Hello gorgeous people of the world!
This review is probably a little late, but I’m hoping everyone’s watched the last episode so that I won’t pester LF followers by dishing out unwanted spoilers.
Prepare yourselves my friends, this review is going to be quite a long ride.
A million things about the ending are buzzing in my brain right now, I have no idea how to begin. For the most part, Last Friends, even with only 11 episodes (SP not included) LASTED TOO LONG.
Okay. Before I get thrown with stones and get dubbed a hater, I must confess that at first I was a huge fan of the drama series, patiently waiting for subbed episodes to come out and fishing out the latest information on the characters. Domestic violence, gender issues, psychological problems. Juicy stuff. I mean, we have to give props to the producer and the cast who took on such a challenging and risk taking drama concept. It’s really a huge gamble. I mean, when you’re a budding artist with a huge following and you get a proposition to play a DV guy or a warped up sex phobiac that could probably ruin your entire career, you’d run for the hills, right?
While its other prime time TV counterparts are wooing the audience with saccharine sweet lovey-dovey stories, they were brewing a screwed up love story that will make audiences go sick to their stomachs. They did succeed on that part, that’s for sure.
But as LF progressed, I have to resign to myself that the ending will probably, at least, redeem itself, so I hung on to a thin glimmer of hope that it will. MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT.
The first 4 episodes showed promise, but the succeeding ones had nothing but monotonous patterns and obvious references (see my random LF observations here: http://icecapades.livejournal.com/2582.html) that seemed like the director/writers treated an eager viewer like he won’t understand a thing so they had to continue pummeling his head with scenes and spoonfeeding him until he choked.
Sousuke’s first attempt at suicide.
Let’s take off from the scene where Sousuke commits suicide. First of all, the scene was, dare I say it, hilarious. Not because I was a sadist cheering for his death – but because of its unrealistic presentation. Geez. My first reaction was… WTH.
Is that strawberry flavored Kool-Aid splashed all over his body? Did the props guy not know what blood looks like? It was so damn watery it looked like some kid melted red water color so that Ryo can look that ridiculous.
If there was always a comic relief in a drama, Sousuke would be the terror relief, because he only appears when the story is getting a little droopy. The DV scenes were repetitive, but for one thing, they got it right because DV really is a cycle of violence inflicted upon a victim. Ryo’s acting as an antagonist in the beginning was a bit compelling. But it seemed as though he got tired of beating people up that he lost the intensity, and just stoically did what the script said. His eyes were always a bit dead like he’s stoned or something, and when enunciating his lines it almost feels like he just wanted to get it over and done with. *gets cussed by Ryo fans who wished they were the ones being beaten by poor little Ryochannn instead*
You could almost read his thoughts: “Oh. Another one that needs a good beating. Now what did the DV Manual for Beginners say I should do? Hmmm. First, pull hair, shove to the floor, then kick. Second, slap…”
Sousuke committing suicide is, in my opinion, a pathetic excuse for an ending. Sure, the guy was so guilt-ridden he probably couldn’t take it anymore. But puhleeze. After all the violence he’s done he should have developed a thick skin and be desensitized by that time, so why the sudden change of pace? Was it because he saw the happy joy joy photos of Michiru with her friends? Well, it didn’t move him the first time he saw her yearbook. Was it because he felt bad after raping her? It didn’t stop him the first time he did it. So it was probably because the episodes were getting too long they just had to get rid of him. And FAST. Kinda makes you wonder how he killed himself with all that red watery goo all over himself.
If anything, his suicide as an excuse to make Michiru happy made him look almost too heroic and the portrayal made it looked like it was a noble thing to do. Say whut.
Then there’s the question of FREEDOM. We all know that Michiru’s the only one who’s “allowed” to be stupid because she was entrapped by her emotional and psychological ties to Sousuke, being his victim and all. It’s quite understandable how she runs away and goes back to him in a very indecisive (almost too annoying) way.
