So, like uh… I had a thing I was writing. Persona 5 Diaries for September 20XX. It’s about 1500 words, if you’re curious.
But, this show is something that needs to be seen. Because this Netflix J-Drama doesn’t have a massive following. Although you can’t gauge ratings on Netflix properly, If you look at the IMDB page, the show only has 137 ratings. This signifies, to me at least, that this show either doesn’t have a very passionate audience, or it hasn’t made a major splash yet.
But, what the hell is Dad of Light? Why am I talking about it when I don’t really discuss TV shows often?
Well, this J-Drama is special, because it’s about video games! Specifically, a father and son using Final Fantasy 14 to reconnect after 25 years of distance and tension in their family.
No, I’m not making this up.
Look, I’m not even going to assume that anybody has seen this show, so i’m just going to go through every episode, detailing the plot and weird oddities about it.
And trust me, there are A LOT of odd things about this show. Some are funny, some are cringe, and some are repugnant. We’ll revel in all of the embarrassment together.
What is Final Fantasy 14?
Before we begin the series, I suppose it’s best that I give some context on what Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn is all about. I will abbreviate it to FF14 to make it easier to type. FF14 is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG for short. MMO for even shorter.) This means that it’s a game where millions of players interact in the same world. They level, they communicate, they develop an economy, and they become friends or rivals. The most I have played of FF14 is the free trial, which allowed me to only scratch about 15% of the game’s content, so my understanding of the content is superficial. That isn’t too important, because a lot of this show doesn’t revolve around FF14’s intricacies. Dad of Light uses the game as a way to bond the father and son, and even people with minimal knowledge of gaming can comprehend the jargon.
But, long story short, FF14 is an MMO where people from all over the planet can play together anonymously.
With this knowledge, let us delve into confusion and insanity together. Don’t expect this article to be articulate or anything. There will be yelling.
Episode #1: A Relationship Reborn
The show begins by having the main character, Akio Inaba, tell the history of his relationship with his father, named Hirotaro Inaba. When he was a child, they bonded over the original Final Fantasy on the NES, and they got along well. At first, Hakutaro bought the game for Akio, but he ended up loving it equally. But then, Hakutaro gets a promotion at work, and he becomes distant with Akio. He is no longer focused on his family or enjoyment, just forwarding his career. The Inaba family becomes distant.
I actually enjoy this beginning. It’s really heartwarming to see a father and son bond over gaming, and tragic to know that it was just a fad to the father, but something legitimate to the son.
But then, we cut to 20 or so years in the future, when Akio is now a 20-something adult working an office job selling photocopiers. I think. It’s really vague. It’s also really boring. Like, photocopiers aren’t interesting. Who would ever be fascinated by this?
Akio as an adult also looks like a 12-year-old boy compared to every other adult present. He’s also wearing super unfitting, loose suits that make him look like a boy trying to be a man. You aren’t Mulan, Akio. (I recognize that Mulan is Chinese, not Japanese. Plz no sue.)
I’ve also tried to do research on this show, and I could not find anything. No interviews with any of the actors, no history on it, nothing. I will have to go to the deep web to get my answers. They will be next to the Minecraft Mods.
However, suddenly, shock, gasp, Hirotaro retires. He quits work altogether, and nobody knows why. Everybody acts like it’s odd that he’s retiring at 60, and I’m sitting here in my firm Canadian seat, asking why he didn’t retire earlier. Like, 60? How much of your life do you spend working? Japan is a crushing machine with the one of the highest suicide rates in the world.
So then we cut to Akio, and, oh boy. Here’s where the cringe starts.
So roughly one third of this show is shot using the in-game models for FF14. And it looks terrible. It looks, so SOOOOOO terrible.
Animations are incredibly janky, faces are inhuman, and they teeter into the uncanny valley. The Lalafell characters (the midget race) have these weird, soulless potato eye faces that haunt my nightmares.
But the worst aspect of these scenes is the frame rate. See, cinematic shows are usually shot at 24 frames per second. However, the gameplay for FF14 can go to 60 frames per second if you have the correct display monitor. So, the footage in-game looks like it was recorded in 60 frames-per-second, but the editing software reduces it to 24 frames per second. Because of this, there’s this constant tearing and stuttering that happens, and it genuinely makes it painful on the eyes.
BUT IT GETS CREEPIER. Akio made a female cat-lady named Maidy, and he role-plays this character in-game to his friends. Like, all of the people he met online role-play as their character, instead of giving their real name. This leads to incredibly uncomfortable shots of Maidy having one of the Lalafell sit on her lap. Like, they’re pretending to be a family, when we know that Akio is a 20-something Japanese man, and not a sexy blonde cat lady. And, if Akio is lying, we can assume that the female Lalafell can be a 45-year-old Japanese man too! If one person is lying about their identity, then how genuine and real are their connections? How can they even trust Akio’s story? WHY IS AKIO EVEN TELLING RANDOM PEOPLE ONLINE THAT HIS DAD RETIRED? THIS ONLY LEADS TO POTENTIAL STALKING AND UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATIONS.
But the show paints them as genuine comrades and friends. Like, instead of meeting in real life at a coffee shop, they meet at a fictional one in-game, and role-play their problems.
I have no problem with role-playing. I love Dungeons and Dragons, but you need to learn to dissociate frames of reality properly. Don’t simultaneously lie about your name and identity, but relay your genuine, real life problems to strangers on the internet Akio. YOU GUYS DON’T EVEN KNOW EACH OTHER’S NAMES.
*ahem* Anyways, Akio, apparently noticing how open he is being online gets an epiphany. What if he gets FF14 for his retired dad? Since he has all this time now, why don’t they try to unite in the video game? I’d like to make fun of this, but I see it as Akio doing something nice for his dad. Like, he knows what made their relationship strong in the past, and he sees this as an opportunity to rekindle that flame. I’m cool with it.
This also leads to some really funny jokes. The dad is obviously clueless about FF14, so his character is just the default human character with black hair and a tattoo. He has hundreds of customization options, but he makes as little effort as possible. This reflects his no-nonsense personality well. This leads to an even funnier joke where his son suggests that he names his in-game character after a movie star, since they will be saving the world of FF14. So Hirotaro actually names his character “Indy Jones.” It’s probably the highlight of the entire series.
Once Hirotaro makes Indy Jones, Akio sprints upstairs to his character, Maidy, and follows him around, talking to him. However, Akio pretends he doesn’t know Hirotaro is Indy. I’m sure you can see where this is going.
Indy doesn’t talk in-game, because he doesn’t know how. So he’s mindlessly walking around. Maidy loses track of him, and just ends up talking to her friends. However, one of them tracked Indy, and found out that he, a level 1 character, is fighting a level 12 monster. Drama.
Maidy then comes to Indy’s rescue, which isn’t exactly heroic since Maidy is like, level 50, so it just dies in a few hits. Indy then turns, and looks Maidy directly in the eyes…
…and walks around Maidy 3 times then runs off. Okay.
The first episode ends with Akio saying he’ll keep his identity in-game secret, and not approach his dad at all about their common interest. He will continue to role-play as Maidy to Indy, and not genuinely connect as Akio to Hakutaro. This won’t backfire at all.
Episode 2 begins showing Akio in his workplace.
He’s a loser.
He’s socially awkward, he gets yelled at his boss for being submissive, and he lacks personal ambition and drive. He’s basically an employed version of Jerry from Rick and Morty.
This also leads to a new female character getting introduced. We will call her Girl. Why not her real name? Because I’m pretty sure they only say it once, and her entire role in the story is to be a girl. She is also the only one with any sanity. She’s the only person in this office who is a regular human being.
There’s also this really bizarre subplot about how female workers are quitting, and the office higher-ups want to find out why. They suspect Girl of wanting to quit, despite having no evidence whatsoever. Akio is then forced to work his non-existent charms on her, and get her to open up. But, as expected, he completely fails, and everybody reprimands him for it. Oh Akio. At least you’re a pretty good Monk in FF14.
We then cut to Maidy and Indy trying to talk. Maidy is trying to teach Indy how to use the in-game chat, but he fails at it. So Akio, thirsty for his FF14 connection, sprints out of his home and buys Hirotaro a USB keyboard to plug into his PS4 so he can talk to his dad. Hirotaro also doesn’t know how to use a keyboard, which, makes absolutely zero sense. I know he’s old, but he also worked in an office and must have typed up documents and e-mails.
Deep down, it feels like there is a nice narrative hiding in this show. It feels like something heartwarming is there, but it’s layered in awkward dialogue, and a strange, MMO connection between father and son. Like, rather than Akio learning to be brave, he’s finding ways to avoid his connectivity problems with his father. Akio’s inventiveness enhances unhealthy habits. But they must uphold the ALMIGHTY FINAL FANTASY 14 DESU-KA.
