Gokushufudou

Happy birthday, Tamaki Hiroshi! πŸ’–πŸ’– He’s had a big year in 2020, but for good reasons – he and Kinami Haruka welcomed their first child in the summer! Congratulations! Here’s hoping he will have a wonderful 2021!

Tatsu (Tamaki Hiroshi) is a former yakuza turned househusband who strives to do his best every day for his wife Miku (Kawaguchi Haruna) and their daughter Himawari. Even so, Tatsu finds that being a househusband has its own challenges, and his yakuza past keeps coming back to haunt him in hilarious ways…

Gokushufudou is adapted from the manga of the same name by Ono Kosuke. The manga, which is ongoing, previously had a live-action promotional video and is also getting an anime adaptation. The drama adaptation itself also had a spin-off detailing Tatsu’s adventures in the classroom. Tamaki Hiroshi looked very much like his manga counterpart, so I was pleased he was picked to play Tatsu, and he certainly indulged his comic sensibilities to the hilt.

The drama was very slice of life in an over-the-top way, and once you embraced the zany humour and exaggerated gags, every episode was laugh-out-loud funny and I enjoyed my weekly dose of fun watching Tatsu navigate the “perils” of housework, bargain sales and attempts to shed his yakuza past. His former boss Eguchi Kikujiro (Takenata Naoto) and Kikujiro’s wife Hibari (Inamori Izumi), and their underling Masa (Shison Jun), were forever hopeful that Tatsu would return to the yakuza world, and constantly devising harmless ways of luring him back. The Kansai-ben was also in full swing, and I loved hearing it, especially the hijinks that ensued when yakuza speak was mistaken for something else in standard Japanese. While the drama took some liberties with the source material, when it did reproduce properly some of the frames, such as the ones showing the yakuza with and without the fruit press, the result was hilarious and delightful.

The drama invites one to look beyond the surface (or Tatsu’s scary face) and cast aside societal prejudices and realise that people do not have to be blood-related to form strong bonds and familial units. Himawari is not Tatsu’s biological daughter but he loves her all the same. Eguchi and Hibari treat Tatsu like their real son, while Masa respects and loves Tatsu like a true brother. The residents of Karyu Town regard Tatsu as an integral part of their community and he is unstinting in his offer of help to just about every need and want, going the extra mile regardless of who the other party is. There was a lot of heart in everything Tatsu did, and all of it was shown in a subtle, yet heartwarming way. There surely will also be increased appreciation for housewives all over given Tatsu’s emphasis on how much effort they put in to ensure the smooth functioning of the home.

Tatsu’s relationships with the various characters were heartwarming and hilarious, and it was a pleasure watching each relationship grow in its own small way. Masa kept getting abused in the drama but continued to keep faith with just about everything with bleedin’ heart purity – his bond with Tatsu is lovely to see and it’s obvious Tatsu considers him family too outside of the yakuza world. Tatsu’s rivalry with fellow former yakuza Torajiro (Takito Kenichi) was also stupid fun, especially when they fought over getting Instagram likes and who made better and tastier sweets. That said, it was rather aggravating how little Himawari appreciated Tatsu – the excuse being that she was in that tricky tween phase and unsure of whether her stepfather cared for her doesn’t really wash, given how bratty the character was. Himawari was not part of the original manga, and I did not think the addition was necessary.

While I didn’t think Tamaki and Kawaguchi Haruna had much chemistry (she still looks too young next to him), they did look rather cute together, and it was funny how Tatsu, despite being a skilled fighter, was often no match for Miku who could out-wallop him. I rather liked their backstory, which was pretty sweet despite the crossed signals and mixed wordplay that was unintentionally hilarious. I also enjoyed seeing Tamaki reunite with Takenata Naoto – their Chiaki vs Stresemann days are still vivid in my memory! Shison Jun put in an endearing performance as Masa, who even had to apologise to the meat after crashing into Tatsu’s bicycle basket. There was a outrageous cameo by Mizuno Miki as a flamboyant oiran, and I love how the entire cast just threw themselves wholeheartedly into the ridiculousness.

Some of the episodes that stood out involved the local policeman Sakai (Furukawa Yuuta), a timid guy who grew a pair after joining forces with Tatsu in their search for Neo Police figurines; and Tatsu throwing his hat into the sweets/parfait fray when he realises an outsider is about to wreak havoc with her sweets shop. Miku realising she cares more for Tatsu than preserving her job at the expense of denying her marriage was also a nice turn of events. And it was lovely to witness just how much Tatsu is valued by everyone in the town, that his yakuza past didn’t matter as much as his generous heart did, and that just as he tried hard to make people happy, so he too should deserve his slice of happiness.

Tamaki was Tatsu to a T, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

junny@10.11pm

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