Japan is the land of the weird and wonderful, so it’s no surprise that this quirky characteristic is also present in some of its dramas. When a drama goes all out and actually delivers on the kooky, it deserves all the appreciation it can get.
Tada Keisuke (Eita) runs a small benriya business Tada Benriken in the fictional town of Mahoro. His only “employee” is Gyoten Haruhiko (Matsuda Ryuhei), who seems happy to sponge off Tada. As the pair work through some of the oddest job requests they can imagine, their relationship and clients’ backgrounds come to the fore…
I went into this knowing nothing except that it was supposed to be quirky and starred Eita and Matsuda Ryuhei. In retrospect, this was probably all I needed to know, since the actors were the biggest selling point. Whoever had the brilliant idea to cast those two in this franchise adapted from the novel of the same name by Miura Shion – the drama is a sequel to the 2011 film, and there’s also a 2014 film – should get a raise pronto.
Most of the requests were fun to watch and downright weird – it’s almost as if the drama delights in seeing how far it can go, but doesn’t do things just for the shock value. There were a couple of requests that were fairly sexual, with a life-sized naked wax figure to boot, but at the end of the day it’s all about the customer and what little life lessons Tada and Gyoten could draw from as they go about fulfilling the requests. I thought most of the cases were depicted well and liked that the drama showed various ordinary characters who may occasionally have an extraordinary day or request. There was plenty of humour and also some unexpected pathos from a couple of stories, which I thought was a really nice touch. Keeping the requests contained in 30-minute episodes (except for the last two cases, which took two episodes each) also meant the writing was tight and pacing was solid. I will pretend the last request doesn’t exist because 1) Maki Yoko was in it and 2) it just seemed unnecessary and rather OOC. I didn’t need a near life-and-death situation for Tada to come to realisations that I felt were inorganic to the story.
Eita (and his hair) could be anything you wanted him to be, such is his versatility, while Matsuda’s whole get-up personified slacker so well that it wouldn’t be surprising if you did run into a Gyoten on the streets and he looked like Matsuda. I enjoyed the chemistry between the two and thought they brought out the push-pull dynamics in their oddball relationship very well. Mostly, it was just a pleasure watching two talented actors inhabit their characters as easily as they slip into their benriya overalls. I also enjoyed seeing a variety of actors, and while some of them might not usually be among the leading lights, here they got their chance to shine in their respective stories. The theme song, Beautiful Dreamer by Flower Companyz, is lovely and laidback, and guaranteed to stick in your head even after you finish the drama.
Highly recommended, even if you just want to notch another style in your “Trials and tribulations of Eita’s hair” list.