Song of the Post: FLiP -「ホシイモノハ」(The Thing You Want Is)[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/u/31675795/01%20-%20%E3%83%9B%E3%82%B7%E3%82%A4%E3%83%A2%E3%83%8E%E3%83%8F.mp3]
Episode 3: The past is revealed…。Time to break the love
Walking to the office, Chihiro witnesses Hyuga dropping off Yoko and in her daze she can’t prevent a (stupid) passerby to bump into her. Yoko comes to help pick up her files, and makes clear that she only met Hyuga by chance when she notices Chihiro’s gaze on him. Chihiro keeps a distance with her, which leads Yoko to state: “I see. So, we’re rivals?” Way to start a good day!
Wanting to deliver an information, Chihiro spies inside the conference room, where Hyuga’s being interviewed. Kosuke invites her inside, since he knows it”ll soon be over. Indeed, Hyuga’s patience is wearing thin, annoyed at the journalist’s insistence on emphasising his name alone, over his products. So the journalist switches to Hyuga’s background, the perfect topic to make Hyuga snap.
But he doesn’t and keeps his cool, listening to the journalist narrating his own story. Yes, he was adopted at 6, but he couldn’t care less about his real parents. Scoffing, he says that they just provided the genetic material before ending the meeting.
Kosuke applauds his disregard for fame while Hyuga grumbles about those who label him “extraordinary”. But to Kosuke, this it the proof of their insecurity: nobody admires them so they strive harder to gainsome kind of achievement. When Hyuga comments that Kosuke is the same, he counters that he’s fed up with praise and society life. It’s rather Hyuga who should admit he enjoys the praise, he adds jokingly.
Working in his office, Hyuga ostensibly ignores Chihiro as she brings him papers, but stops her to give her the Holy Grail of every new employee/intern: a personalized『名刺』- Meishi (Business Card). Practically doing a victory dance, Chihiro looks closer when Hyuga points out that she sure does look like this avatar made with such evil intention. A second later, she’s like “Wait, it does have a malicious feel.” Pffft, still, her avatar is uber-kawaii, completed with the punchline『宿題ください！』- Homework please!
But her excitement fades as the truth reappears in her mind: this was made for “Sawaki Chihiro”, not her. Eating later with Haruka, she concedes that her idea was pretty ridiculous. But she needed that for Hyuga to keep his eyes on her, and is too caught up in her lie now to backtrack. Haruka wonders if she knew Hyuga before and that sends Chihiro into a flashback to when she failed her Todai entrance exam (Haruka gasps. Lol)
In her hometown (Kōchi Prefecture, Shikoku Island), she found a friendly ear in the local restaurant『 おかみ』- Okami (a traditional hotel or restaurant manager. Used for women). In the flow of the conversation, the Okami told her she had abandoned her own son and was adamant about not meeting him, going as far as to make Chihiro promise she’ll say she doesn’t know her if someone asks.
After that, Chihiro had to bite the bullet at home, and watch her father and her brother yelling at each other. That’s all well and good, but where’s Hyuga in her story, asks Haruka. Well, he was there too since Chihiro’s parents manage an inn where Hyuga stayed at back then, looking quite different. He remarked once to Chihiro that this business was an economic suicide, given the lack of tourism in the region. His tactlessness hasn’t changed much, that’s for sure. Him being a tourist is different, he said, because he came to find his mother, Sawaki Chihiro. He lightly asked if she knew the name, but our Fake Chihiro awkwardly denied.
In the inn, Fake Chihiro’s mother prepared an opulent banquet for her one and only tenant, telling her angry husband that he’ll come again this way. Ha, oh Mom. Fake Chihiro told him that he was not forced to eat, but he found the food tasty. Chuckling, he observed that her parents won’t make any profit, dispensing their stupid generosity to compensate for their loser daughter. Chihiro felt insulted, but he clarified that he was actually feeling envious. Oh RLY?
He asked her is she’s giving up university and as she pointed that they’re poor, he advised her with a tinge of annoyance that she should do it quickly. Envious of the domestic atmosphere, he bitterly said that his trip was unsuccessful but that it won’t stop his quest, thus taking a jab at Chihiro’s indecisiveness. Sweetly smiling at her family, he wished his mother was like that. I know you all want to give this guy a hug.
Not able to contain her secret, Fake Chihiro fled to the restaurant, enjoining her to meet her son (who’s weird, but worth meeting! Haha) but the Real Chihiro stated that she had already decided not to. Trudging back, Fake Chihiro heard from her father that Hyuga already left, prompting her to run helplessly at his pursuit.
Commenting on her story, Haruka is impressed at Chihiro’s vivid memory, but the latter explains that it’s because she’s regretful: she could have reunite the son with his mother. But what about now, points out Haruka. Will she or won’t she reveal the truth? Pondering on it as she looks at her business card, Chihiro enters a very tensed office. Everyone is a bag of nerves, Yasuoka declaring that it’s the Death Mail Day. *cue optional thunders*
Not feeling concerned, one programmer (Sakaguchi) cockily orders Chihiro to go buy him a coffee outside but she suddenly gets surrounded by other employees. They all know that she’s just a job hunter now, but they still seek for the advices of the one girl who is close to the president. Chihiro still doesn’t get it, so Yasuoka-sensei explicates that it’s the day the programmers’ contracts are renewed, and Hyuga shoots a mail to those he wants to fire.
The countdown starts, sending the whole office in StressLand. 8 hours before the end of
Battle Royale Death Mail Day. A scream resounds: two programmers jump out of their seat, having received the deadly message. Enters Hyuga, cheerfully riding his Yike Bike with a loud “Hellooooo~”. Ah, you’re totally enjoying this. Tanaka, a programmer, runs to show him his new wonderful idea, but a mail pops up: he’s fired. Hyuga gleefully notes that even on a slow day, his Death Mail operation manages to keep him amused. I’m sure he was a Roman tyrant in his previous life.
Trivia: still striving to make Hyuga remember him, Yasuoka resorts to a parody of typical Japanese Tv-shows games. Each of the syllabs composing his name are associated with an adjective: Ya (Yasashikute – Kind) Su (Sunao de – Honest) O (Omoroi – Amusing) Ka (Kakugari- Crew Cut). PFFT. I’m dying. Chihiro looks at him with pity, while Hyuga laughs his head off, but still asks what his name is. Just to see him redo it again. HAHAHA. I love this company.
In Kosuke’s office, Tanaka begs him to reconsider but is being given a personalized analysis to start his own company instead. Kosuke praises his abilities, and lists all the advantages, but Tanaka is more touched by the gesture and asks if he can visit him sometimes for advices. Kosuke readily agrees, even giving him his private number on the back of his business card (catchphrase: You can do it!).
Walking out, Tanaka haughtily says his farewell to Hyuga, who can’t even get his name right. A bit miffed, Hyuga reproaches Kosuke for playing the good cop to those he fires, but Kosuke argues that it all depends on how you manipulate people’s feelings. Of course he’ll never reply to Tanaka’s calls! But letting him believe that will save the company useless expenses, unlike what happened when an angry ex-employee broke a gate on his way out. I feel I’ve just been bitch-slapped. But it works, as we see Tanaka heel clicking after passing the gate.
Meanwhile, Sakaguchi bosses around both Yasuoka and Chihiro, who doesn’t understand how a senior can let a junior bully him. But Yasuoka says that you gain your position through achievement, not seniority, and that Sakaguchi is the company’s hope. Hearing them, Sakaguchi sneers at Chihiro, who isn’t a programmer and only wastes the company’s paper. I can’t wait to see you take down a peg or ten.
And my wish is granted on the spot, as Sakaguchi’s eyes pop out of his head after reading his Death Mail. Barging in Hyuga’s office, he calls into question his decision: hasn’t he made a popular game that ranked very well in sales? Kosuke agrees that for a student, it was great…but that was already one year ago. Now, he doesn’t bring profit. Ow, that’s a pretty brutal way to crash back to reality.
Playing Sakaguchi’s updated game on his notebook, Hyuga finishes him off by commenting that it’s quite uncreative and boring. So, he was incompentent after all. Sakaguchi tries to save his place, saying that what ultimately matters is that the user still buys his game: “As long as it brings money, it doesn’t matter if it’s not interesting !” Uh, oh, I believe you just stepped on poop barefoot. Slowly turning to him, Hyuga flashes a perfunctory smile, and delivers the dreaded words: “Thanks for everything. Goodbye.”
He pretends to check his badge to see the name but Sakaguchi snaps it, and leaves. That’s fine for Hyuga, who throws it backet-ball style, and misses the bin. Ah, I hate when that happens. Sakaguchi lumbers along the office, and dispiritedly reads the challenging words he wote when he entered the company:『５年で日向を追い抜いてみせる！』- I’ll show that I’ll surpass Hyuga in 5 years!
Chihiro brings him his coffee, and is surprised when he thanks her. Psh. He tells her he was just fired, but that he saw it coming since he only rested on his laurels and didn’t create anything new. The whole room listens as he asks Chihiro if she knows his nickname:『一発屋』- Ippatsu ya (One-Hit Wonder). Aw, that’s sad.
