I’ve only finished 72 episodes so far because Come Come Everybody is still airing, but most of it is quite good. I say most because this Asadora has a three heroine feature instead of the usual one, following a family through three generations. If you happen to be reading this and are not caught up, minor (major?) spoilers ahead!
The first arc takes place in wartime Okayama and stars Kamishiraishi Mone as Yasuko, the daughter of a traditional Japanese sweets shop. This is my favourite arc so far, even with its slow start. Though I do wonder if the fact that it takes place during WWII has anything to do with it, as there are numerous good stores in books and movies set in that time. I also enjoy watching Mone act, and maybe I’m more inclined to like this act because Matsumura Hokuto of SixTONES (my favourite Johnnys’ group) appears as Kijima Minoru, the eldest son of the president of a textiles company, though only briefly as he was subsequently killed in the line of duty. What irked me at the end of this arc were the ideas Yukie, the Kijima’s maid, planted in young Rui’s mind. While Rui grew up believing her mother abandoned her, Yasuko was actually doing everything she could to stay with her. The Kijimas even ended up accepting Yasuko if she wanted to stay, but Rui thought that Yasuko didn’t want her anymore and drove her mother away first. I was heartbroken, seeing the anguish in Yasuko’s face, after going through so much, what with losing her entire family within the span of several years and her only option left was to go to the US. I cried for a good many episodes, especially when On The Sunny Side Of The Street started playing.
Then we see a teenage Rui moving to Osaka to leave her past behind, and so begins the weakest arc. This one focuses more on Rui’s love life and to me, felt more like a process I had to get through so Yasuko’s story could connect and have proper closure via Rui’s daughter and Yasuko’s granddaughter, Hinata.
We’re smack dab in the middle of Hinata’s story now, so all I can say is that the child actress they cast for 10 year old Hinata was brilliant. And as a kid growing up in the 70s, her story is much more relatable. I’m surprised the Akanishis down the street from the Otsukis didn’t recognize the anko Rui makes, as the Akanishis patronized Yasuko’s family’s shop in Okayama, only commenting on the nostalgic flavour. I suppose Rui’s surname didn’t help, and Yasuko’s family made very traditional sweets. I also recognized Shibugakitai’s NAI NAI 16 playing in the Akanishis shop in week 15, that made me smile.
The official summary of this Asadora claims that the story follows a family through three generations with a strong connection to an English learning radio program, but I’d argue On The Sunny Side Of The Street connects them just as strongly, what with Rui being named after Louis Armstrong and Hinata after the Japanese translation of the song title.
I’m looking forward to seeing how this Asadora ends and how Hinata might reconcile Yasuko and Rui, even though I feel it won’t be direct.