Shows about extramarital affairs are gaining more and more popularity in recent years. Most of this films have the "other woman" as the protagonist of the story. I'm originally not interested in the idea of having the third party put in a positive light in a film. That said, Utsukushiki Waka changed my mind. I find it different compared to other films in this genre. It's not like what most people would expect. The drama took a more suspenseful approach with a little bit of comedy here and there. Wakamura Mayumi, who played as the wife, is an absolute delight to watch.
Genre: suspense, drama
Duration: 10 episodes
Rika is deeply in love with Sota, an older married man and the managing director of the company she works in. Unlike other women, she doesn't demand anything in return. She foolishly believes that Sota's love is enough to keep her happy.
At a company party, when Sota discretely slips a piece of note into Rika's hand, they are accidentally caught by Mitsuko, Sota's wife. Since then, Mitsuko has been plotting a perfect revenge. To force her husband to break up with Rika, Mitsuko intentionally sets her up with Keiichi, her young secret lover. However, things did not turn out as what she expected.
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Tanaka Rena as Nishida Rika
Rika is the protagonist of the story. She manages a cafe owned by Sota's company. Her affair with her boss is cut short after Mitsuko sets her up with Keiichi. When she realizes Mitsuko's plot, she decides to play along to get even. As she spends more time with Keiichi, she thinks that he is not bad after all. She feels guilty about her past and decides to make things right - by being with Keiichi. Things get complicated though when she discovers that Keiichi is probably the secret lover of Mitsuko.
Wakamura Mayumi as Kashiwagi Mitsuko
Mitsuko is the daughter of a rich family. Her father owns a company where her husband works as a managing director. As a woman, she is not allowed to meddle with business and becomes a full-time housewife, which she turns out to be very good at. She keeps the house clean and cooks delicious meals everyday. However, no one in her family seems to appreciate her, except for Keiichi. Out of loneliness, she starts having an affair with him. She is fully aware about Sota's affairs, which drives her crazy. When she learns about his relationship with Rika, she is determined to take revenge using Keiichi as one of her pawns.
Aoyagi Sho as Ochiai Keiichi
Keiichi is a man in his 30's who is still fixated on his tragic past. His brother died in a terrible accident, and his brother's friend Sota welcomes him into his family. At the lowest point of his life, he falls for Mitsuko and the two start to have an affair. He is then forced to date Rika as part of Mitsuko's revenge. However, he starts to like Rika and wants to take their relationship to the next level.
Yoshida Riko as Kashiwagi Miu
Miu is the only daughter of Sota and Mitsuko. She is pretty close to her dad but seems a bit aloof to her mom. When she learns about her dad's affair, she is livid. She watches her parents continue to act like nothing is going on, and this makes her even more furious. As she starts spending less time at home, she is told by Keiichi to go home and take care of her mom. She looks up to Keiichi, whom she has a crush on for years.
Murakami Hiroaki as Kashiwagi Sota
Sota is an ambitious man who comes from a low-profile family. He marries Mitsuko, the daughter of a rich businessman. His father-in-law seems to recognize his ability, and entrusts his company to him instead of to his less capable son. Sota dreams of taking over the company using whatever method he can think of. He uses Rika as a stepping stone to his dream. He is friends with Keiichi's late brother, who died mysteriously during a mountain trek with him.
The first thing I noticed in this drama is Tanaka Rena's bad acting. Good acting is very important to me, but surprisingly, I still got hooked. The good performances of the rest of the characters and the excellent storyline somehow make up for it. The story is very captivating, and waiting for the next episode feels like waiting for your next paycheck. The drama is catered towards more mature adults.
The story is mostly seen from Rika and Mitsuko's point of view. It keeps us hanging watching Mitsuko messing with Rika's life, and Rika struggling to keep a normal relationship. We never really get to see Keiichi's thoughts, so I kept on wondering which side he is actually on.
As bad as Mitsuko is, I can't get myself to hate her. She is the wronged one, and she has every right to feel angry. I was expecting her to be scary, which she is, but her character unexpectedly provides comic relief to a rather serious drama.
I appreciate that Utsukushiki Waka has wrapped everything up nicely at the end. It is satisfying to see what happens to every character. However, I don't really get the ending. I don't know if the drama intends to make it unclear, or if I just wasn't able to grasp the meaning. Overall, I think this is a nice drama and I highly recommend it.
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