Yuki Yamada is outstanding in "Koko wa Ima kara Rinri desu" (2021)

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Koko wa Ima kara Rinri desu (From Now On We Begin Ethics)

Country: Japan

Year: 2021

Episodes: 8 episodes, 30 minutes each

Genre: Psychological, School, Drama

Starring: Yuki Yamada, Mizuki Kayashima, Yuto Ikeda

My Rating

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Actor Yuki Yamada snagged my attention as the second male lead in Itazura na Kiss, but I never expected a profound role from him. Certainly nothing life-shattering. 

Color me wrong.

The 2021 Japanese drama series Koko wa Ima kara Rinri desu (or From Now on We Begin Ethics) is an outstanding psychological experiment.

Yamada stars as Takayanagi Sensei, an ethics teacher of an elective high school course. During the series, he encounters a variety of ethical scenarios with his students. I would have loved having a teacher like Takayanagi Sensei. Gender, age, none of it would have mattered because the information being shared is so invaluable.

The drama covers attempted rape to bullying to self-harm by cutting and everything in between. Programming like 13 Reasons Why is being made because it is so relevant because people are feeling so lost right now, so identity-less, and that's what makes From Now On We Begin Ethics stand out so much stronger than it might have otherwise. It was made this year, for a current audience of young people who are trying to figure out who they even are when the world is shouting at them so loudly in ways that only encourage self-doubt and do nothing to build self-confidence and belief that they are designed for a specific purpose.

A review of the 2021 Japanese drama Koko wa Ima kara Rinri desu (From Now On We Begin Ethics)

Takayanagi Sensei shares from a different philosopher or theologian in every episode depending on the episode's focus. In episode 2, Takayanagi shares with his class some ideas about freedom, particularly that while people are free to do whatever they want, that anxiety comes from a life lived without boundaries. It's actually quite a biblical theory, mimicking I Corinthians 10:23, "all things are permissible, but not all things are profitable for me to do." Takayanagi is actually quoting Christian philosopher Soren Kierkegaard "Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom."

There are a few unfortunate tropes in the shape of teen girls in love with their high school teachers, not just one girl, but two. It's an old trope and it gets older every time it's used. I know that this particular drama is based on a manga so I'm sure this is likely an element of the manga, but it's still frustrating and ridiculous. Everything else in the series felt relevant, except that. It could just be that I am absolutely out of touch with how often this happens in Japan with teen girls falling for their teachers and wanting a relationship. OR, it could be that the mangakas need to move on and stop using this trope.

A review of the 2021 Japanese drama Koko wa Ima kara Rinri desu (From Now On We Begin Ethics)

Content-wise, there is some PG13 rated content, I would say. There's an attempted rape scene in episode 1. There's a teen boy who very nearly gets himself roped into a situation with a pedophile. Try having that ethics-related conversation. There's a teen girl who cuts herself, although there are some truly profound truths she comes to understand about the sanctity of her body. It's funny because her mother preaches that at her and doesn't make a dent. It takes her new friend at school, who is extremely fragile emotionally, to point out how valuable she is and that she needs to treasure herself. There are instances of Takayanagi Sensei trying to walk the fine line between caring for his students and following ethical behavior. He doesn't know how to easily cross that barrier between ethics and compassion, and so he struggles a great deal in wondering how efficient he is as a teacher.

My main issue of the "forbidden love" trope aside, From Now On We Begin Ethics is overall brilliant and extremely relevant. Where is the line drawn between individual rights and collective rights? When is it possible for the bullied to become bullies? How does collectivism morph into totalitarianism? All extremely relevant questions for the time in which we live where if someone dares to have an opinion contrary to the popular one, they're burned alive online. Emotion trumps logic in this new world of ours, but should it? 

A review of the 2021 Japanese drama Koko wa Ima kara Rinri desu (From Now On We Begin Ethics)

At the end of the day, Takayanagi Sensei is still a bit of an enigma. The character is private and we only get to know him as much as any of the people who interact with him know him.  It's implied by how he behaves that he is a deeply damaged individual whose only desire is to teach his students to think for themselves and make rational, informed decisions that respect themselves and others. He is a teacher, and we see him only as a teacher. If Yuki Yamada never stars in another worthwhile role, at least he starred as Takayanagi. I've been waiting for "his role" to come along, and this is it. Not as a romantic male lead, but as something so very much more valuable.

I will undoubtedly rewatch Koko wa Ima kara Rinri desu many, many times. Because it is just that good.

From now on, we begin ethics.

Where can I watch From Now On We Begin Ethics?

If you want to watch it with English subtitles you can try this page at DramaCool.

WARNING: There are offensive ads on DramaCool. I have an ad blocker (Kaspersky) that I use when on DramaCool so I don't see them. Go read my reasons why I think you need an adblocker before viewing content on DramaCool.

3 comments

  1. Ooo this sounds really good! Thanks for introducing me to DramaCool, it has so many dramas that I wasn't able to find anywhere else and releases subs faster than Viki.

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    Replies
    1. Yeaaaah, I take issue with Viki now. Their representation for Japan is seriously lacking. And what they do have is really not anything I would consider to be dramas of very high quality. Not all of them, but a good portion of them don't seem to be anything other than sensual fluff, if that makes sense. I don't know what they're thinking when there are so many AMAZING Jdramas out there. The comments and reviews for Jdramas on Viki annoy me because a lot of people only watch their Jdramas on Viki so they're thinking this is all that Japan has to offer. And nothing could be further from the truth. Ahhhh, it didn't used to bother me this much. So sad.

      DramaCool is certainly useful. Going forward though, I'm going to make sure to credit the original fansubber, like I did in my "Currently Watching" post. I don't know why, but it never really occurred to me that a lot of the dramas were fansubbed and quite a few of these fansubbers have their own websites, which is awesome because I can point to their website directly instead of DramaCool for watching the dramas. For older dramas, the fansubbers are usually not active anymore so there's no website to credit, but the newer ones, definitely. I'll try and be more aware of the fansubbers going forward when I give credit.

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    2. And yes, From Now On We Begin Ethics is outstanding. I was deeply, deeply impressed with what they did and how relevant it is to the times we're living in. Just a truly remarkable drama. I love Yuki Yamada and I really hope he continues to get main roles like this in dramas that truly make an impact.

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