Then there’s just, this, bizarre scene, where Indy runs for HOURS, REAL LIFE HOURS across the entire in-game world, not dying once. He goes from the starting forest city of Gridania, to the high-level Snow City.
But that’s not the worst part. The worst part, is he GETS EMBARRASSED THAT ALL CHARACTERS IN-GAME ARE WEARING LONG SLEEVES, AND HIS CHARACTER HAS A T-SHIRT ON. THIS IS REAL. THIS IS A REAL THING THAT SOMEBODY ON PLANET EARTH CARES ABOUT.
I REPEAT: HIROTARO ALMOST GIVES UP PLAYING THE GAME FOREVER, BECAUSE HE FEELS EMBARRASSED THAT HE DOESN’T HAVE A COAT YET. TEMPERATURE IS NOT A FACTOR IN THE GAME. IT IS PURELY COSMETIC. I WISH I WAS MAKING THIS UP.
Ready for more potentially sexist overtones? So, Girl finally opens up to Akio about the issue and why she was contemplating quitting. She says it was because she didn’t like the colour of the uniforms. This would be silly, but she even admits that her reason is petty, so I don’t mind it.
BUT AKIO HEARS THIS, AND THE BOSS GOES “OKAY. ONE PERSON DOESN’T LIKE THE UNIFORMS. THEREFORE, ALL GIRLS WANT THE UNIFORMS TO BE PINK! ALL WOMEN ARE THE SAME, RIGHT?”
And then he does it. And girls are much happier in the workplace. Because they wear pink, instead of blue uniforms.
I can’t even deal and it’s only episode 2.
Episode 3, like the previous episode, shows Akio being terrible at his job. He’s working as a sales associate for Photocopiers. Around clients, he is very awkward, uncharismatic, and embarrasses his boss who is trying to help him.
Akio and his boss are at a restaurant, getting their client drunk. Their client loves baseball, so Akio’s boss just gets up, and starts doing these exaggerated hitting and pitching motions, and the client keeps naming the player he’s mimicking. Much like Akio, I am very uncomfortable that this is happening in a public place.
His boss then reveals that every company’s photocopier is the same, and does a dramatic walk-off. How does Akio deal with this criticism? Does he better himself? Does he reflect on his abilities and learn to take his job seriously? Does he learn to play into his clients interests more?
NOPE. BACK TO FF14 TO COMPLAIN ABOUT HIS LIFE.
Akio then goes to fight a boss with the group, including Indy, and he keeps losing focus and dying. Indy then tells him in the chat to never give up. This gives Akio so much inspiration, that he beats the boss, and regains his confidence in real-life.
Using this newfound lesson of “never give up,” Akio betters himself at his job, but it doesn’t even make sense. So, literally one day prior, Akio’s boss gave him the advice to give gifts to clients to suck up to them. Girl comes to Akio’s help, and gives him a list of presents every employee at their company likes because I GUESS SHE HAS THIS? WHERE? HOW? I don’t know.
SO AKIO, A DAY LATER, GOES TO HIS BOSS WITH A GIFT HE LOVES. HE USES THE EXACT MANIPULATION TACTIC THAT HE LEARNT ON THE GUY WHO TAUGHT IT TO HIM. AND IT WORKS.
Then Akio runs up the their client (who works in their office apparently????) and he relays random baseball facts. Akio says he watched the baseball game last night (even though he was playing final fantasy 14), and provides a recap. This impresses the client so much for some reason. Like he’s a dog who hears BASEBALL and immediately freaks out. Akio then SOMEHOW, SOMEHOW HAS TICKETS TO THE GIANTS GAME FOR THE NIPPON BASEBALL LEAGUE, AND OFFERS TO INVITE CLIENT-SENPAI TO A GAME.
THEN IT GETS WEIRDER. AKIO’S BOSS GETS UP, OUT OF HIS CUBICAL. LOOKS AKIO DEAD IN THE EYE, AND STARTS DOING A PROVOCATIVE PITCHING STANCE. AKIO SOMEHOW, OVERNIGHT, BECOMES THE MASTER OF BASEBALL TRIVIA, AND RECOGNIZES THIS PLAYER OUT OF THOUSANDS OF POSSIBLE PLAYERS IMMEDIATELY.
