Thanks to my recent kdrama rut, I’ve been poking around more actively to explore new and different drama pastures, and I’m happy to report that my adventures have turned out some very positive viewing experiences.
I promise that I’ll be back soon with more kdrama reviews (I’m still watching ’em, just in fewer numbers), but in the meantime, here’s a quick little review on a quiet little charmer of a Jdrama that I probably would’ve never stumbled upon, if not for my kdrama rut.
(Silver linings to the rescue once again, heh.)
A SLOWISH START
I came across this show while exploring Viki, and I was immediately drawn to its premise: high school girl becomes tiny, and ends up living with her estranged childhood bestie, who also happens to be the boy on whom she’s had a longtime crush.
I do love me some cohabitation hijinks, but the thing that intrigued me the most, was that in this case, the girl would be tiny, literally. That felt refreshingly different from any of the the other shows in the dramaverse, and I was curious to see how this big-tiny divide between the OTP would give rise to new story possibilities.
I hafta admit, Show’s first episode wasn’t quite as cute or as engaging as I’d hoped, but given that it is the set-up portion of the story leading up to Chiyomi’s (Yamamoto Maika) shrinkage, I saw it as necessary, even if I didn’t feel fully invested. At the same time, the everyday sort of challenges that Chiyomi faced – being ignored by her crush Minami (Nakagawa Taishi), feeling jealous of him spending time with someone else, being told that her dream was frivolous – feel universal and understandable, even though I felt that the execution didn’t lift it all up to actually feeling relatable.
I kept watching because I was curious to see how the fantastical mini Chiyomi thing would work out – and plus, I did find this show’s slowish first episode more engaging overall than the first few episodes of School 2017 which I checked out at the same time, so that’s something.
(For the curious, I’m still watching School 2017, and it’s growing on me too, albeit rather slowly.)
STUFF I LIKED
Happily, once the initial set-up was done and we got properly into our story, Show grew on me rather nicely, and I enjoyed this one quite well over its short 10-episode run.
Here’s the quick spotlight on my favorite things in this little show.
1. Tiny DIY stuff
Maybe I have a hidden fascination for small things; my favorite thing in this show, is all the improvisation that Minami had to do for Chiyomi, to make her tiny things for her tiny needs. Like this little soup bowl bath (or is that a teacup bath?) that he made for Chiyomi in episode 2 (above). I was probably about as pleased as Chiyomi herself, as she leaned into her little bath and crowed with delight, “This bath is just my size!”
Yep, so basically, I loved watching Minami fashioning regular everyday stuff to fit mini Chiyomi. Besides her little bath, I thought her tissue box bed was super cute too. Every time he got a bit of tiny stuff for tiny Chiyomi, I liked this show a little bit more, heh.
Special shout-out: the execution
I also want to give a special shout-out to the production team, for the thought and preparation that must have gone into every detail, in order to believably place mini Chiyomi in the big world around her. I mean, there were times when it did come across as a little bit stilted and unnatural, but for the most part, I thought this was nicely done.
For example, in episode 2, I liked the way Show managed Chiyomi’s movements to get onto Minami’s desk. It took her several steps, and she had to transition between at least 2 levels, and it was done pretty seamlessly, to my untrained eyes.
2. Minami’s softening gaze
I’ll admit that right off the bat, I didn’t think Minami was all that; he seemed so cold, and distant, and brusque, even. I couldn’t understand why Chiyomi liked him as much as she did.
Over the course of the show, though, we see Minami soften up a great deal, and my favorite aspect of that, is his increasingly gentle and caring gaze towards Chiyomi. As his gaze softened towards Chiyomi, my heart softened towards him too. Somehow, the cold, distant Minami seemed much kinder and approachable; a dork, almost. And I liked that a lot.
3. The growing closeness of our OTP
As Minami and Chiyomi spend more and more time together, their bond and connection becomes increasingly comfortable and close. I liked seeing those hints of closeness surface, and their comfort with each other growing in degrees.
Chiyomi riding almost everywhere in Minami’s breast pocket was one of the cutest things in this show, and I loved that as she did that, she naturally shared almost every waking moment with Minami. In particular, I liked watching Minami doing things for Chiyomi – mostly because he had been so cold and distant before.
