Proposal Daisakusen is a 2007 drama I sometimes find myself rewatching, usually for clean, enjoyable entertainment. The story is about Ken Iwase (Tomohisa Yamashita) and his regret in being unable to properly secure a relationship with childhood friend, Rei Yoshida (Masami Nagasawa). I have previously mentioned the premise is fairly unimaginative, but the drama’s strengths lie in the attention to details and a good execution of various genre.
An important mechanic of the story features Ken slipping through time in order to remedy his lack of romantic effort towards Rei in the past. But this element turns out to be more fantasy-based than science-fiction, placing it closer to the 2004 film, Be With You (いま、会いにゆきます, Ima Ai ni Yukimasu). Though dissimilar to Be With You, where the time slip is the fate of Takumi’s family, a mobius in Mio’s life, Proposal takes a naive approach exemplifying the futility of tampering with the past.
Ken’s episodic slips are the story’s primary means of exposition and follow a simple set of rules, which intends to minimize the audience’s speculative efforts. Each episode brings Ken back through a photograph, and in that way, the story proceeds from past to present but always originating in the present. While some viewers may have desired more details on the fairy’s magic, I believe time-travel is a trapping of fiction where many stories lose focal balance. That is to say, time-travel is highly captivating in culture, an easy grab at attention, but must be used wisely.
In that sense, Proposal nearly subverts the element of time-travel because the mechanics are dealt with in a fabulously frivolous manner involving a fairy (yousei) and focuses purely on the consequence (or not) of changing an impression in the past. I find this contrary to the typical usage of time-travel, steeped in egoism, where a character’s variance in the past has a profound effect on the present. And this story explores sliding as a triviality in light of fate.
The story teaches us that fate is difficult to derail even when assuming an advantage in time. Such fate is not fragile nor delicate, but unwavering, momentous. Yes, fate carries such momentum as it advances and plays trickery on the fool who looks back in regret, thinking “if only.” Returning from the final slip, Ken realizes that his advantage over fate was a mere illusion. To have lived each moment twice and failing all the same, he is left with a greater finality to his sorrow.
We come to understand that fate is often unchangeable in retrospect, yet there is more to the story. Ken ultimately decides his fate in the present, and I feel it’s an important highlight of the message. Despite a longing to manipulating the past, our greatest leverage over the future exists in the present.