Japanese doramas never cease to wow me and Last Friends wowed me with its concept. Here we have four people each of whom has suffered a bad experience in childhood which has inevitably altered his or her personality. The drama deals with topics such as homosexuality, domestic violence, and child abuse. Last Friends approach to these topics is very matured and intriguing which makes it a beautifully written drama.
Last Friends (2008) (11 Episodes)
Aida Michiru (Nagasawa Masami) lives with her alcoholic mother who cares about no one but herself. Tired of her mother’s ways she happily agrees to live-in with her boyfriend, Oikawa Sosuke (Nishikido Ryo) who works with a Child Welfare Division. However, after Michiru moves in with Sosuke he starts physically abusing her. Michiru’s childhood friend Kishimoto Ruka (Ueno Juri) is unable to see Michiru in pain and invites her to live in her house which she shares with three other tenants. Ruka shares the apartment with Takigawa Eri (Mizukawa Asami) who is an air-hostess, Ogura Tomohiko (Yamazaki Shigenori) who is Eri’s senior at work and Mizushima Takeru (Eita) who is a make-up artist. Michiru lives happily with Ruka and her room-mates oblivious to the fact that Ruka has been in love with her since their childhood. Sosuke however, is unwilling to have Michiru live away from him and tries every trick possible to ensure that she comes back to him.
Let’s weigh Last Friends on our drama beam balance and see which side does the balance tilt.
I enjoyed watching Last Friends because…
…it captured the true essence of friendship. Yes, Ruka has ‘other feelings’ for Michiru but she still stands for her as a friend whenever Michiru needs her. Same for Takeru. Takeru likes Ruka because of her boyish mannerism and accepts Michiru as his friend mainly because he knows what Michiru means to Ruka. But his friendship is not superficial and on several occasions, he goes out of his way to help Michiru. These three may be in a complicated relationship where they have feelings for one another but they all know the boundaries of their friendship and never cross it.
…every character feels real. Ruka suffers from gender confusion and has always thought of herself as a man instead of a girl. Actress Juri portrayed the character with such conviction that her struggle and frustration felt palpable. She clearly has given a lot of thought to her body language as she does not look like a regular tom-boy trying hard to walk like a man. I will have to see another drama of hers just to know how she acts as a regular girl. Masami too does well with her submissive character. She is pretty and clearly fragile. Innocence drips from every ounce of her and she best suited this character. The fact that she keeps returning to her abusive boyfriend, again and again, may frustrate you as a viewer but she has a valid reason for doing so. Give her time and you will understand and probably even feel what she feels for Sosuke. By this I don’t mean what she does is correct. It’s not. No woman deserves to be treated the way Sosuke treats Michiru but she shares a strong connection with him which even she cannot sever easily.
Screen Grab: YouTube
Eita may not have been very emotive as Takeru but he did a fairly decent job at playing the trustworthy and helpful Takeru. But Sosuke was the one who sent a chill down my spine. Sosuke is an obsessive, possessive and abusive character and actor Nishikido Ryo’s subtle acting managed to evoke fear in me. He spoke so politely that I would quiver like a rat. I liked him so much that I am watching another drama of his just to be rest assured that he is not really a crazy boyfriend.
Screen Grab: YouTube
…I loved the theme song ‘Prisoner of Love’ by Utada Hikaru. It suited the drama so well. It was played at the aptest moments in the drama and added to the general feeling of pain and anguish of the drama.
I did NOT LIKE Last Friends because…
…err.. I can’t think of any shortcoming in this drama. It wasn’t perfect for sure but there was nothing bad enough to count as a bad weight.
I give Last Friends 3.5 out of 5 rating. Last Friends should be your pick when you are bored of watching fluffy romances and want to indulge in a realistic dorama.
Image Courtesy: Fuji TV