[MINOR SPOILERS] One of my early favorite scenes is in episode 3, when a clueless and confused Minami goes shopping for dolls’ clothes with Chiyomi in his breast pocket. I found it so funny that he was practically sweating bullets as he kneeled in front of the rack of dolls’ clothes, quite frantically whispering in the general direction of his chest, while trying hard to ignore the weirded-out looks that he was getting from the salesgirls. Ha. I thought the scene after was cute too, when Chiyomi eats (what was, for her) a giant scoop of ice cream from his cone, while still snugly housed in his breast pocket. [END SPOILERS]
Another favorite thing of mine, is Chiyomi’s newfound way of communicating with Minami without words while she’s in his breast pocket: she thwhacks him with the back of her hand, and he feels it right away. Heh, so cute. And, such a casual – yet distinct – expression of their closeness too, which I really liked.
Above everything else, I enjoyed seeing Minami and Chiyomi being there for each other, through some of their most personally vulnerable times. I loved watching them each allowing the other to share in those raw, emotional moments; it made their connection feel all the more tangible and close.
STUFF I LIKED LESS
Despite genuinely enjoying this show’s plus points, I can’t deny that there were things that I didn’t enjoy so much. Here’s a quick list, so that you can manage your expectations too, if you’re planning on checking out this show.
1. The acting’s not great
The acting isn’t great in this show, particularly among the younger cast. While this includes our leads, I felt the disconnect most when it came to supporting actors.
In particular, I found second female lead Nomura Sayori (Nakayama Erina) particularly hard to watch. [MINOR SPOILER] For example, there’s a scene in episode 4 when Sayori laughs at Minami, thinking that he’s coughing to hide the growling of his stomach. Her laughter looked and sounded really stilted and fake to me, and I cringed through the entire scene. [END SPOILER]
On the upside, both of our leads, Yamamoto Maika and Nakagawa Taishi, had endeared themselves to me quite well, by Show’s end.
2. The fantasy rules aren’t clear
From beginning to end, Show remains quite vague on how Chiyomi triggers her shrinkage in the first place, as well as how she regains her normal size by drama’s end.
If you go into this show expecting to figure out the rules by which it all works, you’re likely to be disappointed.
3. People often don’t behave like normal people
As I watched this show, I often found myself feeling rather bemused at people’s general reactions in this drama world. Whether it was in response to Chiyomi’s disappearance, or to seeing mini Chiyomi for the first time, folks seemed to accept stuff quite readily, and then move on. I found it all a bit odd.
[MINOR SPOILER] For example, in episode 10, Chiyomi’s dad finally sees mini Chiyomi for the first time. I’d expected more disbelief and shock, but Dad seems only quite mildly surprised, after the initial exclamation. Instead of showing more shock at how this could have happened, or what will become of her now, he exclaims in wonder that she’s really cute. Uh, not quite what I would expect of a normal person. [END SPOILER]
As tends to be the case with many Jdramas, I found that it helps to simply think of this as a manga world, where people behave more like cartoons than like normal people.
…Despite Show’s flaws, I found it watchable and quite charming. The premise felt fresh to me, and the treatment, heartfelt at its core. I liked that beyond the everyday cute, Chiyomi reflects on the warmth and security that she feels in Minami’s pocket, like she’s in a womb, being protected and cared for all the time.
I found that a thoughtful touch; one of many in this drama. Which is why, despite Show’s tendency to lean cheesy, I still found it a sweet little watch.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
First, the downsides: I’ll admit that I rolled my eyes at the car accident; I mean, why couldn’t we get to our happy ending without a truck – ok, a car – of doom? Also, I admit that even after finishing the show, I have no idea how the shrinking/de-shrinking mechanism works in this drama world.
But, other than that, the show ends firmly on an upside: Chiyomi de-shrinks and returns to her normal size; Minami recovers fully from the car accident; our two young lovebirds decide to go public about their feelings in a big way and have a cutesy cheesy poolside wedding right after they graduate high school. As a bonus, on a closing note, we also get to see that Minami continues on to medical school and Chiyomi goes on to pursue her writing and dancing dreams.
The happy-ever-after all around isn’t unusual for a show of this cheerful caliber. What I did find unusual, though, is the wedding. Most teen romance stories close out on a more open-ended note; the lead couple is so young, after all. In this case, though, I found that I rather enjoyed the idea that Minami and Chiyomi became this sure of wanting to spend their lives with each other, that they would get married right away.
When I think about it, by the end of Chiyomi’s tiny journey, these two had lived together, and taken care of each other, and saved each other – both metaphorically and literally. Age wasn’t the defining factor in the solidity and maturity of their love for each other; their shared experiences were – and I rather liked that. The fact that we get to witness them laying claim on their “together forever” promises to each other pretty much right away, is just bonus.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
A mild and sweet little watch, with a touch of tween.
FINAL GRADE: B