Akai Giwaku

Reviewed by: sukting

January 02, 2011

Rating: three

How long
30 episodes

This drama brings Yamaguchi Momoe and Miura Tomokazu together as husband and wife. Do you want to know why it is considered a classic? Many thanks to my neighbour for telling me the details.

Story/Introduction on characters
1. Da Dao Mao - Utsui Ken
He is Xing Zi's father who is the medical deputy professor of Tokyo University. He is appalled to know that Xing Zi is dying and tries all ways to save her. He is formally in charge of radiation but later moves to the tumour unit. He doesn't mind the transfer as this will help him to analyse Xing Zi's illness.

After Xing Zi's death, he still keeps a seat for her in the lecture hall with her school bag, knowing that she yearns to attend his lectures. He tells his other students how Xing Zi fights for her own life and they can learn from her to study more on cancer.

He is the best veteran Japanese actor that I have come across so far. The love that he has showered on his niece – or rather daughter is so touching. Many will feel sorry for this character. He has done so much for her but she can never repay his love.

2. Da Dao Min Jiang – Kishi Keiko
She is Mao's wife who decides not to have any children so that she can devote her attention on Xing Zi. To make Xing Zi happy, she approves of her to be with Guang Fu. Sigh – to the extent even though she knows that this is not appropriate! I simply can't accept this.

Mao knows that she makes a very big sacrifice and cherishes her. Even though, Xing Zi knows that Li Hui is her biological mother, she still calls Min Jiang Mother as she brings her up. Although her screen time is not as much as Utsui Ken, she also captures everyone's heart with her earnest acting.

3. Da Dao Xing Zi - Yamaguchi Momoe
She is a pretty high school girl at the age of 17. One day, she goes to the hospital to look for her father. There is an accident and she suffers from radiation. It develops into leukemia and she can't live more than a year. Her family keeps it from her. She loves going to the countryside with Guang Fu and intends to study medical school with him. Thus, Guang Fu often gives her tuition.

Xing Zi is often hospitalized. She witnesses how a child dies due to leukemia and starts suspecting herself of suffering from the same illness. She starts reading up and confirms her doubts. She attempts suicide but luckily Guang Fu discovers on time. Her parents have to tell her the truth and give her encouragement. Her brain starts malfunctioning and she becomes blind. Luckily, Mao uses chemo to treat her and she recovers.

She gets into the medical faculty and Guang Fu celebrates with her. Upon knowing that both are actually siblings, she wants him to go to Hokkaido with her. She urges him to end their lives together. He carries her and steps into the sea. (What a scene – Momoe must be enjoying herself as she wears very thick boots while Miura has to get himself wet in the cold winter water.) Luckily, their parents discover and stop them on time to bring them home.

Xing Zi's brain is having another change again and she has a second operation. She knows that she is dying soon. She bids her family goodbye and goes out to sea with Guang Fu. She sings to Guang Fu a last song when he plays with his guitar and she dies peacefully in his arms.

Momoe proves to be a credible actress despite her young age. She is very convincing as the damsel in distress – always wallowing in self-pity. I am not sure if it is due to her difficult childhood. Her father is Korean but leaves her mother to take care of her and her younger sister on her own. She has the sadness in her eyes that is very heartbreaking. The chemistry between her and Miura is simply unbeatable. No other pair can reach their stage.

4. Da Dao Li Hui – Kishi Yuki
She is Mao's younger sister. In reality, she is Xing Zi's mother by having her out of wedlock. Seeing that Min Jiang has given more care to Xing Zi, she suppresses her love and urge to migrate to Paris to pursue her artist dream. She is puzzled when Mao brings Min Jiang and Xing Zi to visit her.

Xing Zi has a relapse and is sent to hospital. Although Mao attempts to keep it from Li Hui by communicating with the doctors there with medical terms, Li Hui still finds out the truth as she speaks French. The siblings discuss and pretend that everything is fine by touring with her. They even buy her a dog to cheer her up.

Li Hui learns a remedy from a gypsy. Thus, she sends the herbs to Tokyo. Xing Zi discovers the letter and herbs. She starts to suspect her illness and becomes pessimistic. Li Hui explains to her over the phone and disperses her doubts. A Paris millionaire is in love with her but she rejects him. He discovers that Xing Zi is her illegitimate daughter and tries to sell the news to the reporters but luckily she stops it on time.

Li Hui misses Xing Zi and returns from Paris. She and Ying Zhi donate their blood to Xing Zi when she has another relapse. Knowing that Xing Zi is upset, she wants her to face the truth. After Xing Zi knows about her identity, she calls her Mummy as she gives her her life.

5. Xiang Liang Ying Zhi - Yachiqusa Kaoru
He is the professor but is always jealous of Mao's achievements. Thus, he transfers him to the tumour unit. After seeing Xing Zi's blood transfusion, he starts to suspect that Xing Zi is his daughter. He affirms the truth from Li Hui and regrets causing the radiation incident as he has overlooked it. He saves Xing Zi's life with Li Hui and asks for their forgiveness as he owes them too much. Xing Zi is contented when she has two sets of parents now.

6. Xiang Liang Guang Fu - Miura Tomokazu
He is a medical student at Tokyo University. As his blood type fits Xing Zi, he often donates blood to her. Through the processes, they fall in love. Guang Fu is puzzled on why her parents do not donate blood to Xing Zi. He later learns that she isn't their daughter.

A big shock is there for him when he learns that she is also Ying Zhi's daughter. So they can't be together as they are half-siblings. He leaves for Hokkaido, attempting to forget her. Mao comes to look for him and reveals her sickness. He then returns to her. Although his results are good enough to get into a U.S. university, he chooses to stay in Japan.

Even though he donates his bone barrow to save her, she still doesn't survive. Her death affects her and he decides to further his studies in the U.S. This is to learn more about leukemia so that he can cure more patients when he is back.

Miura is charming on screen indeed. He has the charisma to capture everyone's attention. Many will be touched by Guang Fu's everlasting love for Xing Zi. He is like a knight to her rescue.

7. Xiang Fu Duo Jia Zi – Harada Chisako
She is Guang Fu's mother who has not liked Xing Zi all along as she knows that Li Hui is once Xiang Liang's kept woman. Even though Xiang Liang returns to her finally, she still finds it hard to forgive him. This leaves a scar in her heart although she has never let Guang Fu know about it.

She goes to tell Xing Zi about her blood type. This finally makes her realize that Guang Fu is her brother. Xiang Liang and Guang Fu chide her for being selfish. Sometimes, you will feel that she is right in doing that as they might create incest if parents keep on opposing them marrying without telling them why.

8. Da Dao Tai Yi Lang – Natako Muroyuki
He is Xing Zi's grandfather who dotes on her. When she gets into medical faculty, he buys her a yacht as a present. Guang Fu loves bringing Xing Zi out to sea.

Most favourite character
Guang Fu, he is the son that all will love to have – sensible and mature. He is also a suitable boyfriend who puts Xing Zi's wellbeing upon himself. A close second is Mao, he has wished not to reveal Xing Zi's biological background at all but fate doesn't allow it and he suffers as much as Xing Zi.

Most hated character
Duo Jia Zi, she should have kept her mouth shut. She can let her know about her parentage but not her illness. Why not let Xing Zi be happy for her last days as her family wishes? She simply has no sympathy at all as her hatred for Li Hui is too great.

It is sung by Momoe herself. She is a fabulous singer and actress. It is a very sad song and is deemed a classic. The late Mui Yim Fong also sang the translation before. The late Cheung Kok Wing also regarded her as his idol. They retired for a while and later came out of retreat. Unlike them, Momoe is firm in her decision although she looks demure. Once she annouces her exit, she never returns. That is why many regard her as their idol who keeps her promise and they can only listen to her old songs.

I am bored these days with no Japanese dramas to watch over local television. Thus, my neighbour suggested me to write on some old dramas. They were old indeed – made in the 70s or 80s. But why are they still so fondly remembered by so many fans? There must be a reason to it.

This drama is Yamaguchi Momoe and Miura Tomokazu's matchmaker indeed. They are happily married for 30 years. She married him at the age of 21 and they have 2 sons. When celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary together, Miura declared gently and also firmly that he would still marry her if given another chance in their next life time. Many regard them as their on-screen idol after watching this drama.

Back to the drama itself, I don't know if Korean dramas follow this trend to get ideas from this drama. There was a time that they repeat so many till many can't take it. I am one of them. I have lost count of the number of times that Xing Zi walks in and out of hospital. Then having relapses and going back. Poor Guang Fu should have opened a blood bank since Xing Zi draws so much blood from him all the time. And this man has never asked – why don't her parents donate theirs?

I become quite tired of it and it makes Xing Zi to be too innocent. How can she not know her illness at all although her family tries to keep from her? How can she become a medical student without knowing the basic facts? It is said that this drama teaches the audience to affirm their blood types. The blood type of a child should follow one of the parents. However, there might be some exceptions. Those who with AB blood types can give birth to children belonging to A or B blood types.

If ‘Endless Love' is the representative for Korean weepie dramas, ‘Akai Giwaku' is the definite champion for Japanese sadistic dramas. ‘Endless Love' is not so bad – at least Jun Xi and En Xi are not related. Guang Fu and Xing Zi are more pathetic – they are in love but this is forbidden love as they are siblings. They love miserably and painfully. Due to their young ages, they really can't face this harsh reality well.

It is a very pessimistic story from the start and the ending is definitely a predicted one. Squeezing tears from everyone for almost every episode. Many will need lots of tissue papers. It is definitely unsuitable for me as I hate sappy endings. If not for the leads, I could have stopped watching it midway. 30 episodes is simply too long! Miura and Momoe are simply too good – they look like a perfect couple on screen together. They lure me to keep watching it. Although I know that I am being duped, it is like taking opium non-stop and I simply can't resist.

Momoe's retirement leaves good memories to all – Miura's career goes downhill after that but he also has no regrets. He has already left ever lasting impression in the dramas that he acts with her. A classic will forever remain a classic. I strongly recommend it to all to watch it – although the pace is extremely slow, you will not get to see exaggerating acting that you see these days. Now Japanese dramas are almost forgotten in most countries as they are not cheap and the stories don't have an impact. How I wish Japanese artistes today can act like them but I don't think there is a chance now.

Sukting's ratings :
On acting : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)

On story : **1/2 (Scale of 5)

On songs : **** (Scale of 5)

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