To marry or not
to marry, men and women
alike ask themselves
I finished watching a series a while ago about a guy who `can`t` get married (結婚できない男). For most of the series it is because he won`t get married, has no interest etc (so really, he can`t in that he doesn`t believe in it and so it would be wrong to get married in that case). In the end, he says he really can`t get married in that he is unable to until he can imagine and design his perfect house – he`s an architect – leaving the woman in question utterly dismayed and mocked (it was kind of mean to lead her on like that but her own part in the conversation was unusual too). I just found this series so funny at times, because another reason was he was socially inept with no idea how to talk to people (not that that`s funny usually but for drama purposes….) and only made fun of people. He was slightly OCD as well (not funny either for sufferers but let`s not be too pc, it added to his lack of appeal and added to the comedy factor generally). The lead woman was smart in how she responded to his abrupt comments. Yet her behaviour during his profession of love (of sorts) at the end made me wonder if she was just settling for him (she even says `you`ll do` though that may have been her pride speaking). In the end, you`re left wondering how things will pan out between them after she has to coax an invitation out of him to his apartment apparently forgiving him for being so mean (so in that way it was not predictable after all but then Japanese programs are predictably unpredictable I find).
Some Japanese dramas are utter rubbish (like tv dramas in a lot of countries are but people still watch them) but this one was quite enjoyable. Both the single men and women in this show, in their 20s and 30s going onto 40 – were facing the subject of marriage, dating or not dating. It`s always somewhat insulting that single heterosexual women in their 30s have to be seen, in any media or in the press, as lonely or desperate for a husband and the rest. Some might want a husband, some might not. Some might want a husband and kids, others might want just the husband (or partner if not keen on marriage itself) and some might prefer to stay single and enjoy life without a steady other half. It`s not fair to portray women in their 30s as Desperate Danielas (just made that up). The women in the show who were in their 20s were also portrayed as very keen for romance, marriage, kids ( sensibly in one case not keen enough for a man to go out with a sleazy Artist) but women in their 30s get it worse. The main female lead was touching 40 and keen on the idea but not keen on throwing away her career as a doctor. Anyway, even with the guy`s obsession with designing the perfect house (around the kitchen) and for all his faults he did not seem like the kind of guy who`d make a woman give up her career to stay at home (he was pretty handy in the kitchen himself at any rate and he was right I think in saying that a kitchen is the heart of the house as it is not just a place to cook) but then we never found out. Also, the women were at times portrayed in the show as a bit silly for their age – expecting a knight to come along on a white horse and live some fairytale with them. Hmmm. By the way the guy who `could not` get married was also under pressure because his mother was looking for a grandchild to carry on the family name. That`s a whole other post.
I was somewhat surprised to see miai (arranged marriage meetings between potential couples) still taking place in this era. Does that happen much in Japan these days? Actually, I remember it cropping up in a series I watched earlier, the Kekkon Shinai drama. In that series, the woman who had no interest in getting married did settle in the end for the professor. The girl who went on the miai did end up, sort of, with her man (not the miai man but the guy she liked). The 30-something in Kekkon Shinai was kind of cajoled into it while the woman in Kekkon Dekinai Otoko was pressured into it and decided to do it to get her father off her back (age wise there was not that much difference but apparently touching 40 is more serious marriage-wise). Either way, a woman has more choice nowadays as to whether she takes part in an omiai. And sometimes, omiai between two adults do work out. It`s not like Japan is in the dark ages in these modern times with the disgraceful practice in certain countries where children are forced to marry much older men and have no choice in the matter (being threatened with death if they refuse or being actually murdered if they try to escape). If they are interested in getting married and whatever else as I mentioned above, at least they are taking their future in their own hands by meeting people. They can always tell their parents or friends trying to fix them up to bog off if they don`t want any part in it (that`s sometimes tricky though telling your friends and family to bog off because you look more defensive then). I do love the expression `bog off`.
I still haven`t managed to catch up on the last few episodes of Saikou no Rikon, that clever comedy about the young divorced couple still living together. Must do something about that.
Maybe I look obsessed with marriage myself given the topic of these dramas but I just had to mention Kekkon no Dekinai otoko and Saikou no Rikon as an example of enjoyable drama. Kekkon Shinai was ok but the other two were better.
One more thing, I watched Kabei lately about a woman whose husband is arrested during World War II for unpatriotic thoughts against Japan and we learn at some point that the woman chose her husband herself because she fell in love with him (her father had not approved). They really had a special relationship and as discussed in the post about Art, War and Mystery, the special respect shown towards teachers at the time appears here as well. One of his former students comes to help out the family as a way of helping his teacher. This guy is played really well by Tadanobu Asano.