THE SHORT VERDICT:
Silent is, to my eyes, a pretty special snowflake of a drama.
Compact at 11 episodes, Show manages to pack more meat on its bones than some longer shows.
It’s contemplative, thought-provoking and layered, and I often came away from an episode, chewing on the thoughtful nuggets of insight and wisdom that Show served up.
Our characters are likable, and sometimes their behavior might even lean on the aspirational, “goody” side of things, but the heartfelt writing and delivery somehow makes it all land as believable and organic. I found that quite remarkable.
As a bonus, the music in this is thoroughly enjoyable, and just brings the watch experience to another level.
Very much worth the drama hours, in my opinion.
THE LONG VERDICT:
There are some shows that you know you’ll love, on sight – basically the drama version of love at first sight, come to think of it? 😁 – and this is one of them.
I literally knew within Show’s first 10 seconds, that I would like this one, and that I would naturally have thoughts that I would like to put into words, after each episode, which is why I opted to cover this on Patreon (episode notes for Silent can be found here!), even though this is a 2022 release, and therefore not such a recent drama anymore.
Now that I’ve finished my watch, I’m more pleased with my decision than ever.
This really was a lovely watch, and I really hope that if you haven’t seen this one, you’ll consider making some time for it too. ❤️
OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
I really, really enjoyed the music in this Show, you guys. 🥰
The various instrumentals are all lilting and evocative, and very lovely on the ears. I have to confess, though, that it’s the track Subtitle, which is in every episode, that really grabbed my heart.
I don’t even care what the lyrics mean; the breezy rhythm, catchy melody and overall stirring vibe make it an easy favorite. It became a total earworm for me, which rarely happens nowadays for me, so this makes it feel extra special to me. 🥰
Here’s the instrumental album, as well as Subtitle on its own, in case you’d prefer to listen to that on repeat instead. Just right-click on the video and select “Loop.”
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
Here are some things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:
1. Show’s pace is pretty measured and understated
What I mean is, even though Show’s efficient and concise with its storytelling style, it takes a more measured approach when it comes to relationship development, so adjusting your lens to not expect big dramatic leaps in romantic expression, would probably be helpful.
2. Show is a thoughtful creature
..so not rushing through this one, and taking your time to mull over an episode, would likely help you to get more out of Show, and enjoy the journey more too.
3. There’s a good amount of poignance in this show
Show doesn’t back away from sad or difficult emotions, but there’s no need to worry. Show handles all of it with deftness and sensitivity.
Generally, when it comes to the poignant beats, Show makes it such that it hurts, but it hurts so good, y’know? 🥲
4. Keep an open mind
There are times when Show seems to make counter-intuitive narrative choices that appear to take us off-track.
Hang in there and trust the process, because Show does know what it’s doing, and manages to deftly bring it all together each time, so that it all makes sense and we’re not actually off-track at all. At least, that’s how I felt, during my watch.
STUFF I LIKED
Show’s general vibe
Immediately, I found myself really liking the vibe of this show.
It feels real and relatable, but at the same time, it’s also got a slightly dreamy touch about it, thanks to the very nice music and the touches of nostalgia and whimsy, as we look at the past flashbacks, when stacked against the scenes of the present.
This is kinda-sorta giving me vibes adjacent to First Love: Hatsukoi (review here!), which I count as a very good thing, since I enjoyed First Love so much.
Also, like First Love, this one gives me the feeling that it’s kinda-sorta like a Classic Melo from the early 2000s – but better.
At the same time, this show is also very much its own thing, which is important.
One of my favorite things about Show, is that it’s a story that feels thoughtfully told.
Through almost episode, Show sprinkles little nuggets of insight and wisdom, and I often found myself chewing on these, long after I’d finished watching the episode.
Here’s an example from episode 2.
In the flashback at the top of episode 2, we hear Sou say in voiceover, that at this time, all they’d talked about had been silly things; it’s the time spent with the person you like, that is meaningful.
That feels quite profound, actually; the more I think about it, the more it feels like there’s some truth to that.
Quality conversation is important too, sure, but also, it’s not necessarily the things that you say to each other that leaves an indelible mark in your life; it can simply be the time spent joyfully in each other’s company.
I really like these little nuggets of thought and reflection that come through, in the writing.
Show’s handling of a delicate central topic
It’s a very tiny foundational spoiler, that our male lead Sou (Meguro Ren) loses his hearing.
One thing that Show does really effectively, is demonstrate, from different angles and perspectives, that it’s not at all an easy or simple thing, dealing with the kind of change that Sou’s gone through in his life.
From popular star athlete to hearing impaired almost-outcast on the fringe of society, it’s a drastic change, and it’s not something that most dramas (that I’ve come across anyway) attempt to deal with.
I feel like Show deserves respect, for choosing to put that as a central focus of its story, and then it deserves even more respect, for doing it in a manner that feels penetrating and insightful, while remaining sensitive, thoughtful and respectful.
E9. This episode, Show reminds us all that Sou’s condition is hereditary, with Sou’s sister Hana (Ishikawa Ren) having concerns that her baby might be born deaf, or might become deaf later in life, the way Sou had.
It’s a very sobering reminder that this isn’t just about Sou’s life being affected by this condition; his entire family is affected by it. And this also means that Sou’s own future children might be affected by it too.
Show doesn’t delves more into this in episode 10, which I talk about later in this review.
In the meantime, one of the things that I really appreciated, is the idea that Sou is finding a new way to love and appreciate CDs, even though he’s lost his hearing.
It hadn’t occurred to me that his love for CDs and music goes beyond what he can or cannot hear.
He actually appreciates the CDs themselves, like the album sleeve, and he really appreciates the lyrics of the songs, even though he can’t hear the beats and melodies.
I thought that was a very thoughtful way of showing us that there is still much that the hearing impaired community can love about life, even though they can’t hear.
Show’s general handling and execution
Overall, I found myself really enjoying how deft and concise Show manages to be, while still retaining the thoughtfulness that I mentioned earlier.
I’m splitting this into two general parts, to help me explain what I mean.
The storytelling is efficient.
What I mean is, Show is pretty good at filling us in on things, by fitting in details quite naturally, into our characters’ conversations. This way, it feels like Show is coloring in our story world quite effectively and efficiently, even though we’re only on episode 1.
I really enjoyed the contrast between the high school scenes and the scenes of the present, and I also liked the contrast between how innocent and shiny the high school scenes are, and how muted and poignant the present scenes are.
The way Show moves between the idyllic charm of the past, to the more muted tones of the present, is sometimes sudden and abrupt – like the way the lilting music suddenly cuts off – and I feel that that is done intentionally, to amplify the contrast between the two realities.
I thought that was a nice touch.
One of the things I love about this show, is, things seem to move pretty fast, story-wise.
Let me use an example from episode 2, to illustrate what I mean.
In episode 2, Tsumugi (Kawaguchi Haruna) runs into Sou, and in the fluster of it all, leaves her earbud behind, which Sou picks up.
I feel like if this were a kdrama or a c-drama, we’d be spending a lot more time dancing around Tsumugi meeting Sou again, after their run-in outside the train station.
And, Tsumugi would probably be angsting over whether to tell her boyfriend Minato (Suzuka Ouji) that she’s planning to meet Sou (or has already met Sou).
Not here, not in this show.
There’s no dancing around, waiting for the right time for Tsumugi to meet Sou again; they just do, quite soon after they first run into each other.
Sou feels that it’s only right for him to return Tsumugi’s earbud, and then, after that, Tsumugi refuses to only text Sou, and basically won’t take no for an answer, when she asks to see him face to face.
I love that. I love that our characters don’t hedge for very long, because not only does that make our story move along faster, it also gives me the sense that they are pretty strong characters, at least in not shying away from the difficulty and awkwardness of seeing each other again.
The way Show manages to create emotional resonance that feels authentic
Honestly, I don’t know if this really is all that different from other j-doramas, since I haven’t watched enough j-doramas to have an informed opinion on that.
I’m just quite blown away, by how thoughtful and thought-provoking this show manages to be, while also managing to create an emotional resonance that feels authentic, even when our characters might sometimes be doing things that seem – how shall I put this – kinda out of the realm of human nature? 😅
For example, I do find it kind of out of the realm of human nature, for Minato to be so supportive of Tsumugi’s maybe-budding relationship with Sou.
In my head, I get that Minato has felt like a fake, in all the time that he’s been with Tsumugi, and that breaking up with her is his way of going back to being true to himself.
But, at the same time, he does have real feelings for Tsumugi.
For most people in his position, I feel that there would be a distinct note of bitterness in there somewhere, for how he’s spent such a large chunk on his life dedicated to trying to make things work with Tsumugi – and yet, he ends up not being The One.
There’s also likely to be some bitterness around how he’ll never be the “cool” type, even when he tries to talk “cool,” like how he tried out those tsundere words with Tsumugi, when she’d mentioned that he should be meaner, to look cooler.
Instead, with Minato, all we see are subtle glimmers of sadness &/or wistfulness, while his supportive attitude towards both Tsumugi and Sou, is resolute.
That’s kinda almost too good to be true, in my books. And yet, the emotional resonance around that, rings true.
Similarly with Nana.
Although her words towards Tsumugi, last episode, were irrational, I understood her emotion, and why she might say that.
This episode, however, we get a distinct turnaround, where Nana starts to appreciate Tsumugi, and changes her mind about Sou re-gifting the gift, of sign language, that she’d first given him.
It’s honestly a really fast turnaround, and logically, it shouldn’t land as organic, because human beings don’t tend to have such sharp emotional turnarounds like this – and yet, I find myself buying into the authenticity of the emotion.
It’s quite remarkable, really.
Perhaps it’s because Show gives us enough to work with, in terms of showing us Nana’s pain, and perhaps it’s also because Tsumugi manages to be that authentically appreciative of all that Nana’s done for Sou.
I somehow believe that Nana would be that moved, to change her attitude completely, towards Tsumugi, and her potential relationship with Sou.
I must say, even though it’s perhaps more aspirational than actually reflecting how people tend to act in real life, I am loving how gracious our characters are.
It’s kind and gracious of Minato, to talk with Tsumugi about Sou, when she asks him about Sou.
And it’s kind and gracious of Nana, the way she releases Sou from the emotional burden of rejecting her.
Sure, maybe not many people act this way, and therefore, it might be a stretch that we get not just one, but just about all of our main characters acting in such a gracious manner.
The thing is, though, I like the idea a world where people are able to be this gracious to one another, and so I lapped it all up, and with relish.
Show’s strongly thematic approach
Show operates in a very thematic fashion, episode to episode, and I rather enjoyed that.
Each episode, there’s a certain theme that takes the spotlight, and we move from one theme to another, as we move from episode to episode.
In my gut, it feels like our characters are moving in a particular way, to fit the set themes, rather than that the characters’ actions bring forth certain themes, if that makes sense?
What I mean is, Show feels very theme-forward, so much so that it feels like our characters are molded to suit the selected themes.
AND YET, like I said, the emotional authenticity somehow is retained, through all of this. I found this quite fascinating.
E7. One of the themes that’s been coming to the forefront, and which is emphasized, this episode, is the idea of becoming true to yourself and who you are.
Minato started that ball rolling, with his explanation for why he was choosing to break up with Tsumugi.
Now, Nana’s also reinforcing that idea, with her admission that she’s never actually been into the books that Sou recommends to her. She’s just been trying to be enthusiastic, because she knows that he likes those books.
Additionally, Sou’s mom is in a similar narrative space, with Moe pointing out that all of Mom’s words about not wanting Sou’s life to be in upheaval because of coming back into contact with his old friends from high school, is really about Mom’s selfishness.
Along with this idea, is the idea that becoming true to oneself, while necessitating some pain in the process, eventually leads to happiness and liberty.
Minato is more at ease now that he’s broken up with Tsumugi, Nana is set free from her misery, once she changes the way she approaches the idea of Tsumugi in Sou’s life, and Mom even gets a visit from Sou at the end of episode 8, which she’s been hoping for, from the time that he’d gone away to university in Tokyo.
On a tangent, but in kinda-sorta a similar space, is the idea of believing that someone else is being true to themselves, when they’re spending time with you.
Like Sou, who starts to doubt that Tsumugi doesn’t find him to be a burden, because of his hearing disability.
As we see, Tsumugi is genuinely perplexed by this, because she really doesn’t find Sou to be a burden at all, and in fact, enjoys spending time with him – but it’s only when Sou is able to believe and accept this as truth, that he begins to be set free to be happy and relaxed, in Tsumugi’s company.
SPOTLIGHT ON CHARACTERS / RELATIONSHIPS
Kawaguchi Haruna as Tsumugi
I found our female lead Tsumugi to be a truly lovely person, whom I took to immediately, and whom I very soon started to see as being the heart of our story.
I like how Tsumugi’s bright and cheerful without coming across (to my eyes anyway) as try-hard.
It really feels like her sunny disposition is part of her, and even in the present timeline, where everything feels more muted compared to the high school flashbacks, I feel like Tsumugis’ innately positive nature comes through.
She’s not perfect, but she’s got a heart that’s pure, and that really shines through, from beginning to end.
In fact, I feel that it’s Tsumugi’s wholesome goodheartedness, that actually empowers our other characters to aspire to be better versions of themselves.
E1. When we learn about how Tsumugi and Sou had broken up, where Sou had told her via text that he’d found someone else, she doesn’t even seem bitter about it, in the present; she just seems rather wistful and sad, when it comes to mind.
She’s warm and positive with the people around her, and seems genuinely excited about moving into a new home, potentially with her boyfriend Minato.
She seems like such a warm and genuine person, that I’m immediately happy for her, that she seems pleasantly happy and settled in her life now.
E2. I really like how forthcoming Tsumugi is, in showing care and concern, when she’s with Sou.
She doesn’t come across as being condescending or anything; I just genuinely believe that she’s interested in his wellbeing, and wants to catch up with him, to communicate, and see how he’s doing.
Like, when Sou moves to leave after returning her earbud, Tsumugi won’t take it sitting down, and is quick to run after him, and grab onto his sleeve, and ask him to sit down with her, just for a while, because she’d really like to talk with him.
I really like this about her.
She’s so sincere, in such a wholesome way. 🥰
E7. On reflection, I do think a lot of the aspirational wonderfulness that’s present among the characters in our drama world, is thanks to Tsumugi’s sincerity and her big heart.
It’s because of her sincerity when sharing her thoughts and gratitude with Nana, that Nana’s able to let go of her angst, and embrace a new normal.
And it’s because of Tsumugi’s sincerity as well, that Sou starts to allow himself to believe that she doesn’t find him to be a burden, despite her having to learn how to use sign language to communicate with him, which we see, in episode 8.
E8. The more I see of Tsumugi, the more lovely I find her.
I love how she assures Sou that he doesn’t have to speak out loud on her account; that it doesn’t matter to her if he doesn’t, because his voice doesn’t define who he is, in her eyes.
And, I also love the idea that even though she says all this while he’s grasping her hands, and therefore she’s not communicating it through sign language, her sincerity shines so clearly through her gaze and her expression, that Sou receives the message anyway.
Meguro Ren as Sou
I found Sou to be a sympathetic character; his character arc is so full of pathos, because of the loss that he goes through.
Unlike Tsumugi, who strikes me as being more of an open book, Sou is a lot more reserved and therefore opaque.
Show does a really nice job of peeling back his layers to reveal the true state of his mind and heart, and I really did enjoy getting to understand him better.
E2. I really appreciate that we get to see a lot of things from Sou’s perspective, this episode.
The way he stalls, before admitting that there’s something wrong, to his mother; the way he talks about going for multiple tests; the way he watches, as Mom cries.
These highlights really bring out what a difficult season this must have been, for him, as a young man who should’ve been focusing on simpler things, like school.
That scene in the park, where he makes the decision not to tell Tsumugi about his condition, is really poignant too.
I’d originally thought that he had decided to keep his condition from her in order to protect his pride, but that’s not true at all. He’d actually planned to tell her.
He’d ultimately decided to keep it from her, because he couldn’t bear to disappoint her and make her sad.
He’d seen his mother be heartbroken for him, and he didn’t want Tsumugi to be heartbroken for him too. And, with the way she naturally gravitates to voice and sound, he didn’t want to force her to have to give that up, on his account.
Oof. What a lonely decision this must have been, for Sou.
That scene of him hurrying off from the park, because he could barely hold in his tears, is just so heartbreaking. 😭
E8. This episode, I’m glad to hear Sou explain why he prefers not to speak out loud, and his reason is more poignant than anything I’d ever thought of, while watching our earlier episodes.
The fact that it scares him, that he’s unable to hear himself when he speaks, is so very poignant.
More than his speaking out loud being confusing for other people, this feels like such a reason that’s so raw with emotion, and that holds so much weight.
Of course he shouldn’t speak out loud, if that makes him feel scared or sad. And of course he should only speak out loud when he wants to and feels ready to.
I have no doubt that he will feel that he wants to speak out loud to Tsumugi, before our final credits roll, and I’m looking forward to that moment, not only for Tsumugi’s sake, because she loves the sound of his voice so much, but for Sou’s sake, because I do believe that it will be liberating for him, when he’s able to overcome that emotional barrier.
E8. I just want to say, that final scene, of Sou going home, and Mom greeting him in sign language, and Sou speaking out loud, to say, “I’m back,” is just so simple, yet beautiful and perfect.
They’re both reaching out to each other in their own ways – ways that happen to be a little uncomfortable for each of them, actually – and that adds a flavor of sacrificial love and acceptance, to this long-awaited homecoming.
Suzuka Ouji as Minato
Minato is the character that I struggled to understand the most.
Some things that he said and did contradicted other things that he said and did – or so I thought.
It took a while, but Show does eventually explain things in a way that made sense to me, and that helped me understand why Minato’s actions sometimes appeared to be rather contradictory.
I talk some more about what’s going on in Minato’s emotional and mental landscape later as well, in the section where I discuss his relationship with Tsumugi.
But for a start, here are part of my thoughts around Minato as a character.
E1-3. Basically, for a good chunk of our earlier episodes, I found it puzzling that Minato would appear to care so much about Sou, but would back away from meeting him, and instead push Tsumugi to meet Sou instead.
We soon learn that Minato genuinely likes both Sou and Tsumugi, and had liked Tsumugi back in high school, long before Sou and Tsumugi had hit it off.
How perplexing and overwhelming it must have been to be in Minato’s shoes, as a young person with a burgeoning crush on a nice girl – only to realize that his best friend and the nice girl like each other.
Eventually, when he and Tsumugi reconnect at the class reunion and start to date, it kinda feels like his patience and pure-heartedness has been rewarded, in a way.
And yet, through it all, his friendship with Sou remains precious to him, and so, when Sou shows up again, I was very surprised that he’s actually more upset about how Sou had kept his illness from him, and hadn’t told him anything about it, even though they’d been such close friends, rather than about Sou reconnecting with Tsumugi.
The way Minato breaks down in tears at the end of episode 3, because of how much it hurts him, that Sou hadn’t told him about his illness, and how difficult it is for him to accept Sou’s deafness, is so raw and emotional.
It really was only at this point that it dawned on me just how much this is affecting Minato.
That last flashback that we get at the end of episode 3, where Minato and Sou have this thing, where Minato calls out to Sou, and Sou pretends not to hear him, while hiding a chuckle, is just so, so poignant.
That moment, when Sou turns around and flashes that smile, and Minato smiles happily in response, is so wonderful – but in the context of where they are now, is so heart-pinching, at the same time. 🥲💔😭
Suddenly, I feel like I understand Minato so much better, when he sobs to Tsumugi, “I just want him to turn around when I call his name.” 🥺💔
E4. This is the episode where I felt like I was on a legit rollercoaster, in terms of my understanding of Minato as a character. Let me explain.
While watching the episode, I kept feeling like Minato wasn’t being as good or as nice or as caring or as considerate as we’d first understood him to be.
There are bigger, more obvious things, and there are also smaller beats, that all contribute to this growing sense of.. discomfort, for me as a viewer, around Minato as a character.
Like the way he goes and sits behind Sou, in episode 3, and talks to Sou’s back, knowing that Sou can’t hear him.
I know this scene is supposed to be very emotional for Minato, because of all his pent-up feelings, but this choice did strike me as being quite selfish and rude, because he doesn’t seem to know or care, that he’s acting in a way that would further alienate Sou.
And then there’s the way he tries to avoid meeting Sou, and asks Tsumugi to convey important things like how sorry he is.
If he were really that nice and considerate, he’d know that this isn’t the sort of thing one should convey through someone else.
And when Tsumugi creates that opportunity for Minato and Sou to have a heart to heart talk, Minato starts by saying that Tsumugi’s upset (which isn’t even true), and then starts talking about casual everyday things, which shouldn’t be the focus of the conversation.
The thing that bugs me the most about this conversation, is that when Sou apologizes to Minato for keeping his illness from him, and mentions that he owes Tsumugi an apology too, Minato talks for Tsumugi, telling Sou that she’s really, really, REALLY fine, coz he’s been by her side for the last 3 years.
I found this really inappropriate and insensitive.
It’s inappropriate for him to speak on Tsumugi’s behalf on something like this, even if he is her boyfriend; Tsumugi deserves to hear that apology for herself, and tell Sou herself, that she’s fine. It’s not something that Minato should do for her, especially without her actually asking him to speak on her behalf.
And it’s insensitive, because it feels like while Sou’s being vulnerable with him and telling Minato that he’s sorry for keeping his illness from him, Minato’s rubbing his current relationship with Tsumugi in Sou’s face. At least, that’s how it felt to me, as a viewer.
And then there’s the way Minato responds, when he sees Sou, while he’s out on a date with Tsumugi. He locks eyes with Sou – so he definitely sees Sou – but then pointedly turns away and continues his date with Tsumugi.
That totally feels like a cold shoulder sort of thing, and that gave me a bad taste in my mouth.
Minato’s apology via text afterwards, also rings hollow to me. And, you can see that it bothers Sou too, because even though Sou smiles when he’s with Minato, in response to this text, Sou’s expression looks more downcast than anything.
Basically, this episode, Minato struck me as a mix of nice and not-so-nice, which gave me the feeling that he wasn’t quite being truly sincere.
Like how he asks Sou to play soccer, which is nice, and then asks someone else to invite the rest of the gang (but only the ones who want to see Sou), even though Minato’s usually the one to organize the gang for soccer.
That struck me as strange, because if he’s usually the one organizing soccer games, then the way he won’t organize this particular soccer game comes across as him distancing himself from Sou, to my eyes.
With Minato behaving like this, I found myself getting more and more protective of Sou, because it’s not hard to see that Sou’s smiling on the outside, but sad on the inside.
On the surface, it looks like Sou doesn’t mind any of it, but I definitely feel that Sou’s sensitive enough to pick up on all these nuances of distance and rejection, and is hurt by them.
Just when I’m feeling most perplexed by Minato’s behavior, he goes and breaks up with Tsumugi.
This moment honestly made my head spin for a bit, because I hadn’t counted on this being his next move.
I’ll talk more about Minato’s decision, in the section where I discuss Minato’s relationship with Tsumugi.
Tsumugi and Minato
When we start our story, Tsumugi and Minato have been in a steady relationship for three years, and appear perfectly content with each other.
I was doubtful that Show would be able to break up this relationship and reunite Tsumugi with Sou (since they are the couple in Show’s posters), in a way that would feel organic and convincing.
But whaddya know, Show manages it, and, like I said, even though certain beats feel more aspirational than rooted in actual real life, it all somehow lands with an emotional resonance that feels authentic.
In this spoiler section, I talk a little bit about the dynamics of this relationship, before we get to the break-up phase.
E1. Tsumugi and Minato seem to be in such a cordial relationship.
He doesn’t even get upset, when Tsumugi shares that she thinks she saw Sou at the train station; he’s just quietly bothered on his own.
And even then, it’s more to do with his own friendship with Sou, than him feeling jealous of any space that Sou might still occupy in Tsumugi’s heart.
Sure, Tsumugi’s relationship with Minato does come across as rather placid and tame, but.. that may not be a bad thing, to have a pleasantly warm and cordial relationship with a supportive, kind husband, I think?
E2. I like that Tsumugi is refreshingly upfront and candid with Minato, that she’s meeting Sou.
The only time she waits to tell him, is after she’d run into Sou outside the train station, and been too overwhelmed to talk about it.
Afterwards, though, she does tell Minato about it, and then, as we hear her tell her brother, Minato is fully aware that she’s going to meet Sou, later on.
E3. I’m struck by how steadfast Tsumugi is, in her loyalty and love for Minato.
Even though Sou was her first love, him reappearing in her life now, doesn’t cause her to waver, it seems like.
She articulates with firmness, to both Sou and Minato, that she has no plans to break up with Minato, and Sou is nothing more than a high school friend to her now.
E4. I’d felt quite blindsided when Minato broaches the break-up, honestly, but when Minato explains it, I feel like I can understand it much better.
Earlier in the episode, he says to Tsumugi that he’ll always put her needs first, and now, at the end of the episode, as he asks her to leave him, because she loves someone else, I can see that he’s letting her go for her sake.
And also, when Minato tells Sou that he’s always been agreeable to whatever Tsumugi wants or prefers, even though he might have zero interest in the thing in question, it becomes clear to me why Tsumugi’s never quarreled with him before, and why she’d be able to say that she’s never seen him angry before.
It’s because he’s never been comfortable enough to be himself, in front of her.
I’m sure he feels like a fake, for pretending to be interested in things that he’s actually bored by, just to make Tsumugi happy. And I can believe that after 3 years of doing that, that he’d reach a breaking point of sorts.
With Minato feeling like he can’t quite be himself in front of Tsumugi, and knowing that Sou’s a much more natural fit to Tsumugi’s interests and passions, AND knowing that Tsumugi does still gravitate towards Sou, in her heart, I can understand why he would feel that the best thing to do, would be to break up with Tsumugi.
In a way, I feel like everything that Minato’s doing, to re-settle Sou among their friends, is his way of making it up to Sou, for pretending to be someone he’s not, with Tsumugi, and thus falsely winning her heart, in a manner of speaking.
It really is lovely though, to see Sou smiling among friends, and enjoying soccer with them again, which is something that I’m sure he’d thought wouldn’t ever happen again.
It’s very touching, and I feel like their ex-teacher kinda represents all of us, with the way he can’t help but cry at the sight of Sou thriving among all his friends, on the soccer field. 🥲
And so, even as Minato makes his tearful sacrifice, which he also says is for his own sake, I come to the realization that all the mixes messages from him that I’d been perplexed by earlier in the episode, had been him wrestling with himself and the situation, in order to arrive at his conclusion.
E5. This episode, we explore the breakup between Minato and Tsumugi, and.. it’s unlike any other breakup I’ve ever come across, whether in real life, or on my screen. I just.. don’t know what to make of it? 😅
The thing that strikes me the most, is how.. well, matter-of-fact and also.. restrained, the whole breakup is.
I’m reaching for the thought that this is likely due to a couple of possible factors, like, 1, maybe this is the Japanese way of doing things, coz as a people, they do tend to be on the courteous and restrained side of things?
And 2, maybe it’s an indication of the kind of bond that Minato and Tsumugi have shared, over the course of their relationship. Since their relationship was always low-key and undramatic, it makes sense that their breakup vibes in the similar way?
One of the key things that stands out to me, is how Minato and Tsumugi are talking about some things for the first time, despite having been in a romantic relationship for the past 3 years.
Like, I can understand that Minato might only tell her now, that he’d seen the note that she’d once left for Sou, and thrown it away, but the part that jumped out at me, is how he apologizes, and says that there’s a part of him that’s like this.
This definitely paints a picture of Minato hiding a lot of himself from Tsumugi, even though they’ve been together for a reasonably significant period of time.
