Seiyo Uchino (left) as Kenji Yabuki and Hidetoshi Nishijima as Shiro Kakei / Image via TV Tokyo

Japan’s currently being rocked by a late night drama about a gay couple eating.

More and more Japanese tv viewers are staying up for a series that airs at midnight on Fridays called Kino Nani Tabeta? or What Did You Eat Yesterday?

“I like the drama because it does not show any romantic scenes,” a 29-year-old woman living in Tokyo told the Nikki Asian Review. “I feel relaxed after watching it.”

While with Western tv channels, late night programming is often infomercials, adult/mature, reruns, or NSFW in some nature, that isn’t the case for Japanese programming. Japanese networks prefer to provide relaxing and lighthearted dramas to help tv viewers settle down for the night.

“What Did You Eat Yesterday? is suitable for watching at midnight,” said a 39-year-old Tokyo resident to NAR, “I don’t want to see a roller-coaster love story at my age.”

And it appears that What Did You Eat Yesterday? is the perfect comfort programming that’s also about comfort food and comfort living.

The tv show is based off a comic of the same name by Fumi Yoshinaga. The story follows the home life of a gay couple made up of lawyer Shiro Kakei and beautician Kenji Yabuki. The two men in their 40s often enjoy eating together after a long day’s work. The show even goes through a cooking montage for every meal to build atmosphere.

It seems this simple living story format resonates with the Japanese people. Not only do viewers note their love of watching the show for cooking tips and atmospheric feel, but also for the two lovely leads.

Whatever makes this show works, there’s no question that it’s working. The show’s high ratings made it the most popular drama for its first seven weeks on air. In addition, What Did you Eat Yesterday? Had more than 1 million views through TV Tokyo’s streaming service up to its sixth episode.

What Did You Eat Yesterday is more than just an LGBT drama. … It also has delicious-looking food and impressive performances by well-known actors,” said TV writer Mihoko Yamada. And he’s right as popular actors Hidetoshi Nishijima, who first gained public recognition for playing another gay character in the 1990s show Asunaro Hakusho, plays Shiro and Seiyo Uchino plays Kenji.

Seiyo Uchino (left) as Kenji Yabuki and Hidetoshi Nishijima as Shiro Kakei / Images via TV Tokyo and Kodansha

“We do not hope that it will draw attention as [an LGBT] drama,” added TV Tokyo producer Taku Matsumoto. “It is more of a food drama.”

To go along with that, the drama’s production company has released an official cookbook so that fans can recreate the dishes made on the program.

“It is totally different from other recipe books,” said a Sanseido Bookstore franchise representative. “The first copies that came in sold out in a few days.”

And despite the production company’s wish to have the show not be viewed as only an LGBTQ program, there is no question that the gay visibility is helping to create more acceptance of same-sex couples and LGBTQ life. This show is creating representation like never before.

“I would be glad if LGBT characters become more common in Japanese dramas,” said Yamada.

Source: Nikkei Asian Review

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