Even if you don’t see it. If you believe, then it will exist. If you don’t. It means is not there. Same with love- Iwata Itsuo, Ending Planner.
Spoiler code: BLUE (I will be quoting ^ some lines from the drama, nothing major though)
If you have read my “first impressions” recommendation on this drama, then you would know I was liking it so much, I predicted making it one of my favorite last season. Well… its number one!
Title: Saikou no Jinsei no Owarikata~Ending Planner~
Number of episodes: 10
Serialized from January 12, to March 15 of 2012
Time aired: Thursdays at 10pm
Synopsis: The story centers on Ihara Masato the second son of a funeral parlor owner. He hates the funeral home but quits his job to take over the family business after the death of his father. Every episode he has to deal with a different death, and they are all unique and lacking in some way. Masato then, tries to solve every mystery behind the deaths, getting personally involved with his client’s past life. Meanwhile, he has to deal with his dysfunctional family of three younger siblings, and his often “missing” older brother. – Taken from “The Beginning of the End” recommendation.
I loved Ending Planner, and what is more, I loved Yamapi’s performance, so much… so much, I still smile when I think of Masato.
While I was expecting the end to have a lot of sadness -either from the main plot, or sub-plots- I did not expect it to be that good. I have not seen such a good ending since Royal Family, and I might have just doomed my credibility as most people thought Royal Family’s ending was horrible, but I have my reasons why to like it, and lets leave it at that as this is about Ending Planner and not Families with Royal complex.
The siblings of the funeral parlor:
– Yamashita Tomohisa, as Ihara Masato (Masapyon)
– Maeda Atsuki, as Ihara Haruka
– Chinen Yuri, as Ihara Hayato
– Ono Ito, as Ihara Momoko
– Sorimachi Takashi, as Ihara Kento
– Eikura Nana, as Sakamaki Yuki
– Mikami Kensei, as Nagamine Jun
– Yamazaki Tsutomu, as Iwata Itsuo
– Hashimoto Mami, as Muraichi Yayoi
– Okamoto Rei, as Mizuno Kanako
– Otomo Kohei, as Tanaka Eisuke
– Isono Kiriko, as Kagawa Yuko
– Kikawada Masaya, as Kawahara Itaruhou
– Shiomi Sansei, as Kinohora Yoshio
– Kanie Keizo, as Ihara Kotaro
– Tamamori Yuta (cameo)
– Anne (cameo)
Like I said on my previous discussion of this drama, Yamapi did an excellent job here. I have read negative comments about his acting, and lets face it fans: he is not what you would call “a good actor” however, all that changes in this drama. While you wont necessarily say he is a good actor, you must admit he has made a huge progress in acting, and that is admirable. To me, that is all that is important. I don’t get impress with actors that are good and don’t improve, I get impress with those who start off very bad and become better, you can see the effort the actor has made, and I love that in a person.
There were some scenes in which I felt he needed to show me more feeling, but I have faith in masapyon… err, Yamapi :p. If he keeps getting better, he will some day make me cry just by smiling.
Yamapi is not the only strong actor in the drama, he was lovely, but the rest of the cast does not fall behind.
Nana was very refreshing to watch, she gives off this natural charm that is contagious. Her character was one of my favorites throughout the whole series. I loved every bit of it, sad moments, happy moments, and drunk moments… there were lots of those 😉
Also Maeda, although I have not seen her before in anything else, I loved her Haruka. She portrayed the “tough in the outside but very sensible at heart girl” very well. I thought her character in particular was a difficult one given her physical conditions, and she did well in it. Of course, mister Yamasaki was excellent. He is fun to watch no matter what he plays.
Overall I think the acting was great. There were a few moments I wanted more, but that is because once I see greatness, I expect nothing else, and the first two episodes of this drama proved me there is another whole side to Yamapi I never knew. Code Blue? Bleh, whoever gave him that role needs to be put on a stand.
