Osozaki no Himawari: Eps 1-2
It has been forever since I last posted (about a drama) because I am in a horrible drama SLUMP. But thankfully there is at least one jdrama that I am now looking forward to more and more–Osozaki no Himawari, with IKUTA TOMA. It is a great slice-of-life/human drama focusing on the significance of human relations in a small rural city. It also tells the story of how the main characters find ways to make the ‘flowers bloom in their lives,’ hence the title “Late Blooming Sunflower –My life renewed-“.
“I wonder if in my life, there was ever a time for the flowers to fully bloom.”
Like I said in the intro, Osozaki no Himawari is all about the search to renew one’s life, or to “let one’s life BLOOM”. It sounds corny but it actually strikes home for me. Ikuta Toma plays Kodaira Jotaru, a young adult in his 20’s who used to work in Tokyo as a haken (temporary employee). His life seems to be in a slump because he has no prospects or anything to be proud of. So OF COURSE, Jotaro totally echoes Ikuta Toma’s past role of Takemoto (Honey and Clover…if you don’t get this reference you should either ignore it or at least watch the anime..it is superb), in that he always narrates deep introspective questions about life like, “Where are we all heading?” and “What’s the meaning of life?”
The other main character, Dr. Nikaido Kahori, (Maki Yoko) is also a Tokyo resident who works at a university hospital as a researcher. Technically she’s a ‘doctor’ but not a clinician. (……I admit I do not know the difference.) In other words, she has no experience in diagnosing & treating actual patients because she has always been in the research field. At first it took me a while to warm up to her character, but eventually I realized that she is just plain FUNNY. She’s really bitter and sarcastic, which always adds some dry humor to every episode.
Both Nikaido & Jotaro end up moving to a small rural city called Shimanto–Nikaido is forced to transfer to a small hospital, whereas Jotaro randomly joins a revitalization team to get away from his failures in Tokyo. And here is where Osozaki no Himawari really surprises me. Most jdramas focus on the exciting Japanese city life that we foreigners tend to fantasize about, but rarely do they ever really get into the rural areas. It a very refreshing change of pace.
In BOTH of the first two episodes, Osozaki no Himawari managed to move me to tears. I don’t want to spoil it for you but I will say that I love how it mixes in the realism of lost dreams & life/death, with a faint, yet ever growing hope for a better future. All of the characters’ struggles are heartfelt and will inevitably resonate within you; even though there are many emotional moments, Osozaki no Himawari is a story of how anyone can let their lives “bloom” no matter how late they are.
OK, I admit that maybe my love of Osozaki no Himawari is partly influenced by my love for Ikuta Toma. BUT I will defend myself because I am not necessarily a diehard Ikuta Toma fangirl. Ever since I watched him as Takemoto in Honey & Clover (a live action adaptation of a SUPERB manga/anime) I have become utterly convinced that Ikuta Toma + slice-of-life = PERFECTION. And so far Osozaki no Himawari is definitely owning up to that.
Actually although I initially classified this drama as a slice-of-life drama, I think it is actually more of a human drama. Both genres are super similar (I think..I suck at genres) so I think both could apply to Osozaki. But for some reason I just get this human-drama-vibe from it, especially since it focuses a lot on the elderly people that Jotaro & Nikaido learn to interact with, whereas I tend to think of slice-of-life dramas as youthful. Overall I’d recommend Osozaki if you are wanting to see something a bit more on the serious side, but also with a touch of hope, humor, and lots of heart.
And lastly on a side note, I find Jotaro & Nikaido’s chemistry very interesting but definitely not romance-capable at this point. Like, they feel like they could be platonic friends, but not lovers. And honestly I don’t really want them to get together (don’t even know if they are an actual OTP?) because the romance should not be the whole focus of the story.
*Update* After 6 episodes into the drama, I must say that this is one of my favorites of the season. At first I had a dilemma over whether Osozaki was just a good drama, or a great drama, but now I think it’s a great one.