Posted in Commentary, Drama Series

We Married as a Job!: on episode 11, final thoughts

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“No matter when, let’s start again from Tuesday!”

It’s official: Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu is my favorite romcom dorama. It says a lot coming from me since Japanese brand of romance and/or comedy is rarely on the same wavelength with my preference. Sure enough, it may not be as romantic or funny as a typical romcom — heck, it isn’t even a typical romcom — but it’s definitely worth the hype and ratings.

While i hardly pay attention to the numbers unless they make the news, it’s invariably uplifting to note the show i’m loving garners the buzz and viewership ratings it deserves. NigeHaji commenced with a decent 10.2%, which only steadily rose and eventually broke the coveted 20% mark with its finale, concluding at 20.8% (some reported that its overall ratings allegedly reached 30 percent).

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In other romance dramas, a proposal is one step away from happily ever after, but here, it’s deemed a love exploitation. I didn’t see it coming, neither did i think Mikuri was exaggerating. She was happy though couldn’t help feeling troubled upon hearing the catalyst was retrenchment. That made you wonder if Hiramasa would propose if he weren’t laid off. That made you question why he popped the question after being laid off, of all time. He, however, took it as a no. Worse, these two don’t seem to communicate since until Mikuri breaks the silence, yet again, having figured out the root cause of her dissatisfaction.

There’s a parallel between her role as a housewife and her ad hoc organizer post for the marketplace project: the need to be valued to keep going (despite the low pay). Marriage relationship shouldn’t be likened to that of employer/employee, Hiramasa argues, but more like a joint venture where both parties have equal standing and say. A good first step in the right direction. So, they openly discuss about his new employment options, her taking another side job to make up for his lower income, and housework division as a result.

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The new agreement doesn’t automatically solve all problems; discontent remains present, in different forms. Having more roles on respective plates means something’s gotta give. In this case the dip in overall quality of the chores they’re in charge of. This situation calls for adjustments in expectations, though multi-role wife only blames herself for not living up to hubby’s standards. Fortunately, their balance has gotten a lot better in recent episodes, Hiramasa’s perceptiveness included, that he knows when to charge forward when the other party has taken a step back. He may be far from the most vocal male lead, but he does have a way with words, especially when you least expect it.

Above all else, i’m simply pleased to see him pulling the weight since it’s been mostly Mikuri who’s doing all the work, both regarding housework and romance (making way to open his heart). I wish it didn’t have to be this methodical though. Each of their concern is legit issue that needs to be addressed sooner or later, and i love NigeHaji for bringing up topics not even other slice-of-life human dramas would touch on; still, they don’t have to be this formal and technical, right? Oh well, that’s the charm of the Tuesday couple, i guess, cuz other people in the drama also find their systematic approach a pain.

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This unconventional, dry couple is also the selling point. While other pairings/characters are nowhere as strict and calculative as the leads, their arcs and screentime are few and far between to provide interesting enough side story to look forward to. That said, Yuri-chan is easily my favorite character. She’s capable, independent, wise, and in need of no man to make her happy. I was therefore in no rush to pair her off with anyone, and i doubt i’d be disappointed if she remained single till the end. After all, even Yassan chose divorce instead of enduring marriage life with a jerk of a husband and she looked a lot happier and at ease in the end than at the start.

But of course i don’t oppose Yuri-chan/Kazami coupling. While i did find his turnaround from admiring Mikuri to loving Yuri-chan a bit abrupt, Kazami turns out a decent man despite his playboy image early on. He appears to be a player who seeks no commitment, but when he develops into a guy who wishes to be taken seriously, i can’t help rooting for him. 17-year age difference isn’t an easy gap to bridge, though, especially when the female is the older one. Yuri-chan doesn’t look like she’s almost 50, but at that age, her overall health has begun declining and romance is no longer a priority. Nevertheless, as Mikuri Mama said, “fated partners are made”, relationships require joint efforts to work and last. This wisdom might be applicable to the main couple more, but the secondary loveline could benefit from it too. And it’s nice to see Yuri-chan giving love a chance — for her to love and to be loved, huge age gap be damned.

Because, when you’re making an effort, what you thought was impossible could become possible, including meeting those you thought you’d never meet, like these two pairs:

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That Hino-san’s plan to see Mikuri is always foiled nearly became the running joke, so you can imagine the hilarity and thus excitement when these two eventually met. The right meet-up was even more surprising not only due to the nature of the relationship but also because i’ve always suspected Umehara-kun (Narita Ryo) to have a thing for “Tsucchi”. I mean, love also becomes the topic whenever they’re together, and while he’s always cryptic, who would’ve guessed that he’s kotchi??

Unforeseen twist aside, episode 11 is a sweet finale to the series. I couldn’t recall any loose ends to tie up — besides the trivial details such as where Hiramasa’s new company is, if Mikuri is keeping her writer job, etc. — or unresolved issues. I’m satisfied with how it ends, albeit the relatively unchanged dynamics between now-real spouses. Hug Day nullification didn’t automatically lead to amped-up skinship; it’s eventually revived even if only as a reminder on a busy week or an ice breaker following a tiff.

Speaking of (weekly) hugs, they’ve done it often enough to feel any special, yet each of their hugs continues to give different kind of feelings and call for different level of squeals till the very end, till their last hug onscreen. It’s great 🙂

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[This whole Tokyo Friend Park darts game is my favorite imagination, especially since it’s their combined vision.]

The beginning and end were admittedly slightly too tedious for my liking, but NigeHaji offers a cute, ofttimes thoughtful, watch. It wasn’t an instant love, but once it gets you, it doesn’t let go. The directing was swift, the scoring effective, the acting nifty, and the writing smart. The characters are consistent, sometimes stubbornly so, but most importantly relatable. I could identify with either leads, especially with Mikuri and her ‘pretentious’ views.

While the performances weren’t award-worthy, the cast nailed their roles. This is my first project of Hoshino Gen and i think he’s perfect as Hiramasa. He did a wonderful job in making this rigid, somewhat apathetic guy completely adorable and likable. So is Gakki as Mikuri. I’ve watched her in many projects since Koizora and never really enjoyed her acting. Hers is rather shallow though it worked well for her insouciant part in Okitegami Kyōko no Bibōroku. Personality-wise, Mikuri isn’t too far off from the forgetful detective; there were times she should’ve emoted or anguished more, but overall she did great. Cheeky roles definitely fit her better than serious ones.

Together, both leads transformed their dull characters into an utterly captivating and adorable couple to watch. They might not have everything figured or mapped out, but we trust them to talk it out, argue, then make up on the hug day. All will be well.

“Fuufu wo koete yuke~
Futari wo koete yuke~
Hitori wo koete yuke~”

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Rating: 4.5/5
Director: Kaneko Fuminori, Doi Nobuhiro, Ishii Yasuharu
Production: TBS, 2016
Cast: Aragaki Yui, Hoshino Gen, Ishida Yuriko, Otani Ryohei, Furuta Arata, Mano Erina
Genre: Romantic comedy, J-dorama (11 Episodes)

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I blog sometimes, gush ofttimes, snark all the time.

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