Rich Man Poor Woman – Episode 4

With the best flashback we could possibly get in this story, this episode takes us to the origins of NEXT INNOVATION’s success. Behind it stands a pair of opposites who learned to complement each other. And just like so many duos before them, cracks begin to show in the perfect partnership. But this world NEEDS more bromance!

Song of the Post: 加藤ミリヤ (Kato Miliyah) -「Kiss」

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/u/31675795/05%20-%20Kiss.mp3]

Episode 4: The forgotten love is revived with a kiss

Brooding in the lab, Chihiro is cheered up by Haruka, who sympathizes though she’s heading to Hawai for her graduation trip. Psh, lucky people can’t understand! She urges Chihiro to seek Hyuga’s forgiveness if she doesn’t want to poison her life with all this gloominess.

Everyone is on their toes as Hyuga throws yet another computer during a meeting with his chief programmers Ogawa and Hosoki. He asked to be surprised, not to be presented with standard stuff good enough to feed the bin. He wants to make a splash and impress the audience with a super software, stylish and superior to anything created. Hosoki complains that they only have 4 days but Hyuga ignores him.

He asks about the server issue, and Kosuke reassures him that they’re currently bargaining with their Indian provider to use their technology, which is much cheaper than in Japan. Ogawa raises the question of their competitor, JI Tech, whose system is already on the market and Yasuoka chirps that with Chihiro on their side, it’s a done deal with the Ministry, but Hyuga abruptly says that he fired her. Yasuoka Shock.

Already pissed, he snaps at them that they’re providing something that nobody has ever seen, and storms out. Kosuke plays peacemaker and offers a 5 minute break. Once the office is empty, he joins Hyuga who meditates alone.

Hyuga wonders if he’s going in the wrong direction, but Kosuke advises him to do thing his own way. He points to the office wall, where those who admire Huyga left their messages: that’s only too bad he can’t remember most of them. Kosuke suggests that it has more to do with the fact that they left soon after realizing they couldn’t keep up the pace, to what Hyuga muses that NEXT INNOVATION has its own « Wall of bitterness ». Hee, seeing all this grudge everyday…that’s creepy.

It may be so, but it’s also their soul notes Kosuke, as we flashback to 8 years ago, when Hyuga met Kosuke. At that time, he was the geeky boy, presenting his project to Kosuke’s telecom company but eventually refused to negociate, arguing that he attracted one million users on his website by himself, and left the meeting scoffing at these stupid business men unable to see the potential success.

One did and ran after him: calling out to him, Kosuke set the bar higher, aiming for 10 million users. Together, he added. Proving that he really believed in Hyuga, he handed his resignation on the spot, saying to his boss that he found an amusing fellow.

Effectively ready to follow our nerd in his crazy path, they moved in a simple room to settle their brand new company. Matsushita Electric and Sony both started out as small factories, after all, and it took them 30 years to become the country’s leading companies. Confident, Kosuke was sure they could achieve that in only 5 years, and let Hyuga name his company. Taking a marker, Hyuga wrote on the wall: NEXT INNOVATION.

Hyuga: What do you think?

Kosuke: Sounds good.

And as Kosuke predicted, they reached the 10 million users milestone, with their little team exploding in delight.

3 years later, Kosuke led the negociations with underwriters for NEXT INNOVATION’s initial public offering. While nobody wanted to issue an overpriced stock, one chimed in that there was an other company who entered the market with high prices, and it worked. Soon after, Yamagami changed ship to join them, and cheerfully announced that the market capitalization brought in way more than what was expected.

Giddy with joy and armed with electric chipping hammers, Hyuga and Kosuke cut the part of the wall with the company’s name on it, which ends up exposed in their huge new quarters as a memento of their more humble roots.

Aw, I freaking love this whole sequence. We know their company’s name from the get-go, but it’s so satisfying to see its origin, and how they started out. Now, I want a spin-off showing more of these days, full of excitement and apprehension. I want to bask in the friendship and the bromance of this period, because something tells me that this will soon change.

