Thoughts; Fan Perception of Morio as the “Evil Second Female Lead”

Honda Tsubasa’s lacklustre acting aside, one of the reasons why I continue to watch Jimi ni Sugoi! is because of Morio. She’s not an outstanding character by any means, but I find her really relatable. I feel like there are many aspects of her character that might have been better portrayed if played by a stronger actress, but I think she’s easy enough to understand regardless. 

That being said the main point I want to explore is the easy dismissal of Morio as the baddie in JnS, or rather, the jumpiness of many a fan to assume that Morio is going to do something ‘bad’ and get in the way of Etsuko and Yukito’s relationship in some way. It’s interesting, because it’s in direct contrast to what the drama has been showing us thus far.

At every turn, people seem genuinely surprised when she turns out to be pretty decent. I can’t help but wonder if fans are ascribing negative traits to her because of their previous drama watching experiences. There has been a long tradition of spiteful, conniving second female leads in Asian dramas, and could it perhaps be colouring people’s perception of who Morio is, and what she may do? 

So one of the better aspects of JnS is that there is no one person singled out so far as the stereotypical (read: boring, predictable) villain of the show. Granted, it still remains unclear why Morio asked Yukito to stay with her in the first place. Seeing that she only recently realised that she likes him (that is, after he left), the most we can assume is that she either wanted to make sure he didn’t run from the deal to be a model, or perhaps she had a level of attraction to him, that she was not fully conscious of. Whichever the case she certainly did not do that to ruin any relationship, that much is clear.

The drama is also really clear that Morio kissed Yukito because of her own confused feelings and frustrations regarding her aimless life. She didn’t have a place to relief herself of them, so she went for the person closest to her. Yukito himself acknowledges this fact and thus pushes her to talk about what’s reallygoing on. I actually felt like that was a real turning point for Morio, and it was a sweet moment of friendship between the two. Morio finally could get everything off her chest, and in realising she was not alone in not knowing what on earth she was doing in her life, she could finally take Etsuko’s advice and move forward in her work.

But yet online I see a good number of fans who are truly annoyed by 1) her kissing Yukito, and 2) her being jealous of Etsuko. Both of which I felt weren’t things to crucify her for. Etsuko’s boundless energy and passion is what makes her so lovable, but it’s not something that everyone can have. And when a person just going through the motions sees a person like Etsuko, yea they might get jealous. I’m actually really glad that she didn’t just pretend that she wasn’t jealous of Etsuko. To me that just makes Morio more human.

Then there’s the fact that Morio post-kiss is very considerate of Yukito and Etsuko’s budding relationship. She apologises when she has to interrupt their date. She agrees that it’s best that Yukito tells Etsuko about their living arrangement. She is genuinely apologetic when Etsuko finds out they were staying together before Yukito has a chance to say it and reminds Etsuko that she has a boyfriend. She insists that Yukito go and find a place of his own instead of staying with her indefinitely, even though it’s clear that it’s not really what either of them wants. Then she apologises to Etsuko AGAIN.

Then in Ep 8 Morio confesses to liking Yukito and suddenly some fans are like, “She better not try anything funny”, “She better not wreck things”, and I’m like, ehm, can a girl live? Is she not entitled to feelings? She confessed it privately in order to reject a man she was not interested in (POOR TAKO BUT OK I DIGRESS). It’s quite likely given her reserved personality that she wouldn’t have even told Hachiro if he didn’t ask her to date him. Keep in mind she didn’t mention any names, so she wasn’t trying to pull a sneaky stunt then.

I can only assume that fans are reacting based on their previous experiences with romance dramas. And truth be told, with another 3 episodes to go anything could happen. She could go “villain” on us. But if the show really goes in that direction then it would certainly make me quite disappointed. So far, they’ve kept themselves from going down that predictable direction and I hope they keep it up.

Also, I find that the relationships are not set in stone. Maybe I’m saying this because I don’t ship Etsuko/Yukito, but I feel I can say it with some confidence because the show has made some really questionable choices with regards to Etsuko and Hachiro’s, subtle but obvious, growing closeness. And that’s actually another aspect I want to explore – fan confusion regarding who the ‘male lead’ of this drama is. Maybe next time 🙂

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Thoughts; Fan Perception of Morio as the “Evil Second Female Lead”

[eng subs] Fukuyado Honpo ~ Kyoto Love Story Ep 2

This was the episode where I sold my soul to the show. Also known as the episode Kenji lowkey reveals his deep-rooted love for Arare to her mum, no less. Enjoy! 🙂 

I have timed the softsubs to MQ raws I found. I will hardsub them once I get my hands on HQ raws, so in the meantime please do not take these to modify as captions/hardsubs/streams.

If anyone can supply HQ (720p/1080p) raws, please hit up my askbox, I’d be really grateful.  

Rules:

– Please do not steal these files and claim them as your own.

– Please do not repost. Reblog / Link people to this blog or to this masterpost.

Thanks y’all 🙂

subs | raw (credit) | recap | masterpost

[eng subs] Fukuyado Honpo ~ Kyoto Love Story Ep 2

[eng subs] Fukuyado Honpo Ep 1

Surprise! We’ve reached the halfway point of this show, and it still hasn’t disappointed me. Ichihara Hayato and Hayami Akari are really killing it with their chemistry. I really love it, so I decided to sub it. And hopefully there will be more people to rave over it with me! 🙂 

I have timed the softsubs to MQ raws I found. I will hardsub them once I get my hands on HQ raws, so in the meantime please do not steal these to modify as captions/hardsubs/streams.

If anyone can supply HQ (720p/1080p) raws, please leave me comment, I’d be really grateful.  

Rules:

– Please do not steal these files and claim them as your own.

– Please do not repost. Reblog / Link people to this blog or to this masterpost.

Thanks y’all 🙂

subs | raw (credit) | recap | masterpost

Two words you need to know: okashi and wagashi

okashi is the umbrella term for sweets and snacks. As part of a Japanese tea ceremony, okashi usually refers to confections or sweets that have a harder, dry texture or are crunchy. Sometimes they can also refer to jellies and other non-traditional confections. You can usually use your hand to eat them.

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wagashi is the name of traditional Japanese confections. They are usually bigger, softer, and filled with bean paste. You will usually use a special pick to eat them.

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[eng subs] Fukuyado Honpo Ep 1

Recap; Fukuyado Honpo ~ Kyoto Love Story Ep 4

I’ll be honest, when I first watched this episode I felt a bit meh about it. I think I was focusing overly on the acting (I’ll elaborate later), and the fact that it’s a bit slow-moving compared to the previous episodes. But when I watched it a second time I realised that this episode, like the ones before, runs a consistent thread throughout. The end comes full circle from the beginning plot-wise, and it’s incredibly satisfying.

In Episode 2 we already got some insight into why Kenji fell for Arare. This episode, in a flashback that brings us even further back in time, we see young Arare chase after teenaged Kenji after he fights with her mother and decides to leave the store. She begs him to stay because he’s one of the few workers that remain after her dad’s passing. Though it’s not said, it’s clear that Arare’s passion for Fukaya touches him.

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We fade back to the present day, where we left off last episode, when he is about to respond to Arare’s questions regarding his feelings for her. This editing makes it clear once again that Kenji has had feelings for her for a long time, and it is in part due to their shared love for Fukuyado.

Of course, before he has a chance to answer, we get a phone call interruption. Gawd let this be the last cliché!

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Turns out mother dearest in hospital because of a sprain. It’s no big deal, but her being in hospital makes way for us to see just how much the business means to Arare. This happens in a couple of ways.

For one, Arare immediately takes leave from her company to spy on the business and make sure that everything is going fine. She gets caught, by Kenji no less, and it’s sweet because after assuring her that everything is fine so far, he thanks her. Then stares at her a little longer than he should (because deep inside he’s a lovelorn puppy amirite).

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Meanwhile, she can’t stop thinking about Kenji’s words regarding her succeeding the business. He thinks she should face her feelings regarding the shop.

Eventually, she goes to visit her mother, and she tells her mum that if it’s what her mum wants, she’ll succeed the business.

