J-dorama

Review: Hirugao (2014)

Hirugao-p1Hirugao (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.

1-2A 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 che3-4ating 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 1-3derived 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 1-5devouring 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 broke7-3n 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.

1-6You 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 impor1-7tant 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.

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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.

Rating: 10/10

aya hirugao

——//Spoiler’s Paradise//——

It’s all about random incidents that relate to each other all of a sudden and they evoke a chain reaction of events.

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Either you program it or not, things can happen, but such things always come unscheduled.

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And sometimes it’s beyond your powers, you simply proceed.

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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?

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A woman unable to throw away her integrity has no right to true love.

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And no matter how hard you try, it’s not easy to turn your back on it.

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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.

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One thing is for certain, you may harm people you would never want to hurt at any cost.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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 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.

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You never know how people with hurt pride and ego will react.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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One thing changed, i can finally tie my shoelaces. Now I’ ll never stop when I’ m going somewhere.

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Kwon Sang Seung

Kwon Sang Seung

elles viennent
autres et pareilles
avec chacune c'est autre et c'est pareille
avec chacune l'absence d'amour est autre
avec chacune l'absence d'amour est pareille
-Samuel Beckett-

13 Comments

  1. October 16, 2014 at 10:16 pm — Reply

    Reblogged this on .

  2. November 14, 2014 at 7:48 pm — Reply

    What a beautiful write up?! Thanks a lot for the great post. I SO LOVED this drama. One of the best dramas of the year for sure <3
    And I must say I was worried of how they will end this cause it is hard to give a satisfying ending to such complicated characters and relationships but I ended up actually satisfied with it and how realistic it was.

    • November 14, 2014 at 7:59 pm — Reply

      Thanks a lot for your beautiful words! Indeed, it was masterfully performed by any means! I was worried as well before watching the last episode by myself since i had read a few comments around about being disappointed with the ending, they could present a happy ending and satisfy everyone rooting for the main couple, they could depict a pretty sad ending, the truth was in middle, which is reality, some were hurt probably beyond repair, some others put on the happy mask and continued and last but not least, some others opened up a new road ahead of them, it was as real as it could get. Only Japanese series can present such realistic aesthetics 😀

      • November 14, 2014 at 8:21 pm — Reply

        Yes exactly, for me it wasn’t a total sad ending. And personally, I wouldn’t have been fully happy to see the main couple together neglecting all the other relations and their husband and wife cause it would be very selfish and moral speaking it wouldn’t be a good message IMO.

        And I totally agree about J-doramas, they are still unbeatable when it comes to how realistic and deep they can get.

        And I would like to add that I really loved the OST SO MUCH. The main song “Never Again” was AMAZING. Still on my playlist till now <3

        • November 15, 2014 at 12:46 am — Reply

          Sorry for the late reply, but beers were calling my name 😛

          Indeed, it would be way too selfish for everyone to follow their dream-path, although it felt way too saddening for the painter. He paid the utmost price.

          And that’s a huge difference i like between k-dramas and j-doramas, in k-dramas if you’re poor, it’s not that obvious, in j-doramas if you’re poor, you ARE poor! The way they present economical classes is utterly realistic, which holds a sense of reality since we live in a real world.

          The main song is awesome!!! And generally they did a really good job on the OST part, especially when signs of hope get devoured and this Never Again appears a part of me was dying inside! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Xd-lVIt_0Q

          One thing i will always keep, Aya bicycling when reality was too hard to handle, with the sun and Never Again at the background!

          • November 15, 2014 at 1:32 am

            Yes, I was so sad for him. But I was rather relieved when they showed him drawing again in the end with his other hand.

            And so true, about Aya bicycling opening scene. Can’t be forgotten.

            And ooh, I remember the most heartbreaking scene when they found them and were pulling them away from each other while crying and screaming with them playing “Never Again” at the end part of it. Another unforgettable scene, I can’t remember how many times I replayed and cried on it T_T

            And about J-dramas and K-dramas. Haha, poor people in Kdramas use the latest mobiles and wear branded clothes 😀
            But they actually serve me in a good way cause I go to Kdramas when I want to escape from reality and live in a dream for some time and I love to detach from reality many times actually 😉

          • November 15, 2014 at 1:49 am

            Yes, he was trying to overwhelm the circumstances, even if drawing with one hand he would try to survive. Damn, now that i think about it the end was more positive even if it was saddening for him xD

            That scene was more than intense! They were struggling to get a hold of each other and not to be torn apart! They were like the mafia of love or something! Also, something that stick to my mind for whatever reason and i simply can’t forget it it was when Aya was walking away from him and right before she fell on the grass and hurt her foot she yelled sayoooooooooooooooona xD It was so stubbornly selfish and cute at the same time 😀 A baby-like reaction!

