Japanese Title: Final Fantasy XIV: Hikari no Otousan
With this title you would naturally think that it is a drama heavily about playing video games, but it is not. It is about a son using the game to reconnect to his uncommunicative father, and although there are scenes that take place inside the game, the main story is about their family in real life. It is in fact, based on a true story that Ichigeki Kakusatsu related on his blog between 2014 and 2016, and later wrote up in a book that he titled Hikari no Otousan.
I originally watched this show because I had written about I Am Reiko Shiratori, a Japanese drama that seemed angled at teenage girls, and I thought this one would be for teenage boys. It doesn’t have all the game battling that I expected (it has some) but boys would like it and in fact, it is more of a general family show than the other one. My husband and I both enjoyed it for the developing relationship between father and son and the growing realization that the son isn’t as infallible as he seems at first, and is a little more like his father than he thinks.
The main character, Mr. Inaba, comes home one day from work announcing that he has quit and refusing to give any explanation. He is quite the curmudgeon, and we see in flashback a few other occasions when he had suddenly dropped similar bombshells! But we also see the backstory – when his son, Akio, was about eight years old, Mr. Inaba bought a Final Fantasy game and they both got sucked into it. Now Akio has grown up and still plays, but his father doesn’t. Akio gets the idea that if his father played the game again, perhaps they could interact as they did when he was a child.
Akio’s game character is Maidy, a woman with cat ears and a tail. His friends who play the game agree to help his father along and not let on that Maidy is really Akio. Mr. Inaba chooses a more standard adventurer-type character and hesitantly begins to play. These game characters are the same ones that Ichigeki Kakusatsu and his father used, and the same voice actors who did the characters for the game recorded lines for the drama.
Even though Akio is shown working as a businessman in a suit, he looks about sixteen years old to me, so I checked up on him. The actor, Yudai Chiba, was 28 years old last year when the drama was filmed. He certainly looks youthful! Ren Osugi on the other hand, who plays the father, looks older than you would expect of a man with such a young son. Unfortunately, when looking him up I discovered that he passed away recently from heart failure at the age of 66.
The English title is a little awkward. The Japanese site calls it Daddy of Light and Netflix calls it Dad of Light. If you pick up any Japanese in this show it would be the term Otousan (oh toe sahn), which means father. The san is an honorific ending, which you use to say Mr. or Mrs. when speaking Japanese names. Mr. Inaba would be called Inaba-san. Children call their father Otousan respectfully, and Akio still calls his father that; so using Dad in the title seems a little bit off. Hikari (the large character at the left of the picture) means light, and no (the looped circle in the middle of the green gem) means of (the possessive form, that we write as ‘s). The rest of that line is Otousan. So Hikari no Otousan could be translated Light’s Father or perhaps Father of Light, which I am sure is more what Mr. Kakusatsu intended when referring to his father.
The series is quite a short one; it only has eight episodes of 24 minutes each. Episode 8 actually is a recap of the whole story with a tiny bit tacked on about Akio’s friends who play the game with him. It is not needed at all to understand the story and is rather a distraction, so to feel a proper conclusion it is probably better to end with Episode 7. If you are looking for a light-hearted but thoughtful family drama, this is a nice one. I enjoyed the characters and the acting was very good. If you are interested in the original blog, you can find it here: http://sumimarudan.blog7.fc2.com/
Telzeytalks of Dramas With a Side of Kimchi