I’m starting a new series that is much like the First Impressions posts, but dives a little farther into the drama’s episodes without it being a full series review. While I’m not the type of person who subscribes to the “Four Episode” rule, I understand it’s merit for others. With these reviews I will talk about the first four episodes of a series (or first quarter if it’s a shorter one) and discuss whether I will or won’t be continuing on in with the series.
This first review is on the Japanese version of this particular show. I will only be talking about the first four episodes of this series, as I have not watched any of the other versions. Please be kind and not spoil this show in the comments by talking about the other version or past these four episodes.
Native Title: 僕はまだ君を愛さないことができる (also known as I Don’t Love You Yet)
Release Date: July 15th, 2019 (2 episodes a week)
Episode #: 16 45 minute episodes
Director: Couldn’t find the information
Writer: Couldn’t find the information
Starring: Adachi Rika, Asaka Kodai, Shirau Jin, Matsumoto Kiyo. Rest of the cast can be found here.
I’m starting this series off with a drama that I had not originally knew much about before watching, sans a non-subbed trailer I watched with my limited Japanese skills. Viki picked up it this month and since that is a a rare occurrence that they picked up an airing one, I knew that I was going to be trying it out. I love jdramas and I will jump at any chance to watch them legally. Bonus points that it’s a new show. I generally like more realistic and life based stories that deal with romance as opposed to the standard romcom-esque vibe that’s more common in the romance genre, and this one seemed like a good fit because of that.
The drama follows two best friends, Mitari Yo and Ishida Ren. They’ve been friends since high school, and have kept up their relationship as they’ve gotten out of school and into the workforce. Yo is about to turn 30 and single, having just come off of a somewhat horrible relationship, and the two decide to bet on who is first to get married before officially turning 30. Yo works at a shoe company, and is very heavily drawn to shoes and the different styles. Because of this and the need for Yo to find her love, the show plays on the Cinderella story. While it is used pretty regularly throughout the show, I do find that it is integrated in a way that isn’t annoying. They don’t try to make this any sort of a forced retelling or use every point as a tie in. It’s cute, and adds a sweetness to her character and the drama.
The series started off a little slow for me. The set up for the relationship history between the two leads was a little jarring, as it used flashbacks to their time in school. The actors played themselves as younger versions, and the editing made those scenes feel abrupt, with little filter to decipher when we were back in present day. However as the story moved on and those scenes diminished, the pacing got better and a lot more easier to immerse myself into the story. By the end of the second episode I was really invested in the show.
I favor friends not becoming lovers, but am not opposed to it especially when it is not a sudden realization on both parts. The relationship has already been set up that at least Ren does have feelings for Yo, so this will be a constant element throughout the drama and I’m fine with that. Partly, because I really do love the two of them together. They share very sweet and simple moments effortlessly and there are points in the drama you see them interacting as if they already in a relationship. I’ve seen other dramas play up the relationship as the girl finds the guy more of a brother, but this drama doesn’t take this stance. For the most part they are played more as friends than siblings and it’s not off putting for the plot. We do get to see some of the elements that make them very much a part of each others lives. Ren is a part of her family, as Yo is his. Their moments aren’t forced or pushed, and they show how simply the two enjoy each other’s company. They are comfortable with each other and are able to let their guard down when together. This is in parallel to their other relationships, specifically Yo’s. When she is with Ryusei, she is uncomfortable and always worrying about what to say and how to act.
I talk a lot about found family because it is one of my top dramas tropes, but I also love caring and quirky families. The way that this drama portrays both Yo’s and Ren’s families fulfill that for me. They are funny and weird, but in the realistic way that most families are. Yo’s brother is delightfully odd and obsessively into insects. Though the family doesn’t share his love, they accept him fully. Her Mom and Dad are loving and kind and there are moments you see how they ejoy each others company. Ren’s family is the same way. He lives with his mother and sister who are free spirited and fun. The odd man out in a house full of girls (I either missed or it wasn’t discussed where his father is) he still is kind and respectable. With both families you never not feel the warmth and love from them.
As of right now, the only thing that is really concerning me is the two love interest characters. This is not because they are rivals. While an unpopular opinion, I would not be upset with the drama if it veered in a direction where the two main leads went their separate ways. I’m just hoping that the characters stay consistent in that is more realistic to come to that decision more than just a divergent to keep the viewer anticipating what could happen. The fourth episode ends with us finding out about Ryusei having a family at home, with his intentions more to advance his career than genuinely liking Yo. While it is a bit cliched and would have rather that story line play out a little differently, he does not worry me as much as Maki. She is verging on a bit of a too heightened character that seems to not fit the tone of the drama. I’m hoping that at this point it is more that the drama is playing up the fact they we, as an audience, aren’t understanding her true motivations. She can just very well be immature and too young to handle her emotions in regards to her feelings for Ren that it is carrying out in less than ideal ways. I just hope it stays that way and she doesn’t become more of an unstable, almost comical character. It would not fit the tone.
I was also worried in the beginning how much the main character would be harping on her age. While they showed that internal conflict several times, the drama has evolved into that not being a central theme. The two do make this bet with an age limit, but there are already moments where we see Yo’s character slowly looking into why she is fearing it and if it is warranted. It’s the moment in time when you don’t know where you are going in life. Finding what you do and don’t want to do as opposed to what is thought to be the norm. This uncertainty in the character has left that plot much less contrived. I was glad to see that.
I think it’s pretty clear that I will be continuing on with the series. While I worry about Maki and hope that it doesn’t lead into the direction I fear, it’s not enough to make me worried about continuing on. There are just too many good moments for me between the leads and the lead’s interactions with their families that will keep me more than enough entertained. I’m invested in the characters and story and genuinely enjoy watching it. In fact it’s one of the few dramas that I’m currently watching that I try to watch the moment it’s fully subbed. Even with the Cinderella theme and it being more of a romance with some standard tropes, it is not drastically over the top. I appreciate the quietness and more realistic tone of the drama, and I’m enjoying watching the story unfold and seeing where the characters go.
Have you been watching In Time With You? What do you think?