Song of the Post:
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Episode 2: Using coffee milk, can we marry?
Hairy-Fairy gives us some insight on why he decided to help Ken: of all the weddings he’s seen, rarely a man felt as much regrets as Ken. Someone feeling such deep regrets shouldn’t have come in the first place, and what’s worse, give a congratulation speech. Conclusion: he was so pitiful that Hairy-Fairy decided to help a little.But just turning a sad face into a smile wasn’t enough, and now Ken faces his next challenge coming with the new picture on the slideshow. He can’t remember why Rei was so angry that day, and hearing Eri, Mikio and Tsuru making fun of him for never understanding increase his puzzlement. Their words conjure a flashback: an adult Rei told him that even though they’ve always been together, Ken never understood a thing.Looking at the picture, he wonders. What is it that he never understood? Does Tada know? All these questions make him wish to return back in time. The wedding hall freezes, as the divine light appears again accompanied by the Messiah’s Hallelujah chorus.
Hairy-Fairy is impressed that he’s calling him again, since most people usually believe they can call him only once. Pointing at the picture, he asks why Ken chose this picture and his temper flares when he hears Ken’s vague answer “Because I don’t remember”. This is the 21st century, boy! Be clear!Calling Ken what he really is (stooooopid), he points out that this isn’t a sightseeing tour he’s offering. All serious, Ken agrees and earnestly affirms that he just wants to redo things all over again so as to not harbor any regret. As long as Rei keeps this sad face on the photo, he won’t be able to quit.
Hairy-Fairy says that contrary to popular belief, fate can’t be reversed by little things. Ken knows that, but is SUUURE to give his all this time, earning the snarky comment of the Fairy whose statistics show that those who lightly say they’ll do their best end up not trying very hard after all. Amen. Ken promises to prove him wrong. *wink*You know what comes next? Hallelujah Chance! Pose de rigueur.
He opens his eyes to find himself in a dark and narrow place. When he finally manages to get out, he sees a student literally losing his head. With a girlish scream, he turns in a hall of mirrors and sees his own head pierced by a bloodstained knife *cue Psycho strings music*. He runs and takes a tumble, scraping his elbow in the process. And meets with buttocks.Turns out his class is cleaning after the School Fair. Ken is being mocked at by his friends, and whines to himself that it’s quite a painful welcome.
The sound of bell crickets makes him feel nostalgic as they’re all gathered in the classroom. Tsuru loses a round of「じゃんけんぽん」- Jan-ken-pon (Rock-paper-scissors) and has to fan the winners with a huge「うちわ」- Uchiwa (Flat Fan). I want one of those, little man included.Ken finds his old「下敷き」- Shitajiki (Pencil board), featuring his idol Randy Bass. Rei grabs it from his hands, and fans herself, teasing him for keeping such an old thing for so long.
Boys sing Bass’ praises and you can practically see a light bulb glowing over Eri’s head. She asks Tsuru to show her how Bass hits (even though she doesn’t know who he is) and he eagerly complies, offering them a gladly appreciated refreshing wind blow. Clever girl, easy man.Itou-sensei comes to signal that playtime is over, and orders Rei and Ken to go return the curtains they used for their haunted house. On their way, Ken helps Rei and interprets her smile as a good sign. A big grin is glued to his face but when she mentions that she’s okay with coffee milk, he’s like “huh?”.
Seeing that he really doesn’t have a clue, Rei sighs, disappointed once again. She reminds him they all bet on the Miss Rishuu Contest, electing the school’s “Queen” and “King”. Eri won first place while Tsuru….pitifully came dead last, with only one vote. His.Mikio tells him that votes aren’t free (mercenary much?), and reveals that Eri told them not to vote for him anyway, or it would drive down the contest’s quality. Ouch. Angry Tsuru runs to give her a piece of his mind, but changes said mind on his way, wanting to be one of the boys lining up to take a picture with her. Pride sure is overrated.
Ken returns to his class, and realizes he has no lunch in his bag. Rei is seated next to him and he mentally delights in the big wave of love offered to him. She wakes him out of it by handing him the Mongol800 (also called Monpachi) CD he wanted to borrow. Looking at it, he fondly remembers how he used to listen a lot to this band.The rest of their crew comes in, Eri to share lunch with Rei, Mikio and Tsuru to come fetch Ken. Tsuru eyes the CD and makes a gesture to take it but Rei stands up with a resounding “DON’T!” All eyes on her, she tries to regain her composure by saying that the last time she lent Tsuru a CD, he gave it back scratched.
Eri chimes in, recalling that he once switched her Hamazaki Ayumi’s CD with a Matsuzaki Shigeru’s one. He argues that he returned her the good one later, but she counters with the psychological shock she got. Heh.Ken gets it, making Rei smile, but when he casually throws the CD in his bag, her face quickly turns to shock. He follows Mikio and Tsuru, not noticing the change. Passing by the canteen, he remembers the coffee milk thing and grabs a carton in the fridge. The lady asks for ¥80, which would be nothing, only he discovers his wallet is near empty. Yeah, sucks to be a teen.He comes back to the classroom and announces to Rei that he couldn’t buy her coffee milk. She coolly says that she wasn’t expecting much from him anyway. Oof. Even Eri feels embarrassed to witness this moment, and Ken takes his leave.
He stops in his tracks though, having a sudden epiphany. This sad face on the picture, her words about how he never understood, the stacks of books about milk on her desk. THAT’S IT! Rei adores coffee milk!He dashes to the baseball club HQ, where his friends are busy playing “catch-your-soba-before-it-slips-away”. This game is EWW and I bet I’d starve if I tried. Ken begs Mikio to lend him some money but the boys can’t fathom how his life could depend on a coffee milk.
Mikio gives him the tip to go see the class’ Frankenstein money box so there he runs, helped by Tsuru who switches places and thus drops deeper in Eri’s estimation.Alas, all those efforts lead to naught when the canteen lady tells him that it’s sold out. When he dejectedly walks out, who else but Itou-sensei is drinking the so precious beverage? He’s about to give up but the sight of Rei motivates him. Mikio advises him to go buy it outside and he goes. What a one-track mind guy.Meanwhile, it’s cleaning duty time for his class and Eri wonders about Ken when the boys reveal he has sneaked out to go buy coffee milk. Rei is like “seriously?”. She later jokes that maybe he really wants to drink some, though Eri knows better. Mikio mentions how he said weird things lately, what’s with the “I come from the future”.
Tsuru goes on, still holding a grudge after Ken said he’d have struck out, but Eri brags that there’s simply no way he would have hit her boyfriend’s pitches. B-b-boyfriend? TSURU SHOCK.The others aren’t surprised, Eri saying that she loves strong and handsome guys. Aw, Tsuru you’re totally out of the loop. Mikio sums up: both in the game and in love, it’s a complete and utter defeat.
In the supermarket, Ken spots the last bottle of coffee milk and runs but the marathon athlete catches it before him. Haha, they were fated to meet.Once alone with Rei, Eri confides that her boyfriend has recently let his hair grow but that makes him look super weird. Rei reminds her she decided to date him because she thought he’d look cool with longer hair. You got caught, girl! She adds that Eri should learn more about a guy before dating him.
Feeling a bit miffed, Eri points that Rei is too cautious and shouldn’t wait for a good ball to come along. She’d waste her youth that way! Why not sending just a sign to the guy she likes? Rei mutters: “Sometimes he’s just acting so dumb…”. We know. That’s the thing with boys.Still in his Milk Coffee Daisakusen, Ken runs by a「銭湯」- Sentou (Public bath) and enters, finally finding the coveted bottle. He takes it out the freezer and kisses it but the reception lady harshly stops him. They only sell to customers. Say what?
Cut to Ken bathing, wondering what the heck he’s doing there. Well, I guess thousands of fangirls have the answer.Tsuru jumps to help Eri carry the waste to burn, making Rei observe that Eri really is loved. She replies that it’s too bad, but you can’t win someone with your feelings alone. Rei insists that she may not meet an other guy working so hard for her sake which leads Eri to return the question. What about Ken? Rei unsuccessfully tries to deflect but can’t repress her smile.
Done with his forced bath, Ken grabs the bottle and runs back to school. There, Tsuru has painted “エリ-マイラブ” (Eri – My love) on the classroom window only to see with horror Mikio add 3 strokes which totally inverse the meaning: “エリ-マイデブ” (Eri – My fattie). HAHAHAHAHAAt the school’s gates, Ken happily sings but stops at the sound of Itou-sensei’s voice. Hello~ On his knees, old-school style, he only has eyes for the bottle and explains that this precious milk will drastically change his whole life and determine whether or not he can marry. But when he looks up….NOOOO!Totally depressed, he shoots himself a dark glare when looking at a mirror and bitterly wonders if his elbow scar will be the only thing he got from this timeslip. Gloomily wandering in the hallway, he’s joined by Rei who scolds him for skipping his duty. He apologizes once again for not getting her the coffee milk but that only makes her laugh, especially the public bath part.
She stops when she hears his serious voice. There’s no point promising if he can’t get anything in the end. Rei takes in his contrite look, and smiles. Contrary to Eri’s words, the intention does count, and she thanks him, saying that his feelings were successfully conveyed to her.Such an unexpected reaction sends Ken to cloud nine, until he catches a glance of the change on her face as she enters the classroom. Once seated, he wonders if he has dreamt it, Rei still smiling when facing him.
