Ahh~ a “scandalous” drama about housewives who have affairs in the afternoon. How .. original. Now, I’m not usually one to follow these kinds of dramas. Let alone watch. It boils down to my own beliefs about relationships and what not. But, don’t worry. I won’t make this personal. 😄 Normally, I’d be turned off from even watching the first 5 minutes. However, for some reason, I can’t stop watching this drama. It could be because I was having some serious Ueto Aya drama withdrawals. Anyways…
The scene opens with our lead, Sasamoto Sawa (Ueto Aya), eating ice cream on her apartment balcony. She’s gazing at a fire that just happened in the neighborhood. Her husband, Sasamoto Shunsuke, comes home and we move forward to the next morning. They talk about the fire, to which Shunsuke says he heard it was arson as he’s playing with his hamsters. Sawa informs him that the new neighbors moved in – a husband, wife, and two kids.
All the buildings look the same to me. -_-;
Shunsuke rushes off to work with Sawa in tow. At the elevator, he informs her that his mother will be stopping by and requests her to cook something. He tells her that her shoelaces are untied. As she proceeds to tie them, he says he’ll go on ahead, leaving her to stare at the closing elevator doors. Sheesh dude. Oh yeah, rather than calling her by her name, he calls her “Mama.” In her monologue, we learn that she does not want to be called that. But, Shunsuke believes it pleases her because they have no children.
As she’s cycling to work, she goes by the new neighbor’s house. She proceeds to admit that she wouldn’t be sad if her house burned down. She doesn’t have anything precious to grieve over. “Maybe if I lost everything, I could put everything back together the way it was meant to be.” So where is she off to? Her part-time job at the local market. At the check out, she recognizes her new neighbor/housewife and tries to strike up a conversation. Her name is Takigawa Rikako (Kichise Michiko). It goes no where, as Rikako brushes her off. Just getting off work, she stops and ganders at herself in the mirror and notices a make up stand behind her. She tries on a pink lipstick and gets made fun of by a little kid. The make-up stand gets knocked over and she hastily tries to pick everything up. She contemplates on whether to steal the lipstick and does so. As she’s rushing out, she meets Rikako in the elevator. She’s a bundle of nerves. She stops when someone yells “thief!” In the parking lot, a high school kid tried to break into a young man’s car. The young man, Hagiwara Tomoya, calls after Rikako and she takes Sawa by the shoulders to create an alibi. In the struggle, she gets knocked down by the high school student.
They’re taken to the police station to give their statement, where Rikako proceeds to lie about her relationship with Tomoya and using Sawa in her alibi. Once the officer leaves the room, Sawa voices her discomfort with lying to the police. She refuses to be an accomplice to their affair. Cultural note: Committing adultery is considered almost criminal in Japan and is viewed upon very badly. Sure it is viewed badly in the USA as well; however, the severity is far worse. Rikako gets her to comply with the stolen lipstick. The officer brings in the high school student, Kinoshita, and his teacher, Kitano Yuichi (Saito Takumi). He came in place of the student’s parents and apologizes on behalf of the kid. The kid tries to start a fight with Tomoya and is taken away. Yuichi voices his concern over Sawa’s injury and offers to take her to the hospital. Rikako notices the interaction and tries to coerce her to go. She refuses, leaves, and races home. Cue monologue: She admits she committed a serious crime today and wishes that Rikako’s affair gets revealed.
At home, she lies to her husband about her injury, stating a cat jumped out at her on her way home. Her mother-in-law is there, doting on her. When the mention of kids/pregnancy comes up, Shunsuke and Sawa become awkward. They brush it off and proceed to get ready for dinner. Sawa suddenly receives a call from Rikako and takes the call in the hallway. She’s called because her husband, Takigawa Toru (Kinoshita Hoka), told her to do so to thank her. Rikako asks her to meet up at a hotel because of the settlement with Yuichi. Rikako emphasizes that he wants to see her. Sawa still refuses and Rikako knows what she thinks of her, wanting to apologize.
At the high school, Yuichi is trying to have a heart-to-heart with Kinoshita. The kid admits to seeing Rikako and Tomoya’s affair. The truth is revealed about the three’s relationship (there is none). At home, mother-in-law tells Sawa that she should dress up more often, telling her she’s not sexy. Sawa tells her that they’re trying to save up for a house. Mother-in-law tells her that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you have to look attractive for your husband. Before bed, Sawa watches her husband pamper himself. She voices her concern about what mother-in-law said. Shunsuke reassures her that she’s cute. He compliments the new lotion he bought. They lay down together holding hands and Sawa’s thoughts can be heard:
My husband is not gay. He just wants to be beautiful. Before we got married, he wanted me. But just because we don’t have sex, doesn’t mean I want to break up. We’re really close. But…
The next day, we see Toru at the publishing company. He’s the editor for a popular magazine called Bonito. He and the staff are discussing their next feature: housewives who have multiple affairs. Everyone likes the idea and Toru places artist Kato Shu (Kitamura Kazuki) in charge of the visuals. He wants something really erotic between a man and a woman. Shu disagrees and says that women are erotic when they’re alone too. He asks Toru if he will be responsible in glamorizing these type of women. I like you dude! Even though he disagrees, he still takes the job. Toru states to his coworker that he’s not an artist, just a paid illustrator. Way to disrespect his profession, you jerk.
As Sawa tries to put back the lipstick at the market, Tomoya comes by to ask about Rikako. She tells him that he’s troubling her and leaves. As she’s waiting at the hotel, she notices Yuichi coming and can’t help but stare. She fixes herself up in the mirror before he and Rikako (who he met just outside) enter. Girl, I can understand why you’d stare but no no no. Don’t you go down that road! They discuss the settlement over coffee and soft drinks. During the discussion, Rikako refuses the settlement, much to Sawa’s surprise. She watches the two go back and forth. Rikako then suggests that she will agree to the settlement if Yuichi spends a day with her. He’s offended and leaves abruptly. Sawa looks on worried and Rikako tells her to follow him, stating that she acted that way for Sawa’s benefit. Sawa is flabbergasted when Rikako suggests she start something with Yuichi. Sawa tells her that she’s married, only to have Rikako explain that it’s why she should do it.
You can’t really expect to experience love until after you’re married. Money, family, status. There’s so many priorities that stand in the way when you’re choosing someone for marriage. You may not have been conscious about it. But, I’m sure your decision was completely calculated as well.
Sawa tells her she’s being rude and that she loves her husband. Rikako hits the nail on the head when she asks her if her husband is trying to create a warm family with her, does he treasure her like he used to, etc. She bitterly states that a wife is nothing more than a refrigerator after 3 years. Meaning that there’s always something to eat when you open the door. Sawa still refuses and tells Rikako that Tomoya came by the market to see her. Rikako insists that affairs are a perfect form of love and Sawa doesn’t want to hear anymore of it. As Sawa leaves, she sees Yuichi digging around a tree.
He sees her and calls her over. He found an insect that is rarely found in urban areas. Turns out he teaches biology. Ahh yes, bugs, that’s attractive. He shows her the beetle and she pushes it away, citing the stench. He explains that it’s a defense mechanism and that the insect is monogamous, further explaining that it’s like marriage. A male and female will form a lasting relationship and raise offspring together. Geez, can this drama be anymore suggestive? Everywhere Sawa goes, it’s screaming “have an affair!” or “your marriage sucks!” Anyway, Yuichi states that he hates women that tease men, referring to Rikako. He apologizes to Sawa for his behavior at the hotel. She tells him that he has every right to be angry. They change subjects. She tells him that she graduated from the high school he’s teaching at. He asks her if she and Rikako are really friends. He tells her that he doesn’t see them getting along. Sawa tells him that they are friends and leaves. Rikako has been watching their interaction in a hotel room. She gets a visit from an unknown male (Ito Hideaki). Thank you for bringing in this gorgeous actor! Looks like Rikako is setting up new affair appointments online. She teases him constantly in the room and the affair proceeds.
At home, Sawa is feeling guilty for being attracted to Yuichi. She calls Shunsuke, who’s at work, asking him what he’d like to eat for dinner. He’ll be home late because of work and she says she doesn’t mind waiting. He tells her to just buy something at the combini and she relents. Right when he hangs up, he receives a text from a coworker, Hasegawa Misuzu (Kinami Haruka), asking if the call was from his wife. He messages back and they flirt. She invites him out to dinner and it looks like he’ll say yes.
You wipe that smirk off your face!
We see a montage of the four people who would/could be having an affair throughout the drama: Sawa & Yuichi and Rikako & Shu. As she’s taking out the trash, Sawa is approached by two officers asking her about the recent arson. In the distance, she notices Tomoya lurking around. He bugs Sawa to contact Rikako for him, but she reminds him that Rikako dumped his ass. He refuses to leave and mother-in-law watches their interaction in the distance. Sawa reminds him that Rikako is married and has a family. Tomoya tells her that she doesn’t understand. As she walks away, Tomoya breaks down crying. She tries to comfort him and mother-in-law assumes she has another man, stating “no wonder she’s not getting pregnant.” At school, Yuichi is teaching is students about monogamous bugs and how they reproduce. He pauses mid-lesson when he thinks about Sawa. His students tease him about intercourse and they get rowdy. Damn kids.
