Appearing before the Dramacourt: Boku Unmei no Hito desu Ep 5
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- Whether this drama defies most of the stereotypical drama principles
- Whether the whole arm wrestling saga represents something deeper
- Yes! (So happy for that.)
- I believe so.
Jubiemon J: I think this drama is going to be one of my favourite dramas of 2017! I’m craving for more after every episode and I’m always smiling and laughing out loud when I see what Makoto has to go through to make himself more likeable to Haruko. This drama also seems to defy all of the typical drama principles (ie the second lead that will keep going after the first female lead until the last or second to last episode). I think that’s a huge breath of fresh air and is far more realistic than what we’d see in most dramas.
Plus, I love how this drama always surprises us. We expect one thing to happen, yet another does. I mean we’re starting to get a hang of this pattern as Makoto also begins to try to guess what the Yamapi God is hinting. However, like Makoto, we aren’t 100% sure what we’re up for, which ironically is sort of like life. I personally think that this drama is trying to show that there is fate, meaning that there is a destined path that you’re supposed to take. However, how you take the individual steps to getting that path can be different. Sure, Makoto would experience pulling her close to him and then kissing her as a result, but even what he says to Haruko is not under Yamapi God’s control. Yamapi God even scolds him later that he should act faster. Yamapi God also always puts time pressure on Makoto, so even though Yamapi God knows that if they get married and have a kid, their kid will save the Earth, it isn’t guaranteed that they’d get together in the first place. That’s again a show of how there is choice within fate and perhaps there is more than 1 fate (ie path).
(Side Note: I also TOTALLY change my feelings for Mitsukuni who was the second male lead in this drama. He is only of the most annoying second male leads in episodes two and three.)
Issue 1: Whether this drama defies most of the stereotypical drama principles
Jubiemon J: Yes, this drama does defy most of the stereotypical drama principles. In fact, I think it does it to give comedic relief and to keep the suspense going. Plus I think this drama also uses satire to defy some of these principles and to teach us some lessons. Often irony is used alongside satire.
(Side note: Satire is a literary device used to expose and make fun of a character’s flaw or some aspect of society. Often that is done by using irony, humour, and exaggeration (See here for more information.) Irony is when there are two contradicting meanings for one situation, event, etc. Usually it’s expectations versus reality. (See here for more examples.))
Here are the ways that this drama has defied stereotypical drama principles:
(i) Makoto and Mitsukuni become friends (likely future bffs);
(ii) Mitsukuni and Mitsue are likely going to date in the future;
(iii) Makoto’s boss, Torita Shokichi, seems to be interested in what he thought as the “ugly woman”, Hatozaki Sumire;
(iv) Ugumori Midori, one of Makoto’s co-workers, believes her fated love is what we consider as the not-so-popular guy, Katsuragi Kazuo, another co-worker of Makoto’s;
(v) Haruko embodies what we generally see as more “masculine” traits than feminine one compared to Makoto; and
(vii) Yamapi God is completely different from what we think a God should act like.
Let’s look at each piece in more detail.
(i) The first male lead and the second male lead become friends.
Okay . . . does that ever happen in the drama universe? Nope! We generally have the first male lead and the second male lead end up hating each other or fighting against one another. Perhaps sometimes both start out as best buddies and then because the female lead shows up, their friendship begins to sour. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a drama where the second male lead not only gives up after a few episodes, but he also becomes friends with the first male lead in a subsequent episode. We’re not talking about the 2nd to last episode or the last. We’re talking about midway through the drama.
In this drama, this stereotypical principle is shattered. Yamapi God suggests to Makoto that he has to seek Mitsukuni for help in order to win the arm-wrestling challenge against this pro Sumo wrestler. Though Makoto rejects this idea at first, he still follows through out of desperation. Guess what? Mitsukuni actually helps him and supports his relationship with Haruko. He wants them together!
Mitsukuni, being a past fitness trainer, ends up training Makoto through a funny regime that includes aerobics, squash, weights, etc. This is all for arm-wrestling. Lol!
Mitsukuni even gives him a charm for good luck in the end and Makoto becomes all grateful to his mentor.
Mitsukuni shows that he isn’t a one-dimensional character by admitting to one of his flaws, his narcissism. He actually says something like I’m a narcissist. What second male lead would admit to the first male lead his weakness? And give him a love charm to support him with the female lead? Never in the old drama verse days.
