“Gochisousama deshita”, a term widely used after eating to express appreciation for the food. “Gochisou” literally means, “a feast.” And a feast is what this drama is; a feast on family, life, and most of all, a feast of great acting. While I have seen Higashide Anne (nee Watanabee) a couple of times (recently in Date), but this is the first time watching Higashide Masahiro in a complete drama (he was recently in Hana Moyu)! Together, it makes sense why these two would eventually marry! Read on….
(cast is numerous so I won’t mention everyone)
Higashide Anne as Uno Meiko/Nishikado Meiko
Higashide Masahiro as Nishikado Yutaro
Toyoshima Hana as young Meiko
Zaizen Naomi as Uno Iku
Harada Taizo as Uno Daigo
Yoshiyuki Kazuko as Uno Tora
Inowaki Kai as Uno Teruo
Miyazaki Yoshiko as Nishikado Shizu
Takahata Mitsuki as Nishikado Noriko
Kimura Midoriko as Nishikado Kazue
Maeda Aki as Horinohata Sakurako
Kato Ai as Murai Akiko
Kondo Masaomi as Torii Sutezo
Wada Masato as Izumi Genta
Muro Tsuyoshi as Takemoto Yuzo
Tokui Yuu as Ohmura Sosuke
Kimoto Takehiro as Fujii Kosaku
Yamanaka Takashi as Muroi Kosai
Episode Count: 150
Episode Length: 15 minutes
Meiji 44th year. Meiko is the daughter of Daigo, who owns a western restaurant in Tokyo. She loves to eat the omelette prepared by Daigo, and the nukaduke (pickles) prepared by her mother, Iku. Theirs is a warm, close knitted family, and Meiko’s love for food grows with age. Even now, when she is in an all-girls’ high school, her mind is filled with thoughts of food all the time. Due to that, Yutaro, the university student who is boarding at the Uno’s home, scathingly calls Meiko, “a person with no charms whatsoever”. However, as Meiko changes from someone who loves to eat, to a person who loves to prepare food for others to eat, she starts to display an inner strength as foretold by her mother and her grandmother.
“To crave for food, is to have the will to live; the stronger the craving, the greater the will”.
This Asadora drama was a total surprise. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. What made this one so much better was that it wasn’t really focusing on a specific subject as it was truly a fictional tale but what it did well was to wove in historical facts and happenings of the time period to give you that real life story feel.
My heart just fell in love with this little actress playing the young Meiko (Toyoshima Hana). Her many expressions when confronting her young friends and mini-enemies is extremely cute. But nothing can prepare you for when she is eating! This little young miss makes you want to run to the store and eat whatever she is eating at that moment. Why? She makes everything look so damn good! From eating a bowl of rice and curry, a strawberry; you name it. It is with pure joy that she expresses herself! I laughed and giggled while watching her little performance. I admit, I was sadden when Meiko grew up!
The same goes for her little bully and friend, Izumi Genta. The scene when she beat him down for messing with her strawberry jam was hilarious and I believe you won’t forget it too soon. Unfortunately, I don’t know the little actor’s name as I could not find it and give him credit. But again, you won’t forget him either. But both young actors were definitely spitting images of their adult counterparts! Great casting!
The transition to the adult characters was seamlessly done. As the adult Meiko came onto the screen, I loved how you still saw the child. Anne did a wonderful job in reminding us of that child and her continuous love for food. Her scenes with her friends, Sakurako and Tamiko were fun especially the times they spent in class and the coffee shop. Of course, it is with the girls that Meiko first encounters Yutaro. Though Meiko wants to deny it at first, it truly is love at first sight.
It takes Meiko’s tutoring sessions with Yutaro that seals the deal. As payment for his help to pass the final math test, she makes him lunch everyday with a surprise filling and serves him his dinner. Slowly, Yutaro opens up to Meiko and looks forward to what she makes next as Meiko promises not to make the same thing. And she almost keeps that promise until the reality of how much she loves Yutaro hits her like a ton of bricks.
It takes the near drowning scene when Meiko goes on an omiai while trying to be filial to her father who wants it but it really is with the unknowing influence of her mother that Meiko turns it down and runs to the Todai University rowing match that Yutaro is participating for his University. As she is chasing and rooting for him, it is her fall into the water that finally attracts Yutaro’s attention, giving us a nice scene where he both admits he likes her but also turns her away. Teruo is the cute brother but there is really no development of his character.
One thing for sure, you will love Meiko’s family! It is not only his love for food but his love of family. In the beginning, the father tries to focus on French Cuisine; however, it is a food critic’s review that changes the tide as well as Meiko that shows him the way to success for the restaurant by concentrating on what the people really want. Meiko’s mother is a great support mechanism for both her husband as well as her family.
It’s nice that Yutaro sees the error of his ways and departs with Meiko to Osako; however, nothing can prepare us for the sister from HELL, Kazue. Kazue is Yutaro’s much older sister. The age difference is so startling that initially poor Meiko mistakes her for his mother but complements Shizu, the second mother as being so young looking (she is). Bad move as you can imagine. Kazue is a seriously tough cookie with a rather sad story that didn’t improve her character at all unfortunately. She refuses to acknowledge Meiko for 1 year as Yutaro’s bride but she must work as the maid, literally. It’s such a sad situation that Yutaro has to register Meiko on the family registry without her knowing. As you can imagine, this unleashes a major s**tstorm.
It is great that we see the return of Genta. Just like the young Genta, the older one is just as quirky and fun as his younger counterpart. Genta has moved to Osaka as a butcher. He remains Meiko’s friend and confidante from the beginning to the end. He is her rock of support during the war and it is with her care that he returns to himself after the Sino-Japanese war that he was drafted for.
And the best transformation for the better goes to Noriko, Yutaro’s younger sister. After years of being under the thumb of his sister, Kazue who really treated her like crap (who did this woman like?), it was really nice to see the effects of being around Meiko had on her growth as a character and especially as a woman. Though, she had a tremendous crush on Genta in the beginning, it was wonderful to see her move on to her future husband, Kawakubo who eventually works with her at the radio station. Make a note, Takahata Mitsuki (Noriko) has a BEAUTIFUL voice! When she shyly but resoundingly sings at the market, that voice was stunning! I won’t figure it any time soon.
The birth of Meiko and Yutaro’s first child, Fuhisa was just beautiful and funny in its execution (I know, what a pretty baby!!). As you can imagine, Meiko’s thoughts remained on food even during the throws of child birth. Sadly, even with the birth of Fuhisa and later sons Taisuke and Katsuotoko, these two STILL weren’t allowed to marry officially. I did say Kazue was a real “B” right?
It take 8 years. 8! Before Yutaro and Meiko are officially married. With all three children as witness, the whole Nishikado clan recognizes her as his wife. This includes Yutaro’s father who he is able to reconcile with earlier in the drama thanks to Meiko’s insistence. As you can expect, the wedding is beautiful with the two in a Japanese traditional wedding regalia. And Meiko’s father, Daigo? Cries like a baby to finally see his only daughter a true wife to the man she chose.
One of the best things in this drama was truly the costuming! The many, many kimonos and other Japanese wear was simply wonderful! I think I immediately went on a hunt for some to purchase and sadly I must say, these are expensive! From simple to elaborate, there were so many to choose from. I realized as I watch how timeless kimonos are and about all the parts that make it so intricate.
Another thing I loved was the closing photos at the end of each episode which featured mostly children but also sometimes adults and animals as they enjoyed a meal. The many pictures of the children were so precious, I just wanted to capture as many as I could! Don’t get me started on the babies!! Whether caught in the middle of devouring the food in front of them or smiling from ear to ear in delight, the camera did a great job of capturing this truly precious moments!! I think I looked forward to every single one!
While Massan showed war time Japanese during World War II from one perspective, Gochisousan showed it from an entirely different perspective; from that of a mother who supported the war and her sons that went to fight in our of their family and their country. As a mother, Meiko was proud of her sons. When the youngest volunteered, she was happy and as expected, her sadness for the one that didn’t return was definitely heartfelt. Meiko’s reaction when the war was over and the US forces came to town was as realistic as you can get. Her interactions with the American Colonel were funny and one of their final scenes when they realize that both had lost sons during the final minutes of the war is one of the memorable scenes at the end.
I was really glad to have watched this drama. As the fourth Asadora drama that I have completed, I’ve yet to be disappointed by any that I have watched. Yes, they are a commitment of time but what makes them wonderful is that as they are only 15 minutes in length, it is easy to squeeze in a episode here and there. I just look at the 150-156 episode dramas as being equivalent to Korean family dramas~very good drama!
Not long after, Anne and Masahiro were married in real life. The chemistry that the two had on the screen was delightful! It is no wonder that they fell for each other! I look forward to other dramas of theirs. Most recently, I’ve watched Masahiro in Hana Moyu and Mondai no Aru Restaurant; Anne in the hilariously funny drama, Date – Koi to wa Donna Mono Kashira. I recommend all three!!