Original Title: 昼顔 – 平日午後３時の恋人たち-
Channel: Fuji TV
Love Affairs in the Afternoon is a drama focusing on the extra-marital affairs of two housewives – Sawa and Rikako. As the title implies, the two women get to spend time with their lovers during the afternoon when their husbands are at their 9 to 5 jobs.
Sawa has been married for five years to her self centered husband. Their married life is peaceful and sadly uneventful. The couple hasn’t had sex in forever and Sawa’s husband is more focused on his two hamsters than his wife. Let’s add that Sawa’s mother-in-law is the nosy type. She inserts herself in the couple’s life and spend quite some time in their apartment – cooking, gossiping, and spying on Sawa. Is Sawa cheating? Who was the man she was talking to earlier? The mother in law is also pressuring Sawa to have children. She even goes as far as to dig deep enough and find out about the couple’s sex life. The mother in law then finds it justified to give advice about the couple’s sex life. Let’s add the rude comments such as : “You are just not sexy at all” or “Can’t you be fashionable sometimes?”
Rikako seems to have it all – successful husband, nice house, money, and two adorable daughters. Yet, she feels neglected by her husband. Rikako’s husband treats her like a slave. She does all the housework and he doesn’t seem to appreciate her hardwork at all. He simply takes it for granted. His opinion of Rikako is overall not flattering: “My wife can lack common sense sometimes” or “She’s not that smart to cheat.”I guess someone is in for a surprise… How ironic is it that Rikako’s husband is the editor-in-chief of a magazine that depicts women in an erotic way and glamorize women cheating on their husbands? It’s easy to make the topic look glamorous on topic, but how does it feel when you are a victim of adultery yourself?
Rikako is looking for fleeting moments of passion. Having extra-marital affairs are like business transactions to Rikako. As soon as it’s not advantageous, she lets it go and moves to the next one. Rikako tends to run away when things get too serious. Passing as dumb in her husband’s eyes is actually to her benefit.
Prior to meeting Rikako, Sawa never thought about cheating on her husband. She felt like women cheating were betraying their families. She was self righteous and full of principles. Everything changes when Rikako moves in the neighborhood. Sawa becomes entangled in Rikako’s life when she covers one of her extra marital affairs. Covering Rikako’s affair, Sawa also meets Yuichi – a high school teacher. Yuichi, who is also married, starts developing a relationship with Sawa.
Meanwhile Rikako’s affairs are becoming more and more risky. She sleeps with the former illustrator of her husband’s magazine, Kato, and has a hard time getting rid of a former lover.
Sawa’s interest in Yuichi pushes her to re-discover herself as a woman. She spends time finding an outfit and doing her makeup. She wants to feel desirable and beautiful again. Like she puts it herself, she isn’t irritated at her husband anymore because she now has something to look forward too – spending time with Yuichi. Yuichi is introverted and not the type to make someone laugh, but his presence only is enough for Sawa. What she wants is someone who listens to her.
I felt a little uneasy for Sawa cheating on her husband after reading the synopsis and watching the first few minutes, but that quickly changes. Sawa’s husband turns out to be a cheater too! Surprise, surprise…
Rikako’s character is a lot harder to understand. Sometimes it seems like she wishes to develop deeper feelings for her lovers, but she always finds a way to ruin it. Is it in order not to be caught? One thing is for sure: Rikako enjoys the adrenaline rush. She might have met her match in Kato. The latter doesn’t let Rikako walk all over him and treats her exactly the same way she treats him.
I also wanted to add that the synopsis and many comments that I have seen make it seem like Rikako has forced Sawa in cheating on her husband. That’s partly false. I say partly because Sawa felt curious. She was intrigued by the possibility of discovering a different world – one filled with excitement and passion. Yes, Rikako doesn’t have the best influence, but it’s not all white or black. In a way, Rikako forces Sawa to face reality. She is not satisfied with her current life plus she realizes that there might not be any love left in her marriage at all.
Is a marriage about eternal love?
Sawa married her husband because she loved him at first. Where did that love go? In my opinion, both settled in their daily routine. I feel like love is a plant that needs to be nourished. If you don’t take care of it by giving attention to your significant other, it will simply die. At this point, I can say that Sawa and her husband are together because they feel comfortable. They are used to each other and so what makes them stay together is habit and not love.
A housewife’s place
I feel like if Sawa and Rikako’s lives didn’t simply revolve around their families things could have been different. If Sawa and Rikako had careers, passions, and friends of their own, they would have a sense of fulfillment. They wouldn’t feel that lonely and longing for this form of excitement. It would have also gave them the opportunity to have a say when facing their husbands.
Not friends, but accomplices
Sawa and Rikako have developed a peculiar relationship. Sawa was totally opposed to a friendship with Rikako, but since she is now starting an affair of her own the status of accomplices seem to be more appropriate. They are in this together. It is twisted and maybe even messed up, but it’s still a strong bond.
I tend to find Japanese dramas slow and to this day there are none that I have finished. I hope to make this one the first that I watch until the end (Not even Hana Yori Dango).
~ maniac Ride