I thought Avengers Endgame was going to make 2019 exciting. It turns out a lonely and socially awkward architect who can’t get married is going to be the real excitement of this year.
It was just announced that there is going to be a sequel to the 2006 J-drama 結婚できない男 (The Man Who Can’t Get Married). This is a big deal, as it is not something that happens often with Japanese TV. This is a big deal, because it is my favorite J-drama of all time and has made the play list hundreds of times on my immersion iPod. This is a big deal, because well… it was that good a show. Let’s get into why you too need to be excited.
The show is enjoyable regardless of your Japanese level
At the heart of the show is a fairly simple slice of life story that excels at visually expressing awkward characters and relationships. I first saw the show in late 2006 when my Japanese level was low intermediate at best, and I was still able to fully enjoy it. The actions and reactions were easy to follow:
Like a conflict between two noisy neighbors who can’t stand each other’s noise so they need to make their own noise louder.
Or an entire episode based on a growing relationship with the neighbor’s dog who is making that neighbor jealous.
Or the strange interaction he has with the same store clerks he sees every single day, but can’t get past a simple smirk.
But what’s kept me coming back to listen to the show over and over again throughout the years is the much deeper language and comedy behind it. It’s got layers that you can only peel away as your Japanese level rises. It took years before I started getting some of the more advanced humor.
Like how his motivation to become an architect was the movie Blade Runner, which he cannot seem to convince the girl who he’s trying to talk with is a must-see movie.
Or his misunderstanding of someone’s name 御手洗 (Mr. Mitarai) for 御手洗い (おてあらい – Bathroom).
It’s a show that will grow on you with every watch through the years. And now the episode count will double?
Abe Hiroshi is back
Abe Hiroshi is a bit of paradox for Japanese learners. On the one hand, he’s an awesome unique actor who brings life to some of the best movies and J-dramas Japan has to offer. There are very few people who say, “oh I hate Abe Hiroshi.”
On the other hand, he talks in a low mumble voice that makes him very difficult for foreigners to understand. But as mentioned above, this show relies on way more than just language. Even just his facial expressions get across the magic of the show, without needing any words.
It’s not only exciting that he is coming back, but that he actually wants to reprise the role. His eccentric acting style is a huge welcome. The fact that the same director will also be back, will make sure that Abe-san will be good (he’s made some much lesser enjoyable movies and series throughout his career).
The story needs a continuation
The words that come out of any fan’s mouth. Any movie or TV show you love “needs” a continuation. I always wanted to see what would happen once he actually got closer to being married. The original series ends on that note of a possible relationship that will lead to it.
But this is the guy who passionately directs classical music with his hands while sitting on his sofa chair while blasting his stereo. Is it really going to be that easy to get married after 40 years? This is where the story was going to get interesting. And then the show faded to black with him joking about certain types of behavior that will prevent someone from getting married.
The sequel is him at 53 years old, still unmarried. What happened to his relationship with the adorable doctor? Did it go somewhere but failed? Have they been dating for 13 years and have yet to get married (probably not)?
A modern update
While it doesn’t interfere with the story, watching the show feels a bit dated now.
Seeing his “arch enemy” (an early 2000s architect blogger who brags about his non-existent architectural projects while dating a new woman every week) story is one of the highlights of the show. Will that enemy (who he later becomes friends with) make a comeback, except this time on Instagram?
Will he get a Roomba for his large empty apartment where everything needs to be spotless?
Will he stop frequenting the DVD rental store daily, and turn to Netflix instead?
Will he take a Line taxi instead of a regular taxi?
Okay none of this is necessary, but watching a show that is current with your own world makes it easier to relate to.
More revivals on the way?
I know – continuations of older shows can be disastrous. I’m not sure if Japan is taking a hint from this trend in Western TV now, or if it came about on its own, but reboots/revivals often aren’t good. That isn’t to say I wouldn’t love to see sequels for other older shows like IWGP, ハケンの品格 or Trick.
The buzz around the sequel to 結婚できない男 is insane. People want to see this, badly. It was never a “big” show at the time (despite its pretty good ratings). But it is fondly looked back upon by anyone who saw it, and being able to reunite with some of your favorite characters you grew up with is always a joy. I haven’t seen any “oh what a horrible idea, this is going to ruin the show” comments yet like you typically see on social media.
Are you excited?
結婚できない男 was one of the reasons I got into J-drama into the first place. I know this show can’t please everyone, and a sequel doesn’t necessarily mean a good thing. But I can’t wait till October to see Kuwano Shinsuke finally get married (or not?!) How about you?