If you’re into Japanese drama series and would like to see a very moving drama, then you should try watching Ichi Litre no Namida (1リットルの涙), translated into English as One Liter of Tears. There is a lot to discover with a special episode, a movie and the original diary based on a true story.
One Liter of Tears is a 2005 drama starring Sawajiri Erika (沢尻エリカ) and Nishikido Ryo (錦戸亮) from Kanjani Eight (関ジャニ∞). It is a heart-wrenching TV series about a 15-year-old girl who is diagnosed with an incurable degenerative disease. The show follows her life until her death at the age of 25. It is based on a true story.
Ikeuchi Aya (池内亜也), played by Sawajiri Erika is a 15-year-old young girl who is a very cheerful student. She is suddenly diagnosed with an incurable disease. Though she is challenged with this terrible illness, she lives her life to the fullest.
The script was based on her diary that the real Ikeuchi Aya wrote until she could no longer hold a pen. A book was also published, selling 1.1 million copies all over Japan. The full show consists of 11 episodes and one special episode.
Aya is a young girl, soon to be a high school student and the daughter of a household which makes tofu. Soon after, unusual things start to happen to her. She notices that she often falls down and there are changes in the way she walks. Her mother, Shioka (潮香), takes her to the doctor and is later diagnosed with spinocerebellar degeneration, a disease where the cerebellum of the brain gradually deteriorates. Aya is no longer able to walk, speak, write or eat by herself as her disease progresses.
A special episode was aired in 2007, two years after the series went through. It lasted for three hours with a brand new way of re-telling Aya’s story. The story is five years after Aya’s death. Asou Haruto (麻生遥斗), played by Nishikido Ryo, is now a doctor at the hospital where Aya was treated, while her sister, Ikeuchi Ako (池内亜湖), played by Narumi Riko (成海璃子), is now a nurse in training.
Haruto has a patient similar to Aya’s condition named Mizuki (みずき). Due to bullying at school, Mizuki decides not to receive any therapy since she has lost her will to live. As Haruto remembers Aya’s energy and willingness to live, he offers help to his patient. Aya is seen in numerous flashbacks in the special episode.
Before the drama series in 2005 and the special episode in 2007, a movie was filmed and released in 2004 with Onishi Asae (大西麻恵) playing Aya. Just like in the drama series, Aya was encouraged to write a diary that will chronicle her life in battling the disease.
The One Liter of Tears drama and movie were based on a true story and a book was published shortly before Aya’s death. The book was based on her diary. The diary was originally written in the first person in order to document how the disease affected her daily life. She also included her thoughts and feelings over her illness.
I first watched this heartbreaking Japanese drama when a friend lent me the DVD. The first episode immediately broke my heart. The story is very heartwarming even though it is a tragedy since Aya’s family and friends are always there to support her. Aya’s willingness to live moved my heart. Most people in the same situation as Aya would likely despair, however, it’s different with Aya. She truly lived her life to the fullest.
Check out this series for some valuable life lessons, heartwarming moments and unforgettable moments. Be warned, though, you’ll probably cry!
One Liter of Tears Website *Japanese only