Forgiveness and redemption. That is what this miniseries is all about. While technically not a BL series in the classic sense of the word (this story revolves around an older gay married couple), it is one of the best versions of what BL should be about.
It is quiet, reflective, soulful, and profound. It is a work of art and beauty. This is by far one of the most beautiful series I have ever seen in terms of message and storytelling. It focuses on Yaichi’s journey (Sato Ryuta), who is a single father to the quite bubbly and joyful little girl named Kana (Nemoto Maharu). There aren’t enough adjectives to describe her acting, so let me just put it in the best words possible. Superb! She brings such happiness and life to her character that it is absolutely infectious. Yaichi has been notified that the husband of his late twin brother, Ryouji, is coming for a visit. While he had known that his twin brother was gay, they had not been close for many years and is uncomfortable with meeting him. Yaichi of course is worried that he might become interested in him since they were twins. In comes a bear of a man Mike, played outstandingly by Baruto Kaito. He is a huge man with a beard; originally from Canada, but speaks Japanese fluently.
This isn’t your typical BL storyline or characters. This is a story where walls of misunderstanding are torn down and stereotypes are proven to be false. Seeing others who are different as part of your family is definitely a part of the painful experience of forgiving. Kana is the conduit for the change as she sees Mike not as some odd person but as her uncle and someone who loved her father’s brother. That is all she sees. Slowly, Yaichi also begins to see him in the same light and goes through the process of self-reflection; particularly in how he treated and saw his twin brother. The enormous pressures of societal norms and what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ are no longer applicable here. Along this journey, we meet two characters; whom Mike helps, as they struggle with profound anxiety on how to deal with their own gayness. One is a teenage boy, Kayuza, played with tremendous intensity by Kobayashi Kika. He portrays such courage at a young age to come up to Mike to ask and receive understanding of what it is like to be gay. This is so relatable, especially for any gay person who struggled to identify themselves as gay when they were a teen and wishing and wanting that they could talk to someone who would understand. His expressions and crying left me in tears as I remember how hard to was for me to deal with all of that. He did such a superb job of displaying all those emotions. The other was a contemporary of Ryouji, Kato, played by Nomaguchi Tohru. He asks Mike to meet him for dinner, far away from any place where someone might recognize them. While he had a crush on Ryouji in high school, he knew that Ryouji was not interested in him in that way and so it was unrequited. He simply wanted to talk with Mike. Kato still remains closeted and is unable to deal with it. It is obvious that Kato is a very lonely and sad person because of the enormous pressures he must endure to comply with societal norms. One could now understand why Ryouji left for Canada to be who he wanted and needed to be. There is such a profound scene at the end of their dinner that caused me to literally burst into tears. Mike asks Kato that if he should meet him again in public, should he simply not acknowledge him. And Kato responds that that would be best. I lost it as I remember those feelings when I was younger. Constant terror that you would be ‘discovered’. I knew exactly why he said that.
As the story develops, Yaichi begins to see Mike as a cherished member of his family, which is why Mike made the trip to Japan. He and Ryouji had made a pledge to return to Japan, so that Mike could be introduced to his family and inevitably become a part of it. Unfortunately, Ryouji never makes it back. Mike in a very gentle and supportive way helps Yaichi to see that his twin brother was a good person who was happy and satisfied in life. Slowly Yaichi realizes that Mike is family, which Kana accepted from the very beginning. There are some very sad moments for Yaichi as he grapples with what he has done and how he needs to come to terms with what his feelings for his twin brother were. Redemption is key here. No one can give Yaichi this; he must earn it for himself. Mike simply is the guiding light: providing the gentle push in the right direction.
This story is profoundly beautiful and has a strong sense of redemption with a kindling of change. It is bittersweet but never melodramatic or melancholic. It is soulful and reflective and in essence life-affirming. Yaichi will never be the same and his definition of family has changed forever. He allows himself to mourn for his brother and seeks redemption through an acceptance of individuals for who they are. The screenplay is brilliant. The acting is top-notch by everyone, including the minor characters. There is something about Sato’s characterization of Yaichi that makes him endearing, and in turn very sensuous and seductive. It is a beautiful human story that I think is truer to life than we might imagine. This has a happy ending in a sense, but it might not be true in all cases. There are still significant societal pressures and norms that marginalize people who are different and force them to hide their true identities and entombs them to live a life of shame and guilt. This mini-series hopefully will change some mindsets or their perspectives. We still need to weep for the ones who will continue to suffer.
Rating: 5 out of 5