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Unraveling the Plot of ‘A Tale to Discover When Love Finds You’
Japanese drama ‘A Tale to Discover When Love Finds You’ delves into the life of a cram school teacher who yearned to enter the prestigious University of Tokyo. However, when her dreams were shattered as she failed to make the cut, her life became stagnant. That is until she encountered a rebellious, pink-haired boy determined to destroy his own life.
My Thoughts on Teacher-Student Romances
I must admit, I’ve always had reservations about teacher-student romances. It’s understandable when it’s a one-sided crush from the student’s perspective, but when the teacher reciprocates, it feels a bit too much for me. However, the presence of my current favorite actors, Ryusei Yokohama and Kyoko Fukada, in this show compelled me to give it a chance. Having enjoyed their individual works before, I was curious to see them together on-screen.
Fortunately, ‘A Tale to Discover When Love Finds You’ takes a different approach compared to other similar dramas. Instead of focusing on a cringeworthy love affair between an older woman and an underage boy, this drama explores a teenager’s rebellious phase and how his infatuation with his teacher changes him. The age gap is acknowledged, and the story handles it with maturity, allowing the love to develop naturally. It creates an unexpectedly beautiful experience that is devoid of cringeworthy moments.
‘A Tale to Discover When Love Finds You’ (Hajimete Koi wo Shita Hi ni Yomu Hanashi) (2019) (10 Episodes)
The story revolves around Junko Harumi (played by Kyoko Fukada) during her school years. As an avid bookworm, Junko dedicated herself to studying relentlessly in hopes of getting into the University of Tokyo. However, her dreams were shattered when she failed to gain admission. She became disillusioned and struggled to find a stable job. At the age of 32, she found herself working as a contractual teacher at a local cram school, still single and lacking any dating experience.
Unbeknownst to Junko, her cousin Masashi Yakumo (played by Kento Nagayama) has harbored feelings for her since their school days. Despite his unrequited love lasting for over 15 years, he never mustered the courage to express his feelings. Junko, lacking confidence, remained oblivious to Masashi’s interest.
Junko’s life lacked enthusiasm until the appearance of Kyohei Yuri (played by Ryusei Yokohama), a pink-haired boy with a rebellious streak. Kyohei’s father criticizes him in front of everyone at the cram school, reminding Junko of her own teenage years and the pressure she felt to succeed. In a powerful moment, she stands up for Kyohei and advises him to resist his father’s bullying.
Moved by Junko’s support, Kyohei becomes infatuated with his pretty teacher and decides to study with her in order to enter the University of Tokyo. Although Junko is initially apprehensive about Kyohei’s academic record, she takes on the challenge as a teacher and decides to guide him.
As she starts teaching Kyohei, she discovers that his homeroom teacher is Kazuma Yamashita (played by Tomoya Nakamura), her childhood friend who once confessed his feelings for her. Their reunion sparks hope for romance in Junko’s mind, unaware of Kyohei’s growing possessiveness.
The Appeal of ‘A Tale to Discover When Love Finds You’
I thoroughly enjoyed watching ‘A Tale to Discover When Love Finds You’ for several reasons. Beyond the teacher-student romance, the show offers much more. Let’s take a closer look at Junko’s life.
Junko despises her job at the cram school, where she witnesses other teachers with multiple students while no one wants to study under her. She feels unsatisfied and trapped, lacking a romantic partner and spending her free time either at home with her family or out drinking with her friend, Miwa.
Her overachieving cousin, Masashi Yakumo, has feelings for her, dropping hints numerous times. However, Junko’s lack of confidence prevents her from believing that someone like Masashi could be interested in someone as seemingly unsuccessful as her. Moreover, their familial relationship prevents her from viewing him romantically.
Frustrated with her monotonous life, Junko regrets her intense focus on studying during her teenage years and her lack of interest in dating. Her mother constantly compares her to Masashi, taunting Junko for having only a contractual job at her age. According to her mother, Junko should have found a romantic partner and settled down. However, Junko’s lack of dating experience makes finding a partner seem impossible.
When Junko witnesses Kyohei’s father bullying him for his poor academic performance, she is reminded of her own past and loses her composure. She admonishes Kyohei’s father, advocating for Kyohei to resist the pressures placed upon him.
