So I just watched this drama a couple or so weeks ago and as one of the first posts to inaugurate this blog, I decided to write up a quick blurb about it. I swear to do better in the future if I continue to do drama reviews but I’m still not too well-versed in the field so bare with me.
Watashitachi wa douka shiteiru, or if you want to go by it’s English title – Cursed in Love, is about a young traditional Japanese sweets maker named Hanaoka Nao whose mother, also a sweets maker, moved into the prestigious well-known traditional Japanese sweets confectionary, Kougetsuan. There, the then 6 year old Nao meets the 6 year old Takatsuki Tsubaki, and quickly become fast friends and eventually first loves.
All was well until that fateful day when Tsubaki’s father is murdered and he accuses Nao’s mother of the crime. From there, their worlds diverge, Nao’s mother is arrested and later dies in prison while Nao grows up to do the passion she grew to love, making Japanese sweets, while similarly, Tsubaki, also a sweets maker, works hard to become the successor to Kougetsuan once his grandfather dies. The drama is one of romance but of mystery and suspense (in a way) as Nao eventually resolves to finding out the truth of her mother’s accused crime even if it means marrying the one she hates the most – Takatsuki Tsubaki.
That’s enough summary, now onto the review. I don’t plan to spoil anything major in this review because I actually do recommend watching this drama. It’s only 8 episodes long clocking at about an hour each except for the last episode which is basically a movie at an hour and 40 minutes.
Yes, this is drama is based on a manga that I just happened to stumble across in Barnes and Noble. And yes, the Japanese title is translated into like three different English titles, but I’m sticking with “There’s Something Wrong with Us” because it sounds better and it is closer to the original Japanese title.
I picked the 2nd volume cover because it best exemplifies the feelings they have for each other in the beginning of the drama. Specifically, Nao is determined to find out if her mother is indeed the true killer of Tsubaki’s father even going as far as accepting the marriage proposal an arrogant Tsubaki puts forth. I mean, she accepts and is back at Kougetsuan, the scene of the crime, but now she has to act like she’s going to eventually wed Tsubaki, who doesn’t appear to remember her. It helps that as a child, he called her Sakura instead of Nao since the Kanji that makes up her name can be read either way, but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten the girl he used to call Sakura.
Ain’t they cute
Hanaoka Nao aka Sakura (left: Hamabe Minami, right: manga Nao)
Nao wasn’t that bad of a female protagonist considering the genre we’re talking about here. Granted, this is literally the FIRST Japanese romance drama I’ve watched so I could be wrong but I’ve watched my fair share of K-dramas and read enough shoujo manga to make some sort of judgement. Though this manga is categorized as “josei” (=targeted towards older women), so keep that in mind.
Anyways, I didn’t find her too weak and was a bit surprised at her unwavering resolve to see things through to the end. Even when Tsubaki asked her if she was really Sakura, she denied it. Even when they started getting close and she could see her lies hurting Tsubaki, she still kept quiet and continued on with her little spy mission. Nao was literally in a den of wolves where the only good person turned out to be Tsubaki funnily enough (the bumbling fools in the kitchen staff don’t count). I didn’t have too much of a problem with her nor did I get too annoyed by Nao’s actions and most didn’t seem to contrived.
Look, I’m writing this like 2-3 weeks later so I could be forgetting some details but overall for a character, I’d give Nao a high mark. She has her faults but she could’ve been worse.
Takatsuki Tsubaki (Left: Yokohama Ryusei, Right: manga Tsubaki with Nao)
I couldn’t really find a proper colored photo of just Tsubaki so I just made do.
For Tsubaki, his character was actually quite surprising to me. I thought he was going to be the typical arrogant jerk male protagonist that abuses the poor weak female protagonist who turns out to be a masochist because she somehow excuses his terrible behavior and falls in love with him regardless.
I mean, with all the sudden hand grabbing and the fact that he kabedons her at one point makes him come across as a bit aggressive at first which definitely fits into the trope I discussed before. But, Tsubaki turns out to be a rather nice guy. At the very least, considering the people he was surrounded by as he grew up, it’s a wonder he grow up with some consideration and compassion of others. His mother, is kind of the typical evil soon to be mother in law who is desperate at any cost to protect her precious Kougetsuan while his grandfather practically hates him enough to leave him behind to die on some railway tracks. Yes, this happened, at least in the drama it did.
Though he can be rather rough with his intentions, he shows a genuine care for Nao and sincere hurt when he finds out that she truly is Sakura. It’s good to note here, that Tsubaki hated Sakura, too, for reasons I won’t get too into as it’s a bit of a spoiler. In the beginning of the manga, he literally said if she appeared in front of him, he’d make her disappear. Yet, when Nao is revealed to be Sakura, he seems more hurt by the fact she kept it a secret from him rather than being upset this is apparently the person he hates the most. There’s even reason to doubt Nao isn’t Sakura early on, but even when more reasons pile on, Tsubaki seemed to be in denial because he did eventually fall into loving the Nao who knew.
The above stills are from episode 5 which I think is a good episode to watch to understand what I mean. The episode literally starts with him saying he believes her after asking Nao if she is Sakura which she denies, of course.
In short, his character is also pretty solid and shows adequate growth as the drama goes on. Definitely not as toxic as he may seem at first (I mean, looking at the promotional poster for the drama certainly gives off vibes he’ll be that way).
Kyoko Takatsuki (Tsubaki’s mother)
This woman. She’s the true antagonist of the drama and at first seems like the one dimensional evil soon to be mother-in-law towards the female character but she actually is provided some backstory. Hell, they even give her a spin-off to really hammer home her background and I guess give her a more solid character.
I only discovered this was a thing while I was writing this post up, so I haven’t seen it yet but I’ll probably get around to it – if I can find it on a good site. Apparently, it may be on Japanese Hulu which means…gotta arm that VPN.
There are other pertinent characters like Tsubaki’s grandfather, and the mysterious man who gives Nao the catalyst which fills her with the determination to find out the truth about he mother, but I think the three above deserve their own little spotlight.
Also, I couldn’t find any good photos of the grandfather and I didn’t feel like scour the drama for good images, but I’d say he is of equal importance as the Okami up there.
Okay, so what did I actually think about the story and is it a good drama to watch? I would say so. The story is pretty engaging and even though it can be a bit too convenient sometimes, things end up alright in the end. The ending is kinda cheesy – I mean, they name drop the title with lovey dovey eyes but it’s the end, so I’ll give it a pass, I guess.
Additionally, I would say another reason to watch this besides the story is that Japanese sweets.
My God, even when I read the manga, these sweets didn’t move my stomach as much as the drama did. I was a bit bemused when I first picked up the manga and saw it was centered around something seemingly arbitrary as Japanese confections. Yet, it was amazingly interesting seeing the process and aesthetic-looking end result. I mean, look at those sweets!
Ah, if you don’t know what wagashi is exactly, let me pull up the old Wikipedia entry which says:
Wagashi are traditional Japanese confections that are often served with green tea, especially the types made of mochi, anko (azuki bean paste) and fruits. Wagashi are typically made from plant-based ingredients.Wikipedia
So yeah, that’s it. Terrible review, I know, but I’ll try to create a more structured review format for the sake of clarity and organization. I’m just hoping to create more of these in the future for this little blog of mine.
Thank you for reading and I hope that if you do give this drama (or manga) a chance, then I hope you enjoy it.
To end with, here’s Tsubaki’s actor, Yokohama Ryusei, uh, rubbing himself up against a defenseless kitty: