ALS: A Life/Love Story
My Makjang mode is on! Haha!! After a mind boggling-viewing experience with Ore Ore, my halfway syndrome is relapsing towards Tokyo Bandwagon as I need to take a break from seeing Kame’s face (it’s not me, Kame, it’s you; you and your 33 different looks *sigh*) So I decided to have sabbatical at the 5th episode. And somehow I really want to watch something sad; something heart-wrenching, something that makes me invested and cry like a dweeb. Then I found this drama, Boku no Ita Jikan (the Hours of My Life) that has everything I’ve been looking for: 1.) Makjang Plot: about a guy with terminal illness; 2.) Adorable Leads: Miura Haruma and Tabe Mikako—whom I kinda like since I saw her acting in Tokyo Bandwagon—Some reviews that I read said that they watched this because of the reunion couple from movie Kimi ni Todoke (From Me to You), which I never watched, so this drama couple feels new to me. So, without further ado, I started to watch this drama with no hesitation. And now, Imma share with you all about it. Okay then, cutie-pies, what are we waiting for? Let’s rollin’ to the storaaaayyy!! Swoosh!!! (Warning!!! this is soooo spoilery. So, if you still want to continue read it…the decision is in your hands..mwahahahaha!!!)
First thing first, lemme give you a nutshell information about ALS, since it’s the main topic of the drama. ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)–taken from the definition on the drama itself—is an illness where the patient muscles all over the body will weaken, and then there will be difficulties in talking and swallowing food and there will be a respiratory problem as well. In order to keep living, the patient will be required to be on a ventilator. In most cases, in three to five years from the onset of symptoms patient will have paralyzed respiratory muscles and die.
And now, what this drama is about? Well, Boku no Ita Jikan (BNIJ) tells a story about Sawada Takuto (Miura Haruma), an average young adult guy who is a people person, has bubbly and fun personality; living an ordinary routine life like going to college, having circle of friends to hang out with, and a wealthy family of father who owns a hospital.
But behind all the smiles he gave to everyone, he keeps a secret. He just faking it all; playing roles as a good son, brother and a cheerful friend. For the truth, Takuto is just a lonely guy who never got recognition from his family. On his junior year college, he went to job fair with his BFF, Mizushima Mamoru. And that was his first time meeting Hongo Megumi, even though they didn’t realize each other presents. Time goes by just like that. But one day, on his senior year, he’s having a job interview at a company, and there he meets Megu again as fellow job applicants and her phone is ringing in the middle of interview. Seeing Megu having a panicky moment, Takuto stands up and covering her by saying it was his celly that’s ringing.
Since then, both Takuto and Megu are keeping impression of each other in their minds. As time goes by, Takuto and Megu have hard times finding a job and keep facing rejection after rejection. All Megu want is just to be a full time employee, while all Takuto want is just to be able to show his family that he can work his own future. Well, when two people are destined together, they’ll meet again no matter what, right? So one day, when Megu and her BFF, Murayama Hina, on the way home after class, they meet Takuto and Mamoru again. And from there, things really start between Takuto and Megu, as they have a great escape to the beach and spend time talking and getting to know each other. And there, they decided to bury messages that were written to themselves in a champagne bottle with a promise that they will come back three years later together to read what’s inside. Since then, the relationship between Takuto and Megu develops, and so the love triangle with Takuto’s senpai, Shigeyuki. One chance, Takuto finally lands a job at a furniture company and gains recognition as one of the top salesperson, aside to that, he’s also finally in a relationship with Megu. Just when he thought that everything’s going so well in his life, the ALS symptom strikes in and turning his life around to a whole different direction.
BNIJ is a drama about choices of life. Everyone in this drama chooses their own path to live; Like Takuto who chooses to coping with ALS, and in the end to live with it as well by agreeing to use a respirator, even though it means he lost his ability to talk. Megu chooses her path to be with Takuto and taking care of him for the rest of his life, even though it means she has to throw away the good comfortable life she might had if she stayed together with Shigeyuki. Rikuto chooses to go to college with the major of what he likes, instead of following his father’s path to be a doctor, and so on. Other than choosing, this drama is also about living life positively in the present and finding goals to accomplish everyday. Those things are easier said than done, so that’s why it takes process. That’s what happens to Takuto. Before finding out about the illness, he’s living his life aimlessly day by day; always pretend to smile and accept everything that was thrown at him; he never truly understands what’s real love and warmness that other people can give to each other. But when he has the illness, he learns to cope with the hardships, to express his honest thought, and to accept pure love and support that was given by everyone around him. It may be hard to deal with this kind of condition, but Takuto’s positive attitude and how it impacts others are what this drama is all about. Aside from the optimism towards life topic, the other main arc of this drama is also the love story; either it’s the love triangle between Takuto-Megumi-Shigeyuki or the side story between Mamoru and Hina. I must say that I quite like Mamoru and Hina romance, for its so simple, fluff, and brings a fresh breeze after watching heavy conflicted one from Takuto and Megu’s side. Not to mention, only Mamoru and Hina get the complete happy ending.
