The Queen of Asian Drama is Back with more Irreverent Reviews and Snarky Commentary.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Kazoku / 家族 / Family

~Tsuma no Fuzai, Oto no Sonzai~
~Absence of the Wife, Existence of the Husband~

October 20 to December 08, 2006 8-part drama from Japan that starred Yutaka Takenouchi as Kamikawa Ryohei, a 35 yr old over-achiever whose wife, Satomi (Ishida Yuriko), decides to leave him in pursuit of an architectural career.
Their son, Yuuto, is the focus of the drama, and he's an adorable 5-yr old caught in the middle of his parent's marital stand-off.
Ryohei is left to care for Yuuto when the little boy returns to the house thinking that his mother will soon follow and life will go back to normal again.
Satomi doesn't mind this at first, since she's determined to succeed at work - and having her child around would only weigh her down.
Ryohei ends up getting fired from his high-power corporate job because he has to take care of Yuuto, and he ends up selling sardine fish cakes or something at a local grocery store.
Once Satomi becomes established at the design firm, she wants her son back, and she's also become more adamant about the divorce as well.

In typical, Japanese style, this story is poignantly portrayed and volleys from past to present, character to character in such a way that you never lose focus or become confused.
Ryohei wanted a family, and at the beginning, he truly loved Satomi and vice versa.
His job became the main focus of his life, and aspects of his childhood cropped up to make him behave the way that he did as an adult.
Because the story is about him and how he has to deal with another side of his otherwise typical life, it's easy to see why so many people who commented on this drama at the website took Takenouchi's side (aside from his being totally gorgeous, of course).

However ~ that wasn't the case for me.

To the very end of this drama, I don't think that Ryohei ever, really got it!
He got married, and then he went to work and never returned.
Because he grew up having to fend for himself, he never learned how to let someone else in.
Before the split, he cut off or ignored Satomi every time she tried to talk about anything with him.
Yuuto once thought that his father's best friend was his actual papa since Ryohei was never at home.
Ryohei didn't follow the rules of the game, and Satomi didn't have the guts or the training to teach him a thing or two about what it means to live together as a family.

People often argue against arguing.
They claim that shouting matches cause more harm than good.
I couldn't disagree more.

Had Satomi snapped earlier in their seven-year marriage, things might have turned out different for them.
"Excuse me! I said - I'm thinking about going back to work!"
"Don't walk away when I'm trying to talk to you!"
"I know you didn't, just say your son's piano recital is trivial!"

If Ryohei didn't have a clue from the start, then how was he expected to know anything was wrong if Satomi remained mute?

Satomi gave up and Ryohei forged ahead without knowing anything was wrong.

The drama showed us that Satomi tried at the start to get Ryohei's attention, but that he was too busy moving up the corporate ladder to notice or care.
He made a lot of important decisions without discussing them with his wife, and finally, when he was too late to watch his son play the piano, she decided to end the relationship.
Throughout the show, the other characters took Ryohei's side and felt sorry for him since he ended up with Yuuto and lost his job.
Ryohei did a commendable thing by choosing to look after his son and not focus so much on work anymore, but unlike a majority of the other viewers, I thought that it was too little too late.
It was his turn to suffer, and suffer he did!

And, I'm not being unsympathetic, either.
It takes heaps to make me cry, and Kazoku had me in tears practically from the very start.
It was touching a majority of the time, and reality tends to bite regardless of the circumstances, so to see anyone have to suffer usually tugs at my heartstrings anyway.
The scene at the carnival (Disneyland, I think) killed me.
I fought back the tears, but it became futile and I let it go - which caused a few, curious glances from my mother each time she passed by my room.

There were funny moments, too - like when the father & son first began to live together and Yuuto awoke early because he wet the bed.
Ryohei struggled to wake up, and he whined at Yuuto to just use the potty - and little Yuuto grinned when he said, "Too late!"
Then, and because all of his things were still with his mother, Yuuto had nothing to wear, so Ryohei decided to give him a pair of his boxer shorts, which he duct taped together so they wouldn't fall down - and they fell down anyway.

I fell madly in love with Ryohei when, after realizing that he forgot his own son's birthday, he ran out after dark to buy something, and when none of the stores was still open, he bought packs of paper to draw train tracks, a park, a depot, and stores.
When Yuuto awoke the following morning, he peered over the railing and saw everything laid out on the floor.
Again, with a boyishly cute grin, he whispered, "Wow!" and ran down to play while Ryohei remained asleep on a sofa nearby.
And, I learned that while a bento box is darling under any circumstances, it's seemingly imperative that it be outstandingly kawaii for a five-year-old in kindergarten.
Ryohei cannot cook, let alone recognize another person's feelings, so until he finds out he's doing it wrong, he continues to make yucky bento boxes for Yuuto, and every day at the Cherry School, the kids gather round his desk to see what burnt offering he's forced to have to consume that day.
Eventually, he learns how to slice tiny sausages so they curl up into octopus legs, and how to put smiley faces on carrot rounds - things only a mother apparently knows how to do for her child.

And, while I'm on the topic of kawaii - I couldn't get over the uniform the kindergarten child had to wear.
The first time I saw it, I immediately thought of Pepito from the Madeline books.

Kawaii fascinates as much as it annoys me.
Maybe I'm jealous because it's over there and not over here, who knows.

Kaneko Noboru also stars in this as Yadomoto Kazunori, a guy who works at Satomi's firm and with whom we assume she is having an affair.


Lastly, and it's another, personal observation ~ but, if they used less glam actors for parts like this, it might make the situations seem more realistic.
If I was married to a guy who even remotely resembled Takenouchi, I'd be inclined to put up with just about anything in order to assure that he remained in my life.

It's hard to be sympathetic with a woman who dumps a guy like him!
Heck, it's hard to believe she could be so blatantly stupid!
Sure, who wants to see a balding beer belly with stubble - but, when most women are already married to a guy like him, trying to understand why a woman would disregard a hunk is a little too much to ask.


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