This gotta be the weirdest drama i’ve seen. From the setup to the relationship development
— or lack thereof.
This drama wasn’t on my radar either, until i saw it being subbed (which is basically how i sort j-doramas nowadays). It has an interesting title (which basically means “is it okay or not?”), an intriguing poster (where the leads are in bed with enigmatic expressions), and a bizarre storyline… but before i realized it, i think i had watched three episodes in one sitting.
It’s a breeze to watch due to the 24-minute installments, bright colors, and dynamic directing. The pacing was quite swift too, that despite some issues i had with the story, i thought i could overlook those and considered Kakafukaka ~Kojirase Otona no Sharehouse~ a pure fluff drama, which i haven’t had in a (long) while. However, by midway point, my brain couldn’t completely check out; i started getting frustrated by the leads’ and lack of development, both character- and plot-wise, and ended up plodding through to the finish line.
24-year-old Terada Aki (Morikawa Aoi) is at the center’s mess. She has no full-time job, hobbies, special skills, or dreams. To add insult to injury, her boyfriend of four years cheats on her, which made her lose love as well as home in one day. She therefore moves into a sharehouse her friend is moving out from, and finds herself becoming housemates with her middle school fling, Hongyo Tomoya (Nakao Masaki).
Things get awkward for her since he was not only her first boyfriend but also her first sexual experience, which for some reason turned her personality 180 degrees, from a confident popular gal to a self-deprecating doormat. And things get even more awkward for her when Hongyo’s junior gets up whenever in contact with her body; for him, that reaction — which hasn’t happened for the past two years — actually amazes then excites him, thinking he is finally cured. Which is only partly true. Because despite his subsequent nights-out, his manhood fails to work the way it does with Terada. Hence his startling request: for her to sleep with him so he can get his morning wood back.
She naturally turns that weird plea down, but quickly relents when he confides how the condition not only affects his mental health but also his work drive; he’s suffered from writer’s block since. Furthermore, he promises not to do anything ‘weird’ to her, the definition and boundaries of which is her call.
And so it begins: the many bed scenes between the girl with low self-esteem and the taciturn guy on the brink of impotence.
What comes between these two’s physical relationship are house owner Hase Taichi (Yuki Kousei) who finds Terada “just right” for his future wife, and the other housemate Kuritani Akari (Nakamura Risa) who’s a huge fan of novelist Hongyo. They also have their own baggage: Rich guy Hase has mother issues while doll-like Akari is… naive yet vocal. She’s probably the most normal of the four.
Despite their romantic interests in the leads, both are open to the other two’s ‘sleeping together’ cycle, even if it goes beyond the literal meaning, even if they are the logical ones. Maybe because they know no matter how far those two go on bed, their relationship won’t change much. Which is true. But also frustrated me.
I expected progress after they went all the way, because there must be feelings involved, right? Well, there are some from her part, but barely any from his. Sometimes he’ll betray some emotions, especially when it comes to Hase’s open courtship. Yet everything stays the same. Even after the pregnancy scare, Terada’s confession, or their second dating period. Ughhh. In the end, bed scenes are the one with development, the rest just run around in circles.
The entire drama was basically of Terada-Hongyo’s sleeping together and Hase’s proposal to Terada, with some Akari on the sides. I lost count of the number of times either scene happened, though i was more annoyed at how Terada never took Hase’s proposals seriously and thus never gave him a concrete answer… until much later in the series. Which looked very much a rebound, though i was hoping it could be a breakthrough.
I didn’t ship her with either men; Hongyo is imposing, Hase is manipulative. Heck, i didn’t even like her character that much. But as the plot went nowhere, my brain couldn’t help weighing the two suitors… and leaned toward the latter as a result. First off, both men are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of personality: Hongyo is languid and reticent, Hase is relaxed and speaking his mind. Secondly, they are drawn to Terada for different reasons: it’s her body for Hongyo while it’s her character for Hase. Of the two, the latter shows more obvious attraction toward her as a person as the episode count moves up and has deeper conversation with her so she has more information about what and where he’s coming from. He shows his raw sides, unwittingly notwithstanding, which could move or touch her. He also pays attention to her enough to pick up her positive traits: her selfless tendency to look out for others as well as her habit of saying ohayou, oyasumi, tadaima, okaeri, itadakimasu, gochisousama, which may seem trivial to others but means a lot to him. As well as her negatives, such as her impressionable nature, which he tries to take advantage of at some point.
On the other hand, her connection with Hongyo is very surfacey; they hardly talk beyond sleeping arrangement and schedule. She can’t read him at all either. Hence, i don’t know what makes her like him. It couldn’t be lingering feelings from their middle school escapade since it was shocking enough for her to turn into a different person afterwards; also because it was practically a rape. Eww. Still, she probably relishes the feeling of being needed, of being “the only one” to him — as compared to “just right” to Hase. But i totally lost all sympathy for her the moment she admitted to being an idiot for still continuing the non-relationship with Hongyo and readily sleeping with him again right after the pregnancy scare — that perturbed her to no end and got him question who the father was — which should have been her wake-up call.
Character development isn’t always present in j-doramas, and it never bothered me as much as it did here. (Terada did show some, after Akari’s preach about putting a low price tag on herself; unfortunately, the newfound confidence barely lasted half an episode.) Not to mention the non-resolution. Because who likes to watch 10 episodes — 24-minute installments notwithstanding — to arrive not far from the starting point? At least, she could’ve moved out from the sharehouse, but that plan too was scrapped. Sigh. But well, whatddaya expect from a sharehouse full of screwed-up adults with a 24-year-old woman who acts so confused and clueless about girl/guy relationships when it wasn’t even her first at the center of it all?
To be fair, however, Kakafukaka has a strong shoujo manga narrative and this drama feels like a true live-action representation of the original. I have to give it to the cast for bringing 2D characters to life, believably. They don’t feel like real people, but they do in the realm of this drama. Props to Nakao Masaki for delivering Hongyo’s cringey lines with a straight face, Morikawa Aoi for portraying Terada’s caricature-y moments naturally (this is her best work from what i’ve seen of her so far), and Yuki Kousei for instilling warmth in Hase which could otherwise come off as cooly calculative. It’s not easy to play such stock characters, but they did well. Nakamura Risa was the weak link here but i loved Akari’s quirks and wisdom.
And again, the directing. I don’t think i’ve seen a j-dorama this vibrant and pleasant to look at before. That’s sometimes enough to distract me from the stale plot. ‘Cuz turns out, there’s still a limit as to how much nonsense i can tolerate in a fluff drama before it starts to irk me. A lot.
Director: Fukuda Momoka
Screenwriter: Aso Kumiko
Production: MBS, 2019
Cast: Morikawa Aoi, Nakao Masaki, Yuki Kousei, Nakamura Risa
Genre: Romance, Mature J-dorama (10 half-hour Episodes)