While Takuto and Megu..hmmm…how do I say it…it’s complicated and a bit boring. The dynamic of their relationship throughout the drama is like: happy and lovey dovey at the beginning, then Takuto goes into noble idiot mode and breaking up with Megu, then Megu bouncing to Shigeyuki, and then Megu found out about Takuto’s illness, then the rekindling spark process between them goes draaaaagggyyy and sloooow like snail, especially around sixth to eighth episode, and finally Megu braves herself up to break up with Shigeyuki, and voila! She and Takuto are together for good. I’m not gonna say that their love story is cute, sweet, or even tragic. It’s just an ordinary, really, REALLY ordinary love story, added with a little twist called ALS. So basically, it’s just an A-okay.
Aside from that, this drama also touches to the family side. And, boy, all impression that I get from Takuto’s family throughout this drama is that they’re so affection-less and a pain in the a**, especially Mom and Takuto’s lil ototo, Rikuto on the early episodes (around 01-05). Dude, I shall give you golden brownie badge if you can watch the first five episodes and you don’t want to bash your head on the table due to crazy angst after that. Both Mom and Rikuto are sooooo obnoxious!! Big time!!!!! All they do is degrading Takuto and acting ignorant at his existence over, and over, and over again.
Rikuto is like “I bet you feel inferior, brother” all the time, while mom is like “Takuto, why you didn’t pay attention to your ototo? You’re so selfish…” yadayadayada.
Not to mention the dad; hah! The dad is more like an ice block with hair and glasses; so cold, so stiff, so robot-esque. There’s one scene where Dad meets Takuto for the first time after found out about his illness, and he saw wobbly Takuto on a wheelchair and stuff. And finally, he had a chance to talk one on one with his son, his OWN SON, that’s in a sickly condition and needs every bit of love and support from his loved ones. You know what his dad does? he’s only entering Takuto’s room, standing in front of him, hands on hips, and saying, “Takuto, I won’t let you die” and a few more words, and then POOF! He’s gone. I was like, “woooooww….seriously dad?” shouldn’t he be like, on his knees talking to the sitting Takuto, putting himself on the same height level as his son, touches his hand or his shoulder at least, then say “Takuto, I won’t let you die.” Isn’t it will be nicer and more moving? But no, he’s still as cold as a gallon of Häagen-Dazs ice cream.
Man, it sucks to be Takuto, living with this cardboard-two dimensional family. If I was him, I’m not gonna just find a job in Tokyo, I will find a job at somewhere remote, like Mongolia maybe, to be a missionary or a yak milker, whatever that keeps me far from these bunch of selfish people. Compared to the similar drama, One Litre of Tears, Aya’s family truly care about each other, taking care of Aya with all their might, and I really really love to watch that (cos I’m a sucker for a close-knit family). But in this drama, Mom rarely taking care of Takuto, while Dad..don’t even ask. All they do is putting Takuto on the hands of helpers or caretakers. I mean, where’s the parental love? The genuine care towards your family members? Even though in the end they’re getting closer as a family, it still doesn’t make amends, moreover, it’s a bit too late for that. And also, Rikuto’s side story is so un-interesting, it’s almost like a small problem that can be solved in two or three episodes is being stretched out through the whole drama. It kinda feels like episode duration filler. For example, Rikuto already shows his interest in dinosaurs whatsoever from early episodes, but he just doesn’t understand what he wants until the ninth episode, where he declares to his parents that he wants to study… dinosaurs. One word: DOH!!!
I’m not Rikuto, but I even know what he wants to study from the beginning. Not to mention they make the declaration scene to be as doki-doki as possible with a silence and tension. Well, what reaction you expect us to make for something that we already know from the start? Gasping and say “omgggg, how can it be??” *sigh* next time, if you want to put a fricken twist, don’t be too obvious from the beginning, okay, drama? But despite of all that, I must say that this drama has a great way to shoot sceneries, for it’s really beautiful and capturing the peaceful side.
Now, it’s time to talk about the characters. I’m just gonna talk about the main leads. All I can say is that Miura Haruma should get applause for his acting as Takuto. He portrayed the character really well; the angry frustration side, the vulnerable side, even the weak helpless side when the illness takes away his ability to do everything he always do by himself.
There’s something about Haruma-kun as Takuto that makes me feel heart broken, I dunno what, and I can’t point my finger at which one. But sometimes, watching trivial scenes when he tries to write or eat and he wobbly moves his body on a wheelchair makes me feel sad all of sudden. Even though sometimes he really likes to widen his eyes like a shocked goldfish, it kinda kills the mood and makes me like, “dude, your eyes aren’t slant, stop widening them up!” But well, aside from that, I really like how he shows the imperfect side of Takuto. Even though he’s living with the illness with positive attitude, and keeping his mind optimist; even though the doctor said that he does the coping well with the illness, Takuto is just a human being after all, there’s time when he feels helpless and frustrated, and Haruma-kun always manage to deliver those scenes nicely. Bravo, brrrravooo! atta boooooy!!! *clapping hands*. But I can’t help to notice that Takuto is so similar with another Haruma’s character, Sakurai Hiroki in Koizora. From the easy-going trait, to the noble idiocy move for breaking up with the girl. The only difference between Takuto and Hiroki is just the illness type, and the Dragon Ball-esque bleach hair. Lol. I can say that this drama is almost like Koizora: ALS edition. Hah! Well, if you want an actor who can play the terminal illness makjang boy role awesomely… who ya gonna call? HARUMA!! (I bet you read that line inside your head with Ghostbuster song…cause I know I did. Lmao). As for Megu’s character, I must say that she is the typical ordinary girl, and Tabe Mikako portrays it nicely as well. Megu’s character barely has a dynamic, but it’s progressing. From being happy and clueless in the young love phase, the soul-searching and realization phase, to being certain that Takuto is the one for her and gather up courage to follow her heart. All in all, one thing clearly stands out from Megu is her devotion to take care of Takuto, and sometimes it’s really touching.
But Megu had made one quite fatal mistake I must say: She’s moving on too fast. After breaking up with Takuto, she has a rebound relationship with Shigeyuki in short time span for a heartbroken person. Girl, have you ever heard what they call “wallow”? It’s a solitary phase involving a lot of crying, pizza and ice cream eating, comfy pyjamas wearing, and watching endless chick-flick DVDs. And this is something that you MUST do after the break up, so you have a clearer mind and not screwing other people’s feeling by bouncing back to a relationship. But no, she didn’t even wallow, not even a single piece of junk food.
And surely we can guess what happens next after she gets back together with Takuto. Yes, you’re right; the angry
kraken Shigeyuki is unleashed. And it’s not pretty, as it’s more to WTFery. All in all, both Haruma and Mikako have a good chemistry, but it’s not sizzlingly cute or even romantic. The strong vibe that was shown from it is more to natural, like they’ve been together for a long time, so they feel comfortable with each other. Maybe that’s why none of their scene feels awkward or stiff; but at the same time it’s not squee-worthy either—Gee, how can I see them as squee worthy anyway, when all variation of imaginative tragic ending keeps haunting my mind while watching episode after episode– Buuuut…despite of that, I really love how this drama shows every little thing and routine that they do together are so cherished and memorable, for they are truly living in the present to the fullest.
There are also scenes of Takumi (Takuto-Megumi) that’s somehow so sweet and yet…so heart-breaking, it makes me THIS close to shed a salty water called tear:
01.) Megu hugs Takuto on the Beach (Episode #07)
This is the final scene of the seventh episode. It happened when Megu asks to meet Takuto for the last time because she’s gonna move in with Shigeyuki on the same day. Then they’re sitting side by side on the beach, where they used to go together back then, to say their goodbyes. And Megu asks Takuto, “What do you want to do now?” and Takuto just stares at her with a sad face and answers that “It’s something that I can’t do” but then Megu says, “then, can I do something that I wanna do now?” and then she hugs Takuto rightaway, crying, with Takuto also crying because somehow they resonates the same thought, the same wish; for that hug is what Takuto has been longing for and written on his diary.
