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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Kasa wo motanai Aritachi wa (2016)


Also known as: Ants without umbrella
Country: Japan
Format: short drama in 4 episodes
Genre: drama, slice of life
Cast: Kiriyama Ren, Kato Shigeaki, Minamisawa Nao, Sakata Masanobu, Adachi Rika, Ryu Raita, Watanabe Mai, Kobayashi Ryota, Ichikawa Riku, Takeda Rena, Niitsu Chise,
Synopsis: Hashimoto Jun is sci-fi writer who has been unsuccesful in writing any new book for many years. One day his editor asks him to write love-themed short story for online youth magazine. Writer who has never written anything connected to love, feels the pressure of possible failure. Despite not seeing each other for years, one night his old schoolmate Murata Keisuke stops at his place. While talking to each other, Jun begins to remember his youth years filled with bittersweet memories.  
Rating: 5/5
For me Kato Shigeaki has been genius for all the years that I know him (he is one person who I would like to know personally). The whole "Ants without umbrella" has been put together from his same-named short-story collection. Further more, all the book and story names in the drama are from this short-story collection. I take the moment to divide the story-lines of the drama to the short-stories.


 The main story-line of the drama is actually a mix of two different short stories from the collection. The first part of drama is about a sci-fi writer who has to write a love-story. It comes from "Ren'ai shosetsu (kari)" ("A love novel (temprorary)" and is also one of the attempts of Jun's writings for the love-story. In my opinion it is actually similar to "Ruby Sparks" if anyone knows. The second part about Jun and Keisuke childhood comes from "Nibe mo naku, yorube mo naku" ("No friends in the world"), where boys are just 14 years old, living in the seaside and encounter their first loves and the feeling of growing apart.
Story of "Intercept" is actual one-on-one story by Kato Shigeaki and goes exactly the way it is shown in the drama of the first try-out for Jun's love-story.
 Kato Shigeaki's "Iganu no ame" ("Rain of Iganu") is given just as a name of the Jun's debut book. I must say that "Iganu no ame" is rather sci-fi story anyway. As much as I noticed then "Senshoku" ("Paint") and "Undress" are not added into the drama. They are more slice of life and a bit love-stories. Maybe there are some hidden hints to the stories, but noticing that needs careful reading of the stories.
If you ask me if I have read the stories myself, then unfortunately I have read just the summaries - Yanne has the book in Japanese, but my Japanese is not good enough to actually read kanji. (neither have I had enough time to go and find the English translations in NEWS fandom groups - yes it was a hint for everyone who wants to read it). But now back to the drama and some words about the characters.
Jun, played by Kiriyama Ren, is the character that you will understand from the start. Writer who has currently writers-block and cannot overcome it. He has continuing dilemma to who and for what reason he is writing at all. I would say that it becomes almost as existential question for the writer as in a way it would be easier, but yet impossible, to stop writing for once and for all if he cannot write a single thing. I think with Kiriyama Ren I always had this feeling that I have seen him before acting, but actually have not. I think he brings out the character really well.
 Keisuke is played by Kato Shigeaki himself. I bet it must have been interesting for him to actually act in a drama where he is the original author. In addition, in a way Keisuke is his most scandalous characters from his current stories. Sorry if it is spoiler to some people, but Keisuke is gay and that's why you can find this drama also under LGBT and yaoi forums. Keisuke has this one of a kind charm that he is good-natured and pure. I think it is not so common to handle gay-topic in Japanese drama this way and it is really refreshing. As you might have noticed, usually anything connected LGBT has been shown more as comical or connected to pop-culture (J-pop idols fan-service to fans, yaoi-mangas etc), but I have not seen much this kind of down-to-earth perception.
 There are people who say that the drama itself is a bit disappointing and could have been told in a better, more interesting way, but for me it is one of the master-pieces. For me, Kato Shigeaki has always left this part where you have to think on your own, you have to see the connections and everything without everything being given to you. That's the magic for me - if even weeks later, I will have discussion in my head about the story, then it has been worth it.
I guess you can find all kind of topics and different ideas from this drama - finding your thing in this life, friendships that help you in difficult times, hardships in life, the small line between reality and illusions etc.  I just find it great and facinating drama.

Spoiler-Review: Of course the spoilers are about the ending. Some people were surprised that Keisuke actually had died years ago. This is something really different from the the ending of "Nibe mo naku, yorube mo naku" where they just grow apart for good and Jun actually becomes fisherman like Nitsuji.   

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