The best part of this scene, is in the background, all of the other employees at the company look incredibly awkward. Like a bunch of actors realized they made a terrible decision to be in this show, while these three clowns get excited over nothing.
It’s here that I think the creators of the show are doing something very manipulative and intentional with the tone. They make reality incredibly mundane and crushing. They then offer Final Fantasy 14 as a respite, and a solution to all problems. How did Akio get over his personal hurdle? Indy gave him advice in the game. Not in real life. In the game. And that distinction is important.
So, thanks Square Enix, for trying to subtly manipulate the Japanese audience into playing Final Fantasy 14 even more! It is the drug that will solve all of your life problems. Just never face them and become a NEET!
Ready for odd, sexist overtones number 2? So Hirotaro and his wife, who we also never get a name for (WOMEN DON’T DESERVE NAMES IN THIS UNIVERSE), are sitting at a table at the end of the episode. Let’s call Hirotaro’s wife, Wife, since she doesn’t have a name, and that’s how Dad of Light rolls.
So Wife suggests that her and Hirotaro can go on a world cruise like they always wanted to when they were younger. Now that he is retired, they can finally spend more time together as husband and wife.
He says no.
He says no because he wants to play more Final Fantasy 14.
Hirotaro, says no to this world cruise, and, keep in mind, Wife says “like WE always wanted,” implying that this is a dream that the two of them had. And when he says no, she just smiles and laughs. LIKE IT’S ALL OKAY.
SHE’S LIKE I UNDERSTAND HONEY. YOU CAN SAY NO TO THIS CRUISE BECAUSE YOU WANT TO PLAY VIDEO GAMES.
ALRIGHT THIS IS WHERE IT GETS REALLY DUMB. AND IT WAS ALREADY DUMB, BUT LIKE, INFURIATINGLY DUMB.
The episode begins with Hirotaro and Wife having a fight over him playing FF14 too much. Hirotaro gets scolded, and his playtime becomes limited to one hour a day. Although Hirotaro is having fun, I understand Wife’s position. Too much gaming is unhealthy for anybody, regardless of how much enjoyment they are getting. Hirotaro can be doing better things with his time.
But in comes Akio. Akio hears of this news of Wife trying to better her husband’s life, and Akio goes NO. THIS IS A CRISIS. I MUST GET HIM TO PLAY FF14 ALL DAY AGAIN. I MUST ENABLE AND FEED HIS BAD HABITS.
SO THE THING THAT GETS AKIO TO TAKE ACTION WITHIN HIS RELATIONSHIP ISN’T FAMILIAL LOVE. IT’S THE OBSESSION TO GET HIROTARO PLAYING FF14 AGAIN. Akio invites Hirotaro out to the bar to drink, trying to egg him on to apologize to Wife. But Akio doesn’t care about helping his family or his mother. He doesn’t care about the neglectful position she is in. He just wants his video game partner back. It’s so incredibly selfish, that it makes Akio incredibly detestable.
It’s also here, that we learn Hirotaro is a goddamn addict to FF14. He’s sitting in the bar, face staring forward, with empty hands held out. He is mimicking the controller movements, and envisioning fighting a boss with his in-game friends. He is having an actual hallucination.
Hirotaro is having fun, yes, but he is developing horrible habits. He is neglecting his wife and son’s wishes, and Akio is okay with it. In fact, Akio actively enables it. By being present in-game as Maidy, giving him help and encouragement, forcing his friends to help Indy integrate into their party, Akio is working to make sure Hirotaro never leaves. Keep in mind, Indy never played a game since the NES era, so unless his son was there to constantly prevent him from quitting, this addiction wouldn’t have formed.
Oh, but it’s okay! Look at how quirky it is! He neglects his family for people he doesn’t even know!
Okay, quick breather. We need to discuss Akio’s actor. Every character’s acting in Dad of Light is serviceable. They aren’t anything amazing, but they do a convincing job of becoming their characters.
But Akio does these weird gesticulations with his face that do not fit him whatsoever. He thinks he’s either Jim Carrey or an anime character. He bobs his head around unnaturally, and constantly makes these exaggerated, over-the-top reactions to everything. I wanted to look up the actor’s IMDB history, and his other most popular role is Gosei Red in the Japanese equivalent of Power Rangers. Maybe he’s the Red Ranger to hide his face (that was mean, sorry.)
