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Life – Love on the Line Ep. 2 Review

Disclaimer: There will be spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the episode yet, what are you waiting for? Go watch it, then come back and tell me what you think.

Also – in the previous post, I called them by their last names, which is common in Japan unless you are close to someone. In episode 2 their relationship has shifted, so I will refer to them by their first names, Akira Ito and Yuuki Nishi.

Where We Left Off

We left off after a time skip of two years in the story of Akira Ito and Yuuki Nishi, two high schoolers who met while walking a white line towards each other one day. They developed a friendship because they shared a flair for the imagination and whimsy together, and as time went on, Akira develops feelings for the adorable Yuuki. He kisses him, runs away, terrified that he’s ruined their relationship. Yuuki pursues Akira, worried about him. They both have feelings towards each other, so they begin their romance.

They bring out the happiness in each other. We begin where we left off with both Akira and Yuuki at age 19. Yuuki is walking along the line where he will meet Akira.

Following this line, a loved one comes to see me everyday. I’m sure it’s the same as that feeling.

19 year old Yuuki

Where We Begin

Yuuki immediately launches into a dream he had where they ate wild salmon in Alaska under the Aurora. This is typical Yuuki. His whimsical fantastical imagination leads his every day. His head is in the clouds, imagining scenarios of peril, rescue, romance and any flights of fancy he finds.

Akira is much more simple in his thought process. After listening to Yuuki his brain says to him:

I want to eat you.

19 year old Akira

This cracks me up. This is your typical 19 year old’s response when standing before his love.

The pair wander off to have salmon at the conveyer belt sushi restaurant. We learn that the pair are university students now, so they have more free time and meet more often.

On the way home, Akira drags Yuuki into an alley and shoves him to the wall, kissing him forcefully. We hear his internal monologue about how he can’t control his feelings of desire when he see’s Yuuki anymore.

Personally, I feel this is an overused trope to excuse the use of force on someone. I don’t buy it, and i don’t like the portrayal that a person has no control over his behavior when it comes to acting on his desires. We aren’t all base desire without control. I feel that it’s too often used as an excuse for them to move the plot along, creating drama which could easily be avoided and it plays down assault as a real threat that women and men deal with.

Yuuki doesn’t appear into it at all. And thankfully Akira notices and stops. He tells himself that Yuuki doesn’t seem interested, but tells himself Yuuki doesn’t push him away, so he must be ok with it. They walk to wait on Yuuki’s train. Yuuki keeps his distance physically and appears quiet until the train come. They wave goodbye and go there separate ways.

Ito Household

When Akira enters his home he’s met by his older sister walking away from their mother. The older sister tosses a comment to Akira on her way by him. She tells him she’s going abroad for a while, before disappearing around the corner.

Then we see the mother turn to focus her attention on Akira. If she can’t control one child, she can make sure the other listens to her advice. She vents her frustration that Harumi (the sis) has graduated without searching for a job. As soon as her attention is focused on Akira, he reassures her that he will graduate and look for a job right away. He feels the pressure she is putting on him to be “normal” and meet societal expectations.

This also reinforces the idea of a conformist society, where the collective and societal expectations are placed above individual needs and wants. Though Japanese society is changing and evolving, this is still a pressure many young Japanese young adults face. Graduate, get a good job, have children and take care of their parents. Basically, follow the rules and don’t cause anyone any trouble.

Later we see Akira in his bedroom at night, unable to sleep. It’s partly due to the pressure of his parents, and partly due to the sexual frustration he feels around Yuuki. As he imagines the expressions of Yuuki that he hasn’t seen before, we see that he’s about to engage in most teenagers favorite pastime, masturbation. (Yes, I said it….We are all grown ups here, at least I hope so, lol). He’s rudely interrupted by the sister who barges in, flips on the lights and asks him what he’s doing. I think that should be obvious……😁

Instead of leaving, she sits down in a chair and they proceed to have a brother and sister discussion. She is worried about him living his life based on their parents expectations. She is quick to brush them off, eager to live her own life, free from restraints. She wishes he would do the same. She asks him a question that he has to think hard about.

I mean, are you living life honestly with yourself?

