A-Z Drama Challenge: Kakafukaka

Now this is a drama that I remember putting on my PTW specifically because there was a review here on WordPress that I commented on saying I would. I am a writer of my word after all. I am bummed I can’t find that review though, I would have loved to link it. However, this drama plagued by a name that sounds very similar to what my mother and grandmother used as a code word for poop when I was younger. That was a very unfortunate connotation because despite the premise, I had to scratch my head every time I would do go through my PTW titles wondering ‘what the hell is this about again?!’. So perhaps it would be best if I explained what Kakafukaka is about.

Terada Aki (Morikawa Aoi) is a bit of a loss. She has no passions, hobbies, or anything that really makes her stand out at her part-time job at a convenience store. At the very least, she seems happy living with her boyfriend at the time. Only to come home and find him cheating on her. It’s his name on the lease so she needs to move and fast. Her friend suddenly announces she’s married and moved in with her husband, so she needs someone to take over her spot at a share house. Aki immediately agrees only to find that she’s now roommates with her ex-boyfriend and now popular novelist Hongyo Tomoya (Nakao Masaki), his agent and owner of the share house Hase Taichi (Yuki Kousei), and Hongyo’s biggest fangirl Kuritani Akari (Nakamura Risa). Her once boring life has now become anything but with her new roommates!

L to R: Hase, Aki, Hongyo, and Akari.

Kakafukaka is either a drama you will like (me) or you will absolutely hate. There is no in-between. It’s probably the first Jdrama I’ve seen that has such a strong divide between the viewers. It’s for good reason though. Kakafukaka is actually one of first dramas I’ve seen that aired on TV with an R18+ rating, on a prime time network, so… there’s not blood or violence, but some sex in there. Being honest, as a touch starved adult woman who finds Nakao Masaki attractive, this filled a particular void in me well enough. Similarly to Jimi ni Sugoi!, I was addicted to the series, and ten episodes at 23 minutes, I finished the whole series and it’s special in two days.

That doesn’t make the series particularly good. I will be the first person to admit that since the plot is paper thin in terms of characters and development. I think part of that was due to the time limitation, since the episodes were so short and few. The other factor being that Kakafukaka is a manga live action adaptation that has 60 chapters, so getting a full adaptation wasn’t going to happen (especially since the manga wasn’t finished when it aired).

I applaud the series for touching on some very real and serious topics that adults in Japan really face. With Hase, we saw an adult dealing with a tiger mom into adulthood, as well as the expectation that he should settle down and get married right away. With Aki, ideas of gendered expectations, those that don’t nail the job hunt right after school being ‘losers’, premarital sex, and pregnancy scares. It’s unfortunate that these ideas are merely touched upon, but never truly developed within the time span of the series.

As for the acting, it’s largely debatable. I personally didn’t care for Aki as a character, but I think Morikawa Aoi’s portrayal was solid. She’s really good at setting up a mood, Aki’s lack of self confidence was really apparent in many scenes, and seeing her change was interesting. This gets lost a bit as Aki’s non-share house friends are introduced and discarded within three episodes, making her development a bit cluttered. I feel like those elements should have been simplified and re-written to make it more streamlined.

Back to our main cast, Akari didn’t really get enough screen time for me to really form an opinion on. As a character, Akari is odd. Her main point is her devotion to Hongyo-Sensei, but she isn’t sure where that devotion really ends. Does she just like his books, or does she like Hongyo the author as a person? It’s played with bit within the story, but it’s never really clarified. She does really have her shining moments when talking with Aki. Their interactions were never like rivals, but almost new-found friends, which especially is shown off in the special.

The stand out for this series is love him, then want to bash his head in Hase Taichi played by Yuki Kousei. Hase as a character is interesting, due to his upbringing and seeing how it impacted his ability to create and maintain relationships with people. I also really like Yuki Kousei’s style of acting. He really nailed that ‘looks nice but has an ulterior motive’ style of character. In general, Hase gets the most character depth and exploration so it’s nice that his actor got to match that energy.

Now for Nakao Masaki as Tomoya. The most curious thing that occurs in this series, because Tomoya is the only character that never changes. In a hurricane of his own making, Tomoya is the eye of the storm. It’s unique to say the least, since it’s very rare in my viewing experience that a main character doesn’t have a noticeable change occur. On one hand, you expect him to change because that’s how many stories work. On the other, by him not changing he subverts expectations and gives the story something unique to it. As for Nakao Masaki’s delivery it was solid. I think he did what was expected with an unchanging character like Tomoya. Admittedly, this did wander into being dead-pan or stiff at times.

Now that the main characters have been established, I want to touch upon the aforementioned sex scenes. Personally, I think they were tastefully done and fairly quick that it made sense for them to be included. None of them were particularly gratuitous, in terms of fanservice or duration, but just enough for that R18+ rating. They do vary from heavily implied i.e. covered via a blanket, camera angle changes, flashbacks with dialouge, to semi-explicit in nature i.e. partial nudity – Tomoya being shirtless, Aki in her under ware, etc. If you’re someone who would rather not deal with that, it is a crux of action so you might want to skip it. Your mileage on this will vary depending on you. It’s worth noting the chemistry, based on the characters circumstances was reasonable, but not particularly sizzling in this series.

What I appreciated more then that though, was the usage of the local park in the series. There was more then one occasion that Aki would end up there, reflecting on her life, or something that happened with an inner monologue that really clicked with me. It’s something that I, a normal human not in a drama, also do from time to time and I found that very sincere. It was nice to see how the park in terms of what camera angle, time of day, and who else was in the background would change as other characters would come and go. I’m not sure if it was intentional or if it’s me reading too much into it but I really liked that element even if the story was flimsy at best.

With Kakafukaka, it’s not a series I would watch unless you’re a particular mood. What mood that should be is up to your personal interpretation. Watch it in quick succession, take it for what it is, preferably with a snack and comfy blanket. It’s merely a brain candy drama for those of us that are into those sorts of things. Nothing particularly outstanding, but something easy to pass the time with.

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