Time to check back with Kyou wa Kaisha Yasumimasu, and the drama is progressing at a good pace, with both Tamaki Hiroshi and Ayase Haruka selling their respective characters well. It’s probably my bias speaking, but Tamaki is seriously the best thing about Kaisha, and this is despite his limited screentime. He really does light up the screen whenever he appears, and I look forward to Yu’s exchanges with Hanae every week. Ayase is still killing it as Hanae, and continues to make the character likeable even though many of Hanae’s actions may frustrate the viewer.
I really like Yu as a character (in the drama, that is; the manga Yu seems fine but definitely does not have the same pull). This, in large part, is due to Tamaki’s performance, he really adds more substance to the character and Yu seems more layered and intriguing than second leads would normally be. So far, I really like what I’ve seen of Yu. He’s driven at work and knows how to get what he wants. He’s confident, assured, intelligent and resourceful. He’s also very patient where Hanae is concerned, and this is nothing short of remarkable since she’s always so prickly with him. Yes, he can be too assertive and sometimes won’t take no for an answer, but I prefer a man who can say it like it is and make sense at the same time. Yu’s experience makes him see the practical side of Hanae’s relationship – Yuto is much younger and the future means different things for both him and Hanae, which obviously she hadn’t considered (or didn’t want to consider) until Yu pointed it out.
But there is a vulnerability and sensitivity about Yu – which Tamaki brought out wonderfully during the bowling scene, the dinner with Hitomi and the seaside scene with Hanae – and I believe deep down he understands, which is why he gives Hanae the necessary nudges. Tamaki is really doing an excellent job even though he doesn’t have many scenes, and after a string of loser-type dorky roles post-Chiaki (which were adorable in their own right, of course – who can forget Usa-tan, Junpei-kun and Ogawa sensei?), it’s wonderful to see him looking all confident and sexy as hell every time he appears on the screen. Even when Yu is brooding (during the bowling scene where he asks Hanae to date him and she rejects him), he is smokin’ hot. It’s criminal how the drama is under-utilising Tamaki and I hope no matter what happens, it does justice to Yu’s character – don’t give him a lobotomy or palm him off to some worthless consolation chick. He’s too awesome for that!
I still like Hanae and am happy that she is making progress with Yu’s help every episode, no matter how minor. It’s just unfortunate that I still can’t buy her relationship with Yuto – besides Ayase and Fukushi Sota having very little chemistry, the actor himself continues to be pretty wooden in his portrayal of what could have been a pretty interesting character. Yuto has been nothing but nice and supportive, to the point of bland. However, he has also been very passive in how he approaches the relationship and this is fairly annoying. For Yuto, it’s a case of tell rather than show – he has said time and again how he likes Hanae for who she is and that he is serious about her. But he is not shown actively trying to understand her and what makes her tick. He can’t come up with anything remotely concrete about why he likes her when Hanae’s dad grills him on it. When they hit roadblocks in their relationship, it has always been Hanae making the first move to figure things out and patch up with Yuto – all he does is sigh and look pained, as though she owes him one.
Take for example the scrunchie incident in episode 3 – Hanae discovers it in Yuto’s apartment and rather than ask him about it, she freaks out and bolts off home. She worries about it and even thinks the relationship is over, until Yu points out she still cares for Yuto. It is then that she calls Yuto to sort things out. Yuto doesn’t even offer an explanation on why the scrunchie was there, merely saying he understands Hanae’s reaction because that is who she is. That doesn’t wash – precisely because she is inexperienced, he should have tried to find out what happened and put her at ease by being honest.
Yuto’s “understanding” of Hanae is put to the test when in episode 5, he gets upset with her for not telling Hirono that they’re dating. Hanae tries to explain that she couldn’t bring herself to burst Hirono’s first love dreams (the girl loves Yuto), but Yuto claims Hanae is just being cruel to Hirono by keeping her in the dark. He, in his self-righteous anger, says his stance is all because Hanae is important to him, but his picking a fight with her just shows he doesn’t understand where she’s coming from and is clearly not bothering. If Yuto really knew Hanae’s character as he said he did, he’d realise Hanae’s dilemma – not that I think dragging the matter would have done any good, but Hanae is not pretending to be nice, she is genuinely torn because Hirono’s youthful fantasies about first love remind Hanae of herself 10 years ago. But this is something she is unable to share with Yuto because he’s not in the mood to listen since he’s oh so butt-hurt about it. In the first place, I don’t even get why Yuto is angry with Hanae – is trying to understand Hanae’s difficulties in this matter less important than lessening Hirono’s pain?
Hanae obviously thinks Yuto is some kind of miracle worker, and I’ll grant her that since she feels blissful with him, though I do question her elevation of him to god-like status. There’s an imbalance that I don’t like and I don’t feel she is exactly comfortable being herself when she is with him. She’s all submissive and careful when she’s with him, but I don’t feel that is the real Hanae, not if her interactions with Yu are anything to go by. I just don’t think being with Yuto has contributed much to Hanae’s personal growth, and he is not particularly helpful in this regard either. They can be cute and all with each other, but at this point it’s all sugar and fluff with very little substance.
In contrast, I’ve been lapping up everything Yu-related. I’m sure it’s my bias for Tamaki Hiroshi showing, but I feel Yu’s interactions with Hanae have plenty of meat and I love their scenes together. Tamaki and Ayase have some sizzling chemistry (only topped by Tamaki’s chemistry with Ueno Juri), but the drama has been cruel in not giving them more screentime together. I love how Yu has been helping Hanae all this while with no strings attached – that’s not to say he’s content being just her love guru, but I feel he doesn’t even expect that she would acknowledge or say thanks (and indeed, she has been so remiss in that regard that it pisses me off). So it is a minor victory when in episode 5, Hanae finally admits to herself that Yu has helped her quite a lot and that without him, she and Yuto would never have started. She is even concerned about how he’s doing after he resigned as CEO of Sapphirus, which again is a bonus – baby steps, beggars can’t be choosers etc.
