picture credits to: http://wiki.d-addicts.com/File:Soredemo,_Ikite_Yuku.jpg
Whenever I am in a particularly terrible period in Real Life and dramas slide by the wayside due to my inability to waste more time than I already am, I crave for a drama that can bring me at ease; like comfort food, I crave for a good show that won’t disappoint because watching a show means giving up a fraction of my sleeping hours for it. In turbulent times, I tend to turn to Jdramas more than Kdramas because of the former’s consistent tone, pace and writing; very often, they’re solid throughout.
For this reason, Soredemo, Ikite Yuku (lit. Even So, We Will Live On) was my pick.
Led by Eita as Fukami Hiroki and Mitsushima Hikari as Toyama Futaba, this show was penned by an apparently prolific Jdrama screenwriter, Sakamoto Yuji, known for emotionally-engaging dramas like Mother and Itoshi Kimi e; the latter’s the only previous work of his I’d watched prior to this one. Needless to say, he did not disappoint: Soredemo, Ikite Yuku is embedded with layers and layers of pathos.
Briefly, Soredemo, Ikite Yuku explored two families connected by a tragedy which opened the show: the death of a 7 year-old little girl named Fukami Aki, bludgeoned to death and left to float in the Mikazuki Lake by then 16-year old Kenji, the elder brother of Futaba. 15 years later and also past the statute of limitations, the families cross paths again – clearly, neither had forgotten, but most importantly: what happens now?
With such a story line, this question is obvious enough: Is Soredemo, Ikite Yuku an easy watch?
I”ll be honest: no. Not in terms of pacing as it was tonally very slow, not in terms of character appearances because their fashion sense in this show was gaudy, to say the least and not even in terms of content either because the issues brought forth and questions asked were often times painfully real and humanely complicated to answer. However, the latter’s exactly what made the show so great: much like Real Life, there are no easy answers.
I’ll say this right off the bat: Soredemo, Ikite Yuku is not and will not be everyone’s cup of tea.
It is as I’d said earlier, tonally very slow. Sometimes, very little happens in an episode. The beats and moments are often elicited to milk emotions – both on- and off-screen from the characters and viewers respectively. In particularly emotional scenes – there were plenty – especially, they were often raw, cathartic and deeply affecting. Why? Because these characters seemed so real, well-fleshed out that the lines between fiction and fact blurred; are these what families of perpetrators in Real Life deal with – the slander, the constant head-bowing and the constant slumped shoulders? On the other hand, are these too, what the victims’ families encounter – the inability to move forward, the feeling of injustice and incomprehensibility forever shadowing them?
What happens then, when these two supposedly opposing sides collide and realize that despite the tragedy that happened, they are all… simply human? Trying to deal, trying to find and acquire forgiveness, trying to move forward, trying to respect… trying to live on. As much as it was painful to witness, the execution on an emotional front was simply phenomenal – the heavyweights particularly, were the actors who played the parents on both sides; they were amazing in their portrayals of parents who carried the brunt of the aftermath, neither to blame.
The promotions had focused on our central figures – the eldest brother of the victim, Hiroki and the younger sister of the perpetrator, Futaba – falling in love. To be honest though, while it’s definitely because of their inevitable connection that started everything and ensured events unfold, in my opinion this relationship and supposed romantic entanglement was the least of the point. It was more plot device than anything, often appearing only in glimpses and subtleties but when it did… oh boy, the emotions it elicited from me because here were two lonely souls with so much baggage they believe they needed to bear, finding ease and friendship in the unlikeliest company. Despite how much I wanted them to reach their happiness, I knew it was more likely to happen individually than together. Not that there’s anything wrong with this – hardly – simply that it made me wonder if they could indeed walk the line.
Did I love the ending then? I loved the open-ended feel of it, I’ll say that. More than that however, I appreciated the writer’s care in letting the characters come to their own decisions; sometimes characters come to life, despite them being the product of a writer, and in rare occasions when this happens, I personally believe that a good writer will allow the characters to tell the story as they should. This show – case in point, right here.
Both Eita and Mitsushima Hikari were epic in their roles, though personally, I thought Mitsushima Hikari deserved the greater nod because she was very simply, friggin’ fantastic here. Eita‘s always been stellar, but this actress was such a scene(heart)-stealer time and again in this show. Futaba’s vulnerabilities and awkwardness were portrayed with so much deft and care and when the weight finally became unbearable and she broke down, those tears came from somewhere deep and sincere; so much nuance. Definitely, kudos to both of them for understanding their characters, the story and immersing themselves 200% into the show.
Another actor worth commending is Kazama Shunsuke who played Kenji, the murderer. What comes to mind when I think of his character is immense sympathy and mixed feelings for such an eccentric, otherworldly character – one of those people who simply could not find a fit in this world we’re familiar with. I understand with clarity that what he did was clearly wrong based on my internal judgment of rightness but it’s hard to ascertain whether or not this sort of depth existed in Kenji and if not, why so. For this reason, while I understand and accept that what he did, despite his excuse or reasons, could not possibly spare him from punishment or judgment, his inability to connect with the world is boggling and perplexing. It’s akin to asking whether or not a mentally handicapped person is to be blamed for a crime; either side of the coin you’re on, the hue is gray. Needless to say, there’s really no more praises left that’s not already said where Kazama Shunsuke is concerned; he was absolutely convincing in his portrayal of this troubled soul.
As aforementioned, Soredemo, Ikite Yuku is not exactly a looker casting-wise, appearance-wise and yes, story-wise but where it hits the bulls eye, for sure, is in terms of the visuals and cinematography. My God, the drama is gorgeous to watch. I swear, just try watching the opening sequence. The director knew what he or she was doing, definitely and the soundtrack? Oh, so heart-wrenching. It will stay with you.
I will vouch this again – this show will not be everyone’s cup of tea. Its subject matter is a very tricky one, so incredibly realistic and executed exactly as such, the characters are weak, meek and neither heroic nor noble, the setting is not hip, fast-paced Tokyo and the humor, when present, are often so dry and tinged with irony that it’s simply not a show one delves in hoping one can turn off one’s mind.
I’m not trying to turn others away from this show, rather I’m stating the facts with an understanding that not everyone will appreciate it and that’s okay – perhaps even for the better. The reason is because I strongly believe that for a show that’s so solid in its storytelling, pathos and directing – there’s an amount of respect which must be given to it. The best way to do so, therefore, is by playing the part of an intelligent audience.
If you’re up for the challenge, Soredemo, Ikite Yuku is the sort of show that is perfect for a rather dreary, cloudy rainy day. It’s the sort of show you’d pick up when you’re feeling introspective or when your mind wanders without footing. Like sipping a cup of tea and enjoying the sound of the lapping rain in the comfort of your personal space, Soredemo, Ikite Yuku elicits a wispy, ethereal sort of feeling and more. It is a show that is gut-wrenching, honest, deeply moving and highly introspective.
I’ll meet you on the other side of musings.
Final Verdict: 9/10.