandings to come together eventually.

*In Japan, asking someone to go with you to the fireworks festival is usually an indirect way of confessing your feelings. Accepting the invitation usually also suggests that you are interested in the party who invited you.

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Review

  1. An asshole second male lead (but this probably shows that his acting was good)

When I watched the first 2-3 episodes, I almost felt like dropping the series because of how asshole the second male lead is in the drama. I really hated how he kept on trying to hurt the feelings of Aoi by showing off his relationship with Akari even though he is perfectly aware that he still has feelings for her. This is why it became absolutely unbearable for me to know that Akari has reached the stage of kissing with Shota kun or possibly even more because it felt like he tainted her somehow…(I was trying to convince myself that she went nothing beyond holding hands with that jerk…..TAT). But towards the last few episodes, I felt slightly better (only very slightly) about Shota since he did change to become a slightly better person.

Although it’s a cruel twist of fate, but I do have to admit that Akari probably wouldn’t be where she is today (being able to study to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher and to be free from debt) if it wasn’t for Shota. If she had been with Aoi back then, it isn’t hard to imagine that they might have broken up because of stress from her financial issues and all (we do have to take into account that Aoi himself is not earning a lot of money unlike Shota who is a doctor).

Furthermore, Shota must have felt somewhere in his heart that it was wrong of him to have tried to come between Akari and Aoi. That is probably why he kept the manga book and Akari’s letter for all this time. Along with that, he also has to deal with his own insecurities about her ever going to know about his deeds, about his own guilty conscience and about their relationship in general. He still somewhat paid for his own actions although probably not in the way that many of us would have felt fully satisfied with.

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2. Weak and draggy plot

What I didn’t quite like about the drama is that the plot seems too weak to base the entire drama upon. There are quite a few parts of the drama that can be skipped without affecting how you interpret the story, so I feel that the drama could have been tidier if these parts are improved such that they add more value to the story. Although the drama did try to spice things up by including some stories for the side characters (Kouhei trying to woo Aoi’s sister, Akari trying to locate her father, Kokone who faces a similar situation as Aoi and Akari) but some of these side stories felt more like a device to drag time instead of adding more value to the story.

3. A nice portrayal of friendship + lovable side characters

The thing that I appreciate about the drama is the way they portray friendship. Kouhei is friends with both Shota and Aoi and he tried to be fair in his friendship with the both of them. I liked how he supported both of them and tried to spur them to give their best (encouraging Aoi to be more frank about his feelings with Akari, encouraging Shota to go fair and square with Aoi and to apologise to Akari for his deeds). I suppose the character that I liked the most in the drama is actually Kouhei? I also appreciated how they portrayed humans as shades of grey. While Shota tried to prevent Akari’s dad from contacting her ever again, but I can understand from his perspective that he was in his own way trying to protect her from the fact that her father left her with the debt and had started a new family. While Aoi can be all self sacrificing and considerate, but he does have sides of him that are negative (eg. Being mean and behaving immaturely because he is jealous about Akari and Shota). This goes to show that nobody is completely good or completely bad which is a more realistic portrayal of human nature.

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Overall Rating

All in all, I would probably rate the drama as 6.5/10. It is ok for passing time when you are bored but it is probably not a drama that you would highly recommend or watch again. Sure enough, there are certain parts of the drama which I felt was quite relatable to. The male lead’s innocence towards romance and self sacrificing sentiments can also be quite cute at times. However, I felt that there is not much in the plot to hook you such that you will have the motivation to carry on watching the next episode, and the ending is still quite predictable. BUT if you like to watch romance dramas for the angst and a predicted good ending, then go ahead! This is the thing for you!

~ Admin SY

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