Kosuke catches Hyuga looking at Chihiro’s discarded business cards and comments that it was quite a bad move to dismiss her with their current negociations with the Ministry but Hyuga counters that for an IT start-up, having a fraud would be a dicey situation especially when they’re dealing with public data. Heh, can’t argue on that one. Kosuke agrees, and feels like the old Hyuga is back.

He asks about Hyuga and Chihiro’s first encounter, in the past, but Hyuga has no recollection of either her face or her name. Kosuke feels sorry for her and walks out, leaving Hyuga mulling over his remark.

Thanks to Kuga, Chihiro found a part-time job at a gas station, and who else but Hyuga comes to fill his car? What a small world you are, DramaLand. Chihiro tries to hide but has to do the job, though she uses all possible means to stay out of Hyuga’s sight.  Still, she can’t beat her real feelings and steals glances at him. You know you want to, girl.

She hesitates and is about to reveal herself but eventually decides not to, bowing as Hyuga pulls out. What she doesn’t see is that Hyuga catches a glimpse of her in his rear view mirror but doesn’t dwell on it and drives away.

Yoko is busy cooking when Nogi purposedly shoulder checks her, causing the dish to spill on the floor. She burns herself in the process but apologizes to her brigade which only irritates Nogi further. He openly pushes her, denigrating her as a woman and as a chef but she stands her ground and fires back that she can manage by herself, thankyouverymuch. Though she crouches down right after he leaves, to wince in pain. Don’t worry, you were badass all the same.

Passing by her restaurant, Hyuga can’t help but stare at his Holy Table, stopping short of drooling. Reasoning with himself, he walks away but stops when he spots….Holy Table Number Two! The brain. It does not compuuuute.

Barging inside, he beelines for Yoko and throws a fit that he wanted it first. Bwahaha, you HUGE baby. Amused, she says that she’s the kind to act on impulse and Hyuga is ready to riposte when he sees her burnt wrist. Nogi enters, all smiles for his customer, but sarcastically wonders why Yoko doesn’t go to the hospital. They exchange veiled barbs until Yoko remembers Hyuga’s presence, and excuses herself to get back to work.

Leaving work, Chihiro is called out by her boss who asks her to check his accounting, because he can’t afford to pay a professional. Hearing that, Chihiro has a light bulb moment and asks him if he has any other problems with his papers. Man, you really love homework. Indeed, she’s working on it at home, and thinks that conducting a survey on a 300 people sample would be a good starter. LET’S DO IT! ☆

The next day, she approaches people to hear their opinion on the disadvantages of public institutions or if a new classification system would interest them. Truth be told, she’s not successful, but this is the hard life of a pollster, my dear. Fight-O!

Exasperated with his programmers, Hyuga literally drops their computer and states that he’ll take over the interface design. They say that if you want something done, it’s best to do it yourself but should a president do that? Meeting with Kosuke, Yamagami disapproves Hyuga’s method and once again Kosuke puts on the mantle of Hyuga’s first supporter, persuading Yamagami that he’ll create something unique.

From fingers to toes, Hyuga is completely dedicated to his project, while Chihiro analyzes her collected data. A new day comes, with Hyuga still glued to his computer, and it’s Yasuoka who realizes that he didn’t rest at all. Worried for his boss’ wellbeing (AW), he successfully forces him to stop for a breath. Walking outside, Hyuga can’t bear inaction and runs back when he  stumbles upon Yoko.

She isn’t particularly looking fresh herself, and they both laugh at each other’s faces. Well, I wish I’d look like that when I pull all-nighters. Yoko offers to enjoy their break together and they agree not to mention anything related to cooking or programming for 30 minutes.

Still gathering information, Chihiro asks an old lady about her banking operations but the conversation gets overheard by a passing police officer who misunderstands and believes Chihiro’s trying to scam Granny. Chihiro defends herself when Granny cries that her bank book has disappeared which totally convinces the cop that Chihiro is the culprit. Haha, what were the odds? You’re seriously unlucky today, darling.

Bantering over a coffee, Yoko notes that Hyuga can make her smile like in the past, and remembers with a hint of regret how they used to talk for hours. Playing along, Hyuga stares at her, trying to recall her face, though he eventually has to give up. Yoko is clearly disappointed but is a good sport and stops at that.

