Kimi wa Petto (You’re My Pet)
(Viewed Two Times)
A young girl and her pet dog, Momo (a golden retriever), are wandering on the hills alone. The little girl is in tears. “Dad and Mom are fighting again”. Momo does what every good pet does. He offers her his paw and licks her face. She hugs him. “Momo, I love you”.
Same girl, Iwaya Sumire, now in her late 20s, a career woman, is talking to a psychologist, who holds his pet chihuahua in his left hand while writing with his right hand. “The last time I cried was in middle school. It was when my pet died after getting sick. Since then I’ve never cried again”. Sumire comments that her co-workers call her names like Cyborg, Noh-men and Kokeshi doll (a doll that never smiles) behind her back. She has grown to be very tall, very attractive, very well educated (Tokyo University and Harvard), and very well paid as a reporter in the External Affairs Department of a Tokyo newspaper. As such, she is an intimidating figure to many men. She has just been dumped by the man she had a relationship with for three years. She says she can’t sleep and has had a headache for 10 days. She asks for drugs. The psychologist requests a smile. She cannot smile. His treatment for her is that she learn to cry. She says, “No. I’d rather die than cry in front of other people”.
In the news room, a very minor incident with her secretary causes the secretary to break down in tears. Sumire’s boss stands behind her and tells her “Don’t behave like that when the government officials arrive”. He tells her she doesn’t have to be nasty just because one of them touched her back. She reminds him that the reason she got mad the last time was because the man was feeling her rear. Her boss comments “Normal men would be scared to do that sort of thing. Don’t look so scary”. He leers at her. “Would you like me to touch it too”? Which he does. A quick right jab to his mouth, and Sumire has cold-cocked him flat out on the floor. The entire newsroom freezes in horror. She finds out the next day she is being transferred to the Lifestyle Department, an obvious demotion.
She arrives at her apartment building that evening and notices a large box sitting on the pavement outside. Curiosity gets the best of her, but when she gently pulls back the lid, she discovers there is an unconscious and bloodied young man in the box. She recoils in horror and tries to think of what to do. But it starts raining, and so with a great struggle, she pulls the box inside the building and up to her apartment. She manages to get the rather slight and still unconscious young man to her couch and treats his wounds and patches him up as best she can. He sleeps.
The next day she comments to her best friend that he reminds her of Momo, her pet dog when she was a kid. When the young man (Goda Takeshi) wakes up in the morning he finds a note from Sumire telling him to eat the food she has left for him. She tells him she has taken the key and he can leave whenever he wants.
Of course, when she comes home that night, he’s still there and wants to stay, and after much haggling over terms and conditions (such as no sex), she agrees to allow him to stay as “her pet”. His name will be Momo. He agrees.
I noted in my review of Sumer Scent that the premise of that story was flimsy and simply too ridiculous for people to accept. I also made the comment that a flimsy premise could still be a good story, and cited Kimi wa Petto as a good example. So after finishing up with Summer Scent I decided to go back and view Kimi wa Petto once again to see if I still felt the same way. I was right. This is an utterly ridiculous premise. But it doesn’t matter. The story works because it is well written, it’s only ten 45 minute episodes long, and all of the characters are brought to three dimensional life by the script and the actors. Almost none of those elements are present in the much longer Summer Scent. Most of all, in Kimi was Petto, there is the ingredient that is necessary in every drama/comedy; we start pulling for the protagonists. And left’s face it, everybody loves a good noona romance (older woman, significantly younger man).
A love triangle is formed at the end of the first episode when the only man in Sumire’s life that she ever had a crush on (Hasumi Shigehito) turns up at the newspaper as a reporter. He is almost as timid and shy as she is, but eventually tells her that he had a crush on her also. However, she has become so hardened in her career that she is unable to relax in his presence and simply be herself. Her confessor (her “pet”) waits for her at home, which is where she really opens up and eventually cries in the presence of her “pet”, telling him everything. There are of course wonderful moments such as when her date walks her to her door on their first evening and surprises her by coming inside her apartment and kissing her. They are interrupted by the “barking” of a dog. She tells her date he has to leave as her dog is vicious and doesn’t like strangers.
On the surface, Kimi wa Petto is a rather simple story about a career woman (Sumire) who invites a significantly younger man (Takeshi/Momo) to stay in her apartment and falls in love with him. But of course, that is merely the very interesting vehicle that tells the real story. The real story is the gradual maturity of the young man who finds direction in his wayward life, and who, as Sumire’s pet, gives her his unconditional love and thus the license to be herself and actually cry when she needs to; to truly be herself. In the glow of his unconditional giving, we witness the humanizing of a woman who had previously turned herself off to the joys of life and love as a defense mechanism for the male-dominated world she works in.
The show is filled with good performances all the way around. In secondary roles, Eita in the role of Takeshi’s best friend, Junpei Horibe, is as always excellent, as is Ishihara Satomi as Shibusawa Rumi, Takeshi’s former love interest. Outstanding performances are also given by Nagatsuka Kyozo as the socially awkward psychologist (with his perpetual chihuahua); Watanabe Ikkei as Shimizu Eikichi creates a wonderfully foppish character as the man who is supposed to be watching over Takeshi for his mother; Oishi Minori creates a deliciously fastidious landlord; and tall and handsome Tanabe Seiichi plays the role of Hasumi Shigehito, the third member of the love triangle.
The role of Momo was created for Matsumoto Jun. With his long curly head of hair and his tiny, lithe, dancer’s body he is perfect in this part. He rolls on his back with his “paws” in the air. He attacks Sumire and smothers her with love, just like a loving pet would greet his master. His mannerisms as Momo get near the top but never quite go over. He is 20 years old so of course sex is never far from his mind, but he manages to control himself most of the time, and Sumire is quick to point out when he has crossed the line. When this line is crossed willingly by both parties in episode 10, we can see where this show is eventually going.
Kato Koyuki as Iwaya Sumire, the central character in the show, plays her role as a career woman very well. She is tall and slender and is another one of those people who looks absolutely smashing in everything she wears. It is wonderful to watch this normally very self-assured business woman suddenly turn into a stammering almost speechless little schoolgirl in the presence of the only man she ever had a crush on. She can hardly bring herself to look him in the eyes. Her performance is fabulous.
In summary, this is a very well casted, well written, funny yet sweet little gem of a show. Its premise is utterly preposterous, but it doesn’t matter, as every aspect of the show is well done and we are happily swept along in its high spirits and touching message. Highly recommended.