Switched: Series Review

switched-posterI’ve had “Switched” on my Netflix list since it was released last year and have never had a chance to binge on it because new content just keeps arriving on the streaming site. I completely blame Netflix for my growing TBW pile but I’m not complaining. After seeing it in one sitting last night, I should say this was one great Japanese series and it instantly became one of my favorites next to Itazura Na Kiss (Love in Tokyo) and Good Morning Call. Its just so good.

Synopsis: Just as she was about to go on her first date with her longtime crush Koshiro Mizumoto (Tomohiro Kamiyama), Ayumo Kohinata (Kaya Kiyohara) receives a call from her classmate Zenko Umine (Miu Tomita) just as she was about to jump from a building to end her life. But instead of her classmate dying, Ayumi wakes up as Umine, after their bodies are switched by a mysterious phenomenon.  When Ayumi refuses to switch back, Umine tells her friends that she is trapped in another person’s body but only Shunpei Kaga (Daiki Shigeoka) believes her and supports her through her journey.

At six episodes, Switch delivered a fast paced series that had more twists and turns than most dramas that span 40 episodes. It is fairly common for Japanese dramas to run shorter than their other Asian predecessors at 10 episodes and I wish Switch extended its run to 10 episodes as well because it was just so engaging. I wanted to see more romantic scenes between Ayumi, Kaga and Koshiro because really, despite all that she’s been through, Ayumi is one lucky girl, with two great guys giving her unconditional love and support through her ordeal.

Storywise, Switch really made use of its time quite well,  but I would have wanted to see more scenes to build on the relationships more. I would have wanted to see Ayumi ineract with Umine’s mom more to jumpstart her relationship with her real daughter. I would have wanted Koshiro to really reach out to Umine, not just because he wanted to save Ayumi but because he understood her, because that was what was missing in her life in the first place. The camera treatment was more film quality than series and really levelled up the feel of the drama. The scoring was top notch and gave the series a youthful vibe despite the heaviness of the dillema.

kaga-ayumi

kaga-umine
TEAM KAGA. I’m obviously Team Kaga because look at this guy. No matter what form, his love for Ayumi is absolute.

Before discussing the love angle, let me just say that this is one of the best looking Japanese casts I have ever seen. Even the overweight Umine is kawaii. Actress Miu Tomita actually looks like Korean actress Jung So Min (Playful Kiss) especially when she smiles and Kaya Kiyohara just nails her role as the kind and beautiful Ayumi and the jealous and insecure Umine after the switch. The second lead syndrome is strong in this series and Kaya was my favorite character because he was just so open with his feelings about Ayumi, even when she turned into Umine. His unconditional love is wonderful to watch and the way he makes her smile is so charming. I must say though that when Daiki Shigeoka turned into Yoshiro, it seemed a bit weird when he turned serious. I think that actor Tomohiro Kamiyama made a more fluid transition, delivering on both the roles of Koshiro and Kaga flawlessly.

While the suspense of whether these four characters will be able to switch back stressed on my nerves, my heart was also doing flip flops over which ship to sail — Ayumi X Koshiro or Ayumi X Kaga because these boys brought their A-game to this show. Just as you would pledge your allegiance to one character, the other one does something so sweet and so selfless that you begin to doubt if you made the right choice. I could just imagine being in Ayumi’s shoes.

I liked the character development of this series, most especially Umine’s character. While her malice and jealousy was the cause of all the commotion, you can’t completely hate her character because of her well fleshed out backstory. Viewers begin to develop an empathy for the character who only wanted to be seen and loved, just as Ayumi was. Her story also sparks a great conversation about depression and how even one person can make a difference in the disposition of someone moored in darkness.

All in all, “Switched” will make you frustrated because it had lead characters that you will completely fall in love with, a villainess you can’t completely hate and a story that makes you want more. I’m not completely 100 percent okay with the ending because my heart is still mourning but I would rewatch this series for many more times in the future, for sure because its just so good.

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