Ho-hum…*hesitates to come forward”… Hi there! I know it’s been a freaking while since I last posted, so you may need to take a quick look at the previous recaps. And, for those of you who already saw the ending (unlike, say, ME), well, this place can offer you a trip to memory lane!
Things are slowing down a bit in this episode, as we follow our leads taking a break in the countryside. Nothing beats the great outdoors to go back to the basics and brace for the storm that is brewing. Fresh tomatoes will of course be very much appreciated.
Song of the Post: 家入レオ (Ieiri Leo) -「Hello」[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/u/31675795/02%20Hello.mp3]
Episode 5: I want to support you…This morning we welcomed together
Walking in a scary underground carpark (I know, pleonasm), Kosuke feels tensed knowing that there’s a car following him. He seems to recognize the driver, scoffing that he’s still up to his old antics, but when the man gets out of his car, Kosuke looks quite puzzled.
Conducting a speech in the conference room, Hyuga presents his Personal File project, demonstrating that we all need a program that would gather the content of all those very important papers we’re burying ourselves under during our life. Thanks to it, one can save both time and money, instead of going nuts from running back and forth between the different administration offices. Why not use the money to invite your date to a fancy lunch instead? You’ll even afford the dessert. Me likey.
The lights suddenly turn off, Hyuga feigning surprise. But that’s just a part of his show that he used to illustrate the anxiety we feel when we don’t know where to go. If we could be assured that our information were accurate, it would enable us to move forward. Proudly displaying his project, Hyuga claims that Personal File can become the headlight you need to guide you through life. Man, that presentation is cool.
Turns out that only a handful of employees attended the speech, and they all give Hyuga a standing ovation. All, minus Makoto, lost in her reverie. You lucky girl, if I were to daydream about my boss, it would look like a nightmare.
A loud voice covers the claps to put a damper on the praise, and everyone turns to see the members of the Board of directors. The idea may be great, but they deem it too dangerous for the company’s finances, Furthermore, they have a big competitor to deal with so they veto the project and leave, laughing at this pipe dream.
That’s enough to make Hyuga’s blood boil, and he literally runs to jump down their throats but Kosuke interposes himself to stand in his way. He promises he’ll speak to them and Hyuga finally relents, letting him follow the group. But he needs to vent his anger and lashes out at his computer in his office, shouting that NEXT INNOVATION is his freaking company so why should he let those idiots sabotage his plan?
The whole office can easily hear his roaring: while Kosuke doesn’t even bat an eyelash, Makoto powerlessly looks from downstairs. Sighing, she gets in the elevator and nearly jumps out of her skin when Hyuga barges in, looking quite worn out. Without a word, they stealthily sneak glances at each other, though Makoto lets her mind be filled with flashes of The Kiss to the point that she has to slap herself to stop it. HAHA, and you were the one joking about SM plays…
Speaking of the devil, Yoko cheerfully joins them which has the immediate effect to send Makoto flailing around in a not so very subtle manner, and she quickly scrams. Left behind, Hyuga and Yoko exchange a look, and she laughs at the awkward atmosphere. It was just a little kiss, she says, and he agrees. However, she can tell it’s not what’s bothering him so she asks, but he shrugs it off.
Outside, Yoko sighs as she checks her business cards and sees Nogi throwing bags of vegetables (GAH). Spotting her, he doesn’t miss the opportunity to take a dig but she fires back that he shouldn’t buy so much and walks away. Her responsible self kicks in though, and she takes back her words, apologizing for her poor managing skills. For once, Nogi seems to feel bad about it. A bit.
Yoko’s mood drops even lower after reading an unfavorable article about her restaurant, which is given a B- grade. And if that wasn’t enough masochism, she goes online to read the malicious comments written by netizens. She bitterly remarks that they should actually come to eat the food before judging, but an incoming comment gives her (and us) goosebumps:
Right now, I’m watching you checking your smartphone through the restaurant’s vitrine. Doesn’t reading the comments make you wanna die?
Back from Hawaii, Haruka tries to Hula dance Makoto’s worries away, but only manages to get our girl all worked up over how amazing Hyuga is. Makoto feels frustrated with herself, thinking only about ridiculous things when Hyuga’s company is facing a big hurdle. Haruka doesn’t think alike and uses her Hawaiian doll to suggest that this great Hyuga would rather look at his scantily clad secretary. Who else bets she’s writing fanfics in secret?
Makoto dismisses the thought but Haruka counters that she’s the type men are attracted to. At last a drama that doesn’t try to force the Plain Jane on an alluring actress. Thank you Show.
We switch to a video presentation of Aoyama Makoto, a renowned designer who announced his retirement to focus on growing his tomatoes in his hometown. Talk about quirky. Hyuga excitedly explains to his team that they’ll experiment the Personal File system in Aoyama’s village and if successful, the project will definitely convince the Ministry.
Ogawa wonders how Aoyama got involved in all this and it’s a beaming Makoto who answers that she’s a member of an online “Makoto Group” gathering people bearing this name, and it’s there that she became friends with Aoyama.
He began sending her bento boxes, and we get a hilarious scene with Makoto ready to dig in her lunch when Hyuga suddenly jumped at her, fascinated. She of course thought that he was praising her cooking skills but he burst her bubble real fast, irritated that she couldn’t even notice Aoyama’s genius. Taking a pen designed by Aoyama as an example, he went on and on about the little details that make such a simple and common thing special. Though Makoto looked like she doesn’t give a hoot about it, she politely nodded.
Now that the team knows about Aoyama, Hyuga announces that some of them will accompany him to the village and it’s after a little pause and a frown that he includes Makoto, pretending that she’ll be able to thank Aoyama in person this way. Pfft, yeah sure Tsundere boy.
Making a call outside, Kosuke walks down the stairs when he’s almost hit by a man bolting out, and he’s surprised to be such a coward when the same man returns from behind to push him down the stairs. Bleeding, Kosuke lies unconscious on the ground. What’s with the stalker trope this episode, Show?
At the hospital, his foot in a cast, he casually says to Hyuga that he wasn’t careful and fell by himself to which Hyuga comments that he’ll finally get some rest. He quickly switches topic, and enthusiastically reveals that he met Tono, their former associate. A flashback shows us Tono joking that he left NEXT INNOVATION because he wanted to be independant only to find himself managing his family’s business.
Though Hyuga remembers him as a brilliant element, Tono says that he also left the company after realizing that he didn’t have enough confidence to keep up with Hyuga’s style. But now, he feels the urge to create something, and that could be fulfilled through an investment in NEXT INNOVATION. Hyuga’s eyes sparkle as he tells Kosuke that Tono could come with a whopping 100 million yen to help finance the server cost. To concretize this deal, Hyuga made sure to plan a meeting with Tono in India, right after he wraps up his countryside trip.
And there we find him with Makoto as they’re greeted by Aoyama. Makoto enjoys seeing Hyuga being all nervous with his idol, but when she introduces herself to Aoyama, he hugs her repeatedly with a huge grin that indicates how much he’s pleased to have some fresh blood (especially female) around. Hyuga’s got a rival and looks a bit jealous: how dare she monopolizes Sensei’s attention! Keh.
In the greenhouse, Aoyama enjoins them to taste the tomatoes but Hyuga lets Makoto have his share, since he hates it. She loudly expresses how delicious it is, to Hyuga’s disgust, and goes to join Aoyama who shows her a box of tomatoes sold at $100 (but….there are only 11 tomatoes inside!!), arguing that many don’t mind buying at this price if there’s quality. Damn, I’m glad I have a kitchen garden.
Aoyama praises the Internet revolution, enabling his business to connect with worldwide customers, and that makes Makoto remembers Hyuga’s words about technology improving people’s lives. Aoyama continues the tour and Makoto hesitantly tries to say that they don’t have much time but he kidnaps her while Hyuga snaps a picture with a smile.
Things aren’t looking that rosy for the rest of the team, struggling with the lack of feedback from the villagers. Hyuga decides to personally visit the folks, and drags a country bumpkinified Makoto with him. They discover that Aoyama isn’t that popular when a farmer snipes at his marketing methods that make them look ridiculous. Straight-faced, Hyuga gives tomatoes to Makoto for her to throw at the farmer. Haha.
Heading back, Hyuga answers a call from Yasuoka, informing him that their competitor JI Tech beat them to the punch and invested a huge sum to get NEXT INNOVATION out of the deal. Now isn’t the time to enjoy the view so Hyuga hurries and pressures the whole team. He frustratedly growls that this experiment is meaningless but Makoto stands up and says she’ll convince them.
She’s sure that the villagers will use their system if they simply understand it and is ready to go explain to each and every one of them. Hyuga yells at her to cut it out but she shares that his presentation moved her and that everyone will definitely find the project great. He gruffly points at the clock, which shows time is past midnight. He’s not again the idea and smiles when Makoto promises she’ll go the next day.
But going together to meet the elderly, they found out that some didn’t even open the laptop offered by NEXT INNOVATION because they thought it would be a waste or because they hate technology. Back at the temporary HQ, Hyuga irately shouts that it’s a failure since most people here are afraid of computers and won’t use his system. Makoto can only look at him vent his anger on their equipment.
Later, Ogawa informs her that he can’t stay any longer and has to go back to Tokyo, while Hyuga sees their exchange from afar. Meeting with the Board of directors via Skype, he has to listen to them denigrating his strategy and declaring his project dead. He’s about to blow a gasket when Makoto pulls out the plug, irritated at these two-faced old men.
Hyuga needs a change of air, and barks at her not to follow him. She doesn’t listen, of course, but Aoyama pops up out of nowhere and grabs her arm to take her to a welcome party, smiling widely as he states that she’s his mascot. Resistance is futile, so she soon downs beers, giggling at the flatteries of Aoyama’s staff. Her hazy mind remembers that she has left Hyuga and she tries to escape but Aoyama has clearly made her his target and catches hold of her, spouting flirtatious nonsense.
Faking a hug, he grows serious and gravely advises her to leave Hyuga alone for a bit, for he needs some thinking, only to turn silly again. Managing to walk out the room, she finds Aoyama observing Hyuga. He scoffs that he’s still quite inexperienced before joining the lively room, and Makoto peeps at the more gloomy one where Hyuga is brooding to his heart’s content.
She wakes up in the party room, now empty, and groggily greets Hyuga as she sees him pass by. Coming closer, she offers to go out for a walk to change his mood and while she enjoys the scenery, he’s more glad that she keeps a safety distance. Drinking and sleeping without a morning shower ain’t no joke, kids. But soon, he’s also enthralled by the beautiful vivid landscape.
Sitting to savor the moment, he ponders whether to give up or not for everyone’s sake. Feeling his distress, Makoto extends a compassionate hand but stops herself as she lets it hovering over his back, and suddenly goes for a friendly massage. GAAAAH, YOU! She chirps about what Aoyama said though she quickly returns to her normal self to comment that Aoyama used to spy on his customers to know what they buy. Haha, I can totally picture that.
Of all his creations, it’s the ballpen that made him most proud, the same Hyuga raved about. Makoto asked Aoyama why nothing remained of his early years and he said that it was because he failed. At that time, he boss restrained his creativity, and everything he designed was a mess.
Aoyama: If you create something new, it will certainly meet with failure. It will certainly meet with criticism. But, creating things starts from there.
Hearing that, Hyuga can’t help but smile and turns to stare at Makoto, though his eyes awkwardly go back and forth when she returns his gaze with a grin. To cover up his embarrassment, he calls her “cocky” but seems quite pumped up, running to work on the project.
He orders the programmers to get rid of the keyboard and use speech recognition instead, which could be used by whatever device, and make an user-friendly interface giving priority to comfort. Ogawa is overwhelmed so when Hosoki comes to the rescue, he’s more than relieved. So is Hyuga, who then feels free to throw as many ideas as possible. But as soon as he catches Makoto’s goofy smile, he takes his best boss voice to give her work as well. Nyaaah, you don’t scare anyone here, dear.
Ready to depart, Hyuga and Makoto go to say goodbye to Aoyama who promises to send them tomatoes. Writing the company’s address with the famous ballpen, Makoto gives it to Aoyama who throws it to Hyuga, helping the workers downstairs. Surprised at first, he senses that along the pen, Aoyama’s legacy and spirit has been passed to him and he deeply bows. Though the old fart already left ages ago. Pfft.
Calling out to him, an old lady asks if he’s going to quit, and with a confident smile Hyuga assures her he won’t and automatically wins a new fan. Yay~ The cuteness goes up two notches when he nestles his head comfortably against Makoto’s shoulder, unaware of her nervousness. Making sure he’s asleep, she relaxes and delights in the miracle until she spots her little neighbor, grinning from ear to ear as if thinking: “Onee-chan, you sure got game.”
Makoto is still on her own little cloud when they land, but Hyuga takes it the wrong way, thinking that she’s holding a grudge. LOL He tells her to spit it out at once, before he takes his plane to India, so she ends up mentioning that she saw him with Yoko when Yasuoka comes running at them, panicked. He says that Tono disappeared and time stops for Hyuga.
At the office, Yamagami updates him on the fact that Tono’s company never heard about an investment and that Tono certainly never had the intention to bring money. The result? No fund to finance the indian server or the interface project.
Hobbling in on his crutches, Kosuke gently smiles at Hyuga, and affirms that there is an other way. Actually, the partnership with JI Tech is still possible but there’s a condition. Of course, there is. There ALWAYS is. They want to control the interface development, to what Hyuga vehemently protests. Thinking fast, he proposes to sell 5% of his shares instead.
Kosuke points out that it’ll be dangerous if he’s no longer the biggest sharholder, but Hyuga replies with an ingenuous face that it’ll be fine as long as Kosuke is there, since the three of them will still hold 46% of the company. Uh Oh. Why so trusting, boy? You’re talking business here, not games. Kosuke relents (?) and tells him to do as he wants.
The news is all over the media, and Hyuga ponders a bit before shifting his attention towards the 3 tomatoes boxes sent by Aoyama. He delivers one to Yoko, catching her off-guard when she was sighing. He tells her that he hates tomatoes but felt bad for it, thus giving it to her, and she decides right away to cook some for him. Haha, is that a war declaration?
She cleverly arranges it by filling the tomato with pasta, and waits with bated breath Hyuga’s verdict. He actually loves it, and she basks in the happiness until he notices that there aren’t many customers. Thanks for bringing the subject, I’m sure she wanted to discuss that with you. She pretends not being hurt by the harsh comments and he praises her, saying that he would be depressed by those anonymous net bastards. Way to poke at the netizens dictatorship, Show.
Yoko laughs and says that it wouldn’t have turned this way if she kept the restaurant as it were but she’s not the type of person to settle for comfort. Makoto enters, with a document for Kosuke, but her face falls as soon as she spots Hyuga and she hurriedly leaves. Damn, how old are you? Yoko goes to confront her about her attitude, leading Makoto to reveal that she saw the kiss.
I love Yoko’s reaction: So what? She guessed that much already, and knows that Makoto loves Hyuga, despite the latter’s adamant denial that he’s just her boss. Yoko can tell that she’s lying, and gives her an other opportunity to lay her real feelings. Watching at him through the glass, she only has bad things to say at first (he’s obnoxious, he mocks people…) but her tone softens as she notes that he’s amazing at what he does and that she really admires him. Now opening her heart, Makoto confesses that she’d like to support him by staying by his side.
Yoko’s eyes widen but both girls stay silent after this revelation. Yoko forces a laugh, assuring that everything is fine and that it starts now. What, the love battle? I thought it has already begun, but with such a goody two-shoes rival like Makoto, you ought to spell it out.
Hyuga appears, which Makoto takes as her cue to flee. Sigh, kids. He thanks Yoko for the food and goes his own way when she stops him. Gathering her courage, she asks him to drive her home. Striding in the street, Makoto abruptly stops at the crossing and tries to regain her composure but sees Yoko laughing with Hyuga in his car.
She avoids the sight and misses Yoko’s gaze, who turns to Hyuga to see if he noticed or not. He didn’t, and Yoko waits until they’re away to mention that they passed by Makoto. Hyuga looks at his rearview, his eyes unconsciously following her, but pretends that it’s nothing when Yoko grows curious.
In the carpark, Kosuke meets with the mysterious driver who turns out to be Tono. In a flashback, we see him having a bone to pick with Kosuke as he bitterly remarks that he brought half the capital when NEXT INNOVATION started out and yet he got kicked out because Kosuke and Hyuga wanted to have the majority.
Showing an USB key, he proudly states that he stole the personal information of 500,000 clients before leaving the company. Companies go bankrupt for less than that, so Kosuke sternly asks what is his price, and betrays a slight disdainful scoff at the 2 million offer.
We switch to the aftermath of Kosuke’s fall, where he lightly joked about how stupid Tono is. Picking himself up, he eyed the trafic poles and took one to smash its concrete base on. His. Freaking. Foot. Okay, wondering if you’re NUTS seems futile now.
When Tono came to visit him at the hospital, Kosuke nonchalantly declared that he’d sue him for blackmail and assault. Nervous, Tono tried to use his key as a leverage but Kosuke had more to offer. Pulling him closer, like the mafia boss he wants to be, he told him to change his target.
The one who annoys you is Hyuga, isn’t it?
Back in the present, Tono confidently reports to Kosuke that he’ll buy Hyuga’s shares and that they’ll own the majority. I swear, replace the laughs by cackles and the candies by cigars and you have your typical villain.
Soon, NEXT INNOVATION is caught in the storm, with the hacking of more than 5 million people’s personal data. Hyuga helplessly watches his employees trying to cope with the blow, but decides to move as the TV news covers it as the country’s largest personal data leakage incident.
Everyone is pretty much scrambling around, with the (big) exception of Kosuke. Eyes closed, he enjoins the hurly-burly with a smile, to the point that Yamagami thinks he doesn’t know about the bad news. Oh yes, he does.
Kosuke calmly tells him not to worry for the one who’ll be hurt will only be Hyuga. Errrm, I beg to differ. Yamagami looks at him with terror while Kosuke returns to his private spectacle. Hyuga watches the same show, but doesn’t quite like it as much.
Time stops for a moment, as Makoto eagerly fixes Hyuga’s desk, her eyes tearing up when she doesn’t find him there. Indeed, he’s stayed unseen to hide his frustration and fear, in the face of adversity brought by an invisible enemy.
Someone will need a moustache to twirl and a fat cat to pet. It’s now painfully obvious that the wavering time is over, and that there’s no turning back.
This episode was kinda cut in two: we had a slow, contemplative first part and a much more intense and surprising end. Though we understood with the previous episode that Kosuke chose the dark side, it was still weird to suddenly have him cackling and pulling the psycho card all of a sudden. Let’s observe a minute of silence in memory of Old Kosuke.
On an another note, I realized with this episode how much of a brat Hyuga can be. I mean, the annoying side of the Brat Force. Sure, Paaaaaaasonaru Fairu is a very personal (haha..ha) and important project to Hyuga but it’s also a whole new playground. He really needs to adapt if he doesn’t want to spend the rest of the series throwing tantrums like a 9 years old.
In that aspect, I loved Aoyama’s comments about how Hyuga is still “wet behind the ears”, because contrary to the public image he gives, that’s totally the case. Life surely wasn’t easy on him, but he more or less never faced a big failure and got used to hit the roof as soon as something doesn’t go his way. I’d have prefered that Aoyama’s words were addressed directly to him, instead of Makoto, who sometimes acts more like a supportive (surrogate) mother than anything.
I restrained myself from commenting, waiting to see how far she’d take it, but I realize it won’t stop anytime soon: I’m seriously fed up with Makoto’s overcuteness. Japan loves kawaii and expects it from everyone (even from poop), and it unfortunately happens that women feel forced to act cute to get men’s attention. I swear, I geddit. But I wish Makoto was written more powerfully, and with more chutzpah.
Anyway, since we finally have a heroine with a real name, we’re given a brand new opening. Well, not that new, since it’s just an updated version, and quite kitsch at that. What’s with the 80’s motifs? The engrrrrrish ? (Ritch? Seriously?) Still, enjoy.