Waaaaay back in 2018, I experienced my first Japanese drama, it being the 2016-released romance comedy Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu, or in English, We Married as a Job. Prior to that, I had never watched a J-drama in my life; I only really heard of the praises and various series suggestions from other people. But certain things persuaded me to jump into the world of Asian dramas, and I’m glad that We Married as a Job was my first actual experience with the medium. (you can read my initial impressions on the show by clicking here)
It was such an enjoyable and, most importantly, brand new type of TV series to me, thanks to its intriguing premise, entertaining cast of characters, clever humor and overall ‘fresh’ atmosphere. I’ve always thought that J-dramas have a very unique atmosphere and production style compared to what I’m used to with anime, and even TV programs shown here in the United States. And even though I’ve done a terrible job with checking out other Japanese TV shows, We Married as a Job has definitely made me interested in watching more dramas.
That said, a special, two-and-a-half hour episode of the show released in January of 2021, which honestly caught me by surprise. I thought the show had a good ending that tied everything up, but I guess the writers/producers felt that they could’ve expanded on the storyline, especially due to recent events. Also, I have to mention that I watched this back in early 2021 but I’m only now getting to the review (August 2022) so… just letting you all know (lol).
Okay, I think that’s enough of an intro. Let’s jump right into the discussion!
The special begins in the new imperial era of ‘Reiwa’, as well as it being the third year of Moriyama Mikuri (played by Aragaki Yui) and Tsuzaki Hiramasa’s (Hoshino Gen) official marriage. The former relationship of housekeeper and employer is now nowhere to be found and the two have been living a happy life as an actual couple. Profession-wise, Mikuri now has a stable job with a home improvement business, while Hiramasa works as a systems architect with a new company. But as perfect as life may be for these two, they will soon go through major decisions and events that’ll determine how well of a relationship Mikuri and Hiramasa have.
For one, the two find out that Mikuri is seven weeks pregnant and are now expecting a child in a few months. Secondly, Hiramasa ends up becoming the leader for a huge project that his company is currently handling. Both situations have their individual issues and stresses, which Mikuri and Hiramasa try to get through.
However worse does come to worst, as the world has now entered a global pandemic due to the rise of the coronavirus (COVID-19), resulting in millions of infected cases, major lockdowns, various preventative measures to follow, and an increased fear of catching this deadly disease. And the pandemic has only made it more difficult for Mikuri and Hiramasa, especially with their newborn child. But as terrible of a situation it has become for them, the couple tries to do their best with this new responsibility of raising a family, while also maintaining their own relationship.
There is… a lot to get through with this special, so here we go 😛
Well first off, let me just address the elephant in the room, being that this special incorporates the actual, on-going global pandemic that everyone is dealing with at the moment. Some may think that because this is a fictional TV show, and the fact that the COVID crisis is still fairly new in our societies (hell, we’re still in the middle of it), that they’d do some sort of ‘parody’ of the pandemic. But no, what’s seen in this episode is not some ‘schmoronavirus’ or anything like that. It’s the legit thing, as they, well, actually say the name of the virus, accurately depict news reports and country-wide lockdowns, show everyone taking precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing, and so on.
This is all pretty intriguing to me; one reason being that they jumped on this opportunity to depict this new pandemic lifestyle pretty quickly. Given that this episode was released at the beginning of 2021, that would mean they wrote (supposedly), filmed and edited this entire two hour feature, basically, in the thick of the pandemic (most likely April through December 2020). For one, in my opinion, that’s a little questionable and a bit irresponsible to do all this while cases were still extremely high at the time; and two, it’s just surprising to me that something like this would get written that fast (lol). I feel like with major, real life events, they would take a few years or so to let the aftermath settle and THEN make a TV show or movie about it. But I guess it seems that the writers thought it was a good idea to do it now, which ended up making sense since it honestly fits with the rest of what this special is about; it being the stresses and tensions of life-changing events.
But it makes me wonder: because all the COVID stuff was really shown in the last 30 minutes of the episode, I’m curious if they had the narratives prior that part already in place, but because of this sudden pandemic, they came up with the idea of Mikuri and Hiramasa also having to deal with the fears of this virus. In fact, I believe this episode is still based on a couple volumes of the manga it was originally adapted from, so that actually could be the case. But if you take away the pandemic part of the special, I think it would still be an interesting story, showing the evolution of Mikuri and Hiramasa’s marriage due to the intense responsibility of taking care of a newborn child. Regardless, I think they pulled it off pretty well and connected all of it in an appropriate fashion. Plus, I appreciate that it was rather accurate to what’s actually going on in the world right now.
