Kaseifu no Mita, the drama in which actress Matsushima Nanako plays an enigmatic housewife for the Asuda family, has been attracting a great deal of attention this season. Despite the curiosity I had for Mita, I have long bailed out of it as the episodes felt too tedious and the acting off-putting. The drama got off to a good start with an average viewership rating of 19.5% and hit a record high of 29.6% episode 8 which aired on 30 November, making it the highest rating for a drama this year. Whether it can go past 30% remains to be seen. The last drama that achieved such ratings was Kimura Takuya’s Kareinaru Ichizoku in 2007.
In a recent interview with Oricon Style, scriptwriter Yukawa Kazuhiko shared his thoughts on the the inspiration for the unsmiling Mita Akari and the production’s theme which has left other dramas in the dust. In his 25-year career as a scriptwriter, Yukawa has been a hit maker, churning out numerous topical dramas such as Jou no Kyoshitsu and Magerarenai Onna, and unconventional in that he has at times been called a “man of the drama world who rises to greatness in troubled times” within the industry.
“After the production of episode 1 was completed, there were opinions that the story would be more exciting if it revolved around different families in each episode, but I didn’t yield on closely observing and delving into the lives of one family. The drama comes down to the depiction of humans beings. In that case we would’t have been able to portray the problems in the family and the darkness in human nature if we had changed families each episode. I wanted to explore this theme through the focus on one family because of the times that we are in,” he reflects.
Asked if there were people around him who were against him making a cold-blooded housewife as the protagonist given the earthquake in Eastern Japan in March this year, Yukawa smiles and says, “In the end, they said it was good. They realised as the filming progressed that this production was also about depicting the duty that the living people have to the dead. It starts from the suicide of the mother of the Asuda family, and her relations with each member are revealed during each episode.”
“What should everyone do after the earthquake disaster? We have to come to terms with the dead and move on. That’s why there is a need for a persuasive character like Mita who has experienced a far deeper sorrow and feeling of loss than us,” he says, revealing the story of Mita Akari’s creation. “When our hearts are broken, we would feel good if we were told, “It’s okay. Give up.” won’t we? Because humans are weak, they are suspicious of kind words, but are quick to believe cold words. However, the only people who have the right to say such words are those who keep on walking even though they have experienced a more profound sense of loss than anyone else.”
Yukawa declares that for the last part from episode 9 onwards, “We won’t prolong the resolution for the Asuda family and Mita’s past until the very end,” he laughs. “Because the depiction of their way of life after the resolution is important.”