Summary of the story
Tohru (Inoo) is a young man living in Kobe. His father left when he was a child, so he lived with his mother and stepfather. The mother died when Tohru was a child, but the father still didn't turn up to take care of Tohru, so he kept living with his stepfather. Then there was the big Kobe earthquake 10 years ago which left Tohru traumatized. And when the stepfather died a few years ago, Tohru inherited his metal workshop. Tohru doesn't make a lot of money, and most people left the area after the earthquake, but Tohru doesn't feel like going anywhere.
One day suddenly, Tohru's father Goro/Karafuto ojisan appears on his doorstep with his new girlfriend Hitomi. Goro comes from Tokyo but his deceased wife Chizuko moved back to Kobe where she came from when they had Tohru, and they got divorced. Goro used to have a small publishing company, but it didn't work out. Now he's out of money, and Hitomi (who used to be a stripper) is pregnant and Goro has promised to take care of her and her baby. They come to Tohru to ask him for help, and they end up staying at his place for a while even though he doesn't really want them there, just until he gets his next paycheck and can give them money (he works for a small company now since he shut down the workshop).
Goro feels bad about not having been there for Tohru when he grew up. He wanted to be there for him after Chizuko died, but there was the stepfather and Goro didn't feel like he had the right to take care of Tohru. And then Tohru grew up and it became harder and harder for Goro to get in touch with him and be a father. After the earthquake all the phone lines were cut and the trains didn't run, so he couldn't reach Tohru. Tohru isn't satisfied with Goro's excuses and leaves the house.
Later, Goro tries to find a new job but is unsuccessful, so after some time, Tohru gives them enough money for train tickets to Tokyo, because they want to return there. But Goro ends up going out drinking for half of the money and returns with only one train ticket, which he plans on giving to Hitomi. Of course she doesn't want to go alone. But Goro, who is very drunk, says that he is here for Tohru now, and he will stay - he is obsessed with the idea of staying with Tohru because he made a promise to Chizuko before she died, to show Tohru "true happiness". Tohru goes wild, throwing things around him, crying hysterically and shoving Goro unto the minitruck while demanding him to once again tell him what he told him when Tohru's mother died. Goro tells him the same words - how Chizuko isn't dead, but has left to find "true happiness", and that eventually Tohru's sadness and suffering will be useful to someone, but until Tohru has found "true happiness" Goro will be there to protect him.
Tohru cries even more hysterically while telling Goro about how he used to think of Goro as his hero when he was a child, the hero who was always there to comfort him when he was sad. But then Tohru's mother died and Goro abandonded him. And then there was the earthquake, and Tohru was all alone when it happened. Tohru saw so many people die in the fires, people he wanted to help but couldn't help, who told him to save himself instead, and that he sat down shouting for Karafuto ojisan to come and save him, but Goro never came. His stepfather worked all the time to support Tohru, and then he also died and Tohru was left all alone in the world. Tohru can't sleep at night, because he can still hear the screams of the people in the earthquake, and that's why he spends the nights in his minitruck, having flashbacks and nightmares. Goro is also crying but makes Tohru stand up, and tells him "I'm late and useless, but I'm here for you now".
In the end, Tohru forgives his father and they make peace. Goro and Hitomi will go back to Tokyo for a while to sort out their situation, but they will visit Tohru again as soon as possible. Tohru has decided to change jobs to something to do with the Internet, and he gives Goro and Hitomi a lift to the train station. The end.
Reflections on some scenes
The scene at the beginning where Goro and Hitomi want to move in with Tohru for a while was hilarious! They had some suitcases and they both took turns bringing them from the frontdoor to the bedroom, and then Tohru tried to stop them and brought the suitcases back to the frontdoor. They were running with those suitcases back and forth all over the stage, but eventually Tohru lost the battle and Goro and Hitomi locked themselves in the bedroom. The scene ends when Goro brings out an omiyage from Tokyo - Kaminariokashi (which is a sort of Japanese sweets from the Asakusa area), asking no one in particular "who is woken up by this anyway?" (a play on words - okashi from okasu, which means 'to wake someone up') and Tohru stands up shouting "Who cares?!"
A while later, Tohru sits on his sofa eating a banana while Hitomi talks loudly on the phone. Then Hitomi joins him and wants to have a seat too, so he reluctantly let's her sit on one end of the sofa. Then she wants a banana. So Tohru walks off to a sort of lift, he brings it down in a comical way and there's a basket of bananas. She gets one and he grabs another one for himself. Then he walks up to the roof to take care of his laundry. Hitomi follows him up there, happy about the great weather and telling him about her past as a stripper. She sings too, and tries to get some kind of reaction from him, but even when she asks him "Aren't you surprised?" his only reply is "Yeah, sort of..." and a blank stare. Although he's still slightly annoyed by her, he still helps her down the stairs. What a kind young man! And their relationship does improve a lot throughout the stageplay.
The scene where Tohru and his father finally talk about their past and their feelings....that was so emotional! The two of them lying there on the minitruck, crying their hearts and eyes out from all the past traumas and pain... And finally Tohru forgiving his father, and his father finally taking responsibility and wanting to be there for his son. I was crying so much! Everyone in the audience was crying. I don't think there was anyone who wasn't touched by this scene. I was just happy I brought a handkerchief... It was a very emotional story about family issues and traumas, but in the end very beautiful.
Reflections on Inoo's acting
For the first 10 or 15 minutes of the stageplay, Inoo was just acting in complete silence on the stage, all by himself. And it was easy to see that he was a slightly bad-tempered young man who didn't care much about anything... Then the second actor turned up on stage, and I absolutely loved that the first thing Inoo eventually says as Tohru is "Shut up!" And all those bananas he ate..!
Tohru isn't really a man of many words, and Inoo doesn't talk much for a big part of the stageplay. But then, there's the "confession scene" as I like to call it. The emotional one. The scene where everyone of us was crying while we watched it. Inoo was amazing. There was so much emotions put into that scene, so much that I almost started wondering if he himself has experienced something similar because he delivered the scene so strongly. Or maybe he's just a good actor... Which I actually do think he is!
I felt privileged to see Inoo in a role like this. The role of Tohru is so far from the idol Inoo that we're used to see on stage. You know - the dorky, sparkly, winking, idol-y Inoo with his wide smile. Tohru was the complete opposite, and I was happy to see that Inoo could pull it off very well. Seeing him in カラフト伯父 just made me like him even more!
One of the bestest things ever was when he was driving that car around the stage - he did it several times, and one time he even had to turn it around sideways since they were going to load it with stuff. I would have been so nervous driving a minitruck around such a small stage, but Inoo only looked super cool!
And then, when he left the stage after the curtain-call, he was so cute when he waved good-bye to us!
Tohru - Inoo Kei
Goro/Karafuto ojisan - Masu Takeshi
Hitomi - Matsunaga Reiko