What she doesn’t know though, is that her mum just had a conversation with Hina, who told her that she wished that she would have been a mum at least once before she shouldered the burden of the shop after her dad passed. Hina, seeing her mum, felt pressured to fulfil her mum’s wishes to succeed the business. She tells her mum that she was sacrificed to the shop.

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Again, Hina’s feelings are completely understandable, and opposite to Arare’s.

It’s a case of misfortunate timing. Mum doesn’t want Arare to have to feel forced to take over the shop like Hina did. But it’s also good because it prevents Arare from using her mother as an excuse. Like Kenji says, Arare should face her feelings head on. I like how the show makes it challenging for Arare. If she likes the shop and wants to be its boss, she should just say so. Eventually she will have to eat humble pie, face her mother and ask her to let her succeed the shop. But that’s growth for a stubborn child like Arare – and I love it.

But before that, she returns home from the hospital to see Kenji in the kitchen.

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As hard as it is, her pride is hurt and she tells Kenji that she finally has an answer to his question. She will not take over the shop. Though quiet, Kenji obviously can’t accept that it’s her true feelings. When she goes on to explain that her mother wouldn’t let her become the next owner, he insists that in that case she hadn’t answered his question. For Kenji, he just wants to know Arare’s desires.

Arare admits that wagashi and Fukuya are her pride and of course she loves the business.

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The next part just completely melted my stone cold heart. Kenji tells her, “Then take it over! If you love it then stop beating around the bush and take over! I’ll support you.”

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Haha, I love dying of feels.

But here is where everything comes full circle. As Kenji tells Arare in the present not to cry, he reaches out to touch her head, and as he does, we get a flashback of young Kenji doing the same to young Arare. In that instance her passion convinces him to stay, and in the present he’s able to keep her from forsaking the shop. In both cases their bond in strong.

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The only thing that bugged me about the scene in the kitchen (despite the lovely framing and gratuitous shots of my favourite red bean paste) was that the kid actors acted way better than Hayami Akari. She can’t handle a crying scene and it was painfully obvious. So that was the only gripe I had. Kid actors though, 10 stars.

Next morning, we get an equally touching scene when Arare tells her mother, that she wants to protect the shop and be the successor.

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That’s what I love about Arare. She’s feisty yes, but she is willing to listen and willing to follow her heart. Though she jokingly complains about the chores that an owner has to do, she does them anyway, because it’s part of her job now.

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I also love how the camera cuts to Hina smiling and Kenji silently nodding his head, glad that Arare finally did what she had to.

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Later on, Hina thanks Arare, because now she can marry without any worries. But of course, this scene cuts to Hinoyama seeing the maiko Shijaku at his door. Hopefully this will spice things up because Hinoyama and Hina’s relationship is a little mundane.

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Recap; Fukuyado Honpo ~ Kyoto Love Story Ep 4

Recap; Fukuyado Honpo ~ Kyoto Love Story Ep 3

Wow, a Jdrama romance that actually boasts thematic continuity?! Is more than a bunch of clichés strung together?! Includes non-romance related character development?! Is this real life?!

This week reveals just how similar Hina and Arare are as sisters. It intertwines their dilemmas together, while still managing to give each of them their own story. It’s pretty cool how this plays out.

Early in the episode Hina gets a fax (trust Japan to be the only first world country to STILL use fax) from Shoujuro. He wants to meet her in a restaurant at 7 that night. Receiving the fax, Hina gets the lipstick she got from him in Ep 1 and puts it on. From this simple act we can tell that she does have feelings for him. Yet later on in the episode, she tells Arare that it is not suited for her. Why the turn of events? Why is she pushing Shoujuro away yet again?

We get the answer in yet another well-placed flashback, this time of her delivering wagashi to her fiancé Hinoyama’s house. Hinoyama (Sandaime JSB’s Yamashita Kenjiro) invites her to stay for tea in his luxurious home (all the rich boys like Hina, eh eh).

