Jdrama Review: Rinne no Ame
Romanized title: Rinne no Ame
English title: Rain of Reincarnation
Broadcast station: Fuji TV
Broadcast date: 4 January 2010
Cast: Yamamoto Yusuke, Seto Koji, Kanjiya Shihori, Aoki Munetaka, Ogi Shigemitsu, Tezuka Satomi, Nagai Masaru
**Winner of Fuji TV’s 21st Best Young Screenwriter Award**
This drama is a real tearjerker. It is also a good exploration of how an event can cause the mental and emotional breakdown of people. The story follows the lives of two brothers – one who is normal and one who is mentally disabled and what happens one rainy night that will change their lives forever.
Yamamoto Yusuke plays Mikami Kohei, a young man who works part-time at a convenience store while attending college on a hard-earned scholarship. He is the guardian of his mentally impaired younger brother and has been taking care of him by himself after his mother died and his father ran out. He is not trusting of people and is afraid to tell his girlfriend the truth about his little brother. He also lied to Shu and told him that their abusive father was dead.
Seto Koji plays Mikami Shuhei, the mentally impaired younger brother of Kohei. He is smart and really good at remembering numbers, but his mentality is like that of a child. Kohei is his world, the one who protects him from everything. Shu expresses himself through drawing and only talks in the past tense. He trusts his brother implicitly and believes that Kohei will always be there to take care of him. Shu always looks to Kohei first and really only listens to his brother.
Kanjiya Shiori plays Minami, a university classmate of Kohei who likes him. Whether or not they are officially a couple, I am not sure, but it looks like they are. She is a good girl and interacts well with Shu, not looking down on him because of his impairments.
Nagai Masaru plays the lead detective in charge of the investigation of the missing factory owner. He believes that Shu might just have important information on the murder. From the start he suspects Shuhei and Kohei are involved in the disapperance, he just doesn’t understand why yet.
Tezuka Satomi plays the wife of the missing factory owner. She desperately wants to know what happened to her husband. She is nice to Shu and the other mentally impaired workers, but she knew her husband beat Shu and did nothing about it.
Ogi Shigemitsu plays Mikami-san, the father of the two brothers. He blamed his wife for his youngest son’s disability and constantly abused both of the boys. When he left, Kohei told Shu that their father was dead. He reappears in the boys’ lives when he learns that there was an incident at Shu’s workplace. He immediately suspects that his eldest son used Shu’s gift with numbers to pull of a crime and net a good sum of money, which he of course wants.
The plot: Kohei murders the boss at the factory for abusing his mentally impaired younger brother. Shu can immediately memorize any number that he sees, so when he saw his boss open the safe, he automatically stored the combination in his memory. He later opens the safe. He doesn’t do this to steal, but just because he knew the numbers. A worried Kohei comes looking for him and tells him to put the money back and leave the safe alone as it is wrong to touch it. Then the factory owner comes in and catches them. He beats both Kohei and Shuhei and says that he will call the cops to take care of worthless trash like them who don’t deserve to exist. This causes Kohei to snap and kill the factory owner. He then takes the money from the safe and leaves with Shuhei to bury the man.
Shuhei doesn’t fully understand what is going on, but the event traumatizes him as their mother taught them both that you must value lives and his big brother didn’t. Kohei explains that bad people like the manager who beat Shu deserve to die. He also tells Shu that bad people will be reborn as good people, this puts Shu a little more at ease.
The next day, Kohei is worried about what will happen at the factory. He taught Shu to say he doesn’t know anything so that he won’t tell anything to the other factory workers or police. Minami approaches him and asks if they are still on for dinner, he says yes. When Shu shows up for work, he is told to go home as the police are investigating the disappearance. He automatically begins saying he doesn’t know anything. This arouses Nagai’s suspicions. Shu then goes to Kohei’s work place. Kohei is relieved to hear that the detectives didn’t question his brother. He tells Shu to go home first and wait for him.
Shu doesn’t listen and waits out front of the store. Minami, who is coming to see Kohei, worries that Shu might get hit by a car due to where he is sitting. She tries to talk to him, but he freaks out, causing a small accident. Kohei comes rushing out and Minami is shocked to learn that Shu is his younger brother. She later scolds Kohei for not telling her about him. She comes over and cooks dinner and becomes Shu’s friend. She asks Shu who does his life belong to. Shu instantly replies his older brother. Minami tells Kohei that is because Kohei is like a mother to him and it shows just how important Kohei is to Shu.
The worry, stress, and guilt begin to eat away at Kohei. Meanwhile Shu begins have episodes as he slowly remembers everything that happened that rainy night. The detectives questioning Shu slowly begin to piece everything together when they question him. To make matters worse, Mikami-san reappears and demands money from Kohei as he knows what happened. Kohei is furious, especially when his dad tells him to ditch Shu and bring the money to run away with him.
Things keep unraveling until Kohei starts destroying all the relationships that have kept him going. He blames Shu for making him a murder, for being alive and being impaired so that Kohei has no choice but to take care of him. He also breaks things off with Minami as he said he never expected much from their relationship as she never truly knew who he was. He then runs home where he finds out that Shu has just given the detectives important clues to the murder. Knowing everything is over, Kohei abandons Shu after telling Shu to go kill himself as Kohei doesn’t want Shu’s life (referencing the question Minami asked Shu earlier).
When Kohei sees two little boys, he is reminded of his little brother and how much he loves him. He runs to a stationary store to buy Shu a new sketchbook. As he is running frantically back to their apartment, he meets Shu at the bridge. Happy to see his brother, Kohei rushes over to him only to be stabbed. Shu wants to make his bad brother go away and be reborn as his good brother. So thus everything comes full circle.
My thoughts: This is a really good story to show the evolution of a good, loving brother into a person who just wants to get rid of the burden of his younger brother. Kohei struggles with his desires to be free and his love for his brother which causes him to do some not good things. Irony plays a big role in the plot, especially with Shu’s understanding of reincarnation.
The ending was bittersweet as Kohei became the good big brother again and repaired his relationship with Shuhei, but you know he is either going to die or be thrown in jail. The exact fate of the brothers remains unknown, but perhaps it isn’t important as they have become good brother again.
The acting by Yamamoto and Seto was excellent. You really could sympathize with Kohei’s character and understand just how much emotional pain he was in. It was nice to see Yamamoto in such a serious role, totally different from his most recent roles in Hana Kimi and Atashinchi no Danshi. Seto did a superb job in playing the mentally impaired Shuhei. It was totally believable, which takes a gifted actor to pull off convincingly.
Side note: This is the 2nd collaboration between Yamamoto and Seto, the first being Atashinchi no Danshi. They are also co-starring in the spring drama Tumbling.