Rich Man Poor Woman – Finale

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The finale! It’s time to say goodbye to this modern fairytale. Well, not completely given that there’s a special episode, but you get the point. Villains repent, lovers are reunited, and everyone drinks wine in the end! Cheers!

Song of the Post: Galileo Galilei – ハローグッバイ (Hello Goodbye)

Episode 10: The finale. Going to where you are…Their future together

We start off the finale with Hyuga returning to the ruins that Next Innovation is now. There’s gonna be some work to do…Meanwhile, Haruka, aka The Voice of Reason, urges Makoto to go back to her Prince if she misses him. But our Cinderella is afraid she’ll want to quit her new job again, which is frankly the stupidest reason ever. Five seconds later, Makoto learns that she is to go to Brazil in a joint mission. Yep, that was fast.

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Hyuga is back to his broody self, his visit to the penitentiary having being rejected by Kosuke again. Yoko sighs that she’s also been turned down, and that Kosuke is likely to stay there for another 2 years. Switching to a more cheerful topic (or so she thinks), she asks Hyuga about his confession but he tells her that he couldn’t say it. He fumbles with what sounds like fake excuses (“She wants to work on her own!” “I support her decision!”) and THANK GOD she doesn’t fall for that and spells it out: “You’re an idiot.”

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She plainly points out that he should tell Makoto his feelings but he counters: “She found me pathetic!” Argh, men and their egos. Yoko gives him a massive side-eye. Hyuga knows that Makoto followed him because he lost everything, noting how she’s much more spirited when he’s in trouble. She reminds him of those zealous class representatives he met in school. Can’t argue with that.

Makoto shows up at WonderWall, where she finds a more independant Trio. Yasuoka is now CEO, with his very own business card. Makoto is actually there to retrieve her things, and the picture she took with Hyuga, but it’s nowhere to be found. The boys turn their attention to the press conference given by Hyuga in which he officially announces his return to Next Innovation.

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At the penitentiary, the warden tells Kosuke that Hyuga asked him to read today’s newpaper. Kosuke finally emerges from his slump to read the headlines, all pretty pessimistic towards Hyuga’s move. Hyuga is aware of the risks and guarantees he’ll do what it takes to restore confidence for the survival of Next Innovation.

Kosuke can’t believe his eyes, muttering that Hyuga must have gone crazy. Same thing goes for Makoto who’s now in front of Next Innovation’s office, annoyed at herself for even coming there. As she’s turning to leave, she faces Hyuga and they stand still, both surprised to see the other. Oh, come on Show!

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They relocate inside the building to talk, though it’s more like they squirm awkwardly while waiting for the other to speak first. Hyuga breaks the silence, asking how things go for her, to which Makoto answers with platitudes. She manages to comment about his conference and he muses that this time he may not be that successful. Makoto lightly chides him for thinking like that, arguing that Next Innovation is his and Kosuke’s project, so he should deliver to people’s expectations.

She casually concludes that it’ll be hard for her to follow his news “from the other side of the world” prompting Hyuga to flinch. She explains that she was assigned there and starts to laugh nervously but Hyuga is in no mood to put up with pleasantries. The atmosphere is tense, with Makoto desperately swinging between forced cheerfulness and despondency. She gets up, assuring him that her thoughts will be with him and hopes to see him someday, somewhere.

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As you can imagine, Hyuga doesn’t take it well. Somewhere, she says? What does she mean? Is she reacting this way because she’s now in a first-class company? He sneers at the mention of Brazil.

You must be joking. What kind of job would be so precious that you’d accept to go this far? After all, you’re just staring everyday at specimen to write them down. That’s such a simple work!

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Oh. No. You. Didn’t. Makoto snaps and sarcastically praises his creative job where he just has to throw an idea to reap millions. And yet, the newspapers are full of revelations on his shady dealings. Burn. Hyuga retaliates, saying that at least it’s still a job where his vision is unique while anybody could do Makoto’s work. Oh no, you stoop this low?

