Review: Hirugao (2014)
Hirugao (Heijitsu Gogo 3 ji no Koibito tachi – Love Affairs in the Afternoon) has to be one of the most radiant and memorable drama moments of 2014 for me due to its sheer intensity, emotional beauty and internal devastation among human relations in nowadays society. People can grow apart and people can get together in a blink of an eye, nothing should be taken for granted, especially when it comes to emotions. Given the circumstances and your reactions to each one of them anything can change all of a sudden, some bonds tighten, some others loosen. It’s almost like a rope, all that matters is what it’s made of and how you tie it, then why you tie it. Hardly or softly doesn’t really matter, only time tells if it was meant to last.
A strong cast was called on board to fulfill Hirugao. Aya Ueto portrays Sasamoto Sawa, a married woman that works at her local supermarket and thinks she’s having a beautiful marriage with her husband, Sasamoto Shunsuke (Suzuki Kosuke) and their… children, two hamsters; of course Shunsuke’s mother couldn’t be missing from the whole family scenery! Takikawa Rikako (Kichise Michiko) does housework for her husband, Takikawa Toru (Kinoshita Houka) and their two daughters; they recently moved to Sasamoto couple’s neighborhood. Toru is a high position executive at a well-known publishing company and he lately emphasizes on themes concerning cheating housewives. What he doesn’t know though is that his wife, Rikako, is one of these women having secret lives just like the women that appear in the articles he supervises. These stories are being given visual vibrations by Osamu Kato (Kazuki Kitamura), a charismatic but introvert to the point of looking antisocial painter. Yuichiro Kitano (Takumi Saito) is a high school biology teacher and he’s married to Noriko (Ayumi Ito) who went further on her studies and works on research.
“Hirugao” is derived from a relatively new Japanese expression “Heijitsu Hirugao Tsuma” which refers to housewives having afternoon affairs while their husbands are working and/or their children are at school. It’s a coined word that has its origins in Luis Buñuel’s renowned film “Belle de Jour.” It may sound simplistic as a title if you take into consideration its meaning and it may lead to secure assumptions of what to expect, but for some reason Hirugao reminds me of Magnolia, one of my favorite movies. All figures are broken for their own personal reasons and somehow they tend to relate to each other. The more the episodes flow the greater the depths they reach and even if there are moments you think they have reached the bottom a new devouring spiral opens its mouth on another journey downwards. The difference with Magnolia is that the plot is based on reality, on the simple daily lives of people coming from all classes, without all this Hollywood pluralism and grandeur, a grandeur that is being transferred though the figures, from the least significant to the main roles. Whether everything depicted on the series was for better or for worse, it’s up to each one of you individually to find out by watching Hirugao. Steadily and with every episode the figures get emotionally undressed in front of the audience and the more you understand the more heartrending it becomes. Everyone in the series is dancing on broken glass from a moment and on which is nothing more but the echo of their actions that pave the way through crossroads of interplays. Of course no one can prevent or take into consideration the consequences and if collateral damage will be inflicted upon innocent victims in between.
I never knew being so happy was so frightening at the same time. Being selfish, I wish that the world wound end in this perfect moment.
You have to adore Sawa’s bicycling moments, it feels more like an act of self-healing and freedom by giving wings to her thoughts and escaping for a while her daily routine. Sparse monologues and thoughts through the whole duration of Hirugao reflect with brighter or darker colors the internal world of the figures partaking in this series. So we get to notice at times the conflict between the past and the uncertain future that barely leave space for present to breathe; but when it does time freezes all around so as to secure the moment, even if it is bound to remain as a beautiful memory blossoming through scars. The presence or absence of light has a twofold and utterly important role in Hirugao. Ιn one hand, on emotionally warmer scenes if it’s present it entrances with delight the overall ambiance, if it’s absent it lets the scene unleash its very own light through the interaction of the characters. On the other hand, on gloomier moments its absence deprives all hope and creates a clinical scenery, its presence though either leaves behind a sign of hope or contrasts the emotional intensity.
