30 December 2001 | otaking
A bittersweet Japanese romantic comedy/drama
Sorimachi Takashi and Esumi Makiko are the two big stars that draw attention to this wonderful 12-part television series about two complete strangers forming a strong friendship whilst pursuing lifelong happiness with other people.
Kasahara Natsuki (played by Esumi) is a thirty-year old hairdresser in Tokyo, with a self-esteem problem. Contributing to her problem is one of her housemates, Tsurumachi Fuyumi (played by Ishida Yuriko [the voice of San, from Mononoke Hime]), who is a bubble-headed beauty in the middle of an affair with her boss. While on a trip to Sapporo for the 2000 New Year's celebration, she meets Kaede Soichirou (Sorimachi), a newpaper photographer, after being locked out of her hotel room. Thinking it a chance encounter, she returns to Tokyo, and during an omiei (marriage matchmaking) meeting, Soichirou arrives as the friend of the man she was going to meet. Due to interference from Fuyumi, she runs out of the meeting only to be chased down by Soichirou, who then cheers her up by taking her for a ride in his airplane. Again, thinking it a chance encounter, they part ways... until later that evening, when her other housemate, Kaede Haruko (played by Nishida Naomi) walks in with her brother Soichirou, announcing that he will be staying with them as he has been transferred to the Tokyo office.
Needless to say, while the setup is pretty thin, the dialogue and story make up for it in spades. Not only that, but it is a story that can only be told in the Japanese culture, for the ending (which I will not spoil) is very much about duty to friends above yourself. This is a theme not oft seen in American television or movies.
I highly recommend this series, and I have enjoyed it enough to watch it multiple times. The ending is a tearjerker, make sure you have a box of tissue handy.