Like, in 3 years, I would expect that Tsumugi would’ve somehow come into contact with, or at least learned about, this side of him, somehow, even if he hadn’t told her about this one specific incident.
That definitely reinforces the idea that Minato hasn’t allowed himself to be, well, himself, very much at all, with Tsumugi, in all the time that they’ve been together. And in turn, that reinforces the idea that he’s not confident that he’d be able to keep going like this.
In this way, I do kinda buy the idea that Sou isn’t the reason for the breakup, though I do think that he’s a catalyst, even if Minato and Tsumugi say it isn’t the case.
And then there’s the conversation that they have while Tsumugi’s packing her things at Minato’s place.
It seems like they just kind of wandered into a relationship together, and went straight into low-key maintenance mode, because it sounds like they never even talked about how they even started dating in the first place – until now, as they’re breaking up.
It’s not a bad thing, necessarily.. just, kind of strange, because most couples are invested enough in their own relationships, to want to talk about details like this, at least in the beginning.
And here, we see that neither Minato nor Tsumugi had thought to bring it up before.
Would the end have come at some point, if Sou hadn’t come back into the picture? It seems that the answer is likely a yes, though not a guarantee.
The way Minato puts it, he’s not been himself around Tsumugi, and is getting tired, and if he keeps going like this, he won’t be able to be kind to her. So the likelihood is that they would have probably broken up at some point, when Minato reached his breaking point – whenever that breaking point happened to be.
I see Sou’s return as a catalyst that’s forcing Minato to confront these thoughts and feelings much earlier, and therefore making a decision to break up with Tsumugi earlier.
I do think that Minato and Tsumugi love each other, though; just not in the same way that Sou and Tsumugi had loved each other. I think that just because the kind of love they share is different, doesn’t make it invalid.
And the way they both do grieve the end of the relationship does validate that, I think.
If they hadn’t had real feelings for each other, they wouldn’t feel this need to grieve. The fact that they do, indicates that this relationship meant something to each of them.
E5. In terms of the breakdown of Minato’s relationship with Tsumugi, it sounds like it all boils down to Minato’s perception of the relationship.
We hear from Mr. Haruo, the sign language teacher, that Minato’s always felt like Tsumugi didn’t love him very much.
And yet, we hear from Tsumugi’s bestie, Mako, and also, from Tsumugi herself, that she did indeed love Minato – just in a different manner than Minato envisioned.
In relationships, perception counts for a great deal, I feel like, because if one party perceives that the other party doesn’t love them, it’s hard to convince them otherwise, and.. a relationship takes two, right?
So if that one party chooses to disengage based on their perception, then the relationship’s over, because you can’t force someone to have a relationship with you, if they don’t want it.
I feel like we’re more or less in this space, with Minato.
He’s convinced that Tsumugi doesn’t love him very much, and he’s also convinced that she’d never like him if he were just himself, which is why he’s been a doctored, altered version of himself, in front of her, for the entirety of their relationship.
It’s no wonder he feels unable to continue the relationship, especially after Sou re-enters the picture.
It seems like a good thing, though, that Sou comes back, for a couple of reasons.
1, I feel like a catalyst may not be a bad thing, if Minato and Tsumugi were likely going to break up in the end anyway? At least this way, they are both free to pursue a different happiness, earlier?
2, It seems like it’s been good for Sou, to reconnect with the people whom he’d cut off from his life, previously.
Kaho as Nana
I am completely blown away by Kaho’s performance here as Nana.
In general, I’m already impressed with the fact that so many members of our cast learned signed language to varying degrees, for their roles.
But I do think that Nana’s role is the most difficult, because she is the only character in our main cast, who was born deaf.
Besides adding an important layer of meaning to Nana’s way of looking at the world, it also means that she’s the most fluent in sign language, among our cast of characters.
And Kaho blows it out of the water.
I’m no expert, but to my eyes, her signing looks fluid and effortless, AND she manages to emote so well, not only through her eyes and facial expressions, but through her hands as well.
Brilliantly done, and I can only imagine the amount of time and effort it had taken, for Kaho to be this fluent in sign language, for this character. Kudos, truly.
E6. This episode, we spend the bulk of our time from Nana’s perspective, and man, what a poignant episode this turns out to be.
As it turns out, Nana’s had feelings for Sou for quite a long time, and as it turns out, Sou doesn’t reciprocate those feelings, even though he does consider Nana to be a very important person in his life.
Oh what a difficult situation to be in.
It’s somehow made even more poignant, by the fact that the only reason Nana’s even in Sou’s life, is because she’d been compassionate enough to slow down and spend time with a stranger who’d looked lost and lonely.
Doesn’t it kind of feel like Nana’s kindness has been inadvertently rewarded with heartbreak? 💔
I do appreciate that Show shines the spotlight on Sou’s experience in university, where he’d struggled to maintain normalcy, in the midst of losing his hearing.
The fact that his hearing aids looked like earbuds and were often mistaken as such must have been so trying on him.
People speaking too loudly near his ear, thinking they were competing with music in his ears; policemen stopping him from cycling because they think he’s got earbuds in his ears, which are prohibited.
Poor Sou. It must have been so hard and so lonely for him, especially since he effectively cut off everyone in his life, leaving him with no one to confide in.
It’s little wonder that, when Nana stops and shows care, patience and compassion, he opens up in response.
It also seems to me that Nana’s ability to take joy in her silent world, is the thing that nudges Sou to try to find the same, in his own life.
Which means that, just like Sou says, Nana really is an important person in his life.
She’s the one who teaches him sign language, and she’s the one who teaches him how to find joy in life, even though he doesn’t have his hearing anymore.
Without Nana, Sou might still be as lost and isolated, as he’d been in university.
So it’s really quite heartbreaking to see how Nana starts to feel like she’s being inched out of Sou’s life, when Sou starts spending time with Tsumugi.
E6. Nana’s response is quite irrational, like the way she tries to say that Sou and Tsumugi will never understand each other, and also, like the way she gets upset when Tsumugi says that Sou does teach her sign language – because she feels like the gift she’d given Sou, has now been given to someone else.
That’s.. just not how this works, and the fact that Nana can’t see that right now, is a pretty good indication of how she’s just not thinking straight right now – which in itself is an indication of how strongly she feels towards Sou.
And when we gain insight into Nana’s dream, where she has her hearing, and is able to call her loved one on the phone, it’s so full of pathos.
Isn’t it really quite sad, that Nana’s dream is such a simple one? It’s so accessible to the regular person, but for Nana, it’s an impossibility in this lifetime.
Isn’t that so heartbreaking? 💔
That final shot, as Nana pretends to pick up the call that’s from Sou, feels like her trying to live one moment as close to her dream as possible – even if it doesn’t actually come close.
Oof. I really hope that Show will find a way to give Nana her own happiness, before we get to the end of our story.
E7. Isn’t it such a lovely, whimsical idea that Nana and Sou have had the same dream, of being able to hear each other, and therefore be able to talk on the phone?
It almost feels like Nana’s dream has come true, doesn’t it, since, if she’s experienced it in her dream, and Sou’s experienced it in his dream, you could almost say that they’ve met in their dreams, and were able to fulfill their dream of hearing each other, in that dreamscape?