Take for example Ruka, a character that probably has the most courage and sense of them all. She went to Sousuke’s pad, all alone, and expected the both of them to “just talk?” She’s seen the guy stalk and beat the crap out of her best friend and she still thought that a few threatening words can make him back down?
Michiru falling for Sousuke’s lies was no surprise. But Ruka not seeing behind the spawn of evil’s manipulativeways? His apartment reeks of violence itself, it’s like a lion’s den where any one who enters is bound to get raped or get bruised up. Even on the pretext of protecting Michiru, she only made things even worse.
Poor Takeru. But having 2 capable feet should’ve given him the advantage, right? It was almost as if he was… begging for more?
Then there’s the Takeru “was he sexually or not?” question. I’m all for cliffhangers and mysteries thrown here and there. We can’t expect every detail to be shown but his sister dilemma was dragged on for far too damn long! On a side note, Eita “the endearing one” acted pretty well here, albeit his unrealistic too-good-to-be-true character of being too nice. Ruka had more balls than he did! (pun intended) He got kicked and thrashed by a limping bloke and he did nothing about it except to say “Daijobu!” and be apologetic to everyone! He did try to stand up against Sousuke, but again, by talking to him? The DV guy obviously could not take a clue. Maybe he needs the police to explain things to him.
Eri and Ogurin, the glorified Tsukkomi-Boke comic relief characters.
Eri and Ogurin’s banters were a bit forced and unfunny. Eri slaps Ogurin: “Baka!” Ogurin: “Ehhh??” And this goes on and on and on! Kind of like those ditzy corny couples who argue which one should put the phone down first! Tough love? Idon’tthinkso.
Asami is one of those actresses you can rarely find that is a really good in portraying dynamic roles. But she wasn’t given enough to work with. Eri’s character is supposed to be like an eclair, “hard on the outside but soft inside.” She’s an independent woman who says what she thinks. She seemed like the last one who’s likely to get married, but I guess somebody has to have a happy ending. Sure, she felt lonely, but for a kick-ass feminist talking woman who puts up with a weakling doormat man who can’t get over his wife? Maybe she should swap titles with Sousuke whose word was CONTRADICTION.
I’m restraining myself to say something about Masami because one, her character is annoying, two, she herself is already annoying enough. And that attempt to kill herself was just too much. She’s been desperately seeking sympathy since the beginning, she didn’t have to go that far.
Brothers from another mother. The only couple I was really rooting for.
Ueno Juri as Ruka is brilliant. You can really tell that she studied her character well, she was almost too convincing. Both she and Ryo should get applause for being courageous in taking such heavy roles. But we all know who did better.
Lastly, (I’ve commented this on another site) didn’t the characters ever knew how to dial 911 or whatever local number it is for the Japanese police?? They KNEW that michiru won’t do it, yet they considered her pleas that they should just back off, it’s her problem, blah blah. Real friends sometimes defy or argue with their friends who can’t think straight. That’s real tough love.
In the end, LF did provide a sense of hope that after everything that happened they can get through it all, together, forever. The ending lines were quite well-put, especially the part about loving each other as humans stripped off of gender, labels, etc. But really. I’m disappointed because the drama’s premise has a lot of potential. Sadly, most of it was just hype.
Sounds like it came from the textbook of gambatte-you-can-do-it! stories we’ve all heard of before.
The good part is, they showed effort in interpreting a different kind of friendship that was brought together not only by good times, but also the bad.
Remember the one I said about the sharehouse being almost like a loony bin where you have to have some kind of psychological trauma/social problem just to get in? Rumi, Michiru‘s baby living in the sharehouse can either become a redeeming factor in the house or another addition to the group therapy they all need.
In the end, LF seemed like one of those saccharine sweet lovey-dovey stories we will soon forget.
Here are some of the most unforgettable scenes/ people in the series:
Cute kid who reflected Sousuke’s childhood.
Poor coach who stood no chance for Ruka’s affection.
Ruka’s Freudan slip: Don’t touch MY Michiruuuu!
The most unforgettable (and probably creepiest) scene is: