NHK’s Mare (まれ)

NHK's "まれ"
NHK’s “まれ”

I had such high hopes for NHK’s Mare まれ, the 92nd asadora from NHK, but overall it was disappointing. Tao Tsuchiya (土屋太鳳) is one of my favorite Japanese actors and the story of her quest to become the world’s best patissier showed promise, so I was really looking forward to watching. Unfortunately, the story got derailed by too many sub-plots and consequently never got too deep into the main plot, which was by far the most interesting.

The story had a solid start, establishing that the family “fled” Tokyo after going into debt, and was looking for a new home. We learn about Mare’s personality and her feelings about ambitions and having dreams. So far so good. The story got even better after Mare moved to Yokohama and started her apprenticeship at the patisserie. The relationships she had with the head chef, sous chef and assistant were interesting and fun, and just when it seemed like the the story was going to the next level, the silly sub-plot of the Wajima lacquer appeared and it got booooriiing! What an incredible and effective way to put the brakes on an interesting story – introduce the passion that is Wajima lacquer. Zzzzzz… It seemed like there were a few times when the story went back and forth between being intriguing (and returning to pastry-making), only to turn yet again into a snooze-fest. There’d be a glimmer of hope, only to disappear. Boy, the middle weeks of the drama were really a struggle!

Here’s a short list of the subplots that they should have cut from the script:

  • Wajima lacquer
  • Ichiko’s big-city experience and wan-wan blog
  • Takashi’s weird crush on Mare’s mother
  • Maki’s mysterious past
  • Keita’s cold relationship with his father
  • Mare becoming proprietress of the lacquer business
  • The fisherman’s omiai

There were several other subplots that wasted airtime, but I’d rather not spend any more time thinking about them. On the other hand, here are the things they should have kept exploring:

  • Mare’s apprenticeship (including France trip that never happened)
  • Mare’s relationship with her estranged grandmother
  • Mare and Toko’s professional rivalry
  • Mare and the Chef’s apprentice/master relationship
  • Mare’s pastry shop
  • Anything else that has to do with Mare’s quest to become the World’s Best Patissier

My last rant has to do with the plot trying to span too much from a time-frame. For instance, Ittetsu gets married too quickly and has kids. Let’s imagine that he didn’t get married or have kids. The show would have been exactly the same! What a waste of screen time. And then, Mare also gets married and has kids. Too much.. too soon. I know that family is one of the main themes of the show, but really, they could have developed the family theme more quickly and strongly without bringing in kids. The theme of having both a career and being a mother seemed forced, especially since it was introduced so late in the show. They should have kept the theme simpler… sacrificing your career for your spouse’s, which was a theme from earlier on.

In the last couple weeks of the show (when the plot became interesting again), a couple of the characters point out that Mare has lost 8 years of her patissier life… I kept thinking that the show lost 8 years of plot development! That’s a real shame because I think the actors, particularly Tao Tsuchiya, did a great job.

If you take a look at the character chart below, you could pretty much keep the top row of characters, the Yokohama crew in blue, plus Mare’s grandmother, and you’d have a much better show.

Mare Character Chart
Mare Character Chart

3 thoughts on “NHK’s Mare (まれ)

  1. Thankfully for once , someone who able to rant about why Mare is a fault drama that has nothing to do with who the heroine who should end up with!!! I really really really appreciated your criticize because you cleared things up with me because I’v seen many just stopped watching the show simply just because Mare didn’t end up with a guy (who cannot relate to her passionate about pastries) like WTF!! Is Mare a bad series just because the sub-plot romance didn’t go the fangirls way ?! But your rant cleared things up with me as I said before , now I can able agree to disagree .

    I completed Mare and for some reason I enjoyed it because I watch it in different perspective despite some flaws in the script but you point out many good things that I didn’t thought for a better story.

    Things I like :

    -Tao Tsuchiya’s mass appeal and her amazing chemistry with the her whole casts mainly Kento Yamazaki and the veterans one.

    -The super top notch acting ,the main reason why I’m able to complete Mare they made the show watchable and the scenes are played nicely especially the comedy in this series is well done , plus this is one of the few dramas that I found the elders are entertaining and lovable on-screen)

    – Mare’s beautiful theme song and the wonderful soundtrack.

    – Mare’s passionate about pastries and her Chef’s apprentice/master relationship.

    -How french pastries can be made and decorated with themes.

    -Beautiful scenery and Background

    -NHK high budget (Wajima’s festivial – Noto real life villagers and neighborhoods translated on-screen)

    -Keita’s maturity in the latest weeks and become a supporting husband.(I’m thankful he is developed because he used to be annoying)

    -Mare is dealing with conflicts as a wife and a mother and able to open a shop in Noto.

    Things I didn’t like :

    -Wajima lacquer

    -Characters unexplained actions mainly Ichiko.

    -Rushed pacing story and lack development of relationship.

    -Weak sub-plot love stories ,the romance was done very very poorly.Inserting love triangles that takes too much from the script and gone it’s wasted like it’s necessary?

    -Characters get together randomly fast without proper explanation.

    -Mare’s split personality , strong and determined attitude in Noto while dump and clueless with Yokohama group , her interaction with them can be annoying.

    -Mare didn’t went to learn in France.

    Anyway this is my thoughts. I think Mare have good potential story but got wasted in many things sadly the script can be handled better but I able to enjoyed as the things I like listed above despite how it went downhill.

  2. I agree too that this drama has much more potential. The biggest disappointment in my part towards this drama is time jump. I think the show tried to convey a message that the hardship for doing something you’re dreaming for doesn’t stop once you achieve what you want to do. They also want to say the importance of the family. That’s why the plot goes on until Mare has her own family.
    It began ridiculously jumping here and there since Mare confessed her feelings to Keita and he accepted. It would’ve been better if the development on 10 years of Mare’s life is explained in slower pace. Viewer can understand Mare’s choice and even Keita’s growth to become a mature man (especially on her marriage, I keep on seeing it a little bit off and think it as a burden on Mare’s side. I’d like to see her and Keita talk through it properly.)

    I don’t think Mare getting married and have kids is pointless plot because she having her own family is essential to understand and forgive her father. Sometimes we can only see our parents means after we’re adult and have a family. Only the we can relate to them, know the reason behind the choices our parents made for us.

    Overall Mare is a good drama. I would say, a reality. One that would wake us up from cliche drama where fate always decide the future. It’s one determination, effort, and struggle that bring people to the place they want to be.

    Mare is where everyone is doing a real talk to accross their message, real action to support those they care for. They don’t depend on accidental easdrop to know what others are thinking. They establish real communication to get it through!

    And despite all the flaws, I also still love this drama.

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