After nearly five years, Ikuta Toma returns to renzoku doramaverse playing a 31-year-old NEET but prideful single guy named Kishibe Mitsuru. If you’re thinking Ore no Hanashi wa Nagai will be a slice of life following his struggles to gain employment or find his dream job, however, you’re likely set for disappointment. Because while that expectation isn’t completely off the track, what we mainly get is the so-called ‘home comedy’ elements.
I wasn’t sure what that genre meant, and after checking the first few episodes out, i understood the ‘home’ part but still not the ‘comedy’ one. It’s lighthearted but not comical; it’s amusing but not funny. It does give off slice-of-life feel but oftentimes it comes off as a show made up of several long skits. The narrative itself is continuous, but the episodes also feels episodic. It’s rather unique and may be something i haven’t seen before.
Due to the drama’s nature, it’s pretty hard to summarize the overarching plot — if there’s even any. Because in each episode, we’re basically watching the characters go about their daily lives: Mitsuru loitering around the house or hanging out at his favorite bar (tended by a hot bartender Sugino Yosuke, haha); his mom (Harada Mieko) attending her coffee shop next door or cooking for the family; his niece Harumi (Kiyohara Kaya) listening to radio or going to school; and the entire family — mostly involving he and his older sister Ayako (Koike Eiko) — squabbling over trivial stuff over meals. There are other subplots still, such as Harumi’s one-sided puppy love troubles, Mom and her patrons’ interests in her, Ayako’s second husband Akiba Koji’s (Yasuda Ken) midlife crisis, and the distant relationship between the middle schooler and her stepfather, but the bickering is definitely the highlight — not to mention what the title is all about.
The talks are indeed long in each of those scenes, and Mitsuru sure is a big talker who makes a huge deal out of petty matters like sukiyaki vs yakiniku vs shabu-shabu, who ate my ice pop, or pumpkin dishes on Halloween. He can go on and on about his nitpickings and come up with 1001 reasons to not own up to his mistakes. He can thus be obnoxious and irritating, but then his arguments can also be highly sensible or even keenly felt… that he’s able to get through to Harumi when no one else can. He can persuade her to not skip class, to reconsider aiming for the same high school as her crush, and to not drop her studies for her newfound career interest.
The dynamic between these two is probably my favorite among all characters, especially the big brother vibe he’s exuding when he’s around her. She even calls him “nii-chan” albeit him being her uncle (“ojisan”).
He’s also a good drinking buddy to Koji-san and an always-ready company to Mom. Despite his resourcefulness for others’ affairs, however, he is helpless when it comes to his own life. He has no slightest interest in searching for jobs after his coffee shop business went under six years prior, neither is he willing to help out at or inherit Mom’s shop, although he continues to brew a cup of coffee for her every morning as well as excels at cooking.
(ending spoilers ahead)
He appears to be a hopeless case… until he meets the bar owner Asuka (Kurashina Kana). Thanks to her, we finally get a glimpse into his head: that he simply hasn’t found something he wants to do yet. Her throwaway advice (“what about start doing something you don’t hate?”) also hits home with him, but the answer he arrives at pleases no one. Everybody is rooting for him to make money, not for him to be a househusband — or a kept man.
There seems to be no way out until the last few episodes, but of course there’s no point in watching a 10-episode series about a NEET if the said character is still a NEET at the end of it. And i was sure OreBana wouldn’t do that. And sure enough, a position that fits Mitsuru’s voluble and critical personalities pops up, either by sheer miracle or pure coincidence. And even if the finale cuts off the closing scene mid-interview, we know how it’ll turn out.
The long-awaited resolution may not be as organic as other developments, but it works and is such a perfect match that i didn’t dwell on it. That’s my sentiment toward the drama in general as well. The plot may be paper thin and the conflicts can be quite repetitive, but they are hardly boring. (The only one i skipped were the coffee-shop scenes and the gossips between the patrons.) OreBana doesn’t provide concrete or definitive solutions to all of its problems and some character endings are quite open, but that’s to be expected.
I liked the cast and how already comfortable the atmosphere was during their promo period even if it was the first meeting for some of them, and that dynamics eventually translated well into the show itself, which is a huge plus. Every character has their annoying moments, but they’re all likable. The acting is really natural too; the chemistry between family members is realistic. And watching them bicker day and night is an oddly soothing way to unwind. Overall, it’s pretty enjoyable.
There isn’t much to write home about the story, yet within the seemingly airy show, there are scenes that made me cry, sentiments that hit me out of nowhere, and more than a couple takeaways i walked away with. But most importantly, if talking paid, Mitsuru would have been a billionaire by now. No denying there.
Alternative Title: If Talking Paid
Director: Nakajima Satoru
Screenwriter: Kaneko Shigeki
Production: NTV, 2019
Cast: Ikuta Toma, Harada Mieko, Yasuda Ken, Koike Eiko, Kiyohara Kaya, Sugino Yosuke, Nishimura Masahiko, Mizusawa Rintaro
Genre: Family, Slice of life, J-dorama (10 Episodes)