Sawa stops by Rikako’s house and meets Shu outside. Toru’s coworkers are over and Sawa takes Rikako outside to have a talk about Tomoya. Toru tells Sawa to come in and join the festivities.
Upon entering, Sawa marvels at their house and meets the two daughters. Shu shows Toru and the coworkers his illustration. At school, Yuichi is meeting with Kinoshita and the principle about the incident. Kinoshita brings up Rikako’s affair and leaves. Back at the party, the magazine workers compliment Sawa and stating that she’s exactly what a housewife would look like. Toru asks Sawa how she and Rikako met. Rikako states they met talking about the arson, to which Toru deducts that it was a resident. They go on about the motive: someone in debt, a jealous wife trying to kill her husband, etc. Rikako comments how that’s horrible and Sawa then states that it could be the opposite: “maybe the wife was having an affair and wanted to reset everything.” Shots. Fired. Rikako isn’t fazed and notes that women nowadays are much more cunning with their affairs. There is a pause and everyone kids around. Shu just eats and watches. At the door, Tomoya has come for a visit. Rikako gets nervous when Toru gets up to get the door. Sawa covers for Rikako stating that it’s her younger brother. WHY!? You could’ve escaped Sawa-chan~. Outside, Sawa tries to drag Tomoya away. She tells him that Rikako will never take him back and he leaves dejected. As she’s about to leave, Rikako tells her that she was surprised Sawa stood up for her. Rikako further tells her that they’re alike, stating that they are both good liars. Sawa leaves irritated. Shu is leaving as well and asks Shu to draw a portrait of her.
Sawa has just concluded her grocery shopping for dinner, only to receive a message from Shunsuke that he will be home late. Back at the house, Shu is drawing Rikako. She gets up to grab more beer for Toru, who asks her if Tomoya was Sawa’s lover. She says that it’s impossible, only to have him tell her that she doesn’t know how the world works and to not hang out with Sawa. Shu’s been watching and listening the entire time. Sawa stops by the high school and runs into Yuichi. He asks her why she’s there and she answers that she got nostalgic. She bikes away in a hurry, looking dejected, confused and guilty. Sawa pauses.
Shu gives Rikako the drawing of her and she’s shocked at the outcome, stating it looks just like her. She looks at Shu knowingly and he looks back at her. Sawa turns back around and admits to Yuichi that she lied about her friendship with Rikako. He admits that he knew. He points out her untied shoelaces and teaches her a better way to tie them. As he helps her, she looks at him admirably. At work, Misuzu continues to flirt with Shunsuke. A woman arrives at Yuichi’s apartment, it’s his wife – Noriko (Ito Ayumi). Shu leaves the Takigawa residence. Rikako is seen hugging the drawing on her bed. Yuichi gets on a bus home and Sawa looks back.
What. A. Masterpiece.
Unhappy marriages, lustful housewives, narcissistic husbands galore! Like I stated before, dramas about adultery aren’t really my cup of tea. However, there’s just something really subtle and simple with the way this drama is going that I can’t help but continue watching. I like how they delve into what marriage is really like and the possible outcome when people lose sight of why they got married in the first place.
Sawa knows that she’s unhappy with her current situation and marriage, but she refuses to admit it. She longs for that idealistic family and abhors Rikako’s behavior because Rikako has what she so desires most – a family. On the other hand, Rikako feels stuck in her marriage with an asshole of a husband. However, she does not want to leave her easy lifestyle and uses affairs as a way to stimulate her needs. There isn’t much to say on the men because this episode mostly focused on introducing everyone’s situation and daily life. At the same time, voicing Sawa’s confused stance on her own life. Shunsuke feels so disinterested in his own wife that it really explains his character as the type of guy who will lose interest once he’s gotten what he wants. Of course, I cannot say for sure that this is the case for him but it sure as hell seems like it. There’s really a fine line with what the mother-in-law stated about women dressing up for their men to keep the interest going. While I do agree that it is nice for a woman to look nice for their men, the same should be said the other way around. It’s obvious to say that despite Sawa saying she loves her husband, she married him because it was the easy way in life and the simplest. Not to mention it is probably something she felt like she had to do.
We’ll see how this drama progresses. I’ve already watched the 2nd and 3rd episodes and will try to write reviews as fast as possible to catch up.
6.5 out of 10
This has been a Haejin review. ❤