Masanori Aiba’s charm as an actor was on full display in “The Wada Family’s Men
The final episode of TV Asahi’s Friday night drama “The Wada Family’s Men”, with an original script by Shizuka Oishi and starring Masaki Aiba, was broadcast on December 10.
This is a home drama about the Wada family, a three-generation media family involved in different media: Hiroshi Wada (Yasunori Danda), a former president of a newspaper company, Shuhei (Kuranosuke Sasaki), a news program producer at a TV station, and Yu (Masaki Aiba), an internet news reporter. I’m sure there are more than a few drama fans who haven’t seen this drama because they were put off by the scent of a “heartwarming home drama” and the assumption that the idol lead character would be enlivened by two talented actors. If that is the case, it would be a shame.
This is because it was a very good home drama, a “comedy” and a “suspense” filled with various elements such as family, food, love, work, media, and politics.
In terms of its depiction of the history of newspapers, television, and the Internet, the sense of crisis in the current state of the media, and the pride of those involved in the media, it is a work that should be seen in conjunction with the drama “Shiranekutte Iikoto” (NTV) starring Yuriko Yoshitaka, also written by Shizuka Oishi. It was also a film that I wanted people who were into the drama “Shiranai Naku Iikoto” (NTV) starring Yuriko Yoshitaka, written by Shizuka Ishi.
What made “Wada-ke” excellent was that it remained a “comedy” and a “home drama” until the end, while carefully and seriously following the suspense elements. And that gentle worldview would not have been possible without the presence of Masaki Aiba, a.k.a. “Aiba-chan,” who played the main character.
Home drama x suspense
The story begins when the main character Yu (Masaki Aiba), who lost his job due to the Covid-19 disaster, is reunited with his estranged father-in-law and grandfather through a delivery service and moves in with them.
Shuhei is the remarried son of Yu’s deceased mother Rie (Eiko Koike), so he is not related to Yu by blood, and he has only met Hiroshi a few times when Yu was a child.
In the beginning of the film, the three of them start living together, and the daily life of the Wada family weaves around the fact that Yu, who has taken on the role of a housekeeper for her busy parents, supports them with food.
Unlike his father and grandfather, who fought in the turbulent world of the front lines of the media, Yu, a “boring man” who “thought it was wrong to make corners and lived his life in the flow,” begins to function not only as a housekeeper but also as a talker and a lubricant in the home. Kan, who has always been “active” in love, shows a strange affinity for Yu, loving him like a cat and relying on him to repair the relationship with his own lover.
The “life of three big men” of Yu, who lives with his estranged father-in-law and grandfather-in-law, with whom he has almost no contact, at the age of 37, comes off as natural, thanks to Aiba’s atmosphere.
However, the slow flow of time in the Wada family suddenly changes gears. It all started when Shuhei discovered that Rie, Yu’s mother and Shuhei’s wife, who died 26 years ago, was not killed in an accident, but by Kiyomiya (Takahashi Mitsuomi), who is now the Minister of Land Development.
In fact, Shuhei, who is now a news program producer and a hard working man, was originally a junior colleague of Rie’s, and the reminiscing scenes show how he was unreliable when he was inexperienced at the news station. This all changes when the truth about his wife’s death is covered up. To protect Yu, he withdrew from the case once while he was raising Yu, and it was heartening to see how he steadily gained strength to get to the bottom of the matter and became a great man in the company.
We also learn that the “scary but strong grandfather” had advised Rie not to involve his son, who was still inexperienced in news reporting, not as a “media person” but as Shuhei’s father, out of parental love, because Rie’s reporting was so core and dangerous. From this, we learn that the lonely boy who was always away from home, who was always alone, and who had only improved his housekeeping skills, had actually been protected by his entire family.
When he hears that I told Yu the truth about Rie’s death, he says, “Isn’t that pitiful? I wonder if he can bear it.” Hiroshi worries, and Shuhei replies, “It’s a pity that he doesn’t know. While watching his father-in-law and grandfather-in-law fighting, Shuhei says to himself, “Everyone in my family is amazing,” and “I’m scared and intimidated. Yu suddenly starts working out with dumbbells while telling himself, “But that’s normal. On the other hand, Hiroshi is tormented by remorse, saying, “Maybe I’m the one who killed Rie-san,” without daring to choose his words, he immediately and naturally says, “My mother was a person who did what she wanted to do. If that’s the case, it’s not Hiroshi’s fault,” Yu’s honesty is the greatest strength of all.
However, the VTR about the truth of Rie’s death, which Shuhei was determined to make, was replaced just before the broadcast by a subordinate who adored Shuhei and wanted him to stay at the station. As a result, Shuhei is defeated in his 26-year battle, and as he slowly walks up the hill on his way home, he says, “Welcome home. I thought it was about time you came home,” Yu said.
I thought you would be home by now.” Yu says, “In a situation like this, the mature thing to do is to leave him alone. You don’t understand,” Shuhei said, but his voice was full of relief and kindness.
Aiba-chan’s affinity for suspense…
The “gentle” Yu connects the active, powerful, and capable grandfather and the serious, hard-working father. What I felt again in this film was how well “Aiba-chan” fits in with the suspense.
Thinking about it, Aiba’s role in the drama “Welcome to My House” (2015), written by Jun Ikeido, was also that of a timid and timid protagonist who was not good at fighting. Many viewers were struck by the way such a weak protagonist struggled hard to protect his family after being involved in an incident, and found themselves rooting for him and what he wanted to protect.
In this film, Yu has also lived a “calm life,” not fighting with others, not taking corners, but he is caught up and inspired by his father and grandfather who lead dramatic lives, and takes his own steps forward.
The public image of “Aiba-chan,” the kind, honest, crybaby, and open-minded character she portrays as an idol on variety shows, must have worked well in this regard.
The image of Aiba-chan, who does not hide her weaknesses and maintains her childlike innocence, fits perfectly with the gentle and heartwarming daily life and the “gentle and weak protagonist” who desperately tries to get up from the fear of having it destroyed. As an essential element in the unique formula of “home drama x suspense,” I feel that Masaki Aiba has found a way to make his mark.
Text： Wakako Tacko
Born in 1973. Worked at a publishing company and an advertising production company before becoming a freelance writer. In addition to interviewing actors and actresses for weekly and monthly magazines, she writes drama columns for a variety of media. JUMP 9 no Tobira ga Openitoki" (both published by Earl's Publishing).