Yaichi is a work-at-home suburban dad in contemporary Tokyo; formerly married to Natsuki, father to their young daughter, Kana. Their lives suddenly change with the arrival at their doorstep of a hulking, affable Canadian named Mike Flanagan, who declares himself the widower of Yaichi’s estranged gay twin, Ryoji. Mike is on a quest to explore Ryoji’s past, and the family reluctantly but dutifully takes him in. What follows is an unprecedented and heartbreaking look at the state of a largely still-closeted Japanese gay culture: how it’s been affected by the West, and how the next generation can change the preconceptions about it and prejudices against it. Edit Translation
Cast & Credits
To think I once didn't like Sato Ryuta *face-palm* and I blame it on the roles he played (the idiotic but kind secondary guy). He was excellent as the MC in this drama, I love how he goes from a judgemental, ignorant guy to a understanding friend. His twin brother, Ryoji, was gay, he died and his Canadian husband comes to Japan to meet his brother-in-law Yaichi and all the places Ryoji loved.
I confess I usually don't like the foreign actors in J-dramas since it seems like anyone who is foreign but speaks a little of Japanese can be an actor; meaning, terrible acting. But Baruto, as Mike Flanagan, was perfect, he portrayed perfectly the gentle giant (he is gigantic! I remember how Nakai loved to pat his belly in SMAP Bistro XD)
This is a very realistic slice of life, where there would be ignorant people who rejects homosexuality or just refuse to accept it. At the beginning, Yaichi was all "would be make a move on me?", or just calling him "my brother's friend" or not liking Mike near his daughter. Slowly, he begins to see that Mike was a nice guy who just happened to love men. Mike was never ashamed of who he was, and he taught his niece and his niece's friends that men can love men (and marry them) and same with girls. And the little girls were confused at first, but they quickly were "if you love someone, is wonderful you can marry that person, even if the both of you are guys" :D
I smiled, I cried, I loved it! Very recommended. I will read the manga as well (the author was in my "banned" list but this one is very different from what I thought).
Before starting let me just put out there that I haven't read the manga yet, so this review is solely based on the drama. However, I'll point out that the drama does a good job of making people want to read the source material, if they haven't.
This story starts in an aftermath, where many stories would end. You have a divorced father, who recently lost his twin brother, a little girl navigating her parents' separation and a widower brother-in-law who comes into their lives for the first time, after his husband's passing. Still, even though the events that lead to this setting are sad and filled with regret, the drama is not centered on that, but in the re-building of a family and the search of happiness.
The drama could have gone melodramatic so easily, and it could have used the subjects it portrays for gratuitous suffering, but it never does. It deals with stuff like bullying, homophobia, grief, separation anxiety and letting go, but it always does so respectfully and with emotional maturity.
It could have also turned preachy or superficial, considering that Yaichi (performed by Sato Ryuta) isn't gay and is left to understand the life of his brother who was, and to navigate his relationship with the brother-in-law he is meeting for the first time. Yaichi, being not only the protagonist but a kind of ambassador to Mike, who is a foreigner and a stranger in many ways to their community, could have very easily turned into a 'ally savior' trope. But there are well crafted elements throughout the story, instances of development and conversations with Mike and other characters, that allow for this show to be a great combination between a mature lgbtq+ narrative, a wholesome family story and a way to put out there subjects into conversation that the audience the drama was aiming to might have not seen in this way before.
Also, absolute stand out thing to me that I was not expecting is the way in which Yaichi's relationship with Natsuki, his ex wife, was written and performed. It's complex yet very simply human but it's not demonized or made into a him vs her situation with their daughter in the middle, like a lot of dramas with divorce tend to do.
The kids in this are adorable, btw.
All in all, wholesome, bittersweet yet with a positive spirit and an ultimate message of family, I would absolutely recommend. The only bad thing is that it's only 3 episodes long.