Watching drama series long after their broadcast release is a regular practice of mine and every so often I find a story so heartfelt that it leaves an impression on one’s heart even years after my initial viewing. “Ruri no shima” (Ruri’s island) is one such drama, which was broadcast way back in the spring of 2005 and honestly my initial reason for choosing this series was the inclusion of one of my all time favorite actors in Takenouchi Yutaka whom plays a starring role herein however after experiencing the series whole, it’s truly the acting prowess and character written for model/actress Narumi Riko whom left the strongest lasting heart impression. And it’s not really a surprise as after all this series is named after her central character “Ruri”, however Narumi Riko was totally a new face for me then but has since grown into a most cherished actress of mine with the series being that introduction to her talents as well as her natural beauty.
The underlying story is central from a coming of age point in a young girl’s life who’s reality and emotions until the tender age of eleven have been nothing but loneliness with a heart who’s never known paternal love nor has experienced any support or love from adults likewise. Ruri’s mother “Nao” who’s played by Nishida Naomi was too young herself when she bore life to Ruri making her absent from care or caregiving as she herself was never in a mindset or maturity of truly becoming a mother. The defiant nature Ruri has always expressed to others acts not unlike a defense mechanism born of deeply rooted distrust of the adult world of her surroundings as this heartbreaking dynamic between mother and daughter is seen in its most unbearable light throughout the early episodes. Ogata Ken plays “Nakama Yuzou” who seeks to keep open a lone elementary school set on a island in the Okinawan chain which is set for its closure due to its last and only student departing. It is in Tokyo where he is able to recruit Ruri, and in hopes of keeping their school afloat she agrees to travel to the island giving the school a beginning hope in keeping its existence alive. There Ruri first sees herself as a couple’s daughter as she come face to face with true caring and love, the first she’s experienced but it doesn’t take long for her deeply rooted distrust of adults to rear its sobering reality with the majority of the island’s people taking an initial negative reaction to her. “Ruri no shima” brings a new light of adolescence and while set upon an extremely close knit community upon this island with all of its natural wonders, perils and openness to the beauty within, it is through the thoughtfulness and actions of the people there whom by this chance encounter with Ruri where the story sets forth a healing in her heart, one which has been wounded and uncared for for much too long. The trials and tribulations run deep as well with the school’s main teacher played by Konishi Manami longing to leave the island and with the school’s closure aiding in her dreams it is Ruri who’s presence creates an ugly tension between one another, a mysterious visitor in Takenouchi Yutaka’s character “Kawashima Tatsuya” who’s past may cast an even darker shadow with his presence upon the island community, Ruri’s own mother severing ties with her daughter even further in a heart wrenching manner which can only bring disbelief, the adaptation of life from a large city to a remote island for Ruri, mother nature’s rage, complications of relationships, unrequited love, life’s redemptions in many forms and for fear of spoiling the series with too much said I’ll leave those specifics at that…but I’ll just say that it is within these growing storylines in which “Ruri no shima” finds its legs as it continuously draws in the viewer episode by episode. Also watch for much subtle symbolism throughout the series with a few just being the sanshin, baby turtles and the blowing away of a hat….each beautifully orchestrated into the seams of the story as it grows…yes! there are quite a few. And don’t forget about the Okinawan cultural experience this drama naturally brings, very sweet.
In its totality, “Ruri no shima” displays the human spirit’s willingness to fight no matter what the odds and how we as people can be viewed to be so different and yet so alike if only our minds and hearts can find its natural harmony and through it all its occurrence upon an island so simple, much unlike the urban and populous cities and concrete jungles, sometime there’s a chance to learn and discover so much more and in itself isn’t it so wonderfully ironic?….to be upon a remote locale so simple.
Adolescence finding itself, realizing that it’s okay to love and be loved alike.
In hindsight to watching this series, a wonderful dynamic to Narumi Riko being cast as “Ruri” is really in her actual age at the time of the drama’s production. The central character Ruri is aged eleven and Narumi Riko then was aged twelve giving not only the obvious likeness in character age but also it lends beautifully into the reality of a girl so youthful and yet so far beyond her years in maturity as “Ruri” is written here.
Coincidentally Narumi Riko then also released her very first shashinshuu (photo book) titled “12歳” which was photographed by accomplished photographer Takeo Dec. and while it’s been long out of print I’ve managed to through a proxy locate a pristine conditioned copy although I will say it did cost a pretty penny for that matter!…and that’s not even considering the additional cost of going through a proxy for overseas shipping/purchasing where some sellers won’t ship internationally. So with extreme carefulness I did manage to scan quite a few photos from this pb although I was much more apprehensive in doing so as this pb is much rather like a collector’s item not intended for the harshness of the scanning process. And while there’s been much debate over idols/models posing for photographs at such a youthful age I will say that for the most part “12sai” was done in a tasteful manner save for well just a few photographs (cover included) which may be somewhat questionable for a girl of her youth to be posing in such ways.
~Narumi Riko 12sai photo book~
~Narumi Riko shashinshuu collection complete~
And as you’d expect for any fan I also collected her other two shashinshuu with “Natural Pure” and “Rico Days” pictured above. In the future I’ll be adding those photo books to this blog through scans as well.
~It’s the inevitable close up buttocks photo~