However, seeing no one else around, Hina insists that Fukuyado’s reputation will be ruined if people catch wind of them being alone in his home and start gossiping about it. Chastised, he calls for his helper so that she knows that there’s someone. After tea, he sends her to the door, but just as she is about to walk out, he pulls her in for a kiss.

He asks her if it’s bad for the shop’s reputation that he kisses her. Then he tells her that she and the shop are two separate entities, and that it’s not guaranteed that she’d definitely ruin the shop’s reputation.

I went from “What the heck?” to “Wow this is actually brilliant!” in two seconds. It shed so much light on Hina’s actions and we learn so much about her. She’s still conflicted, but slowly chooses the route that would afford her the most freedom. I can’t help but think about Hina must have gone through growing up, thinking that she had no choice but to walk the path set out for her. I didn’t need her to tell me she hated the shop at every turn (once was enough), and the drama didn’t even need to show me a flashback of her as a child. Her current decisions spell it out well and clear, and as an audience, I am trusted to make an inference. Thanks writers!

Also, I have a feeling there is more to this Hinoyama guy than meets the eye.

Meanwhile, Arare (my dear stubborn mule child) has to deal with the fact that she loves the business, just as she loves Kenji. She makes a trip down to Fukuyado to catch a glimpse of Kenji, but pretends she’s there to help Hinoyama ask Hina where she wants to go on a honeymoon (Hinoyama actually intended for it to be a surprise).

She chats with Hina, who asks her to come home because she obviously cares about the shop. Arare refuses and once again, she’s asked about whether it is taking over the business that irks her, or marrying Kenji. Arare tries to deflect the conversation, but is angered when Hina offers her the lipstick that she doesn’t want anymore. It angers her because this is exactly what she hates about the situation. When Hina doesn’t want something, she pushes it to her. It was the same with the clothes she used to have as a kid, and it is the same with Kenji. Hina by no means meant to say that Kenji was inferior, but to point out what exactly it was that irked her in the situation. Hina and Arare’s disagreement is complex, because both of them have every right to feel the way they do. That’s another thing I love about the show – neither of the sisters are villains.

Unfortunately Kenji walks by just as Arare was giving her impassioned speech (but of course…), and comes to think that Arare doesn’t want to marry him. He calls her out the next day, and brings her to a café which gets their desserts from Fukuyado.

It’s nice how they both talk about the change in business strategy that her mum put in place. For all their childish arguments they are two individuals equally invested  in Fukuyado.

Flipping through the menu, Arare spots a new dessert which is named after her.

It’s such a sweet moment. She’s obviously happy but the girl loves to front, so she asks him what he means. Pleased, he tells her that the dessert Arare was created with her image in mind.  The look on his face when he told her that and when she finally digs in…I swear I melted.

I’ve said it before, but it is the moments where love for wagashi and admiration for each other intertwine that makes watching the Kenji-Arare romance so satisfying.

Walking back, he asks her to return to Fukuyado. Then he says pretty much the same thing Hinoyama told Hina earlier in the episode – Taking over the business, and marrying him, are two separate things. But of course the same sentence has different implications for the two sisters. I love how Kenji says tells her that because he doesn’t want her to feel coerced into marrying him. He knows she loves Fukuyado, and he doesn’t want her to feel that she couldn’t inherit it without marrying him.

But Arare wants to know his feelings. She knows how he feels about the shop, but she wants to know, definitively, what he feels about her. Kenji doesn’t realise it but it’s because she has feelings for him that she wants to know. Proud Kenji (Arare and Kenji are really a case of pot and kettle) tries to talk about the shop again, saying that it’s not like he would definitely get it anyway…Arare sees right through his BS and says, “You told me that you’ve liked me”.

The start of a relationship is often tricky. You want to protect your own pride but you also want to be open and honest. Kenji and Arare’s story details the vulnerable balancing act, and the push and pull, that comes with blossoming romance. They both want the best for each other and they both want each other to be candid about what they really want, but that can be scary to admit as well. I also like how straightforward Arare is in this scene. She’s not some sobbing mess in the corner. When she can tell Kenji isn’t being honest with her, she calls him out, just like he does when she pretends that leaving the shop is ok with her. This show is doing my favourite trope right and I am loving it!