I give the acting in this drama a 9. Great performances overall.
I’m not very familiar with the schematics of Japanese family dramas; do they only focus on family value? All Jdramas do this; do they focus on a particular subject, like: women and their hardships on a society mostly ruled by men? Teen pregnancies? No, this drama does not focus in any of that particularly. You will not find battered wives, or cheating husbands; and although there is one troubled teen, there will not be pregnancies or sexual abuse, which is so common in Jdramas.
If you are looking for these things, this is not the drama for you.
Ending Planner focuses on the respect and unification of a family. No matter if you are from different mothers, or fathers; no matter if you are older, or younger. There has to be a level of trust and love between siblings in order to maintain the family united. Most of all, there has to be respect for each member regardless of their position in the family.
However, as we already know, it comes with a treat for the mystery obsess (that would be me). It deals with death and the after life. Questions like: Are we here for a purpose? and, Is there life after death? Become prominent gradually in the curse of this drama. Every episode there is a story to tell, and questions to answer.
The main plot of this drama is Masato; how he struggles bringing his family together, and how it changes his view on life. That said, there is nothing else going on in his life aside from the responsibility of having to be head of the house. I thought that was interesting given I alternate worlds from kdramas to jdramas, and Im mostly used to the main plot being a guy who changes because of a woman, no matter what other circumstances are thrown his way.
Ending Planner has a guy, a woman, and neither change because of the other one, or should I say both change because of the experiences they have to go trough, with family and friends, not with love. Yet, both are essential to the growing , and development of each one.
I know you might be saying: “well duh, it’s a family drama not a romance” but I’m not crazy when I say, almost every drama out there, even family, crime, comedy, supernatural, etc, has the main guy changing because of his love for a woman. Shakes her head
As far as how well written this story is, I must say I loved every bit of it. There was no moment I thought it was over the top, or that it lacked honesty. However, there was a bit of a rush towards the end, and that might create confusion to some viewers. I thought they could have elaborate more on the last case, given that they had spent a bit more than 2 episodes on that story, and it had been already brewing since the mid part of the drama. Aside from that, I thought the plot was lovely.
For story, this drama takes a 9 from me 😉
The title says it all. Lets plan the end my friends… err… hold on, not yet, let me finish this review. :p
It deals with death, so yes, there will be a dead body every episode, not always because of a horrible crime. This is not Strawberry Nights, that one is also good, mind you.
I have to admit, reading what Ending Planner was about, and finding out that Yamazaki was in the drama, I obviously thought of Departures. I mean, a guy who has to take up the business of mortician against his wishes? Yamazaki has a role on both stories? … you catch my drift?
They are both different, but have the same message. We are here to LOVE. Death it’s not the end; the memories of the departed stays with each person that was involved in their lives. Some leave debt, some leave new family members, but most importantly, love is always the answer.
As Masato says at the end:
People was born to this world, to learn the value of love.
In terms of how well the theme of the story is developed, I give this drama a 10.
There is more to this drama than a simple mortician and his family matters. However, as much as I would like to tell you, that my friends, is a huge spoiler. 😉
That said, I know I have left you wondering what could it be… what better excuse for getting the popcorn ready and start watching?
Overall, this drama is a jewel, or perhaps it came to me at the right time in my life. Whatever it might be, this drama took my heart last season, and I have yet to find one this season that would bring it back. I gave this drama a 10 on my list. Hope you like it as much as I have 🙂
Here are some treats for you, enjoy:
Funny vid of Masapyon and Yuki, no spoilers just funny interactions between them 🙂
I have not dont this on my other reviews, but I felt that it was fitted to this one. If you find yourself drawn to dramas like this one, you will like Soredemo, Ikite Yuku. I think both dramas touch the same message in different ways. Although Ending Planner is a lot less tragic, Soredemo is not a drama to leave you heartbroken but hopeful, even when it touches a very strong and tragic subject.