Everyone can come with a good project, but what’s really hard is to follow up. Hyuga is different, and Sakaguchi admires his skills. On his way, he’s approached by Kosuke, who was waiting for him. But Sakaguchi couldn’t care less and harshly rejects Kosuke’s good intention, dropping his box in the process. Watching Kosuke picking his things, Sakaguchi declares that he still thinks Hyuga is amazing and that the one annoying him is rather Kosuke. Ding, ding, round one!
He says Kosuke and him are the same, ambitious and looking for fame. So why Kosuke stays in the shadows? Playing the shoulder devil, he provokes Kosuke, guessing that he must be scared of Hyuga: “If you confronted him, you know you’d lose. That’s why you keep being his side-kick.” But Sakaguchi is different, while Kosuke is the coward who can not fail. Gauntlet, thrown.
Kosuke does look like Sakaguchi’s words stuck a blow, but quickly puts back his amiable face (or should I say, mask?)
In one voice, the employees do the final countdown, bursting with joy when the screen displays a “Congratulations! See you tomorrow” and Hyuga puts the finger on what I was thinking from the beginning: “It’s a real survivor game!” Past her breaking point, Chihiro lets her disgust show and tells Hyuga that he has bad taste. How can he make fun of his employees, turning such an serious matter (layoff) into a game? But instead he mocks her class representative mentality and counters that he’s already employing a fair number of people.
When she repeats that to Kosuke, her boldness cracks him up. He sides with Hyuga, though, since keeping unproductive employees would mean less resource for the good ones. Chihiro understands but retorts that not everyone can be as excellent as Hyuga. That isn’t lost on Kosuke who muses that he wasn’t very pleasant today, prompting Chihiro to affirm that he’s quite the decent man. Laughing, he asks her out and not waiting for her reply, grabs her and runs. WUT?
In deep concentration, Hyuga analyzes a table in a furniture shop and decides on it until he spots the “Sold Out” label. Keh. Seems like he was searching for such a table for already 2 years (WTH!) and the saleswoman apologetically tries to lessen the blow when Yoko enters. She’s the one buying it and Hyuga believes for one second that he just has to smile and ask to win it except that Yoko is also quite the furniture freak and they soon enthusiastically engage in obessive nerd talk about texture, design or angles. Still, when they’re asked who’ll buy it, Yoko keeps the upper-hand. She ain’t no fool, this girl.
At a bar (this show sure loves this setting), Kosuke reveals that he knows now that Real Chihiro is Hyuga’s biological mother. With a sigh, he betrays his disappointment at Hyuga becoming “ordinary” when searching for his mother, and mutters that he was just pretending to be tough. He openly agrees that he hates this “ordinary” side, though he also seems to dig at Hyuga’s cool facade. Chihiro has the reversed opinion, feeling that the Hyuga looking for his mother is the authentic one.
That annoys Kosuke, who slams his glass down as he curtly guesses that it’s because she likes him. Why doesn’t she tell Hyuga the truth about her identity and his mother’s whereabouts? Now the one playing the devil shoulder, he disturbs her: “Isn’t it cowardice to stay silent?” Oh, you’re not playing fair. But you’re right.
Even Chihiro admits she should spill the beans, and Kosuke wonders what face he’d make when they hear Yoko’s voice. Still squabbling over the table deal, Hyuga and her run into Kosuke and Chihiro. Hyuga comments that it’s quite an unusual combination but Chihiro quickly turns her face as Kosuke returns the compliment.
They all sit at the same table, Yoko excitedly mentioning her and Hyuga’s similar tastes and turning to him, she points that they had fun and he goes along. Yoko reads Chihiro’s face but the latter pretends nothing is wrong. When they meet later in the ladies’ bathroom, their attitude is telling: Chihiro stealing glances while Yoko candidly looks at her. Chihiro clumsily tries to broach the subject of Hyuga and Yoko’s closeness, but Yoko cuts her off: “You like Hyuga?” How can you not love her straightforwardness?
Chihiro fumbles with words and Yoko strikes again: “I do.” She has met lots of guys but it’s the first time she feels like he’s the right one. When asked what she thinks of coincidence and fate, Chihiro replies with a platitude, while Yoko believes it’s true. Those fortuitous meetings may be meant to pull them together, and she announces she’s going to verify that. Chihiro is left muttering that she technically met him first.
