TV Review | Jack o’ Frost (ジャックフロスト)
“Jack o’ Frost is a poignant tale about falling in love all over again. It will hold your attention all the way through. Kyoya Honda and Kosuke Suzuki both deliver heartfelt performances. The two have a wonderful on-screen chemistry. This series also has heartwarming and striking visuals. Undoubtedly, it is a must-watch.”
Jack o’ Frost, Jakku Furosuto (ジャックフロスト) in Japanese, is a BL drama. This one is an original story not based on a manga or novel. The series aired on MBS in Japan and is on GagaooLala and Rakuten Viki for the rest of the world.
This is definitely not your usual BL. When it starts, the two characters are already a couple but they are not in a good pass. During Ritsu Okusawa (played by Kyoya Honda)’s birthday, his boyfriend Fumiya Ikegami (played by Kosuke Suzuki) decides to break up after an argument. In distress Ritsu leaves their apartment but he has an accident which causes a memory loss. Unfortunately, he forgets his life with his boyfriend.
From there, Ritsu returns to live with Fumiya thinking they are roommates and not knowing the truth that they were a couple and they had broken up the night before. Memory loss is a difficult subject to tackle but I think the series handles it well. It is also thanks to Kyoya’s performance.
Jack o’ Frost is actually a poignant story about falling in love all over again. Indeed, Fumiya sees this unexpected but sad opportunity as a new start. He is happy to be with the man he loved again. But at the same time, it is frustrating because he doesn’t want to tell the truth to Ritsu. He is too afraid that this would ruin his second chance at love. However, he doesn’t realize at first that despite not remembering him, Ritsu is little by little falling in love with him again. It is incredibly captivating to watch this story unfold.
Moreover, as Fumiya finds love again with Ritsu, we see him reminiscing about their past. So, there are several flashbacks throughout the episodes. A place, something that Ritsu asks, several things trigger these memories. For example, when they go to their usual cafe and Ritsu asks where they usually sat, Fumiya reminisces the first time they met. We see glimpses of their couple life, how they got together… There is a lot of sweet and romantic moments.
Undoubtedly, the best flashbacks are in episode 3. It is during their trip to a cosy villa at Lake Yamanaka. This villa is where they became a couple. And this episode is filled with absolutely delightful scenes between these two characters. It culminates with an intimate love scene.
I think it is clever storytelling to go back and forth between the present and these flashbacks because it shows different aspects of their lives. These flashbacks come at key moments, they play a part in the emotional beats of the story. On top of that, Fumiya reminiscing about the past really shows his state of mind. He is constantly thinking about their relationship. You can tell he longs to make their couple work again. Some of the flashbacks also allows him to reflect on past mistakes. This series is the perfect example on how you incorporate flashbacks into a story.
Besides, it is so well done the way these scenes are introduced and the way they end. There is a real camera work. It tries to get us into Fumiya’s mind, showing us what he sees and what triggers these memories. The camera also focuses on capturing Fumiya’s emotions with close-up and medium close-up shots. Everything is so beautifully crafted.
There is a lot of back and forth between the two characters in the first four episodes. Fumiya does things that please Ritsu and he makes sure he is happy. But then, he takes a step back to not be too close from him because of what it would mean. He has this second chance and he doesn’t want to loose it. Ritsu actually tries some moves as the episodes go but he is brushed off by Fumiya at first.
However, episode 3 marks a turning point in their relationship. The trip to the villa brings Ritsu and Fumiya closer. And this results in a wonderful opening scene in episode 4 between the two during breakfast. Ritsu conpliments Fumiya. He more openly shows his interest in him and Fumiya doesn’t brush him off this time. The first half of episode 4 is actually about this new found closeness for the two characters. It is incredibly cute to see these two characters falling in love again.
TROUBLE IN PARADISE
Nevertheless, not telling the truth has consequences. In a way, Fumiya is controlling their relationship by not telling the truth that they used to be together, not simply roommates. In fact, episode 4 ends with Ritsu discovering the truth. He finds the box where Fumiya had hidden his drawings and a picture of them as a couple. Obviously, he is both surprised and not happy about finding it like this. There is a lot of confusion for him. This marks a shift into the story. Indeed, after the spark of rebirth in their relationship comes the drama. This is what happens when you tell lies, at one point the truth always finds its way. Add to that Ritsu’s ex-boyfriend coming back, this raises the stakes even more.
FINDING THE TRUTH
As such, episode 5 has a different tone. It really dives into the dramatic element of the story. And the opening scene sets the tone. Even though, they live in the same apartment they are apart. The way the camera films them accentuate that separation and it also shows how they both feel in that moment. The visuals tell their own story. It is even more important when you often have scenes with no dialogues.
Ritsu gets confirmation of the truth about him and Fumiya from his brother. Without any doubts, this is a moving scene. You can feel the distress of the character. This is a moment of shock for him. His world falls apart but Fumiya’s world falls apart too. Everything goes wrong. This episode actually goes crescendo. The more the story progresses the more it becomes heartbreaking. The culmination is with Fumiya explaining everything to Ritsu. This obviously comes with another reveal for Ritsu – the fact that they broke up just before the accident. It is really painful to see everything unfolds.
The scene with Fumiya explaining everything to Ritsu is a long one and it features the longest flashback of the series. We witness the entirety of what happened at Ritsu’s birthday. In fact, it starts in a great way as the two characters celebrate this wonderful moment which results in a steaming love scene. It is extremely well shot. This part of the sequence beautifully shows the feelings they share for each other.
However, what comes after that changes the tone of this flashback. The break-up is quite heated and there is more to what we saw in the opening scene of the series. It is heart-wrenching. You see how unhappy Fumiya is. Their relationship was actually sinking. And to make things even more heartbreaking, the characters break up again in the present. Obviously, Ritsu doesn’t feel like staying with Fumiya after learning everything. Episode 5 really made me cry. It hits hard with the feels. And the opening of episode 6 continues on that path. Indeed, Ritsu moves out of their apartment, leaving Fumiya alone.
However, not everything ends in tears. In fact, we do get a happy ending and it is a wonderful one. As Ritsu looks at his sketch book, he finally remembers his relationship with Fumiya. This leads to one last reveal through a flashback. The two had met way before the cafe, they met on the beach from the end credits. In this scene, you can tell they already had a connection. They were always meant to be together. This is true love.
And to continue on that path, the two reunite at the cafe after Fumiya searched for him throughout the neighborhood. It is a touching reunion. This time, it is not sad tears but joyful tears as we watch these two get back together. There is something so satisfying and powerful in that scene. The way it is filmed, the acting, the dialogue, it is all beautifully executed. It feels genuine. I think everyone loves a good happy ending like this one.
Furthermore, Kyoya Honda delivers an heartfelt performance as Ritsu. Playing a character who has lost his memory isn’t easy, but he does a great job at portraying him. Kyoya also perfectly transcribes on screen Ritsu’s new growing feelings towards Fumiya. He communicates a lot with his eyes, which adds to his performance. Plus, he has a natural charm that immediately draws the attention to him.
Kosuke Suzuki is brilliant as Fumiya too. He beautifully shares with the audience the emotions of his character. There is something really genuine. He perfectly balances the gravitas of his character with his softer side. When his character thinks, during the moments of silence, you can clearly guess his character’s thoughts. His acting is truly on point. And he has a soothing presence. It is an absolute pleasure to see him play this character.
Besides, Kyoya and Kosuke have a wonderful on-screen chemistry. It is a duo that works so well and you cannot get enough of them. Without any doubts, these two actors definitely deserve more lead roles. Both their characters are really ordinary people, it is actually characters you could meet in real life, they could be your neighbors. It is not easy to play that but Kyoya and Kosuke portray them so brilliantly. You believe in their performances.
In addition, Shoot Mori from I Will Be Your Bloom also appears as Ritsu’s brother. Even though he doesn’t have a lot of screen time, it is nice to see him again.
The title lets you know what kind of visual atmosphere to await with this series. In truth, with a title like Jack o’ Frost you expect a winter setting. And this is exactly what you get. This season of the year is cold but still, there is something beautiful in it. The series captures that with grace. There are some remarkable shots throughout the episodes. The whole scene at Lake Yamanaka with the swans is absolutely striking.
Ritsu and Fumiya’s usual cafe is a small one but there is something really cosy there. It is definitely a place I would love to visit. The villa they rent is also quite pleasant. In fact, each place has been carefully selected to fit that romantic and heartwarming aesthetic. You can also feel that through the choice of clothes for the characters.
On top of that, the choice of colorful clothes for Ritsu balance the cold colorimetry. There is a delightful game of colors. I am really impressed with what has been done with this series.
Yuma Bando composes the score. And her work also aligns with the visual aesthetic of the series. There is a winter-y feel in her music but it is also heartwarming. At times, it can be more emotional when the scenes require it. It uses a lot of piano but quite a lot of guitar as well. All in all, the soundtrack, the sets, the clothes, everything works in harmony.
OPENING AND END CREDITS
The opening theme is ‘Night Owl’ (夜行性) by Anonymouz. It is a dynamic and upbeat song. The credits feature Ritsu and Fumiya cooking in the kitchen. It is a memory from when they were a happy couple. We see Fumiya reminiscing about it. And then it shifts to Fumiya and Ritsu in the present after the latter as lost his memory. This pretty much sums up the atmosphere of the series. It is a pretty good opening.
As for the end theme, it is ‘Love Me’ by miwa. It is a wonderful love song. I think it is the right fit for an end credits. These credits feature Ritsu and Fumiya finding each other on the beach. It shows them as a happy couple. A simple but beautiful credits. Besides, the end credits are evolving with each episode. Indeed, we see the progression of Ritsu’s drawing throughout each end credits. He is drawing his couple. It is a nice detail.
Jack o’ Frost is a poignant tale about falling in love all over again. It will hold your attention all the way through. Kyoya Honda and Kosuke Suzuki both deliver heartfelt performances. The two have a wonderful on-screen chemistry. This series also has heartwarming and striking visuals. Undoubtedly, it is a must-watch. Whether you like BL or you are just into romance or drama, I think anyone can enjoy this series. It may very well be one of the best, if not the best BL series.
Jack o’ Frost season 1 is streaming on Rakuten Viki and GagaooLala right now!
Collectables Editor at Future Of The Force.
Star Wars and Marvel specialist, anime expert