Hirugao is as real as it could be and as realistic it should cherished. Intriguing and intense as it is, it would be easy for this series to seduce your interest and take you on a cruise in the vulgar, but also gentle, world of emotions.
Insects are said to lack the sense of pain. Organisms experience pain so they can deflect danger and lengthen their lives. But insects live such a short life, they don’t need pain. That’s one theory. When we’re sad and hurt it’s because humans were given such long lives. That’s what i think.
It’s all about random incidents that relate to each other all of a sudden and they evoke a chain reaction of events.
Either you program it or not, things can happen, but such things always come unscheduled.
And sometimes it’s beyond your powers, you simply proceed.
The bindweed flower spreads quickly with its underground roots and never seems to stop showing its face again no matter how many times it may be cut down. This is why some have always treated the bindweed flower, the beauty of the day, as a weed, a nuisance. Like an affair, no matter who may try to stop it. Somebody please tell me, where are the two of us headed?
A woman unable to throw away her integrity has no right to true love.
And no matter how hard you try, it’s not easy to turn your back on it.
Osamu’s confession on episode 8 offered a hint of light upon his shady figure and with that straight forward and sincere smile he gave to Rikako it’s actually the first time we see his… living essence. It was like a renewal of the meaning of life deep inside, the sparkle that fuels the fire. Two broken figures completing one another, away from loneliness into a passionate fulfillment. Εven his place is a small Rikako worshiping temple with the paintings. Needless to say that (on the previous episode) Osamu’s portrayal of Rikako to her husband referring to her as a doll was a masterpiece.
One thing is for certain, you may harm people you would never want to hurt at any cost.
The scene at the library was marvelous, when Sawa was talking about being happy if she could see Yuichiro’s face from the other side of the river there’s a sense of the distance between them, a river in between is distance; and at the same time there was distance between them in the library, but the moment of holding hands overcoming the seemingly small obstacle through the book shelf was beautiful.
We were drunk on the thought of living for love. But living for love had made us forget that fate is never kind to those who have committed a crime.
The whole situation has become a star-crossed universe between ex’s. Osamu’s ex-wife is an extra weapon of mass destruction placed on the defenseless strategy table
The two opposites, a dark, cold studio and the pre-sunset heaven drowning gently in all shades between yellow and red by the beach. Osamu and Rikako’s goodbye felt saddening, full of doubt and uncertainty; just like the studio.
Talking about little things, eating meals together. I cherished every moment of that unassuming time we had together. I know this is not a sustainable way of life. This is a fleeting moment of make-believe we gained by losing something far too great.
You never know how people with hurt pride and ego will react.
Yuichiro never failed me with his thoughts as a biologist and as a human in love. I’m glad he could finally earn the heart of his most rebellious student.
As long as you are here, as living organisms on this earth, in the future, please love someone with all your heart. When you love someone your environment looks completely different. To hope for somebody’s happiness other than your own you understand what joy that may bring. Love exists in other animals, such as mammals and birds, but i think love is very special to us, humans. I too, met someone, fell in love and in having to part ways, know what joy love can bring. To be physical with each other and consummate a relationship is not the only act of love, i believe. Even if you are apart, to sincerely wish for that person’s happiness is the true form of love that we, homo sapiens, have the soul to experience. This is how we, as humans, love. This is why i want all of you, one day, to love someone with all your heart. This is my wish.
One could say i’ d be disappointed because it didn’t have the ending i desired, but i’ m not. In the last minutes we witnessed all the characters of the story and a sense of the path that lied ahead of them. One could say i’ d be disappointed, but instead, a bitter sense of reality was offered, you can call it just life sometimes.
Even if it didn’t have a happy ending, some of the characters realized some things, some will be miserable, some will pretend to be happy, some will grow stronger from this, etc. Realistic to the core, it didn’t offer release for everyone, it just painted various shades of life on its canvas, which is pretty much appreciated.
One thing changed, i can finally tie my shoelaces. Now I’ ll never stop when I’ m going somewhere.