Tag Archive | romcoms

You’re My Pet: Oddballs Find Each Other

Kim Wa Petto, or You’re My Pet is my second Japanese drama. Although I didn’t love it like Pretty Proofreader, the frustrating characters make one think, and it ends happily, which is always best case scenario with a RomCom. This one is the 2017 version by Fuji TV starring Noriko Iriyama and Jun Shison.

Sumire Iwaya (Iriyama) is a reporter with beauty and smarts who struggles at life and is basically her own worst enemy. One night she gets very drunk and mistakes a young man hiding in a cardboard box for a puppy she had as a kid named Momo. Takeshi Goda (Shison) carries her home and ends up staying…as Sumire’s pet! If that wasn’t weird enough, there is an age gap of ten years. Takeshi, or “Momo” is 20 and Sumire about to turn 30. The pet thing is strange on its own, but made worse by the fact that Momo easily could pass for a teenager.

Despite all of that, I liked the main relationship and romance and wanted to see more of it. Here, chemistry is a key factor. The two leads are an instant family, though the specifics of their relationship get worked out over time. In contrast to that, we watch Sumire suffer miserably through a relationship that can never work. Sometimes chemistry just doesn’t develop, even with time.

It was tedious and also horrifying to watch as Sumire fails time and again to simply be herself with a man she was once in love with. Shigehito Hasumi, played by the handsome Terunosuke Takezai, is unfortunately equally clueless. Both are not comfortable with each other, but persist and persist, as if loveless sex can simply cover over the problem. It was so irritating it made me want to tear my hair out, but sometimes it takes people forever to realize the truth, and, more importantly, to act on it. Later on Hasumi gets a “pet,” too, and it is actually those humans that help the two finally understand that their relationship is just not going to work.

Takeshi says he likes Sumire in part because she’s not a fighter, she won’t compete for him or run after him or anything. That kinda makes sense because usually the men like to do the chasing, but he is truly blessed with a patience for her as she stumbles through a personal life filled with insecurity and lack of self-confidence. The pet thing begins as a sort of joke, Sumire is really trying to get Takeshi to leave and is surprised when he agrees to be her pet, or, rather agrees to make her his Sugar Momma. We find later that on the first night she kissed him, and perhaps it is that which is still keeping him around. But the only satisfying explanation is that they have instant chemistry and get each other in a way no one else does.

As for Takeshi, we get to know him in his profession as a dancer–a profession in which he excels–however he seriously lacks screen time compared to Hasumi. Incidentally, we don’t really get to know Hasumi, either, but despite being overbearing in his attentions to Sumire and failing to notice how uncomfortable she is, he’s a good guy. He’s sadly such a good guy that he lets a scheming receptionist in his company seduce him. Well, sort of. In the end, the two are a good match and seem to actually like each other, if not love each other.

By the end of the show, I found it to have been a tedious watch. Good, peppy intro song, but not nearly as funny as I thought it would be. Sumire is agonizingly slow to realize she’s fallen in love with Takeshi, and it’s sad that her character has such low self-esteem that she can’t simply break off her relationship with Hasumi. It was great when both finally happened, but it should have happened about ten episodes before that. Hasumi perhaps has a similar insecurity, which is why he didn’t break it off, either. The manga this was based on and the other TV/movie versions of this story are hopefully better.

The pet thing was weird, but I kinda get it, it’s a role play, a way or excuse to care for and love someone in ways that would normally not be accepted unless one is dating the person. Sumire and Takeshi are instantly physically close due to this role play, and it was really the age difference that was holding Sumire back. Holding her back, perhaps, because although she’s a decade older, she’s not nearly as mature as him. A large age gap with the woman as the older one is kind of a new subgenre in RomComs. Probably A, because there’s a ton of older women who are single and alone, B, youth is attractive, C, young men are often still more eager to please the women than many of their older counterparts. It’s difficult to imagine Hasumi, for example agreeing to be a pet to a woman. He’s just too old for it, and once Takeshi finally decides to stop playing around, he’s the same. The age gap works here because Sumire is immature for her age and Takeshi is mature for his, although it may not seem so at first.

It’s unclear how many Sugar Mommas Takeshi has had in the past, but Sumire with her insecurity helps him leave that lifestyle behind, taking on manliness and the leadership and willingness to provide that comes with it. In turn, Sumire truly learns to rely and trust another person. She can completely be herself with him, and sometimes I think that is an aspect that really defines love. Yes, there is uncomfortableness sometimes due to chemistry and sexual attraction, or even just misunderstandings, but at some point that wall is broken down if the relationship is real and going to last. The worst aspect about Sumire’s forced relationship with Hasumi was that neither tried ways of making it better. They just continued on hoping things would change. That’s not love. Love deals with things, really deals with them. Lovers shouldn’t brush problems under the rug, but seriously examine them. If what you have can’t pass that test, then what you have may not be love! All the time, Takeshi was trying to help the two, especially to get Sumire to open up to Hasumi. I think if she’d been able to do that, and able to rely on Hasumi and let him help her with things, the two would have made it, but it would have taken ages before either felt like family with the other.

You’re My Pet was a show of oddballs, and the biggest ones all ended up together. If America did this show, it would have been…way kinky. This story was portrayed largely very innocently, and although it did involve some sex, it clearly showed that simply having sex doesn’t and can’t make one happy. A good lesson. Love is really the thing to pursue. On the whole, the show was neither funny nor romantic, yet somehow it’s still a RomCom. Both leads did a great job acting, especially Iriyama as Sumire. She’s a difficult character on so many levels. Not a show I would watch again, but perhaps will someday check out some of the other remakes.

Touch Your Heart: A True RomCom

Why it took me so long to watch Touch Your Heart, which came out in 2019 is this: One, it looked boring. Two, I wasn’t confident in the acting skills of either of the leads. Despite how good they were in Goblin, in much of their previous works I found both Lee Dong Wook and Yoo In Na rather boring and without good screen presence. However, as they’ve aged, they have improved much, and Goblin showcased that. Lee was especially good as the lead in Tale of the Nine-Tailed, so I thought I’d give him another chance.

Coming close on the heels of the successful romance fantasy Goblin aka Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, Touch Your Heart snapped up the second lead couple in that drama to star in this one. I don’t know how Lee and Yoo relate to each other in real life, but on screen they are gold. And gold is gold. Both could have continued success simply starring together in romances from here on out. Chemistry like that cannot be bought or manufactured. They are actors that bring out the best in each other. They also seem to not age, which is a plus in their industry.

Despite how many romantic comedies exist, it’s rare to actually find a movie or show that is fully romantic and comedic. Touch Your Heart was both, but I was very glad for the comedy because the romance was almost too perfect and promotes unrealistic expectations–no one is that caring for the other person, right? Based off a web novel, the story follows a down-and-out actress Oh Yoon Seo (Yoo), who dearly needs a break. When reluctantly offered the lead in a courtroom romcom, Yoon Seo eagerly accepts, promising to work at a law firm for a few months as research for her role. Fortunately her agency boss is BFFs with a CEO of the law firm Always, and the CEO is an embarrassingly big fan of hers. Yoon Seo is assigned to apprentice as secretary with lawyer Kwon Jung Rok (Lee) and immediately her bright and bubbly personality clashes with Jung Rok’s prickly introvert style.

As the main characters begin to fall for each other, the minor characters come out to play, and they are hilarious! They seamlessly replace the comedy of the leads as the leads take over the romance part. The biggest standout is Oh Jung Se (It’s Okay to Not Be Okay) as the CEO, who has great and sarcastic deadpan humor. The second lead couple are also amazing, and as in Goblin, they nearly upstage the main couple. Lawyer Choi and Lawyer Dan could easily headline their own show. Choi, played by the almost too good-looking Shim Hyung Tak (Melting Me Softly), and Dan, played by Park Kyung Hae (Goblin), seem an unlikely fit at first, but by the end they’ve convinced us (and themselves) they have something together that they couldn’t have with anyone else. Shim really needs to star in his own show, already. He’s stuck on comedy, but clearly has the presence and skills to do much more. He is definitely my latest Kdrama crush.

Props to whoever chose the opening song in the first episode, which became an instant addiction for me: “Strike Up the Band” by The Kinnardlys. It’s peppy and talks about living well and sincerely, a good fit for the story we are about to watch. Both leads live life to the fullest no matter what they are doing and have solid hearts and characters. Props also to the sound effects people! They had to do a lot of work in this one, but every weird sound makes it all more hilarious. They did a great job.

If you’re looking for a satisfying and heartfelt RomCom, check out Touch Your Heart. It won’t disappoint, the lead actors are gold together, it delivers unexpected thrills, and it is satisfying both romantically and comedically.

Lessons from RomComs: Kate & Leopold

This past weekend at Bible Study, we talked about how leadership is really responsibility, and how it’s not so much that God has chosen men to have a special status over women, but how He’s given men more and a different responsibility than women in making them the heads in the household, church, society, etc. Even at the beginning of the world, with Adam and Eve, man tried to shirk his special responsibility. That’s not that Eve wasn’t to blame, certainly she was, but Adam went along with her in doing wrong instead of leading her to follow God’s command to not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. For some reason this all made me think of the 2001 romantic comedy Kate & Leopold starring Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman.

Yes romcoms are often dumb, and many think of them as frivolous, but they are far from that. Like romance novels, many truths about the relationship between men and women and society in general can be found in them. I took two key takeaways from Kate & Leopold: First, men have a certain responsibility towards women in a relationship and second, a person has a duty to integrity. The movie incorporates these ideas with a muddling time travel plot in which a duke from the 1870s is transported to modern–er, 2001, New York City. This happens due to the actions of a goofy physicist named Stuart.

Let’s begin with the second takeaway first: Integrity. It’s a sentimental view, but generally we today think of societies in years past having much more moral excellence and care in all that they did than we do now. On some levels that is true, but every era has its faults and strengths. True or not, our view of, say, the 1800s in our stories is largely flattering. It was a time when there were very clear rules for things like courtship, which is a world of difference from today’s dating world where many are left to flounder. Leopold is appalled that Kate, who works in advertising, would advertise items which have no quality and little health benefit for people. Sometimes to live and eat we do find ourselves promoting and getting behind things of little or negative value, and Leopold’s figurative cold bucket of water here is that we don’t have to continue on that road. Like Kate, we can choose to live lives of integrity. It might mean changing a LOT in our lives, but it is possible. Here, the change is a time jump, so rather supernatural, but the lesson is still there. Kate finds that true love is worth that jump.

The first takeaway is what really struck me in thinking of our Bible Study discussion. Leopold has a great interaction with Kate’s younger brother, Charlie, played by Breckin Meyer. Charlie takes Leopold out to meet his friends and Leopold gets to witness firsthand what modern dating can be like. First of all, Leopold is struck by Charlie’s behavior, which is perhaps not quite what the young man really wants to exude. Second of all, he’s baffled by Charlie’s eagerness to get the girl he likes to lead the romance, and Leopold sets him straight, explaining that it’s not a burden, but a happy responsibility. Okay, maybe not happy. Intriguing? Exciting?

Leopold says this, “As I see it, Patrice has not an inkling of your affections, and it’s no wonder. You, Charles, are merry-andrew.”

“A what?” Charlie asks.

“Everything plays a farce to you. Women respond to sincerity. No one wants to be romanced by a buffoon.”

Ouch! But he’s right, women do respond to sincerity. Men do too, I think, so that’s a good lesson for both sexes. Neither sides’ goal should be to come across as a buffoon. But it’s more complicated than that, for women also respond to humor, a guy who can make a women laugh has an in, and no mistake. I’m guessing the humor becomes buffoonish if the men fail to have a point. Women actually talk a lot without a point. We just do. The reasons we talk and the reasons men talk are quite different, but let’s just say for now, that men usually have a point when they are talking, so if that’s missing or appears to be missing, a man can leave the wrong impression on a woman. In the movie, the wrong impression is that Charlie doesn’t really like Patrice in a romantic way. She doesn’t know he sincerely likes her, because he hasn’t told her that, not directly, and not in his other words and actions.

Next, Charlie gets excited because he’s left the next step in the relationship between him and Patrice “in her court.” The ball is in her court. It’s her move, her play. Okay, on the surface this doesn’t seem so bad, right? It’s not wrong for women to make the moves in a relationship…necessarily. The trouble is that it very well may be wrong for the man to leave the responsibility of leading to the women. Leopold tells him, no, no, you want the ball in your court. You want to direct how this is going to go. That rang true at the time and still rings true today, for men are usually the pursuers. They woo the women. Women are really not so good at wooing, and, I think, would rather be wooed and won, no matter how much they protest to the contrary. Anyway, what a boost of confidence it is for Charlie that Leopold helps him learn how to court and pursue a women and he finds it working! Pretty awesome.

Two things from this: One, men say women can do the pursuing, but in reality that’s the surest way to lose a man. Deep down, men likely know this, it’s just not very politically correct to say these days. Two, women prefer the men to lead–unless they are buffoons–and again, this is just not very PC to say today.

Leopold’s view of the leadership responsibility men have in their relationships refreshing and a bit magical. His insistence on integrity is, too. Sometimes following the rules actually leads to happiness, and I think that Kate & Leopold showcases that to some degree. And, in true traditional fashion, Kate leaves her ultramodern world behind and goes to live with her man in Leopold’s world. Feminists may shudder, but she happy, really happy, and in love. She knows exactly how Leopold feels about her and what his intentions are because he’s told her and shown her. He is not afraid to show his figurative hand of cards to her. That takes a lot of guts and is also an act of leadership, of responsibility. Leopold has owned his feelings and used them to produce a positive, productive outcome, not only for himself, but also for the woman he loves.

Bonus: There is a third thing I took from the movie and that has to do with Stuart, Kate’s former boyfriend. Stuart, played by a wonderful Liev Schreiber, is funny and brilliant in his way, so it’s easy to see why she was attracted to him at one time. One wonders, however, why either keep the other in their lives. And they do because, well, it’s part of the plot, but also because the purpose of Stuart’s presence in her life has yet to be fulfilled. Stuart himself says it best: “Maybe the reason I was your guy is so that I could help you find your guy.”

Basically, the lesson is this: Don’t throw away people. A person may not be a certain “one” for you, but they may be in your life for a reason you can scarcely imagine. And it may be quite a good one in the end. Stuart is genuinely happy for both Kate and Leopold, and that speaks volumes for his character.

Next up: A review of Mouse, episode 19 is coming soon. Although 20 is out this week, I may not have time to write a review until next week. Currently also watching Extra-ordinary You, which I can’t recommend highly enough, and also Doom at Your Service, which stars Seo In Guk, enough said.