‘From Me To You’ (2023) Review: High School Love Like Fresh Cherry Blossoms In The Spring 

With the oversaturated world of teen coming-of-age content on Netflix, it is easy to fall into a rabbit hole of overly sexualized teen shows that just glamorize the tricky parts of being a teen. Compared to the western teen world, the east prefers to teach life lessons through cute little romance shows inspired by popular anime or manga. Japan is not new to high school dramas, and “From Me to You” rekindles fond memories of school rather than bringing anything new to the screen. As someone who hasn’t watched the anime, I can absolutely understand why it would’ve been translated into a live-action show for high school students in Japan. The show subtly tackles issues such as school bullying, feeling like you’ve brought a knife in a gunfight, high-school exams, the fear of growing up, and many such struggles of a school student without ever coming across as a life lesson. This is the second time this particular manga has been adapted into live-action; previously, it was made into a movie starring the late Haruma Miura. Leave it to the Japanese to make the perfect slice-of-life drama come spring season.

High-school freshman Sawako Kuronuma frightens all her classmates because of her gloomy appearance and straight, dark hair that remind everyone of the spirit in “The Ring,” Sadako. She’s then permanently given this nickname, making her all alone in class. When a new kid named Shota Kazehaya, with pleasant energy and a kind heart, begins to talk to her and call her by her real name, Sawako finally feels seen. Her lonesome world is quickly turned upside down after Kazehaya comes into her life, making everyone give her a chance. It sounds like the adorable awakening of a cute school romance, and that is exactly what it delivers. But, along with Sawako and Shota, their group of friends is equally important and enticing as characters with wonderful individual arcs. Both lead actors have good chemistry. According to most people, Sara Minami is a little too beautiful to play Sawako, who doesn’t remotely look like Sadako, but her clumsy actions and soft demeanor definitely help us see why she might be an outcast. It did originally throw me off, though, because, as a fan of “The Ring,” I was expecting some ghost business. But, of course, that would ruin the fluffy nature of the entire show. The dynamic duo of Yano and Yoshida is especially entertaining, with their jabs at each other. Chizuru Yoshida, who has a tough girl exterior, also shows a sentimental side, and Ayane Yano, who is more mature than all the kids her age, has insecurities herself too. There aren’t many heart-fluttering moments in the show, but be warned: if you’re close to your band of friends, this one will hit home. Jin Suzuki’s Kento Miura isn’t in all episodes, but the few that he is in are brightened by his enigmatic presence, sometimes overpowering the entirety of the rest of the cast. His character is also very similar to his role in the 2021 drama “My Love Mix-Up,” making it seem almost like a cameo in parts.

There is no lack of pep in this J-drama, and if you’re looking for a background watch that makes you go ‘aww,’ give “From Me to You” a go. As the title suggests, the show is a slow-paced, awkward romance filled with misunderstandings sprinkled with “kawaii.” As a show about high school kids, as it may be, there is no villain, and the one antagonist quickly pushes the plot forward only to become a friend soon after. The lack of a villain doesn’t dull down this show and only keeps its 12 episodes bubbly, like Kazehaya’s character. As a teenager, it is easy to make a mountain out of a molehill. We’ve all been there, and “From Me to You” uses this idea rather often to help Sawako understand her friends better. Sometimes, her demeanor and naivety are a little too much, but in the end, it’s all forgotten. That doesn’t stop me from saying I wish she didn’t say ‘thank you’ as many times as she does. Perhaps since I’m not a native Japanese language speaker, some things are lost in translation, which of course, isn’t a bother with a show that is so easy to follow.

Set in a small town in Japan; the show creates an aspirational feeling for big cities such as Tokyo and Sapparo while still appreciating the small towns. A J-drama is incomplete without beautiful landscapes and adorable little houses, and a ramen shop that makes you want to cook yourself a pot immediately. If you’re a sucker for romance, “From Me to You” may not fulfill your need for love, but it still manages to be extremely cheesy and, at the expense of repeating myself, cute!

Overall, “From Me to You” is a charming watch for the low days. It’s like a blanket of positivity on a cynical day. There’s nothing new here; it’s the same old story wrapped in a bundle of kindness, which may be something everybody gravitates towards. As a first-time viewer of this particular story, I would give “From Me to You” three out of five mochis. It’s fun to indulge in lighthearted fluff once in a while that feels like a boost of energy or like the whole thing is cheering you on personally.

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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