Review: Wakamono Tachi (2014)
Wakamonotachi is a series i finished not so long ago, it’s been just a few days to be more precise, but i’ m amazed at how it still feels so vivid in my memory. So, Wakamonotachi (or Wakamono Tachi), All About My Siblings if you prefer, it could never have a more representative title since it reflects the very soul and essence of this drama in the most appropriate way. It’s about four brothers and one sister and their daily struggles according to his/her age each one of them. Their struggles don’t go unnoticed by the rest and it’s not one’s struggle solely, it’s all about family unity under all circumstances while they’re living under the same roof their parents left for them before departing from this world.
Asahi Sato (Satoshi Tsumabuki) is the oldest brother of Sato family and when their father passed away he had to make a crucial decision, he had to leave behind studies so as to work at the road constructing company his father used to work. Life forced him so violently to become an adult at the fragile age of fifteen and at the same time a father figure for Sato family so that his younger brothers and sister would survive and achieve their studies/dreams. And despite he’s having quite old-fashioned beliefs and denounces shotgun marriages (a marriage in which you impregnate your girlfriend and then you marry her) he finds himself in a like-minded situation with his girlfriend Azusa Sawabe (Yu Aoi) that confesses to him that she’s pregnant. She’s working at a neighborhood fast-food restaurant close to his work.
You have to adore his monologue that his brothers and sister already know by heart:
Who do you think fed all of you after Dad died? Do you know how hard I’ve worked since I was 15? After Dad died, in order to feed you I quit high school and kept working at a road construction company. The reason why Hikari could graduate from nursing school and Haru could enter college is because I worked my guts out. You know there is an intersection where Inogashira street and Itsukaichi-kaido meet? It’s me who did the paving work there. In another words I built this country’s foundation. Because I create roads, all of you can move forward without hesitation. So why are you all doing this to me? I’ve worked so hard.
Satoru Sato (Eita) who is the second son of the family is an ex-convict for swindling 30 million yen from an old lady that passed away not so long ago before he was released from jail. At that moment he meets that woman’s daughter Takako Yashiro (Masami Nagasawa) and he’s being accused of being responsible for her mother’s death. He was absent from home for about ten years, leaving home by the time their father passed away. He’s not the most welcome figure in Sato family’s house, nevertheless he makes his grandiose entrance and manages to stay with them. Sooner or later all three brothers and their sister will have to find a way to bring a balance in the house with Satoru’s appearance; being a prisoner gave them more hard time.
Hikari Sato (Hikari Mitsushima) is the one and only sister in the family and she studied hard to become a nurse and she’s helping her brothers with her salary. Asahi wants her to be happy and get married to a good person and they’re trying to set some dates for her, but she confesses that she’s already seeing someone. As expected, curiosity rises to high levels and when Asahi finds out that the man she’s seeing is Masaomi Shinjo (Hidetaka Yoshioka) all hell breaks loose. Shinjo not only he’s married and has a daughter, he’s also a co-worker of Hikari at the infant pediatrics department and he’s been a family friend for many years. Not an easy situation at all and quite complicated dare i say.
Haru Sato (Tasuku Emoto) is the third son of the family and he’s an artistic spirit. He finds himself lost in the world of acting and theater and with a friend they’ve forged a theatrical team and they’re trying hard to organize their first theatrical play. Theater is not a road paved with gold and he finds himself lost when his girlfriend and main female actor of their play leaves both him and the team.
Tadashi Sato (Shuhei Nomura) is the youngest and last son of the family. He’s a student and as an adolescent he’s as lost and full of life as most adolescents. During a class lesson he gets caught staring at a beautiful girl, Kazumi Nagahara (Ai Hashimoto). After the class they meet again and they arrange a rendezvous. They end up in a hotel room having fun while drinking. Apparently he passes out due to non-welcome amounts of alcohol and when he wakes up Kazumi tells him that he’s not part of the world of virgins anymore. He doesn’t recall anything but the pics she had taken with his mobile phone work as proof. Some time later she’s appearing with a pregnancy test and he finds himself at the shadow of a shotgun wedding!
If you want to find out what lies ahead for Sato family as a whole and for each one of them individually and how each one of them, but also as a family as well, interact with people surrounding them you should give Wakamonotachi a chance, after all it’s only eleven episodes and it will reward you. It doesn’t drag and it won’t make you feel tired while watching it. On the contrary, due to the enormous world of emotions and sincerity it preserves, the art of apologizing and forgiving it teaches and the family bonds and human relations it undresses one thing is for certain, after watching it you will definitely feel the time you spent with this family was well spent. Everyone partaking in Wakamono Tachi was worth his interpreting in gold. Sato family, i’ m already missing you!
Haru seems to be something like the private investigator of the family! When Asahi wanted to find out more about his pregnant girlfriend he sent Haru to track her down. Well, the answers to his questions were a bit tormenting since she’s working her night shift at a bar where she’s greeting men and keeps them company. Asahi meets her right away and in a turmoil of emotional outburst he wonders if the child that’s inside her belly is his child. A tough moment for both of them and the end doesn’t seem far away. The truth is, Azusa’s working at the bar because she comes from a poor family, just like Asahi, and she has to get more money to support her bedridden father. One of the things Asahi and Azusa have in common is their passion for wrestling, so that night Asahi couldn’t slow down the velocity of his thoughts and out of control he went into the ring to challenge the wrestler. Apparently out of his mind he ends up in a KO position, but Azusa that had already arrived took care of his wounds and they solved all the problems that were causing harm in their relationship and answers to all lies were given that night.
I love the humble house their parents left for them behind, it’s always vivid and intense either with laughter or anger; and there are these moments filled with calm after the storm, silent with love and remembrance. At this point the overall atmosphere at Sota house is pretty intense since the arrival of Satoru. Asahi and Satoru fight each other at the yard, well, it’s neither the first nor the last time something like that is happening, these fights are a family habit and while two fight against each other the rest of them watch and enjoy the battlefield. Satoru has to atone for swindling the 30 million yen and apologize to the old woman’s sons and daughter. Asahi and Satoru arrive at the Yashiro residence and things get heated up, Asahi leaves on the table the Sato family’s residence ownership certificate; the Yashiro brothers without missing the chance they welcome the paper in their arms. The old woman had left video footage since she wanted to say a few things to Satoru, she was aware of everything going on and that Satoru needed money, but he must have had a really good reason so she didn’t mind giving him the amount of money he wanted. But she was thankful as well for the time he spent with her since her children had forgotten about her. Satoru repents while watching the videos from the past and the one she left behind for him, he feels devastated. At the same time, Takako faces an emotional breakdown when she opened a box of memories that belonged to her mother. Memories blossom as she’s watching old photos and she puts cherry cream on her wounded arms due to field labor. It’s the same cream her mother used for her own wounds for the same reason, the cream that reminded her of her mother, the hands she hated as she stated before, the hands of the person that gave birth to her in her forties and looked like a grandmother when she was going to her school meetings, among other things she hated about her mother. These were probably excuses to fill in the void and not let pain inherit this empty space inside her, something she couldn’t achieve, because she really loved her mother.
Asahi pays a visit to Azusa’s mother to ask her officially the hand of her daughter, but he doesn’t convince her mother and the facts that he doesn’t have a job at the moment and that his brother is an ex-convict don’t really help. He leaves without having achieved anything. The reason he had lost his job is because he got Satoru with him to work together, but after signing the contract the drank boss made fun of Satoru’s convict past and Asahi couldn’t hold back and and air kicked him, a move that would be his main attraction for a while during his job interviews. but he comes back for a second round after a few days. To go a bit more in the past, the reason Satoru left their home after their father died is because their father died on an accident that wasn’t his fault, the construction company caused his death and the boss full of guilt and because he wanted to cover up the incident hired the fifteen year old at that time Asahi so as the five family members to survive. To come back at the present ,Asahi goes for the second round and finally convinces with his honesty Azusa’s mother, but the truth is Satoru had already paid a visit and he had opened his heart about his brother towards Azusa’s mother. Everything’s promising and their marriage is a dream come true.
Tadashi’s facing the shotgun marriage option since Kazumi brought a positive pregnancy test. Haru’s on the investigator role once again and together with Tadashi they meet Kazumi; of course the pregnancy plot was a fraud and she ends up joining the theatrical team of Haru. Everyone’s working hard to achieve their dream and the first theatrical play of Haru’s team is a few steps ahead! In the meantime, Hikari plots a meeting between Shijo and Satoru. Satoru considers Shinjo guilty for the loss of his girlfriend, Mizuno, back in the days. And this is the truth why he swindled the 30 million yen, because they were needed for Mizuno’s heart transplant operation, something he had found out from another doctor, but by the time he had the money Mizuno had already passed away. Things get heated up and Satoru is about to beat Shinjo black and blue, but the purse of Shinjo falls down and a few photos come to the surface, these were the photos of the patients he couldn’t save, Mizuno was there too. And then he told him that Mizuno didn’t want him to know about the 30 million yen because he would get into trouble finding them, something that actually happened.
She entrusted those small but precious hopes to you.
Right before this incident the theatrical play of Haru was about to collapse and it seemed like a dream without reach because his best friend at the theatrical team had swindled all the money they had gathered from selling tickets. Haru is in at the verge of collapsing as well and Asahi takes him to the yeard and beats him up. Haru to talk to him to make him realize his acting dream even though it was tough without all that money. Hard scenes, but they work as a wake-up of the one getting beaten up along with the powerful words. Asahi manages to find the money for the play by getting a secret lone from his ex-boss and tells Haru that these were the money father had left behind for him. He also manages to find Haru’s friend that had stolen the arch money and sends Haru to meet him, the truth is he’s got family problems and owes money, so in a weak moment he stole the theatrical play money. He promised Haru to get him back the money and asked him to realize his acting dream in his place. So, the play is about to begin and all the family is gathered. The enemy fire scene was pretty intense, you could sense the comradeship and the struggle for a higher cause.
Through everyone’s eyes in the audience:
Through Satoru’s eyes, since this was the play Mizuno wanted to perform on stage had she been alive:
Many people die to make time for us.
Asahi’s greatest wish is for his brothers and sister to find happiness, but life doesn’t seem to be fair upon him. He finds Azusa lying bleeding on the floor. While at the hospital they find out that the baby is fine and if something like that happens again she would have to give birth immediately, even at the verge of giving birth to a low weight infant, something dangerous for the newborn baby. After that they have to make a big decision, whether to keep the baby or not. Asahi wasn’t able to find a new job and right before the end, Sagiura the wrestler that had beaten up Asahi in the past appeared all of a sudden and offered him a job. In the meantime, Hikari is in the most distressed period of her life, but all this time she was drawing courage from a disabled infant that was below one kilo; her will to survive as set as an example. That infant, Madoka, was about to be killed by her own mother because it was tough for her to raise a child with a disability, plus her husband wasn’t willing to help her.Hikari used to have a friend back in the days, she was left pregnant and she was abandoned by the father of her baby, Hikari though had encouraged her to keep the baby. They hadn’t met for years since she was accused by her friend that it was her fault that made her have this baby. Shinjo managed to find her and he took Hikari just to find out that she had taken back her daughter and she was helping in a children organization, something both relieving and rewarding. In the meantime, Shinjo’s wife had received a nameless folder (which in fact was sent to her by one of her husband’s coworker) with a picture of Hikari and Shinjo together, henceforth she arranged a dinner in which Asahi and Hikari were invited. Of course she hadn’t believe the cheap excuses Asahi and Shinjo had given to her a few days ago. Quite a complicated situation and all truth came to the surface.
-This is beef Stroganoff.
-Eh? Beef strong?
Adagio in G Minor playing on the background, I first met this song on Captain Harlock, one of the most precious songs ever composed. It’s the moment Hikari tells Shinjo that they have to take seperate ways. She recalls the past, it’s beautiful, saddening and intense in its own serenity. Satoru at home keeps her company, she tries to cheer her up and at the same time he teases her to cry to cleanse her inner demons.
The light sometimes doesn’t know where to shine when there is no darkness.
There was a little suspicion that Haru liked Kazumi and vice versa while celebrating the theatrical play’s success at the firework scene, she had agreed though to become Tadashi’s girlfriend. As time was passing by Kazumi didn’t have time to be with Tadashi and she was making excuses so Tadashi starts stalking her and he finds out she’s seeing his brother, Haru.
I strike a match
The view of the ocean in seconds
There is dense mist.
Is there a homeland that
Is worth sacrificing my life for? (by poet Shuji Terayama)
Severe pains pay their unwelcome visit to Azusa once again, this time she has to give birth at all costs. 72 hours, the critical hours whether the infant will make it or not. Time’s passing by like a torture for Asahi. When there’s nothing left, sometimes you just have to believe in something divine, it gives courage at hard times. It was intense confessing that there is no special reason, she chose to be their daughter, so she has to live, with them. He had to be with her during these urgent moment, while bicycling the bike chain broke, then he had to run. Akari-chan had to live.
It wasn’t luck, she tried to live.
In the meantime, something beautiful blossoms between Satoru and Takako, shyly, like a flower during the first days of spring.
Tadashi’s seeking revenge from Haru and Kazumi. He remembers he’s got some naked photos of her on his mobile phone, the ones she had taken. He leaks one of her pictures on the internet and soon enough the people on the theatrical team, among others, find out about it. Kazumi stays closed inside her room, away from her school and the team as well. Asahi forces Tadashi to apologize and take punishment for his actions. In front of her father he’s willing to take away his own life, something he had already attempted in the past when he was bullied at school because of his convict brother. One night he vanishes from home and his brothers and sister start searching for him. Hatoru finds him and while he’s still hidden and doesn’t know that they had found him they try to cheer him up and strengthen him, only truths were spoken that night. I like that in difficult situations they are all together, each one with his/her own personality.
I can’t say that there is always hope beyond the hardships and suffering you will face. Because reality isn’t that easy. But… But… But I can be on your side. And all of us share your pain together. So keep on living. Keep living and pay for it.
Then, Tadashi takes another chance to apologize. Kazumi’s father tells him that she’s not willing to see him and that he’s going to call the police since he hasn’t found a way to fix the harm he had caused. Kneeling in front of the house in the rain was a sign of utter humility, recognizing the huge mistake he had made. But he realized that forgiveness is not something you can easily earn no matter how hard or sincerely you apologize. Sometimes, after the rain, sunshine doesn’t come, there’s always a chance for more rain.
Τakako reveals her secret, a secret that was devouring her for so long. Back in the days, she wanted to record an album and she found Doi Masato, a musician and producer. In order to release her album she had to sleep with him, something that happened, but he had secretly recorded it. So he was threatening her that he would reveal it, he called her over many times and left her pregnant, but she had an abortion. All she wanted was to prove to her mother that she had achieved something through her greatest passion, music. In the end it was all in vain. Doi Masato appeared once again after all these years and before Satoru finding him, Asahi was already there. By the time he arrived Asahi was already getting beaten by Masato’s men, something that happened to Satoru as well. They got the data of the video and in case something would appear in the future, Asahi had recorded their conversation, so Takako’s problem was solved, forever this time.
-Why did you do that?
-There is no other reason, because I love you.
I like Satoru’s way of trying to help his family, he’s raw and somehow violent with his words/actions, he’s trying to give them a shock to make them see the clear truth no matter how hard it may be, but because he loves them and he’s affectionate in his very own way. The silent “thank you” to Asahi at the children playground because he was asleep had a beauty of its own. And after Tadashi, it was Haru’s turn to get dragged by Asahi to confess his feelings to Kazumi and also apologize, the ladder way!
Asahi wanted to be together with Azusa and Akari so he had to quit his job. The moment little Akari’s tiny fingers were touching one of Asahi’s fingers was very intense, such a warm scene. He would never let her down again, even if he did so for a moment in the past. Soon, he started searching again for a new job. He found his place once again at the road construction company, after all he deserved to work over there and the owner knew it. All brothers and sister would hep Asahi while working so as to take care of Akari when needed and because she would be deaf they started learning deaf community sign language to get ready for Akari chan.
Didn’t you feel the happiness as if every single cell in your body was bubbling?
Azusa was not ready to accept Akari when she found out about her disability, but the baby photo book Hikari gave to her helped her a lot, alongside her mother’s words. The crucial moment was when she met Asahi again after living apart from him for a few days. They went together to an event for deaf children where Shinjo was playing the guitar and the children would sing. A very moving and humane moment, she couldn’t hold back her tears while listening to the deaf children choir as she was recalling beautiful memories. Asahi was moved too. The scenes with the family members practicing sign language was strong too, but i will never forget the moment they started fighting in sign language!
“We found a buyer for this property” says Takako and time freezes by the end of episode ten. Even if they tried, there’s nothing they can do, Satoru says that he can get the 30 million yen back and that he had hidden them. Of course they’re not there and he finds emotional refuge to Asahi. Soon everyone would follow his own path.
If it’s a youngster’s privilege to pursue a dream, it’s a middle-aged man’s privilege to realize a dream. (Shinjo to Asahi)
Kazumi, Haru and Tadashi teaming up once again with Tadashi finally receiving a sincere forgiveness:
No one can present you a future because you are the future. (from “To the Future” by poet Tanikawa Shuntaro)
Of course, they couldn’t leave this house which was full of beautiful and sad, but always sincere, memories without a party. Asahi, Satoru, Hikari, Haru, Tadashi, Azusa, Takako, Kazumi and Shinjo were all there. Shinjo on the guitar played the main theme of the series bringing back memories:
Shinjo’s leaving the hospital:
There is no other reason why I am leaving you now but to meet you. (from Hikari to Shinjo from their favorite book “Yet Those Are Our Days”)
Let’s struggle together even from now on (Azusa to Asahi)
After the party was over, the four brothers and sister had their last family meeting with candles in their hands and each one of them completed Asahi’s renowned rumble and with each part of it one candle at a time was being placed in a cup.
Our family might look distorted to other people. There is me who had a shotgun wedding, an ex-convict, someone who had an affair, a NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) and a stalker. But I’m proud of you all. Starting tomorrow, each of us will walk on own path. But you are not alone. We laughed together. We cried together. The time we accumulated in this house speaks the truth. Anywhere we go, we are family. A family that is inseparable. That needs no reason. It needs no reason.
The next morning, Asahi took off the family sign above the front door, they looked at their house for the last time and soon everyone would follow his own road.
Thanks for the journey, Sato family!