NHK (roughly speaking, the BBC/PBS of Japan) is dazzling me once again with its ability to craft endearing, engrossing drama series. This time, it’s got me charmed and delighted with Yesterday’s Curry. Today’s Bread (昨夜のカレー。明日のパン), a 7-episode series which follows a young widow living with her father in law, a co-worker smitten with her, an ex-flight attendant who can no longer smile and several other characters.
There’s a bittersweet feeling to the descriptions of and flashbacks to (especially at the end of the episodes) the past. They convey this sense that the good times—those comparatively halcyon days—are over and the present wasn’t supposed to turn out the way it is, so now what do we do? Can we just loiter in this present, which though not great, has at least become pleasant enough?
As the protagonist Tetsuko puts it in the first episode, “Everyone says to move on, but is pausing here so unacceptable? I don’t want to move forward yet.”
But over the course of the series, the characters find that in the present, there are still
wonderful moments, tiny though they may be, some nudging or even propelling them forward into a challenging but promising future.
I love the final scenes of this series—just the right mix of optimism, sentimentality and, hmm, maybe I’ve already said too much… But come on, it’s NHK—you know it’s going to end well.