Woman: Ep 11 (Finale)

Drama ReviewsJapanese Dramas

I thought the ending episode would be more fast-paced and intense.  I also thought the finale would go out with a bang, with some sort of super emotional ending scene or something.  But instead, I feel like Woman ended very quietly.  It went at its usual slow pace and didn’t try to ‘wow’ us with an obligatory super long and tense scene.  I like that Woman does not try to make this feel like the grand ending but instead it simply closes the window into Koharu’s life that we got to look through for these 11 episodes.

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^top left pic: I wonder why they decided to have a random dog in this scene?

I love all the scenes between Shiori and Koharu in this episode.  The roles of Koharu and Shiori are now reversed–Shiori is like the black sheep of the family while Koharu is fully accepted by the Uesugi’s.  It shows that Sachi truly cares about Shiori but that she also will not let her slack off when it comes to atoning for her wrongdoing.

Anyways there’s this one great scene when Koharu and Shiori finally meet for the first time after Koharu almost started beating up Shiori.  The conversation that they have, sitting side by side, is just so earnest and bittersweet.  It’s about the “What if’s”.  Shiori tells Koharu about a dream she had of what things would be like if this whole thing had never happened.  Koharu and Shiori continue this imaginary fantasy about what Shin would do and say if Shiori had approached him differently.  This is the scene where I really feel the harmony between the two sisters as they begin to find common ground with each other.  Aside from their blood relations, it is ultimately Shin that ties these two together.

Ok I just rewatched this scene literally..right now.  I tear up all over again just thinking about it. *sniff* I think the reason this scene strikes me so much is that it reminds me of all of the “What if’s” in my life.  And how all of these ‘what if’s’ are so similar to a dream, just how Shiori dreamed of what could’ve happened.  At the end of the conversation Koharu brings things back to reality–she points out that Shiori didn’t make that choice. And because she didn’t make that choice, thing are the way they are now.  No matter how much we dwell on the “What if’s”..in the end those what if’s are always a dream, never able to cancel out the choices we made in reality.

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Of course, the ‘big question’ of this episode is whether or not Koharu and Shiori’s bone marrow match.  Before this episode, I was already very confident that Koharu would somehow survive.  But omg, the scene when Koharu & family find out the bone marrow results really messed with me!! The entire scene is super tense, and when they receive the news, it’s SUPER VAGUE.  So it could go either way–they’re either crying because they’re happy over the news or crying because it’s bad news.  Even when Sachi turns to Koharu and gives her a nod I was all, “WAIT. IS THAT A GOOD NOD OR A BAD NOD? WHAT DOES THE NOD MEAN!?!?”  And even when it shows Koharu’s doctor happily laughing over some papers I was all “HUH???  SO IT’S GOOD NEWS?!?!”   The scene messes with me even more when, afterwards, Koharu cries a lot and has a flashback to one of her conversations with Shin in which they discussed the meaning of life.

I think the scene when Koharu and Shin talk about the meaning of life (aka their kids) wasn’t really necessary because it pretty much went without saying that Koharu already believes in this.  But later on I realized that the purpose of this scene is so that it shows how Koharu begins to realize that even if she thinks she can never forgive Shiori, she must try to for the sake of her kids.

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The moment I realized that Shiori was a match for Koharu was only later, when Koharu says that they will do the surgery.  Only then could I sigh a breath of relief!  This is also one of my favorite scenes because Koharu indirectly tells Shiori that she has sorta forgiven her by calling her “imouto”.  (little sister)

“Thanks to you, I will live. Please live too.”

WAAAAAAA.  I love those two lines!! Just those two simple lines!  I’m so happy there wasn’t a super long speech (although there was already the super long Shin-speech before this), no cheesy long sister-to-sister hug or bursting out into tears…just two simple lines and that’s all we need to see that Shiori has finally redeemed herself and that she can move on with her life too.  I also like the way the word “live” is used differently in these two lines–Koharu can literally live (physically I mean) because of Shiori’s bone marrow transplant, while Koharu wishes that Shiori can figuratively live (mentally) without bearing guilt and shame for the rest of her life.

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At this point things have already been resolved between Sachi and Koharu.  So there are no more really heated arguments between the two of them.  Instead we get one last really long conversation between the two of them as they share a bottle of wine.  They talk about trivial things while holding hands and laughing over old stories.  To me it’s not so much the conversation that mattered..it felt more like they were simply connecting as mother and daughter even though Koharu is now all grown up.  It made me wonder what it would feel like once I become Koharu’s age, and whether I will be able to share that same kind of moment with my mother.

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Episode 10 already put Nozomi in the spotlight, so the kids don’t really have a very large role in episode 11.  My favorite scene with the kids is when they run outside in the rain with Koharu and Sachi and start playing without umbrellas.  All I can say is that it’s such a magical and touching scene.  I love how Koharu becomes a kid right along with Nozomi & Riku, and then even Grandma comes out and plays like a kid right along with them!  This is how I will remember Koharu, her kids and Sachi.  They have all been through their ups and downs but it’s their joyfulness and family bonds that I will remember most fondly.