Akio has no charisma whatsoever. His character and actor are both pretty bad, so these quirks just come across as bizarre and uncomfortable. But not as uncomfortable as the in-game cut scenes.
We then cut back to Akio’s workplace, and we find out that two female employees who usually talk constantly are silent. All of the male higher ups are scared of women, and send Akio in to try and diffuse the situation. Of course, he makes it worse, and escalates their fighting. Ha ha. Women are so silly.
Thankfully, Girl approaches them and goes “guys just chill this will sort itself out” and she just walks away. Like I said, she’s kind of the only sane person in this show.
BUT THEN, ONCE SHE SAYS THIS, IT CUTS TO THE NEXT DAY, AND AKIO IS GOING DOWNSTAIRS FOR WORK. HE LOOKS OVER, AND HE SEES HIS PARENTS, MAKING UP, AND KISSING EACH OTHER ON THE CHEEK.
So the actual solution to this problem, was just to wait and avoid it. Let’s not take the healthy option and discuss the relationship issues like adults. Let’s avoid it like cowards too hung up on pride. Pardon me, but that’s a terrible lesson! For any relationship, if you’re scared to talk about anything serious, then it won’t blossom into happiness. Conflict will mount up between the two of you, until it explodes in a tension-filled bomb.
But, oh, it gets worse. I know I sound like a broken record, but I mean it. Wife ends up caving, and takes away the gaming restrictions she previously imposed. This essentially makes the conflict of the episode entirely pointless. It was all going to sort itself out in the end, no matter what. Akio didn’t learn anything. He didn’t get closer to his dad. Hirotaro’s FF14 addiction was just satisfied, because, to quote Wife: “I haven’t seen him have that much fun in years.”
And it’s just, so infuriating. It sends such a terrible message about family relationships. Rather than learn to be open, they reinforce their ideas about being reserved. They regress as characters! And this show is only 8 episodes long! This is halfway through! HOW.
So at this point, the show realizes it hasn’t accomplished anything, so Akio fiends harder to complete his mission and find out why his dad suddenly quit work.
Hirotaro also suddenly takes a break from playing. Their entire goal in FF14 was to get to a high enough level and take down the super boss, Twintania. But all of a sudden, Indy isn’t playing nearly as much.
We then cut to Hirotaro talking to an old business friend about potentially coming back to work for a better company. Hirotaro refuses, much to his friend’s disappointment.
The show at this point grinds to a halt. Not much happens. Besides all of the cringe and funny moments, there is a lot of boring, bland office talk.
One genuinely funny quirk is that Hirotaro uses every possible in-game emote when he talks. It adds a lot of personality to his character, and shows an interesting side of him.
The episode concludes with Hirotaro revealing to Maidy, who is Akio, but he doesn’t know that, that he quit work because of an illness. This causes Akio to freak out, and pressure him to find out more. Indy also calls Maidy “Mayday” which is also humourous.
The final shot of the episode is Hirotaro’s friend narrating a Human Resources document that Hirotaro made for his company. He details that the company needs more unity and they must encourage their employees to be strong through the correct work.
It’s a strong message, but the awkward part, is there’s this epic FF14 boss music playing, and it is interspersed with footage of the group fighting a big boss. They learn teamwork through learning to party properly in FF14. No, I’m not making that up.
Hirotaro reforms an entire company’s employee standards and structure because of lessons he learnt playing a video game for a few months. It just feels so cheesy and awkward.
So Akio knows his dad has an illness, but he wants to find out what that illness is. Akio’s coworkers begin to tell him it could be cancer given the described symptoms, but Akio wants to get down to the case himself. So, to “inspire” Akio, one of his coworkers tells him that he found porn in his father’s room. Instead of being grossed out by this, Akio infers that his dad must keep his deepest secrets in his room, and therefore, what his illness is!
Later on, Hirotaro says he’s going to go for a jog, and then Akio decides its time to stealth with his teenage body into his father’s room…and he finds the dumbest thing ever.
Akio finds a goddamn Final Fantasy 14 Strategy Guide in his dad’s room. But it gets worse. This strategy guide is littered with NOTES. IT IS FULL OF STICKY NOTES, THESE HAVE CLASS ROLES AS NOTES, IT HAS INFORMATION, IT IS FULL OF SMALL MACROS. HE HAS GOTTEN TO THE POINT OF HARDCORE ADDICTION. I DON’T EVEN GET THIS ENTHUSIASTIC WHEN I AM INTO A GAME.
WHY DOES THIS GAME CAPTIVATE HIM SO MUCH.
Then, just, absolutely out of nowhere, Girl magically falls in love with Akio, despite him having the appeal of a wet blanket. They’re one-on-one at a nice restaurant, when it was never established that they met there before. But Girl tries to lay the moves on Akio to invite him to a movie on Sunday.
AND AKIO GETS FLASHES OF FIGHTING TWINTANIA WITH HIS DAD, AND TURNS DOWN WHAT’S LIKELY HIS FIRST DATE EVER TO PLAY VIDEO GAMES WITH HIS FATHER. EVEN I’M NOT THIS CLUELESS. THIS SHOW NEEDS TO STOP PRETENDING THE LOVE FOR THE GAME IS QUIRKY. AKIO HAS SOMEBODY WHO CAN IMPROVE HIS LIFE RIGHT THERE, BUT HE’S LIKE NO. LET ME REINFORCE MY TERRIBLE ADDICTION AND HABITS.
The episode ends with, arguably, one of the most cringe-worthy scenes in this show, and that’s saying something. Akio has to work late, so he pulls up this paper thin laptop that can somehow run FF14 perfectly (Japanese technology or plothole? I don’t know.) Then it goes to a heartfelt reveal from Hirotaro that he has gained the courage to open up to people because of the wonderful friends within FF14. It’s a cute message, right?
Well…this is Dad of Light. And this reveal is done through melodramatic music, and the stilted, uncomfortable in-game models. And it’s just a weird thought, that a 60-year-old man would divulge this information to a stranger online. The in-game models are so inhuman that it takes away from a lot of the drama.
It also doesn’t help that the discussion in the game is interspersed with shots of Akio and Hirotaro crying in front of their Monitors. Like the show is trying to imply that this is a major tear-jerking moment. But…we know nothing about these characters. They connect through FF14, but we never ACTUALLY see any connection. We never see any chemistry between the two. Up until this point, there isn’t really any character development for anybody in this show.
Take the main character, Akio, for example. He should be the most interesting character, as this story revolves around him and his relationship with his father. But, all we know about him, is that he is socially awkward. Even when he gets inspiration to improve, he still remains socially clueless around others. From episode 1 to the final episode, he never changes at all. Any potential character development is brushed aside for “comedic scenes.”
Tonal dissonance is also a major problem for this show. I think the show’s creators realize how strange of a premise this is for a J-Drama, so they interspersed all of the serious conflict with a comedic tinge. That is fine and all, but once the show tries to be genuinely sad and fatalistic, the viewer gets whiplash from it all. I wasn’t ready to take any of this seriously, because the show’s premise and tone implied to never truly take it seriously. It comes across as light fluff that’s meant to distract you at one point, but then a serious piece of art the next. None of it works.
What makes it even more corny, his Hirotaro says that he now has the courage to open up because of his in-game friends. This is a super cheesy trope found in children’s media, and it makes this whole crying scene much less legitimate.
But anyways, Akio returns home, and it is clear that Hirotaro has stomach cancer. The episode then ends with the sad music.
So, Akio’s dad has cancer. What does he do? Spend more time with him before his operation that may fail? Talk to him more in real life?
NOPE. IT IS TIME TO BEAT TWINTANIA IN-GAME. THEY HAVE A 4-DAY DEADLINE TO FINISH TWINTANIA, SO AKIO SPENDS ALL OF HIS FREE TIME PRETENDING IN THE VIDEO GAME INSTEAD OF ACTUALLY, GENUINELY SUPPORTING HIS FATHER IN REAL LIFE.
This then cuts to a completely pointless training montage with real life clips interspersed with the characters in-game doing training poses. It even shows Akio turn down Girl again in the middle of their office space, and when she asks why, Akio yells out “TWINTANIA!”
To which everybody in the office looks at him like a freak, and he runs out of work early.
Then…it cuts to another training montage of all of the characters doing emotes, when, they provide no actual in-game benefit. In fact, they even state that this is the final day to defeat Twintania, so they are effectively wasting time.
AND THEN IT SHOWS THIS “EPIC” MARCH WITH ALL OF THE CHARACTERS WALKING ACROSS A DESERT, IMPLYING THAT THEY ARE TRAVELLING TO TWINTANIA. WHEN, IN REALITY, THEY CAN JUST TELEPORT TO WHERE THEY NEED TO GO. AGAIN, KIND OF JUST WASTING SOME TIME HERE.
