So if you remember a few weeks ago, I dove into the new world of Japanese live action media, with me reviewing a movie that featured the well-known and talented voice actress Hanazawa Kana. While it was more of me experiencing a new side of HanaKana, I can’t ignore how watching that particular film was pretty much the first time I’ve ever watched anything live action from Japan (unless you consider music videos live action). Obviously it’s significantly different from anime, and I really do like said differences such as the more realistic nature and vibe of everything. After talking about HanaKana’s movie and another related event that happened recently, I had the urge to watch something live action again.
If you happened to read my recent Japanese music suggestion post, I talked about a particular guy by the name of Hoshino Gen. He’s a pretty popular J-pop artist (given that his music video that was posted just a few days ago already has over 3 million views on YouTube), and there have been a ton of upbeat and catchy songs he has produced throughout his almost 20 years in the industry such as “Family Song”, “Doraemon”, and “SUN”. But his most popular song, “Koi”, was one that took Japan by storm towards the end of 2016, as it was listened by many, and people even started to cover the dance featured in the music video.
“Koi” was also the ending theme song to a 2016 Japanese live action TV drama by the name of Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu, or in English We Married as a Job, which ultimately made the song and dance pretty well-known (Hoshino Gen also plays a main role in this TV drama). However this live action drama actually originated from a shoujo manga series written and illustrated by Umino Tsunami, which is still ongoing as of now.
To give you the gist of what this is all about; we follow 25-year-old and single Moriyama Mikuri (played by Aragaki Yui), and despite her completing graduate school, she can’t seem to find a stable job. A temporary position held her at bay for a little while but unfortunately saw herself being laid off later on. Mikuri takes a break from working, or what her aunt thinks is her having “job hunting-phobia”, and even starts to develop the feeling that her abilities aren’t needed in this vast society. Eventually her parents can’t bear the thought of their daughter being jobless anymore, thus Mikuri’s father sets her up to be the housekeeper of 36-year-old Tsuzaki Hiramasa (played by Hoshino Gen), a top worker at his company and what you call a “professional bachelor” (basically meaning he hasn’t had a significant other his entire adult life).
While Mikuri is happy that she has a job finally, her parents suddenly drop another bomb onto her, this time being that they’ve decided to move to the countryside. Since Mikuri still lives with her parents, that means she’ll have to go along with them, losing her newly obtained job. But after a very awkward confrontation and taking in opinions from various peers, Tsuzaki proposes a contract marriage with Mikuri, essentially meaning that she can now go under Tsuzaki’s name and home address and most importantly, keep her job as a housekeeper. With both of their families in complete shock with this sudden decision, these two start a new and unique life that may change in the near future.
So let me say that this post will most likely just be my first impressions/raw thoughts, rather than a proper review of it. But that could honestly change.
Right off the bat, I already like the vibe live action TV dramas give off with one of the obvious factors being that it’s shown and set in a real life setting, rather than an animation like the usual way I watch entertainment from Japan. And compared to anime, I actually enjoyed the change of visual style more than I thought. I think the fact that it’s physical acting rather than just providing a voice to a character, it feels more natural and, well, real to watch. Seeing someone like Aragaki Yui portray a young woman trying to find her place in society; given her appearance and her overall personality, I can definitely see why they gave the role to her specifically, and same can be said with Hoshino Gen and multiple other characters in this show.
Another thing I first noticed and liked was how different it is from what you would normally see in at least where I live, the United States. Now I’m not one to watch much American TV so it’s best if you take what I’m about to say with a grain of salt, but this show is something I’ve never really seen before, even in movies. Obviously Japan’s social culture and the way they they live life are very different from America’s so it’s a given that the atmosphere isn’t the same. But it’s not even just that. The production quality feels a lot more professional and… carefree? Bad word choice but it just seems like how they visually present this show isn’t as “stiff” as American movies/TV. Whether that be the various cinematographic shots or the music they use, it gives off a more warm and pleasurable feeling. Also small detail I noticed, I discovered that Japanese apartments look like they’re REALLY nice to live in lol
“We aren’t husband and wife or lovers, or even friends. Our relationship is that of employer and employee.”
– Mikuri (episode 2)
I wanted to touch on the story real quick; I really like it. Even though it does deal with topics that pretty much older adults experience rather than a young teen like myself (i.e. marriage, finding a stable job), I still find it interesting to see how everything will unfold for Mikuri, Tsuzaki, and their brand new lifestyle. Things like how Mikuri didn’t expect herself to go down this particular career path or seeing the really odd relationship these two main characters have, they are things I don’t think I’ve seen much of in a story before and definitely sparks some interest from me. I also feel like watching someone like Tsuzaki change as a person after moving in with a woman will be one interesting process to see. Additionally, this combination of comedy and light drama seems like it works well so far.
Overall the acting is nice and enjoyable to watch whether it be Tsuzaki’s funny co-workers or Mikuri’s parents who act like some heart-warming and lovable parents you’d see or might even have in real life. But I wanted to focus on one person in particular.
Similar to my last live action drama review, I did have the urge to watch this particular TV series because of a celebrity I know being involved with it, them being Hoshino Gen. He plays the lead male role, Tsuzaki Hiramasa, a hard-working guy who you can tell doesn’t talk to people, let alone women, that much and is very “rational” due to his formal behavior and way of speaking. The funny thing is is that Hoshino Gen really isn’t similar to his character of Tsuzaki, and pretty much is the complete opposite. His style of music and overall personality are very fun, vibrant, and expressive, unlike Tsuzaki. I mean, hell, he made a song called “SUN” which is, like you’d expect from the title, a very upbeat and joyful track to listen to.
I know I said in my review for HanaKana’s movie that I didn’t fully enjoy her role because it strays away from what she usually is like, and you’d expect me to say the same with Hoshino Gen’s. But… even though he does play a character that doesn’t reflect his own personal/usual behavior, I still found his acting skills pretty impressive after seeing that he can completely change from a fun dude who sings happy pop music to an awkward nerdy-type person who has trouble naturally talking to people. I never knew he was an actor before finding out he was in this show but after actually seeing his performance, he does not disappoint… although he does look better without the glasses 😛
I think that’s all I wanted to say. I’m really enjoying this show so far, never in my life would I have thought I’d be watching an Asian drama, but here I am now lol. Probably gonna go binge watch it before I head back to school, I’m not sure if I’ll make a proper review on it but there may be another post discussing this show.
Lastly, I’ll leave you off with the music video for the ending of this show, where some of the actors and actresses actually do the Koi dance.
Thanks for reading! If you happen to have watched this show as well, I would love to hear your thoughts about it (although I’m only on the third episode so spoilers might not be the best thing to discuss lol). Also it would be nice if you could suggest some more J-dramas to me since there’s a good chance I’ll be watching these frequently now 😛