Date: What’s it Like to Be in Love?

Japanese Title – Deto: Koi to wa Donna Mono Kashira

A while back I wrote about my favorite Japanese dramas and happily several readers suggested their favorites too, which all went on my viewing list. This is the first one I watched; it is very different and perhaps is the best Japanese comedy I have seen. It’s about a perfectionist economist who gets matched up with a slacker who failed to launch.

The Characters: How Wacky Are they?

In Episode 1 we meet Yoriko, who is unemotional, fascinated by numbers, and lives by efficiency and schedules. She only eats certain foods on certain days and is a little compulsive about having everything exactly in the right place. One day she discovers that her father promised her mother, who has died, to find her a good husband. Wanting to please her parents, she registers with a dating agency.

She is given fact sheets for several men and chooses Takumi because his birth date, height and weight are prime numbers. He is very introverted; living off his mother, reading and watching movies all day and never going out. His room is a mess, with shelves full of books, videos, and more, piled up on the floor. His friend Sotaro, trying to get him out of his shell, signs him up with the dating agency, mendaciously claiming he works for a publisher. At first, Takumi refuses to cooperate, but when his mother falls ill he decides he needs a wife to leech off of. When he leaves for the date Sotaro remarks, “Goodness only knows what will happen!”

They communicate in emails, Yoriko sounding very formal, “In regards to effectuating our date, I am available on November 16 (Sunday). Thank you for your consideration.” She dresses with an imperfect sense of style in a nice dress and wool coat but tacky fake flowers in her hair so he can identify her. We watch her bob her head as she checks over her scooter: gas, check; tires, check; lights, check. And then drives super-slow, with a line of cars backed up behind her. Takumi has no sense of style whatsoever, showing up in a mismatched coat and vest, baggy pants, and a fedora; hesitantly peeking around a bush to see what she is like.

The First Date: What Could Possibly Happen?

They meet at a park. She tells him it is a man’s job to plan a date, so he asks her if it’s ok to walk somewhere for lunch. We see how literally she takes everything when she volunteers that she once hiked 65 km in high school, and doesn’t know if she can go any further than that! When he replies that it is only a few hundred meters she looks relieved and says, “Ok then,” grabbing his arm and dragging him off.

Later they go for a walk and their differences are obvious.  He speaks slowly and hesitantly, while she rattles off long explanations and conditions to everything. Soon he has had enough and, claiming to look for a restroom, takes off running. About the time he thinks he has lost her, she appears in a side alley. “This is the wrong direction,” she says. “It’s that way.” In the bathroom he calls up Sotaro, “It’s bad,” he whines, “I had no idea that this would be such a pain.” Meantime back at home, Yoriko’s dad is worried about her and sends his friend Washio to check on her.

Episode Starters to Whet Your Curiosity: Possible Spoilers Ahead!

Episode 2: Sotaro and his sister Kaori, convince Takumi to go on another date and make big plans for a proposal at a theme park. Yoriko tells her dad and Washio that marriage is a civil contract and love isn’t necessary, which alarms Washio. He discovers Takumi doesn’t have a job and shows up at the park to confront him.

Episode 3: Yoriko registers for a speed-dating party, only to discover that Takumi is there. He is honest with the women about not working; claiming he doesn’t cost much money, “just for books and DVDs and occasionally an action figure.” Kaori tries to get Yoriko to understand Takumi. Washio is asked to describe his ideal woman and it sounds a lot like Yoriko.

Episode 4: Takumi’s mother has a Christmas party and a surprising number of people dress up as Santa. Takumi and Washio both ask Yoriko out for Christmas Eve. We get misunderstandings, some hilarious; and some touching moments. Kaori tries to get Takumi to understand Yoriko.

Episode 5: Sotaro encourages Takumi to go to a New Year’s Eve costume party as an easy opportunity for kissing, but then also encourages Washio to pursue Yoriko. She had given her dad a house key but Washio sees it and thinks it’s for him. You just have to watch the rest of the episode because it is crazy.

Episode 6: Yoriko tries and fails to make her mother’s special New Years’s soup. Takumi and Washio both turn up to meet her family. Her father tells Takumi about her mother getting sick and what she was like as a child. The girl who plays young Yoriko has her down perfectly.

Episode 7: Takumi’s mother has surgery; she says it is an ulcer but her symptoms are the same as Yoriko’s mother’s when she had cancer. Yoriko tries to locate Takumi’s father and tell him. We see that Takumi played soccer, and how her mother’s illness affected Yoriko. There is some drama about a marriage contract and Washio asking Yoriko to date him.

Episode 8: A formal engagement ceremony is held on Valentines Day. We see incidents in the past when Yoriko had trouble giving chocolates to boys, and when Takumi wouldn’t accept any from girls. He had a fedora then, too! Washio and Kaori speak up and there is a lot of arguing and waffling about who belongs to whom, and Takumi is surprisingly insightful.

Episode 9: There is a wedding going on, but it is hard to know whose wedding it is. Yoriko tries dating Washio and Takumi dates Kaori, but they keep calling each other up for advice. We find out what happened to crush Takumi and make him drop out of life, and this time it is Yoriko who is surprisingly insightful.

Episode 10: Young Yoriko hears her mother teach that mathematics can be applied to anything; love is fate, and no matter how much you dislike someone at first, you will love the person you are meant to. Only those who can understand numbers can change fate. It looks like this speech made a huge impression on Yoriko. On the bus on her 30th birthday, a lady tells her that enjoying love is children’s play. She thinks real love is a terrifying bottomless pit; she argued constantly with her husband, but when he died she was more miserable. Our characters meet to hash out what love really is.

I hope you enjoy the journey with our wacky characters; it’s  sometimes crazy and sometimes touching. You never know what they will do next, but you get to know them and their behavior starts to make sense. Find out why Yoriko makes duck faces and how she was able to keep her train ticket. Find out why Kaori likes Takumi and why he suddenly became a good cook. Find out how Washio knows Yoriko’s dad. In the meantime, I will be looking for more great Japanese dramas.

Until then, happy watching!


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