Wooooow. Woow wowww. Hello! Lol, idk if anyone even still reads this blog anymore. It’s been a year and 2 months since I have updated and let me tell you, I did not watch a single drama during all that time. Life just be life-ing sometimes and that’s all I’m gonna say about that. So! Let’s get back into the swing of things, shall we?
Seventeen-year-old Hira, who is at the bottom of the class, tries to remain invisible at school, never wanting to open his mouth and expose his stuttering speech to his classmates. He views the world through his camera lens, detached, until one day, Kiyoi Sou walks through the classroom door. The impact is instantaneous. Hira finds himself pulled into Kiyoi’s gravity, following him everywhere and attending to his every need. Popularity comes easily to beautiful Kiyoi, who is always surrounded by his classmates. He uses his status to get what he wants, ordering around the boy who stares at him with his big eyes and seems to worship him like a god. Hira contents himself to merely exist within Kiyoi’s orbit, asking for nothing in return, until Kiyoi also begins to fall in love…
This show came out back in 2021. I remember when I first started seeing ads for it. But after watching the early trailer that I saw posted somewhere, it was edited in such a way that made me think that this was a story about bullying, then having the kid being bullied fall in love with the bully. Since that’s what I thought, I decided not to watch this and forgot all about it. And well, I was wrong about that. That’s actually not what this series is about and I’m glad I was wrong.
So, recently I was scrolling through VIKI because I was bored and missing watching dramas after all this time, and I decided to give this show a try since it was only 6 episodes. I had zero expectations, and I’m glad I didn’t have any because I think it helped me enjoy the show more.
Our two main characters are Kiyoi and Hira. Hira is an extremely socially awkward person who has no friends, no siblings, and wishes to be completely invisible. He is often lost in his own world with his camera as he likes photography. He does not enjoy being around others and this is showcased in his photography by the clips we see of him editing people out of his pictures constantly, while fully admitting that he does not enjoy taking pictures of people. However, once he lays eyes on Kiyoi, Kiyoi becomes Hira’s muse in a sense. Hira then admits that Kiyoi is the only person he likes taking pictures of because he thinks he is beautiful and has fallen in love with him.
Hira often gets teased due to the fact that he has a severe stutter when he speaks. This, paired with his general awkwardness, makes it very hard for him to navigate social situations. Since he is also so quiet and does not stick up for himself, he is also pushed around and pretty much used as a servant for the other kids in his high school class. In the show, the term used was “gopher boy”. I’ve only ever heard this term once before in my life, but apparently this is a real thing in Japan; to use the quiet, pushover student to do things for you such as buying snacks, cleaning up after you, doing your homework, bossing them around. Basically just like Hira said in the series: a servant. I am not familiar with this kind of bullying or if it is even considered bullying in Japan.
Even though Hira does not like being treated like this, he goes along with it because doing so keeps him close to Kiyoi, who he instantly became infatuated with and sees as some sort of god due to Kiyoi being absolutely everything that Hira is not. He watches and follows Kiyoi around so much that he sees the more personal moments that Kiyoi hides from everyone else.
Kiyoi, on the other hand, is an extremely popular and good looking student. Considered the “king” of the school, he is often surrounded by tons of other students, both males and females alike. Even though Kiyoi is mean to Hira at first and also bosses him around, we see that Kiyoi is pretty closed off and knows that the kids at school do not like him as a real person. They only like him for his looks and popularity.
We learn that Kiyoi doesn’t actually enjoy being popular and wants someone to love him for who he really is: an ordinary person with flaws, just like everyone else. He only starts off being mean to Hira because he wants to know what Hira wants, why he always stares at him, and why he always follows him around. He even begins to call him creepy and a stalker, then somehow begins to use these terms as endearing pet names as their relationship begins to develop (although in my opinion, these names will never be cute or endearing).
Later, as the story develops and we see Hira and Kiyoi graduate and move on from high school, we meet Koyama. Koyama is the singular friend that Hira has made in college. Koyama is kind, thoughtful, patient, and truly understands Hira on a level that no one else ever has. Hira even admits that he has never felt so comfortable around someone before.
Eventually, Koyama admits to Hira that he is gay and that he really likes him. Hira is shocked to hear this but agrees to be with him because he knows that he needs to stop pining after someone (Kiyoi) that he hasn’t seen or heard from in years since high school, and also because he feels so at home with Koyama. But all this gets upended when Kiyoi comes back to town.
I really liked Koyama. He was literally the sweetest friend ever and I truly hope that he can find someone who loves him in return just as much as he loves them. Even though things between him and Hira did not work out, he never stopped being a supportive friend and trying to make Hira happy.
This story follows the relationship between Kiyoi and Hira. We meet Hira first, on the first say of school, who is struggling to get through classroom introductions. He is practicing in his head the things he will say when he is called upon to speak, but still he fails and begins to stutter so badly, he can’t even say his own name. Then, in walks Kiyoi, late to class. Due to his tardiness and beauty, it takes the attention completely off of Hira which Hira is very grateful for.
Kiyoi notices Hira but says nothing as he takes his seat. For Hira, he has fallen in love and infatuation at first sight. For Kiyoi, this is the first time anyone has ever looked at him the way Hira has and it startles him. This is why he starts being mean to Hira along with the other students because he thinks that Hira must want something from him. Kiyoi is trying to be an actor and an idol and often enters tv and magazine competitions. This fuels his popularity among his peers and he knows they only want to be around him because of this.
Over the course of the episodes, we watch as their relationship turns from Hira basically just stalking Kiyoi, to them building a tentative friendship, to Hira confessing to Kiyoi and Kiyoi running away. They slowly become friends again until, finally, Kiyoi confesses back to Hira on the last day of school when they are all graduating. But Hira misunderstands the confession and Kiyoi practically runs away out of embarrassment (he’s never confessed to anyone before, although he did tell Hira he would see him later). This leads to them losing contact after high school.
Kiyoi is still working on his dream of becoming a famous actor and model while Hira has moved on to college. He joins the photography club where he meets Koyama who eventually becomes his first ever friend, and then first ever boyfriend. Koyama’s older brother owns a club type studio restaurant where patrons can order food and drink while watching live performances on a stage. I have never seen anything like this before and I honestly think this would be very cool to experience. Dinner and a live theatre show!
Anyway, due to this, Koyama’s older brother has connections with many big name people in the entertainment industry. And guess who ends up being an actor at Koyama’s brother’s spot? Yep. Kiyoi.
Hira and Kiyoi seeing each other again for the first time is a shock to them both and this is where I feel the episodes truly take off and we get more depth of character for both of them. So far, up to this point, we only have the perspective of Hira, but we soon learn the perspective of Kiyoi and it’s amazing how two people in the same situation can experience that one thing so differently. I was grateful for the perspective change because it really brought much more understanding.
Of course the appearance of Kiyoi is the deterioration of Koyama and Hira’s new relationship. This actually made me a little sad because I really liked Koyama. As I said before, he was such a good friend and really sweet. No one has ever treated Hira the way Koyama did. Not even Kiyoi.
Kiyoi and Hira still run into many misunderstandings and drama because they both come from completely different worlds and often fail to understand each other. And even after all this time, Hira still practically worships Kiyoi while Kiyoi still wants to be seen as an ordinary person who can be in a relationship with the person he loves and be on equal footing with them. He doesn’t want to be on a pedestal despite the fact that he is pursuing acting which will propel him into fame and even more popularity. He wants a true and honest relationship with someone that knows the real him.
