It might seem like a contradiction, but the many technologies that make modern life much easier than maybe fifty years ago, are also making the world more and more complicated with each new passing day. The modern world cannot help but add more and more layers of expression every single second and give more and more options to basically everything, from food to jobs, romantic partners, and everything in between. Such a massive load of information and choice can only bring stress, anxiety, and mental struggles that are becoming more and more universal. ‘Lighthouse’, a new Netflix show, goes into the struggles of modern life in a very peculiar way.
‘Lighthouse’ is a new Japanese talk show originally produced for Netflix. The show stars Gen Hoshino and Masayasu Wakabayashi, two Japanese artists, and performers who get together once a month to have a conversation on the struggles of modern life and many other topics.
Gen Hoshino is one of the most popular singer-songwriters in the country, and his songs often end up topping the Japanese charts. Meanwhile, Masayasu Wakabayashi is a master comedian and also a very popular radio host. The pair get to know each other for the first time in the first episode and continue their strange relationship for six more months.
‘Lighthouse’ is a very Japanese show. In fact, the premise itself is something that could only come from Japan. It is well-known that Asian country loves their talk shows. There are many both on TV and radio. The variety of talk shows is immense, and you could say that there is one for every audience member out there. However, the ‘Lighthouse’ producers have managed to come up with a very original set-up for the show by forcing two strangers to get to know each other and just talk once every month. It is a very strange premise, but it works and only reflects how we establish relationships in real life.
Hoshino and Wakabayashi don’t know each other during the first episode, and because of that, the start of the show is as awkward as you can imagine. The conversation is aimless, and if you are also not familiar with who these people are, then the question is, why should I care what these people say? Will come to your mind. However, it is quite charming as the conversation progresses during that first episode and then develops in future episodes, watching these two go from strangers to acquaintances and then possible friends.
This is the biggest strength of the show. Its charm is undeniable, and, of course, this is mainly a result of having chosen these two men as the subjects of this experiment. Hoshino is laid back, talented, and opinionated about the things he likes and doesn’t like. He is also very polite, the perfect example of the Japanese stereotype. You might find that he just hates a lot of stuff as the episodes move forward. Nevertheless, the man remains charming and is the straight man in the relationship. Hoshino also takes the time to write and perform a new song every month, taking his conversations with Wakabayashi as inspiration.
Meanwhile, Wakabayashi is just pure energy. It makes sense as he is a comedian by trade, and his powers of observation are through the roof. He doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to turning something into a joke. He has many stories to tell and tells them very well. He might initially seem slightly exaggerated, but Wakabayashi never crosses the line into annoying territory. It is great to see him opening up to Hoshino and making the more serious Hoshino laugh every chance he gets. It was truly genius of the producers to have partnered Wakabayashi with Hoshino as the straight-man and joke-man dynamic plays beautifully.
As the conversations flow, getting to know those artists becomes rather interesting. Especially when they express themselves by talking about their creative process. You would think that for a musician and a comedian, the processes would be very different from each other, but it is quite funny when they realize that they have more in common than they thought. As the show progresses, it is quite easy to relate to these two people and find common ground with them. If only talking to strangers would be something like this in real life.
The show focuses a lot on the Japanese situation. There seems to be this ideal Japanese standard of finding the one thing you want to do and sticking to it. It is something that has allowed Japan to have so many experts in specific fields. However, what happens when you don’t know what you want to be?
This is a question that is plaguing young people nowadays, and the answers some people have when answering what their dreams are, are rather sad. It is fascinating that the show is willing to go there when this type of conversation is mostly not very well seen.
And yet, while the show is charming in its own right and also very entertaining, especially in the latter episodes when you have already established a relationship with these two. There is just so much that is lost in translation that it wouldn’t be surprising if someone just dropped the show after episode one. There is a lot of nuance and double meaning in Japanese, and Wakabayashi especially seems to be doing a lot of this in his jokes. The subtitles don’t manage to get that across. So expect a lot of situations with people laughing and you not knowing why.
In the end, ‘Lighthouse’ is a unique show with a unique premise. This makes it an interesting watch, and thankfully, both hosts do a wonderful job of tackling these issues that are not often talked about in Japanese society. However, this same uniqueness works against the show in that it makes it a very niche piece of content. Most people will not give this a chance, but those who do will find one of the most interesting Japanese shows on Netflix.