E8. We spend the bulk of this episode exploring the backstory between Nana and Mr. Haruo (Kazama Shunsuke), and it’s so poignant to see that Nana had been the one to teach him sign language, and that they’d been close, back in university.
In some ways, the connection between Nana and Mr. Haruo feels similar to the connection between Nana and Sou.
In both cases, one person had felt their heart go out to the other, with sympathy and compassion, and that had been the spark from which a more solid friendship had grown.
And in both cases, Nana had developed a sense of.. possessiveness(?) over the relationship, not wanting either Sou or Mr. Haruo, to share their special sign language with others.
The difference here, seems to be that Mr. Haruo looks to have had been the one who’d been drawn to Nana and her bright personality, and he’d seemed genuinely disappointed, when she’d cut off their connection.
I’m glad that Nana thinks to reconnect with Mr. Haruo, now that she’s gained a new perspective on how re-gifting of sign language really works, via her experience with Sou and Tsumugi.
We don’t yet see the contents of the letter that she leaves for Mr. Haruo, but already, I’m glad that they’ve had a chance to talk face to face, and she’s sincerely congratulated him on finding work that he truly enjoys, which is to teach and translate sign language.
E10. I’d been wondering about that letter that Nana’s given to Haruo, and this episode, Haruo finally opens it and reads it.
I’d guessed that the letter was Nana’s apology for what had happened in the past, and that does turn out to be correct.
I’m glad that Nana reaches out to Haruo like this, to make things right between them.
Clearly, their connection had meant a lot to the both of them, and it would’ve been a sad thing for both of them, to have left things hanging, without any closure &/or reconciliation.
I was glad to see them meet up for drinks and conversation, after Haruo reads Nana’s letter.
This feels like a new beginning for them, and while Show isn’t clear on whether this is going to be a romantic connection, I honestly doesn’t think it matters.
What’s important is that Nana’s arrived at a new way of looking at her connection with Haruo, thanks to her conversation with Tsugumi.
And, I really do like the point that Haruo makes, during this conversation with Nana, that every person is different, and in all his years of communicating with deaf people, there was never anyone else who was quite like her.
That’s a very affirming message that applies to us all, and I’m glad that Nana receives it, especially from Haruo, who’s been an important person to her. 🥰
I also like the idea of Nana now becoming friends with Tsumugi, because I do see the mutual benefit of this connection.
Nana provides Tsumugi with more insight into what Sou’s perspective might be like, as a hearing impaired person, while Tsumugi provides another bridge to the hearing world, that Nana is often isolated from, in her personal life.
I think it’s win-win, honestly.
And.. the conversation that they have at Tsumugi’s home, is where Show first articulates the key issue at play, in Sou holding back from committing to a relationship with Tsumugi.
When Nana expresses that being with Haruo had been fun, but that, the more she spent time with him, the more painful it became for her, that’s when it began to come together in my head, that this must be what Sou is struggling with, too.
Tsumugi and Sou
Like I’d mentioned earlier in this review, I hadn’t been sure how to feel about a potential reunion between Sou and Tsumugi, since Minato seems like a genuinely nice guy, and I didn’t want Tsumugi to hurt him by breaking up with him for Sou.
Despite my misgivings, however, my gut said that Show would take care of it in a way that wouldn’t be offensive – and Show delivers.
Not only that, Show also explores the various issues at play, that would be a challenge for a mixed abilities relationship, and does so with heart and sensitivity.
AND, Show doesn’t actually let things get too sad or weepy either, in its treatment of it all, even though the situation is a poignant one.
Really well done, I thought.
E1. I do like watching Tsumugi and Sou together, in the high school flashbacks; they look so happy.
Based on the information we’re given this episode, I feel like I can understand why Sou broke up with her the way he did.
As a young man on the cusp of adulthood, it must have been devastating to be told that he would lose his hearing completely, and that there was nothing he could do to prevent that from happening.
The scene at the end of the episode, where Tsumugi and Sou finally come face to face, is powerfully played, with the pain, frustration and desperation written all over Sou’s face, and the confusion, shock and heartbreak written on Tsumugi’s.
E2. That opening flashback really paints a happy picture of Sou and Tsumugi, happy together, and ready to take on life and the world at large, with each other for company – even if it meant having a long-distance relationship.
In that moment, they look invincible, almost – and that’s exactly when Sou first starts to hear the ringing in his ears.
Oof. What a steep fall, from the highest of highs, to the lowest of lows. 😭
E2. I love that Tsumugi makes Sou smile, just by being herself, as she tries to talk to the app, but forgets what she wants to say because she gets nervous. 😁
I love that as the ice breaks, Sou’s starting to smile again, and there’s a softness in his gaze that tells me that he’s relaxed in Tsumugi’s presence.
There’s a wistfulness about him too, which lends such a layer of poignance to the time that they spend together. It’s quite perfect, honestly.
E2. I love that Tsumugi actually goes to the sign language class, and is determined to learn to sign, so that she can communicate better with Sou.
That’s such a sweet gesture, isn’t it, especially since, at this point, it’s unclear just how present Sou is going to be, in her life.
I love that, once again, she won’t take no for an answer, and insists that Sou meet her face to face, so that she can talk to him.
And I love that we can see that she’s been practicing hard, for this, because there is a grace about her hands, even as she slowly signs her various sentences to him.
More than that, I really love that Sou tells her properly, about his condition, and Tsumugi is quick to make the connection to the last conversation they’d shared at the park, and understand and apologize for how her words had burdened Sou, and created painful memories for him.
Aw. And, she says this even before Sou tells her that he didn’t actually have someone else, when he’d broken up with her. That she’d been the one whom he meant, when he’d said that he had someone he loved.
Guh. 💔 That is so poignant and beautiful at the same time.
They both start crying, and it really feels like an important moment of catharsis for them.
She’s finally released from the belief that he’d dumped her for someone else, and he’s finally released from this secret and burden that he’s been carrying all these years too.
The way Sou smiles through his tears, is so very poignant, beautiful and wistful, at the same time.
It’s like, in this moment, we’re seeing the old Sou, all over again; it feels like this is the him that we knew from high school, and that’s so wonderful and sad at the same time.
Wonderful because how lovely to see the old him, still there, and sad because, at this point, we don’t know whether the old him is here to stay, or ready to disappear under the surface of his sadness again, once this moment – and the afterglow of this moment – is over. 💔
E5. I’m glad that Sou’s cognizant of the fact that it’s been good for him to reconnect with the people whom he’d previously cut off from his life, even though he does feel bad for Minato and Tsumugi breaking up.
I’m also glad that Tsumugi’s able to define her relationship and friendship with Sou as something separate from her breakup with Minato.
As in, she recognizes that the breakup isn’t Sou’s fault, and that she doesn’t need to distance herself from him, just because she’s broken up with Minato.
I’m expecting that this change in Tsumugi’s circumstances will add a layer of freedom to Tsumugi’s conversations with Sou.
What I mean is, Tsumugi no longer needs to consider Minato’s feelings, when it comes to how she interacts with Sou, and Sou also no longer needs to consider Minato’s presence in Tsumugi’s life, when interacting with her.
That would lend a layer of freedom to their conversations that wouldn’t have been there before.
That said, I do recognize that Tsumugi seems reasonably ambivalent when it comes to Sou, and vice versa.
Meaning, I don’t think they necessarily see each other as romantic possibilities, just because Minato and Tsumugi have broken up.
I think they each see the other as a person to connect with, right now, and that’s really quite nice, particularly the part where they agree to be earnest and open with each other, going forward. I like. 🥰
E10. This episode, we delve more into Sou’s hesitancy around having a relationship with Tsumugi, and it is as poignant as one might imagine.
We’ve already seen Sou having moments of hesitancy around Tsumugi, and this episode, we see that play out even more.
It’s made all the more poignant, I feel, with the way both families seem to be showing signs of support for this potential relationship, like in the way Hikaru asks Sou to go grocery shopping with him, and in the way Moe seeks out Tsumugi at her workplace, to thank her for helping Sou become happier.
It’s clear that Tsumugi isn’t bothered by Sou’s hearing disability, and is willing to take it in stride and just work at making it work, and we see her take the first step towards solidifying their relationship, this episode, by reaching for Sou’s hand.
But – sob – Sou takes away his hand from hers, making the excuse that it’s hard to sign, that way. What a smack in the face this must feel like for Tsumugi, after allowing herself to be vulnerable like this, right? 🙈
Clearly, though, there are deeper things at play, and from the way Sou does that internet search on his condition, I’d say it’s not a stretch to conclude that at least part of his hesitancy, has to do with the fact that his condition is hereditary.
How could he not think about the possibility that he could pass on this condition to any potential children that he might have, right?
E10. It’s the differences between them, that have been weighing on Sou, in small but sure degrees, and this episode, we see that it’s become a distinct burden that he feels unable to bear, even though he does like Tsumugi a great deal.
It’s heartbreaking, when, at the end of the episode, he echoes Nana’s sentiments, when he finally tells Tsumugi what’s wrong.
“I was happy when you told me… that being together was enough. That you’d do your best to sign. But the more time we spend, the more we talk, the more we fall in love, the more it hurts.
The more you think nothing has changed… the more I’m reminded… of how I have.”
Oof. That hurts. But then comes the kicker, that hurts even more.
“If I’m doomed to never hear you again… I should have… never fallen in love with you again.”
There’s nothing that Tsumugi can do, to help Sou hear her voice again like he wishes to, and her tears in response feel so sad and helpless. 😭😭
Sou and Mom
I really like that Show dedicates some story time to explore the challenges of a mother whose child learns that he’s going to lose his hearing.
Through a good chunk of the earlier part of our story, we’re left guessing as to what the deal is, with Sou’s relationship with his mom (Shinohara Ryoko), because they seem quite distant, though they are cordial with each other.
It’s only at around the episode 9 mark that Show peels back the veil, to show us what’s really been going between Mom and Sou, and I have to applaud Show for giving us a relationship that feels realistic, while exploring the various factors at play at the different stages of Sou’s journey, in a manner that feels sensitive and on-point.
E9. This episode, for the first time, we see things from the perspective of Sou’s mom, from the time when he’d first started to lose his hearing, and it’s so full of pathos.
In all the episodes prior, Mom had appeared to be a little distant, and it’s only in this episode, that we see that Mom hadn’t been distant at all; that she’d tried so hard to be there for Sou, and support and help him.
It’d been Sou, who’d wanted the secrecy and distance, and in the end, Mom had just been respecting his wishes, even when she hadn’t been so sure of the wisdom of those wishes.
Given that we’ve seen that Mom’s been so leaning so hard towards keeping Sou’s deafness a secret, I was actually rather surprised to learn that it had been Sou who had insisted on that secrecy, and that Mom had questioned it, and said that it would be helpful for him, to lean on his friends.
I feel really bad for Mom, because she must have been misunderstood a great deal, over the entire time since Sou left for Tokyo, not only by me, but by other people too, like Moe, for example, who’d told Mom that she was being selfish for wanting to keep Sou away from his friends.
There’s also the thing, where I’ve been thinking that Mom’s been so distant from Sou all this time, when in actual fact, she’d actually made a lot of effort to go see him in Tokyo, to the extent that it upset her other kids.
At the same time, though, isn’t this quite a typical motherhood sort of thing, this long-suffering thing, of being misunderstood and maligned by others, while loving their kids in every way they know how? 🥲
I find it very poignant.
And how much her heart must have been broken, over and over again, as she watched her son cry and struggle through the darkest time of his life, as she watched helplessly, wanting so much to make it all go away, but unable to? 😭
At the same time, it’s complicated, particularly for Sou.
He’s going through a massive transition in his life, and not of his choosing, so it’s understandably very overwhelming and upsetting, and therefore, it’s perfectly understandable if he gets touchy, like when he gets upset with Mom for talking as if he’s already deaf, when he still has some hearing ability left.
I can understand why he would feel upset about that, but I can also understand where Mom’s coming from; she’s just trying to pave the road before him, so that it’s a little easier for him.
Like, she knows how much he loves football, and that’s why she bring him that pamphlet on football for the hearing impaired, because that’s one way to allow him to keep doing something he loves, even when he loses his hearing completely.
But, at the same time, it’s very overwhelming for Sou, because, understandably, he’s not ready to think of himself as hearing impaired.
It’s tough on both side, isn’t it? 💔
That scene, where Sou realizes that he’s completely lost his hearing, and thrashes all the CDs in his room, is so heartbreaking.
Of course Mom doesn’t really know what to say, when her son’s hurting this badly; she says the only thing that I think most of us would think to say, and that’s to tell Sou that it’s going to be ok.
But, for Sou, everything’s far from ok. 😭
I’m glad that we see, this episode, that Sou and Mom are finally able to talk about things, and that Sou’s able to express that he’s happy to be among his friends, and that he doesn’t feel the need to hide his condition any longer.
That feels like a very significant breakthrough for Sou, personally, and I’m very glad, both for him, and for Mom, because this is the first time in a long time, that they’ve been able to talk so openly like this. 🥲🥰
Moriguchi Yoko as Tsumugi’s mom [SPOILERS]
E8. How awesome is Tsumugi’s mom, to be so nonchalantly open-minded about Tsumugi liking someone who’s hearing impaired?
Judging from other incidental run-ins that we’ve seen in this drama world, this is not yet a time or place where people are generally open to a mixed abilities sort of relationship.
And yet, here Mom is, being so casually unruffled by the news, and having such a balanced, healthy point of view about it all.
She’s awesome, and even though we’ve just met her, I love her already. ❤️
THEMES / IDEAS [SPOILERS]
Aside from the various themes and ideas already mentioned in other sections of this review, there’s just one more idea that I wanted to mention, and that comes through in episode 6.
E6. This episode, there’s a recurring idea of how we feel about a person, affecting and defining how we talk about that person to others.
Minato expresses it to Sou, over dinner, when Sou describes Nana to Minato.