Earlier on, I was frustrated that Hanae kept giving Yu the brush-off. I tried to cut her slack because of her dating inexperience, but her behaviour still baffled me. Even if he came off as way too assertive and overwhelming, she definitely didn’t seem afraid of him, not if she could make snappy retorts to his every other remark! Besides, I never got the feeling that Yu was out to wreck Hanae’s budding relationship, and he himself admitted as much that while he doesn’t think it’s love yet, he is attracted to the Hanae in love and wants to root for her in her quest for love. But Yu is not the sort to wave the white flag so early on, because as he told Hitomi, nothing is guaranteed at this stage. I like that beneath Yu’s assertive and determined manner, he is genuinely concerned for Hanae and does want her to be happy. That’s why time and again he has sent her along to Yuto after getting her to work through her own fears and insecurities, making her face the issues head-on. If Yu were the selfish sort, he would never have bothered in the first place. And even if Hanae doesn’t always like Yu’s unsolicited advice, it has been pretty much on point most times. I found it hilarious that in episode 3, based on a “passing remark” from Yu that she shouldn’t be a burden to her other half, Hanae takes it literally and spends the bulk of the episode doing just that. She even quotes Yu when encouraging Hirono to confess her feelings. If only Hanae could realise how Yu has affected her…
I also love that being with Yu puts Hanae out of her comfort zone and she becomes more alive instead of her usual plain, meek self. And it begins right off the bat, with her sharing her eating space in the udon shop with Yu even though she clearly doesn’t know how to deal with a handsome man like him, and later on being in the same car as him (twice at that). But the best example of that is in episode 5, where Yu requests Hanae’s help to pose as his wife – this is because Yu is working on persuading the owners of a sausage-making factory to sign a deal with him, but figures it’d be easier to wear down the owners’ stubborn resistance if he went along with his “wife” to gain their trust. Hanae is flabbergasted, but Yu insists she’s the perfect fit – she then snaps if he thinks she’s plain and dowdy enough to do the job? She grumbles some more that he’s still as rude and inconsiderate as ever despite not being the CEO, and that she’s clearly worried about him for nothing. Yu perks up and asks if she honestly worried about him? Even though she sulks and doesn’t answer, his smile says it all.
The factory scene has got to be one of the best of the drama so far. Yu and Hanae arrive and are given some sausages for sampling – Yu says it is his dream to open an eatery with his wife and he asks the owners to please let him use their products. He then pats Hanae on the back to get her in on the act, and she immediately throws herself whole-heartedly into it. Hanae continues to lay it on thick, praising the sausages to the high heavens. She even goes, “Anata, why don’t you try it too?”, which totally set off my giggles because she was looking at him with such bright eyes. Hanae goes further, saying that this is definitely the taste she and Yu have been searching for all year long – why, it could even feature as their signature dish on their menu! Yu is so amused by her old-fashioned wifely act that all he can do is smile and laugh along. When he takes her aside for a moment, she goes “what is it, anata?” and that totally cracked me up, even more so when Yu teases her about her old-fashioned act and that they’re in the 21st century. Hanae reverts to snapping at Yu to shut up and huffs off, with Yu going after her. The factory owner wonders if something is wrong, but Yu assures him it’s just a small couple’s tiff – after the owner leaves, Hanae shoots Yu a dirty look while he merely grins at her, unabashed.
I love this entire scene so much even though it’s so short, because it totally showcased Tamaki and Ayase’s wonderful chemistry – Yu and Hanae are simply awesome together, and we got to see a different side of Hanae once she let herself go. I love how it is Yu who brought this out in her. I love how acid her tongue is when she’s with him, and the best part is she gets even more pissy and unnerved when he remains unruffled and continues teasing her. They do have a smidgen of that old married couple vibe, but I just plainly love how good-natured Yu is when he is around Hanae, never taking offence because he understands she’s just being defensive and protective of herself (she probably isn’t even aware of it, I think), but not hesitating to set her straight when necessary.
The follow-up, where he takes her to a bluff that looks out to the sea, is one of the rare times where Yu sheds his cool image and I love how Tamaki played it. Yu thanks Hanae for making him laugh – since leaving Sapphirus, he hadn’t laughed, and you do wonder if he’s been truly happy since he rose to the CEO position. I like that Yu and Hanae shared a quiet moment of understanding as they sat at the bluff, even if it was way too short (drat Hirono and her message). I know the focus is on Hanae’s growth and her relationship with Yuto, but I do feel the drama missed an opportunity to develop more of Yu during the seaside scene. It’s taken him this far to confess something this personal to Hanae, and even though it may have seemed trivial to others, Hanae obviously understood, recognising it must have been difficult for him. Had she been given a chance to see more of Yu beyond his cool exterior, she might not be so standoffish with him. Throughout the scene, I totally felt for Yu, thanks to Tamaki’s sensitive portrayal.
I skimmed the manga because I wanted to find out about the car keys incident (poor Yu, he really doesn’t mean any harm, just look at that face! those eyes! that smile!), and I’m wondering if the drama might do something different with it. Since the drama has deviated somewhat from the manga, it’s an opportunity to add a little more complexity to Yu – if nothing else, to compensate for how little screentime Tamaki has had until now. Sexy man needs sexy time!