Marumo was THE show of 2011. I swear every kindergarten and elementary school sports day in the country used the closing theme and dance last year.
It’s easy to see why; it’s funny and heart-warming, there’s a talking dog and the acting of the young stars (Mana Ashida and Fuku Suzuki) is breathtaking. Well, more hers than his, but he is super cute so it’s ok. Personally I enjoyed every episode, but I thought that it revealed some interesting beliefs about what is ‘normal’ family life. A common theme in a lot of family dramas and movies is that a certain level of physical violence is an expression of love. In Always Sunset on Third Street (ALWAYS 三丁目の夕日) for example, the moment we realise that bachelor Chagawa has truly come to love the little boy he accidentally ‘adopted’ after a night of heavy drinking is when he slaps the boys face. The boy had gone missing (looking for his mother) and the slap tells us that Chagawa had worried about him just like a ‘real’ parent. The slap in Marumo is exactly the same device (Marumo is also an ‘adoptive’ single father), except in Marumo the incident is talked over several times between different characters. The final interpretation of the slap, and the one that convinces the six year old girl to forgive Marumo, is that slapping her “hurt him more than her” and that only parents who truly love their children hit them.
More on the theme of single fathers to come in a separate post, since this wall of text is big enough already!