OP Sequence

OP: 「オトメの心得」 (Otome no Kokoroe) by (GARNiDELiA)

「夕月 来タル」 (Yuzuki Kitaru)
“Yuzuki Arrives”

The characters are very run of the mill-your gloomy, spoiled rich boy and the obligatory genki girl counterpart. Yet, in spite of that, something about the story still draws me in. The narrative dove right into the melodrama from the start. Shima Tamahiko (Kobayashi Yuusuke) was raised in in an insanely wealthy, but loveless family (wealthy enough for the father to casually buy a bride for Tamahiko as if it were no big deal). Then, a fatal car accident kills his mother and permanently damages his dominant arm. If that weren’t enough, his father banishes him out to the countryside, and sends him a bride, the cute, energetic Tachibana Yuzuki (Aizawa Saya). As the cherry on top of this slice of melodrama, the MC even languishes on a bed of skulls.

Intriguingly, the song that is continually hummed or played in the background and which Tamahiko’s mother sings to him is actually a Japanese children’s song that was set to the tune of an English hymn in the early 1900’s. It is also a song that is supposedly popular at some Japanese weddings- quite appropriate for a series that will culminate in a wedding at some point in the plot.

Tamahiko is quite off-putting, sounding like a spoiled kid crying about his life being over at the ripe young age of 17 because he can no longer use one of his arms and has to live in the countryside. That’s not to say that what he went through wasn’t a big deal-losing his mother, a working arm, and a place in his family is a lot to go through all at once. Understandably, he would grieve that. But, the fact that he comes across as spoiled does nothing to endear him to me.

However, he has a hidden, kinder side that peeks out, like when he is concerned about Yuzuki catching a cold and throws his coat over her. A positive note of this premiere is that this hints at some engaging character development that will take place in Tamahiko when his softer side is drawn out by Yuzuki. There is nothing original about a morose guy opening his heart in the bloom of a fresh romance, but it can be heartwarming just the same.

Which brings me to not-so heart-warming (more like heart-burn painful) issue I take with the premiere-the sexist treatment of Yuzuki. Yuzuki falls into the category of the female who is only good for her domestic abilities and supporting the male character, rather than existing as a character in her own right. She has no personality outside of cooking, cleaning, and cheering up the MC. They portray her as a saintly woman who endures everything with a smile, including the very difficult fate of leaving school and friends early to be sold off into marriage to a spoiled rich boy in the boonies.

I personally find it irritating that they allow the male MC to give vent to his darker feelings, while denying a darker side to the female MC, who is only allowed to be happy for the sake of the man. This is unfortunately, a common trend I’ve seen, where the female is more like a love doll than that of a fully-fledged character. Yuzuki has the potential for being an intriguing character, if they gave her more of a 3D personality. For example, if they were to show her struggle with being uprooted and thrown into full time maid duty, diving into how that played into her relationship with Tamahiko and how she overcomes that.

While I hate how they place the main female character in a small domestic sized box, I do enjoy the time-period it is set in and will continue watching it for the sake of that (and also for the hope that maybe they will add another dimension to Yuzuki’s character). I would recommend this for fans of romance, so long as you are ok with a show that other than the setting, seems to be run of the mill.

ED Sequence

ED: 「真心に奏」 (Makogoro ni Kanade) by (Shunichi Toki)

12 Comments

  1. I’m not sure what the reviewer expected. This is set in the 1920’s. Women were generally subservient to men. Arranged marriages were the norm. So I think it’s unfair to describe Yuzuki as 1D, that’s like criticising a train for staying on the tracks.

    What’s far more illuminating and much less talked about is the Taisho society’s attitude to disability, where having even a relatively minor thing like a paralysed right hand is basically a social death sentence. Maybe that will get developed more as the series goes on.

    Angelus
    1. Well, I think your generalizing here. Just because women take the submissive approach does not mean women want to be submissive. During the era women had 0 support for reaching the stars. No role models (successful ones anyways) to mimic or learn from unless they want to be publicly shamed by men and peers.

      RenaSayers
      1. I’m quite sure there were many women who didn’t want to be only good for domestic activities and support their husbands, but there were also many who truly believed it was a measure of sucess as a woman. More so when their education was heavily based on those notions and they were still as inexperienced in life as Yuzuki. And in her case, it looks like it’s in her nature to be a caretaker, judging by the interactions with her classmates. And it’s not like she was exactly giddy at the prospect of taking care of a stranger, but she’s the optimist that always seems to look at the bright side of things. I don’t think existing as a character and supporting the male protagonist are mutually exclusive, especially when we see he is in a deep depression and desperately needs some help to look at life in a slighter positive light.

        ruicarlov
        1. Yes, besides women who followed the conventional path of the “Good Wife Good Mother” way of thinking, there were also women who pursued life in the home. Even as an optimist, she still shouldn’t ignore the hard things in life, pushing it aside to make way for all sunshine and happiness. That is unrealistic and unfair to her as a character, painting her as someone who just goes along with what the men decide and not have any opinions of her own about it. She can be an optimist and help Tamahiko heal while also deeply pondering the difficulties of adjusting to her own life and voice her own thoughts on it, rather than putting on a constant smile for the sake of the male MC. The fact that she is constantly putting on the happy front and constantly selfless seems like superficial. Even people who are optimistic and selfless, I am sure, still have times where they do things for themselves or have moments of doubt or sadness-it’s human nature. Nobody is 100% happy 100% of the time and making Yuzuki that way destroys the humanity or depth to her character, which I like to see in the characters of shows I truly enjoy. It’s also the fact that Tamahiko is given more sides to his character-his self-absorbed side wallowing in his own misery in addition to his kinder side that shows care towards Yuzuki. Yuzuki only has 1 side, the side that selflessly serves her “master”.

          Princess Usagi
    2. While it is true that it was set in the 1920’s where society expected women to confine themselves to the “Good Wife Good Mother” role, they can still write a character who follows the historical-social norms with a more well-rounded character. Women back then were not robots who existed purely for the sake of the man-they had their own personal backgrounds and histories, their own dreams, and their own struggles that they brought with them to the marriage. Sure, society told them that they needed to devote their all to home and husband, but they still had their own experiences and personalities that would have uniquely influenced how they fulfilled that role forced on them. For example, Yuzuki’s duty is to cook, clean, and look after Tamahiko, but in addition to showing that, they could also write more depth to her personality in terms of internal struggles with her new position and missing the life she was torn away from. Maybe even give her a hobby that showed a life and interest outside of the home. They didn’t even have to write her as the traditional wife character, they could have written her as an independent woman dreaming of breaking out of the confines of the kitchen. There are real, historical examples of women in the Meiji and Taishou eras who were strong, determined, and intelligent and made a career for themselves outside of the kitchen. For example, there was Muraoka Hanako who lived around this time period and who was well educated for women of the time. She even made a career for herself outside of the home as a translator and translated books such as, Anne of Green Gables.

      Princess Usagi
  2. > Which brings me to not-so heart-warming (more like heart-burn painful) issue I take
    > with the premiere-the sexist treatment of Yuzuki. Yuzuki falls into the category of
    > the female who is only good for her domestic abilities and supporting the male
    > character, rather than existing as a character in her own right. She has no
    > personality outside of cooking, cleaning, and cheering up the MC.

    I agree with you that Yuzuki was written as a supporting character that only serves Tamahiko like a maid, a babysitter for a spoiled child or a mother who is caring for a child rather than actually “adulting” with Tamahiko. Despite how Yuzuki is no more than a supporting character, I like her more than Tamahiko. Since this is just the first episode, I hope the writers give Yuzuki more assertive roles on screen.

    RenaSayers
    1. I also hope that they give her a more assertive part to play. I do like that Yuzuki doesn’t come off as spoiled as Tamahiko does. I just hope she doesn’t turn into the character that supports everything Tamahiko does, enabling him. My beef is with the writers/mangaka-it’s not Yuzuki’s fault that she is the way she is, it’s the writers who made her that way. I want to like her and it would be a shame if I couldn’t because of narrow-minded writing that strips her of any autonomy.

      Princess Usagi
  3. I just find it funny, and distracting, that they chose a musical piece that’s religious, namely the piano music, its actually “what a friend we have in Jesus” , i wonder if there is anything significant about it because of the times, or just a pretty tune they thought no one would recognize, given Japan has no christains.

    poopoo
    1. The tune actually has a bit of a complicated history, in that it has multiple Japanese translations. There are 2 different Japanese translations of the Christian hymn, in addition to there being a 3rd Japanese version of the song where secular lyrics were set to the tune. The lyrics that are sung along to the tune in this episode are the secular version. As Dot said, there are Christian communities in Japan, however, only 1% of the Japanese population are Christians so it is very much in the minority compared to Buddhism or Shintoism. I think the reason it was chosen is that the secular version is a children’s song in addition to, being sung at Western style weddings in Japan (from what I have read), thus it would make sense to use the song in context of a plot revolving around the MC coping with his childhood and facing a future wedding. In addition, the secular lyrics for the song were written somewhat around the time period in which this series takes place, so it have been a contemporary piece the characters would have been familiar with.

      Princess Usagi
  4. I kinda liked this when it was called “Ai Yori Aoshi”, though in that one the couple already knew each other.
    But this kind of show nowadays? Creepy vibes considering that she’ll also have to share his bed.

    boingman
    1. I am interested to see how they will handle their relationship, if it will grow into a relationship of equals or more into a woman mothering her husband kind of thing. As for her age, it seems like they won’t be getting married or consummating the marriage until she is of age (I believe she mentioned age 15 in the flashback), so right now she is filling the role of nurse-maid more than that of a wife.

      Princess Usagi

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