Morning Drama in the doldrums… Why “Imo Tako Nankin” is too new
While the NHK television series “Chimudo-don” has been receiving mixed reviews, “Imo Tako Nankin” is now being reevaluated and is currently being rebroadcast on BS Premium.
This work, based on the life of Seiko Tanabe and her numerous essay collections, was originally broadcast in the second half of 2006, during the mid-2000s, a period known as the “morning drama slump. At the time, the media focused only on the fact that Naomi Fujiyama was the “oldest heroine,” and the overly proficient heroine was different from conventional morning dramas in which viewers “watch the heroine grow up,” so the series struggled in terms of numbers.
However, the work was highly acclaimed among morning drama lovers, and since no DVDs were released and no reruns were made, there were numerous requests for reruns.
What is surprising, however, is that even after more than 15 years, the film is not only not old at all, but it is very new.
A morning drama that carefully depicts the accumulation of everyday life
The first thing that was novel about “Imotako nankin” was its skillful composition.
The story is based on the present-day part of the drama, but the reason it does not seem complicated is that it is interspersed with reminiscences of the past as “chats” between the main character Machiko (Fujiyama) and her husband Kenjiro (Kunimura Jun), while the story is basically based on the present-day part.
This was a desperate measure because Naomi Fujiyama was too busy with stage productions, etc. However, the past part is inserted at just the right length and at just the right tempo to give the viewer a feeling similar to that after reading a short story or an essay. The story is likened to “imotako nankin = what women like,” and is connected to Kenjiro’s description of what he likes: “drinking, eating, and chatting,” and Machiko’s “drinking, eating, and reading books.
Machiko and Kenjiro eat, drink, and chat together every day. In recent years, “Hiyokko” (first half of 2017) has been highly acclaimed for its careful depiction of everyday life without dramatic events occurring, but “Imotako Nankin” actually appeared more than 10 years before that, and was a “morning drama that carefully depicted the accumulation of everyday life.
In many morning dramas, there is a pattern of introducing an abrupt guest character, causing a commotion, and then settling the case, thus saving time by inserting developments unrelated to the main plot.
However, in the case of this film, the only thing that seems abrupt is the “Tsuchinoko” furore.
When Shoichi (Shohei Hino), the “wandering man” brother of the sender of the chicken, is introduced later in the film, the viewer is struck with a sense of humor, thinking, “Oh, this brother-in-law would do anything like that.
The script is so well written and the characters are so carefully depicted that there is no need for narration to explain their daily lives, and the viewer is able to understand and accept even the slightest scene or line, thinking, “This is what this person would say” or “This is what this person would do.
Incidentally, there are many morning dramas that feature charming “odd uncles,” such as Kojiro (Masaki Kyomoto) in “Chiri to Tecchin” (second half of 2007), Munero (Kazunobu Mineta) in “Hiyoko” (Hiyoko), and Aruta (Gaku Hamada) in “Come Come Everyday” (Come Everyday). Shoichi, however, stands out for his charm as an “irresistible bad uncle” with a kind heart and a sense of humor.
The New “Married Couple” and “Family Image
The novelty of “Imotako-nankin” is its portrayal of a married couple and family.
The couple marries into a large family of 10 people. Machiko’s proposal, “If you marry me, you will be able to write many interesting novels,” is followed by Machiko’s comment, “You are an idiot. I’m an idiot. If you have two half-way things and a halfway housewife, you have a full life in total.
Also, even after her marriage, she does not let her children call her “mother,” but “Aunt Machiko,” because to them, she is the only “mother” who has died.
And yet, Kenjiro was not always a progressive thinker. He would say, “You’re a woman,” which would infuriate Machiko, and even while they were drinking peacefully, he would say, “Novels are …… not for a woman to be like that (laughs),” “A woman’s If you can’t evolve, then you should perish like the dinosaurs! He even cursed her.
When they got married, they started with a “separate marriage” in which they respected Machiko’s work and occasionally gathered together as a family for dinner at an apartment they bought halfway between their homes. After living together, they set aside a room for Machiko to work.
There is a scene in which Machiko tries to stop Kenjiro from hitting her naughty son when she scolds him, and Machiko pushes him away to stop him. Even if slowly, people can understand each other through dialogue.
What should be called the “divine turn” is the first Episode 60 Episode 60
What is even more impressive is the way “war” is depicted. In the 9th and 10th weeks, there was almost no contemporary episode, and for two weeks in a row, there was a girl’s episode.
What was depicted there was the “change” in Machiko, who used to be a brave military girl. When a summons arrives for an engineer at her family’s photo studio, everyone tells her to run away, but Machiko is the only one who says, “If the soldiers run away, who’s going to fight? When the English teacher (Maiko Kikuchi) says, “The war will end one way or the other,” Machiko is indignant, saying, “Japan has never lost a war before.
In the midst of all this, what should be called the “divine episode” is episode 60.
Early on, Machiko proudly tells her sister that she is making screws for the airplanes that soldiers ride in at the mobilization site, but when her favorite cousin dies in the war, she learns the meaning of war. Furthermore, when his childhood friend Kanji (Morita Naoyuki), who has been attending his father’s photography class, comes to tell him that he will not be able to attend the class due to mobilization for school labor, his pregnant mother (Suzuki Anju) gives birth and Kanji is sent to call a midwife in a hurry.
Machiko is concerned about her mother’s condition, but her father says, “She’s been like that for the past 15 years. As the father and Machiko wait, the father says, “A child is born! I’m having a baby! But in fact, it is the story of the dog in the back. I think the mother thinks a girl would be better. He leaves without saying a word, telling Machiko’s father and mother to give him his regards. He then leaves without saying a word, telling Machiko’s father and mother to give him his best wishes.
Incidentally, this Kanji is probably an original character in the drama, but when Machiko asks him to come back when the war is over, Kanji says, “When it’s over one way or another. These were the same words as her former English teacher, but the contrast between the previously indignant Machiko and the calm nodding of her head this time also served to portray “Machiko’s change. The film is a rich mix of tears, laughter, and tragedy and joy, and it is presented in only 15 minutes, without giving the impression of rushing.
It is said that this was due to Naomi Fujiyama’s schedule, but it is significant that the film depicts the war, Machiko’s change, and the end of her girlhood in an almost nonstop and deliberate manner. The 60th episode alone, a “divine episode” created by coincidence, is something that those who have not seen this film should definitely experience.
Text by： Wakako Takou
Born in 1973. After working for a publishing company and an advertising production company, became a freelance writer. In addition to interviewing actors and others for weekly and monthly magazines, she writes drama columns for various media. His main publications include "All Important Things Are Taught by Morning Drama" (Ota Publishing), "KinKiKids: Owarinaki Michi" and "Hey!Say!JUMP: When 9 Tobira Open" (both from Earls Publishing).