02.) Takuto’s ‘Proposal’ to Megu (Episode #08)
Megu finally realizes that all she want is to be with Takuto, so she tells Shigeyuki that she can’t live together and breaks up with him. On the other hand, Takuto, who’s still in love with Megu, is too afraid to say what he really feels to her, since he knows that his condition is only worsening day by day. That’s why when Megu confronts his noble idiocy when they broke up and tells him that all she wanted is to be with him, Takuto feels frustrated and hates himself for being so helpless. But finally, he gathers up his courage and waits for Megu on the park bench where they used to meet. There he tells Megu about his condition and asks her, “Do you still think that I can be with you?” and Megu answers him, “It has to be you.” And then with teary eyes, Takuto says, “Megu, please stay next to me” and she says yes. And when Takuto’s hand tremblingly wants to reach Megu’s, she holds his hand rightaway with her both hands. For the love of Haruma’s chin mole, I almost cry at that scene. I dunno why, but there’s something about Takuto vulnerability and Megu’s sincerity that were really touching and heartwarming.
03.) Takuto and Megu Three Years Later (Episode #11)
In the final episode, Takuto was asked by his neighbour/student to do a speech at her school student assembly which you can say more like summarizing the drama from the first to the last episode, rather than being sad and touching. And I’m quite disappointed for this drama is not making me bawling as what I expected. But wait a minute, sweet peas, WAIT A FRICKEN MINUTE!! Just when I thought that I don’t shed a single tear for this drama; the last scene, that final three minutes scene is so…heart-breaking. That scene is like the sum of all that had happened through the 11 episodes. In that final scene, you can’t help but to feel really sad seeing Takuto’s condition, and what’s sadder is that you really can feel the sincere devotion of Megu as she tries her best to be cheerful and how she loves Takuto unconditionally. And I started to get my eyes watery when I saw their wedding photo. It’s only a single shot of a photo frame and I’m crying bcos of it; so bonkers of me.
And then they go to the beach and dig the letter that they had put inside that champagne bottle three years ago, and turns out they’re writing the same thing which said, “Thank you for staying by my side.”
Man…when I watched that final scene I feel so asdfghjkl and finally…I cry (damn it, the final three minutes and I lost to this drama!!) And when I recall back the episodes to the very start when they first met, everything they’ve been going through together, it somehow makes all what happened before feels sadder and cry-worthy. Damn you, dramaaaaaa!!!!! Piling up these feels to the very last minutes. I hate you, drama, I HATE YOUUUU!!!!*bawling*
Well, we’ve been talk about everything, but one: the WTF scenes. Believe it or not, this drama ALSO has a couple scenes that make me goes “what’s wrong with you, man?” which are:
01.) “Can I Kiss You?” (Episode #01)
I shall never understand the point of this scene no matter how many times I replaying it in my player and in my head. It happens when Takuto and Megu meet again after they came to their college friend’s funeral due to suicide. The shock Takuto and Megu confide their feelings about that matter. And suddenly Takuto ask Megu, “Can I kiss you?” and Megu is like “WTF?”
Geez, Takuto, are you having your multiple personality moment? Even though you’re shaken by the fact that your friend did suicide, the thing about asking a girl for a kiss in the mourning time is soooooo ri-donk-culous. It’s almost like the writer forgets to add the necessary conflict and ham-handedly puts whatever that comes to mind. Gee golly…whoever wrote this scene should be watered with five big giant ice buckets.
2.) Takuto and Shigeyuki Unbalanced Fight (Episode #09)
Another WTF scene and this time, it’s a bigger issue. It happens when Shigeyuki got dumped by Megu. And Takuto comes to Shigeyuki, apologizing for Megu’s decision. And you know what Shigeyuki does? He punches Takuto; the Takuto who’s on a wheelchair and unable to move an inch of his body except a bit of his right hand.
DUDE, WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU???!!!! YOU FRICKEN PALE FACE-DRY HAIR DOUCHE BAG!!!! I don’t care how big your angst towards your kouhai, but seriously, you punched him while he’s on that state? It’s sooooooo un-manly. Beside, you don’t have any excuse to be mad, since you sorta snatched Megu away from Takuto when he had his hard time. If I was there, I definitely will gobsmack him with the wheelchair. Oh, nuggets, you bet I will!!! Grrrrrr…..!!! *clenching fist*
Overall, Boku no Ita Jikan is a very good touching drama with a very good acting as well. It may be a bit draggy here and there, but it’s all necessary to build the plot. If you love melodramas that will angst your heart and cry your soul, then you should watch it. This drama is not standing out or being different from any other makjang dramas, but it definitely gives you something that will make your heart feels bittersweet, but yet at the same time, hopeful towards life.
Final Score: 82/100