Beautiful life is a love story dorama, the particular thing about this one is that the girl of the story is in a wheelchair.
A beautiful beginning.
The beginning of the dorama is really good, it manages to hook the viewer immediately with some good drama, realism and some comedy in between. It’s extremely well paced with little to no boring moments or filling parts.
In the first scene, we see a girl (later on we find out that she is the main character Kyoko) driving a car happily while talking on her cell phone not paying much attention of what is going around her, to a point of being a bit dangerous and reckless. This leads her to “stumble” upon the other main character of the story (Shuji) who is driving a motorcycle. By her careless way of driving, he almost fell from the motorcycle, at this point he is pretty pissed about this reckless girl.
By mere chance they end up driving up to the same place, which is a library where she works. Now is where the show really kicks off, both of them arrive at the same time and they park one aside from the other, he put his bike just at the side of her car not letting the door of the car to be fully opened which is not a big deal for a normal person but here is the problem, by putting his bike in the side of her car she can’t get out from it since there is no space to put her wheelchair, this is where we alongside with the main character find out that the girl is in a wheelchair. (Assuming you didn’t get spoiled by the intro or the cover of the show…)
(Normal for some but not for her)
And so the story takes off from there.
The characters and their issues.
Shuji works as hairstylist in a prominent hair-saloon and picks up random girls from the street to “style” them up with haircuts. He has a really blunt way of saying things, he is a bit short of words too, a little aggressive, you could call him a “delinquent”.
On the other side Kyoko is brilliant in her own way and also cheerful but is always closing herself up to others because of the way she sees herself, lacking in confidence and really insecure when it comes to other people that are not in her close circle. You can see how she deals with her own insecurities and how being disabled made her isolate herself from the rest of the world, at least in a emotional level.
Basically the show is a love drama story that shows how this two really different persons clash because of their personalities and how they see things and finally how they are able to change each other because of that.
This is the story about an insecure girl dealing with her disability a girl that promised herself to never love anyone and the story of a guy who was ostracized by his own family because they didn’t approve of him doing what he loved to do.
Realism realism and more realism.
It’s important to point out what a wonderful job the dorama does portray the hardships and difficulties of a person that uses a wheelchair.
Scenes where they try to go to a restaurant to later on find out that she can’t enter because of stairs impediments.
She suddenly having the need to to go to the bathroom and having to ask him for his help, being self-conscious of her thin legs or simply just her visiting his home just to find out that there is no easy way to enter his department.
These are a just few scenes where you get to see the reaction of each one of them and how they take things to eventually change one another, they are so opposite and yet that’s probably the reason they get along so well.
The dorama also shows you how her family side, specifically her older brother who kinda overprotects her but loves her deeply and does stuff that not even her own parents do. You can see how all of them suffer in their own way but still do their best to cope with the situation.
For example regarding his brother who is trying to find a partner to get married, gets turned down after the girl he wants to marry finds out that he has a sister in a wheelchair, this made everything actually very realistic since there are people out there with this type of mentality.
Everything is good because the story is about all the problems they have as a couple and of her impediments of not being able to walk.
A personal note here, I’ve read some visual novels and watched other doramas that touches illness and similar themes and most of the time is done really poorly or unrealistic, this show does it right (well at least at some degree)
The not so beautiful things.
Sadly not everything is perfect, at some point the show turns into a shock drama kinda ruining what otherwise could have been an almost perfect show.
I don’t want to give away spoilers but if you follow the huge hints that the characters gave you throughout the show it’s a bit obvious where it’s heading.
Since there is no way to tell you the “whys” without spoiling things out I must warn you that from here on this review will talk about important parts of the plot itself.
The 13 out of 43.
So we found out that she has this terminal illness in some “latent state” and has a 13 out of 43 % of kicking in…
Why this weird number? It seems like a bad joke, in fact they even say something about this in the show itself, about how weird it is.
(I’m with you on this one Shuji.)
Why would a Doctor give them this random and weird number? It’s as if the writers wanted to troll the audience with some stupid joke…and I guess they succeeded.
Some questions that might arise while watching the show if you are an obsessive person for details:
How is her illness only affecting her legs? Why can she move her arms or others parts of her body without difficulty? Why doesn’t she have any other problems except not being able to move her legs? And many more questions but I digress…
Ahem… Continuing with the review… we know that it’s an autoimmune illness of some kind, they don’t actually say which one (they avoid to say it on purpose) and she takes steroids because of it.
At the end of the serie we found out that that chance, the mighty “13 out of 43” kicks in..
And so apparently it turns into terminal cancer with very little time left, again they don’t say it but one can only guess…
Now the issue is that her illness kicks in just as soon as they start dating as a couple and are in terms with each other and it progresses really quickly at that point.
Now let’s be clear, the show might have been able to pull this through if this wasn’t a way to create some cheap and shocking scenes…
The horror… the horror…
You probably are wondering what are these cheap and shocking scenes?
At some point they take her, who at that point is in a really bad state – almost dead – to see him performing live in some kind of hair event, everything happens in a really dramatic way, with her fainting a few time… One word to describe this scene: absurd.
But the worst part is this final scene where he paints her face after she passes away. She is in her house and he is putting her some makeup.
Now the question is: How can anyone believe that this is a good thing to do for him? How is it that nobody stopped him from probably having a psychological trauma for the rest of his life? Before anyone complains, I do know that this is a Japanese ritual to purify the souls of those who died recently and blah blah blah but still, he is putting makeup to the corpse of the person he loved dearly and just passed away and he actually isn’t fully aware of what is happening to him, even his best friend is so shocked that needs to get out of the room.
This is of course a really shocking scene and a terrible one too, it was made purely to make the audience cry. There is nothing valuable here, there was no need for it, it doesn’t add anything to the plot itself.
After watching this show for the third time, I found myself trying to came up with with a reasonable explanation for this and so this is the most reasonable logical conclusion I could come up with: Shuji is the type of guy who will do what he thinks is correct and it’s going to do it no matter what anyone tells him and so if we believe that putting her make up for the last time is a way to express himself or his love for her one last time then and only then it makes sense… it’s up to you to decide.
End of the spoilers.
Finally, the very veeeeeery last scene is pretty much perfectly executed, rounding up an almost perfect show.
A beautiful show after all.
Even with the shocking scenes this show is probably one of the best I’ve seen.
I must be honest, I watched it three times and it managed to change my mind about some things that I wasn’t fully convinced before which is not usual for me. This show manages to hook you up, make you sad and still at the end give you hope without using cheap drama or a cheap plot while maintaining a good pace. Which is not an easy task to do *And give you some rage inducing scenes too..*.
Regarding the acting, it was amazing… at least most of them were great with their performance. Her mother on the other hand was of the only one in the show that was terrible, it looked like she was almost an amateur, normally I wouldn’t mind if some characters are not on par with the rest but she was her mother and had some important scenes and her delivery was atrocious, it looked like a stiff board, so she was sticking out because of that.
Last is the music, let’s just say that if you dislike B’z or 今夜月の見える丘に (the ending song) you are a monster or you don’t have any kind of music taste AT ALL.
- The music.
- The acting.
- The realism regarding her disability, for the most part.
- She liking Chibi Maruko-Chan (This alone is worth like 20000 points on its own)
- Good pacing.
- Perfect ending.
- The sudden change of plot around the last episode.
- The shocking scenes.
I rate this dorama a 13 out of a wheelchair.