During Christmas vacation, I found a Japanese drama called One Day—Wonderful Christmas Ado. It’s listed as a thriller-comedy-mystery. Of course I had to try it! Do you think it turned out to be a fun Christmas show?
Three Christmas Eve Stories
The drama starts out at a park with a man in a Santa suit handing out balloons. He reappears from time to time, but the drama is not really Christmassy except that it all takes place on Christmas Eve day.
We begin in the very early morning near a wharf in Yokohama, where a couple of men lie on the pavement. One of them comes to groggily, and by the time he registers that the other man is dead, he realizes that he doesn’t remember how he got there, or even who he is. Then he gets a phone call telling him to run! As police arrive with sirens wailing, he high-tails it the other way. They chase after him.
Reporter Kurauchi arrives almost as soon as the police do, on her bicycle. She is obsessed about covering the news, but works for a small tv station that only does local events. She calls in a camera crew however, and starts broadcasting immediately. A second storyline revolves around her and the people at the tv station.
The third storyline is about Chef Tachiaoi, and the staff of his exclusive restaurant. He is known for his beef stew with demi-glace sauce, which takes a long time to make and reduce down. (It’s part of the plot.) He is thinking about serving it to a full house on Christmas Eve, when the man on the run from the Yokohama police slips into his restaurant.
Man On The Run
When the chef asks the stranger what he is up to, he takes off running, vaults over two counters, and disappears out the back door. The chef tries to emulate these moves, but something surprising happens that makes you sit up and pay attention. No spoilers. You have to watch it. There are some great stunts in this show!
The man on the run is approached by a guy with long bangs, who says he’s been looking for him and calls him Seiji. He is mob boss Mizuki and has a big drug deal going down on Christmas Eve. The places he hangs out are dark and black, and make you think it must be night, but then you go outside and it is still daytime.
The police are almost as mysterious as Seiji. There is commissioner Mitsutani, who is visiting from nearby Tokyo. He wanders in and out and seems to be watching Seiji.
There’s the Yokohama police chief Ichinose, who doesn’t trust or like Mitsutani.
And there are two women. At first I didn’t realize there were two of them running around, but then I figured it out. One is police officer Karumiya. You can identify her by her restrained flip hairdo. I like her; she’s sincere.
The other woman identifies herself to Seiji as a reporter. She is calm and confident and her name is Yahata. We don’t know what she is up to, but she keeps contacting him. She has earrings and more stylish hair, which is fluffed up and curved under.
Much TV Station Ado
The subtitle of the drama is Wonderful Christmas Ado. I’ve always thought of “ado” as meaning extra fuss or concern. We get a lot of that at the tv station. The station manager, Origuchi, is a softie who is caught between letting his people report their investigations, and airing a Christmas music special that the station owner insists on.
The rookie news reporter is Tachiaoi Sako. Since she happens to be the daughter of Chef Tachiaoi, she gets sent out to interview her dad. Even though she did a lot of work on the Christmas special, she picks up Kurauchi’s excitement, and the whole crew at the station pulls together into one big family to get the story!
We find out why the station owner doesn’t care about news and wants the Christmas special. We watch a practice and see part of the special, which features the station mascot, Yokobirdie. (Just wait until you see who is wearing the costume!)
Much Restaurant Ado
Another definition for “ado” is time-wasting bother over trivial details. We certainly get that in connection with the restaurant. The chef in particular drones on boringly a lot. His staff keep him on track, especially the head waiter, Janome, although they all are tremendous gossips!
We discover more about the sommelier, Takemoto Tsuyumi, than we do about anyone else at the restaurant. She has a connection to the mystery, which helps pull all the storylines together.
The police bring a team to inspect the restaurant, and leave an officer there on guard just in case the suspect returns. Officer Yamada spends the day watching the chef and the others fussing and worrying about what they are going to do for Christmas Eve, and gets pulled into their concerns. Just watch him; he’s the surprise favorite character of the show!
This is not a serious crime mystery; it’s a free-wheeling fun holiday extravaganza. It has a tongue-in-cheek style, with Seiji calmly walking past the cops, and people running around in full view with no one noticing. There’s a lot of little funny-business, such as when Sako is trying to talk on camera at a crime scene and gets bonked on the head by a tv crew from a bigger station who didn’t even notice her.
Every episode begins with a clock showing us how much of the day has gone by. The whole thing reminds me of the Jason Bourne movies, as well as the tv series 24, which also takes place in one day. Don’t be surprised if some of it doesn’t quite make sense; it has the feels. I really enjoyed the unflappable hero who can pull off any stunt and outfight any number of thugs. I hope I’ve talked you into trying out the show! You can find it on Viki.
Until the next comedy-mystery,
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi