Before I begin with my review, here's the usual disclaimer. If you haven't watched this drama and do not wish for me to spoil the fun for you, please skip this.
Of course, in Sasaki's case, the reason why he set up Kogamo was partly due to the fact that he wanted to atone for his sin of killing his own child. He didn't actually mean to do that but as his wife Kaori (Suzuki Sawa) was in critical condition while pregnant, he had to give up his child in order to save her. This led to the breakdown of their marriage thus Sasaki could only watch Kaori from afar now and did not dare to meet her for fear that she would run away again. In the end, the relationship between them is revealed and Kaori goes off again as she feels guilty towards Sasaki for being with another man to seek relief for the loss of their child.
Frankly speaking, if you have not watched this drama and simply heard about the controversy surrounding it, you might have assumed that this was some dark drama about children being bullied because they had no parents and how abusive welfare facility workers can be. This is absolutely rubbish! Especially towards the end, you can see how positive the theme has become with everyone seeking their own form of happiness. No doubt it may have to do with the fact that the direction of the story changed due to the bad press. However, even from the first few episodes, I still didn't see anything that was so controversial to warrant all those negative remarks. Sasaki may have been a bit harsh towards the children by calling them names but this is way too mild compared to some of the more controversial social-themed dramas in the 90s especially those from Nojima Shinji. And the bullying is nothing new, nothing that radically different from what I've seen in many other older dramas. As for the nicknames, they are not given out of malice (definitely not name-calling) but there is a valid reason for each of these names given. Especially in Post's case, she detested her real name Kirara given by her birth parents because it was not only very girly (unlike her strong character) and that she didn't want anything given by them. That is why she was perfectly fine with being called Post although some people may view it negatively.
As for the adults, Mikami Hiroshi's character was fleshed out only when his link to Kaori was exposed so for the first part of the drama, you would probably see him as a stern man who cannot bring himself to be nicer to the kids under his charge. When his vulnerabilities and his sad past were revealed, it makes him look more like a complete character and I like his subtle way of acting as well as his interaction with Ashida Mana. With regard to Kimura Fumino and Miura Shohei, they were both pretty "emotionless" throughout most of the drama so it's a bit more difficult for me to warm up to their characters or find them endearing. Nonetheless, having to maintain that cool face is already a challenge and I think they did reasonably well in that sense.
Story: 7 out of 10 (I liked this drama for its positiveness that you had to take the initiative to change your circumstances rather than wallow in pity but there is this nagging thought that this drama might have done better if there was no controversy surrounding it in the first place)
Acting: 8 out of 10 (Great acting from the child actors especially but not all characters were evenly developed so some of them were less memorable)
Theme song/BGM: 5 out of 10 (The theme song did not leave much of an impression on me.)
Visual effects / Scenery: 6 out 10 (There were some nice outdoor scenes like the sunset on the bridge but other than that, there wasn't a lot to impress me visually.)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 8 out of 10 (The girls had pretty good chemistry together and I also like how Ashida Mana and Mikami Hiroshi interacted with each other.)
Total: 34 out of 50