That said, they did a nice job at further showing the everyday life of and relationship between Mikuri and Hiramasa. Especially when the news of parenthood came into their lives, seeing them adapt, learn and deal with the highs and lows of bringing in/raising a child was amusing. And I think the part where the pandemic started and they had to make the difficult decision of Mikuri and their baby having to stay at her parents’ house while Hiramasa was desperately needed back at work, all for the sake of not risking their child catching the virus; that was the most notable moment when it came to the couples’ whole parenthood experience. Additionally, how the two were on the same page about doing this parenthood thing together, rather than conforming to the social/gender norms of the father being the ‘central pillar’ of the family and the mother having to be the main caregiver of the child… that part was great, as I would agree with a lot of it, as well as it being a continuation of what the latter part of the original show/season was all about.
To me, Hiramasa and his character was the most interesting to watch, as he still had a very awkward demeanor and it seemed like he continued to be a bit lost with marriage, let alone parenthood. However, the way they showed Hiramasa learning the ropes and becoming more comfortable with everything (despite all the troubles he went through); I enjoyed it a lot and you could tell that he improved as a husband, father and overall, a person.
As for the other characters in this episode, there really was only one major focus on a supporting character; that being Yuri (Mikuri’s aunt, played by Ishida Yuriko). They kind of continued her story arc about her struggles as an older, single woman and having a difficult time trying to find true love, as her previous relationship with Ryouta (Hiramasa’s friend/coworker, played by Otani Ryohei) ended up not working out. But when she later finds out that she has a form of endometrial cancer, it further discouraged her situation regarding romance. It was neat how Yuri’s story arc definitely tied in with what Mikuri and Hiramasa were dealing with; on one hand, it showed Mikuri and Hiramasa having a (mostly) great marriage and family, while Yuri on the other hand has had trouble maintaining a romantic relationship and is even hampered with the unfortunate possibility that she won’t be able to have a child in the future. I certainly felt bad for Yuri, especially since she’s such a likable person in this series. And despite my limited knowledge, I think she was a decently-written character that a lot of people can probably relate to.
And just to mention them, the other supporting roles such as Mikuri’s parents, Hiramasa’s co-workers like Ryouta, Numata and Hino; it was great seeing them again and just like the original series, a lot of the humor throughout this special came from them specifically. The main cast was amusing at times, don’t get me wrong, but given the more witty personalities of Numata, Hino and Mikuri’s parents, they definitely carried the funny moments which I loved.
As for the acting part of all this, I have similar thoughts about it compared to when I first watched the original TV series. Despite this being one of the three times I’ve seen Aragaki Yui in any form of media (I guess I could include the Nintendo Switch ads she was in too), I absolutely love her and her abilities as an actress. She does a wonderful job portraying this newly-wed wife and new mother, and how she displayed Mikuri’s tendencies to overthink was done really well. Plus, she is hecka beautiful!!! And the same could be said about Hoshino Gen; even though I still mostly know him as a musical artist rather than an actor, he does a fantastic job taking on a completely different personality compared to how he is in real life. The way he’s so ‘to-the-point’, awkward and technical-sounding as Hiramasa… it’s weird coming from my perspective of him as an entertainment figure but it also shows how great of an actor he really is. And of course, the chemistry between Aragaki and Hoshino was there and very heart-warming to watch (probably for more reasons than one, considering the news that came later haha).
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this special. I loved the original TV series and what it brought to my personal table, being someone who has only watched one live action short film beforehand. And to see them further continue the story of Mikuri and Hiramasa was honestly done in an effective (and entertaining) way and allowed fans to see the development of their relationship/marriage. I guess I was actually curious about what happened to these two after the final episode of the TV series, so I’m glad we got the chance to do so in this special. Plus, we got to see everyone else!
And while the whole pandemic aspect of this special was initially a big surprise to me, I appreciated how well they incorporated it into what Mikuri and Hiramasa were dealing with. I’m sure many people in the real world had to go through exactly what they did, bringing in a child while a deadly virus was looming around and not knowing the circumstances it could bring (solely due to the lack of information everyone had at the time), so the realism was definitely there and shown in an accurate way. Especially considering there has been other pandemic-based media that apparently didn’t show the severity of the situation such as The Bubble on Netflix… I enjoyed this Japanese drama’s take on it.
In conclusion, if you watched the original first season of this series, I’d say that it wouldn’t hurt to check out this special. It expands the story of their marriage into parenthood, and I personally thought it was great.
Aaand that’s all I got for you today!
Hope you liked that, pretty lengthy, write-up; I had fun reminiscing about and enjoying what this episode brought to the whole series. If you have any thoughts about this special episode, feel free to leave it in the comments!
And you know, if there’s one thing to take from this post… I’d like to believe that this entire show was all just a big rehearsal for Aragaki Yui and Hoshino Gen’s actual married life (huge congrats to them!!!!!!!!) 😀
Thanks for reading!!