The Fangirls’ Japanese Drama Review: Sumika Sumire

Sumika Sumire is a Japanese drama about a magical cat. Well, it’s about a 65-year-old woman who the cat turns into a 20-year-old again. But, the cat still plays a major role in the story.

The Setup

This is not the magical cat; this is Juri, a pet belonging to 65-year-old Sumi. It’s her only companion now that her parents have died. They controlled her whole life, making her help with their family business and care for a grandmother and then themselves. She wasn’t allowed to do anything she wanted, including playing with friends as a child or attending college as an adult.

This picture from the original manga is of the magical cat. It’s been watching Sumi and feeling sorry for her ever since she was a child, but it couldn’t do anything to help because it was imprisoned in a painted screen. Does that remind anyone of My Girlfriend is a Nine-tailed Fox?

The local Buddhist priest has been helping Sumi with her mother’s funeral. He seems to be supportive of her, and interestingly enough can tell there is something supernatural going on at her house. He and his teenage son are pretty cute together!

Here we have Sumi at her mother’s funeral. She is unsure of what to do next and very shy and hesitant. She often bows her head and apologizes, which looks odd to us but is old-style behavior that she is used to.

The Bakeneko

Sumi and Juri discover the screen in a storage room. That night Sumi voices her longtime wish that she could go to college and find love. When the magic cat appears she is terrified; you can hear her scream, “Bakeneko!” Neko means cat. Demon cats are familiar creatures in Japanese folk tales and are able to change into human form. It’s kind of like a gumiho.

The bakeneko changes into a man. There is another magical cat in the story, but this one is named Rei and promises to help her realize her wishes. If she achieves them, then he will be freed of the spell tying him to the screen. He is very intriguing and behaves rather like a proper English butler.

The next morning Sumi is astonished to find herself as she when she was 20 years old. Rei gives her a new name to match her new life, Sumire. The title of this show is usually given as Sumika Sumire. IMDb tells us that the original title was Sumi ka Sumire. Knowing that “ka” can mean “or” in Japanese, we now can understand the title as Sumi or Sumire. They don’t leave spaces between words in Japanese.

The Complications

The rest of the story is about how Sumire learns to act young, goes to school, and makes friends. It is sometimes funny and sometimes bittersweet. She has to grapple with the significance of who she really is, and whether she should tell Yusei, a fellow student who likes her. She has to also deal with a trio of mean girls, which she does in an interesting way, from the perspective of an older lady.

There are a few odd kicks in the age-spell that Rei cast, and that’s not the only time that his magic trips him up. Both he and Sumire have difficult choices to make as the story goes on. There are several directions the story could have taken; I couldn’t predict which way it would ultimately go, but it ended in a good way. I enjoyed the show a lot and waited to watch each episode with anticipation. This drama has 8 episodes and is found on Viki. Please let me know how you enjoyed it!


Dramas With a Side of Kimchi

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