Bara no nai Hanaya薔薇のない花屋
Need a shockingly good, slightly melo-ish but mostly heartwarming slice-of-life Jdrama with an excellent cast, beautiful and deep characters, that doesn’t feel like work to watch, but still keeps your interest? Can I come up with a longer sentence to describe how gorgeous this drama is inside and out? (Given another 5 minutes, I could probably achieve that.) If your answer is yes, then please do sit down and watch Bara no nai Hanaya, or The Flower Shop Without Roses.
SMAP’s Katori Shingo is single dad Shiomi Eiji who earns a meager living from his small flower shop. When he meets a blind customer Shirata Mio, played by Takeuchi Yuko (Pride), it’s obvious that these two need each other. With a hodgepodge cast of characters, including Shiomi’s young daughter Shizuku (Yagi Yuki) and misfit ruffian Kudo Naoya (Matsuda Shota), it seems evident that all are destined to become one happy family unit for each other. Except more lies under the surface than can ever be seen.
Bara no nai Hanaya is such a lovely atmospheric drama, featuring real and recognizable human beings. Eiji is a simple man with a hidden past, and Katori absolutely does not overact in his characterization. He is slow and plodding, and of the kindest, most selfless creatures you’ll ever see. Yet the drama weaves his past in such a way that the slow unveiling of his life history and the history of the woman he loved is almost as integral to the story as the events that happen in real time. Throw in his obvious affection for Shizuku, and their own adoption of a neighborly grandmother, another loner desperate to feel needed and loved, and just try not having any feels for this beautiful little family structure.
Keep in mind, all this is even before the lovely Mio steps into their lives, cane in hand, full of anxiety and uncertainty about this new direction in her life. And maybe just a few secrets of her own, hidden behind a web of lies. And perhaps she’s not the only character to have more than one secret.
Read more for some SPOILERY thoughts on the inner workings of this drama.
|He sees what you did there.. but did you?|
Behind the DeceptionsOne of the best things about this drama is that there’s really no villain – and the characters who carry some claim of wrecking the lives of others are about as fully-fleshed and sympathizing as the characters who are innocent and blameless. Everyone has a motive, and they need not be about clear-cut revenge, especially as the drama’s core falsehoods are stripped away, episode by episode, layer by layer. The worst deception is of course Mio – as she tricks everyone by her blind act, and yet she’s the most heartbreaking character of all. She’s got no motive other than as part of a job to infiltrate and deceive. Make Eiji fall in love with her, and then break his heart. All because it’s what he did to the girl he loved. The real perpetrator of this scene: Shizuku’s grandfather – still bitter about his daughter’s death in childbirth, and of the man who did this to her.
In one sense, Mio willfully goes along with this plot, and one can wonder why a perfectly nice girl would ever agree to such a plan. Except that Mio is also a pawn of the old man’s grief, and by the time she falls in love with Eiji, it may be too late for him to ever forgive her. I’ve never quite been able to emphasize with a person quite as much as with Mio. As each day goes by, it becomes harder and harder for her to keep up the deception. Witness one of the most gasp-worthy scenes: when she accompanies Shizuku to the pool, and Shizuku starts to splutter around in the water, unnoticed for a few moments by the life guards. How does our fake blind woman pretend to not see a little girl drowning? Moments before she nearly gives up all pretenses of being blind, Shizuku is rescued, but the horror on Mio’s supposedly unseeing eyes is all too real. Once she grasps the possible consequences of her deceit, the game’s on her. She blames herself more than the man who put her up to this task.
|*smile smile* and villain conquered!|
It Just Takes a ChildOf course, what’s a slice-of-life family important drama without the lovable little child who can melt even the hardest of hearts? Shiomi Shizuku is the precious and precocious child every parent dreams of having 10 of. Alright, slight exaggeration, but she’s certainly the model child – loving and absolutely devoted to her father, even to the point where she knows best what he needs, and that of course is to have her around plus a nice lady friend too. Shizuku is also crafty at worming her way into the hearts of everyone around her, including her grandfather. I don’t always like kid-oriented dramas, but this time I make an exception. She’s just too adorable.
|Narrator from the past|