Being an adult is hard sometimes, droning even. We by our very nature get caught up in the day-to-day cycle of waking, working, resting, just to do it all over again. I live in the United States, a country that is at best, a dysfunctional society. Typically speaking, if two adults meet for the first time, eventually the question will be asked, what one does for a living. I truly loathe that question, but even with that type of culture, the US holds no candle to one of the most overworked societies in the world, Japan. With this in mind, it really comes to no surprise salaryman Yoshida, wakes, works over his shift, goes to get drinks with his coworkers, passes out, does it again. An endless cycle that he has done for years at this point, but the cycle was soon to be broken. After work one night Yoshida confesses to his boss, Airi Gotou, a woman he has had a crush on for many years, a feeling she seems not to convey. Heartbroken and drunk Yoshida stumbles towards his one-bedroom apartment, stopped by a peculiar sight sitting under a street lamp. Walking up to the teenager he simply asks her what she is doing out so late, and she should go home, her reply, I have no home to go to.
Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway has been without a doubt one of the most talked-about series wrapping up the Spring 2021 season. Learning the girl’s name is Sayu, Yoshida does the morally (and illegal) questionable decision of telling Sayu, look, you can stay with me for now. A proposition Sayu is not that unfamiliar with. See up to this point Sayu has been hopping from town to town, place to place staying with a wide demographic of adults, all of which, sadly, took advantage of her state. Thinking this is just another guy wanting the single thing all the other guys up to this point had wanted, Sayu agrees to stay with him, attempting to give him what she believes is what he wants.
Turns out, Yoshida is only into older women.
Rejecting her advances even the following day, Yoshida makes a clear-cut rule, if Sayu even remotely tries to seduce him, she is out. A rule honestly, he doesn’t really enforce. Higehiro on paper is a bold if not risky story to tell so when I heard it was getting an adaptation my initial feeling was “oh this is not going to go well” a feeling that ended up being very wrong. What starts as this age gap gimmick quickly becomes something a lot more heartfelt but equally as dark. Being able to tell Sayu has a lot of trauma, Yoshida decides that he is going to do everything in his power to make sure she has a normal teenage life that she deserves, a choice that really isn’t his call. Slowly but surely the façade that Sayu has put up for almost a year starts to break as time and time again Yoshida goes out of his way to assure of her own self-worth, creating an environment for the first time in her life she is welcome.
One thing that gets discussed a lot about this series is just how much Sayu has gone through up to this point, the saving point in her life being her fated meeting of Yoshida. What I think is equally important to talk about is not only how important Yoshida was for Sayu but the other way around. For the first time in his life, Yoshida has something to live for that isn’t work. Having Sayu taking care of his place, even getting a part-time job leads Yoshida to shave every day, work more healthy hours, be more approachable, and generally seem happier. In fact, Sayu has such an impact on his life his coworkers at first, just assume, he ended up getting a girlfriend, something Sayu very much so wishes she was (let’s be real here) but he assures them he does not. Discovering that he is indeed harboring an underage runaway initially the people in his circles give him the generic warning that what he is doing is pretty sketch no matter how he feels about it. But the real big thing he has to watch out for they say (because almost all of them are in love with him) be careful, she may be a girl, but either of you falling in love is a very real outcome.
Which he also dismisses as something that could never happen, spoiler, what do you think happens?
I talked recently in a post about the age gap and how I feel it should be done vs some other series that go about it a different way and I must admit, Higehiro handles this whole situation really well. How you ask? Simple, Yoshida and Syau love each other, but at least for Yoshida, it isn’t so much romantic. He becomes very emotionally attached to Sayu, going out of his way to make sure she is comfortable and able to do live the life he sees she should. I really enjoyed Higehiro overall, it was a heartfelt story about a girl stuck in a pretty rough situation, risking everything to escape it. A girl that ran into a guy who just happened to be drunk and sad, who had been stuck in the same old cycle for years on end with no break in sight. A story about the two of them bringing the best out of each other, opening parts of their inner selves that were normally closed off and just simply loving each other, now we see, as Sayu grows older if she remains true to her promise in the end.
The age gap is a tricky beast to tackle and there are a lot of ways a series can miss up, Higehiro however, did it artfully. Now I won’t say it was perfect, the last episode of season one had its moments where I was like “alright Sayu chill” and her coming to terms with her feelings I thought was a nice touch that we all knew was coming. But I can see her trying to bridge this love into a romance and that can be, harry. If you weren’t sure about this show and find yourself wanting just a wholesome series about two strangers bringing the best out of each other, I can honestly say you don’t have to look much further than Higehiro, it is truly a series that I will be thinking on for a while to come.
As always thanks for the read!