Sometimes the heart is just full of feelings which are easier to identify by the virtue of aging but are also balanced ever so delicately. That may or may not make any sense but I truly don’t have better words to describe my current condition.
In the last 7 days, I finished watching Long Vacation. Now, in 2018, that reference is valid. Long Vacation is either the first or the second Japanese drama (J-dorama) introduced to me. The year, 1997 (another connection to the year is available in the K-Drama Reply 1997), and I was on my first ever trip abroad. It was more than a trip. I had moved there for an uncertain period while my mother worked on her doctorate.
She at that age was what I am now. That very year.
It’s also the best year to be a child – if ever given an opportunity I would like to return to that age and enjoy being a human. Although it’s only part of who I want to be.
Long Vacation was on rerun in the summer of 1997. Japan used to have these bilingual televisions which broadcasted shows in two languages and with a flick of the switch English language shows could be enjoyed in Voila! English!
Long Vacation is a Japanese language show. Pertinent to the Japanese culture of the mid-nineties. I was in a state of culture shock. My mother didn’t have a bilingual TV and I had to slowly imbibe myself with the language and the culture through TV shows. I still am not tech savvy, and back in those days there was only so much I could learn.
But here I am only supposed to talk about Long Vacation in relation to me ~
There was another family from BD who had a daughter of my age. She grew up in Japan and was obsessed with J-pop & J-dorama. I learned of V6, Kinki Kids, Tokio, and SMAP from her. In retrospect, it’s wondering why all those were Johnny’s bands… but I guess that’s agency prowess of the Japanese Entertainment Industry! Around that time I also learned of Long Vacation (rerun) and Futari, whose theme song was performed by Spitz. Spitz is probably a timeless hipster band with the warmest music that gives of the most familiar vibe.
But today, is about Long Vacation and me ~
The daughter described the stories of the dramas to me. I took an instant dislike to Long Vacation – my upbringing up to that point had only normalized romantic relationships in a single dimension. Older taller man, younger shorter woman. I learned to be relaxed about the height thing sooner than anything else. But, during that first introduction, I was repelled. It seemed to be a complicated story. To me, somehow, life should have been simpler – cause propriety. I don’t know why I thought that but I am sure I learned it – I just don’t remember how.
I think I took glimpses at the show during that time. I learned the theme song and the melody remained with me. Funny since I have no musical ability and very limited appreciation. The catchy tune, though, stayed. When I ran into it a decade later after my first meet, I instantly recalled where we’d met earlier. Memory is interesting – we know it works but not always how!?
La la la love song. Over the years I’ve been in and out of being a broad consumer. My views altered, opinions twisted, feelings shattered, and thoughts perplexed. Somehow I manged to discard so many things as I got closer to embracing ephemerality. I can’t say for sure about good or bad any longer but there’s definitely more peace with absence of much. The joys and sorrows of existence in my privileged and protected life is on the verge of harmony.
Long Vacation, this first time around, took me into the most tender embrace. The story, the setting, the tube TV, the apartment, the billboard, the roof: all these resonated with me; I think I also have this longing since I want to discard my smartphone and rely upon a regular land line. How lucky am I to have an innocent enough childhood to be filled with such longing!?
I had no idea how rigid I have been and probably still am! But watching the show wasn’t about discovering myself – it’s been about enjoying a show, and by God, I did! It prompted me into looking up as much literature on Long Vacation on the net. Found insight in chapter 16 of this book. Now I desperately want to read this and searching for a way to purchase the entire book – Long Vacation and me! It’s more difficult to find people who would write about a 22 year old show – cause you know, there’s so much more newer and popular material. I can’t think of myself getting too enamored with a show from the 70’s while I existed in the 90’s – although that’s not entirely true. Yamaguchi Tomoko as Haruo Minami is exceptional. I’ve never seen her in anything else although she has appeared in a few shows since. I wonder if I relate more now since I am at the age that her character is. It is very likely and I truly can’t analyse this further. There isn’t any need of that though. I am not conducting an experiment and collecting data – I am simply inspiring myself to feel joy.
Other characters portrayed also paved their ways into my liking. Oddly enough, I never found Kimura Takuya attractive until I say his portrayal of Sena (Hidetoshi) in Long Vacation. The guy was 23 while filming! I’ve seen him in countless SMAPXSMAP episodes and also in a number of TV shows but this performance of his really made me emotional. His embodiment of Sena, alongside Yamaguchi’s Minami is what lovers are made of! Looking for similar opinion, I came across this post that talks about Kimuar’s natural performance untainted by stardom. In much agreement there.
It’s not that I was supposed to find relationships between older men and younger women right, I simply was younger than men I like! Now I just happen to be older (wha~T!)… yeah.
Takenouchi Yutaka has always been hot. Enough said!
I have always liked Inamori Izumi – mainly for her comedic roles but in Beach Boys (HOT!)… her character was more grounded and my respect for acting abilities turn the admiration into genuine liking of seeing her on-screen.
Matsu Takako & Ryo – well, they fit in perfectly well. Although I personally don’t have strong feelings for either actors but I have always enjoyed their screen presence.
UPDATE: I’ve since watched Love Generation, aired Winter 1997. I had completely forgotten about the show; happens with the passing of time. As I watched, I remembered how much I enjoyed watching it the first time and how much I loved Matsu Takako’s portrayal of Riko! So, I admit that I was wrong to say I don’t have strong feelings for Matsu Takako.
The relationship development between Yamaguchi as Minami and Kimura as Sena appeared to be slow and came rushing in the middle. Although not well, it’s eluded to when Inamori’s Momoko talks about bad timing for relationship – in contrast one can think of good timing which could be extrapolated into explaining how spending time together made the two characters start having deep romantic feelings for each other. I’m pretty certain the writers didn’t think of such nuances with Momoko’s dialogues explaining Sena & Minami’s relationship – or were they?! It’s hard to believe when you see her frolicking around and making Sena & Minami’s theme song – or is it?! The time shown is after the bubble burst. Most reviews and analysis of the show talk about the deep connection this show managed to forge with the young populace due to the portrayal of struggles of the characters. Not just in love life but in trying to get things work. The name of the show is derived from Sena’s description of considering this time to be a Long Vacation from God. Boiling it down to, Don’t Worry Be Happy?!
I fell under impression that most Asian men don’t know how to kiss on-screen, a view I mostly retain. I think East Asians particularly suck (!) in bringing out the passion on TV. I can’t remember seeing Kimura in kissing scenes – the 90’s and even the early 2000’s were conservative times for the small screen. However, episode 5 has this glimpse of the most natural kiss. It made me miss romance. Just in case a reader or I wonder – the first East Asian actor to show me a good kiss on screen was Matsuda Shota in Love Shuffle – kissing another older woman… may be this mix just works well!?
So, does Long Vacation have [lot holes? Hells yeah! I mean, c’mon – it’s TV – without abilities of mass digital recording – one could only do so much back in the days! Also that whole age difference … and dialogues about how men & women can’t be friends – seems close-minded now. They made Momoko have some skewed views and she is much more than that!
All in all, though, I was filled with love and just Long Vacation! Supposedly that’s how the Japanese female viewership felt in Spring 1996.