I posted about Yoru no Sensei last weekend and said that it was a little cheesy but was good overall. This weeks episode(Episode 5), which aired last night, was particularly touching so I felt a little compelled to write something about it. It dealt with a theme that I don’t think is frequently touched on seriously in Japan: people that were born the wrong gender. At the end of last weeks episode one of the members of Yoru no Sensei’s class – Senba-san – returned after getting some hospital work done, the twist being that he changed genders.
Senba-san left his family years ago because he decided to take the path of becoming a woman. The episode doesn’t really talk much about what happened between him and his wife but deals more heavily on his relationship with his son who he also left. At the start of the episode you see a flashback of Senba-san leaving his wife and son behind and his son asking him “you’ll come back, right?”. This was when his son would have still been in elementary school. There are also a lot of flashbacks of him and his son playing soccer together or buying stamps.
Coming back to the present, at school there is a futsal tournament coming up and when Yoruno-Sensei finds out that Senba-san used to be really good at soccer in high school she asks her(formerly him) to participate but is rejected. Senba-san explains that she hasn’t touched a soccer ball since leaving her son and won’t be until she meets her son again. Yoruno-Sensei decides to make the substitute players of the futsal team for the tournament search for Senba-san’s son, because they aren’t participating in practice anyway. It takes them some time but eventually they manage to track Senba-san’s son down to the school that they’re going to, where he’s a normal student.
It turns out that Senba-san’s son is actually the same person who has been doing graffiti around the school saying that they’re going to kill everybody in class 4-1(Yoruno-Sensei’s class). Her son knew for awhile that they were going to the same school and knew all about the sex change, he was doing the graffiti hoping that his father would realise that it was him doing it and would quit the school. He was mostly worried about what other normal students at the school would think about him knowing that his father had undergone a sex change. When the other teachers find out that it might have been Senba-san’s son that did the graffiti they call a meeting and bring Senba-san and the son into the same room. Both of them deny being related to each other(or even having ever met before) and it ends there.
Afterwards one of 4-1’s other students who was trying to track down Senba-san’s son comes back with some postcards and letters that had been mailed to one of Senba-san’s old neighbours by the son(he had actually went there and put them in the letterbox personally too). It turns out that from between when Senba-san left her son(age 6) and when he was 11 years old he had been sending letters to the neighbour behind his mother’s back asking if they had heard anything about his father or been contacted by him – using stamps from the stamp collection him and Senba-san had started together. After reading the letters Senba-san starts to cry and I think that she is finally able to come to terms with being estranged with her son after for all the years that had passed.
The episode ends with a scene of Senba-san’s son walking home and some other students in a group walking along the same street who are making fun of Senba-san not knowing that it’s actually his father. He stays quiet for a minute or so but eventually gets really emotional turns around and says to them “stop laughing about my Dad!”. Then there’s another scene of Senba-san finally playing soccer again with the rest of the class, which I suppose is symbolic of her coming to terms with everything.
I suppose that what I’ve realised from watching this drama is that drama isn’t all about what actors are appearing, how good those actors are or what kind of experience they have. I’d much rather watch something that moves me even if the acting is mediocre, rather than something that just has a lot of big names and no actual substance. While the acting in this drama isn’t great and there are only a couple of semi-big names I like it a lot. I get the feeling that it isn’t very popular though. Either way I’m going to continue watching it and posting about it even if there is no demand at all.