Japan’s recent BL release, The End of the World with You, adapted from the manga Bokura no Micro na Shuumatsu by Marukido Maki has ended. And with it, it has left viewers full of mixed feelings, thoughts, and impressions.
And that is what helps this drama stand out amid a plethora of releases.
It shook up the audience watching it, leaving many split between openly disliking a character(s) for various reasons or questioning specific dialogue and action.
It got people talking. It made people angry. It made people feel raw. It opened up lines of communication about depression, abuse, misogyny, second chances, and more, all while reaching for a miracle and grasping for hope. We aren’t promised change, but we can keep reaching for it. The drama’s message hides inside the hope to live amidst the turmoil of impending doom. It takes presenting problems to get people to talk about them. It takes people facing themselves and world views to get them to realize where change needs to happen.
And The End of the World With You does that by focusing on leads Kusakabe Ritsu (Nakata Keisuke) and Nishina Masumi (Seto Toshiki), two polar opposite men who received a vivid reaction from viewers. Not only because of the drama’s sexual content but because of the toxic way their relationship initially concluded.
It’s no secret by now that I have an empathetic approach to dramas and films. It isn’t that I’m an ultra-forgiving person. All characters in fiction are written to entertain and draw discussion. There are many more things I will forgive a fictional character for than someone in real life. And that’s because dramas and films give us a much bigger picture of multiple characters. In real life, we are limited to our own points of view, our way of thinking and how a moment made us feel personally. It’s much harder to relate to someone who hurt you in the real world than to someone on screen with viable reasons for how they became who they are.
Whether they should be forgiven is ultimately up to the screenwriter, but it makes for a good soundboard online, encouraging various fun and not-so-fun debates and points of view.
I say this because I’m very well aware of how people felt about Ritsu and that there are times when sharing my opinion about him meant seeing the disgust people felt over it.
The End of the World with You introduces two male leads broken by love in one way or another, and it affects how they react to each other.
Ritsu felt betrayed by love and later became that betrayal for others because that’s what love was for him.
The result of a forbidden romance whose mother was ostracized because of it, the only time Ritsu felt seen by her was when he was praised. So he tried to exceed expectations only to be forced to choose second best when his stepbrother failed to get accepted into Tokyo University. For Ritsu, love has only pushed him down or held him back. Which makes it hard for him to commit to it. So, he makes it a habit to betray others first.
You can’t be broken if you’re the one doing the breaking.
Or so it seems.
Ritsu broke Masumi’s heart, but Masumi also allowed that to ruin him. Both men could have stepped free of their personal prisons but didn’t. In the end, when there isn’t much time left before the world’s destruction, they want to break free of their perceptions together, despite the ruin Ritsu caused and the ruin Masumi kept himself in.
In this drama, regret is realizing, when time is almost up, how lonely both are in the differing types of solitude they’ve existed in. Ritsu by the people he thought he needed to be surrounded by, only to find himself longing for the one person he truly loved but betrayed. Masumi by the brokenness he felt he deserved because abuse was the only love he knew. It’s sad and poetic all at once.
And secondary leads Kagami Meguru (Idegami Baku) and Hirose Yuma (Tomimoto Sousyo) become the journey that takes them to that realization while offering hope for a new beginning—past death.
In short, The End of the World with You is a supernatural romance in which a young boy with special powers named Yuma wanted to die. In his search for death, he stumbled on three people (Ritsu, Masumi, and Meguru) who needed to figure out themselves and their hearts, three people who also saw no hope in their futures. And on a collective journey together, they discovered that the real magic is in living.
Hiding the more extensive picture inside a much larger disaster and then slowly peeling away the layers is such a beautiful way to tell a story. It makes us examine ourselves and the world we live in as much as the characters.
It’s a hopeful concept buried inside hopelessness. And you peel away the layers to find the hope.
For a story full of thought and nuanced characterization, check out The End of the World with You now on Gagaoolala or Viki.
Rating- 4.5 out of 5
☆ Main leads Seto Toshiki and Nakata Keisuke were featured in the Weekly TV Guide Magazine!