Media Mix, May 8, 2011

L-R: Nagatsuka, Matsuzaka, Kuninaka, Katsumura

Here’s this week’s Media Mix, which is about the NHK drama, Madonna Verde. In the beginning of the column I mentioned that there is no sex in the drama, but in Gene Waltz Rie has an affair—or, at least, goes to bed with—Dr. Kiyokawa, her supervisor at the university and the man who operated on her uterine cancer. This slant on their story adds tension to the relationship once Kiyokawa (Masanobu Katsumura) starts looking into the surrogacy situation at the clinic; however, it isn’t even mentioned in Madonna Verde. The relationship seems to be completely that of sempai-kohai, albeit a bit more strained owing to Rie’s supposed rebellious professional attitude. This curious lack of sexual subtext extends to the other main male characters. Maruyama (Kyozo Nagatsuka), the retired journalist who develops a crush on Midori and learns of her secret after stalking her (!), is the person who declares her a “madonna.” He literally puts her on a pedestal and agrees to pretend to be the father of the child, a subterfuge that carries with it conjugal suggestions that aren’t even played for laughs. He’s even more selfless than Midori. But the character who’s the furthest from real life is Rie’s husband Shinichi (Jin Katagiri), a geeky mathematician studying game theory at a Massachusetts university who is so wrapped up in his research that he has no time to think of babies and seems hardly concerned about Rie’s operation or the whole surrogacy scheme, which is communicated to him by Midori, not Rie. In fact, at the end of the most recent episode, Rie and Shinichi have obtained a divorce in the U.S., seemingly in less time than it takes to say “in vitro fertilization.” In Japan, that’s possible; if both parties agree, all they have to do is go to their city hall and fill out the proper documents. But is there such a thing as a quickie divorce in Massachusetts? (photo: NHK)

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