Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Dinner ep 3, the GTO formula and the sin of incompetency.

Going to go on a long rambling here and hopefully it makes some sense. This post has been cooking in my head all day and I hope its cooked well enough for your consumption. I was watching episode 3 of Dinner when it made me realise something about the GTO formula. All the colleagues of the GTO/maverick character represent some sort of sin, be it sloth, envy, lust or a combination. The bottom line is that they are redeemable characters.

I remember watching Nakayama Miho's Home & Away years ago and the story was about some fruit farmer or something that and his great dedication to his produce. I could be wrong since it was such a long time ago but it was the first time I can remember being struck by this Japanese concept of taking huge pride in one's work and going the extra mile even if it seems insignificant. Be it Salaryman Kintaro's pencil sharpening skill or Jiro Ono watching his customers and preparing the sushi according to how they are eating.

There's this cheesy cool factor to this dedication to one's profession thing. Let's ignore the complete disregard for work-life balance in doramas like Hatarakiman because that is a topic for another day. So what does the GTO formula have to do with the Jdorama cliche of taking pride in doing even the smallest things in one's job?

By episode 3, Dinner has established that Esaki (Eguchi Yosuke) is a very capable chef. No reason to doubt his skills. Esaki is stricter on his subordinates compared to the previous chef but not in any way that is overbearing, rude or abusive. Yet most of the staff just whinge and complain openly. The sin of being perpetual complainers for no reason.

Then we have this pivotal scene of the glasses pasta dude being told that his time of boiling pasta for 5 seconds is too fast and Esaki even gives him a great explanation of why Pasta Dude should listen to him. Yet Pasta Dude just gripes about how Esaki is so particular details. Think about this, this Pasta Dude telling his knowledgeable chef that he does not want to listen because it is not fun.

Think back to the 'bad' teachers in GTO. They resented Onizuka because he did things different but they would finally admit their mistakes when proven wrong. And they would certainly not disregard an order by a superior. When Onizuka or another teacher disobeys an order, it is because the order is wrong or there is a better answer, not because it is more fun.

The GTO formula dictates that the colleagues will be redeemed by the the end. The colleagues represent sins or exaggerated negative traits that everyone. I'm arguing that Pasta Dude in Dinner is irredeemable because he does not even have the basic Japanese traits of an employee.

1. Inability to follow simple orders.

2. Inability to recognise that leader gave good reasoning to change.

3. Inability to see self as part of team.

Pasta Dude is irredeemable because there is no sin of incompetency.

Pasta Dude is worse than that Todai teacher who tried to rape Fuyutsuki sensei in GTO because he cannot even carry out his basic responsibilities without turning into serial grumbler. Not suggesting attempted rape is less an offence but rather the sin of lust is more forgivable than incompetence which is a trait. There is dedication to the simplest things in a job and there is inability to even do the simplest things in a  job.

Pasta dude's defiance is not entertaining and pointless and exists just to provide some sort of challenge for our 'maverick' character who is more like a pretty good boss. I've already written two posts about pointless, incompetent and abusive workplace characters in jdoramas here and here. In summary I have no reason to want to see or to accept Pasta Dude's redemption because incompetency is not a redeemable sin.


bframe5 said...

There are two things I enjoy about this drama:
1. Looking at Kurashina Kana -- at her, not at her lackluster acting skills.
2. The ending theme (hey, it's kind of catchy!)

It's just another spendy drama with *some* good actors, a good looker, and a bland plot all thrown into a bowl, with nothing more than hope that they'll mesh together.

Shane said...


I agree with both points! FYI, the ending theme is by a band called Sakanaction (the song is named "Music"), whom I actually started listening to because of this ending theme :-D

豚に真珠 said...

Love Eguchi Yosuke generally (for example in 息もできない夏), but his character here is too much like a Japanese Gordon Ramsay..