Back in his office, Hyuga presents his nifty project version, which impress his chief programmers, Hosoki even commenting that Hyuga should have done it from the start. Boo Boo, very bad choice here, buddy. He realizes his slip and tries to backpedal but only digs further along with Ogawa. Kosuke says that it’s time to start but Hyuga won’t have it that way: they’re all out of this project.

Though he holds his tongue, Kosuke looks annoyed and it doesn’t help that he stumbles over his sister’s legs first things when he gets home. Girl, I can get you’re tired, but did you really need to sprawl on the floor? The couch is few meters away, just sayin’, and Kosuke goes straight to plop down on it, finally shedding his good boy mask as he gripes about being the one setting the stage for Hyuga’s show.

Yoko: You’re such a good number two, brother

Hee. I’m pretty sure you mean well, but who loves to be called “Number Two”? I’m sure YOU wouldn’t. She asks if Hyuga really can’t remember anything but Kosuke clarifies the symptoms of Prosopagnosia: forgetting faces and names. He wonders when Yoko met Hyuga and she brushes it off as a simple crush, leaving him to mull over her words. He looks at his reflection, representing his own Number Two. Ominous, much?

Having just finished her meal in the police interrogatory room, Chihiro has no time to digest and scurries to hide in a corner as soon as she sees Hyuga, standing at the door. The police officer explains that she couldn’t stop blabbering on about NEXT INNOVATION so they called him. Filling the paper, Hyuga snidely says that she sure is famous for her lies but that she was indeed working for him.

An officer comes to reveal that the bank book has been found in Granny’s purse (lol no props to you, policemen) which means that Chihiro is free. Cue death glare. Keh. She apologizes to Hyuga for making him come this late but is still happy he’s there. He says that he’s busy testing his project, so she indeed bothered him. He pauses, realizing something as he looks at her. No, not this kind of realization.

Bringing her in his office, he lets her use his interface but she’s stuck at the log-in page, unable to give her ID number. Seeeeriously? Hyuga is pissed at first, until it dawns on him that she’s not at fault: it’s his system! If you’re used to one pattern but that you’re suddenly asked to adapt to a totally different one, of course you’ll have a hard time. He asks her which she’d choose between a fancy, newfangled Formula One car and a simple as ABC, plain one….and Chihiro cringes that she’d take the average car.

He then proceeds to erase all of his work (I’m having a mental breakdown at this point), now sure that he has to make it dumber. Huh, am I the only one seeing my electric devices differently? Soon after, he presents her with a brand new interface, much more basic. I’d say bland, but whatever. Chihiro likes it, skimming through the pages, and he dives into his programming.

Feeling unwanted, Chihiro prepares to leave but Hyuga pointedly asks why she was around the ward office. She pitches her survey project, making him scoff that she’s pouring so much effort for such a little result and though she agrees, she adds that she wanted to do something to help him. He notes that she was the only one to remark that  their program is more about who will use it than what NEXT INNOVATION can create. Thusly, he acknowledges his mistake and she smiles, pleased as punch with this outcome.

Arranging his desk, she inadvertently touches his Ipad, which displays Sawaki Chihiro’s profile. She freezes and turns to Hyuga, who wonders if she created the page through the company’s registration form but she denies and apologizes. He tells her not to distract him and she’s about to leave when she has an epiphany: is he developing this project to find his mother? Yep, took you only 4 episodes to catch on.

He shuts her up with a glare and she goes downstairs, watching him from her desk with moony eyes. Her eyes fall upon a poster praising the virtues of exercising to have ideas and here she goes. Why, that’s totally the right place and the right time to do that. Through the glass walls, Hyuga looks at her and their eyes meet. She energetically pumps her arms to encourage him, which makes him grin, though he tries to hide it. You dorks.

Checking the prototype with him, Chihiro observes that the elderly tend to forget their passwords, so Hyuga offers a different way to log in with the user touching the screen to pet the dog picture in predefined places. He demonstrates it and Chihiro squeals. After a while, she begins to doze off and Hyuga’s devilish side creeps in: he asks her to log in, which activates a spooky animation that scares the living daylights out of her. Haha, that’s typically the kind of prank I’d do, if I knew how to program.