“When being asked what kind of a person someone is, I heard that if it’s someone we like, we’ll talk about what we like about that person. If it’s a person we dislike, we talk about what we dislike. If it’s an acquaintance we neither like nor dislike, we’ll normally explain our relationship with them, or talk about their profile.”
And, as Minato points out, Sou describes Nana in pretty neutral terms, meaning that Sou neither likes nor dislikes Nana.
After this point, I couldn’t help but take notice, every time a character described someone to someone else; like, were they talking in terms of things they liked or disliked, or were they talking in general terms?
At the same time, I notice that Sou seems to make it a point to describe Nana in more positive terms, after this conversation, like the way he tells Tsumugi that Nana’s a very important person in his life.
In that way, it kinda feels like he’s trying to honor Nana’s presence in his life?
And then, when Mr. Haruo asks Tsumugi what kind of person Sou is, Tsumugi says that he’s the kind of person who tells her things that she likes, which.. sounds kind of positive, to me?
I found it an interesting thought, that we can tell a lot about how someone feels about someone else, by how they describe that person.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
With some shows, you just know that they’ll give you a happy ending, but you can’t be sure whether that happy ending will feel organic to the story. And it’s true; some shows just magic a happy ending right at the end, never mind if stuff doesn’t makes sense.
This isn’t like that at all.
Going into this finale, I wasn’t sure whether Show would give me a happy ending, but, I was sure that whether we got a happy ending or not, Show would handle it with sensitivity, and make it feel natural and organic.
I thought that was a pretty interesting thing that sets Show apart from many other dramas.
And so, what a bonus, that we do get a happy ending, after all. 🥰
One of the ideas that really comes through for me, in this finale, is that we are all learning and trying our best, as we go.
There’s no guarantee that we’ve got things right, and there’s no guarantee that we’ll get what we want, but we’re all doing the best with what we’ve got, and what we know, and we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves for it.
In the first place, it had been Nana who was one of the first people to plant the idea in Sou’s head, that there are deep differences between the hearing impaired and the hearing, and even differences between those who are born deaf, and those who lose their hearing.
Now, as she learns, through her own experience with Haruo, that those differences aren’t as insurmountable or as divisive as she’d first imagined, she passes that thought on to Sou as well.
And, this is one of the key things, I think, that causes Sou to rethink his decision not to date Tsumugi.
The other one being the other thing that Nana says to him, which is that he still sees Tsumugi as she was, and he needs to start seeing her as she is, instead.
This hadn’t come together in my head, until Minato explains it to Tsumugi; that Sou keeps focusing only on the parts of her that are the same as before, and doesn’t see who she’s become.
For example, he keeps thinking of how she’d loved to hear his voice, and now, it kills him that this is something he’s withholding from her.
It’s only really now, in our finale, that Sou comes around to the fact that Tsumugi cares about him much more than that, and is ready to love who is now, rather than who he’d used to be.
And it wasn’t until Minato articulated it, that it finally came together in my head, that this is the essence of the problem in Sou’s relationship with Tsumugi.
I’m really glad that Sou comes to a new conclusion, and finally decides to have an honest talk with Tsumugi, where he lays out everything on the table, including how things would be really hard if they were to be together, and that her loved ones would get dragged into this, and she would be hurt in the end – and how, even so, he still wants to be with her.
Chills. I can feel, in a visceral way, just how much it means, for Sou to be able to tell Tsumugi that.
And, even though I had no doubt about it, it was still so satisfying to be able to see Tsumugi tell Sou that she felt the same way; that even though there would be challenges, she still wants to be with him. 🥲
It feels so mature and meaningful, that Tsumugi talks with Sou about how they communicate, and so naturally outlines what are essentially guidelines for improving the communication between them.
Like waiting until she’s sure that he’s finished saying what he wants to say, working harder at learning sign language, and to talk often, so that they can understand each other as much as possible.
That’s so grounded and healthy, isn’t it?
Like Tsumugi says, there are bound to be times when people don’t understand each other, but I’m thinking that with the way Sou and Tsumugi are making it a clear priority to communicate as much as possible, and as well as possible, there’s a good chance that they’ll end up having a better understanding between them, than regular couples.
I do love the request that Tsumugi makes, that Sou sign his essay on stage, in an echo of how he’d read out his essay, back in the day.
This feels very meaningful to me, because this had been a pivotal moment for Tsumugi; I feel like this was the moment she first fell for Sou.
Now, it feels like they’re redefining this moment, where he’s giving the same message, but in a different format – and she’s falling for him, all over again. 🥰
I also really like that Sou’s mom and Tsumugi have that conversation outside the house.
It feels healing, especially for Mom, because now she has the assurance that she’s not alone in her struggles, and that Sou isn’t just that particular way at home, and that Tsumugi has similar experiences with Sou – and still loves him.
In a manner of speaking, that’s a double assurance for Mom right there – that she’s not alone, and her son won’t be alone either.
In our final stretch, we have the flower gift that keeps on giving, and the words of the florist from whom Nana had bought the bouquet, are pretty cool:
“Flowers make no sound, yet they contain words that can convey many feelings.”
It feels especially meaningful, for our hearing impaired characters; they don’t sounds with their voices, but they have many feelings and those feelings can be conveyed to others.
I don’t fully understand the phrase that our characters keep passing to each other, as they pass on the flowers, that the flowers are their “share,” but I get the sense that the flowers represent the heart of the giver, and this is them, giving the other person their share of their heart.
Last but not least, I have to confess that I’d been hoping and waiting for a scene where we see Sou saying Tsumugi’s name; I just felt that that would be so special to her, since hearing his voice say her name is something that she’s always treasured.
Show doesn’t give us that, and while I’m admittedly rather wistful about it, we do get something pretty close.
I love that we close on a scene where Sou’s whispering trivial nonsensical things into Tsumugi’s ear, just like he’d done back in high school.
It makes me feel like Sou’s overcome his fear of speaking to a great extent, because now, he’s not saving it up for a special occasion; he’s able to use his voice just for funsies, with Tsumugi, and that feels like a strong indicator that he’s healed significantly, from his pain.
And of course, with that as context, I can be sure that Sou will absolutely call Tsumugi by name, even if I don’t get to hear it for myself.
What more could I ask for, truly? 🥰
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Special, thoughtful and heartfelt.
FINAL GRADE: A
The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of Silent, is My Perfect Stranger. I’ve taken an initial look at My Perfect Stranger and I’m happy to say that it’s grabbing me very nicely, so far.
You can check out my E1 & 2 notes on My Perfect Stranger on Patreon here.
Here’s an overview of what I’m covering on Patreon right now (Tier benefits are cumulative)!
Foundation Tier (US$1): Entertainment tidbits + the first set notes of all shows covered on Patreon (that’s 2 episodes for kdramas and 4 episodes for cdramas)
Early Access (US$5): +True To Love (Bo Ra! Deborah) [Korea]
Early Access Plus (US$10): +My Perfect Stranger [Korea]
VIP (US$15): +Nothing But You [China]
VVIP (US$20): +Oh No! Here Comes Trouble [Taiwan]
Ultimate (US$25): +Doctor Cha [Korea]