That blow was too hard for Makoto, who agrees that he’s right. Still, she’ll do it because it’s her work, even if she has to go to Brazil. Petulantly, Hyuga dares her to go there, then. Challenge accepted. Makoto goes, her feelings hurt. Wow. Congratulations. It only took under 7 minutes for you to go back to your assholy ways. I shall name you HyugAss. To be fair, they’re both being childish and seem to be conscious of that, though they (or the plot) can’t help it.

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Kosuke rereads (for what must be the umpteenth time) the reports on Hyuga’s projects until the warden (really, the Prison Fairy) asks if he wouldn’t prefer to talk to the person instead. And guess who’s there? Hyuga waits to meet with him in the visiting room and looks saddened at the sight of his defeated old friend. His stare turns grave as they’re seated face-to-face while Kosuke keeps his head down, his eyes averted, crushed by shame.

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Hyuga calls him once before shouting his name, but Kosuke can only urge him to get rid of Next Innovation and gets up to leave. Hyuga loudly swears that he’ll never give up on their company. “So, hurry up and come back.” Ack, my heart! Sniffling, Kosuke finally breaks down, whispering: “Tohru.”

He tries to look at Hyuga in the eye but falls on his knees, Dogeza-style, as he cries. What he did is unforgivable, he says, and he is sorry. Without a word, Hyuga answers with a Bro-Fist. Oh yeah, Bromance!

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Asleep on an article about Next Innovation, Makoto is woken up by a call from none other but Hyuga. He starts right away by saying that he was wrong to belittle her, and she comments that he’s making her uncomfortable when he’s being this honest. Heh, just accept it. Hyuga admits that he was surprised to hear about her transfer to Brazil, but that doesn’t excuse his attitude so he apologizes for what he said.

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Riding on the good mood, he adds with a goofy smile that he managed to see Kosuke. Aw, look how proud he is to report that to her. He enjoins her to go back to sleep but she doesn’t want to hang up and wonders if he’s still in the office. He is, which makes her nostalgic even though her time at Next Innovation wasn’t that long ago. Hyuga suddenly asks her to come and isn’t deterred by her excuses. He tells her that he’ll stay at the office until morning, so she can come by anytime, but we see that she’s torn between her choice and her feelings.

She faintly agrees to come, though her heart isn’t in it, and that’s enough to send Hyuga over the moon. All pumped up, he works through the night but morning comes and Makoto is nowhere to be seen. She checks her call log, filled with Hyuga’s calls and goes on for the kill. Calling Hyuga, she apologizes while he takes that in stride, contrasting with his old ways. But she has more to say, and declares that she doesn’t want to see him. Abashed, Hyuga wants to know what she means, she can’t possibly refuse to see him before flying off to Brazil?

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Makoto: It’s painful.

Hyuga: What is?

Makoto: I love you too much, it’s painful.

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This girl. Is it wrong that I want to smack her and hug her at the same time? Makoto hurriedly repeats that she doesn’t want to see him and hangs up, leaving Hyuga to process what just happened. She’s in tears as she returns to the laboratory where her supervisor asks if she can go the following week for a month in Rio as a try-out. She jumps at the opportunity to distance herself from Hyuga and once alone, she erases the picture of them together that symbolised their new start.

In dire need of love advices, Hyuga goes straight to Kosuke, begging him for help as soon as the unwitting Love Doctor shows his face. He repeats Makoto’s “I love you too much, it’s painful.” and asks what that means. Omg , he’s so cute! Kosuke is taken aback but quickly gets it, laughing at the naive kid while noting that he never thought they’d speak about Makoto again like that.

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He muses that Hyuga stopped listening to him once she entered their lives. That made him jealous (Omo!) but what hurt the most was when Hyuga said that he disappointed him. Seeing how uncomfortable Hyuga is, he claims that it’s in the past now and that if it were to happen again, he wouldn’t feel this miserable. Well, I hope so.

