5-ji Kara 9-ji Made
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I just recently finished watching Fuji TV’s Japanese drama 5-ji Kara 9-ji Made (From 5 to 9), which was the adaptation of a manga written by Aihara Miki. The drama adaptation starred Ishihara Satomi as Sakuraba Junko, an English teacher who dreams of going to New York, and Yamashita Tomohisa as Hoshikawa Takane, a monk destined to be the chief priest of a Japanese temple.
The two meet. Go on a blind date. Takane then spends most of the drama chasing Junko, until he finally catches her.
Sakuraba Junko is a teacher in a company that tutors individuals of all ages. She has spent the past few years dreaming about going to New York, and saving up money for that hoped for trip. Junko “meets” Takane when she is at his temple for a funeral service, and, due to her numb legs, knocks over an urn full of ash onto his head. He sees her and is instantly smitten.
Based on family manipulation, Junko and Takane end up going on a blind date. Despite Junko’s weak attempts to tell him of her disinterest, Takane begins to chase her. He shows up at her work (wanting to learn English, even though he already knows it) and her home (where her family loves him). He convinces her to stay overnight at his temple and try to be a temple wife for one week. And he begins to fight his grandmother for the right to choose the woman he loves, NOT the woman who is the right wife for a Chief priest.
Despite initial hesitation, a forced kiss from one friend and an aborted date with a coworker, Junko ends up falling for Takane. The two enjoy the first glow of love, but then jump into convincing Takane’s grandmother that Junko can be a good wife to the temple priest. Takane’s grandmother’s complete focus has always been on picking the right Chief Priest for the temple, and she does not care if she has to throw a second grandson away or force her older grandson into a loveless marriage for the good of the temple.
Upon seeing Junko’s suffering and the fact that she is giving up all of her dreams for him, Takane breaks up with her, telling her that he hates her now. Junko chases him for a while and then stops, realizing that he is adamant on this breakup.
Then, everyone around them begins feeling badly about the couple breaking up. They all work to get them back together. The grandmother even gives in, seeing how much Junko loves Takane.
The drama ends with the couple going to the airport, so that Junko can take her flight to New York, while Takane will remain behind and work on being the Chief Priest.
The drama was short, clocking in at 10 episodes and had the same tone as all Japanese dramas that I have watched. It was dry and mellow, and really lacked any of the passion that I usually enjoy seeing in my dramas.
The actors all ably performed in their roles, and I had no trouble with the performance aspect here. It was the actual writing itself, or rather the adaptation that gave me trouble.
I felt as if there was a disconnect between what I was seeing and what I was feeling about the drama. I am a careful watcher, and do not skip any scenes, but even I couldn’t quite figure out why or when Junko fell in love with Takane and why she was ready to give up her dream without a second thought. I didn’t feel her love for Takane, and therefore didn’t feel her grief later on when he broke up with her.
I also didn’t understand some of the actions of the cast. When did Junko’s coworker fall in love with Junko and why did he step aside so easily? Why did Takane’s grandmother take away Junko’s chance to go to New York (by pulling strings with Temple parishioners) when that would have gotten her exactly what she wanted. Namely Junko on another continent from her grandson.
I also didn’t understand some of the things that we were told, and resented the fact that, as a viewer, I was just expected to accept them. For example, why was Takane’s brother sent off to another temple as a child and why was he kept separate from the family? Also, why did one of Junko’s students, Yuki, dress as a girl almost throughout the drama and then suddenly start dressing as a boy at the end? There were no explanations made, and that was just proof of lazy writing.
Finally, the drama had one of my most disliked tropes . . . the interfering family. Takane’s grandmother was horrible to Junko, but Junko just took it as if she deserved it. This girl was a modern, career woman, and to see her so meek and desperate for approval made me want to shake her. The grandmother was a hateful character, and you knew that she wasn’t going to change much, even if she had accepted Junko as Takane’s wife.
Junko had some very annoying parents on her side, as well. They were so happy go lucky that their inattention lead to their daughter being injured, but they didn’t seem to care. They kept on pushing her toward Takane, even though they knew what her dreams were. They didn’t even know that Takane had broken up with Junko until he came and told them. Sometimes, benign negligence can also be detrimental.
Overall, I would give the drama 5/10. It was nothing special, and seemed like all other Japanese dramas I have seen. It was mellow and slow, and while I don’t regret watching it, I also don’t intend to watch it again. I would say . . . give it a try if you have NOTHING else to do.