So, cut to the ending.  Nozomi does a voice-over narration along with a collage of what happens during Koharu’s surgery and rehab.  We get a happy ending showing Koharu all well and reuniting with Nozomi and Riku.  The ending shows that the Uesugi family has finally achieved “madoisen”.   I guess the voice-over and collage was a good choice since it wasn’t necessary to show any more hospital scenes.  After all, Woman isn’t a terminal illness melodrama.  My only regret is that Nozomi mentions that Shiori gave Koharu a painting…but it doesn’t show what the painting was of!! I wish they would’ve shown the painting!  (I know..it’s a minor thing but..I wish.. >_>)

Overall

Although I can’t say that episode 11 is the best episode of all (Ep10 left a really lasting impression on me.  And I decided not to choose a favorite episode because it’s impossible!!), I can say that Woman is worth it.  Really worth it.  The drama may have come and go very quietly but this is the kind of drama that will be timeless years on down the line.  I can even say that Woman is my favorite of Sakamoto Yuji’s dramas–I like it even better than Soredemo Ikite Yuku!  Why, I’m not quite sure. O_O  I think the writing for Soredemo was probably better and the plot was more solid but……..Woman just CALLS to me.  And it’s not just because I’m a girl, ok?  It’s just that..Woman not only makes me think about womanhood and motherhood, but also about family, what it takes to forgive and move on, and the bonds between others.  I can relate to it a lot.  URGH I don’t know how to describe it.  =___=

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^ Such a beautiful scene

Anyways after Woman ended I went into a deep funk. Even though the finale is very uplifting and hopeful…I kinda crashed afterwards.  Seriously, it’s like Woman filled this void in my drama-watching or something and now that it’s gone nothing can replace it.  I spent a lot of time just being all angsty and listening to the soundtrack (which is beautiful, by the way!) OVER AND OVER AGAIN.  I listlessly searched for new dramas to watch but..I gave up.  Aghh!!  (I’m so dramatic T_T)

I’ve now come to associate Woman with my summer of 2013.  These 11 weeks of watching Woman have all been wonderful.  Looking back now, even the episodes that I had my doubts about all came together to make a very memorable drama that will stick with me for a very long time. IMO Woman is one of those must-watches that can’t be missed.

heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • I remember when we reviewed xxxHolic and I always read your review after I posted mine, and then enjoy the exchange of opinions and also enjoy what other viewers have to say – I think I feel the same way with Woman BUT more intense because it’s a bigger drama, with a totally different vibes to it. While xxxHolic has fantasy elements, Woman is completely heavy. Unlike you, I almost dropped it, but reading how much you like it, made a turn around.

    Yes, it definitely will be remembered. When I look back at Summer 2013, I will always think of Koharu and Sachi and the kids and Shiori and maybe watch again some of my favorite scenes.

    What makes Woman special? Probably a lot of reasons and it’s hard to name them all. 🙂

    • It was a lot of fun talking about Woman & xxxholic with you! 😀 Aside from you there are not many other people I can discuss this drama with. =_= HMM I wonder what our next drama in common will be. I will definitely be rewatching some of my favorite scenes later on. I think I’ll also try watching some of Sakamoto Yuji’s previous dramas.

      • try watching Mother from 2010. that one was pretty good. stars ashida mana and matsuyuki yasuko. it won a ton of awards too. ill be sure to look forward to your reviews for those episodes 😛

          • yes ive watched it and its good. ashida mana is so cute. im so amazed at how she can act like that at such a young age (she was 6 at the time). also the show is kinda heavy. if you cant find a place to watch it let me know. i know a place where you can get it.

    • Loved, Loved, Loved Woman. Watched it all in 2 days and it took that long because my head would start hurting from the crying. Thanks for recapping. I only started watching after reading your rave review. This is what Japanese dramas do best; take a simple, realistic story and let your inside it for a little while. It think my favorite scene is a toss-up between the one where the stroller falls down the stairs (Oh MY God!), when she comes out of the doctor’s room and smiles, and when she finally confronts her mother about Shin’s death. The actress was just a revelation. Awesome, awesome work.

      • Hey Jen, I’m so glad you watched Woman. Wow I don’t think I would be able to watch Woman all in 2 days because even just one episode alone takes me a long time to digest! I agree, Woman is representative of what jdramas are capable of. I’m so happy that Woman reached its full potential. I think the scene when the stroller falls down the stairs is one of the most heart-stopping scenes. Too many good scenes to count though!

  • I really enjoyed this show. Like a Kaleidoscope, my initial thoughts and feelings about characters changed as events were looked at from a different angle. All the adults had to reexamine their thoughts about events and one another. One of the better dramas I’ve seen.

  • Heisui! I just marathoned Woman… It was stunning and beautiful and poetic and universal. Mother was more epic and intense and ambitious, while Woman was more simple, elegant and like water. I’m not sure any screen writer can supercede Sakamoto Yuji in my books at this point. Mitsushima Hikari and Tanaka Yuko were superb, so much control and restraint and things said through body language and silence. I’m really glad Mr. Sakamoto Yuji has this fascination with motherhood and self, because these dramas are such gems.

    • HEY EMSTERZ! I’M SO HAPPY YOU WATCHED WOMAN! Also I’m impressed you managed to marathon it, for me just one episode per week was a lot to handle haha! It is interesting how you described Woman as water, I never thought of it that way before.

      • Woman is intense, but I do feel like it’s meant to be watched together, at least a few eps at a time :S There’s a chinese phrase 细水长流, I feel like this philosophy is very much the essence of Japan. It kind of describes the state of being continuous, slow and steady, just flowing. Woman embodies that essence, in the sense that its central message is everyone lives, and as long as we continue to breathe, life has to move on. For Sakamoto Yuji, the essence of life for women in his shows is motherhood. Once a mother, always a mother. It’s not good or bad, it’s just a state of being. Mother also explores motherhood, but it’s more about a woman who isn’t a mother, making that journey towards motherhood. Woman is about a woman who is already a mother, learning how to live for herself as much as her children, because being a mother is as much about the kids as it is about herself.

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