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Sweet temptation is a trap of communal life.
We all watch dramas for different reasons: some of us watch as an escape from daily life and its pressures, and some of us watch to see how characters respond to challenges, which in turn might help us with how to handle our own struggles. Luckily, Kikazaru Koi niwa Riyuu ga Atte gives the viewers some of both! This 10-episode Japanese drama has a lot to offer: hunger-inducing food, a ridiculously adorable dog, trendy clothes, interesting design, jaw-dropping scenery, well-written characters... and Yokohama Ryusei! Enough said.
But it also has important things to say about our twenty-first-century existence, often swimming in social media and relentlessly driven to perfectionism. This drama is about the characters’ love for good food and for each other, and the courage that it takes to let go of what doesn’t work for their lives anymore and the search for what is ultimately more fulfilling. That’s something each of us should strive for as well!
|Title: Kikazaru Koi niwa Riyuu ga Atte (着飾る恋には理由があって) or There’s a Reason For the Love I’m Wearing, There is a Reason for the Love to Dress Up|
Genres: Romance, Life, Drama
Aired: Apr 20, 2021 - Jun 22, 2021
Duration: 50 min
Official trailer (not subbed): TBS
Mashiba Kurumi, a fashionista and influencer, moves into a share house with three strangers: Fujino Shun, Terai Haruto, and Hase Ayaka. Four people of different ages, occupations, and values come together under one roof. Though their personalities clash, Kurumi falls in love, deepens her friendships, and learns to take off her "armor" and live as herself. (excerpt from MDL)
Official MV (Eng sub)
Gen is a Japanese singer, songwriter, and actor, who acted in last year's drama MIU 404. Famous for the 2016 drama Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu (We Married as a Job).
Mashiba Kurumi, 27, has worked for seven years as a publicist for "el Arco Iris," an interior design company that is rapidly gaining popularity, especially among young people. She works hard to please her colleagues and boss, as well as her followers on social media.
Fujino Shun, 26, a minimalist chef who aspires to live a simple and uncluttered life. Former head chef at a Spanish restaurant and current owner of the "Fuji-bal" food truck, which is closed on Saturdays, Sundays, nights, and rainy days. He dislikes technology and can be overly particular about certain things.
(Maruyama Ryuhei), 36, works as an online therapist and is Shun's cousin. He used to treat patients in a hospital but retired early.
(Nakamura Anne), 33, an aspiring contemporary artist who works part-time as a delivery driver at a supermarket.
(Natsukawa Yui), 50, owner of the share house and Kurumi's friend. She runs a catering service for restaurants. Divorced a year ago.
(Mukai Osamu), 40, founding president of "el Arco Iris", where Kurumi works. Divorced three years ago.
Kouji is an adorable border collie. Her owner is Kouko, but she brings a lot of joy to all of the share house members. Kouji likes long walks and playing in the park. She's also skilled at doing tricks and lets the humans know when she's hungry by ringing a bell.
an employee of el Arco Iris
Section Chief of el Arco Iris
There is also a spin-off from this drama called Kikazaranai Koi niha Riyuu ga Atte. This special series focuses on the story of Akiba Ryo and Kayano Nanami, co-workers of Mashiba Kurumi at el Arco Iris. Watch with English subs in Furritsub.
WHY WE RECOMMEND THIS DRAMA
As we see in the character explanation above, Kurumi and Shun have very different personalities. While their living situation starts off a bit rocky, after a short period of adjustment, they interact easily with each other. They start to tease the other quite a bit, she likes to poke him, and he calls Kurumi by his own special nickname. They also make lots of different funny faces at each other. Shun says: "What's with that look?" possibly more than any other sentence, and Kurumi says it back to him as well. There are quite a few very sweet, heart-fluttery scenes between them, but they also care for each other deeply and honestly want the best for each other.
Their romantic relationship is about both letting go and taking in. Kurumi had to let go of expectations and pressures (both self-induced and from others) as well as the need to look and act perfectly all the time. On the other hand, shun had to allow himself to take in the fact that Kurumi sincerely liked him, as he didn't believe deep down that he deserved a relationship. The two helped each other with this process all the way through. Shun kept telling Kurumi that she was fine just the way she was, and Kurumi kept pushing Shun out of the small bubble he had made for himself.
