Piece (2012)

University student Mizuho Suga (Tsubasa Honda) learns that her former high school classmate Haruka Origuchi (Erina Mizuno) died from an illness. At her funeral, Mizuho meets another former high school classmate Hikaru Narumi (Yuma Nakayama). In their high school days, Hikaru Narumi was famous for being a playboy. Mizuho and Hikaru Narumi were also in a special relationship. Hikaru was outgoing, but Mizuho found it difficult to make new friends. They once kissed in the classroom and went on a one day summer trip together. They weren't friends or lovers and kept their relationship a secret. Meanwhile, Haruka Origuchi's mother tries to talk to Mizuho, believing Mizuho was her daughter's best friend. Haruka's mother asks about Haruka's boyfriend. Haruka became pregnant with her boyfriend in the past. - AsianWiki

Piece is a 13-episode Japanese series released in 2012. I'm not familiar with any of the actors/actresses in the series but they got the acting chops and I really enjoyed the narrative plot. It's a story about growing up and self discovery. A highly recommended J-drama.

The story started with Mizuho Suga who was on the verge of breaking up with her boyfriend when she received a phone call informing that a former schoolmate, Haruka Origuchi, had died of illness. At the funeral, the mother of the deceased had revealed a shocking news to Mizuho. She was under the impression that Mizuho was her daughter's best friend and would probably know some details about her daughter that she wasn't privy to. The truth was, Mizuho barely even spoke to Haruka during their school days. Haruka was a quiet and reserved person and a subject of bully at school. Mizuho was a cool, level-headed girl who didn't really like being involved in other people's business. However, upon the mother's request, Mizuho embarked on a journey to find Haruka's lover.

In Mizuho's undertaking to uncover the truth, the series utilized a lot of flashbacks to the days when the characters were in high school and Haruka was still well and alive. I always love flashback narration, because it has this nostalgic feel and it takes away my anxious feeling  of wanting to know how things are going to end because the story already starts at a point where the ending is almost there, if you know what I mean. I just need to enjoy the flashback to understand how things come to being while at the same time the narrative moving forward to the ending point.

In the first episode, viewers were introduced to a number of characters during the funeral scene and info being thrown through attendees' casual conversations and remarks. It seemed like a normal and general depiction of a funeral scene where a lot of people with all sort of characters present. But as the story progressed, it was becoming more and more evident that each character has some kind of connection with Haruka and their involvement with her was revealed in flashbacks in the coming episodes with some twists and turns that were pretty engaging, and some even unexpected. I appreciate the fact that viewers we made as clueless and confused as Mizuho in solving the mystery, yet there were also hints that we could pick up to try and stay ahead of Mizuho.

I enjoyed the characters with all their complexities and insecurities. Through the search for this unknown person, they learned more about Haruko whom they barely knew when she was alive, and most importantly they learned more about themselves too and tried to change for the better. Almost everyone seemed to grow as a person by the end of the series, except maybe Hikaru Narumi who seemed stuck at the same place with walls that hardly made a crack for anyone to reach out to him.

The music used in the series were great overall, even though I wasn't really into the opening song. I like the recurring background song "Parade" by Matchbox 20 though.

"There are four types of people. Those who would never board the wrong bus, and those who would always board the wrong bus. And then, there are those who, upon realizing that they board the wrong bus, would immediately change to the right one. Lastly, there are those who carry on despite knowing they are on the wrong bus." 

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