However, they are in love with each other. When everything comes to a head and both of them are able to get the truth out, it’s actually very sweet and had me feeling so very happy and warm on the inside. I found myself understanding Kiyoi’s feelings more than I understood Hira’s because I will just never understand how someone can place another human, a peer, an old friend, on such a high pedestal that you practically worship them while constantly talking down on and belittling yourself. It rubbed me the wrong way that Hira did this so often. Even then, Kiyoi still fell in love with him.
Also, I don’t think this was intentional, but Hira definitely came off as someone who is on the spectrum. The way he acted around people, the way he reacted to certain things, his fixation and obsession with certain things, his views about other human beings, as well as his overall understanding (or lack thereof) of emotions and the world around him. It was very much giving Autism Spectrum Disorder. I am not saying this is a bad thing. I am just saying as someone who studied counseling and psychology, I noticed it. Hira very much read as someone with ASD.
The best actor of this series, hands down, goes to Yagi Yusei who played the character of Kiyoi. Homie gave this role his all lol! He knew exactly how to play the bratty “king” of the school, he knew how to showcase the longing to be wanted, loved, and accepted as a real person, and lastly he wore his facial expressions on his face so well. And his eyes are so expressive! I used to not really understand what acting with your eyes meant. Like if you had great facial expressions, then surely you were also acting with your eyes, right? But now I really understand.
I still can’t put it into words, but Yagi Yusei has so much life in his eyes. Even in moments when he had no lines, he really didn’t need to say anything at all because his facial expressions and his eyes said everything loud and clear. I really think Yagi Yusei has a chance at making acting a good career move for him. He is currently a singer in a group, but whatever he does in the future pertaining to acting, I wish him the best of luck.
Hagiwara Riku plays the character of Hira and I think he did a great job too. There were quite a few moments where Hira was over the top, so awkward it made me cringe, or just downright frustrating and even embarrassing. But to me, that just means that the actor was doing a good job if I can feel those things with his acting.
Takano Akira plays the character of Koyama and quite honestly, it didn’t really feel like he was acting. Most of it felt very natural to watch and I was pleased.
All the other side characters, I don’t really have much opinion on. They served their purpose as side characters to help build a more cohesive story and that’s all I really ask for when it comes to the supporting cast.
I think the show had a good mix of showing the slower paced, and more open countryside/residential areas, as well as the busier parts of Japan while not necessarily being one of the bustling major cities. This felt very balanced and I liked this.
Honestly, there was nothing special about the music. The music sounded like it belonged on an anime which was kinda fun. But other than that, nothing really jumped out at me. I do think that Yagi Yusei is a singer for one of the songs on the soundtrack. I could be wrong about that, but I don’t think I am.
I ended up liking this series more than I thought I would. I wasn’t expecting much due to my original incorrect assumption of what this show was going to be about, but I was pleasantly surprised. If I were to rate this series out of 5 stars, I would give it a 3. It was solid and I am hoping to see more growth between these characters.
There is a season 2 that is already out and supposedly a movie that was only released in Japan. There are rumors going around online that international streaming sites might pick it up just like both season 1 and 2, but I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.
I say give this one a try. It’s not bad at all. I will give a sensitivity warning though. There is fake/imitation school gun violence in this series. There are two instances of it and they come from Hira. I know for a fact that fake or not, this can be something that really triggers people. Especially my fellow Americans who have to suffer through the craziness that is our country with school shootings becoming more and more common. While the scenes were over the top and did not bother me that much, I did find them to be unexpected. I work in a school, so I know what it feels like to have concern over safety. I am thankful everyday that my current school has not had an instance of violence like this. My previous school did and therefore I am no longer at that school. It is extremely frightening stuff.
In Japan, mass school shootings are not a concern. Their country is drastically different than America, and their laws and regulations regarding ownership of guns is absolutely nothing like the laws and regulations (or the lack thereof) here in the U.SA. In the scenes, what comes out of the gun is glitter and confetti as opposed to bullets, but I understand this still might not be enough to soften the triggering feeling of viewing this. So, if you are reading this review before watching this series, this is your warning.