Then there’s how #relatable Arare was all episode! Last episode Kenji told her that he didn’t have a problem with marrying her instead of Hina, because he never wanted to marry Hina anyway. He then surprises her by saying, “I’ve liked you.”

#relatable Arare spends the next day contemplating what on earth he meant by that, even typing in his words in an online dictionary. As a self-confessed over-thinker I was like, “Wow I might do something like that”.

It also makes for a hilarious scene between her and Hinoyama. Hinoyama tells her that guys don’t tell women that they like them easily. So Arare debates with him on whether Kenji’s “I’ve liked you” meant he used to like her and doesn’t anymore, or that he liked her and continues to do so. She pretends she’s helping her ‘friend’ ask, and she’s disappointed when Hinoyama believes that it’s used as a past tense.

There’s also the part when Kenji calls her and she goes into full on panic mode, wondering about what to text him when she misses his call – #totallyme #relatable

Another sweet scene would be when Kenji spots Hana when she walks home from school. It’s cute how he is so doting and protective of her, but she rebuffs him when he fails to give her good advice about boys. In a huff she states, “You’re not a guy!” And he has nothing to say because of course this junior high girl doesn’t see him as a ‘real guy’, aka someone she would feel attracted to. I felt so sorry for him but it was also hilarious. The classic “You don’t understand! It’s not so simple! You’re unreliable!” teenage lament.

Next episode will be a little more Hina-centric I think. It seems like Hinoyama has something going on with a geisha. Hmmm…past lovers? Current affair? I would love to know.

Recap; Fukuyado Honpo ~ Kyoto Love Story Ep 3

Recap; Fukuyado Honpo ~ Kyoto Love Story Ep 2

Someone heard my cries for a decent romance and gave me Fukuyado Honpo. This must be it. Episode 2 carries on in the right direction. The clichés are in sight, but they’ve managed to change things up in the plot so that everything happens in a different order than what you would expect. A drop of pathos and a dose of beauty also help to elevate this manga-to-TV adaptation.

One of the more satisfying aspects about watching this show is how naturally it weaves Japanese traditions into its plot. Kyoto has long been known for being able to hold on to traditions and yet be a modern art hub. Traditional culture, here, exists just as it was meant to be – without all those camera lugging tourists. For me, it’s the Kyoto I wish I could have seen when I visited. But instead it was just a lot of irritated service personnel, no doubt overwhelmed by the swarm of Spring tourists (like myself, whoops).

I’m glad I’m learning sado, because it really helps me to appreciate the details that are in this show. Like how Kenji bows and says ‘お点前頂戴いたします’ then turns the tea cup twice before he drinks.

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Sado is incredibly detailed (which explains why I’m pretty hopeless at it), and it’s a beautiful art I didn’t expect them to pay such attention to in a romcom. There’s also kabuki, wagashi-making plus an assortment of other traditional elements.

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It’s hard not to fall for the Japan as portrayed in the show, and it is a perfect backdrop for the romance that unfolds.

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And the reason why I say this is because it becomes increasingly clear that Arare and Kenji’s lives and love for each other are tied tightly to Fukuyado.

Arare, having left Fukuyado in a huff, finds herself feeling bored, restless and completely disappointed at store bought wagashi.

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She finds a place to stay (such a beautiful 1LDK in Kyoto that an office worker can afford?! Only in Jdrama universe). She calls her long-suffering younger sister Hana to bring her stuff over, but Kenji appears at her door instead, declaring that he can’t stand how she takes advantage of Hana. Then two seconds later they are having a heart to heart talk. This happens again towards to the end of the show. He comes by tempting her with wagashi (I love that he knows her weaknesses so well), and just as we expect him to confess to her after looking her deeply in the eyes, he slams the table accusing her of having no manners because she hasn’t made him tea.

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This is why the friends to lovers trope, when done right, really tugs at my heart. These two are like a bickering old couple. On the surface they can’t stand each other, but they accept their idiosyncracies anyway. What’s more fun is that unlike many friends to lovers show, instead of showing how these two slowly fall for each other, usually with the introduction of some third party, these two already have feelings for each other and they both know it. It’s just that stubbornness prevents either of them to articulate this properly. And while I am all for slow realizations of romantic feelings (it’s mostly why I love this trope) I find myself really enjoying this reverse situation too. I like how the show tactfully reveals how they got to this point in their relationship.

