How Watching Dear Brother Can Hurt You

This post is the spoiler filled companion piece of the post that came out yesterday and it’s a very personal piece as well. If you want more context about what Dear Brother is about and why I liked it, you can read my post here: Link. I just wanted to write this paragraph as a massive spoiler warning and to provide context to why this post exists in the first place. For me, it is literally impossible to talk about my own reflective experience from Dear Brother without spoiling some massive things. You have been warned. After this point, those who aren’t spoiled will be spoiled in how Dear Brother ends. Have fun.

Dear Brother is filled with lots of bits of drama. Some of it is petty, like kids fighting over the right to have joined the sorority. That involves those destructive characters looking at our main characters backstories and not their personalities to find a reason why they shouldn’t have even been considered. So what does that mean? People lifting up their importance through inflating their own egos with nothing to back it up. At the same time, there is some real serious issues regarding suicide, drama, death, drug overdose, cancer coming back, and tons and tons of death threats. Both of those can break a person if they happen at the same time and they almost did.

The real drama of Dear Brother comes from the relationship between Rei Asaka and her sister Fukiko Ichinomiya. For most of the series, Fukiko treats her younger sister like absolute crap and yet Rei hangs on Fukiko’s word for even a small bit of praise. There was the moment with Fukiko actually dropped an umbrella for Rei to use in the rain in the most troublesome way possible, the moment when Fukiko asked Rei to wait for her out in the rain for hours on end in a way that could kill her, and the spiky frog incident which involved tons of spikes landing on Rei’s hand and it’s scary. There is a ruthlessness to Fukiko that only is carried out by Rei’s drug habits and will to eventually committ suicide with her.

So that is the true drama of getting Rei to survive for the next day and it’s so horrifying. Sometimes Rei forgets who she is and almost takes Nanako, our protagonist, to commit suicide with her without Nanako’s screams of “NO” all over again getting to her until the very last moment. We could also talk about Fukiko almost killing Nanako out of her own petty reasons too because there is a lot of general ugliness that spreads around. Lots of Psychopaths. Yet, both Fukiko and Rei eventually do get control over their lives and find a balancing point. Not for suicide, but becoming better by controlling their habits and their egos. What a happy ending. You know, until Rei dies trying to get flowers over a train track and hits the train traveling at high speeds. The same trains we’ve seen moving across the city all through the show. Gah, that hurt my soul in so many ways

That was that hit me and the rest of the cast so hard. Death is a serious thing. That’s why the moments where Nanako almost dies are so harrowing. These high schoolers are threatening the death of someone over a misunderstanding and some of the most bitch-tastic and petty reasons in existence. So what is the result of an actual death on screen? Nothing else ever feels the same. Everything that can weigh you down up to that point feels so tiny. Every single cast member is changed from Rei’s death. Kaoru who was the most mature one after her run in with cancer breaks down and everyone else bcomes a bit more reflective and outward thinking. Nothing else ever feels the same ever again and you can only go forward one step at a time day after day. That’s what happened to me.

One thing I didn’t mention online or anywhere else is that this end of April/Beginning of May time period was the 8th Anniversary of my older brother’s death. He would have been 35 this year two days from now. I remember that moment or night when I heard he passed away. It was the night after I messed up a final exam for one of my classes way back in the Midwest for my masters and it was my first semester as a graduate student. I was so drowned in my own self-pity and hours later, received the phone call from my churches pastor at that time of my brother passing away. It was so shocking and unexpected. It wasn’t from anything we could predict because it was an aortic aneurism that we didn’t know he had. He got out of the shower and then pop, gone. I was so young and dealt with family deaths before, but it never felt this way. I thought I could tough out that the anniversary this year, but then this show came around and I completely failed that mission. Sigh, God has a way of things sometimes you know…

And for those who are going to ask, no he wasn’t a drug addict like Rei was in the series. But, he did struggle finding his own place through out his life because I don’t think he found a place that he belonged to or connected to anyone that well. I won’t say what those issues were in particular but they put him at a disadvantage against the world itself. The last time I was around him, he finally discovered his own interests and the direction that he wanted to go in life and passed away suddenly before he had the chance to completely capitalize off of it all. So, this is why those soap opera moments never come as cliché to me anymore because they have happened to me as well and those moments just hurt. Life is strange and sometimes even stranger then fiction you know?

The death and the after effects are what sold this show as possibly one of my new favorite shows. Why? Because it proved to me how much it knows human nature and people. That not everything or everyone can come with a happy ending. That people are fragile and need to be treated with care while they are here. Death is very unexpected sometimes. It may have been telegraphed a bit in Dear Brother, but that’s ok because it’s a piece of fiction. The aftershocks were what sold this show because it knows the feeling behind it. It knows how to make everything smaller feel like not much and opening the mind to newer ideas and the people around you. Every character got affected by Rei’s death in different ways that felt human. For all the questionable antics and decisions made through most of the show, they were all a set up for this moment of pure pain and humanity. It’s not often I connect with a show but I did here and I think that’s good.

Thank you for coming to my own little self-reflection and discussion on Dear Brother. Just know that I didn’t write this post looking for pity, but to share my own story and how I can engage with a story when it hits me personally and that’s it really. The greatest stories are sometimes ones that can hit us in the emotional core and that doesn’t happen to me that often. There were plenty of moments during my watch through towards the end where I had to mute my discord audio feed due to what was happening and how I responded to it. I never said why at that moment and those moments may have felt inconsequential then but they weren’t. Sometimes the best shows are those that connect with you on your own level and Dear Brother was one of those shows for me. Once again, thanks for reading.


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