(ii) The second lead male and the lead female’s bff are likely going to date in the future
Does that really happen in the drama world? Very rarely! Even if it does happen, it’s more like the lead female’s bff always had a huge crush on that second lead male and in the end, he decides to give her a shot. That’s not the case here! I think they’re progressing pretty naturally and neither of them had any interest in one another till later. When Mitsue says that Haruko and Makoto were on a date because they were hanging out by themselves, Haruko shoots back by asking her about the bar outing she went on with Mitsukuni. Mitsue keeps stating that she only met him at the bar. Cute!
Moreover, during one of their talks over dinner, Haruko tells us that she isn’t interested in clingy men and doesn’t like it when she gets a lot of text messages. Haruko mentions how Mitsukuni often texts a lot and how that’s like what Mitsue does to her.
I totally see Mitsue and Mitsukuni getting together later. Can’t wait for this couple to happen!
(iii) A “handsome” guy becomes interested in who he thought was an “ugly woman”
Usually in dramas, the “good-looking” guy ends up having to trick the “ugly woman” to fall for him and then later falls for her, but in this case, Makoto’s boss who is regarded as better looking than Haruko’s female boss has opened up his mind to interacting with her by himself. Over the past few episodes, we’ve seen him go from complete avoidance to mere acknowledgement of her existence to a request for a meeting with her. Sure, the meeting was to see how her company could help them with marketing, but before he was completely repulsed by her and would press the close button whenever she headed to the elevators.
At the end of the meeting, he comments that she is very nice after she agrees to help his company out.
(iv) The “pretty” girl falls deeply for the “ugly” guy without much of a reason.
Whenever there’s some cute girl in a drama, she usually ends up falling for the hot guy or this nerd who turns out to be a hot guy. She never really dates a guy that’s what we’d see as below average for looks. (I honestly hate talking about looks being the reason that someone would date another, but it’s a trend we tend to see in dramas.) Here we have Midori totally falling head over heels over Kazuo and thinks that he is her fated one due to absurd reasons like matching socks or what not.
(v) Stereotypical gender traits are broken in the characters’ personalities.
I’ve mentioned before that many times, Makoto acts more like the typical shoujo manga girl character we see. He’s very pure and honest. He is shy around his crush and super awkward. He is quite emotionally driven (ie. he cries when the Sumo wrestler’s MC is talking about how his mother raised him and Haruko is the one that hands him a handkerchief!)
It’s very easy to tease him as you see from Yamapi God’s interactions with him. He is dense and not that book smart. He is super dedicated to getting his love interest to fall for him even though she keeps rejecting him. I’m totally getting reminded of . . . Itazura na Kiss, but in this case, Makoto is Aihara Kotoko and Haruko is more like Irie Naoki. Of course, the Itazura na Kiss scenario is more extreme, but Haruko is cold on the exterior yet soft in the interior like Naoki and Makoto is a loyal, air-head like Kotoko.
I love how this drama points out that women don’t have to be a certain way nor do men. It’s also done in a very tasteful way through everyday occurrences. Look at when Midori wins against Kazuo who is all like . . . no way can a little girl win me! Women can be stronger than men and win an arm-wrestling match. It’s great that all the other male co-workers were cheering her on!
Women can also have colder personalities like Haruko and say no to guys pursuing them. Makoto and Mitsukuni never complain about Haruko’s seemingly nonchalant, cool personality which I bet many would say she’d have a resting bitch face. She’s just not that expressive for everyday situations, but when she’s totally into something like sumo wrestling, she becomes super cheerful and bubbly. It’s a really cute contrast!
Let’s also do something that be on a tangent yet still fun. Let’s examine their names. Makoto’s kanji is 誠. 誠 【まこと】 means “truth, reality, sincerity, honesty, integrity, fidelity, that’s right (used when recalling forgotten information, suddenly changing the subject, etc.)” (See here). That sounds a lot like Makoto’s personality right? He always stresses how he takes things too literally or seriously so he doesn’t get jokes and apologizes for that. I believe he has said that similar line at least three times throughout the drama.