So far, it’s Kenji’s feelings that have taken centre stage. In one of the most beautiful lowkey confessions of love ever, Kenji reveals to Arare’s mother that for a long time, he would always find one piece of wagashi missing whenever he made a batch. Eventually he came to find that the wagashi thief was Arare, who would carefully admire each wagashi before tasting them. Arare’s reaction is the determining factor of whether he puts the sweets out or discards them.

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The way he describes his nervousness as he watches – his admiration for heradmiration of his craft, just melted my heart. He has so much respect for and dedication to his art, and it informs his love for Arare, just as love for Arare keeps him striving to be better.

I also love that this confession is also his way of assuring the proprietess that there is one daughter who is clearly invested in the business even though she thinks that none of them are.

Arare too, spends half the time insisting that there’s nothing that she likes about Kenji and trying to make him reconsider marrying her sister. But she’s the one that would stay up hoping for a call from him when he suddenly upped and left to Paris for 2 years. She’s the one that is ill at ease with him being pushed from one sister to another, thereby revealing how much his happiness means to her.

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Agency is important for Arare, so she thinks that it is unfair for Kenji to have his future casually decided by her mother. How is it that he could agree with being treated that way? How could he so easily agree to marry her when it’s his future on the line?

I must admit that at first the age difference between Hayami Akari and Ichihara Hayato concerned me a bit. By looks, their age gap is pretty clear, and I was afraid it would have an effect on their onscreen chemistry. But seems like my fears were unfounded. Hayami portrays stubborn, passionate Arare well. Meanwhile, Ichihara’s relative maturity is an asset because Kenji is supposed to be older (and slightly wiser, though no less stubborn) anyway.

Speaking of stubborn, it seems like this is a streak that runs in all three of the sisters’ blood. Hina, beautiful Hina, is proposed to by Soujuro this episode, and we quickly get to see why she said last episode that her first love didn’t make it because “they were too similar”. As much as Hina has feelings for him, kabuki is also a business tied down by traditions – the very thing that Hina wants out of. She tells Kenji that his time in Paris allowed her time to think about her future, and though her rejecting her inheritance would mean that Arare carries the burden, she decided to do it.

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I love how Hina is portrayed in this show. She is not an unfeeling villain. She loves her family, and for years she quietly accepted her duties. It’s clear that she’s still in a lot of inner conflict, but encouraged by Fukuyado’s elderly head patissiere, she takes courage and places her own freedom over everything else.

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In a way she’s going the opposite direction of Arare. Arare seems to hate Fukuyado on the surface, but is secretly devoted to it. Hina tries to feign devotion as best she can, but she has built-up bitterness towards it. Both sisters want agency and choice, but Hina is the one who would follow through with what she started. She is equal parts vulnerable and steely and I can’t wait to watch how her relationships unfold. I find myself really wishing for her happiness. Sasaki Nozomi is also surprising me a lot with her acting.

Next episode we’ll get to see what happens after Kenji’s surprise confession to Arare. Can’t wait – we’re only two episodes in and he’s already confessed that he likes her! Where will we go from here?

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Recap; Fukuyado Honpo ~ Kyoto Love Story Ep 2

Recap; Fukuyado Honpo ~ Kyoto Love Story Ep 1

I don’t usually do recaps because I am a self-aware person, and as a self-aware person I know that the chances of me recapping every single episode of a 10-11 episode long series is as good as catching a unicorn. Still, I’m doing this because this show seems to have gone suspiciously under the radar, which surprises me because it’s not like it has completely unknown actors. Also, it’s a romance live action drama, so while it’s not been picked up for subbing, I thought it would have at least generated a little buzz. No such luck, this Amazon original remains undetected by most radars.

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Then there’s the fact that I’m learning sado (Japanese traditional tea ceremony) right now, and I have a newfound appreciation for wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets).

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But mostly I want to do this because this show actually has quite a number of story and character tropes that I am a SUCKER for. Stoic beauty, restrained desire, friends turned lovers, some comedy….In a nutshell, this could end really well or really badly for me. So far, so good, because it’s exceeded my expectations so far in terms of story development. I’ll explain.

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It’s usually with trepidation that I start any show which has a narration in the beginning that goes something to the effect of “And it’s here that we fell in love.” My mind immediately drifts to cheesy plotlines, didactic rants on gender, and plain lack of logic. But so far Kyoto Love Story has shown itself to be different in a couple of ways. Mainly, the storylines in KLS seem to start midway. Sparing us lengthy narrations on the past or the conventional buildup, the first episode is instead peppered with timely flashbacks (not needlessly indulgent like say, Ouroboros, but just enough to perk your interest).

We’re plonked right into the conversation between the proprietress of a traditional confectionary and her three daughters, mainly her second one. She insists that Arare marry the confectionary’s young chef Kenji because she intends to hand over the production side to him, but wants to keep the business in the family.

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That’s how they’ve kept the shop going for 17 generations, and it would be inappropriate to let it go to someone outside of the family. Arare loses her cool and tries to fight against it. At the end of the episode, she stomps out of the house in anger due to this issue.

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But it’s not that simple. This main plotline is the convergence of many subplots that unfold as the episode goes on.

First of all, Kenji and Arare are in no way strangers. Though we don’t know this until midway through the episode, he’s grown up in Fukuyado. Arare and him are close friends, and the show makes it plain that for all her indignance, Arare has a curious sexual attraction to him.

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Kenji on the other hand, is honest. He first says that it’s great that marrying her would mean he inherits the business, but not long after he surprises her by saying that it’s not like he hates her either. In a conversation that I found emotionally candid (and rare, given the genre I’m watching her), he asks her if it’s taking over the business that upsets her, or the thought of marrying him.

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It’s only after this that we get a flashback to a young Arare crying and asking him not to go. It seems that Kenji might have had feelings for her longer than he lets on. In any case, I’m very interested to know what went down when they were kids that caused her to act that way.

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What makes this whole thing more interesting is that Kenji was initially promised to Arare’s elder sister Hina. Hina, the charming and responsible initial heir, manages to get out of the family business by accepting a proposal. It seems like for all her dedication, Hina can’t stand being at the shop.

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To complicate things further, it is revealed that Hina and talented kabuki actor Soujuro seem to once have been lovers and still carry a flame for each other, despite her accepting the proposal of another man. Not sure what’s going on there but I’m pretty curious about it.

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One episode in and big sis Hina is already shaping up to be one of the most intriguing characters. She’s rather sweet and refined, yet cold, and there seems to be a lot of baggage she’s holding on to. Could she have hated being forced to learn the ropes of the business as an heir from a young age?

Which brings us, by the way, back to Arare, who for all her balking actually wanted to take over the business as a child!

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I feel that mum must have realised how much more invested Arare was to making wagashi than her eldest daughter was, but also had to abide by the tradition of letting the eldest inherit the shop. We’ll know in time.

In any case, mum’s doing her a favour by giving her what she’s always wanted, and marrying her to a guy she is at least on some level attracted to (if not romantically so), but STILL she storms out of the house. You know why? Judging by what I see, it’s because she is as stubborn as a mule. And you know what? I actually find that really relatable. She’s not getting a bad deal, but the problem is that she’s given the deal in a forced manner. So she retaliates. Can’t tell you the number of times this has happened in my household *cough*.

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There’s also little sister Hana, who is a lovely child, but not old enough to take over the business. So far she’s not done anything except to be coerced to do thing and/or nagged at by her elder sisters, which is also really relatable if you’ve ever had siblings. I’m not really interested in her as a character right now, but we’ll wait and see if her story shapes up differently.

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So in conclusion, the acting in this one isn’t the strongest. But so far the story is making up for it. If they keep this up I’ll be satisfied enough with serviceable acting.

Recap; Fukuyado Honpo ~ Kyoto Love Story Ep 1