Fairytale Fantasies Meet Reality on “The Future Diary” and “The Bachelor Japan”

Looking for a love story this holiday season? Or maybe you prefer to indulge in a more complicated romantic competition? Either way, the streaming services bring you two Japanese shows that blur the line between reality and drama.

Netflix’s “The Future Diary,” which premiered on December 14, aims to recreate the romance-fueled absurdity of a Japanese TV drama in the real world. Two strangers get together and play out a love story guided by the main book, which gives them instructions and incentives to move their relationship forward. The plots are ripped from the familiar tropes of Japanese TV shows, with the exception of the fairytale ending – in a truly melodramatic twist, the couple have to say goodbye to each other at the end, even though they fell in love with it. one another.

The premise is one that originally debuted as the popular centerpiece of the late 1990s variety show “Unnan no Hontoko!”

The reboot of Netflix, produced in collaboration with TBS, focuses on Maai Nakasone from Okinawa and Takuto Wakamatsu from Hokkaido. The couple get to know each other in a way that is both familiar (coffee in a cafe) and ridiculous (forced to cook dinner for a ship full of impatient people). The Future Diary itself directs them, telling them things like when to have their first kiss.

Between the segments, a panel of four Japanese celebrities – singer Daigo Naito, Exile member Taiki Sato, TV personality Saya and Tokyo TV presenter Reina Sumi – offer an analysis of what they see. This is a format familiar to Asian audiences, but only recognizable to fans of the “Terrace House” show elsewhere. The commentators on this show were one of the best parts of the viewing experience, but on “The Future Diary,” at least for the first three episodes, their contributions are somewhat unnecessary.

Although he knows how it all ends – the very first scene from the first episode shows Maai and Takuto tearfully accepting that they have to say goodbye to each other – “The Future Diary” is fun as it focuses on the romantic journey. rather than on the bittersweet result, and it offers great viewing comfort. The real world might not look like a romantic comedy, but Netflix can at least make it possible for 30-minute bursts.

Amazon Prime’s “The Bachelor Japan,” which premiered on November 25, ignores Japanese drama lore in favor of the current American approach of turning everything into a contest. The show, now in its fourth season, follows the same beats as the US version of the reality show competition with women from all over Japan vying for a man’s affection, this time a quadrilingual Chinese businessman. named Kou Kou, participating in various competitions to get his attention. Similar to “The Future Diary,” a panel offers commentary between the action, although the “Bachelor” crew – singer Rino Sashihara and comedians Koji Imada and Shingo Fujimori – are much funnier than the low-key cast. ” The Future Diary “reunited.

The tone of the series differs drastically – “The Future Diary” aims to recreate drama while “The Bachelor Japan” simply revel in it – but the two don’t seem to be kidding each other when it comes to providing entertainment. Although centered around real people in the real world, the lovebirds of “The Future Diary” essentially improvise on a loose script, while “The Bachelor Japan” features fantastic storylines set against a tropical backdrop of Thailand – when Was the last time you had to play rhythmic gymnastics to get a second date?

We all just want a little love, even though you can see the strings of the entertainment industry holding it together.

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