Harumi

Akira admits to himself later that night that he is too cautious. He has an active imagination, but because he’s afraid of failures, he will stop the flights of fancy. He seems to know himself well. But it’s a bit of foreshadowing, as we know that this will cause problems because being in a gay relationship defies tradition and societal expectations in Japan. So I’m sure it will cause problems for his relationship with Yuuki.

Another Day

Yuuki shows up on their line with a girl following alongside him, chatting with him. Of course Akira is jealous, but Yuuki is oblivious to this and tells Yuuki the girl is just a classmate. We see that Akita’s feelings are reaching a boiling point. Jealousy and sexual frustration are rolling around inside him.

The two of them are in Yuuki’s room studying. Well Akira is studying and Yuuki is laying behind him, playing with his hair. This, of course, turns on Akira, who rounds on Yuuki, getting too aggressive towards him, with hands roaming roughly. This causes Yuuki to push him away forcefully and run across the room.

Yuuki grabs a roll of tape, lays down a line and tells Akira if he crosses it, he will get electrocuted. This is Yuuki’s defensive mechanism. He reverts to their childish game to put the brakes on their physical relationship. It’s what he knows, how he can express himself clearly.

Akira is stunned and worried. Does this mean that Yuuki doesn’t want to be intimate with him. Has he misconstrued Yuuki’s feelings all along?

Yuuki scolds him, saying can’t Akira see how uncomfortable he is with this. He has to prepare himself for this kind of thing. He needs to take things slow instead of rushing all into things.

Akira thought he was rejected, but that’s not it at all. He then clarifies with Yuuki to find out what the boundaries are. He asks if kissing is ok, then tells Yuuki that he wants go as far as he can with him.

This is one thing they get right. Instead of pressuring or crowding Yuuki at this moment, Akira sits patiently, waiting to see what Yuuki will say or do. This is communication between partners. Akira lets Yuuki take the lead on how far things go.

This kiss scene is so sweet. It even comes with a confession of love from Yuuki. The scene fades away with the implication they will become lovers that night. Yuuki walks Akira back towards home, and though they don’t kiss, the feeling is one of intimacy between them.

They are seen by Akira’s sister who asks if that was his lover. Akira thinks about lying, but admits the truth to his sister with a simple yes. She throws her arms around him, telling him how happy she is to see him living his life honestly.

20

Yuuki and Akira celebrate Christmas together. Yuuki wears a Santa suit, gifting them couples mugs, sunrise and sunset. Akira give Yuuki a woven bracelet. They are so happy, you can feel the love and joy.

21

Yuuki still wears bracelet while trying to put together his resume and look for a job. Akira is smoking and looks like an adult. Whereas Yuuki is frustrated he doesn’t know what he wants to do. He can’t picture being an adult. Akira helps him buy a suit, then tells Yuuki his reason for wanting a job quickly. Akira want’s to work so they can live together, seeing each other every morning and every night. This motivates Yuuki to look for work too.

25

Here we have the happy day montage. The dates, the domestic bliss of coming home to a homemade meal with your loved one. It’s all so happy, you know this can’t continue for long. Life is just too happy.

Happy Dates

At Akira’s work, his boss introduces him to a new employee, whom he will be helping and training. Of course there is the moment of realization that this is the first girl who confessed to him in high school. She recognizes him right away too. This is the other shoe. The normal temptation that will meet his parents and societal expectations. So I expect next episode to be a rocky one. I don’t know what will set him on this other path, but I feel this will be the angst coming.

Let me know what you guys think, ok?

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4 Comments

  1. Céline July 25, 2020

    I’ve already seen the entire drama so I’ve been waiting for your post about this episode: it’s hands down my favourite one out of the four; they’re all amazing of course, and there are a couple of emotionally loaded scenes in the next one that are pretty incredible but like, ANGST!

    To be honest it’s just that I have a thing for that part of a drama in which the couple’s dynamics are explored in the first steps of a relationship. The parts dominated by both hesitation and expectation. They know they are something to each other but they’re not really sure if they’re on the same page about it. Basically everything that leads up to the moment of recognition and awareness of each other’s feelings, when “you and me” becomes “us”. If executed well it’s the part I usually end up watching over and over again, more than the so-called honeymoon phase. I love that, like you said, they take the time to actually TALK about intimacy and boundaries in such a short drama (waaay too short by the way!), proving once again that communication doesn’t take anything away from the romance! Totally aced that scene imho.

    ** It’s not even close to Fighter’s legit moans in “Why RU?” (😜) but Akira’s voice asking Yuuki to say his first name again was *chef’s kiss* and Jin Shirasu acted the hell out of a single sentence. Also, his facial expression after Yuuki tries the suit on is priceless.

    • jenhg July 25, 2020 — Post Author

      I’m going to watch the next episode today and do my review of it, then tomorrow do episode 4. As for the first stages of a relationship being portrayed, I can agree with you. The newness is interesting and exciting. The possibilities are endless as to what will happen next as the couple continues to grow, as you say correctly, from a you and I to a we. I also think it’s a good time to explore the people as individuals because once they are together, they change each other. Akira needed the whimsy of Yuuki to pull him from the heavy weight of his parental and societal expectations. And Yuuki needed a companion, someone who understood him, and didn’t try to change him into something he’s not. I feel this was well done. In terms of two episodes, we see so much character development. I am honestly surprised at how the show has been able to attach so many inner characteristics to both Akira and Yuuki, that we feel we know them in the brief two episodes shown so far. And I think part of this is inner monologue, part is their expressiveness, and for me, the poetry of their words give the feelings more depth. I am a woman who loves language and words. I graduated with a BA in English & a Masters Degree in Library Science. Words speak to my soul. So for a short bl to grab me like this says to the lyrical quality of each inner thought or dialog. I also want to say I am happy that in such a compact bl they spoke of intimacy, discussed consent, and showed a respect for establishing and respecting boundaries. I wish more bl’s would touch on this subject. The other bl’s cant use brevity as a reason to ignore this issue, as this short bl worked it seamlessly into the plot. And you are definitely right about the chemistry between the main characters. The sexual tension, the love and longing in that short sentence and the simple suki desu was oh so delightful. I thought he’d get into Yuuki in a suit, but I enjoyed the fact that he wasn’t worried about the sales girl at all when Akira let Yuuki know the suit worked for him, lol. Can’t wait to blog and chat about the next few episodes. 🤗💕 – Jen

      • Céline July 25, 2020

        As a non-native English speaker I did struggle for a good ten minutes trying to figure out those pronouns but I kinda needed to write that sentence even if it sounded weird. Let’s just appreciate my effort.

        With that out of the way, I agree with literally everything you said. I like how you further explained the perks of focusing on the time in which two different people get to know each other as individuals while also slowly shaping each other through their mutual connection. In such a short span of time (episode 1 and 2) they basically didn’t waste any time: everything is meaningful, carefully thought-out and in my opinion realistic. I easily get on board if there’s good chemistry and the writing clearly conveys what attracts the people involved and how their bond influences their personality and life in general, in other words why they work as a couple. It’s a deal breaker if you want me to stick with the drama through the ever present but not always convincing complications before the final reconciliation. As far as I’m concerned I did come to terms with pretty over the top or barely consistent last minute conflict when written for a well developed couple. Is it frustrating? Hell yeah, but I can deal with it! And let’s be honest, asian dramas are rarely satisfying in terms of conflict resolution. That’s what fix-it fanfic are for!

        I’ll be waiting for the other posts … in the meantime in case you’re interested I recommend “Where Your Eyes Linger”, the recently aired Korean BL (just as short as this one).

      • jenhg July 26, 2020 — Post Author

        True, I agree. Sometimes you fall for a couple, and find that you end up overlooking the plot holes and contrived angst because you are invested in them. As for me, I feel this couple feels the most realistic. Their relationship evolves over time, so you see both of them in different stages of their life. This impacts their relationship because a true relationship causes you to evolve over time, and sometimes you evolve together, and sometimes you evolve in a way that breaks you apart. Either way, I appreciate the complexities they address as they mature. What’s a problem at 17 won’t be the same time of problems you will have at 25. I’m going to watch episode 4 in a moment, so I am curious how things will develop from here. It’s a good thing it’s been a while since I’ve read the manga, so I don’t remember the ending. I look forward to talking about the next episode with you. 🤗💕 – Jen

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