A simple and touching story06 December, 2009 by Chad
Without having to do too much research drama viewership ratings are always a simple indicator to whether a particular drama is watchable or not. This year, average ratings seem to be much lower than well, average. Apart from popular sequels, the year long drama and of course Mr. Brain, most dramas seem to be struggling to even hit a 10 point rating. When compared to the rest, Shiroi Haru’s 12.5 rating actually seems like a pretty decent number.
And a decent drama Shiroi Haru is. It stars the familiar Abe Hiroshi and adorable Ohashi Nozomi, most famous for singing the theme song from last year’s Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. Notable supporting actors include Endo Kenichi, Shiraishi Miho (Orange Days) and Yoshitaka Yuriko (Love Shuffle). As a fan of both Abe Hiroshi and Shiraishi Miho, I was already eagerly awaiting this drama since early in the year.
The plot for Shiroi Haru is fairly straightforward. It shares many plot similarities to Ryu Ga Gotoku, just without any of the violence. Abe Hiroshi a small time Yazuka commits a murder to pay for his girlfriend’s medical fees. He is released from prison 9 years later, only to find out that she is dead. Endo Kenichi whom his girlfriend lived with after Abe Hiroshi’s imprisonment has started a bakery and now lives happily together with Shirashi Miho and daughter Nozomi. By chance, Abe meets Nozomi in a park and from there their story unfolds.
The story is predictable and null of any plot twists. Instead it relies heavily on the relationship between the characters to tell an interesting story. Save from a poor dues ex ending, revelations are made clear to the viewer well in advance. Right from the start, we are told that Nozomi is actually Abe’s daughter. So for the most part of the show, the story actually focuses on Abe’s coming to terms with this information. Thanks to a great cast the character driven story is executed well and I found myself relating well to the characters in the show.
Abe Hiroshi is a really talented actor who pulls off emotional scenes and comedic moments with the utmost skill. Needless to say he plays his part flawlessly in the show. However, the Shiroi Haru would not be as endearing as it is without the presence of Ohashi Nozomi. The promising young actress definitely carries her weight in the show, even going so far as to completely steal many of the show’s scenes.
Whether intentional or not Endo Kenichi is the closest thing the show has to an antagonist. Despite being a veteran actor, he fumbles through most of his scenes. Even though the script tries hard to explain why we should feel sorry for his character, at the end of the day I still find myself completely rooting for Abe Hiroshi.
If there is one flaw with the series though, it’s the ending. While Japanese dramas have never been particularly good at conclusions, a simple show like Shiroi Haru could have easily avoided this. The most I can say without spoiling anything, is that the ending is both sudden and unbelievable. In fact, I was somewhat shocked by the poor choice of ending. Which is a shame since it is one of the show’s only flaws. Overall though, Shiroi Haru is a very watchable drama that is bound to touch viewers’ hearts.