J-Drama: Chugakusei Nikki (8.8/10)

The leads

I was sick recently and all I did was sleep and marathon some dramas that had been on my list.

The one I want to review for you all most is Chugakusei Nikki because I have so many thoughts on this and ultimately want to recommend it to anyone who is comfortable watching the content, which is very controversial.

It’s about the inappropriate relationship between an adult teacher and her much younger student. Even though every person on earth may have a slightly different take and level of aversion to this idea, I am highly recommending this drama because it’s amazing.

I still don’t know how to feel about the idea. I feel like I understand – to a point how women teachers get caught up in these imbroglios. Many women feel unfulfilled and unappreciated, even while in relationships and the panting puppy dog love and attention of pubescent boys might flatter some of them enough to act on it. But even understanding that, if a 25 year old teacher did anything inappropriate with my daughter when she’s 15, their days would be numbered.

There are also the social ramifications for this behavior, which vary from country to country, city to city. It is generally seen as wrong, although a century or two ago, it typically wasn’t. The current age of adulthood also varies from place to place so what is illegal in one place is legal somewhere else. But despite how wrong it is considered to be in most places, it still happens. Possibly the most famous of these types of relationships was between 15 year old student Emmanuel Macron and his much older teacher, who is now his wife and the first lady of France. Chugakusei Nikki adds to his conversation.

This show is dramatic and very interesting, and some parts of it are beautiful. It follows a young, somewhat demure teacher, her fiancee, the student who falls in love with her, the student who is in love with him, his mom, his friends, the fiancees boss and some other characters as they navigate around the growing feelings between the teacher and her pupil. And shows the many repercussions the teacher, student and their friends and families faced as a result of their feelings and actions.

I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say that watching all this play out kept me captivated. I also rooted for happy endings for everyone, as I always do, but here it felt much more strange to do it. I am not sure I would have hoped that the student, once he reached adulthood could be with the woman he loved if he hadn’t already looked like an adult when he was meant to be 15. If he had been a realistic 15, all gangly arms and legs and pimples I may have viewed him much more maternally. Instead though, Okada Kenshi who played the male student looks like a hot Japanese jock in his twenties so it was a little harder to see the age power dynamic at play with his teacher, played by long time actress Arimura Kasumi who only looked a couple years older. Kasumi did a phenomenal job in the role.

If you don’t mind watching something controversial, watch this drama because the story is interesting, the acting is good, the production is good, and it will leave you thinking about it even after it’s over.

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