The couples split up on their way home, the siblings sharing a taxi while Chihiro sees her chance to confess the truth. Thing is, Hyuga won’t listen to anything she wants to say until she gets him the Holy Table. That’s the things with nerds. Chihiro feels relieved.
Sakaguchi visits her the next day, and humbly (!!) asks her to hand a USB key containing his new game idea to Hyuga. He thought it would be easy as pie to find a new job but was confronted with the bleak reality. Chihiro wonders why her, and he points out that she’s very close to Hyuga, speculating that she’s his girl and this very idea has her all flustered and bustling around.
Seeing that, Sakaguchi notes that she has no self-confidence (you bet) and that she doesn’t know the extent of her own power. She should try and show it. How ironic it is that it’s Mr Fallen Smug who gives her the prod she needs.
She has Hyuga playing the game, and he admits it’s not bad. However, he still won’t hire Sakaguchi again. Because it’s much more amusing to see people struggling feverishly! Chihiro leaves, but not before appealing to him to at least tell Sakaguchi his idea is “not bad”. Speaking for herself as well, she lets him know that he makes others uneasy, and that Sakaguchi needs an approving nod from the one person he respects.
To his credit, he looks like genuinely interested as he watches Chihiro go. Kosuke conjectures that they can hire Sakaguchi again if his game is a success but Hyuga sticks to his decision: this will only repeat the cycle, if Mr Useless Smug returns. So Kosuke suggests to pressure him, in a way that’ll bind Sakaguchi to them. Hyuga tells him to call the guy, and soon after Chihiro sees Sakaguchi smile in Hyuga’s office.
Walking out, he nods at Chihiro, and assures Hyuga he’ll do his best. He better do, replies Hyuga, since he’ll have to recover NEXT INNOVATION’s investment quickly. After all, didn’t he write that he’ll surpass him in 5 years? Look at you, playing Business Angel! Kosuke is flabbergasted but Hyuga casually says that setting a company is like a game and that Sakaguchi will find it amusing the more he’ll learn.
Chihiro goes to great pains to hide her glee, though she silently cheers on Sakaguchi. He takes his leave when Hyuga suddenly calls out his name, which as we know is a pretty big deal. Sakaguchi can’t believe he remembers his name but there’s more:
You’ll be fine. Your idea is interesting.
Sakaguchi weeps tears of joy and runs after Hyuga, who was about to go out, to express his gratitude. But Hyuga doesn’t care, saying that he just bought an expensive toy. He returns to his office, with Kosuke hot on his heels. He still reels from the shock but Hyuga grins like the kid he is: “Did you see his face? Teasing him is fun!” Haha, count on him to turn everything into a game.
He muses that now, Sakaguchi can only rely on himself, and will have to prove his worth. When he hears about it, Yamagami objects, finding Sakaguchi threatening but Kosuke (once again) supports Hyuga, arguing that there’s no way he would be afraid of a talented rival. So Yamagami wonders, what Kosuke really thinks of Hyuga and what a coincidence! Kosuke’s phone rings. Literal use of saved by the bell.
Heaading to a meeting outside, Hyuga is waylaid by Tanaka who doesn’t realize he’s been stood up despite Hyuga’s blunt words. He’s made speechless by Tanaka’s unexpected optimism and spots Chihiro seated inside a fancy restaurant, but Tanaka drags him along.
Finished with Tanaka, Hyuga curses Kosuke under his breath for tricking him and turns to see that Chihiro is still waiting. He finally decides to join her, teasingly asking if she’s now swapping job hunting for matchmaking (matchmaking meetings are usually held in an elegant restaurant/hotel). After her initial surprise, she tells him she’s waiting for a university teacher, though he may have forgotten the appointment. Sigh, true story of mine.
Sitting across from her, he wonders if she knows the prices of the place, since it’s clearly way over her budget if she stays and eats. Laughing, he says he’s ready to hear the important stuff she wanted to discuss. Perturbed, Chihiro pretends she needs to eat first but Hyuga misunderstands that she’s afraid of the bill. She isn’t, and after agonizing over the moment, she orders some liquid courage to help her.
Alone in the office, Kosuke reads Sakaguchi’s declaration on the wall, thinking back to his stinging words. As he remembers Chihiro’s praise, he frustratedly crushes his coffee cup.
Meanwhile the girl is powered by the alcohol and jokes about Hyuga’s Tsundere-ness, trying to hide that he really is a big softie underneath. He opposes that he’s not helping Sakaguchi but rather throwing him on the difficult path, for his own amusement. That only fuels Chihiro’s loud hilarity, picturing him as the sadist in a SM play. He titters at her unawareness of her surroundings, both being the object of attention of every client in the restaurant.