Fed up with her miserable job, Junko decides to quit. However, Kyohei insists on studying with her, despite his unconventional appearance and dyed pink hair. Intrigued by his request, Junko agrees, marking the first time a student has sought her out.
Junko sees herself reflected in Kyohei and encourages him to work hard to gain admission to the University of Tokyo. Through Kyohei, she hopes to fulfill her own unrealized dreams. Kyohei becomes her pet project, and she resolves to guide and assist him in every way possible.
Initially, Junko’s interest in Kyohei may seem peculiar, but as the drama unfolds, we discover her inherent nature of helping others. In high school, she witnesses a teacher bullying her classmate, Kazuma Yamashita, for his academic shortcomings. Junko takes it upon herself to coach Kazuma and support him in passing the exams. Kazuma is captivated by her kindness and eventually falls for her.
Similarly, Kyohei isn’t naturally gifted academically, so Junko employs various methods to make studying engaging for him. She invests considerable effort into helping him, which warms his lonely heart and deepens his affection for his compassionate teacher.
Junko remains true to her character throughout the years. She despises bullies and champions the underdogs. In matters of love, however, Junko is inexperienced and unaware of how her helpful nature can touch someone’s heart.
Similar to Kazuma, Kyohei falls hard for Junko. However, upon realizing the potential consequences of pursuing a relationship with his underage teacher, he restrains his emotions. Occasionally, his proximity to Junko causes unintentional slips, making her feel awkward. Nevertheless, Junko remains focused on supporting Kyohei and brushes aside any discomfort for the sake of his progress.
Enthralling Performances and Unforgettable Characters
Aside from the main leads, I must mention Miwa, Junko’s friend, who adds a fun element to her otherwise mundane life. As a character, Miwa injects the much-needed excitement into Junko’s world.
Miwa knows about Masashi’s feelings for Junko and even attempts to help him win her over. However, she never pressures Junko to consider Masashi as a romantic partner, understanding Junko’s need for genuine love. When the “pink boy” Kyohei enters Junko’s life, Miwa welcomes the change, believing it adds excitement to Junko’s otherwise ordinary existence.
Miwa’s character is lovable, and she brings joy and support to Junko as a true friend should.
Reservations about ‘A Tale to Discover When Love Finds You’
Despite my enjoyment of this drama, I do have reservations regarding the teacher-student relationship between the main characters. Teens, in particular, are highly impressionable and susceptible to the influence of dramas. I recall my own teenage years and how seriously I took the shows I watched at the time. I believed that the relationships depicted on-screen were the norm.
A teacher-student relationship should always prioritize trust and respect. Introducing a romantic dimension dilutes the sanctity of the relationship. While ‘A Tale to Discover When Love Finds You’ handles the romance between Junko and Kyohei with caution, I still wish drama creators would refrain from including such love angles altogether.
Additionally, the drama occasionally portrays Junko as older than she actually is. Although actress Kyoko Fukada is older than Ryusei Yokohama, she doesn’t appear significantly older in the show. To emphasize the age difference between Junko and Kyohei, the drama occasionally shows Junko using a walking stick due to a back problem. I found this portrayal excessive, considering Junko is only 32 years old, not 72. The walking stick seemed unnecessary, especially given the chemistry shared between Junko and her younger suitors.
Final Thoughts and Ratings
‘A Tale to Discover When Love Finds You’ is not just a romance drama; it also explores finding passion in life and pursuing it with unwavering determination. The romance may be the central theme, but the show offers much more. It delves into the confusion of adolescence and the regrets experienced by adults. The characters make mistakes, but they learn from them and navigate through life to reach a satisfying conclusion.
I give ‘A Tale to Discover When Love Finds You’ a rating of 4 out of 5. If you’re a teenager, I recommend avoiding this show, as it may influence you to develop feelings for your attractive teacher, which is not advisable. However, if you’re a mature teenager who can differentiate between drama and reality, go ahead and watch it. It might motivate you to take your studies seriously or help you avoid regrets in your adult life.
For adults who have long since left their studying years behind, I highly recommend watching this captivating show. It offers a consistently entertaining and engaging experience without any dips in pace or enjoyment.
To watch ‘A Tale to Discover When Love Finds You,’ visit 5 WS for free streaming on Viki.com.
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