Of course, they end up prevailing and defeating Twintania through the power of love and friendship. Maidy decides to forget the facade, and calls Indy “Dad” in-game. Every person they are with does the “surprised” emote, and I got scared.
See, this entire series, I was waiting for when they would try to have the father develop romantic love for Akio’s character. I always figured that Indy would profess love towards Maidy. It didn’t happen, but I thought this was the moment where it might. I thought this was going to turn into some Lana Del Rey “There goes my daddy” garbage. I thought that Indy hearing Daddy would be some creepy romantic role-play.
BUT THANKFULLY THE DAD IS EVEN STUPIDER THAN THAT. HIROTARO GOES: “Dad? Is he somewhere in the game? Hahaha!” When Akio tries to actually reveal it is him, he doesn’t type in the chat “no dumbass, it’s me, Akio.” He just lets it be and laughs it off. Like, what? You finally confessed to your dad, it failed, and you’re fine with letting your identity be ambiguous?
But we then cut to the father in the hospital, walking triumphantly away from his family into the surgery room. He is literally walking into the light. He is now the Dad of Light. DO YOU GET IT?!?!?!?
But then it cuts to one year later. The atmosphere is silent and somber. Akio is still playing Maidy, and then his mom walks in. She is silent and stoic, until she eventually breaks into tears. And you think “Oh my gosh, did it fail? Is the dad dead?”
AND THEN 3 SECONDS LATER, HIROTARO WALKS INTO THE ROOM. HE ASKS WHY WIFE IS CRYING. AND AKIO SAYS IT IS BECAUSE A J-DRAMA START SHE LIKES GOT ENGAGED. THEY PULLED THE LAZIEST, POSSIBLE FAKE-OUT IMAGINABLE.
The show ends with the father and son reunited play final fantasy together again, and Wife looks at them smiling, when she should realistically be pissed at them.
So you’re probably asking, how can there be an episode #8? That sounded like a definitive conclusion. And, I was asking the same question, until Netflix autoplayed the final episode for me. This episode was titled the “Special Episode,” and I was curious…
and it turned into an ad for FF14. I mean, the whole show was, but now it isn’t even hiding it. The final episode is a series of in-game cutscenes detailing the lore and history of the world. It’s acting like “OH, NOW YOU LOVE FF14 RIGHT? IT’S GREAT ESCAPISM. HERE, LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WORLD SO YOU HAVE SOME BASELINE UNDERSTANDING BEFORE YOU BEGIN PLAYING. BECAUSE YOU’RE DEFINITELY GOING TO PLAY, RIGHT?”
This show preys on human empathy by relating positive emotions to FF14. It’s a deceptive marketing tactic. It isn’t about what the game does for you. but about how it makes you feel. Dad of Light associates a heartwarming community and healthy relationships with a video game. And now it informs the viewer, who they hope is sucked into the narrative, to buy their monthly service. Buy our monthly addiction.
I made it 5 minutes into this episode before just shutting it off. Any pretense of wholesomeness was shattered. It was just another soulless product to please the advertisers. It was just another TV show.
And look, FF14 is a good game. Dad of Light does shw a lot of cool things in the game…but it is just propaganda. This is a product placement show. It’s a soap opera designed to sell a product.
The show displays highlights of FF14, and only that. They are at least being unapologetic with the graphics of the game, but they present it as a place for only epic team moments and unity. FF14 is shown as a paradise abstained from negative human emotion and desire. It’s like heaven in digital form, and that isn’t true. Every MMO community has horrible people, regardless of how it is painted. This show makes FF14 look TOO good.
Furthermore, the concept of bonding through play is endearing and it is very true. A lot of friendships can be formed via video games. But, the father and son are addicts, and their addiction is painted as humourous. The show treats their obsession with this video game as normal. Rather than being punished, they are rewarded with a healthy relationship. It sends a backwards message that isn’t good for anybody. It tells people to play video games to escape their problems, because you might have the off chance that the person you have tension with is also playing the same video game as you. It makes zero sense.
ANYWAYS FINAL VERDICT: 4/10. TAKE ALL LESSONS OF APATHY AND ADDICTION AND FORGET ABOUT THEM. FF14 IS KING. ALL HAIL TWINTANIA.