The sunlight enters the room, and now that they’ve completed the design, Hyuga tells Chihiro to go. She lets out a surprised “Huh” but goes reluctantly, clearly wanting to stay. When Hyuga finally walks out, his eagle eyes spot a new addition to the office wall: “I am here. Sawaki Chihiro” followed by the real Chihiro’s address. Hyuga mocks her writing style, gazing at the wall with pensive eyes.

Dressed in a sharp suit, he accompanies Kosuke to meet with some JI tech big guns. Kosuke warns him that a little start-up like them doesn’t often get the chance to meet such a giant but when they enter the restaurant private room, they find a bunch of men guffawing and devouring their lunch. Hyuga stops Kosuke, who turned back right away, and they both endure the group’s scornful comments about how they’re tired of being asked to cooperate with NEXT INNOVATION.

Lightly washing his fingers after eating shrimps, one of the men hands them a signed contract, joking that they better not stain it. What the….Can I shove your face in your hot soup? Hyuga is boiling with anger but Kosuke forces a smile and thanks them for helping NEXT INNOVATION to be a respectable business, though he’s ignored. Hyuga grabs the contract and slaps it down in a plate. Thanks, but NO thanks!

Looking straight at them, he declares that his company is superior in terms of technology, compared to their old-fashioned systems. They’re showing off but the truth is that they’re already finished. Hyuga sneers that there’s no way he’s drowning with them and dashes out, failing to see Kosuke’s irritated face.

Kosuke catches up to Hyuga when he enters their office, and points out that they need such a big name to graduate from their current “cellphone games” niche market and inspire trust from their future institutional clients. Getting steamed up, he reproaches him for riding his high horse at the restaurant and though Hyuga agrees to that, he states that it’s not the way he does business.

Heading to Hyuga’s office for a private talk, Kosuke desperately tries to change his mind, claiming that he wants to turn NEXT INNOVATION into a first-class company, but that only makes Hyuga laugh. Kosuke gnashes his teeth and his eyes grow wide when he catches sight of the new interface. Far from being impressed, he can’t believe Hyuga is satisfied with such a simple design that doesn’t display their technological expertness.

As if waiting for it, Hyuga playfully explains that their program won’t be manipulated by geeks like them and that what the average Joe can use is the best technology. Struck dumb, Kosuke realizes that he’s facing a different Hyuga, who repeats his words on his way out:

Hyuga: A first-class company? So that’s what you’re after. Asahina…This is the first time you disappoint me.

OOOOOF. Can you hear that? The cracking sound of the ground shattering between these two.

Answering a call from Yasuoka, Chihiro heads to the office to be forgiven by Hyuga. Well, he technically doesn’t, but is still curious as to why she keeps using this name or why she wrote his mother’s address on the wall. She says that she wanted to convey it somehow but that’s not the reason he had her come here. With a deadpan face, he says that he needs her clumsiness and idiocy.

Showing her the laptop, he smiles and says that it’s the interface she developed. Girl is overjoyed, and not only because of the close proximity. Walking down to the main room with her, Hyuga claps his hands to call everyone’s attention and introduces her all over again, as the new intern. He stops short though, and turns to ask her name. Ha.

My name is Natsui Makoto.

Bwahaha! The irony. The employees are confused but Hyuga goes on, even repeating her name for good mesure. Aw, he’s making efforts to remember it or what? To defuse the awkwardness, he start a round of applause. Teehee, that’s cute.

The chief programmers are delighted with the interface (less extra features means less failures!), not seeing Hyuga hem and haw. He finally faces them, and assigns to both of them a task, embarrassed to say that he wants them back on the project. “From now on, I won’t create alone.” Gah, I can’t help but grinning along with them.

Finished for the day, Hyuga leaves and finds Makoto on his way. He points out that she’s such a hardworker but takes the occasion to gives her a new box of business cards, not without teasing her. Snarkily, he notes that she’s the boss of her department, comprised of….only her. Kekeke.

Her new catchphrase?『バカこそ最強 !』-  Powerfully Stupid! I’m glad he didn’t push the sarcasm to allude to her lies. Makoto is elated to be able to enjoy her business card, feeling like she’s a part of the company.

Hyuga casually mentions his mother still being in the countryside, as Makoto told him and she sees that as her chance to confess that she also lied back when he was in her family’s inn. She apologizes, revealing that it bothered her all this while, but he doesn’t have a single memory of that time with her. She takes in the blow, laughing that of course he wouldn’t, and takes her leave.

Disconcerted to see her hurt, Hyuga tries to tell her about his medical condition but the elevator bell cuts him short. Entering the booth, he enjoins her to atone for her sins, and she smiles, calling him『社長』-  Shachou (President) for the first time.

Still in the office, Yamagami’s eyes pop out when he hears about the JI tech incident, and he sides with Kosuke, wondering if Hyuga can be trusted. Oy, you two, don’t go stage a coup d’état! Yamagami worries, especially with his two daughters costing him so much, but Kosuke assures him that their company is going to make more and more money. Oh, I really, really  don’t like this look in your eyes.

At Yoko’s restaurant, Hyuga clears his plate like a good kid and as she joins him, he remarks that she works too hard. Hm, you didn’t sound the same when you said that to Makoto. She argues that she gives everything to her career and wants to spend each minute efficiently. Hyuga ponders a bit when she switches the conversation to him, and wonders if he hurt her as well, because of his Prosopagnosia.

Now that he thinks about it, it sounds horrible not to be remembered. Feeling nostalgic, Yoko describes her memories, back from when they met in a night train. They got off at the same station, and Hyuga asks why, so a slightly flustered Yoko explains that they both were in the mood. She insists that what matters is that they really hit it off, and she thought that it was reciprocal.

They parted with the promise to meet again one year later, and Hyuga pauses: he does remember! He says that he went there as promised to meet her but has trouble recalling what happened next. He turns to ask what she did and she stands up, avoiding his eyes. She says she didn’t go, and apologizes, but he laughs that he’s the fool in this story. She grabs his arm on his way out, whispering that she’s lying. She looks up at him with a huge smile, declaring that she waited all this time for him, and swoops in for a kiss.

Outside the restaurant, Makoto is rendered stunned by this sight, as the world goes silent around her.

Facing the office wall, Kosuke clenches his fist and helplessly knocks it, screaming in frustration. The next second, he turns on his heels as if nothing happened, muttering: “Filthy wall.”

Impressions

Oho, Show, I didn’t expect you to go there so soon. Kiss Kiss ♥ Bang Bang

I really dig how we’re progressing with Kosuke’s character so far, as he steadily lets himself fall deeper into the darkness of his own heart. It has been hinted at several occasions in the previous episodes, so it doesn’t really come as a surprise. Still, I like how this episode focused on him struggling between good and evil, and it had an even bigger impact after the awesome flashback. Me want more bromance!

It’s obvious that Kosuke is getting more and more annoyed with Hyuga’s attitude and business methods. In that respect, the restaurant scene was particularly striking, as the discrepancy of their reactions revealed a lot about their mindset. You’d say that we already know that Hyuga is the impulsive one when Kosuke smoothes things over, but this time they weren’t on the same wavelength anymore.

During their private talk, the tension emanating from Kosuke was palpable and I believe he experienced there his point of no return. He could have been pulled back in the straight path, but somehow I doubt Hyuga has noticed his internal conflict. Now, they can only drift further apart, so I better stop rooting for them as the main couple.

Because, yes, I almost forgot about the romance part. *gasp*

Frankly, I was more engrossed in Kosuke’s arc than anything, even though we had very cute moments between Hyuga and Makoto. Oh, Makoto. I was catched off-guard and I burst out laughing when I heard her name. Those who already read my review of Colorful may already know it, but the name “Makoto” is formed with the kanji 「真」meaning Truth, or Sincerity (to make it more feminine, it’s compounded with「琴」- Koto, like the instrument). How clever to bestow our Miss lying liar with such a name.

So, before traveling down the dark path, let’s remember the good days. Because the future doesn’t look all that pretty.

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