“I’ll still love you in ten years” (Juunen Saki mo Kimi ni Koishite) is one of the few romantic shows I’ve managed to sit all the way through. It stars Ueto Aya as Onozawa Rika and Uchino Masaaki as Maruyama Hiroshi and Gekidan Hitori as young Maruyama Hiroshi as well that’s right another love time travel show. It only lasted one season and only six episodes but it uses every minute to tell an interesting and powerful story that questions true love and how the choices we make effect who we become. Like Mop girl this show has a sci-fi twist to keep even nerds like me interested.
The story focuses on 26 year old Rika a single book editor who has had several bad experiences in love. After meeting with her most successful author she laments on how she wishes she could find someone who cares about her like the men in the books she loves, while a man dressed in a trench coast watches her from afar. She notices the man following her again later and decides to confront him, he tells her three things before running off. His name is Maruyama Hiroshi, he is her husband from 10 years in the future, and finally she will meet his younger self in a few days but he begs her not to get involved with him. The future Hiroshi it turns out is correct and Rika does meet a young ambitious scientist whom she almost immediately has feelings for, despite the stern warning from the future Hiroshi she slowly begins to date him.
The rest of the series is pretty straight forward the future Hiroshi continues to get involved and attempts to ruin the relationship in various ways even employing some of her friends in his schemes. The two meet up and have several debates about whether Rika should continue to date him knowing how it will turn out and slowly we learn what’s going on in the future relationship and how the two have become so unhappy with each other in ten years. Meanwhile the relationship is moving along and things are only looking up for the new couple. Rika has a lot of interesting inner dialog involving her frustration that something so perfect and wonderful now she doesn’t think could go bad.
I think a great twist in the story is that the future Hiroshi even though he claims to hate Rika he is only doing so to manipulate her away from him, as it become obvious he still is in love with her. He is only trying to break their past selves up because it’s Rika who becomes unhappy in the future and he’s doing all this in a romantic gesture to make her happy even if it’s without him. The acting by Uchino Masaaki is particularly fascinating every scene he’s in he completely steals and you really start to pull for this guy who’s just trying to make the woman he loves happy. Ueto Aya is absolutely beautiful and her characterization is a great as well, as a charming introverted book worm, and shows off a varied performance I could not get enough of. Maybe this is a weird compliment but in each episode Rika cooks the most delicious looking food.
There are plenty of side characters too who don’t really have a story but they all do add to the core relationship story. My favorite would be a professor who young Hiroshi works for he has plenty of good scenes with pretty much everyone. The only real criticism I have is that future Hiroshi tells everyone he’s from the future and everyone believes him, even though he is it’s just funny how fast everyone accepts it. “I’ll still love you in ten years” has plenty of strengths a great story, an interesting set up and very likeable characters I was left guessing how it would all turn out and conflicted as to who to root for. The series doesn’t get too much recognition and if you’re in the mood for an underrated J-drama gem this one is worth it to find out how it all turns out.