Last Cinderella was recommended to me by every Japanese drama lover I know. Several J-drama lovers would ask me if I have watched this drama and I would always wonder what is the big deal behind this one. So, I decided to watch it before anybody else asks me about it. Before watching the show all I knew about it was that it is a rom-com. I did not read its synopsis because I often like to figure my way into the drama on my own. So, I picked this drama to binge watch over a weekend. And what a cool time to binge watch a romantic drama as it has been pouring heavily in my city and the atmosphere is pleasant and perfect to snuggle up in a blanket and watch a sweet Japanese dorama.
Last Cinderella (2013) (11 Episodes)
Sakura Tohyama (Ryoko Shinohara) is a 39-year-old woman who works at a beauty salon where she effortlessly grooms women but does nothing to maintain her own beauty. She is clumsy and likes her single life, free of responsibilities. However, she feels lonely at times and wishes to have a man in her life. At work, Sakura’s manager Rintaro Tachibana (Naohito Fujiki) always teases her about her lifestyle and singlehood. Sakura and he constantly pick on each other. On one such occasion, Tachibana teases Sakura about not being useful to a man and she challenges him that she will find a man for herself that night itself. Sakura goes to a gokon dating party where she meets a young boy named Saeki Hiroto (Miura Haruma) and ends up spending the night with him. After the one-night stand, Sakura tries of forget about Hiroto but he relentlessly chases after her till she agrees to date him. She, however, is sceptical of starting a relationship with a boy who is 15 years younger than her.
Let’s weigh this popular Japanese dorama and see if it is worth the hype or no.
Story Conclusion: This one show stunned me with its exceptional climax. Like a lot of Asian dramas, this dorama also had two leads. I wasn’t rooting for any lead because until the very end I could not figure out who would be better for the heroine. And this drama surprised me with a very unlikely ending. I always complain about dramas taking off well but then nose diving in the climax. This one is an exception as it turned out to be completely different than any other drama I have ever watched. I read somewhere that the dorama’s producers had an audience poll asking which hero they would like to see the girl go with and they had filmed two endings. In the end, they showed the ending the audience was looking for. No wonder it was such a surprise.
Sisters Over Misters: More than the romantic alliances I loved the camaraderie that Sakura shared with her two friends Miki and Shima. Personality-wise the three women are poles apart but they still understand each other and trust each other.
They have each other’s back as they always support their friends to overcome difficult times. This is what I love about Japanese dramas. J-dramas do not just focus on romantic relationships but also show development of other relationships.
Miki and Kohei: Couples who believe that they are meant to be together, also face problems and that is what happens to college lovers turned husband and wife, Kohei and Miki. Miki and her husband are facing the seven-year itch and Kohei does not find his wife attractive anymore. They both stray away from their marriage and almost break-up. Their relationship develops beautifully in the dorama and I liked to watch their story move forward.
Lack of Chemistry: I liked Sakura and Hiroto individually but sadly they had almost zero chemistry. And it was not even because of the age gap. Actress Shinohara Ryoko and actor Miura Haruma played their roles to perfection but together they just could not complement each other. Despite their ‘passionate’ love-making scene, they did not look like a couple.
Unexplained Love: When a drama is unable to convince me of the love that the lead couple shares, then there must be something seriously wrong with the love story. Even after 11 episodes, I could not understand when and why Hiroto fell for Sakura. She reprimands youngsters like a granny, grumbles like a grandpa and is clumsy like a baby. So, of these main qualities that she prominently exhibits, I don’t know which one did Hiroto fall for. I would have said the same for Sakura but I don’t blame her for falling in love so blindly. She was at a point in life where she had given up on love and had no hope whatsoever. Falling for a guy who relentlessly professes his love her was very natural. Hiroto woos Sakura and she dismisses the 15-year age gap and easily accepts his love. But Hiroto is 24 years old and he has no such clear reason to fall for Sakura. I am not saying that falling for an older woman is unbelievable. Just, in this case, it was not conveyed convincingly.
Almost Incestuous: As an Indian viewer I find it difficult (read impossible) to digest incestuous relationships. It does not matter how romantic a couple looks if they are siblings (related by blood or by parent’s remarriage) they ought to act like siblings. Period. In this drama, there is a scene where Hiroto’s step-sister Chiyoko tearfully reminds him of how he ruined her life by causing an ugly scar on her back. He feels guilty about harming her and ends up pulling her blouse a little low to expose the scar and then kisses it while apologizing for his mistake. There are no more such scenes between the two siblings but this scene was enough to make me cringe each time I saw them together.
Last Cinderella is not a regular romantic dorama but no Japanese dorama is ever just ‘regular’. There are several layers to this dorama that makes it an enjoyable treat.
I give Last Cinderella 3 out of 5 rating. This Japanese dorama is not outstanding but is thoroughly entertaining. There is no dull moment in the drama and it is not bad for a binge watching session over a rainy weekend.
Image Credit: Fuji Television Network