In December, I checked out two Japanese shows that I think are worth the watch. One of them being Tokyo Bachelors, the Japanese adaptation of the Gentleman’s Dignity, a South Korean show. While I saw the posters and snippets of it here and there, I never gave it much thought until I was bored one night and decided to watch on a whim.
Then my life changed.
Well, not really. But I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought. Going in without any expectations does wonders.
As usual, I’ll start with the synopsis and move on to three key takeaways that make the show worth its weight in gold.
Ishibashi Taro, Miyoshi Reiya, and Iwakura Kazuhiko are best friends and considered “elites” in society. Taro is an analyst for a large bank, Reiya is a dentist in his own business, and Kazuhiko works as a lawyer.
They enjoy their single lives and often get together for drinks at Taro’s place. However, they begin to think about love and marriage.
All of the main leads have been in the industry for many, many years and had some significant roles.
For me, Takumi Saito stood out the most in terms of “big names.” I recognized him from Hirugao, and he played Miles Edgeworth in Ace Attorney’s live adaptation. If you’re an avid Japanese show fan, he’s probably one of those faces you’ll recognize almost everywhere.
Takahashi Issey also acted along Oguri Shun in Nobunaga Concerto. He also played the jerk husband in Nagi’s Long Vacation, his latest drama that achieved a 9.9% average viewership rating.
Lastly, Takito Kenichi was in many mystery/detective shows: The Noble Detective, Miss Sherlock, and Cold Case 2, to name a few. He was also in Hana Yori Dango Season 2.
Anywho, this is just my way of saying that the cast is excellent. And they played their roles amazingly well. So, you can rest assure that the acting is spot-on, which makes you genuinely care about each character.
Taro (Takahashi Issey) is a cinnamon bun. Reiya (Takumi Saito) is a rough-around-the-edges kind of guy And Kazuhiko (Takito Kenichi) is like aged wine.
Not even halfway through the series, I HAD to look up and download the soundtracks. It’s so good. Like. Seriously. It’s a great variety of instrumental jazz and piano. I’ll put the link to the playlist at the end of this post so you can bask in its glory.
Some soundtracks are fitting for a cafe, while others are fun or melancholy. I especially like the title music, which makes you feel you’re getting ready for a classy runaway.
Bring out the suits.
The plot is one thing, but the theme is another. The plot centers around the three single men and their everyday lives. However, I like how the show executed the ‘tradeoff,’ a theme that develops over time.
Taro is a promising analyst and gets offered a job at a foreign bank. He could have made twice as much and stepped up his career. Yet, he gave that up. He gave that up to help a manufacturing company that was near bankruptcy. I think Taro ultimately quit because of the lack of human emotion in his last job.
When his boss found out about Taro’s new job offer, he threatened him to tread carefully in the industry. There wasn’t a moment where Taro was being appreciated in his role.
In one episode, Taro gave advice to the manufacturing company of their status. Later, Taro found out that his firm wasn’t going to invest in them anymore. This would cause severe financial damages to the manufacturing firm.
As Taro walked into work one morning, he saw the manufacturing CEO pleading to get some answers from the bank. However, he was turned down (of course).
During his free time, Taro drafted a plan and approached the manufacturing firm. He personally offered to help them out. As this was happening, Taro also developed feelings for Reiya’s little sister, Kazuna, a receptionist at her brother’s firm. Kazuna harboured feelings for Taro for a long time but backed down when Taro’s ex-girlfriend came back.
Taro knew of Kazuna’s feelings. However, he played the cat-and-mouse-game. While he wanted to try a relationship with Kazuna, he was conflicted with his feelings for his ex-girlfriend and work. It’s easy to see that Taro didn’t want to give anything up because he loved himself too much.
He ultimately started falling for her was when she gave him advice on the manufacturing firm.
The theme became prominent when Kazuhiko gave up his career for Hibino Toko, his junior and ultimate lover. Toko is a career woman. She makes it clear to Kazuhiko that she doesn’t want to give up her career to become a housewife to take care of Kazuhiko’s father.
Toko knew and acknowledged Kazuhiko’s success and capabilities. At one point, she suggested for them to break-up since neither of them could make the sacrifice. However, Kazuhiko told her that her career would be longer than his. He also acknowledges and recognizes her abilities. Ultimately, Kazuhiko quits his firm.
As for Reiya, his ultimate sacrifice was giving up the woman he loved. He fell for Toko, not knowing that his best friend was after the same woman. But he backed off when he realized Toko could never love him romantically. Reiya also comes to terms with his ex-wife, a woman who came back into his life to ‘steal his belongings.’
Career or love? In this case, the show portrayed three different paths regarding that question, all of which makes sense regarding their personalities and character development.
Worth the Watch?
Hell yeah. Tokyo Bachelors is short and sweet, so you could probably finish it one sitting.
It’s diverse with different gender role portrayals. For example, Kazuna began as a receptionist but will be getting her university degree in bookkeeping at the end. Toko is a capable, powerful, and arguably seductive woman who represents women different from Kazuna. Then, of course, you have the Tokyo Bachelors. “Elite” men who seemingly fall from their status to pursue new goals and dreams.
Also, there’s minimal drama. While two best friends fell for the same girl, the execution was done without being overly dramatic. The situations that follow their journey were authentic and down-to-earth, which made it incredibly enjoyable.
Here’s the soundtrack link to Tokyo Bachelor I promised. Let your ears be blessed.