A Life: A Love Mini-Review

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A Life: A Love

Credit for all pictures go to their uploaders.

I just finished watching Kimura Takuya’s newest drama A Life: A Love, which aired on TBS in January-February, 2017. The drama starred Kimura Takuya as Dr Okita Kazuaki. Takeuchi Yuko starred as Danjo Mifuyu, an old flame of Okita’s. Asano Tadanobu starred as Danjo Masao, Mifuyu’s husband, Okita’s best friend and the man with the biggest chip on his shoulder.

The drama begins with Okita Kazuaki returning from Seattle, where he has been perfecting his skills as a heart surgeon for the past 10 years. He is called back to Japan to operate on the man that helped him get to Seattle, despite his mediocre education and track record. Okita has taken that time away to become a world-famous surgeon, even doing surgery on a family member of the Belgium King.

When he returns to Japan, he sees his ex-lover, a woman who is now married to his best friend. In fact, he is here to save her father, the director of the hospital where Mifuyu, Masao and now Okita work. Masao and Mifuyu have a child together, but all is not well between them. Mifuyu spends her nights with her daughter, still addresses her husband as “san”, and Masao is having an affair with an attorney on staff.

Okita performs the surgery and successfully saves the Director. As he is about to leave, Masao asks Okita to stay, revealing to him that Mifuyu has a brain tumor and needs Okita to save her. As Okita begins to work at the hospital, preparing for that one surgery and saving lives left and right, he begins to inspire the other employees at the hospital to do better. As he becomes more liked by everyone, and well appreciated by Mifuyu and her father, Masao begins to spiral downward and seems to implode.

Masao has spent all his life trying to impress a father who abhors anything less than 100%. Where Okita’s father accepted him regardless of his low grades, Masao’s father yelled at him for getting a 98% on a test. When they grew up, Masao saw Okita and Mifuyu fall in love, and he conspired to get Okita out of the way. He suggested to Mifuyu’s father that he send Okita to Seattle.

With Okita out of the way, Masao then must have made the moves on Mifuyu and gotten her to fall in love with him? I guess. It’s never really explained, and I can’t imagine why Mifuyu would have married a putz like him. A decade goes by where Masao is now derided by his wife’s father, who makes him feel as if he will never be good enough. His wife also seems to have no feelings for him, a belief that only strengthens when he catches Mifuyu hugging Okita.

Masao decides that if he can’t have the hospital, no one can, and begins efforts to destroy it. He arranges for their hospital to be taken over by another hospital. He also decides that if he can’t have his wife, then no one can. Better for her to die at Okita’s hands, who is clearly struggling with how to get to the tumor without harming Mifuyu’s quality of life.

Okita is also struggling with his feelings for Mifuyu and is worried that he will not be able to operate on her because of those feelings. In the past, Mifuyu notified Okita of her marriage by text, and causing him to realize that she had broken up with him.  It is only when Mifuyu asks him when she was dumped, that he realizes their biggest failure was a lack of communication. Each thought the other had abandoned them, but in his case, he also realizes that he was too afraid of her status and his background. Therefore, when the opportunity arose, he ran far away.

Okita finally discovers a way to save Mifuyu, and begins to practice the surgical method. During this time, Okita’s father suffers a heart attack, and Okita agrees to operate on him at his father’s insistence. Mid-surgery, he makes an error, but is able to recover from it. This occurrence shakes his resolve to operate on Mifuyu. Eventually, Okita learns from the experience and decides that he can put his feelings aside to save the person that he loves because he is a doctor.

This also seems to awaken Masao, who has spent time with Mifuyu and has ended his affair. Something changes inside of him, and he begins to hope. Masao then decides that he will do the surgery. He begins to practice, and, just when things are momentarily looking up, Mifuyu tells him she wants Okita to operate. As he is struggling with that choice, his ex-lover reveals the truth to Mifuyu’s father about Masao’s destructive plans. Masao is ousted and wanders off to get drunk and feel sorry for himself. This is when his wife has just suffered a complication from the tumor and is days away from surgery.

Mifuyu is worried out of her mind about her husband and leaving her child alone. Okita operates and is only able to remove 2/3 of the tumor, and has to close her up without removing the final part. He then goes to look for Masao, and is able to convince the man who has spent the past week to 10 days getting and staying drunk to come back and operate on his wife. He tells Masao that Mifuyu only wanted him to operate so that if something happened, her death would not be at Masao’s hands. Masao comes to the rescue, and they work together to remove the final tumor. Masao is there when Mifuyu awakens to her relief. Her father forgives him and makes him the Director of the hospital. And Mifuyu is on her way to full recovery.

Okita returns to Seattle, stating that he still has more to learn.

The End.

This was a very unsatisfying drama. I was so excited to see Takeuchi Yuko and Kimura Takuya coming back after Pride, one of my favorite Japanese dramas, but this was . . . not what I expected.

Kimura Takuya had the same acting that we’ve seen in many of his dramas. The same turning of the lips, that pausing in the doorway right before the door closes for that perfect pose, the way he moved with a nervous energy . . . it’s as if we’ve seen this character many times, down to the same crotchety father.  Good Luck!! anyone? Only the name and profession were different.

As for his character, Okita – he loved and left behind a woman. He had regrets, but not enough to do anything about it. I laud the character for that. She was married and had a child, and he had no business coming back to ruin that. Also, I liked the fact that Okita wasn’t this smart genius. He had to work really, really hard at his craft. That is a refreshing change from the geniuses we see in Korean dramas. It wasn’t easy for him, but he worked hard and prepared hard. I liked that.

So, while I had no problem with the character, I really wished we had seen more from the actor.

Takeuchi Yuko did a good job acting wise, because she wasn’t really given a lot to work with. She was supposed to be this demure woman, who was a good mom and a good doctor. She did the job.

But as for the character, Mifuyu always seemed to try to meet expectations, which made me wonder if she also married Masao due to those expectations. She knew about her husband’s affair, and yet did nothing. Was her relief at his return only because she was supposed to be grateful that her rat bastard of a husband had come back to her? And were those expectations of being a good mother . . . a good wife . . . a good woman what kept her in that marriage? It sure as heck didn’t feel like it was love for her husband. She was so sedate, so calm. There was no anger and no passion. I didn’t know what she felt outside of love for her child.

So, while I had no problem with Yuko’s acting, I was confused by her character and unsure of her motivations. I also didn’t like her decisions.

Tadanobu Asano did a good job as Masao. He acted skeevy, desperate, manic and calm in parts throughout the drama, leaving us to doubt his motives until the very end. We saw his breakdown and his desperation, his jealousy and his uncertainty. I had no doubt as to what the actor wanted to portray, and I had no problems with his acting.

It was only the character that I abhorred. I am so tired of characters who cry about their sad childhood leading them to make bad mistakes, which then make them into bad persons who continue to make bad mistakes. I did not like him – he used his friends, used his wife, and planned to destroy everything rather than having it all taken away from him. The mere thought of someone like that makes my skin crawl. I guess because we didn’t see his trying over the years, with his father in law or his wife, I have no sympathy for him.

So, while Asano, the actor, did a good job, I did not like the character.

The drama had some other interesting side characters, and the actors did an able job, but none of it was memorable. I finished the drama because I had begun it, and can only give it a 4/10. It was a disappointing watch, and I cannot recommend it.

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