最高の離婚 (Saikou no Rikon)

Saikou no Rikon is penned by Soredemo Ikite Yuku’s writer Sakamoto Yuji. Eita starred in both dramas but the two are polar opposites in terms of their tone and theme, proving the writer’s versatility. Saikou no Rikon tackles the woes of marriage as well as the benefits and consequences of divorce in an offbeat, laugh-inducing way.

Mitsuo Hamasaki has been married for 2 years to a wife whose personality is the complete opposite of his.  They just can’t find a common ground, it makes people wonder how these two even ended up getting married.  Quarreling over some Hagi no Tsuki (sponge cake with custard cream) one night turned into a more serious argument that led them into an abrupt (or long overdue) decision to file a divorce. Though they fight over the most trivial things for the past years, at long last, they both agreed that divorce is the only way to stop their bickering. They ran out of paper to print the documents so the plan did not push through but just when Mitsuo has decided to go home to his wife and just endure their differences one more time, he was surprised to find out that Yuka has filed the divorce papers they filled out the night before. There were some errors in her handwriting but she said the Meguro District Office accepted the documents anyway. Mitsuo was baffled by the sudden twist of events. He thought he was breaking up with her but she was the one who cut ties with him completely. However, breaking the news to their family is not easy so they are forced by circumstances to continue living together.

Mitsuo ran into his ex-girlfriend Akari (Maki Yoko) and this encounter brought back a lot of good memories. Following his divorce, he thought that this might be his chance to rekindle a college romance. But to his disappointment, his ex-girlfriend is now married (or not really?) to promiscuous lying bastard, Ryo (Ayano Go).

These two couples who live in the same neighborhood built a very unlikely “friendship” as they struggled through the intricacies of their marriages.

tumblr_inline_mzltmk6hpg1swr5rcEita plays Hamasaki Mitsuo. From his moss-lovin’ badass Nitta Teru character in Lucky Seven, to the shabby chain smoking jack-of-all-trades benriya Tada Keisuke in Mahoro Ekimae Bangaichi, he transformed once again and this time into a zany, unfashionable character with OCD. He works at a company that installs vending machines. He also runs a laundromat with his wife, and often goes for dental check-ups to rant about his “horrible” married life.

I thought marriage was torture but I was wrong. Marriage is a food chain. If my wife is the tiger, I’m the deer. If she’s the anteater, I’m the ant. If she’s a bee, I’m honey. I’ll eventually be grass. I can only wait silently to be eaten. Ah, it’s trying. Four times trying …

– Mitsuo Hamasaki

Mitsuo is probably one of the most annoying Jdorama leading men I’ve ever seen. Who’d marry a guy like that? The moment he opened his mouth, more or less I already knew why he and his wife ended up getting a divorce. Insensitive, whiny, overly meticulous, and embarrassingly straightforward to the point of being rude. Even his own grandma Aiko-san said she can’t believe someone actually married her grandson whom she thought would end up being a criminal. The humor is dark and subtle and I love it.

Mitsuo has a quirky way of sharing his love for animals by writing an annual list of Top 10 Favorite Creatures. He also has an unusual loathing for cherry blossoms which is ironic because he lives literally right next to the scenic Meguro River. The character is almost manga-like with his fast talk and exaggerated actions. With a long list of pet peeves, he’s certainly a difficult person to live with. It’s hard to sympathize with a character like this but since Eita is simply a gifted actor, he amazingly turned a cartoon-ish, tactless loser to a realistic, funny, harmless dorky sweetheart.(Even swoon worthy when he finally took the glasses off and changed his hairstyle.)

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Ono Machiko plays Yuka Hamasaki. She’s both tough and feminine, she’s free spirited and can get along with everyone.

It’s my first time to see Ono Machiko in a drama and I was both entertained by her energetic character and emotionally moved by her dramatic performance. “Sou?!” I love her when she says that in her I-don’t-give-a-damn face. Her acting is so natural that just like Eita, she made me believe that Yuka is not a drama character but a real person. So it totally broke my heart to see their marriage in her point of view. While Mitsuo thinks that it might have been a mistake, Yuka unequivocally confessed that for her, it was surely out of love.

 But even though I understand her, I also find it quite unfair that Mitsuo seems to be getting all the blame when they both should have tried to work things out.

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The other couple is the opposite of the Hamasakis. The mysterious Ueharas seem like the ideal good-looking pair who never fights about anything. Ryo and Akari are happily married but eventually we found out that Ryo didn’t even register their marriage. And they’re definitely not happy! They seem so cool about their issues but only because they chose to put on a front when in fact they are both emotionally damaged. Akari is crazy for being nonchalant about Ryo’s cheating spree but Ryo is crazier for even thinking that any woman will be okay with it. At one point, Akari has finally lost her cool and chased him out.

Yoko Maki and Ayano Go are both good actors but their characters are complicated and a bit unrelatable. I like the Ueharas only when they’re having interactions with the Hamasakis: all four of them or Ryo and Mitsuo/Akari and Yuka together. But with Ryo and Akari alone, the atmosphere is just so cold and awkward and totally pretentious. I don’t know what it is that made them attracted to each other but I’m actually not convinced that they should get back together.

It’d be fine if Mitsuo also stays single for a while and I bet he won’t mind but having someone beside him is a good way to develop his character, adjust his introverted self and learn how to get along with others.

I want Yuka to be in a relationship. Obviously, she’s my favorite character. I can see a bit of myself in her. Naturally being the life of the party, YukaImage caught the attention of the men she met at a goukon. Going out with the potential match Keisuke Omura (EXILE’s Keiji) did not work out but turns out her goukon seat mate Hatsushima Junnosuke (Masataka Kubota) developed a crush on her too. He’s industrious and dependable but proposing to a woman who just had a divorce is a short-sighted decision that proves he is indeed still young and immature. (I’d marry him though!haha) But Yuka’s heart still belongs to Mitsuo after all. Hence, their reconciliation is definitely more believable and endearing than Ryo and Akari’s.  

Saikou no Rikon is a dialogue-heavy, romantic dramedy made more memorable by its lead actors’ gripping performances. I cannot totally relate to the divorce theme since I’ve never been married (and I’m not even sure if I want to). But at least I have been in a relationship that I could somehow feel my connection to both pairs in terms of the Hamasakis’ irreconcilable differences and the Ueharas’ huge trust-betrayal issues. I love the witty dialogue and some sudden drop of pop culture references like Yuka’s crush on Miura Haruma, Junnosuke’s favorite EXILE, and Mitsuo’s hilarious “Funky Monkey Families”. Each episode is worth watching from start to finish. Don’t miss the slightly suggestive but hilarious end credits.  

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