Chihiro knows that he’s more mindful of Sakaguchi that he lets on , and though he still tries to save his image by saying that he just wanted to try something new, he concedes that giving a chance and encouraging someone is new to him. Giggling, Chihiro points out that the kanji used for his name『徹』(Tohru) doesn’t fit his personnality and that 『星一徹』- Obstinate Star would have been better. That cracks her up and her mirth is so contagious that even Hyuga gives in.
In the bathroom, she looks much more sober as she worries about breaking the spell. Watching her reflection and her business card is enough to remind her of her priorities and off she goes, slapping herself to galvanize her into action. But the simple sight of Hyuga smiling at her makes her go weak in the knees, along with the rest of us. Stamp of approval for Chihiro’s shoujo vision.
They head outside, Chihiro offering to treat him to something. Hyuga has seen enough and doesn’t want his subordinate to pay for him, belatedly realizing that he’s feeding her jokes. She’s way too happy to be the one making fun of him and misses a step when she walks down the stairs in her giddiness. He catches her while she clings to him and they both freeze, looking at each other.
She’s finally the one to break away (YOU FOOL!!!), blabbing on about his trip to her family’s inn. UH. OH.
She tries to escape but he grabs her arm:
Who are you?
He pulls her close, saying that Sawaki Chihiro is his mother’s name. She apologizes, her head hanging in shame, and makes a clean breast of it: she took this identity to draw his attention. Visibly hurt, Hyuga tries to control his emotions but violently jerks her arm away.
I have no words to express how I’m glad Chihiro’s secret didn’t get dragged on for God knows how many episodes.
This drama keeps unraveling its story at a fast pace, and while I’m enjoying it, I confess I’m still a bit wary. Way too often, I’ve been allured and burned by seemingly cute and original trendy dramas. So I developed an instinctive shield called Worrypants, and once again I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much. But damn if this one doesn’t looks promising! And super cute!
I’m quite relieved the cat is out of the bag. First, because nobody can use it to blackmail her (that would be lame), but also because I was beginning to feel like they hammered a bit the whole “I’m not the real Sawaki Chihiro, I feel so guilty, woe is me!” Now, we can only go to the juicy stuff, right?
I like where we’re heading, both in terms of romance and friendship. Kosuke is turning to be more dark and complex than what his easy-going persona led us to believe. We knew he was an interesting character when he pulled out the “I know your real identity” card and played around a bit with Chihiro’s (and our) nerves. This part of him was also morally ambiguous, because he kept that crucial information hidden from Hyuga, who is the most concerned but who above all is his business partner and friend.
He claimed he was fine, being in the shadows, but Sakaguchi’s words clearly has awakened a more greedy and ambitious side inside himself that he didn’t expected. I’ve said before that if Kosuke were to betray Hyuga, it would be in Hyuga’s benefit eventually. I thought that Hyuga being the hero, he’ll surely go through a character development arc, and with Kosuke being the one he trusts the most (so far, along Head Monk), it would serve as a wake-up call.
But now, we have a much more intriguing pattern: what if he evolves into Hyuga’s antagonist, Smallville’s Lex Luthor style? Sure, that sounds a little far-fetched for a light rom-com, but wouldn’t that be great? So far, Kosuke hasn’t shown any remorse but rather curiosity as to how Hyuga would react, which is weird given that they’re supposed to be friends, and that he knows about Hyuga’s painful past.
Speaking about Hyuga , I’ve found him particularly cute in this episode, which is a first since Oguri Shun isn’t really the kind of actor who makes me go “kyah kyah”. But the way he portrayed his loneliness and craving for a familial bond at Chihiro’s inn or when he loosened up and laughed along her in the restaurant, it hitted the right spots for me. And the final scene? Got me in the gut.
On the downside, Chihiro’s childish manners kinda grated on my nerves, especially when she was siding with Sakaguchi. I hope to see more of the bold (and drunk!) Chihiro, who needs to assert herself more. With each episode pointing at her lack of self-confidence, it’s about time she gets it. Maybe hanging around Yoko will help, as she’s her complete opposite. God, I loved the simple and direct way she declared her love for Hyuga. She’s driven by her emotions, while Chihiro lets her brain hamper her feelings.
Before concluding, I’d like to say that as I thought, it’s tough keeping up with the release of each episode. I’m a slow writer (thanks, procrastination) and I always give priority to real life. So I can’t offer a recap right after the broadcast, which also explains why I decided to recap old dramas when I started this blog. I’m the first surprised I broke the deal, but that’s just how spellbiding this show is.