Rich Man Poor Woman – Episode 7

Winter is here! And what would be better to warm you up than taking you back to last summer? Err, okay, am I that obvious? I still deserve a E for Effort, I think.

The scheme hatched out by Kosuke continues to expand, as he slowly spins his web around Hyuga. Seems like nothing can stop him from catching his prey, even if it means getting your friends and family entangled in the trap.

Song of the Post: ONE OK ROCK — Liar

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/u/31675795/08%20Liar.mp3]

Episode 7: A change of CEO…!? Goodbye my beloved

The beach. The folks at NEXT INNOVATION decided to fool around in swimsuits after receiving a general mail informing them that the company will temporary cease activity. Makoto didn’t feel like donning a bikini and thus has to endure being taken for a local. Pfft.

She hears a TV and sees the pack of journalists waiting for Hyuga outside the building, and ready to jump at him as soon as he gets a foot out of the building. Watching along Makoto, a couple comments that Hyuga may have deserved this, because as the saying goes ‘Where there’s smoke, there’s fire’. Makoto can’t stand seeing them licking their lips in anticipation of Hyuga’s downfall, but is gently stopped by Yasuoka.

The group prepares to leave the place when Hosoki says he’s going back to the company, which motivates the others to follow in a happy atmosphere. We switch to a more somber one with Yamagami sighing that stopping the sales at such a moment will bring them on the verge of bankruptcy. Kosuke agrees, and adds that their problem is cash.

Hyuga looks quite out of it, making Kosuke scoff that it’s a rare sight to see him so weak. Fearing a a fight, Yamagami begs them to calm down, but Kosuke assures he’s only trying to get some life out of Hyuga. And since it doesn’t really work, he mentions Yoko. Ooh, we have a badass here.

Seems like reason regained control over Hyuga’s sexual drive, and Kosuke doesn’t miss an occasion to rub in that Yoko sure took advantage of his weakness. Kinda fed up with his attitude, Hyuga says that Kosuke always looks like he’s safely looking down from above but Kosuke counters that he’s just been rejected by Makoto.

Just when Yamagami tries to focus the conversation on the current crisis, the rest of the crew barges in, with souvenirs, and ready to come back the next day to work. Looks like this forced administrative leave was taken as an incentive trip. Methinks more managers should watch this show.

Having bought her own share of souvenirs for Hyuga, Makoto tentatively enters his office but finally turns back, only to hear his voice: “You liar.” He doesn’t press the point, but she understands it has to do with his call. She apologizes and explains that she called back several times but he wouldn’t pick up. Hyuga awkwardly rolls and mutters that he was busy  (conveniently skipping the part about exchanging saliva with Yoko) though he remembers pushing her away after the kiss.

Makoto eagerly promises not to miss his calls anymore, and will even take her phone with her during pee breaks. At his indifferent “I don’t care”, she wonders if he’s okay but that only makes him joylessly laugh and remark that if he sank so low that she actually feels pity, then he’s finished. He coldly assures her that he’s fine but grows annoyed as he asks if he has to tell lies to reassure her. Truth is, she actually wants some.

Now the one complaining, she pouts that Hyuga really is creating his own enemies, just like Kosuke said, and speaks of the haters rejoicing over the genius’ disgrace. Hyuga is more concerned than he lets on, hearing about such animosity, but Makoto saved the best for last and expresses how happy she felt when Yasuoka & Co decided to stick by Hyuga’s side.

She insists that they’ll follow his lead even if he tells lies, since she way prefers to see his overly confident self. “I want to hear you say: “There are plenty of ways to do it” (i.e: to overcome their obstacles). After a short pause, Hyuga cracks up, and turns to her with a serious face to assure her that: “There are plenty of ways to do it!” You wanted it, you have it. Now try to push your luck!

But he won’t let her take the upper hand, and feigns being annoyed: “Who do you think I am?” Haha, way to turn the situation to your advantage. He keeps his word, though, and try to convince Kosuke and Yamagami to give a financial compensation to their wronged shareholders. Thing is, it’ll amount to 5 billion yen. Gulp.

Mere words won’t be enough to atone for the loss, so they need to resort to cold hard cash. Hyuga perfectly knows that it’ll dramatically affect their finances, but they’ll never manage to restore trust if they don’t get hurt in the process. Question is, how will he gather such money? With their stocks hitting new lows, Hyuga has no other choice but to pledge the entirety of his shares as collateral for a loan.

Faking concern, Kosuke gravely points out the danger of such a move but Hyuga simply smiles: once the trust is restored and they’re back to business, he’ll recover his assets. Gah, Kosuke, I can’t stand thee.

As they’re both standing in front of the office wall, Hyuga seeks some approval when he wonders if his methods are wrong (and remember that it’s not the first time he asks Kosuke about it). Keeping his real thoughts in check, Kosuke blankly says that he was the one in the wrong for doubting him.

Kosuke: This is your company.

Hyuga warmly smiles and promises he’ll restore it, making Kosuke pleased (or is he?) enough to initiate a good ol’ fist bump.  Hmm, I loved a similar scene 3 episodes ago, but I’m really not feeling it this time. Must be something to do with Kosuke’s creepiness showing up.

Chilling out at home, Makoto freaks out when she hears her phone ringing, thinking that it must be Hyuga. Sigh, you’re definitely a dog type. Pfft, and she even left her phone in the toilet. But it’s a call from a pharmaceutical institute, and her eyes nearly pop out of her head at their job offer.

She goes on an interview and faces a whole group of big shots, eager to have her in their team. They’re all impressed with Makoto’s analysing skills, and she admits going through hell to organize the data only to be told that working there will be just as hellish. That’s not how you usually lure young talents. Just sayin’.

They praise her and indicates that they can provide housing. Sounds good…as long as you keep working there. Still, when Makoto walks out, she looks rather conflicted. Her friends are quick to throw a karaoke party to celebrate the good news, but she’s clearly out of it. She finally got her golden ticket into a top-notch company, and still something is amiss.

Haruka comments that she must be so accustomed to be used as a carpet that she may let such an opportunity go. Very good point here. She mentions Kosuke’s confession as an other example but Makoto would rather drop this topic and for that she even agrees to sing along Haruka.

Meanwhile, Kosuke is pleased to state that they managed to find 6 billion yen, 5 of which they’ll use as compensation money. Hyuga is ready to go to the next stage and release a new game. Everyone in the company feels reassured, though Yasuoka remembers that this is the last week Makoto will be with them. Dejectedly, he says that it’s going to be lonely without her. Aw.

Appearing in the TV news, Hyuga publicly unveils his plan and explains that this is how he’ll try to rebuild the public trust in his company. Once finished, Kosuke comes to tell him that he gave to see a totally different persona. Hyuga retorts that if so many people still hate him, then he mustn’t have been very convincing. Turning to (what he thinks is) his best friend, he adds: “But truly, I’m not that bad of a person. Am I?”

*hugs*

Kosuke is surprised by this sudden burst of gentleness, so Hyuga reluctantly admits that it’s what Makoto said. Kosuke. Not. Happy. But it made Hyuga realize that he’s not only surrounded by enemies, and that he should better take care of his people.

Literally swallowing his spite, Kosuke agrees: “That’s right. You’re not only surrounded by enemies”. SAYS THE SNAKE! And the pat he gives Hyuga on the back looks more like he’s searching the best spot to stab.

In Yoko’s restaurant, Nogi smoothly presents the dishes he prepared with the daily products to a group of enamored ladies, swooning to every smile. Clenching her fist in victory, Yoko exults in the background: “Good job Nogi! Give them one more smile!” Haha, why does it feel like she’s an idol manager?

But her strategy is successful, as the ladies promises to come back as regular customers. She chirps about Nogi’s charms in the kitchen, whose contrast doesn’t fail to appeal. Her metaphors? A wrestler knitting lace, or a delinquent ladies want to pet like a puppy. Spot on!

Not fond of it, Nogi points out that she’s changing the restaurant concept but Yoko retorts: “Isn’t change a good thing?” And you know she’s not just speaking about the restaurant. Now serious, she thanks Nogi, who tries to shake the awkwardness by ridiculously threatening her to use his newfound charms to draw his fans into a menu free of Yoko’s cooking. With a glare, she dares him to before breaking in a smile. My, are we securing a man for her when she’ll get dumped?

We’ll have to wait for that one, but she’s already aiming at Makoto as her next target. Pressed by Haruka to answer positively to the pharmaceutical company offer, Makoto can’t help but search for an excuse to stick with Hyuga. “I never know when he’ll need me for work or companionship”. Beuuargh. Were you a pet in a previous life?

After hanging up, she angsts over her dilemma when Yoko suddenly grabs her. Her bubbly self contrasts sharply with the current gloomy Makoto, and she cheerfully suggests having some drinks as if they’re the best of friends. Isn’t it sad for her to go to her rival when comes the time to celebrate a good news? But the unexpected presence of Hyuga and Kosuke at the very same bar quickly wipes the smiles off her face. Awkward drinking time, here we come!

And sure enough, the topic of smooches is brought by Yoko as she admits having kissed Hyuga. “It’s always me making a move…” Oh, poor girl. Kosuke encourages her, prompting Hyuga to wonder if it’s okay for a brother to find it normal that his little sister is a serial-kisser.

All the while, Makoto agonizes in her seat, trying to hide in her wine glass, until she hears the mention of a phone call. She realizes that they kissed when she tried calling Hyuga, but denies being the one who contacted him, to Hyuga’s surprise, noticed by Yoko. 

An embarrassed silence follows, broken by Kosuke’s question: “So, who’s the one Miss Natsui loves?” Hyuga freezes and Makoto squirms some more before exploding. She’s had enough with this discussion and begs them to stop, much to the siblings’ amusement. She’s not completely blind, though, and directly addresses Kosuke, asking him to put an end to his teasing.

Yoko smells that something juicy happened between the two and even Hyuga lets his curiosity show. Makoto doesn’t contradict her, and worries about hurting Kosuke’s feelings so he apologizes. She remembers them all that she only have five days left in the company, and wants to dedicate them to her work.

Yoko mentions her future new job at the laboratory and Hyuga can’t hide his astonishment. As Makoto and him walk in the streets on their way back, they both let some distance between them. Breaking the silence, Hyuga says that he’s glad someone noticed her guts and talent.

She’s touched, though a bit disappointed, and notes that if that offer came earlier (before she entered NEXT INNOVATION, that is), she wouldn’t feel so confused. Hyuga can understand that she wants recognition and encourages her to go. She’s thankful, but confesses that it’s difficult to leave after finally meeting a very special person. Gee, I wonder who that would be? 

Hyuga seems to get it, and smiles when she declares that some people can achieve things with sheer talent and luck. But being close to such a person made Makoto understand that it’s only the way it looks to outsiders who don’t realize how hard the person struggles to attain his goals. She learned that it takes guts to follow one’s vision even if it means hurting people along the way.

Mustering her courage, she stops and desperately calls out to him.

Makoto: Any position would be fine, so can you hire me?

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGHHHHH. Please. Don’t. Girl! She wants to work under his orders and he does look tempted for some seconds, but knows that it wouldn’t help her. As heavy and difficult as it may be, he plays his part as the mature one and points out that she still hasn’t grown up.

Hyuga: You’re misleading yourself, when you should make an important choice in your life, just because of a fleeting emotion.

Thank you, bro. Coming closer, he reminds her of his advice, about thinking one step ahead. But seeing her earnest face from up-close weakens his gruffy boss act, and he sighs. Feeling conflicted, he nonetheless recommends her to focus on herself. Taking his words in, she agrees, laughing with teary eyes that she got things all wrong again.

Fighting her tears, she tries to pass off her emotional confession as an attempt of escaping the future hell promised by the laboratory but Hyuga isn’t fooled. She assures she’ll join the company and manages a smile to thank him. “I’m happy I could work with you!”

You know her puppy eyes make the whole situation even more painful for Hyuga, and after a short moment where he refrains himself from doing or saying something, he finally opts for a way to end the conversation by hailing a cab. Makoto comes to bids him goodbye but he grabs her by the arm to let her get in instead. Not sure of what to do, he wishes her good night with a tiny smile and walks away, thus avoiding her dejected face.

It’s a drunk Yoko who complains to her brother that he shouldn’t have let the two go back together. He missed his occasion to have Makoto to himself and ended up with his sister at home. Ew, that sounds gross in a way. Amused, Kosuke advised her to give up on Hyuga and throws his vest playfully at her. She tosses it back but it hits his laptop, making it fall on the ground.

That pretty much sobers her up and she rushes to check it, relieved to see that his data are saved. Something in his open file catches her eyes and makes them widen as she slowly computes. Disturbed, she confronts Kosuke about it but he simply takes the machine from her hands, coldly saying that it’s none of her business. That’s what all serial killers think, I’m sure.

At the NEXT INNOVATION office, everyone rejoice as the stock value officially crosses the ¥1000 line. Yamagami giddily barges in Hyuga’s office to share the good news, and Kosuke comments that while Hyuga’s bet was a painful blow, his compensation money was successfully accepted as a redemption move.

But Hyuga takes it as a green light to go to the next step, and force the Board of Directors to accept his Personal File project. The timing is perfect for him to make them understand at last. So, it’s the return of Parusonaru Fairu!

As usual, when taking important decisions, he turns to Kosuke, tacitly asking for his agreement. Nodding, Kosuke orders Yamagami to call an extraordinary session of the Board and he leaves the room with him, after a friendly fist-bump with Hyuga.

Already focused on his next step, Hyuga doesn’t notice Kosuke’s glare nor Yamagami’s worried look. And during the session, Hyuga does his best to appear as a serious businessman, even abiding by the formal bow to apologize. But he doesn’t forget his real motive, and turns the crisis into an opportunity for them: they showed the world they learned the lesson, and will be stronger than ever. This is the perfect time to launch NEXT INNOVATION’s most important project: Personal File.

The room buzzes with positive comments and one of the directors stands up to lead the vote. One-third of the room raises their hand in favor of the project, making Hyuga mentally exult, but a familiar voice points out a problem. Standing up, Yamagami mentions the recent uproar and how NEXT INNOVATION nearly fell into bankruptcy.

Going further, he makes sure to scare the Board and leads them into considering a new leader. Hyuga tries to keep his cool but his jaw drops when Yamagami strikes the last blow:

Yamagami: So hereby I would like to present a motion of dismissal for Hyuga Tohru.

You son of a dog. Unabashed, he doesn’t evade Hyuga’s eyes, while Kosuke feigns surprise, and he even praises Hyuga’s talents. Yeah, what better moment to do that, right? Yamagami assures him that he’s himself one of Hyuga’s fervent admirers but can’t accept his business views, so he had to move now, or else their company wouldn’t survive. Are you actually trying to seek understanding from the very one you’re stabbing?

Hyuga’s face is an open book: what the f*ck? He turns to Kosuke with a smirk of disbelief but has to focus again when a member proposes a new vote on whether or not Hyuga should stay CEO. Suddenly, a distressed Kosuke shouts to stop and furiously stands up, unable to bear it. To Yamagami’s great shock.

Passionately, he claims that NEXT INNOVATION is Hyuga’s company and that this question of truth is already a past thing. His big move rather raises suspicion, and the directors prefer to go on with the vote. After such a scene, they unsurprisingly vote against Hyuga, who simply leans back on his chair, in a daze, completely stunned. An uppercut wouldn’t have been any different.

The news spreads like fire in the office, and people openly wonder if Hyuga will stay. Surrounded by the buzzing madness, Makoto’s eyes widen when she hears about it. Walks in Hyuga, whose presence is enough to stop the noise. Any noise, actually. Calmly going to the sweets dispenser, he eats his candy while scanning the silent room.

Despite her intense gaze, Makoto can’t manage to grab his attention and he finally leaves, thus restoring the loud chatter. But as the night comes, Makoto is the only one left working, and she can’t help but glance at Hyuga’s office. Her eyes wander around the room to finally stop at the wall. She comes closer to read all those messages left by people who all believed in Hyuga at a given point in time.

And this is how Kosuke finds her, when he enters the office. Sitting beside her, he muses: “Seeing you like this doesn’t make me want to raise a dog. It would wait for me like this.” Errr, making an analogy between Makoto and a dog may be accurate, but not the best strategy to seduce her, lover-boy. Kosuke notices her fidgetiness and tells her that Hyuga won’t come out. That’s seals it for her, and she leaves, which is oddly hilarious.

The next day, Yoko spots Hyuga coming out from the building to take a breath of fresh air. She stops her daily morning check to run to him, leaving a somewhat disappointed Nogi behind. Catching up with Hyuga, she’s acting rather awkwardly around him before asking if there’s going to be a new CEO. That’s quite cruel of her, since she obviously knows the answer.

She takes a jab at her brother but Hyuga comments that it’s people like Kosuke who are going to be at the top. Yoko reacts automatically, saying that he’s wrong. We see what happened after she found out about Kosuke’s betrayal: in a passive-aggressive way, he challenged her to tattle on him, but now that she’s facing Hyuga, she’s conflicted. Oblivious to her internal struggle, Hyuga smiles to thank her for her concern. Nobody said it’d be easy being the Dark Lord’s sibling!

Meanwhile, in NEXT INNOVATION, while Ogawa muses that Kosuke would make a fine president, Yasuoka proves that his loyalty isn’t that easily swayed. As Hyuga enters, he calls out to him, using the title『社長』- Shachou (President). Everybody cringes, with Ogawa and Hosoki even making huge signs in Hyuga’s back, until Yasuoka realizes his mistake. He digs his grave deeper, though, which only amuses Hyuga even more.

When Hyuga tries to remember his name, Yasuoka mimics his attitude, down to the arrogant tone Hyuga usually uses with his subordinates. The employees are all caught off-guard, Hyuga included, but Yasuoka laughs it off, and runs away in embarrassment. The hell, bruh?

Spotting Makoto, Hyuga makes fun of her old suit she’s donning again for a last interview with the laboratory. Hyuga hides his surprise to give her a last advice: “This time, go without wavering.”

Working later in his office, he nonchalantly opens an e-mail on his Ipad while tapping away on his keyboard and so doesn’t catch the meaning of the message right away. But when he does, boy, he’s in for an other blow that he didn’t see coming. The world goes silent around him as he reads each cold character: “As of today, Hyuga Tohru is dismissed as president of NEXT INNOVATION”. But that’s the signature that seals it: “Representative of the Board of Directors, Asahina Kosuke.”

He asks for him, only to hear that he’s gone to a meeting with Yamagami. We get to see them walking, Yamagami pouting that he’s now the bad guy. Too late to regret, buddy. He criticizes Kosuke’s deviousness, and the latter defends his methods, arguing that it’s too early to reveal his game. Yamagami worries about his choice, as he decided to tag along thinking that with Kosuke being the president and Hyuga the vice-president, everything would be better. With a scary look, Kosuke finishes for him: “And yet, nothing has changed.”

His anxiety growing, Hyuga is prompt to answer his phone when a call comes, though he’s slightly disappointed to hear Sakaguchi’s voice. But the information he receives is highly valuable, and adds to his (finally) awakening suspicion. Sakaguchi decided to call after losing 3 programmers in such a fishy way that his researches lead him to a company well known by Hyuga: Tohno Trading.

Hesitantly, Sakaguchi adds another nail, as he reveals that Kosuke is a part of their supervision board, though Hyuga is already checking the matter by himself on Tohno’s website. Oof, hard day.

A crowd of journalists gathers at NEXT INNOVATION for a press conference officially announcing the new CEO, and even Yoko watches the live report during her lunch break. She’s so focused that Nogi has to remind her that she’s supposed to eat first. Yeah, food FTW! She spots her brother in the video and remembers how she lashes out at Kosuke for breaking the super duo.

He sighed that she called him an “excellent number two” and smiles when he sees that she can’t recall it. He goes further, repeating the words she didn’t get to hear:

Kosuke: The first time I met him, I thought I might not win. And then, I’ve been acting like a puppeteer, pulling the strings behind him to control his behaviour. But isn’t that cowardice?

Conveniently, he throws back at Yoko the words she used in the past, about how Kosuke should come up on the stage. Now, he made up his mind and will challenge Hyuga in a fight to cut him down. I’ll twist your words and say “But isn’t that stupid?”, dear Creepy Lord?

Hyuga’s arrival in the conference room drives the journalists into a frenzy, and it’s particularly revealing that when Kosuke nods kindly at him, he chooses to ignore it. Looking straight at Kosuke, he walks confidently while Kosuke does the same. Face-off time?

NO! Waiting to let Hyuga stop first, Kosuke passes by, close enough to pointedly slip the words: “Too bad.” Hyuga, meet disillusion. He walks ahead, still looking a bit shaken, and prepares to give his speech but Kosuke’s smirk before leaving the room has Hyuga gape in shock. Ha, there’s certainly no more room for doubt. He manages to pull himself together and publicly resign from his position as president. He pauses before adding that he’s also leaving the company.

This news takes the employees by surprise, though Kosuke has quite the poker face listening to the commotion in his COO’s room. Switching off the TV, he makes few steps before putting his Mad Hatter mask on, bursting out laughing and jumping around. Get this guy a shrink, or some pills.

Outside, Makoto watches the live news feed in a crowded street, surrounded by people making nasty comments. Her eyes are glued on the screen, filled with helpless tears.

Impressions:

BOARDROOM COUP!

After Mark Zuckerberg, now we’re given an other reference used by this show: Steve Jobs. Well, a bit. Remember when Jobs tried to organize a putsh, but was overtaken by (then-Apple CEO) John Sculley? Sculley also called a board meeting, and the directors sided with him to strip Jobs from his managerial duties. Jobs eventually resigned to set up NeXT Inc. the same year, so will Hyuga follow the same path?

The way Kosuke’s betrayal dawned on him was heartbreaking, and yet I couldn’t help feeling relieved. He knows, at last! In the same vein, I can’t wait to see how Yoko will act next, now that she’s caught in conflicting loyalties. Kosuke cunningly instilled guilt in her mind, but she may not follow him in his wickedness.

I wish Kosuke’s character was smarter, or to be precise, more subtle. I’m not really blaming his turn to the dark side (I was more excited than anything at this development), but rather the execution. An evil character can be so rife with conflict and possibilities, if played appropriately. Instead, Arata played Kosuke with too much gusto, and his over the top antics certainly don’t help. I just can’t take seriously someone who hops around, cackling in glee. Wait, I did before.

Not gonna lie, just like the previous one, this episode lacked the fun and heart I enjoyed so much in the beginning. I get that the point is to shake Hyuga and throw him out of his comfort zone, but I still miss the Cute. The mood changed, and I laughed a lot less, which is a given since we’re now totally in the company plotline. And though I do love me some Machiavellian scheming, what about Hyuga’s mother? I want to know more about her…Oh, and the monk too. And remember Hyuga’s supposed past with Yoko?

I haven’t seen the final episodes (please, no spoil!), so I can only hope that these storylines had been cleared. Right now, I expect angst, which is never a good news in my book. Will you contradict me and give me some sweet time, Show?

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4 thoughts on “Rich Man Poor Woman – Episode 7

      • I agree, Kosuke isn’t the most inspiring sort of villain. Because he lacks subtlety, in the end he’s just boring and easy to hate. (No spoilers, but it also raises issues for me in later episodes.)

        I actually liked when Makoto asked Hyuga to give her a job, any job. It’s pathetic in a way, but at least she was being honest and declaring what she felt. Well, I’m going by memory here – it’s been a long while since I watched this episode….

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