From Five to Nine, You Learn English or Love 

Available on VIKI

Based on manga series “5 Ji Kara 9 Ji Made” by Miki Aihara (first published March, 2010 in monthly Japanese shojo manga magazine Cheese!).

Junko Sakuraba  (Satomi Ishihara) is a woman who’s facing her 29th birthday and working as an English teacher in Japan. She’s always dreamed of living in New York, but it seems like that dream is getting further and further away. She’s diligent in her work, but her love life is non-existent. At a funeral she attends, she accidentally throws ashes onto a monk who’s chanting a sutra. She feels awful about what happens and tries to apologize. Later, her family sets her up on a blind date with Takane Hoshikaw (Tomohisa Yamashita).a. It turns out that he’s the same monk she threw ashes on earlier.

This Japanese drama had so many points that made me laugh, which made it quite funny! 

This drama is a romantic comedy. Junko, the teacher , is a typical career focus woman , never once her goals involved in getting married, which is a lot like nowadays people around the world. This type of people is one of the reasons natality rates decrease. However, the biggest reason why natality rate decreases in Japan so drastically is the previous known support system that made the workers blindly obedient to the CEO of their company.  

The System involved in the matchmaking interviews , marriage support and housing support, whatever was the society goal and worker dream , the company provided. This is not the case anymore! 

Another thing I found contrasting in the drama is the English teaching being given by Japanese natives, of course this is a big contrast. In real life at least 90% of English teachers are foreigners with most companies preferring English natives, which means citizens from US, UK , Ireland , Canada and so on … However, with English being implemented across the world as an international language and being declared the official language in the aviation world, I find this preference and in some cases total limitation to English natives, also removes hopes and chances from all other countries’ citizens. 

If you really want my opinion, it should accept more non english natives with the requirement of having a IELTS or Cambridge certificate declaring they have high C1, or a C2 level by the CEFR standard ( Common European Framework of Reference), which in the case of IELTS corresponds to the Band 7.5 and above. Wouldn’t a Foreign non native to the English speaker be able to identify and anticipate what the issues or doubts a new student may have? Should a new language learning skill be taken into more consideration than the typical person that was born with one language and grows up with the same language all his life, who may not even be interested in learning the Japanese language  ?

And Yes this touches a bit of my nerve, because achieving the Ielts band 8 or above, doing a CELTA certification ( that’s the english teaching certification) and having the Basic Japanese language level is my goal for 2023. That’s why I plan to attend a 1 month Course in Japan with EF – Education First . April 2023 … Sakura season Babyyyyyy, oh yeah! 

You can Check out my post about it at ALT in Japan for Portugal’s Citizens

Back to the Drama, Junko and Takane married by Civil law decide to commit and help both achieve their goals and dreams  in life, even if it means live in New york city for one full year. 

Age Harassment (2015) Jdrama review

There is no official title in Portuguese, but the title of the film refers exactly the problem presented in the drama series — Harassment by age. Per definition, presented in the series, age harassment is when someone, especially men, spend the day back from the new employees who have just left the college on your first job.

Age of Harassment (2015) Jdrama with with Emi takei
Jdrama : Age harassment (2015)

Plot synopsis (by VIKI ) Emiri Yoshii (Ami Takei) is a young, beautiful girl that has dreams of earning an MBA in America. When her family is struck with poverty after a failed business, she gives up her dreams for a position at a trading company. With new dreams of being a company executive, she is eager to work towards success in her new role. However, she often finds herself in unfortunate situations. Her female co-workers are intimidated by her youth and good looks, and don’t understand her desire to keep to herself. On the other hand the male employees, invite her to meetings after hours and ask her to execute meaningless tasks just to have her around due to her beauty. Outcasted by women and not taken seriously by men, she becomes fed up and is on a mission to take action!

The series even begins by making a kind of comparison between two women: the woman A the young woman fresh out of college and on her way to her first interview of employment, innocent, pure and without any notion that they can deceive her, and the woman B 40-year-old graduate who built her career in the same company for years and when the opportunity to give a promotion comes, the CEO gives the promotion to a man without any knowledge of the department’s area, unlike the woman who is trained in the area.

This comparison between the two women begins to be more evident when the woman A tries to buy strawberries at a stall at the entrance of the company, she is stopped to think about the price, because she wanted to buy the strawberries in the cheapest way possible, in which two packages are cheaper, but she only needs one packaging, here appears Woman B to buy strawberries too. Per curiosity, both women are licensed in the same field. However, I didn’t let to notice the brief metaphor in which old strawberries are cheaper and without quality.

Throughout the series, several categories of Harassment within a company are presented: age harassment; paternity harassment; moral harassment; power harassment; in between others. It could be said that it is an ABC with example cases on harassment in the work. Ending the series with the phrase that “all types of harassment is a form of bullying”. Woman A is presented throughout the series as the ideal and key to the woman empowerment within the company.

When one of the employees who are victims of age harassment decides to resign for not take it any longer, the company’s CEO assumes that the young woman left to get married, even though she doesn’t have a boyfriend or fiancé.

One of the paternity and maternity harassments, in one of the episodes one of the employees will be a parent for 3 times and ask permission to work remotely (which might be allowed these days due to the pandemic).

It is explained that in a Japanese company, they are not expected to return to the company if the paternity leave lasts for one year, and maternity leave lasts for 3 months. this wide difference between licenses clearly demonstrates a gender inequality. Being one of the most unfortunate comments in episode 7, “Japanese women were born to be unhappy”.

Personally, gives me a first time perspective of a world that still struggles between new laws and traditional work practices. And I , as always , Love the good work and performance of Emi Takei (武井咲) — The main actress from this TV show and Rurouni Kenshin, as Kaoru.

Emi Takei (武井 咲, Takei Emi ) was born December 25, 1993, in Nagoya.

She broke into the modeling industry with her debut in the November 2006 issue of Seventeen and quickly became a magazine exclusive in February 2007. In November 2010, at only 19 years old, she became the youngest recipient of the “Best Dresser Award” from The Men’s Fashion Unity. She won the “Best Smile of the Year” award in November and, in December, became the first Japanese person to be contracted by Italian luxury goods brand Gucci.

Music from the drama:

One of the music’s from the original soundtrack – Natsu no Tsumi by Natsumi Hanaoka

The 1st love is hard to forget even if we deny it  for years

Minami-kun no Koibito (南くんの恋人) is a japanese drama from 2015 directed by Kazuya Konaka. The drama is based on Minami-kun no Koibito – Manga by Shungiku Uchida.  

Minami kun no Koibito: My Little Lover

Chiyomi Horikiri is a school girl in love with her neighbour and childhood friend Shunichi Minami.

She is a secret writer and has a passion for dancing, however, her parents are not supportive of that idea; they prefer their daughter to follow society standards. I find this to be a little hypocritical since we understand by argument in the first episode,They might have married in a rush because of pregnancy outside of marriage to avoid scandal. I understand their need to secure their daughter’s future and stable life, but forcing her to give up on her dreams even if it means just for a small trip to Tokyo. 

The trip to Tokyo has another meaning in modern society. It represents the Japanese girls’ wishes to become stars without even reading contracts. In the end, their dreams are more important than economic and legal matters. Some dark companies make sure the girls pay for their time and services while maintaining full control and rights over every song and album the record labels sell with the girls’ performance. Some girls never see the money, others to avoid going bankrupt endup being scouted for the adult industry.

Japan’s Toxic Idol Industry

It’s not a surprise the most modern example is the AKB48 “let’s make a baby together” App campaign. Note that most fans are double or triple the Girl idol ages making it a very Creepy industry that promotes a weird feeling. 

The worst thing as a star on the rise is how talented are you, and how much can you progress when you have 48 girls fighting for the same goals as you. Imagine 48 girls divided by groups of 16, and those 16 girls from time to time showing all up on the same videoclip. How can the music industry really notice you? Specifically,  how will they see you if you are just a shadow in the background?

Going back to the drama story…

The panic starts when Chiyomi transforms herself by accident on a very stormy night.  For the people that know Japanese history, all big events can be correlated with a heavy storm. She transforms into Thumbelina , a little girl of 15 centimetres. This is a representation of a helpless little Chiyomi that feels worthless and small against the world. 

Minami, learning about her disappearance, comes to find her. Only to find her in a cave where they played as children to his disbelief he finds her extra small.  They now have a chance to restore what was lost. I like this part because real love and friendship will always be there when you really need to. 

Roles and Actors/actresses:

Maika Yamamoto – 山本 舞香 ( Chiyomi)

Japanese actress, model and singer. Born on October 13, 1997, she also goes by the nicknames Maika and Mai Mai. She made her acting debut in the 2011 television drama “Soredemo, Ikite Yuku.” She has since appeared in many popular films and television dramas, including “Kamen Teacher” (2013), “Yoru No Sensei” (2014) and “My Little Lover – Minami Kun No Koibito” (2015).

Taishi Nakagawa – 中川大志 (Minami)

 Japanese actor, host and model. Born on June 14, 1998, he began his career as a child actor but was often cast in older roles because of an early growth spurt. He made his acting debut in the 2009 television documentary drama “When I Was a Child.” He has since appeared in many popular films and television dramas, including “I’m Mita, Your Housekeeper” (2011), “Hana No Kanmuri” (2012), “Prison School” (2015) and “My Little Lover – Minami Kun No Koibito” (2015).

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