“Hiding something is betrayal.
I have, for the last 10 years, continued to betray Hirosawa.”
Ooh, this is interesting~
Of all 8 J-doramas i was eyeing for and have checked out this spring season, Reverse is easily my top favorite. The premise is fairly simple — about a dark secret from the past that comes back and haunts the involved parties in the present — but combined with twisted plot lines, flawed characters, tight editing, and well-placed music, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. And it thrills me.
It’s been a long while since the last time i feel this excited over a Japanese mystery drama, let alone this early in the game. While this fever could lift in the next episode or the show could crash and burn, for now it fills my head with lots questions and suspicions, and i’m itching to learn more about what truly happened that day. Because nothing is never what it seems. Ten years ago, five college friends were going snowboarding when one of them went missing and was found dead six months later. That sounds like an unfortunate incident, but when the remaining four vowed to carry a certain thing to the grave, we know it’s nothing but a simple case.
And they seem to move on with life well — Asami Kosuke (Kis-My-Ft2’s Tamamori Yuta) is a highschool teacher; Murai Takaaki (Miura Takahiro), the son of a minister, is set to be a Member of Parliament; Tanihara Yasuo (Ichihara Hayato) is happily married with a kid — except for Fukase Kazuhisa (Fujiwara Tatsuya) who still struggles to get hired and find himself a girlfriend a decade later.
Among the boys, Fukase is the loser kind. He’s awkward, cowardly, and friendless until Hirosawa Yoshiki (Koike Teppei) entered his life. Hirosawa is the typical warm nice guy that everyone likes, that it’s quite unthinkable anyone would plot to eliminate him and then mask it as an accident. I too would like to believe that the entire happening was a pure negligent rather than a deliberate scheme, but from the little details we’ve known through Fukase’s memories, the event leading up to Hirosawa’s disappearance looked messed up already.
At the very least, it’s safe to say that Fukase is in the clear, though he’s isn’t completely guiltless. Quoting Miho-chan’s (Toda Erika) reasoning: “The fact your friend had been drinking, wasn’t used to driving, and the roads were covered in snow… Knowing all that, you still sent him off.” Yup, that sounds wrong, but in retrospect, that isn’t the only thing that’s amiss.
First off, isn’t it rather unusual for you to go on pre-graduation trip with those you aren’t close with? Fukase barely spoke to the other three prior to the invitation, and while it’s unclear how close Hirosawa was to them, Tanihara at the very least disliked him (for being close to Murai’s sister, whom he’s been crushing on for ages and eventually ended up being his wife in the present). He openly badmouthed him when they’re on the road, and brought that up in the villa following Hirosawa’s refusal to drink, as if to provoke him into it. Murai who initially couldn’t join them called when he and Asuka-chan (Kadowaki Mugi) already arrived in the nearest station and demanded to be picked up. As one of two who could drive, Asami was the first pick. He refused on the grounds that he drank enough wine to get into trouble if stopped, which could harm his prospect of becoming a teacher. Although Tanihara mentioned that the weather and road condition might be too hard for novice drivers like Hirosawa to navigate, Asami asked him anyway — because he’s also the only one who had yet to receive a job offer. Wew, that’s harsh.
Next, i found it weird that Fukase would make coffee to help sober Hirosawa up yet didn’t offer to accompany his only friend. That’s like the most natural thing to do given the circumstances, particularly since the other option is staying behind with people you aren’t familiar with. To be fair, it’s weird that NONE of them came along with him to the car. The last time we saw the car, the front tires got stuck on the snow that they had to abandon it and hauled their belongings to the villa. Maybe this is a plot hole, cuz otherwise, it would be impossible for Hirosawa to get it moving all by himself.
Nevertheless, when he didn’t arrive at the station after some time, the three scrambled to search for him, though Fukase was told to stay behind and be their point of contact. The last info the drama disclosed to us is the call Asami made to Fukase, informing him that they came across a broken guardrail and saw something burning down the hill. The rest is history.
Besides the speculations, i also had several questions such as if drinking two cans of beer would make you tipsy? I don’t understand why they kept this fact from the police. I mean, it’s not as if they were underage, unless that would make them partly responsible for the case. And if it was indeed premeditated, then they were really good actors. What for though? Just because he probably dated Asuka-chan? Also why the former detective (re)dig into the closed case only now, 10 years later, when the involved parties are in good place? Asami has achieved his dream to become a teacher, Tanihara is up for promotion, and Fukase has finally found love.
But then, shit happens when you least expect it.
I like how the drama spends some time in the present, to give us an idea of the kind of lives they’re leading on at the moment, before the buried mystery begins. Calm before the storm it is. We’re tracing the past via Fukase memories, so the picture is far from complete as he’s likely the most clueless about what truly happened, but more details are added in with every rewind. I appreciate that Reverse isn’t stingy with the reveal, dropping enough pieces to allow us to form our hypotheses, keep us hooked yet yearning for more.