This chapter introduces Mama, Tanaka Chikao's debut play. Known best for his postwar dramas, Tanaka's skill in writing dialogue and character is remarkable in such an early work. Mama, which many critics have called the original “home drama” (domestic soap opera, a popular genre on Japanese television), is a remarkably deft portrayal of an overprotective mother and a resentful son eager to strike off on his own—a theme that still resonates, and not just with Japanese audiences. At the same time, however, the play's balanced portrayal of each character and its wry humor avoid any trace of melodrama or sentimentalism so characteristic of this genre. In both theme and style, the play is as fresh today as when it was first written.
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