Alone in the classroom, they consider going to eat some cake and Mikio offers a game, with the loser treating the others. They fold paper to create airplanes and the mood is really high school like, your only worry being that the school fair is over. It makes Ken muse that back then, they had so much free time, thinking that it would always last. Being with Rei, enjoying those ordinary days, everything will turn into precious memories. His teen self didn’t understand that. Lining on the balcony, they all prepare to send their airplanes to the sky but once they shout: “Go”, Ken is the only one to do so.Eri is the first to mock him: “You really fell for it, didn’t you?” and Rei rats on him to the teacher who points at Ken with his bokken. What is it this time? Are you saying you won’t be married if you don’t throw an airplane? Heh. Friends for life, you say?Once the lecture is over, he goes back to the classroom only to find it empty. But when he turns to the blackboard, he’s moved to see it full of colorful messages: “Happy 18th birthday!” – “We’re waiting at Burger Shogun” (their usual hangout). Memories of these caring friends flood back to him. *sniffle*Said caring friends joke behind his back, Eri feeling a bit guilty when Ken is so inattentive. Rei calls him dense for forgetting his own birthday, but also hints to an other meaning as she turns for a last look at the school’s buildings.
Finding his old CD player, Ken gives in the nostalgia and plays Monpachi’s Message album. Such times call for the word「懐かしい。。。」- Natsukashii…
MONGOL800 -「小さな恋の歌」(A little love song)
If only his 18 y/o self had been more considerate of Rei, and could have made her laugh more. They always bickered and kept bitter feelings. If only he could transform all of her sullen expressions into smiles, then surely, surely…
But did he really give it his all? Ready to leave the school, he pauses. That day, he remembers now why she was so upset. When he entered Burger Shogun, he asked Rei to give him his present and she sighed, hiding her face in her hands.And now, the way she gave him the CD, how she stopped Tsuru from taking it. Ken opens the album, and finds a note inside: “645か~645せ”. The numbers trigger his memory, as he recalls the books on Rei’s desk. It finally dawns on him and he rushes to the school’s library, saying to himself that he really didn’t understand anything in the past. Frantically exploring the shelves, where the corresponding books are missing, it finally appears before him.As if waiting to be found, the figurine of Randy Bass stands, taunting his old self. Sticked to his back, a card written by Rei, using a cute pun: “To Kenzou – Happy “Bass”day from Bass. Just kidding”. Ever the thoughtful one, she has also put a Hanshin Tigers band-aid.
Berating his old self for wasting Rei’s feelings, he runs like mad, suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to see her. It’s night when he reaches the meeting place, and Rei looks at him with curious and expectant eyes until she sees the band-aid. After urging him to sit, Eri pretends to go search for food and leaves, followed by Tsuru and Mikio.Now alone with Rei, Ken pulls out the note and remarks that not everyone would have understood, though he did. Heh. Pointing at the card, he tells her to take it and she reads: “Coffee Milk”. He declares it to be a coupon she can use later, because he may forget tomorrow. Oh oh, smooth, dude.
She laughs and they’re soon a bit embarrassed and acting stiff. Knowing that he won’t be here the next day, Ken advises her to come early to school because he has revealed her secret on the class board. She panics but the lights get turned off and they hear “Happy birthday to you”, Mikio, Tsuru and Eri coming with the cake.In a nice sequence, Chiisana koi no uta plays as its lyrics match Ken’s real message: The most important person was sitting right next to me.
It’s cut short though, when Itou-sensei enters, speaking with the new intern teacher. Itou notices the message and takes the eraser but the intern respectfully offers to do it. He effaces Ken’s words, letting us see his face: it’s Tada, which gives an ironic and symbolic flavor to this moment.Blissfully unaware and enjoying his birthday, Ken gets ready when comes the picture taking time, peeking at Rei one last time. One flash later, he’s back at the wedding hall to discover the new version of the photo. Happy to see her smile, he soon feels blue at the confirmation that nothing else has changed.The Fairy’s voice rises: “Getting married isn’t an easy thing”. Not playing wise-ass this time, Ken tries to gain the Fairy’s acknowledgment that he did work hard, but he only gets a passing grade. The Fairy informs him that his 18 y/o self treated Rei to coffee milk the next day, but that his confession was quite meaningless because it hasn’t been read. He tells a shocked Ken not to worry, for the slideshow isn’t over yet.He disappears and Ken sees his next destination. At the center of the picture stands Tada, surrounded by the whole high school class with Ken hilariously weeping on his shoulder. Back then, Ken was very sad, not knowing that things would turn out this way later. Oh, the irony! Impressions:
It’s the second trip for our hero and he’s getting used to it. Some would say that he’s maybe taking too much time doing so, given how he tends to repeat the same mistakes. Yes, Ken is kind of a slow learner, and can be pretty dense at times, but that makes his journey more meaningful.This episode is a good example of how you need to pay attention to little things, though I dare say Rei’s method of offering a gift was way too difficult. We ain’t Hercule Poirot! I don’t blame Ken for not catching the whole thing back then.
We also have here one of those heart-tugging slice-of-life vignettes Japanese dramas capture so well. What I enjoyed in this episode was how trivial high school moments were shown like precious memories to enjoy to the fullest while it last. It’s a kind of a bittersweet feeling, because though he’s a man-child, Ken has lost this innocence and insouciance his friends still have as real teenagers. Being able to live once again these emotions allow him to become aware of them and grow.
Things also get interesting, with the appearance of Tada in their teen lives. Ken obviously liked him enough to cry when he left the school, so it’ll be funny to see how he’ll manage his interactions now that he knows what the future holds in store.