One of two first ever series from Japan, Pension Metsä (Videoplugger), premieres October 4, 2022 on MHz Choice!

What a stroke of luck for MHz Choice subscribers! We are treated to both Pension Metsä and Kinpika, two first-rate Japanese series with internationally celebrated talent

Pension Metsä is a six-episode series where characters master the art of conversation. Tenko (Satomi Kobayashi) runs a small Pension –- Metsa — (American B&B) with one guest room serving all meals cooked by her.

Tenko interacts with each guest – from a different walk of life — who is the focus of one episode at a time. Through highly-nuanced, revelatory conversations and deliberate, self-effacing body language, we discover that Tenko has run the Pension for 15 years, and one of her guests, Tsuneki (Koji Yakusho), is not who he claims to be.

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Koji Yakusho in Pension Metsä on MHz Choice

A returning guest, Fuki (Yuka Itaya), travels the world, taking photographs – her job – which makes it difficult to have a private life. Tenko admits her jealousy because she must stay at the Pension. Fuki comes to realize that coincidences ensue because she always chose to do things with uncertain results. Some take photos to preserve memories according to Tenko, but Fuki chooses to burn them over a bonfire. Tenko tells her that everything disappears in time, including us; that’s why the time we have left is so precious.

Koma (Ken Mitsuishi), a man from Tenko’s past, comes to visit. Always having been a stylishly-dressed gentleman, he now wears the traditional Japanese garb. When they were younger, 30 years ago, they worked in the same restaurant. While recalling old times – singing and dancing as they used to — Koma feels that he should have returned sooner. He wanted to marry her, but she broke his heart. Tenko softens the blow after so many years by claiming that they were young, naïve and did embarrassing things; yet, he has remained too immature to this day. At the end of a walk, she returns home and places an old photo of him in front of the flowers that he had brought her.

Yamame (Tôko Miura), a frequently-returning guest, has postponed her visit because of her mother’s death and the memories associated with it. Tenko continuously thinks about leaving the Pension, now she is ready and offers the job and the keys to Yamame, who works in a restaurant elsewhere, but finds it unfulfilling. She allows Yamame the time necessary to decide what was always meant to be.

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L to R: Tôko Miura and Satomi Kobayashi

An intriguing character, a silent woman in a blue dress with glasses (Masako Motai), sits alone at the dining room table in the final scene, is the connecting thread between all six episodes in which she appears. She is the eyewitness to each character’s spiritual quest.

Nature is exalted as both a serene comfort and a healing presence. Nature elicits intensely-encapsulated and tightly-preserved emotions that unravel as each character releases and reveals his/her innermost thoughts, hopes and dreams thereby lifting the onerous burdens that have accrued over the years. Each character is a testament to Rousseau’s idyllic existence of man in nature as well as to Voltaire’s prescription for happiness – man living in harmony with the natural and animal worlds which refresh, recharge and resolve life’s dilemmas.

This series pays homage to cinema greats:  piano music by Shunsuke Watanabe punctuates scenes of silence with Yasujiro Ozu’s (1903-63) eye-level camera techniques along with Kenji Mizoguchi’s (1898-1956) freeze-frame shots are used in pivotal scenes of unfolding biographical information between characters while drinking tea/wine or consuming a delicious, home-cooked meal, or while walking in Japan’s lush Nagano forest or burning photographic mementos that no longer serve a character’s needs.

This pared down television series from writer/director, Kana Matsumoto, and producer, Tomomi Takashima, also draws inspiration from the Western literary tradition of Giovanni Boccaccio’s (1313-1375) frame story of 100 tales, told by seven women and three men, whose individual storytelling, is the simplest form of conversation in “Il Decamerone” (1353) while secluded in a Florentine villa to escape the Black Death.

Pension Metsä is a series that will capture your heart, soul and senses.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We happily discovered Dr. Pearl Brandwein while reviewing MHz Choice subscriber feedback on our programs and, after reading a half dozen or so of Dr. Brandwein’s insightful reviews, all of us here at MHz Choice had the same thought: We need to get the good doctor to write for us! Enjoy! -MHz Choice

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