What we also appreciate about this drama is that even though there are one or two standard rom-com tropes present, the writer added some much-needed tweaks. For example, when Shun pulls Kurumi away from an oncoming bike, she scolds him for pulling her too hard, and when Shun gives her a piggyback ride, he makes her hold his glasses first.
#2. CHARACTER GROWTH
The stress of modern life
Kurumi is a modern career woman who tries to balance it all. At the beginning of the drama, viewers see her never stop being online, juggling her laptop, mobile phone, social media accounts, and headaches. She updates her thousands of followers every morning while commuting to work, during limited lunchtimes, and every night after she gets home. She even sets mobile alarm notifications to remind her of her social and work 'duty'.
As Kurumi's work effort is based on other people's acceptance and admiration, it is, of course, bound to fail. She experiences a lot of disappointments in her job. She put so much effort into her job that when leadership changed, everything that she had been working for in the last seven years was turned upside down in an instant. At one low point, she said: “It’s like they don’t expect anything of me [anymore]. I feel like I’m not needed.”
We get to see the changes that Kurumi undergoes through the drama as a result of the important self-reflection that happens during a crisis, as well as her interactions with others in her house, especially Shun.
Without spoiling anything more for the readers, the drama also shows us how the rest of the share house inhabitants experience their own difficulties and disappointments and how they react to them. Sometimes they fail or don't have enough courage to reach for their dreams or simply what they've hoped for in their personal lives and their professions. The housemates are there to care for each other in various ways, sometimes just offering a calming word or a quiet presence.
#3. LIFE LESSONS
Life lessons can occur in any area, even (especially?) in a drama! As the characters take their journeys through life together, they motivate, inspire, and encourage each other. Below are just a few insights and some wisdom from the characters.
The disorder of the room is a disorder of the mind. (Shun to Kurumi)
The one thing I will never understand the most is why you always need to care about people's reactions! (Shun to Kurumi)
Perhaps, it might be impossible to always just live alone, on your own. (Kouko)
Good food comes to positive people. (Kouko)
Even so, you need to keep putting in [the] effort to get to know someone better. (Kouko)
Of course, there are bound to be failures since you’re still young. But the memory that lingers as you age is not the times you failed, but the times you stood up again. (Sumire)
You aren't running away from all of it, right? I know you're having a hard time with work right now, and I don't want you to run away from it. I believe it's better when you properly face reality and take it head-on. (Shun to Kurumi)
The truth is you love doing it [and] that's why you can't let go of it. Don't run away from something very important to you.
You can't change what has happened to others. But you can always change your future, no matter how many times you want.
Although Kouko knew the four people she invited to live in her house beforehand, still living in a house with a bunch of other strangers isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone. There might be certain rules or general etiquette guidelines to follow in the house, but sometimes people need help to get on the same page with each other. These particular four share house inhabitants don't always get along, for sure, but when they argue, they actually take the time to talk about it and repair their friendships. We get to see them go from casual housemates to real friends after they respond to a character's crisis. They eventually allow the others to see their vulnerabilities and fears, and they tell each other the truth, even when it hurts. For example, Ayaka was very blunt with Haru when he was having trouble with a patient: "I just think that that kind of half-hearted kindness will only make someone wait with useless expectations."
And they have fun together! They eat and drink together, go camping, and see cherry blossoms together. Using his significant cooking talents, Shun frequently makes food for people in the house to cheer them up, to care for them when they're sad, and to help them celebrate something special. Likewise, Haruto uses his counseling expertise and ability to help keep people calm and settled.
And there is always party time!
Kurumi has the ability to choose clothing that is perfect for the specific context and event, and she has a keen eye for clothes that are comfortable yet stylish. Below is just a sample of her collection (taken from the last episode).
This is Cho Na's favorite pick of Kurumi's clothing, seen in Episode 9. White shirt or blouse with a mix and match blazer and pants of neutral colors. Depending on the matching of the blazer, pants, and accessories, it can be worn for casual or professional occasions.
Popcxqueen's favorite outfit is from Episode 5, and it is jeans and a white flowy shirt. In the scene, Kurumi wears it with very minimal makeup, which was unusual for her. When Kouko asked: "You're okay to go out with that look?" Kurumi says: “I’m fine this way.” This represented a much-needed shift in Kurumi's mindset about herself and her appearance.
There is so much yummy food presented in this drama that it makes you hungry just looking at the screen, let alone seeing the food being prepared. Since Shun is a skilled chef with specialities in European (specifically Spanish), Japanese, and Chinese food, there are a lot of scenes of him preparing mouthwatering-looking food. Kouko is also a chef and a food artist, and besides running a catering service, she is a food photographer and writes cookbooks. There are a few episodes where Shun and Kouko compete in a friendly competition with their food creations, and the viewers get to imagine how these different feasts must smell and taste in person.
Food also figures prominently in the main romance story. One of the first things Shun did for Kurumi was to cook for her. She, in turn, loved the food he made and often exclaimed: “It’s delicious!” quite loudly, which Shun took great delight in.
Picnic at the Cherry Blossoms Viewing
Camping Food and Soba Restaurant
Hortensia Spanish Restaurant
Late Night Party
Competition for a Wedding Banquet
Believe it or not, there is still more food that we don't have room to show you in this article, but we can't leave this section without telling you what our favorites are!
Popcxqueen's favorite food in this drama was the curry that Shun made for Kurumi during Episode 1. It was the most visually unappealing dish of the whole drama but probably the most meaningful. It was the first meal that Shun made for Kurumi; "comfort food" that was the equivalent of a warm hug in a moment of sadness. It also gave us one of our first glimpses of who Shun might be, underneath the minimalism, underneath the occasional prickliness, and behind the silliness. He showed us that sometimes all you need to feel better is a bit of peace and quiet and a good meal.
Cho Na's favorite food in this drama was the Elvis Sandwich from Episode 5. Shun made it for his picnic outing with Kurumi and Kouji. Supposedly this was the legendary "King of Rock-n-Roll" Elvis Presley's favorite food. It consists of toasted bread slices with peanut butter, sliced or mashed bananas, and bacon, and then fried in a pan or on a griddle. There are a lot of varieties of this sandwich. Cho Na would have ham instead of bacon.
Left and top: Ayaka's painting for the competition and other artwork.
Below: The seashell creations from local artisans on Hatsushima Island. Kurumi aims to promote her hometown's crafts through social media.
Kouko is the owner of this beautiful three-story house, which she shares with Kurumi, Shun, Haruto, and Ayaka. It's big and cozy, with an artistic architectural design.
The scenery in this drama is stunning and highlights some of the most iconic locations throughout Japan, such as Mt. Fuji, the island of Hatsushima, and the cherry blossoms.
Cherry Blossom Viewing
The cultivation of ornamental cherry trees and the culture of viewing blooming cherry blossoms have immense historical and cultural significance in Japan, and people have celebrated cherry blossom season by eating and drinking under the sakura trees for centuries. More information here.
Mt. Shakushi Gateway Camp
To support Ayaka at an artist's competition, the friends went camping close to the competition site. The campground is Mt. Shakushi Gateway Camp (Musashi Mountain Gateway Camp), Fujiyoshida City, Yamanashi Prefecture, and it offers glorious views of Mt. Fuji. More information here.
Hatsushima, an island in Sagami Bay, Shizuoka Prefecture, is where Kurumi grew up and where her mother still lives. According to the island's official website, they are the island closest to Tokyo and can be reached by ferry. About 200 people live in Hatsushima, and the island is known for abundant fresh seafood, as well as diving and snorkeling, rare tropical flowers, and excellent restaurants.
More info on Hatsushima here.
That's all (but not everything) we want to share with you guys! However, all likeable people, cute puppies, yummy food, pretty fashion, and gorgeous setting that you see in this article are just mere pictures if you don't dive into the drama! In our opinion, Kikazaru Koi niwa Riyuu ga Atte is not only a feast for the eyes, but also gives us a meaningful and relatable story full of life lessons! So why not start watching it?
THANK YOU FOR READING!
How to make gyoza (Japanese dumplings) with a smile
Special thanks to Furritsu for the English sub! Thank you to the editors who edited this article! We do not own any of the images used. Credits go to the respective owners. Images are from the official drama website TBS, drama screenshots, OST, and Google search. GIFs are made by Cho Na, taken from the drama scenes.