It’s always nice to see Tamaki Hiroshi with a new drama, even if it isn’t the most exciting one in the world. But I’m just happy to see him back in a leading role and he’s doing pretty well so far. Besides, Zannen na Otto is actually quite funny from the first minute, even if the subject matter might not look it.
Haruno Yoichi (Tamaki Hiroshi) seems to be the perfect husband on the surface given his looks, personality and capabilities. He has a loving wife Chisato (Kurashina Kana) and they are parents to six-month-old Hana. However recently, everything Yoichi does seems to get on Chisato’s nerves, but he doesn’t know the reason why and is therefore downgraded to being the “disappointing/unfortunate” husband…
The premise doesn’t strike one as particularly interesting or original – after all, how fun can crying babies, changing diapers and adjusting to parenthood be for us viewers who just want to escape into another world when watching dramas? However, after the mehhhhh that was Kyou wa Kaisha Yasumimasu, I was pretty much ready to watch Tamaki paint walls in his next drama and crying babies don’t seem too bad in comparison.
Yoichi is perfect on the outside, really. He’s a successful architect who has won awards, is helpful towards strangers (even old ladies want a piece of him!), generous with his colleagues and a really nice guy all round. He loves Chisato and obviously still has the hots for her (very important). He also has a basketball obsession, which I can totally get behind since I enjoy watching sports as well and understand why he gets so uptight about his figurines and basketball jerseys. But he’s terrible as a new papa, and that’s where all the laughs and growth come from. Yoichi isn’t selfish, but he just doesn’t understand the gravity of having a baby and sharing the child-rearing responsibilities with Chisato, which frustrates her. So he’s still in his “bachelor” or “newlywed” mode where it’s just him and his wife – he can indulge in his basketball obsession and whenever the baby cries, he calls for Chisato to handle her.
Tamaki really plays up the laughs as Yoichi and I love it. I don’t think he’s overacting since the drama is obviously going for over-the-top humour, and I do appreciate actors who go all out for their roles despite knowing how silly they might look on screen. I love that a running gag for the first couple of episodes is Yoichi making monster faces at his daughter (and also at other kids) thinking that would get her to stop crying, but Chisato just dryly tells him that scares Hana even more. There are also quite a few sauna scenes (Tamaki half-naked!) where Yoichi commiserates with his superior Hosoi Shigeru (Kishitani Goro) on their rock-bottom status in their respective families. Kishitani has that hangdog expression that is just perfect for his role, and Shigeru spouts gems such as “a watermelon coming out of their nose” as an analogy for childbirth, hahaha. He then asks Yoichi if he could do that and Yoichi sadly admits he can’t, to which Shigeru says a woman who pops out a watermelon is strong, so men like them have little power against their wives who have given birth. I giggled when I first watched this scene, and still laugh whenever I think about it. The image is just too hilarious.
I also love how Yoichi is all up in arms when Chisato puts him on an allowance once she realises how costly it’d be to raise a child. She stuffs all his collectibles in a tiny space because Hana actually chewed on the head of one of his figurines, hahaha, and Yoichi almost flips when he sees the head and his stuff all crammed up – the next morning, however, he’s rearranged all his precious things back where they were. And he’s constantly trying to get Hana interested in basketball, showing her figurines of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, and watching games with the baby. I really like that, because I think it’s important to get kids interested in sports when they’re younger, even if Chisato doesn’t want him to drink beer while he’s at it – wouldn’t do to have a drunk papa handling a baby!
The drama doesn’t paint anyone as the bad guy so far, which is a good thing since Yoichi isn’t some absentee father and Chisato isn’t an overbearing wife – she just wants Yoichi to be more involved in raising Hana. They’re both trying hard to be good parents to Hana, and Yoichi obviously has to make a greater effort now that he’s starting to realise just how difficult it has been for Chisato. I like that their fights are realistic enough – seemingly trivial things like not helping with coaxing the baby or buying diapers, coming home late, spending money unnecessarily, leaving the house in a mess – over the course of time, all these things do add up and if unaddressed, can explode in your face. It’s funny though that a few hours of taking care of the baby totally wipes Yoichi out – he even falls asleep with the baby on the floor of a piano shop and the horrified staff has to wake him up hurriedly, hahaha.
I haven’t seen Kurashina Kana in anything else, but she’s doing decently as Chisato and I like her chemistry with Tamaki. They are adorably believable as first-time parents trying to make things work and I’m glad the drama made both Yoichi and Chisato nice and affable people to hang out with. I also like that Chisato is the kind who won’t hesitate to speak her mind once she realises it’s not such a bad thing to let Yoichi know just how hard singlehandedly taking care of a baby is. Given how Tamaki is with kids in real life, watching this drama brings on extra giggles whenever Yoichi is with Hana. I guess new-parent fumbles never get old, and Yoichi has a hilarious inability to handle Hana’s diaper changes whenever she poops.
There’s a lovely scene towards the end of episode 2 where Chisato, after coming back from a wedding reception, realises Yoichi has actually let Hana fall asleep on the floor and turned the house upside down. She rails at him but he tells her it’s only his second time watching the baby alone and he can’t do it as well as she’s done all this while even though he’s tried his best. He realises how difficult it has been for Chisato because he too has felt the pressure of being responsible for the well-being of a young life. Chisato realises too that she’s had unreasonable expectations of Yoichi getting it right the first time round. I like that the growth is not only on Yoichi’s part, Chisato also has to adjust her approach to turning her hubby into a real ikumen.
It’s also nice how the drama builds the world around Yoichi and Chisato. For example, Chisato bonds instantly with other mothers while at the nearby playground with Hana – Yoichi has a similar experience while passing himself off as an ikumen, haha. Other characters also help liven things up: There’s Shigeru and his wife Miwako (Otsuka Nene), who runs a babycare shop that Chisato frequents. Given Shigeru’s low status at home, Miwako naturally pins all her hopes on their daughter Mika, and something’s definitely going on with that girl. One of Yoichi’s clients is another seemingly perfect husband Sudo Toshiya (Kuroki Keiji), who regularly imparts secrets of a happy marriage to Yoichi and Shigeru. However, there’s definitely more going on in Toshiya’s home life – despite his frequent gifts to his wife Yui, she doesn’t seem terribly keen on them and Toshiya himself seems to be way too hands on where their son Yuto is concerned. Yui coincidentally happens to be Yoichi’s kohai and also frequents Miwako’s babycare shop. There’s also the obligatory femme fatale in the form of Oishi Kaori (Fueki Yuko), who is interested in Yoichi. I just hope the drama won’t make Yoichi have an affair, that’d be terribly trite, not to mention it’d take the funny out of the drama.
So Zannen na Otto is off to a decent start and hopefully it stays that way. Fingers crossed!