After Nodame Cantabile, I think this was the first J-drama that made me LOL till my stomach hurt. While Nodame Cantabile was more towards slapstick comedy, Date was deadpan humor, and often times got pretty hilarious in places that I didn't expect. I just had to pause at certain scenes just so I could continue laughing.
Date depicted the 'adventure' of a highly intelligent but emotionally-challenged Yoriko Yabushita to find a marriage partner before she hit 30. She wasn't initially keen on relationship and thought romance was nonsense. But she overheard her father crying one day brooding on her future while looking at his dead wife's picture. With a sense of filial duty, she signed up with a dating agency to look for the perfect match.
Her first date was with a 35-year old unemployed Takumi Taniguchi, whose goal was to get married so he could leech off his wife for life. As it was, he relied financially on his mother who was starting to show signs of poor health. He fancied himself an Educated Idler and planned to continue his lifestyle forever. Of course, the fact that he was unemployed was not mentioned in the personal info for the dating service. Yoriko believed he was working at a publishing a company.
Yoriko's father, concerned regarding his daughter's first date, sent off a reliable Yutaka Washio to spy on the date. Washio was suspicious of Takumi's character and ended up interrupting the date as the couple was about to kiss. Suffice to say, the date ended up being quite a disaster. However, to Washio's dismay, Takumi and Yoriko found common ground and decided to continue dating. They scoffed the idea that love was a foundation for people to get married. To both of them, marriage was a contract where two people could mutually benefit from each other. The story then progressed with these two going through the motion of dating with the goal of getting married.
I find Yoriko's character super hilarious. I can't get over her "duck" face. At first I thought it was a character quirk, but as I realized the reason behind the face, I just ROFL. Her conversation with her dead mother (played by Emi Wakui of Imoutoyo/Tokyo Cinderalla Story) was very interesting. To think that she was having more conversation with a ghost than real people just showed she was quite a recluse despite all her achievements. Furthermore, I'm a sucker for father-daughter combo, so this series is exactly my cup of tea.
At first I couldn't believed a seemingly selfish and lazy character like Takumi Taniguchi existed. I was ready to dislike the character, but as the story progressed, obviously there's more to him than met the eye. In Yoriko's own words, "I am embarrassed at my lack of awareness". Truly, you have no right to judge a person, especially when you have not even walked a mile in his shoes.
The supporting characters were all great, mainly the family and the close friends. They were pillars of support to the two oddballs who were not cut for romance, as the both of them came to the realization that love was not all about happiness. Love was when you agonized over the other person's wellbeing more than your own. Love could also be a bottomless pit of suffering and terrifying. And you jumped into it anyway.