Synopsis: An incident is talked about all over Japan. The case involves the Doisaki couple that killed their 15-year-old daughter and hid her body under their house for 16 years.
One day, housewife Toshiko Hagiya visits Shigeko Maehata (Yukie Nakama) who works for a small editing company. Toshiko tells Shigeko that her 12-year-old son Hitoshi might have a special ability to see other people’s memories. She pulls out a picture drawn by Hitoshi. The picture has a girl with a grey colored face lying in a house that has a bat shaped weather vane on its roof. The picture seems to depict the incident involving the Doisaki couple. Shigeko decides to do some research, but Hitoshi dies in a car accident.
Meanwhile, the attorney for the Doisaki couple tells their second daughter Seiko that the couple has cut off all ties with her. Around that time, a female high student is confined.
In six episodes, Rakuen weaves a disturbing tale of murder, abuse and the struggles that parents and children go through, the underlining theme in the story, at least to me, is how doing the right thing isn’t always the right thing.
Good intentions sometimes cause more hardships and suffering, even when all you were doing was trying to help.
In the story, we’re first introduced to a couple who escape from a house fire. While outside, the husband walks up to a police officer and tells him that he killed his daughter sixteen years ago and her body is buried under their living room floor.
Disturbing, absolutely, but it definitely helped me get instantly hooked to this drama. We later learn that the couple killed their daughter because she was an out of control teen. The mother was afraid of her, while the father was at his wits end with how to handle her. We later learn, in episode six, why she was killed, but the main takeaway is that the parents decided that the best thing that they could do for their daughter and their family was to kill her.
They thought they were doing the right thing. As parents, they had to protect their child and protect others from her. Unfortunately, this also causes them to get blackmailed for sixteen long years. And when they finally reveal their sin to the police officer outside of their burning house, they decide to do another thing that they believe is right. They cut off ties with their second daughter, who had no idea what happened.
This brings us to the second daughter, Seiko, who not only learns that her troubled older sister was killed by her parents, but that her parents also decide to leave without saying goodbye. Since her parents go into hiding most of the media tries to get her to comment on things. She ends up being fired from her job over this and getting unsolicited advice from her new factory workmates. Seiko wants to be a good daughter to her parents and share some of this burden with them, but it’s hard to do when they up and left her.
So Seiko tries to do a good thing by divorcing her wonderful husband. In her mind, divorcing him would keep him away from all of the negative attention that Seiko and her family are currently facing. She loves him, but doesn’t want to hurt him. And while the two do get divorced, I did like that he kept coming back to her.
Side point, the husbands in this drama were lovely to watch. They were supportive of their wives, even when it was hard to do so. It was refreshing to watch, especially considering how many dramas are out there where couples are not written in this way.
Another character that tries to do the right thing is Shigeko, our main character that’s played by Nakama Yukie. She was a crime reporter, who was burned after accusing someone of a crime when it turned out that he was innocent. She’s been scared to write since then. Sometimes crime reporters get it wrong, but she thought she was doing the right thing by accusing someone of the crime, only it ended up hurting more people because of it.
There’s also the parent of Miwa Aiko, the main villain of this story, who tries to protect her son even when he does such horrible things. As a mother, she probably believes that it’s her job to save him from the world and to cover up his crimes, but considering how he kidnaps women and kills them, after letting his friends rape her, it’s clearly not a good thing to do. It does provide some contrast from the original couple who killed their daughter though.
Aiko’s uncle tries to help by providing money and a job for his nephew, but it’s comes off as superficial, because he doesn’t want to actually be involved with him. He believes that what he’s doing now is the right thing to do, but it’s not.
Lastly, there’s Harumi, the lawyer for the couple, also tells us of a time when she tried to do the right thing during a court case, but it ended up hurting her client in the end and caused him to commit suicide.
All of the characters do have their own demons to face, but a lot of their problems would have probably disappeared if they didn’t try to do the right thing, because it didn’t only hurt them in the end, but everyone else too. Things do get solved in the end, well close to it being solved, but I loved how this theme remained throughout the series and manifested itself in different ways.