TV Review: 'Million Yen Women' (2017)

“Million Yen Women” (originally titled “1,000,000 yen no Onnatachi”) is a stirring look at friendship, romance, and the impact of a troubled past. A television adaptation of Shunju Aono’s manga of the same name, it is currently streaming on Netflix.

The series tells the story of Shin, a writer, whose life is turned upside down when five stunningly intriguing women move in with him. Each of them pays him one million yen per month for rent. The deal does not come without its rules though. Shin (Yojiro Noda) is not allowed to ask the women any questions.

Just like that, Shin shares his home with the tenacious Minami (“Arrow” star Rila Fukushima), upbeat Hitomi (Rena Matsui), quiet Yuki (Miwako Wagatsuma), sweet Midori (Rena Takeda), and effervescent Nanaka (Yuko Araki).

With this mysterious backdrop, “Million Yen Women” forges ahead with revelations arriving here and there. Some via flashbacks and others in words. Each woman also forms their own unique relationship with Shin and each other. Watching these relationships develop is part of the hook.

Then there is Shin’s professional life. He is working on his follow-up novel amidst his own painful backstory. Add a rival novelist to the equation, and you have a recipe for something unquestionably enthralling.

There is nothing “Million Yen Women” is missing as it encompasses a wide array of genres. Drama, romance, comedy, and suspense throughout its early episodes. Before it ultimately takes on the role of acting as a thriller.

“Million Yen Women” makes these shifts in a natural and unobtrusive fashion. As its plots develop in an organic manner that mirrors life’s. There are tragedies and triumphs in equal measure. It weighs varying philosophies and wrestles with essential questions in a way that is always compelling. As the six main characters offer interesting perspectives on each of them.

The stellar ensemble is incredibly well-cast. Each actor shows the capacity to play comedic and dramatic moments with identical power. It is a testament to their performances and the sharp writing that you come to invest and care about each character as deeply as you do. Every portrayal is haunting and powerful, in its own right.

Told in 30-minute intervals, the tale of “Million Yen Women” unravels throughout the course of 12 incredible episodes. The time flies by as its mysteries carefully unfold. Each episode bringing viewers ever closer to discovering the secret at its core. Why and how the women were directed to Shin’s home, in the first place.

It is easy to get lost in the overarching impact each of these women has on each other and Shin. So much so, that the why becomes less of the central focus than it initially seems it will be. As viewers eventually learn, it is a more essential truth than we may initially think.

The answers come, and when they do, they fit. That is a rarity and a welcomed one. An expertly crafted character-driven story that never wavers, “Million Yen Women” is one of the absolute best series streaming on Netflix.

Rating: 10/10   

“Million Yen Women” (originally titled “1,000,000 yen no Onnatachi”) is available to stream on Netflix.

[Featured Image by TV Tokyo/ImageField/Netflix]