            Yes, they are poor people with privileges xD Even the loan sharks become friends of those in debt xD That’s right, same here, k-dramas have the potential to fill in the void you could be missing, they are a welcome equivalent of parts from your life you could be missing. A beautiful refuge dare i say 🙂

      • jazmin
        October 21, 2015 at 12:05 am — Reply

        Who sing the ost never again? I relaly like that song but i cant find it

        • October 21, 2015 at 5:47 am — Reply

          The song is written by Yugo Kanno and is being sang by Karen Aoki! 🙂 Search for this: 菅野祐悟-Never Again feat.青木カレン

  3. Claudia D.
    July 11, 2015 at 8:36 pm — Reply

    I absolutely loved this drama. I only saw it now, but it was impressive for a J-drama. Beautifully written, fantastically acted, even if sometimes a bit over the top. Ahh, I’ll never forget the OST of this show. I really recommend this drama to any one who is interested in more mature, emotionally charged and romantic (boarding on the desperate) relationships drama.

    SPOILERS!

    And I gotta say, more than Sawa and Kitano together, I would have liked to see Rikako and Kato stay together at the end. But oh well, that’s how they decided to end it and I agree that it made the drama even more special.

    • July 12, 2015 at 12:07 am — Reply

      This drama was quite exceptional to my eyes and i am glad you watched it and loved it so much. It’s better late or later than never! 😀 Sometimes it went over the top indeed, but sometimes feelings overcome logic.
      I wanted to see Rikako and Kato together in the end as well, but all of the characters’ endings possessed a sense of reality, sometimes harsh, sometimes awakening and cleansing. The cinematography also made the magic of the drama more intense as well. Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts!!! 🙂

  4. Caro
    August 3, 2016 at 4:59 am — Reply

    Great drama! i must say the end wasn´t dissapointed at all…. but just sad, i felt really sad for them.
    Even if it wasnt right what they did, they showed true love for each other, reality hits you back… i know, its not a disney movie.. xD
    can´t understand why yuichiro´s wife would be so possessive with a man who dont love you at all, and playing the “puritane rol”, i mean when she was young she had an affair with her teacher who was married with kids, so… does she has that right?… she did the same, soo… anyway… im glad at the end Sawa got divorced and will move on her life.

  5. Margy
    November 17, 2016 at 3:38 pm — Reply

    The ending was bittersweet. Sawa’s husband finally letting go by bring up divorce. Yuichiro staying with his wife. That scene where the movers are packing their stuff in the van and his wife telling him, “Yuichiro, I’m sorry. Perhaps, now, I can…” (consent to a divorce?) but Yuichiro interrupting her by saying, “Nori, we need to go or else we’ll be late getting there.” I take that as Yuichiro not being fooled by his wife’s moment of weakness or appearing to let her guard down. She is a strong-willed well-educated woman who was loved by this man and there is no way she will divorce him.
    I’m guessing the movie will continue in this theme. She will have his baby and there is no way he will leave her and their child.
    Nori sure showed her strength by doing everything she could to destroy her husband and Sawa. She made a scene at the library, informed the school, complained to the grocery store (only in Japan! “You went after a customer’s spouse! This is a black eye for the store!” Good grief. ) and just really showed how nasty she is. She doesn’t care that she is shackling her husband to her; Yuichiro told her that he doesn’t love her. He loves Sawa and can’t really explain what it is about her that he loves. He just knows he feels joy.
    Sawa’s mother-in-law stuck it out with her husband although she never saw him smile the way he smiled with his lover.
    I think most Japanese have a pragmatic view of marriage. The woman wants to be taken care of so she wants a man with a certain level of income. The man wants a woman who will cook, clean the house, bear his children and look after his parents. If they don’t love each other but respect one another then affairs will be discreet and tolerated so everyone is happy.
    I wish the Rikako character didn’t go back to her husband. Back to the life of make-believe. Back to a husband who took away her phone, credit cards and car. Stuck in a loveless marriage that looks wonderful on the surface.

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