TV Review | Why Didn’t I Tell You a Million Times? (100万回 言えばよかった)
“Why Didn’t I Tell You a Million Times? is a deeply touching story about love and grief while also being a compelling crime drama. The leading trio deliver layered performances. This series once again reminds us that Takeru Satoh is an incredibly talented actor.”
Why Didn’t I Tell You a Million Times? (100 mankai Ieba Yokatta / 100万回 言えばよかった) is a Japanese series that aired on TBS in Japan from January 13 to March 17. The series is composed of 10 episodes of around 45 minutes each. It has now been released globally on Netflix.
This is a series mixing different genres – supernatural, romance and crime. The story follows Yui Soma (played by Mao Inoue), Naoki Torino (played by Takeru Satoh) who is a spirit and Detective Yuzuru Uozumi (played by Kenichi Matsuyama). Yui and Naoki met when they were in Middle School, they became friends but lost contact when they both entered different high schools. 20 years later, they find each other again and fall in love with each other. However, Naoki mysteriously disappears. Unaware of his death, Yui tries to find him again. Naoki’s spirit wanders around as he desperately tries to make contact with Yui while also being unaware that he died.
Things change when Naoki stumbles upon Detective Uozumi. In fact, he is the only one who can see Naoki’s spirit. Naoki wants Yuzuru to convey a message to Yui. From there, the trio tries to find out what happened to Naoki and to resolve this mysterious case.
The opening 15-20 minutes of the series do feel a bit weird and all out of place because it starts right away with Naoki’s spirit but you don’t really know what is going on. Nevertheless, by the end of the first episode once everything is set in place you will be fully invested in the characters and their stories. Honestly, I am glad the series is available globally all at once. Indeed, the each end of each episode really makes you want to watch the following one, it often ends with a cliffhanger or reveal. It is quite addictive. This should tell you how good the series is.
AN UNEXPECTED TRIO
Why Didn’t I Tell You a Million Times? balances well all the elements of its story. We see Yui’s life as she tries to build a future with Naoki’s spirit while the trio also investigates on his death. Plus, there are flashbacks that allow us to better understand Yui and Naoki’s relationship and piece things together as to what happened. All these elements are connected to one another so the story moves seamlessly.
Because of that, it also means that the story plays with different tones. The scenes of everyday life with Yui and Naoki are really sweet then there is Detective Uozumi in the middle who brings a bit of fun. It is an unexpected trio but it is one that works so well. And as the story moves on they strengthen their relationship. Each character really plays an equal part into figuring out what happend to Naoki. It is a team dynamic you love to see play out on screen. The investigation and its reveals keep you guessing. It is highly compelling.
But it is a deeply moving series too. After all, Naoki is dead. The theme of grief is present all throughout. The series asks the question of what do you do when your true love dies? How can you move on? There is no easy way to answer that. It is even more difficult for Yui as Naoki is somehow still there. But it is something the two characters think about. They try to find the answer to that. In contrast to that, there is a storybook of two cats who live through the same thing. This book comes back throughout the episodes as Yui and Naoki compare themselves to these cats while trying to find a better answer than these loving cats did.
Moreover, Why Didn’t I Tell You a Million Times? takes a bold turn by resolving Naoki’s murder, the whole investigation and the spirit plotline by the end of its penultimate episode. It surprises you because the story reaches its climax but the series is not over yet. So, what is the final episode about? It is about saying goodbye. And I think this is an incredibly clever move. It could have gone horribly wrong but the writer Naoko Adachi has found the right way to do it.
The final episode gives us a look at what Yui’s life will be after Naoki by showing that she is not alone, she has friends who will be by her side. But it also brings Naoki back to get his things in order before fully departing the world of the living. Even though, Yui and Naoki share lovely moments together and create some happy memories with Yuzuru, death is looming, time is running out. You know it is Naoki’s last day. So it is quite bittersweet too.
Death is always untimely and even more so when it separates lovers. Thus, it is so beautiful to see Yui and Naoki getting the opportunity to properly say goodbye. But what is a satisfying goodbye? The finale tries to answer that. And it does it in a powerful way. Undoubtedly, you need tissues because it will make you cry a lot. The very last scene is absolutely touching. It is both sad because it is a goodbye but it is uplifting too. The series finds the right balance of that, not falling into the over melodramatic and instead following an heartfelt path. Is there a more perfect goodbye? I don’t think so. Even if the people we love are gone, they will always be with us in our heart. It is a fitting message for an ending.
Furthermore, this is a brilliant cast especially the trio Takeru Satoh, Mao Inoue and Kenichi Matsuyama. They have a great on-screen chemistry that helps building this wonderful team dynamic. The three actors deliver layered performances, they are able to juggle between the different tones of the series. They can be funny at times and more serious during other moments and then get to the emotional heart of the story. Takeru Satoh had already impressed me with First Love (初恋) on Netflix last year. And this series has once again reminded me of the talented actor that he is.
Why Didn’t I Tell You a Million Times? showcases the city of Yokohama. I spent an afternoon there in April. So watching the series was a fun game of spotting the different places that I went to. The cinematography keeps it simple presenting the city and its surroundings in a natural light. On top of that, the way the food is filmed really makes you hungry, especially the hambagu (Japanese hamburger steaks) with the sound of the chopsticks going through it, you can see it, smell it and taste it.
Finally, Macaroni Empitsu performs the end theme of the series ‘Ringyu Love’ (リンジュー・ラヴ). If you pay attention to the lyrics, it perfectly embodies what this series is all about. It is beautiful and emotional. But the upbeat melody also makes this song quite powerful. We can also hear the short ballad version during the series. This one is more touching but retains that upbeat melody making it quite lovely. The music score is also quite beautiful. It is moving at times while also playing on the thriller vibe for the crime storyline.
Why Didn’t I Tell You a Million Times? is a deeply touching story about love and grief while also being a compelling crime drama. The leading trio deliver layered performances. This series once again reminds us that Takeru Satoh is an incredibly talented actor.
Why Didn’t I Tell You a Million Times is now streaming on Netflix.
Collectables Editor at Future Of The Force.
Star Wars and Marvel specialist, anime expert