The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Flash Review: We Married As A Job [Japan]

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I was told that this drama is cute, but honestly, I really didn’t get why my Jdrama-watching friends were eagerly recommending this show to me. I mean, yeah, I could tell from the title that this show was going to be about some kind of contract marriage, and I figured there’d be associated hijinks.. blah blah blah. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be anything too different from all the other contract relationship shows I’d seen before. (Heh. Can you tell that this happened in the thick of my drama rut?)

But y’know, it wasn’t until I finally got around to watching episode 1 that I finally saw the light. Somehow, this show manages to be cute & quirky, and down-to-earth yet whimsical – and even thoughtful, all at the same time. Just, how remarkable is that? I was instantly smitten. So THIS was why my friends were so enthusiastic about recommending this show!

The very minute I was done watching episode 1, I was all, “Ahh! Cute~! And, sobs. Why are there only 11 episodes of this cuteness?? WHYYY??”

STUFF I LOVED

First of all, I must say that I found the actual premise a nice twist from the usual contract marriage shows I’ve seen. I mean, a contract marriage involving an actual employer-employee relationship, where the employee receives a salary? That in itself was already refreshingly different, I thought.

But there’s more, you guys. There’s more stuff that came together to make this show as delightful as it is.

I’m possibly taking a risk in deconstructing what I enjoyed about this show.. like maybe it might somehow ruin the magic? But here it is anyway – a quickish rundown of the stuff that I liked best in this charming little show.

1. The quirky OTP

A big part of why this show worked so well for me, is in the perfect casting of our two leads. Aragaki Yui as Mikuri is adorable without being cutesy, and Hoshino Gen is wonderfully square and stoic as Hiramasa.

I love how earnest Mikuri is, and how simple her deepest wish is – that someone would choose her. Her desire to feel needed is a universal one that I feel just about anyone would be able to identify with. That she takes that desire, and applies herself earnestly and cheerfully to whatever situation she finds herself in, makes her very appealing. I liked her a whole lot, right away.

While I typically prefer my male leads handsome and dashing, there’s something that I find very endearing about Hiramasa. He’s so serious, stoic and socially awkward, and is a perfect foil for our earnest female lead. The way he allows himself to enjoy the little touches of help and warmth that Mikuri peppers his home and his life with, has a pleased-bashful little boy flavor about it that I like a lot.

Together, these two are awkward, yet so earnest and sincere. It’s adorable to watch them bumble through things, in their logical, analytical, quirky manner, while their feelings get pulled in along the way.

2. The attention to slice-of-life everyday emotion and detail

As you guys know, my drama diet has consisted of mainly Korean dramas until fairly recently. The thing with the rom-coms that I’ve seen, is that they seem to be coming out with increasingly high-concept premises. From murder and crime to time travel and supernatural other-worlds, it feels like a simple, down-to-earth relatable rom-com is a rare thing these days. This show, however, manages to bring out the cuteness in the ordinary, in deft, expert fashion.

The events that occur in this show generally aren’t the big kind; everything is kind of slice-of-life and everyday, and yet, I feel like I’m following the characters as they experience life and make realizations, and as they make mistakes – &/or make progress. I love too, that we get insights into both leads’ emotions as they navigate their contract marriage.

[SPOILERS]

Here are a handful of instances, where I really enjoyed the small moments brought to the forefront.

E3. The crossed signals between Hiramasa and Mikuri is quite amusing: He’s getting his emotions all up in a twist after becoming hyper-aware of her presence, and she thinks that he finds her a nuisance. Aw. I also do find it cute that after angsting over his feelings for a while, Miramasa basically decides that he would like to try enjoying their fake relationship, and try to become her real boyfriend. Aw. He’s so awkward and earnest, he reminds me of Pinocchio wanting to be a real boy.

E5. The sweet moments are so heartfelt. I love it when Mikuri hugs him and tells him that she’s on his side, and he just soaks it all in, with a tinge of wonder amid his bashful awkwardness.

E7. Seeing Mikuri collapse into a happy heap after Hiramasa leaves the house is very cute, but it’s even cuter when it’s Hiramasa collapsing into a happy heap on the other side of the door, thinking that he’s about to burst, she’s that cute.

E9. The gradual ease with which Miramasa and Mikuri fall into their hugs, is something I find very sweet to witness.

E10. Sometimes this show is painfully unflinching when it comes to portraying the awkwardness of Miramasa’s journey towards progress. His anxiety around potential sexytimes, his performance anxiety, and his urge to literally run away from the situation was all a little painful to watch, but it was equally rewarding to witness him making the decision not to run away. His newly sunny disposition as his relationship with Mikuri progresses, is also very sweet.

[END SPOILERS]

3. Brisk and unexpected plot movements

Part of what makes this show feel so refreshing to watch, is the unexpected ways in which the plot unfolds. More than a couple of times, I found myself catching my breath in surprise, because I had not expected what was going on, on my screen.

[SPOILER] A great example of this is in episode 4, when we see Hiramasa working himself up into a tizzy over how Mikuri is surely about to ask for a break in their contract – only to have that moment promptly turned on its head because what Mikuri is really asking, is for him to be her boyfriend. Ha. That deft switcheroo is just classic, and worked as a perfect cliffhanger for the episode too. [END SPOILER]

4. The thoughtful touches

One of the things that really lifts this drama head and shoulders above the average rom-coms that I’ve seen, is its thoughtful treatment of the details.

I love the up-close-and-personal glimpses we get into both Hiramasa and Mikuri.

[MINOR SPOILERS] On the amusing side of things, we get the misunderstandings – Hiramasa withdrawing because of his jealousy and feelings of inadequacy, and Mikuri seeing that as distrust, being official and distant, and to some extent, rejection as well. The little angsty moments in these areas are amusing.

But then we also get the deeper angst, where they each feel a fundamental measure of self-loathing and lack of self-worth. That feels raw and deep, and during their voice-overs, as the camera pans on each of them, I feel like I’m gazing upon open wounds. So heart-tugging.

[SPECIFIC SPOILER]

In episode 6, there is a scene where Mikuri and Hiramasa are on the train, going home from their little arranged honeymoon. It’s a quiet, understated scene, but one that struck me as quite wonderful. There is so much thought and tenderness put into the execution of the moment.

Both Mikuri and Hiramasa’s deep reflections about the same things, coming to such opposite conclusions and assumptions about how the other person feels, feel so raw and real. He feels happily exhausted; content to have realized that he knows Mikuri better than her ex-boyfriend. She feels exhausted; all her efforts to get closer to Hiramasa feel futile, and she’s ready to give up. Neither of them wants the train ride to end, for such different reasons. How poignant and poetic.

[END SPOILER]

5. The quirky touches

A nice foil to the earnest seriousness with which Mikuri and Hiramasa treat their contract marriage, are the quirky little fantasy sequences that we get, mostly born of Mikuri’s imagination – though Hiramasa isn’t exempt either.

Often, Mikuri imagines herself as a contestant on a game show about contract marriages, or as a guest on a talk show about contract marriages. We even see Mikuri as a tiny cheerleader yelling questions at Hiramasa in a tiny, tinny voice in episode 4, which is just bonus.

Special shout-out:

The secondary loveline

It takes a while for Show to really focus on this secondary loveline, but by the end, I was really digging the burgeoning connection between Kazami (Otani Ryohei) and Yuri (Ishida Yuriko). I liked the unlikely pairing of his playboy bachelor to her dignified, older career woman. (As a side note, I really liked how Yuri is portrayed as graceful and far from desperate, despite society’s expectations.)

I thought his deep, longing gaze definitely communicated his desire to be more than platonic with her, and her reaction was a perfect mix of discomfort at their age gap, and discombobulation at the hyper-awareness that was growing between them. I really wanted a happy-ever-after for these two, and rooted for them all the way to the end.

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS – THE PROVERBIAL LENS

There’s a manga tinge to many of the side characters that’s important to keep in mind. In any other world, these characters’ behavior would be considered completely illogical and insane. In this drama world, however, it’s all par for the course.

I just thought I ought to give you guys a heads-up.

The wacky parents

Mikuri’s parents (Ukaji Takashi and Tomita Yasuko) are two such wacky characters.

From orchestrating the weird housekeeper arrangement for Mikuri without consulting her first, to looking at her surprised reaction as if she’s the weird one for not listening more carefully to the plan, to suddenly uprooting themselves, selling their house and leaving town, because it’s always been Dad’s dream to retire in the countryside, never mind that the new arrangement leaves their only daughter without a roof over her head, Mikuri’s parents are wacky hipster types that just don’t behave like normal parents, or even normal adults.

The weirdo colleagues

Even weirder, are Hiramasa’s colleagues Hino and Numata (Fujii Takashi and Furuta Arata, above). Certainly, Playboy Kazami is part of the crowd too, but he’s not quite nearly as weird. 

I’d have to say that the weirdest one of the lot is Numata, who has a habit of lurking behind furniture and skulking behind his colleagues, to eavesdrop on their conversations and spy on their actions. A typical Numata thing, is crouching behind the sofa where his colleagues are having a conversation, then popping out of his hiding spot to chime in on the conversation like it’s the most natural thing in the world.

I suppose the thing that makes it so weird isn’t his behavior per se, but the fact that everyone else around him reacts as if this is rather normal human behavior. Like I said, it just helps to think of these side characters existing in a manga world. 😉

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

It practically hurts me to say that I didn’t love the ending of the show as much as I loved the beginning, but there, I said it. This show was a little less wonderful in its final episode, and even though it still means that Show’s finale is way better than many other dramas I’ve seen, it still makes me kinda sad. Ack. I feel like such a nitpicker. I guess this is what happens when you’ve raised expectations, eh?

Mainly, I think it feels like a downer because Mikuri and Hiramasa spend what feels like a lot of the episode in the thick of angst, trying to figure out how to make their marriage agreement work now that they truly do care about each other. It’s true-to-life that they go through various stages of trial and error, and experience setbacks and frustration, but it does also feel like precious minutes of the final hour are being frittered away on our OTP cycling back and forth.

On the upside, they certainly do work through their frustrations, and come to a happy – though still adorably awkward – middle ground where they both feel able to give and receive love and care. On another upside, Kazami and Yuri do get a happy ending after all, huzzah! As a bonus, even Weird Numata finally meets the boy of his dreams.

I do love that we end the episode in a fantasy-cum-flash-forward game show sequence, where we see Hiramasa and Mikuri playing for future milestones as a couple. Thanks to this, we get to see our adorkable couple get married and have a boatload of kidlets, and we even get a role reversal where Mikuri goes out to work while Hiramasa dons the apron to take care of the household chores, heh.

All in all, there’s a little less cute populating the final hour, but the earnestness and heart is still there in firm abundance, so I guess I can’t quite complain so very much after all.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

A tiny bit underwhelming at the end, but very thoughtfully executed and still super cute overall.

FINAL GRADE: A-

TEASER:

MV:

Every episode wraps up with this cute dance by the cast, and watching the cheery goodness puts a smile on my face. Here it is, just coz.

 

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

30 thoughts on “Flash Review: We Married As A Job [Japan]

  1. Hello, Fangirl! It was such a nice surprise to open the mail and find your review of We Married As A Job! Weirdly, I have found myself in a similar kdrama rut, and likewise have cautiously begun to explore other drama offerings……. part of what drives this for me is that our access to many shows has suddenly changed and is definitely more limited due to the shifting landscape and increasing competition amongst drama providers.

    This was my second jdrama and you captured all the reasons why this was an endearingly and adorkably cute show. I loved the leads, the supporting cast, the real life day to day angsty moments, and the koi dance!!!! It just doesn’t get any cuter.

    Like

    • Wow, how about that, for our drama journeys aligning in weird and wonderful ways! 😀 This has been one of my first Jdramas too, come to think of it. I mean, if I don’t count ancient ones like 101 Proposals, which I watched eons ago before really getting into dramas..! This was definitely a quirky little charmer. The leads were so spot-on fantastic indeed. ❤

      I've definitely been feeling a bit jaded with many of this year's kdrama offerings, so in my case, it wasn't about access. I just wasn't feeling terribly interested in the kdrama offerings. Happily, I've got lots of friends who're happy to recommend other dramas for me to check out! 😉 Which means you're likely to see a few more Jdrama reviews popping up on this site in the foreseeable future! 😉

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      • That would be a great help, Fangirl!! I found a 10 best list of rom-com jdramas on MDL, and I started with The Last Cinderella (which I loved, btw)…..I will definitely follow you into jdramaland!!

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        • Hee. Looks like we’re following each other into Jdramaland, Mary! I’ve just added The Last Cinderella to my Jdrama list! 😉 Thanks for the rec! Hopefully I’ll love it like you did! ❤

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  2. Ooh I’ve been wanting to watch a good jdrama but never know which ones to pick! This one sounds like exactly what I was looking for.

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  3. Japan does slice of life well. Buzz anytime if you want recs of J-dramas in that genre or others.

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    • Ooh, yes please, thanks for offering, junny! Could you point me to more Jdramas pretty please? 😀

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      • I’m not sure what you like, but I do have a list of recs here: https://usagitoneko.wordpress.com/if-you-are-bored/

        Feel free to ask me about any of the stuff listed.

        For slice of life, perhaps start with Shinya Shokudo. You may also want to consider Okashi no Ie (very slow), Quartet (quirky), Fuben na Benriya (snow porn) and Mahoro Ekimae Bangaichi (weird). I’ve written posts on all of them.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Wow, just checked out your list, and it’s lonngg! 😀 Thanks for that, I’m sure I’ll be checking back in on the monster list when I need some Jdrama inspiration! And I’m sure it’ll come in useful for other readers of this thread looking for some Jdrama recs too 🙂 For now I’ve added to my list the ones you mentioned specifically, so that I have a place to start. Fingers crossed that I’ll like them like you do!

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  4. This has been on The List for a while now but I haven’t found the time to get to it yet.

    Japan really is the best when it comes to slice of life. A lot of jdramas feel relatable, even when they are quirky and slightly off kilter in that special japanese way that just cant be copied.

    I’m pretty sure Junny can pont you towardas the really good stuff, but here are some of my faves from past fiew years: Border, Yami no Bansosha, Kageri Yuku Natsu, Soratobu Kouhoushitsu, Shunya Shokudo, Gommen ne Seishun, Border, Juhan Shuttai! I’ve got others but those are way older. 🙂

    If you are looking for not-korean romance based dramas, you could give The Pursuit of Happines a whirl. It’s a tw-drama that also has co-habitation in the agenda. 😀

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    • This one does lean cuter than your usual drama fare (I think?), but I also think you’d like it. It really does have a relatable yet quirky flavor to it! ❤

      Thanks for the drama recommendations – I'm adding them to my Jdrama list! Oh, and I realize I do have The Pursuit of Happiness on my list too.. I just haven't gotten around to it yet. Story of my drama life.. so many good intentions, so many "haven't gotten around to it yet"s, heh 😝

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      • I just realised I had Border twice there. 😀 Well, it is a good one… a well done crime show with supernatural undertones. Very thought provoking. Junny has a blog post for it too.^^

        The Pursuit of Happiness is quite lovely. An adult romance that rings true. It’s both funny in places and poignant. Pretty unusual for a tw-drama. The OST is great! I still listen to it.

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        • Heh, didja subconsciously need to recommended it twice, coz it’s that good? 😉 I didn’t even notice it was on there twice, I was just dutifully copying the names onto my Jdrama list! 😅

          Ooh, The Pursuit of Happiness sounds promising! I’ve been feeling a little underwhelmed by the TW dramas I’ve been watching.. They mostly start out strong, and then sag in the end stretch. I was about to leave ’em alone for a while, but now maybe I ought to bump Pursuit of Happiness up the list instead 😉 Thanks Timescout, you’re always so good with the drama recs. 😘❤

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          • Yup, must have been that. 😄

            TPoH is only 13 epis (I think it was 13), so not much time to get draggy. I found the ending satisfactory as well. Sweet even.

            Forgot to mention that I have written something about most of the dramas I mentioned. Nothing too spoilery as I try not to give anything major away. In case you want to check what they are about. ☺

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            • Oh! 13 eps? I didn’t even realize that. What a departure from the usual longer runs of TW dramas – even the “shorter” ones! Sounds like TPoH is a pretty special snowflake indeed.

              Thanks for the tip about the posts – super helpful! I’ll definitely check back on them, to help me decide which dramas to pick first from my now-pretty-long list! Lately I mostly feel like I’m bumbling around a whole new dramaverse, among all these unfamiliar J, C and TW dramas! But it’s a happy problem – I feel like I’ve got entire worlds to explore, even when the kdramaverse doesn’t seem so appealing. 😉

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              • A special snowflake indeed. ^^

                I think it’s something that’s been happening a lot in the dramaverse in the past fiew years, dramas getting longer. TPTB trying to milk their offerings for all they are worth. That generally tends to strech the already thin plots even tinner. Makes for very draggy and frequently boring dramas. Except for Japan, jdramas have their own problems but the epi count it ain’t. 🙂

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                • Very true! I have felt on more than a few occasions, that a show was sagging in its later episodes. The plot would either cycle in place, go off on tangents, or get stuffed with filler. Sigh.. story integrity always seems to suffer because of commercial concerns. 😛 But without commerce in the equation, we might not be getting any dramas at all, so.. a chicken and egg problem? 😅 I’ve yet to be acquainted enough with Jdramas to know about their problems.. so I’ll enjoy my honeymoon period while I can! 😁

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  5. Aragaki Yui is a personal favorite of mine, she is always so likeable and fun, I love her. This drama was nice but I found it a bit underwhelming sometimes. If anyone is interested in checking more Gaki jdramas, I would strongly recommend “Okitegami Kyoko” the forgetful detective (a light watch with subtle romance, very heartwarming, it was my happy pill), “Legal High” (also a light watch, comedy about some crazy lawyers), and “Zenkai Girl” for some good cute romance 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks for the recommendations, Marie! I’ve added all of them to my list; I hope I enjoy them as much as you did! And yes, from what I can see, Aragaki Yui really is very likable and endearing. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her on my screen! 😀

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      • Yes, she is my j-drama girl crush and she is absolutely adorable. 🙂 I usually don’t recommend j-dramas because their style is very special and not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you liked We married as a job, I encourage you to give a try to the others. They are a bit absurd sometimes, but they are fun and always leave a good taste in your mouth. Especially Okitegami Kyoko is quite original, I was hooked because it had me wondering how the hell a romance could happen there…

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        • I can see why she’d be your Jdrama girl crush, she’s delightful! 😍 I often find actresses struggle to act cute parts, and it can come off fake-cutesy and therefore cringeworthy. But she’s not like that at all. She’s just cute. ❤ Thanks for the rec, I have bumped up Okitegami Kyoko on my list! 😀

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  6. Thanks for the review! Didn’t know such jdrama existed. And I love contract marriages…so yay!
    Have you seen Rich man poor woman..? I ❤ that show!

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    • Ah, if you like contract marriages, this should be right up your alley, snow! I thought it was a nice twist to the usual contract marriage plot. 🙂 I haven’t seen Rich Man Poor Woman but it’s on my list. Now that you’ve endorsed it, I might have to check it out sooner than I planned! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I found this drama to be on the refreshing side for a J-drama where I tend to like slice of life and police procedurals. The couple was lovely and I enjoyed this drama quite a bit though after reading your review I’m kind of amazed at how much I’ve already forgotten so it didn’t stick with me so much.

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    • Aw, it’s ok that it didn’t stick with you much, as long as you enjoyed it while you were watching it! I can imagine how a lot of details would be forgotten, since it’s got such a slice-of-life quality about it. The couple was so cute and endearing, they were my favorite thing about the show 🙂

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  8. Since my summer K-drama viewing rut is now becoming my Fall viewing rut I am desperate. Do you mind telling me where you watched this show. It is not on my usual streaming sites. Thank you as always for your wonderful reviews.

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    • Aw, I feel ya Amy! Drama ruts are a bummer, and mood can be such a finicky thing too. Hopefully this show will be something that you’ll enjoy! You can find We Married As A Job here. Alternatively, you could try searching for it by its Japanese title, “Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu.” I hope that helps! 🙂

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  9. Thank you for the review – that spurred me to watch. It was charming.

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    • It IS charming, isn’t it? ❤ Glad this one helped to provide some respite from your drama rut! This one did the same for me; it didn't make my drama rut go away, but the drama rush it provided was pretty great while it lasted 😉

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