Haruko is written like this 晴子, which means bright/clear child. 晴れる 【はれる】is “to clear up, to clear away, to be sunny, to stop raining, to refresh (e.g. spirits), to be cleared (e.g. of a suspicion), to be dispelled, to be banished.” (See here.) Wait . . . her personality doesn’t really give off sunny vibes. In fact, when Kazuo asks who Makoto likes and Makoto whispers to him that he likes Haruko, Kazuo goes on to passively complain about Haruko’s personality. Kazuo says something like “she’s cute but just a bit . . .” and “kind of plain but seems a bit like the type that’d be hard to win over.” Makoto confronts him and warns him not to use “a bit” to bash her. Go Makoto!
(vii) God is generally seen as a spiritual figure that is above the human being.
When we often think of God, we think of a figure that is holy, all-mighty, probably serious, kindhearted, worldly etc . . . Then we have Yamapi God who is dressed in very modern, stylish clothing. He also jokes around a lot and teases Makoto to no end. He plays games and pranks. He seems more like the Jester archetype at times. However, what makes him not really fit the mold is that he does care about the outcome which is making sure that Makoto marries Haruko and they both have a kid who will save the world.
(Side note: I just love how this drama makes fun of other drama genres. When Yamapi God is explaining his game plan to Makoto, we see this part being filmed as if Yamapi God were announcing to the world how he solved some mystery. This style of filming reminds me of those detective shows, especially the Conan anime, where the part of the detective exposing the truth becomes super dramatic. They even cued in ominous music and filmed this part with shaky hands. Hahaha!)
Issue 2: Whether the whole arm wrestling saga represents something deeper
Jubiemon J: Besides the comedy that we get to enjoy from the situations that Makoto goes through to train under the tutelage of Mitsukuni and the super anti-climatic ending of him losing the match, the arm-wrestling saga means something deeper, in my opinion. Several of the characters reference the movie “Over the Top” which is about a guy who ends up having to arm wrestle against many others who are much stronger than him. The guy ends up winning. The drama shows that it’s important to keep trying despite the adversity. Even if the outcome is not ideal like in the case of Makoto where he loses very quickly against the sumo wrestler, the process and what comes about after going through all that training are what matters.
If Makoto hadn’t practiced in that hilarious manner with Mitsukuni, he wouldn’t have been grab Haruko in time and save her from getting hit by the car. They wouldn’t kiss and then hug closely. Similarly, in the real world, sometimes you do something and it seems like it’s to waste, but later on you realize that what seemed like an initial setback was actually taking you elsewhere. Interestingly, I think this part shows how fate and choice are playing out.
It was Makoto’s choice to actually go through with all the training. Sure, he wasn’t the one who had that idea; that was Yamapi God’s doing (fate). It was his choice to listen. Also, it wasn’t his choice to have Haruko head out to the middle of the street to pick up this can. It was his choice to confess that they should be fated together (Look at the cans’ writing!) It was also his choice to wait for her.
Just a short recap for those that might be confused by what I mean by the arm-wrestling saga: This whole episode starts with Makoto having chankonabe with Haruko.
Because of this dinner, Haruko and Makoto meet Haruko’s favourite sumo wrestler. (Haruko’s fan girling is so so so relatable and adorable!)
Makoto’s friend is the owner of the restaurant and he introduces them to this sumo wrestler who later invites them to his retirement ceremony which is called danpatsushiki (断髪式). What happens is that the sumo wrestler will get his topknot cut inside a sumo ring. It is a very emotional ceremony as friends, family, and whoever that is close to him will take turns snipping a bit of the hair. The last part is done by his master (See here). Therefore, it’s a HUGE deal for a fan girl like Haruko to participate in this ceremony. That’s also why she’s too pre-occupied by the fact that she can attend this to even remember about her date with Makoto. As Yamapi God says, Makoto’s status is the same as a daikon (type of radish). So what does Yamapi God suggest? Challenge the retired sumo wrestler to an arm wrestle and then beat him. Then Makoto will be able to get Haruko to fall for him.
(Side note: Chankonnabe is a type of stew that is eaten by sumo wrestlers to put on weight for the sport. There’s a lot of protein in this stew like chicken, tofu, and fish balls, etc.)
Conclusion: Appeal Allowed.
Rating: 5 = KYAH!!! (So funny, so cute, and so thoughtful at the same time! I can’t wait for more! 😀 )