First Impressions on A LIFE (Jdorama)

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KimuTaku returns with some bigshot comrades namely Takeuchi Yuko and Asano Tadanobu in A LIFE. I have not seen their pairing in PRIDE but a lot of people are gushing about them being together again on screens. So this may have been what they looked like a good 13 years ago.

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This review may contain spoilers, please proceed at own risk! 😀

We get a overused but classic underdog trope with KimuTaku playing Dr. Okita Kazuaki who leaves for United States 10 years ago but comes back again an accomplished surgeon. His ex-girlfriend, Danjo Mifuyu (Takeuchi Yuko) is now married to his ‘bestfriend’ Masao and blessed with a daughter. She is also the hospital director’s daughter and her father need a valve replacement surgery which apparently only Okita can accomplish.

Their reunion is awkward, leading us to believe Okita left without both of them truly ending their relationship. Experience tells me that there would have been some misunderstandings brought in by Masao, Okita’s love rival.

Okita comes back a better surgeon and more confident of himself leading to renewed admiration by Mifuyu and jealous by Masao. Although he holds himself confident, we can see certain lapses where his confidence falls through and instantly, it feels like we have seen a glimpse of his inferiority complex from 10 years ago. His father had always glorified Masao and compared them while Mifuyu, a director’s daughter must have felt out of reach. This surgery on Director Danjo was his chance to prove his capabilities. When the first surgery failed, it must have hampered his confidence but he held his fort and did what he did best. I really loved the piece of advice he gave a younger doctor.

Surgery is all about the preparation you make. The procedures, probable risk and how to avoid them. All of them over and over and over again. Until there’s no doubt left. The reason you’re scared is because you’re not fully prepared.

It resonated with me because being a medical student, you get all kinds of uncertainty about handling someone’s health. Of course the episode ends with a successful 2nd operation and KimuTaku reclaims his pride.

There’s also backstory on Okita and Masao’s rivalry. We see them putting up pretenses, each well knowing that their friendship has long transformed into something else.

The entire plot and tone feels classic and perhaps a little outdated with the slew of dramas released in recent years. KimuTaku is playing a role he is used too, the underdog so I can’t say that he has a breakthrough here. I’m also slightly disappointed that Takeuchi Yuko’s role is written like a helpless heroine stuck in a bad marriage. I hope to see her pursuing a more active stance in future episodes. She doesn’t lack chemistry with KimuTaku; a given, but a really hope she doesn’t stay a damsel in distress with a ticking bomb in her head. Asano Tadanobu does not disappoint playing the antagonist. He is written in such that he is easy to hate. I’d prefer if he had a good backstory, not just a clear cut villain. There are other minor characters hanging around but none that catches enough attention yet because there’s only so much you can squeeze in an hour without sacrificing your leads.

I shall wait and see a couple more episodes before deciding whether it’s a go or no go.

Watch if:

  1. Huge KimuTaku fan or Takeuchi Yuko fan
  2. You loved the 90s Jdoramas
  3. You need a hospital setting drama that isn’t Doctor X. Enough with Daimon sensei!

Proceed no further if:

  1. Hospital politics and underdog trope is not for you
  2. You dislike old fashion plots
  3. You don’t like KimuTaku.
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