Jdrama Piece Review
I was intrigued by this drama and when it was released in its entirety, I quickly snatched it up and within 2-3 days I had the entire series completed. It’s actually quite rare for me to go on such a drama watching streak without me getting fed up or wanting to take a brief break from the plot.
This drama revolves around a funeral and a favor. Origuchi Haruna (Mizuno Erina) dies at the age of 19 from an illness. Her high school classmates are then all informed and attend the funeral. The interesting part about this is that Origuchi didn’t really have any friends and was constantly bullied, but every one showed up, including Suga Mizuho (Honda Tsubasa) who Origuchi claimed to her parents was her best friend.
Now this 13 episode series is told in a very fragmentary way. We go back and forth from 3 years ago (when all the initial events unfolded) to the present day. The story is mostly told through Suga’s eyes, but in other episodes we do get to see stories from other classmate’s point of view, but mostly Suga’s who is a pretty girl who is very reserved and uses her head more than her heart. She had friends in high school, but really wasn’t close with a single one of them, thus is shocked her when Origuchi’s mother (Nakamura Kumi) asks Suga personal details about her daughter’s past in high school. Suga even admits to fellow high school classmate Nishida Remi (Arai Moe) that she hadn’t even recalled Origuchi until Remi had called her about the funeral.
Mrs. Origuchi begs Suga to find out who Origuchi’s boyfriend was in high school as Mrs. Origuchi saw a text on her daughter’s phone mentioning and abortion. Suga initially refuses, but because of meeting her first (and only) love Narumi Hikaru (Nakayama Yuma), she takes up the challenge. Why? Suga has decided she needs to change and she believes that in going on this journey to find Origuchi Haruka’s boyfriend will help her.
In the process, Suga connects with sempais and fellow classmates and learns that she was horribly unobservant to the pain and plights of the people around her. Narumi points her in the direction of sempai Yanai Takashi (Matsumura Hokuto) who was in love with Origuchi, but gave up when she admitted to having a boyfriend (whom he later learned was only the son of their PE teacher that Haruka had befriended). Yanai then joins forces with Suga in her search and slowly, the two begin opening up and reveal more about themselves and their insecurities as they come into contact with more and more people from high school.
I guess I should mention the high school part of the plot, too, for a little backstory. The level headed Suga is not one to be interested in boys really (or anybody else for that matter even though she has friends) and she held Narumi Hikaru in disregard for his womanizing ways. However, when he rescues her when she forgot her math workbook and she notices how smart he is, her interest is piqued. Plus, whenever she is with Narumi, she stops using her head quite so much. She starts to slowly open up her closed off world to him and the two become…well…not friends and not lovers…something on the cusp. Suga was okay with hugging and kissing and sleeping in the same bed, but she drew the line there. Narumi actually didn’t force himself on her or try to cajole her too much to change her mind.
The more Suga was involved with Narumi, the more she wanted to know about him. One fateful day Suga made a big decision to not think and just go with her feelings and she ends up at Narumi’s house. The door to his mother’s study is unlocked and she goes in. She finds out that Narumi’s mother (a famous psychologist) used Narumi as a case study. She never lived with her son or acted like a mother. She constantly observed Narumi, took notes, videotaped him, etc. Suga is horrified to learn this. Narumi comes home at this time and he goes to force Suga, but does stop himself. He then says he hates her and calls her out on how horrible she is because of her usual attitude. Poor Suga is devastated and leaves. Of course, was that Narumi’s true feelings? I don’t think so. After that event, the two became strangers, although Narumi did go back to normal in how he treated her from before and Suga did her best to follow suit.
Okay. So…WHY didn’t the housekeeper turn Mrs. Narumi in for child abuse? I mean…neglect is a form of abuse and to treat both sons as human experiments? How horrible. No wonder Narumi was so screwed up, especially in his relationships with women. It makes me interested to learn when his feelings for Suga did become deeper, because I think there was a point where Narumi was toying with Suga because of her calm and deliberating attitude. And you know he cared about her in some way as he really did seem to miss her when she wasn’t around.
Anywho, in the present day Suga still thinks about Narumi. During this journey she decides to confront her feelings for him and figure out just what they really are. When evidence begins to mount that Narumi just may be Origuchi’s ex-boyfriend, Suga cannot believe it. She doesn’t believe Narumi is capable of getting Origuchi pregnant. Yanai and every one else wish her to wake up, but Suga has a stubborn faith in Narumi. She then learns that Narumi has an older brother who is a year old than him. This brother is the exact opposite of Narumi even though they grew up in the same conditions.
Okay. I will pause here and say this—while siblings may resemble each other, what are the odds that boys born a year apart would be identical? Seriously. In this drama Nakayama Yuma plays both Narumi boys. That’s…slightly unbelievable. But yeah. Suga, Remi, and Yanai find the older Narumi brother and learn that he was Origuchi’s boyfriend. Remi also confesses that she was the one who was pregnant and it was Origuchi who helped her through this situation. Enter Narumi Hikaru who has been seeking his older brother out to deliver Origuchi’s last words to him. I don’t really get Remi. In the part of this drama where the 19-year-old Suga opens up and tries to become more of a real friend to Remi, Remi confesses that she’s always had an unrequited love for Suga. This makes me think Remi is, in fact, a lesbian, but then you learn she was in love with a boy and ended up getting pregnant and dumped. Can you use the words unrequited love to go hand-in-hand with friendship? It doesn’t seem quite right. I also won’t lie. I have expected Yanai-sempai to develop feelings for Suga as the two searched to learn more about Yanai’s first love Origuchi, but that didn’t happen. Not that it needed to, I was just expecting it a little for some reason. I also wanted a reason for Suga’s attitude. She didn’t want to get too involved with others as she was afraid of getting hurt. Most of the time there is usually some reason, but you don’t get any glimpse of a past trauma that would keep Suga distant and always level headed.
And all that tangled mess has been unraveled. The cast has grown up and matured and discovered new things about themselves. They are opening up to others and becoming more involved with the world around them. It’s a good thing. I liked the pacing and I was really interested to see how this web would unweave when all evidence pointed at Narumi Hikaru. My major complaint, besides the two boys being identical, is the ending. It has resolution and yet it doesn’t. Sure, the past has finally been revealed, our cast of characters has matured and Suga realized the answer to her questions about her feelings for Narumi, but… The official end is her running up to a departing Narumi and telling him that she likes him and will wait for him. That’s it. I wanted more resolution with their relationship as throughout this drama you could see that the two were inexplicably connected and even though Narumi broke things off with Suga, he really did want her in his life.
But, you know, you get such unsatisfactory endings all of the time in drama land. Even though I didn’t 100% like the ending, I did enjoy the drama and the acting was decent. I highly recommend this as a sort of coming-of-age drama. And I really loved Nakayama’s songs for the drama, especially the opening theme song “Missing Piece” which really fit the story well. This drama, while told in a fragmentary fashion, was not hard to follow or understand like some dramas are. You knew perfectly well what was happening in the past and in the present, which I liked. I’ve watched shows that jumped around so much that I was completely lost. I’ve also watched shows that had such an odd way of doing the story telling that I was left scratching my head long after trying to figure out what was real and what had actually happened. Thankfully, this drama kept me engaged and didn’t have me left completely clueless and trying to figure out what was what.
Oh, and did you know? Piece is originally a manga by Ashihara Hinoka. I’m interested in finding it and seeing how it checks out in comparison with the drama.