Final Fantasy 14: Dad of Light hit Netflix last month, featuring a heart-tugging narrative of a young man, Akio, trying to reconnect with his father through their shared love of Final Fantasy. This Japanese drama is sweet, clean, and the appropriate amount of campy, featuring the growth of both Akio and that of his father as they explore the challenges of Final Fantasy XIV.

The Good

Dad of Light is packed with lighthearted, funny moments, as well as unexpected emotional beats as the story develops. When Akio’s father suddenly quits his job with no warning, Akio sets out to find why he quit by befriending him secretly in the Final Fantasy XIV world.

The narrative is sweet in all the right ways, as Akio oscillates between his work life and his life at home with his family. Each episode shows growth and/or solves a problem, be it for Akio as he navigates his job as a sales rep, or for his father as they learn more about each other through the game. It’s also packed with many heart-tugging moments: from a quiet interaction shared between Akio’s parents, to the reveal that all may not be as it seems in regards to his father’s health. These moments are subtle, but hold a lot of impact, and keeps viewers coming back for more.

The pace is also fun and upbeat, each episode built as an individual package as it builds on the whole. The acting is characteristically campy–as is to be expected with a Japanese drama—, but adds humor rather than detracts from the story. Yudai Chiba’s (Akio) expressions, in particular, stand out, and play well into Akio’s sweet, shy demeanor as he grows and deals with the challenges that appear before him. His expressive face brings giggles every time, and keeps the show feeling energetic, even in moments of seriousness. Dad of Light balances the camp well with actual narrative and growth, and provides an exciting, heart-felt ride throughout.

For any fan of Final Fantasy, Dad of Light hits on all the feelings the games themselves bring to mind. From the nostalgia of watching Akio and his father enjoy Final Fantasy III, to the main theme woven throughout the soundtrack, fans of the series will enjoy and empathize with their experience–even if they haven’t played FFXIV. Even the in-game footage feels true to the single player experience, and features the classic design style is pervasive throughout the series. It’s a great connection for fans of all ages, and brings all the feelings one has for the games to the forefront in Dad of Light as well.

The Bad

There is plenty to love about Dad of Light, from the emotional beats to the positive energy that permeates the show. However, it may not be for everyone, given the campy nature and the cliches that are found throughout the Japanese drama genre.

Dad of Light is fun, but also is extremely campy, from over-expressive acting, to predictable narrative beats. The linear structure of each episode is predictable and easy to follow, which leaves no question how each episode is going to end. If one is looking for dramatic twists and intrigue, Dad of Light is not the place for it. Even with the linear narrative, however, the series does hold some secrets that can only be discovered by watching it all the way through, which keep it interesting and fresh.

As the genre of Japanese Drama is prone to, Dad of Light follows a number of cliches in both narrative and character profiles. Akio’s father is traditionally stoic, quiet, and reluctant to communicate. His coworker is the classic, confident type, and his female co-worker does much of the emotional work for Akio and his friends as a whole. Akio and his family are the only characters to get much depth, and much of that depth is also limited to Akio and his father alone. These stereotypes, though they fit with the simplicity of the narrative, don’t allow for a great deal of depth or many opportunities for empathy with the wider cast. It is one of the few weak points of the series, and does sometimes reduce the emotional impact of the story beats.

Overall, Dad of Light is an enjoyable, energetic series full of nostalgia that many gamers and fans of the Final Fantasy series can relate to. It is better than expected, and hits the emotional beats that keep viewers coming back for more. It’s a delightful ride, and one we certainly recommend!

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