About the Show
Kawano Ayu (Ueto Aya) is a tomboy-ish girl of the sea. She isn't well-educated, but she's upbeat and has an honest heart. Married to her is a once-divorced stylist, Kawano Tetsu (Oizumi Yo). One day, Tetsu's five-year-old son arrives at their shop, and their happy newlywed life turns into chaos.
So, is it enjoyable?
Heck yes!! Wild Mom! Is one of the best doramas I have seen in a long time (despite being aired originally 2007). Most doramas that get or have got subtitles in the past years seem to fall in the young adult romance genre, from which we can pick several great ones, but rarely something so honest and different like Wild Mom!
Wild Mom! has everything for that veteran and not-so-veteran dorama watcher who is looking for something beyond the typical will-they-won't-they formula with highschool or college students. This dorama not only jabs at the traditional ideas of wifedom, but also motherhood, stepmotherhood, fatherhood, child-raising, modern education and modern kindergardens, and the seriousness of life, all by keeping it full-hearted. More than just a comedy, it's a well rounded dramedy.
First off, the dorama doesn't lose any time touching the theme of an older divorced man marrying a young woman more than ten years his junior. We are immediately presented to Tetsu, an unemployed hair stylist, freshly divorced in a fishing boat feeling sick to his stomach, when he meets Ayu, the energetic and enthusiastic daughter of the boat captain they are currently on. They almost immediately fall in love, to the dismay of Ayu's father and, after a quick montage, we see them opening up their new hair styling salon, which also happens to be their home. Almost poor, but excited to start their new life together, we see how Ayu and Tetsu enjoy each other and are genuinely in love.
This fluffy and warm feeling in the characters doesn't last long though, since some minutes later, a strange kid comes home, holding a suitcase, and a letter. It turns out that Tetsu's former wife has decided she doesn't want to care for their son Yuki anymore, so she's sent him to live with his father and new bride.
What a turn of events!
There is also no doubt this kid is Tetsu's son: his curly mane is the same as his father's. Ayu obviously starts making a fuzz, like any 22-year-old girl would, about how she's not ready for such a motherly responsibility and how she didn't sign up for child caring. Tetsu tries to calm her down as we start noticing Yuki's personality: quiet yet curious, observing yet shy.
As the series goes on, each episode deals with a theme each. It's almost a "monster of the week" format, except each milestone achieved in every episode really adds to the plot and keeps it advancing, never becoming dull. Once we see Ayu warming up to Yuki, it's Yuki's turn to warm up to both Ayu and Tetsu, all the while normal daily life activities and responsibilities must be met: finding a school for Yuki as soon as possible, decide who's making his bento lunch, decide who helps him with his homework and school responsibilities, and so on. All this sounds simple enough once they get the knack of it, except that with the new school, new obstacles come up for both Ayu and Tetsu.
Once they finally
find a school Yuki can attend, through the help and influence of a childhood friend of Tetsu's, they meet the series' "antagonists": the Parent's Association Chairwoman, and her group of cronies who also happen to be moms to kids at the school. Ayu now has two problems: learning how to become an adequate mother to Yuki and living up to the harsh expectations of the school mums, lest she falters and gets isolated from decision making. She soon learns that being a mom doesn't only mean preparing meals, doing laundry, taking Yuki to school, and walking with him back home. To be a mom, you need to think, eat, and breathe like the other moms.
Once this ball starts rolling though, through several mishaps and misunderstanding, Yuki finally starts taking a liking to Ayu, much to Tetsu's jealousy. This is probably one of my favorite parts of the dorama since normally kids in series are just plot tools, but not in Wild Mom! Yuki, along with several kids in school, start carrying their own weight. You not only start caring about Ayu, our main character, but also for Tetsu, the PTA, and the school children. But wait, there's more!
Remember how I named our antagonists in quotation marks? Well, it so happens that the series makes sure you start caring for them and understand where their intentions, although not the best at the start of the series, come from. We are now exposed to a critique of the idea of motherhood that a lot of doramas ignore in their stories: the stress, the high expectations, the importance of self image, school life, and sucking up to the school authorities. We really start to understand that these moms are also having a really hard time playing their role as perfect mothers.
All in all, Wild Mom! was a great (should I saw "wild") ride, never stopping since its first episode. It knew how to hit the sad tones when necessary, but also how to hit comedic marks. Ueto Aya, Oizumi Yo, and Shibuya Takeru (Yuki) really know how to sell their characters. We get a really warm and genuine feeling that they are a tight family that knew how to grow further together. This is definitely a dorama I'd invite anyone to check out, no matter what their tastes are. It's also the perfect series to introduce your dorama non-watchers if you want to show them something fresh and different.
Go ahead and give it a try! I'm sure you'll laugh, cry, and celebrate each time the characters find themselves in critical situations along the series as much as I did.
If you liked this review and want to check out more, I'll be writing more on dorama, anime, and movies. Check me out at: