Posted in Commentary, Drama Series

Sekai Ichi Muzukashii Koi: on episode 2

One of my biggest pet peeves of Japanese dorama’s characters is how submissive they are, especially toward their seniors at work. This practice surely has a lot to do with the seniority culture in the country, though it invariably frustrates me when characters keep lowering their heads and bowing even when they’re not in the wrong (just because the other person is their senpai). Yet, in SekaMuzu, i am irked by how bold and outspoken the heroine is.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t?

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Misaki may be the mid-career recruit with overseas experience selected by the president himself (i doubt she knows about this fact), but as a staff in Planning and Strategy Department, she surely needs to report to and/or get approval from her superior regarding her work, doesn’t she? Her initiative and firm attitude are much appreciated, but her propensity for overstepping her authority isn’t. I wonder if her direct and straightforward communication can be attributed to the three years she spent residing in Paris; otherwise, her disposition comes off as somewhat defiant on more than one occasion.

Case in point: in episode 1, she puts on a sour face during the welcome party for new hires (one of whom is she) and flatly asks what shachou is doing there when he isn’t welcomed at all. Which… girl, are you serious? You have heard about your boss’ temperament and yet dare to affront him in front of everybody just because he said to put aside ranks for the night? You would’ve been in deep sh*t if Reiji hadn’t had an eye on you! I won’t even pity you had you been booted out over that remark. If that’s not outrageous enough, in episode 2, as the person in charge of Matsuda-san’s (the veteran housekeeper) re-employment, she submits the application to Stay Gold Hotel of all places. When questioned, she argues it’s for Matsuda-san’s best interest and firmly asks him not to meddle in Matsuda-san’s life anymore before excusing herself from the hearing. Yup.

To her defense, what she said was a valid point, though i was with Reiji in this case. Given the ill will between him and Wada, it could very well be the unspoken/unwritten rule not to transfer Samejima Hotels’ former employees to Stay Gold. It ain’t an odd condition in real life — that one shall not work for the company’s direct competitor right away — so the outburst had little to do with Reiji’s narrow-mindedness and more with Misaki’s ill-judgment.

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Despite these recurring offences, Misaki continues to get away without any warning letter, which frankly made me question Reiji’s character. Where did the particular and impulsive shachou go? He becomes really weak and tolerant before the woman he likes, huh? The thing that makes his determination waver is the confirmation that Misaki used to date a Belgian, as the thought of them smooching whenever and wherever doesn’t sit well with him. Ha, what a conservative guy he is~

Turns out, he’s more concerned about Misaki hating him, because time until the next hotel association party is drawing near, also because he’s a man of word. Yeah, right. In order to make her view him in good light, Muraoki suggests that he be more agreeable and broad-minded. He muses if he can do it but does it anyway. Hitherto, he is merely going through the motions with the considerate acts, but seeing how taken aback he is by his staff’s positive reactions to the little things he did for the sake of doing it, i’m sure he’ll eventually change his ways for the better because it feels good and not because that’s the way to win Misaki’s heart. The last scene between him and the doorman suggests so.

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I hope there’s some development on Misaki’s part too. She could definitely benefit from being more sensible as she’s bad at reading situations. Else, it’s impossible not to be aware of Reiji’s obvious advances. Like, he bumps into her on a weekend while walking his dog, also asks her to name the puppy together, how more obvious he should be? It would be great, however, if she could show more courtesy toward Reiji. He’s her boss after all.

Some of the plot points in this drama feel random, but at least the lost puppy bit acted as the catalyst for Reiji to realize that all he wanted to do was chat with Misaki, so i could let this one pass. Plus, it’s cute that he proceeded to look for new pups online so that she can name it. I did find Reiji too cartoonish for a hotel president; i still think he’s a bit too bumbling for the role, fortunately i begin to see the endearing side of his childlike personality. He’s just too green in romance department, and it shows. However, it’s hard to hold it against him when you notice how hard he tries to please and be on the good side of the woman he likes, how awkwardly nervous he is around her, and ultimately how happy he is just by seeing her smile.

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The part i enjoyed the most thus far is the dynamic between the grumpy shachou and his loyal assistants: secretary Muraoki Maiko and personal chauffeur Ishigami Katsunori (Sugimoto Tetta). Together, they look more like family than boss-employees. Above all, i just love Muraoki — Koike Eiko plays her in the poised yet unrigid way. At first i thought she’s really patient for putting up with Reiji’s rashness, then i soon realized he’s never abusive toward her. Besides seeing through him, she can also get through to him. She can share her thoughts and criticisms without restraint, doubling as personal adviser, and we can tell how much Reiji treasures and trusts her. Having witnessed the rapport between them, i do wonder if Muraoki has ever called Reiji out on his stance regarding the hotels’ employees pre-Misaki days, because she can and he will listen.

As figured since the beginning, the hotel background is merely the setting for the story to take place, as the focus is heavily on the romance part. As a result, other characters seem tangential to the main plot. For example, Johnny’s WEST Kotaki Nozomu plays Miura Ieyasu, yet i have very little to say about him. Had i not known him as Ohno’s kouhai, i’d probably have written him off as one of many Planning and Strategy Department personnel.

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