Posted in Commentary, Drama Series

Yokoso, Wagaya e: first impression

“What a fun house. I’ll visit again.”

in itself sounds like a well-meaning remark, but when it’s received after you’re being followed by a stranger all the way to your abode and your property has been vandalized since then, such message turns out to be nothing but a downright terror.

The same goes for the title of its theme song, Aozora no shita, kimi no tonari (under the blue sky, next to you). I was wondering why such a sweet and romantic title is chosen when it is used for a creepy stalker-related serial drama… and it dawns on me that the phrasing may fit the drama’s genre rather perfectly, albeit eerily. Viewed from the perpetrator’s eyes, it makes sense. You don’t know him, but he knows and watches over you and your family. In fact, he can be anyone near you who enjoys watching you recoil in fear and slowly break down…

…and then the drama’s title: Yokoso, Wagaya e (welcome to our home).

No, don’t welcome him to your home — you are NOT welcomed!

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Hopefully the different perspective didn’t put a damper on (how you think of) the show or the song because both are pretty good. I love the contrast between the song’s edgy intro, grim verse, and sanguine chorus; the transition from dim to bright is smooth, the two sounds blend in seamlessly. I also enjoy the end credits sequence, which is stylish and interesting to look at before realizing how long it runs — you get to listen to a clean 2.5-minute cut of the song? No complaints! XD

The Monday renzoku dorama enters its third week today and has yet to get to the fun part. Based on Kenta’s narration in the beginning of episode 2, things are going to get dirtier from there. Half of me wants The Kuratas to quickly identify who’s throwing those cheap shenanigans, particularly when Kenta (Aiba Masaki) has started to do something (install CCTV) to catch a glimpse of the stalker, before they’re too far down the spiral; my other half knows better. Without any lead, it is as effective as suspecting everyone in their vicinity.

So far, we are led to believe that the man whom Kenta uncharacteristically reproaches at the train station and accidentally trips in the process is the hannin. He indiscreetly chases after Kenta and vandalism comes next. The cigarette butts bearing the same “hope” label as the tripped man’s are found on the park across Kurata’s minimalist house. But it may not be that man-with-beanie-and-ornament-ring-on-his-middle-finger, or entirely because of that incident since other members of the family have their own situations. Though if yes: what a petty grudge holder~

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Dad, Taichi (Terao Akira), who is as much a pushover and conflict-averse as Kenta — or rather, the latter takes after those traits from Dad — is at odds with this Mase-san (Takenaka Naoto) who’s caught embezzling quite a large amount of money through devious reimbursements by his subordinate. Every time a case is reported, the company’s president invariably takes Mase’s side, which suggests that he either closes one eye to his machinations or is too gullible. And Dad is vacillating between conforming to the rules and staying low.

Mom, Keiko (Minami Kaho), is a pretty bubbly stay-at-home mom. She is the star in the pottery class she’s attending and seems to have no nemesis… Yet, i’m uneasy about her sensei (Mashima Hidekazu) ostensibly making a move on Mom. Lastly, the little sister Nana (Arimura Kasumi), a good-spirited college student whose only worry is that her ex-boyfriend Tsujimoto (Johnny’s WEST’s Fujii Ryusei) is still keeping an eye on her. Rumor has it that he also stalked his former girlfriend(s) before her. While he doesn’t do or talk much, it is still disturbing to spot him loitering around Nana.

Another key character is Kandori Asuka (Sawajiri Erika), a reporter of an unpopular magazine(?) who happens to be at the scene when the train incident occurs. She stoops before that man yet doesn’t see his face? Hmm… She finds the case fascinating to investigate and wants to cover the story.

Kurata family consists of non-confrontational individuals who get along with one another. Yet, it’ll be interesting to see how they withstand blow after blow that’s coming their way, deal with the repercussions and resolve the issue, or if they will crack under pressure. The characterizations aren’t too demanding and i have no problem with the cast so far. Even Aiba. I have reservations about his acting, but here Kenta is inherently timid and ungainly and that fits his range well. In fact, i like his character best since he’s the only one who tries to do something about the recurring harassment, mostly because he feels that he is root cause. Still, it’s better than the rest who are being passive-dismissive and naively think non-action is the answer.

I am liking Yokoso thus far. It balances suspense and slice-of-life materials well. I tense up at the neatly-sustained tension, vex at the looming intrigues, enjoy the family banter, and commiserate with their daily struggles. That said, i hope the show moves forward in terms of plot since what they focus on in the first two episodes can easily become repetitive and tedious.

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[including it here because i like the model 😁]

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