I really love how Mondai no Restaurant has developed from a chaotic first episode to a more controlled structure in epsode 3, probably by far, my favourite episode. There were too many things happening in the pilot that I couldn’t take the time to really appreciate most of the characters but once they get down in a slower pace for that in the ensuing episodes, it reminded me of the mastermind behind this story, Sakamoto Yuji. He has a knack for fleshing out the characters in the most surreal manner that you just end up sympathizing for them. I know they did the same for Tamako’s friend who was forced to go through that ‘nude punishment’ but it was all a bit too rushed and sudden so I ended up not feeling for her as much. The worst part is she didn’t end up being one of the comrades for Tamako’s restaurant so she felt like a filler.
In episode 2, they took the opportunity to develop one of Tamako’s best friends, Kyoko by giving us her background and from there, we got to know about her family problems. She’s separated from her husband and he’s trying to fight for their son’s custody. Having no job and her prospect looking bleak, she has no chance of winning her son if they were to go to court. It didn’t help either that she was looking down at herself and thought there was no way for her to do anything better than being a hopeless housewife.
The scene where Tamako confronted Kyoko’s husband was well-done. In fact, I think I’ve begun to appreciate people who are housewives now. Like I’ve mentioned, in the typical Sakamoto Yuji style, script is superior and it shows in this drama. Pay attention to the lines an you’ll find a lot of amusing stuffs as well as references in them, which are quite obvious in episode 3.
Does it help that their restaurant’s name is bistro fou which literally means ‘crazy bistro’? LOL
In episode 3, Chika, the Chef who hates human (despite her being one), had the chance to shine, much to my delight. She’s one of my favorite characters in this drama and rightfully so. Her lines are funny especially the ones where she told them “Cooking is a pain. People are a pain. Everyday’s a pain. The Earth is a pain.” Then Haiji countered by saying, “If you think Earth is a pain, then you’ll have to go to space.”
Chika holds eternal grudge against her father, who was Tamako’s boss and also the one who owns the opposite restaurant, their competitor. I love how they managed to show to us Chika’s love for her mother despite her leaving her when she was little. The confrontation between her, the mother and father was an eye-opener. I really thought Chika was the hikikomori at first because that was what her father thought initially until her mother explained the truth. She was the one who kept herself shut in their house and Chika had to take care of her, in the process, she also had to stay in the house all the time in fear of her mother doing anything silly.
Chika’s reaction when she found out that her mother has decided to remarry and is carrying a child was touching. Kudos to Matsuoka Mayu for being able to carry out that genuine unconditional love and ‘I’m happy for you, Mom’ facial expression, yet there was this bittersweet emotion in her heart. Poor girl really thought for a second that she’d be able to live together with her beloved mother again.
The short but brutal? confrontation with proud Todai girl, Nitta was an eye-opener by comparing her with Chika’s friend at the internet cafe. I know Todai’s students are always looked up upon in Japan and most of them probably think very highly of themselves coming from a prestigious university but Nitta is a prime example of when one begins to crumble when in face of crisis, no matter where you come from. Chika’s words hit bulls eye and I really would’ve clapped but seeing how Nitta finally realized the truth and retreated in shame, I felt sorry for her.
This show is doing well and exceeded my expectation for now. I didn’t quite like the first episode but it seems to have improved since. I have a bad feeling the male counterparts will suffer though in terms of development because they’ve been one-dimensional so far.
Just an extra bit because I really like Haiji’s character. He really carries out the gay who likes cross-dressing very well that I can’t help but beam whenever he appears because everything he does is just great, maybe even more so than Tamako lol.