It’s time for a hidden gem post again and today we have Switched! It’s a short Japanese drama that landed on Netflix a few weeks ago.
The premise is that Ayumi, the most popular girl in school, suddenly finds herself inside the body of one of her classmate Umine, after watching her jump to her death.
*Mild spoilers ahead*
I loved the US TV show Drop Dead Diva, where a stick-thin model dies, and her soul ends up in the body of a plus-sized lawyer. So the premise interested me, but I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this drama because I haven’t found Asian dramas to handle this topic particularly well. I do feel like they handled it better than I expected.
I totally fell for the lead actress Miu Tomita (not the popular girl) and I REALLY hope she is cast in more dramas. And not as the friend, but a main character. She is beautiful, and I found her acting sweet and refreshing.
I also adore Shunpei Kaga’s character. Both male actors end up playing his character, and I realized when they switched that is was totally his character, and not just the actor that had me crushing on him. I’ve never seen either of them in a drama, but when I looked them up it appears they are both in Blazing Transfer Students, which I started with my kids and need to go back to. It’s complete and total cheese, but after seeing these two, I will probably enjoy it even more now.
Anyway, back to the character. Kaga is the first one to realize that Ayumi has switched bodies and they fall back into their easy friendship. He becomes a bright light after she’s been turned away by her real family and treated like crap by her host body’s mom and the people at school. Kaga is the loud, dorky friend who is there for you no matter what. Well, and he has a crush on Ayumi, But she was dating Koshiro, the third person in their trio of friends, before the body switch.
It turns out Koshiro was part of the motivation for Umine to want Ayumi’s life. At first it seems that she gets what she wanted. Koshiro doesn’t care about the switch and only wants to date the face, and Ayumi’s parents and friends don’t realize there is a different soul inside her body. Movies and shows like this always make me question the people around the main character. I’m pretty sure my husband, children, and friends would notice right away.
Soon though, it all starts to unravel. Here is where the show walked a thin line for me. Before all the kids treated Umine poorly, then Kaga helps everyone see that she can be viewed as cute, the class starts treating her different. There was almost the implication that if Umine had just been perkier and let people touch her cheeks, then everyone around her would have liked her and not done any of the body shaming. Drop Dead Diva explored this too. Does confidence in yourself, no matter how much your body goes against what society tells us is pretty, make people like you? They don’t delve too deep into this, but the scenes where everyone loves watching her eat pudding made me cringe. I did like the overall message that if one person showed Umine kindness then it would give her the courage to love herself a bit more.
Without giving too much away about the end, the episodes were spent trying to figure out how to get Ayumi back in her original body, while questioning who trust, who you should hate, and who you should have sympathy for. It was a fast watch that kept me wondering what would happen next, and discovering some new actors and actresses I will look forward to watching in the future. I will say that if you have an aversion to seeing people jump to their death, this may not be for you. They also use the sound of the body thumping against the concrete a lot.
Until the next gem is uncovered,
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi