First Impressions: Ashita, Mama ga Inai

Ashita, Mama ga Inai posterThe premise of this drama sounded interesting and it doesn’t disappoint. I believe I am unfamiliar with the child actors in this drama, but they do amazing jobs! You have the child actors who are adorable, but aren’t the best at acting (which is easier to forgive in a child than an adult actor…), but then there are those children who are wonderful actors. After watching the first episode, Ashida Mana as Post is absolutely amazing. Her acting, as of now, really stands above the other girls’ (not that they are bad actors at all).

It’s probably hard to believe given the types of dramas I’ve been covering, but I am a sucker for children (even if I don’t want any myself) and dramas and movies starring them. I’ve also read lots of books with children centered as the leading characters believe it or not. This show really does resonate with me and my own personal experience. No, I have not been sent to a children’s home after my mother assaulted her boyfriend, nothing like that. But like the children in this drama, I’ve struggled with abandonment issues and with mother (parent) issues. This drama really brings all the old feelings (and some recent ones as well) up to the surface. That, in and of itself, can tell you just how good the drama is going if it can touch an aspect of your life from the very beginning.

I do have to say, though, there is something I did find a little odd and I didn’t think it worked 100% for me. This would be a somewhat dark drama because of the subject matter anyways, but it’s like the production crew are going out of their way to make this story appear almost like a horror story. We open on a dark and stormy night with a woman being handcuffed and dragged away by the police while a man sits in a chair, head bleeding. Amidst the chaos was a little girl. This little girl is then carted away by an expressionless woman who hands her over to a crippled man who is a very imposing figure. They then go to what appears to be a dilapidated house from the outside. We meet an older girl in a white nightgown holding a stuffed animal and wearing an eye patch. What is with this pseudo-horror setup? I didn’t really like it. I mean…it was all well down production-wise…but the feel just didn’t really go with the show (to me).

I did find it amusing that in this drama the children’s big dream for adoption is to adopted by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Seriously? Is that really a sentiment overseas for some children? I also had to love the Japanese version of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt that Bombi saw with Shirota Yu being Brad Pitt. LOL. Looks nothing like him really, but to Bombi, he hand his wife were her dream couple.

So what exactly is this drama about? We follow the story of a young girl named Maki [Suzuki Rio] who is taken to a children’s home after her mother is arrested for harming her boyfriend. At the home, Maki is put in the same room as three other girls, Post [Ashida Mana], Piami [Sakurada Hiyori], and Bombi [Watanabe Konomi]. The girls explain that isn’t their real names, but nicknames. Post is called thus as she was found in a mailbox or something like that, and Piami is called that because of her love of the piano and her skill, while Bombi says she is called so because of her Bambi-like cuteness, but Piami says it is because of how poor she was [a play on words]. They wish to give Maki a nickname, but the girl bulks as she will not be staying there, but rather she will be going home as soon as her mother gets out from the police station.

The next day the girls take Maki to the breakfast room where the food is made by an older boy whom is called by the nickname Locker [Miura Shohei] (as he was found in a coin locker inside a station). He, like the other teen girl Otsubone [Ohgo Suzuka], has a creepy air about him. He’s pale, walks hunched over, and his hair is constantly in his face. Anywho, before the kids can dig in to breakfast, Sasaki Tomonori [Mikami Hiroshi], the head of the home, comes hobbling in and says they can only eat after they cry. It’s interesting, the goal of the home is to keep the children in care until the are either adopted or placed with a foster family. In that respect, Sasaki tells the children they must cry, smile, and be cute like a puppy in a window in hopes of attracting a family to take them home. None of the children do this well so Sasaki calls on Post who quickly and easily cries very realistically. Thus, they can eat their breakfast.

It’s quite obvious that even though Post is so young, she’s kind of like the boss there. Even Otsubone asks her for advice and everything. Post is a very mature child. That doesn’t mean she is nothing like a child. While she acts mature and can really put on a front when with adults, she is still a child with an emotional scar and chip on her shoulder. She doesn’t like Maki who keeps insisting that her mother will come and get her. She really doesn’t like it when Maki asserts that she is better than Post since Post has no idea who her mother is or what she looks like (low blow). I wasn’t quite sure how to take Post’s comments with Locker…but I think in the long run, she wasn’t lording it over Locker about his origins, but just saying that in the long run, no matter how the children got to the home…they are all the same.

Post is currently undergoing a trial just like a fellow home child did before getting officially adopted. You basically spend day outings and then time overnight with a family to see if you are compatible. Post doesn’t really seem to care for the family, but acts like the model little girl. That is…until the homestay part comes into it and the loving mother is proven to be a psycho who is hoping to dress Post up like a doll to please her husband who is having an affair. She takes scissors to Post’s hair and the girl drops the goody two shoes act and snaps into her normal Post mode. She luckily escapes from harm with the arrival of the husband who takes her back and apologizes to Sasaki for his wife’s emotional instability. Because a simple apology will be enough. Eyeroll. And how he’s begging Sasaki to keep quiet is just…wrong. Sure, it would mean blacklisting for adoption…but with a woman off her rocker and him being unfaithful, they shouldn’t be adopting at all.

Maki’s mother is released from jail after a few days and comes to visit her daughter. Maki is ecstatic about this and believes that she will get to go home, but no. Her mother makes a very selfish decision. She wants to marry her boyfriend, thus she doesn’t want Maki anymore. Maki’s mother insists this is because of the horror stories about step-parents, but you have to say it’s pure selfishness. She’s abandoning her daughter to a children’s home of all places just so she can start a new life with a new man. If this man was worth anything, he could happily accept Maki even though she isn’t his.

After that crushing blow, Maki turns her sour attitude into a more positive one. This grates on Post even more so than Maki’s original attitude. Sick of seeing the falsely cheerful Maki who will do anything for her mother, Post takes her out and tells her like it is. She gives Maki the perfume that Maki took and Maki hurls it through her mother’s window and the two girls run off. Maki’s laughter eventually turns to sobs and she collapses. Piami and Bombi arrive at this instant and the normally strong Post breaks down, too, and yells and cries. She has thrown everything away—even the name her family gave her and she is doing her best.

The girls are now fast friends and go back to the home, only to get into big trouble by Sasaki who makes them all stand in the bathroom with full buckets of water in each hand. Maki, at this time, is reborn. She has decided to throw her mother and her past away as well. She will become Konbi…or something like that. I might have gotten the word wrong, but the reference is actually using a blunt object to inflict a wound (like what her mother did to her boyfriend).

I am a bit confused about just what is going on with Mizusawa Kana [Kimura Fumino] and Sasaki. It looks like Mizusawa is like the children’s caseworker. She hands over documents of prospective couples to Sasaki. To her it is important that the children get to choose who they want, not vice versa. Whatever is going on…I couldn’t quite follow it, but it seems like the things Mizusawa is doing by giving him the paperwork isn’t supposed to be done. There’s also something with Locker and Sasaki and a woman who serves bentos in town…but I don’t know for sure what it is (unless that woman is supposed to be Locker’s mother).

So there is a bit of mystery here. I am looking forward to seeing how this show develops and to see more of Ashida’s masterful acting as Post. Her tears make you want to cry with her. She is just that good. While there are some lighter moments, this is a heavier drama that does focus on realities facing children in homes or orphanages awaiting adoption. While people may not like Sasaki’s puppy reference…in a way, he does have a point. You want to put that best face forward to ensure being adopted or placed with a good foster family.

Having a past where I was not raised by my parents, I can’t say I understand Maki’s attachment to her mother…especially when her mother chooses to abandon her at the end. But, if it’s not anything you’ve ever considered before, this drama will make you question what it means to be a parent and just how strong, or fragile, a bond between mother and child can be. For that, I really think it’s worth the watch. We have a well-acted cast, an interesting and compelling plot, societal and familial issues that don’t necessarily come to the forefront often, combining together to make for a very interesting drama.

2 comments

  • Haven’t started ep1 yet (I plan to this weekend hopefully!) but I am really looking forward to it!!!

  • OK I WATCHED IT FINALLY!!!! WOW ASHIDA MANA!! WHAT AN AWESOME JOB IN EP1!

    Anyways I was really surprised by your personal connection to the drama. I hope it doesn’t bring back bad memories. >__< It makes it more interesting to hear your perspective on the drama though.

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