Watch This fans, it has been a week. I’m not generally a believer in comfort food TV (or rather, I believe in art that matters until I’m getting home from work after midnight and just want to eat cereal and watch Family Feud), but it is such a relief to jump back into the warm, welcoming world of Dad of Light. Literally: their house is beautiful and I am envious. New York City is doing weird things to how I watch TV, guys.
Episode 4: “Marital Troubles”
Gosh, I wonder what this episode is going to be about? Except please, Dad of Light, say it ain’t so! Mom of Light, as I’ve written multiple times in my notes up to this point, is a queen. She’s got cute pajamas, she wears those fun face masks that I want to try, and she’s always got the situation under control (even when under control means just leaving DoL [dad of light, duh] to do his own little weird thing). Hopefully, we can get MoL playing Final Fantasy too, and the whole family can solve their problems by battling dragons and hanging out with moogles and stuff.
This week’s flashback features a drawing by little Akio which is better than anything I ever painted until after a took a freaking college course. Note the positions of his parents’ hands relative to those in the (more realistic) drawing to the right.
Look Ma, no hands!
To be fair, I’m in the camp that holding hands is an important part of a relationship (whose thumb is on top? It’s important to know). But I think this is more indicative of young Akio’s artistic savvy than anything else. It’s freaking hard to draw hands, dude. Especially people holding hands. Way to avoid the challenge, Akio.
Meanwhile, back in the present (sort of, we’re like three years behind real life), DoL is obsessed with Final Fantasy. Speaking from experience, this is a completely realistic gamer phenomenon. If I enjoy a game enough to play it regularly for a week or so, it’s safe to say that it’s become a procrastination tool. Most people would call that a “hobby” or “something I enjoy” but that’s your requisite peek into my psyche.
Dad has of course discovered a mythical online community of supportive friends. This is what stretches the “based on a true story” beyond belief. MMORPGs are filled with a lot of pretty nasty folks. Is it different in Japan? That must be it.
Me, describing anyone I’ve ever met to anyone else.
Looks like all is hunky-dory and Akio’s plan is right on course! Let the bonding commence! Until…
Damn those bugs and slow servers. Somebody get us a patch, stat!
Indy Jones freezes! Son of a glitch. Probably just an issue with the wifi or something. After all, the episode title is “Internet Problems” right?
Sometimes Emma tries to make me play video games late at night, and I react roughly like this.
Mom is mad, y’all. She’s transformed into Mom of Darkness, and she just totally vanquished the Dad of Light. The reason? Dad has been gaming through Mom’s favorite soap operas, and now she’s weeks behind! She’s so mad, she restricts him to an hour of gaming a day, and takes away his controller! The horror!
A yearly, limited special event! Oh wait, we’re not in the video game right now.
Readers, I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t this a problem that could be solved with a DVR? I’ll answer you with another question: is that a particularly interesting or dramatic conflict? Of course not! Welcome to TV World, where raising the stakes is the name of the game.
Meanwhile, back at The Office (I think Akio is supposed to be the Jim, but he’s more like the Old Ryan. Hakamada is definitely the Ryan-post-season-3), the sparring continues! It couldn’t be an episode called “Martial Problems” without diving into the world of work spouses. Well, best friends, at least.
The boys of Akio’s office are serving face here.
Two of the new women hires have the office held hostage by their feud. Personally, I blame the pink dresses. If Akio hadn’t changed the uniforms, none of the women would have stuck around long enough for relationship dynamics to become a problem. Women, am I right?
That said, we have these two to thank for the series passing the Bechdel Test (unless we count Maidy and the chibi girls, which seems wrong). I’m enjoying Dad of Light quite a bit more than I’ve expected to, but the role of women in this video game-centric show is a little disappointing to me. I get that it’s based on a true story about a son and a father, so of course male relationships are going to take a front seat (which is important too! Vulnerable men on television is a huge step forward!), but the female characters are a bit one dimensional. Mom of Light is a queen, but she still gets relegated to the nagging wife role in this episode. What I would give for a Mom of Light spin-off where it turns out she’s been playing Final Fantasy the whole time. Alas.
So what are we arguing about, ladies? Boys? Clothes?
Well, it’s a little better than what I expected.
In case you’re looking for even more parallels here, Dad and Mom of Light just bickered about a trip at the end of last episode. But who cares about that, because things are about to get super PG-13 up in this joint. This episode is rated T for Teen.
WHAT THE HECK.
IS THIS A FAMILY SHOW OR NOT? I do not understand the inclusion of this particularly dialogue. I mean, it’s definitely shocking, and I admit, I laughed. But who in the writers’ room thought to themselves: “you know, what this show needs is more fellatio references.” Tell me who your target audience is, dude, because I am not getting it.
Anyway, moving away from accusations of premature blow jobs (yikes, what a phrase), we come to the scariest sequence of the series so far. Akio comes home late from work to a dark and empty house. Has Mom left Dad? Do we need to reunite them via Final Fantasy too?
No screenshot because it’s too horrific, but Akio finds Dad on the living room floor. DID MOM KILL DAD???
No, of course not! This is a family show (I think), people! Dad just fell asleep, because Mom’s at a fan event for her favorite soap opera star. Close call there, folks!
Anyway, Mom’s out, so you know what that means! Time for a boys’ night!
Whoa there, don’t get too crazy.
There’s just one problem. Dad and Akio don’t know where Mom hid the controller. This is cruel and unusual punishment. Maybe getting some grub will distract them from their terrible fate?
Yeah, not so much.
Dad is so obsessed with Final Fantasy, he’s humming the music and subconsciously playing the game while he’s at the restaurant! Is Dad of Light about to become an afterschool special about the dangers of video game addiction? To be fair, after days of playing a video game for hours, I’ve been known to start seeing it and hearing it when I close my eyes. But this is a whole other level. Get it together, DoL!
When the boys arrive home, Mom has returned. It’s playtime! How will Indy explain his lateness to Maidy?
Ooof. Stabbed in the back.
Damn, Dad! Cold as ice. This is basically one of my nightmare scenarios, someone hearing me talk badly about them behind their back. As a theatrically-inclined person, this was of particular concern during college. Departments can be very small.
So much for real-life dad/son bonding! Looks like Akio should be focusing his energies on their virtual relationship. Of course, the best way to make friends online is to kick some demon booty!
Me before my morning green tea.
An even better best way to make online friends is to fail repeatedly to kick some demon booty late into the night! Unfortunately, DoL can only play for an hour a day…
Tricky, Dad. Very tricky.
This addiction is on a whole other level. Playing two hours straight across midnight of multiple days…this man needs an intervention. Nothing good happens playing video games that late. Take it from someone who does it and always regrets it. GO TO BED DAD.
Red flag. Huge red flag. Most gigantic possible red flag!
You see? You see? Stay up way past your bedtime playing video games, and your son will accidentally hit on you via his young, female avatar. I do not want the titular martial troubles to be “Dad has an emotional affair with an online lady companion who turns out to be his son.” Please, let me pretend this is a family show. Ick ick ick.
Fortunately, back at the office, things have returned to the status quo.
Loving how all the people in this office plan trips the same way I do.
But how did it happen? We haven’t seen these girls since they were dropping NSFW insults in front of all their co-workers! Shodo, tell these stupid boys the moral of the story. Drumroll please!
Yassss girl preach.
Y’all, everyone has their own way to resolve fights. Keep your meddling out of it, ya busybodies.
This is the first episode where the Big Lesson didn’t come directly from Final Fantasy, and as much as I’ve appreciated that device for taking video games seriously, I think the plot is much better for it. The A and B stories are still a little too synchronized for my tastes, but it helps that they don’t also magically coincide with the happenings in the Realm Reborn.
Still, questions remain. Where was the controller? How did the Parents of Light make up? (Please…let this be family friendly)
Of course the men would never look in the kitchen
Turns out Mom hasn’t seen Dad this happy in a long time. How typical, the woman gives up her pastime just to resolve the argument. It’s a sweet moment, but sad if you think about it too hard, until we see…
DVDs are…not the same.
It’s the thought that counts, right? The DVDs are obviously not up to date to the shows Mom is missing on television, but it’s a heartwarming closing shot nonetheless.
Episode 5: “Dad’s Secret”
This is it, guys. We’re going to find out why Dad quit. The Big Reveal. The suspense is killing me (is the suspense killing Dad? Is that what it is?).
Did he quit to go on a diet? #fitfam #commitment #fitnessislife
Clue number one: Dad isn’t eating fried chicken anymore. Mom is sad because they won’t be able to eat it all without him, which seems to grossly underestimate the eating abilities of the young man of the family. I don’t believe that twenty-something Akio can’t put away a whole family-sized pile of drumsticks.
Current Theory: Dad quit because he wants more time to devote to a juice cleanse.
Speaking of quitting, one of Akio’s coworkers is leaving the company to care for his sick father. You know what that means! Foreshadowing? No! Another weirdly crazy company outing!
Hakamodo is me, but cool.
I’m puzzled by the company culture at Akio’s job. Between the drunken buffoonery and serenades coming from this quitting dude and the sales rep from episode 3, it seems like only maniacs get hired there?
On the other side of the work spectrum DoL goes to visit his best friend (who Akio didn’t seem to know existed) at his swanky office. Oono (what a name!) surprises Dad with a job offer!
Quite the sales pitch. Despite the incredible selling point of extreme stress, Dad does something I’ve never managed to do when someone offers me a job, which is say no. Teach me your ways, Dad of Light!
Emerging in an identical state of unemployedness (or retirement, depending on what #dadssecret turns out to be), it’s time for an example of one of the cardinal rules of TV: it’s a small world! How improbable that Oono is not only the Best Friend of Light, but also the boss of important copier client for Akio’s company! And how much more improbable that they all run into each other on the street! It’s almost as if their lives take place on a television set (and not in a Truman Show way).
Whatever, it’s based on a true story. Rant over.
The mystery lives on…
This episode is reminding me over and over again that I’m very unclear on how old Papa of Light is supposed to be. Everyone thinks it’s kind of odd that he retired, and we found out from Oono that he was rising through the ranks of his company more quickly than expected. Because he looks so much older than Mama of Light (sorry, harsh) and has a twenty-something son, I assumed he was at least approaching retirement age, but I now I’m wondering if maybe he’s younger by at least a decade, maybe more.
Back in video game world, Indy and Maidy are once again hanging out on the beach, with Maidy in a bikini. What’s even the point of chilling on the beach in an online world? Seems like more trouble than it’s worth. Especially for viewers like me, who would rather see this weird dynamic buried deep under that virtual sand.
So, Dad of Light, what”s up with your family? You said you were married when I asked you way late at night about it in a way that was not at all leading, do you have any kids?
Here we go again.
I hope Akio brought some virtual sunscreen to that online beach, because he just got BURNED.
Speaking of burned, when it comes to business advice, Dad of Light is on fire! (Yeah, that was weak) The free review of Oono’s company that he generated seems to have completely revolutionized his leadership strategy. In a twist that will surprise absolutely no one, it seems like most of his business acumen has been drawn from Final Fantasy!
I dig the juxtaposition of the company review with a team Final Fantasy boss battle. It’s a nice example of the synergy the show is always trying to find between real life and the game. Also, who’s ready to start a motivational speaking company using video game strategy as a business model? I feel like there could be a market for that.
There’s only a few minutes of the episode left, and the title has not yet been demystified. It’s time. Dad’s Secret. REVEALED
WHAT THE HECK???
Just kidding, folks! Dad’s a real prankster. He pulls the fake reveal twice! Turns out he’s neither a Cassanova nor a lottery winner. The real secret is something more predictable and, unfortunately, darker.
In the interest of not spoiling the entire series, I’m not going to be posting a recap of the final episodes of Dad of Light. Instead, I’m going to write an analysis post about video games on-screen. Does Dad of Light justify video game media (spoiler alert: sort of, in some ways)? The whole goal of this series is to explore how video games can be successfully translated to the screen, so we’ll dive down that wormhole next week!