He admits that he wanted to hurt Hyuga but surprisingly Hyuga retorts that maybe he deserved it, thus allowing Kosuke to forgive himself. They exchange a nod of approval before Kosuke returns to the main topic: Makoto. Hyuga eagerly waits for the wisdom to come: “When she says she loves you so much it’s painful, it means she wants to know your feelings.” Oh, thank you, Love Guru!

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Stupid Hyuga discards the idea since Makoto said herself that she doesn’t want to see him anymore. Kosuke simply smiles and tells him that he’ll have to figure it out on his own. Much to learn you still have, young padawan. Standing up to take his leave, Kosuke attempts a question about the company’s situation. Hyuga beams, now in his element, and tells him that he came up with a great idea.

Next thing we know, he’s meeting with the JI Tech board, accompanied by Yamagami. He still haven’t given up on the Personal File project (cue groans in the room, heh) and has the balls to ask the board for a ¥5 billion loan. The board isn’t having it, given the recent events, but Hyuga counters that if the already ruined Next Innovation goes bankrupt, JI Tech won’t see its money back.

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If the board takes up on his offer, Hyuga promises them a 100 years contract for a long-term project bound to success. Personal File is bigger than they think, and marks the start of a new kind of infrastructure. JI Tech wouldn’t quibble for a few measly billion, right? Err, when you put it like this…

The president of the board likes his guts and gives him one week to implement his proposal. Cheeky Hyuga scoffs that it’ll be ready in three days before asking for two weeks instead. Haha. Soon, Next Innovation returns to its old flurry of activity, and even the Trio joins the fun, with Yasuoka making a point of showing off his CEO status.

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Hyuga is no fool though, and knows that to others, Next Innovation is still dubious. He laments the fact that IT is only seen through its efficiency while to him it’is at the core of people’s lives. He wants Personal File to reduce distances between people, like the telephone and the e-mail did. For that, he enjoins the whole company to think about someone they care about as a drive.

And to illustrate his inspirational words, Hyuga takes a marker to christen the blank wall. He draws the Next Innovation logo that used to be there and declares: “The next innovation…Is within you.” Uwaaaah, Hyuga, you’re ready for a Ted Talks!

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It’s Yoko’s turn to visit Kosuke, and she can’t help crying upon seeing him. Kosuke is back to be the brother she loved, and opens up to her. Always living up to people’s expectations may have been tiring and led him to do things he regrets now, but he earnestly apologizes for disappointing her. Yoko tries to frown when he asks for her forgiveness, claiming that she’s really angry. And yet, she smiles through her tears: “I love you even more.” Head hung, Kosuke weeps in silence. Aw, I didn’t think he’d come around so soon to redeem himself. His pain rings true here.

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Bent on cutting all ties with Hyuga, Makoto is clearing out her apartment, still afraid to lose her will to go if she sees him. Hyuga is equally busy, officially signing his contract with JI Tech. The president of the board even takes the time to compliment him on his survival skills. As the old corporate wolf that he is, he’s seen countless of companies going under these last 30 years. So for those who survived, it’s kind of a miracle. Like Battle Royale kind of miracle?

Hyuga goes to tell Kosuke the good news and their joy is infectious. Keep grinning, you two! While Hyuga made that deal on his own terms as usual, he acknowledges that he’s a new man and he likes it. “Because she changed me.” Hmm, who’s the Fairy Godmother and who’s Cinderella now?

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It’s Party Time for Next Innovation with the wine, the food, and Hyuga giving the green light for everyone to scribble on the wall again. He looks around, as if something is amiss in all that glee. Memories of Makoto’s first days around the office and their bickering return, making him smile at first but his mood turns heavy.

Hyuga is asked to make a speech and gulps down his glass of wine before drunkenly roll calling every single employee. Uwaaah, you did it! He’s all smiles and proud of his achievement. Remembering Makoto’s cheerful encouragement, he thanks everyone for making him a better man. He swears to never forget them, his disability be damned. That’s a sweet moment and there isn’t a dry eye in the room.

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He bows but hilariously passes out on the floor. Yoko is there with a glass of water when he wakes up, hinting at the fact that he sure misses someone. She’s not alone in that plan with Yasuoka loudly answering Makoto’s call to make sure Hyuga hears that she’s currently at the WonderWall office. Makoto is looking for the very picture Yasuoka is putting in Hyuga’s hands, and our little Cupid insists she keeps searching. Wink, wink!

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Hyuga mulls for like two seconds but one look at the picture is enough to make him sprint out of here. Run, Hyuga, run! Makoto is looking in every box until she takes that as a sign, which is right the moment Hyuga opens the door. Of coooooourse Show’s messing with us because the timing is off. Hyuga tries to call her and even runs to her old apartment, only to see that it’s up for rent. Yasuoka rises to the rescue, asking everyone in the office to help search for Makoto’s whereabouts. Pffft, I’m sorry, can you imagine if your whole company had to track down your boss’s lover?

Soon, they find out where Makoto’s coworkers are taking their flight. Thank you, SNS! Aaaaaand, time for the cliché Airport Scene! Gosh, they went there, didn’t they? Hyuga makes a dash for the airport, while Makoto ignores his numerous calls. Suddenly, Hyuga yells: “Won’t you answer my calls?!” which totally catches her off-guard, and poor Makoto struggles to answer before she realizes that Hyuga is right there, screaming at her to stay where she is.

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She freaks out and starts to run, scared to see him so mad. HAHAHA. It turns into a parody chase, with both running without any good reason. Hyuga is fed up with that and shouts that he doesn’t understand why she left without telling him. That makes her stop, and she apologizes, eyes brimming with tears. Hyuga hands her the picture, ready to tell her something. Yes? YES? He says excitedly that Next Innovation is off the hook and that he could name all of his employees. What? Don’t force me to come in here, young boy.

A bit embarrassed, he wonders what she meant by “I love you too much, it’s painful”. He doesn’t get it, why should it hurt? “If you like me, stay by my side. Even if it hurts, isn’t it better to stay by my side?” He’s right and yet he’s wrong. His naive attitude frustrates Makoto, who replies that of course she wants to, how can he not get it? He always bosses her around but he never speaks about his feelings. He doesn’t understand Makoto’s either. Annoyed, she shouts that he’s an idiot and that she’s had enough.

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She takes off, forcing Hyuga to react. “Then, should I say it like that?” Omg, finally? Wait, not like that. “I love you.” Hallelujargh! And then he ruins the mood with his “So, how was it? You’re convinced?” Why, Hyuga, why? Makoto is even more pissed, scoffing at his lack of sincerity but he argues that she can’t complain now that he’s said it. Seeing that she’s not satisfied, Hyuga puts on his vest, tries his best to look formal and serious for what’s to come. “Natsui Makoto. I love you. So stay by my side.” Oh, that was perfect. 10/10.

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Makoto resists weakly, pointing out her Brazil mission but he surprises her by telling her that she can go there. She takes it the wrong side, thinking that he doesn’t realize that it’s on the other side of the world, and starts to rattle off about the distance so Hyuga only has one option to make her stop. Grabbing her arm, he plants a kiss on her. AT LAST!

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They both reel and Hyuga nonchalantly notes that the other side of the world isn’t such a big deal. Has she forgot his work? They can still see each other, listen to each other, laugh together. His speciality is precisely to reduce distances. With a smile, he tells her that she can go. A tear rolling down her cheek, Makoto smiles back.

Hyuga may be skilled and all but there are things that can’t be conveyed through technology. He won’t be able to kiss her that far so he might as well take care of that now. What a smooth talker you are. Makoto squeals and they both get ready. And I mean it, as Hyuga hovers over her for a lingering second, as if not quite sure how that whole couple thing works. Makoto opens her eyes, wondering what’s wrong, and they both laugh awkwardly. And here they are.

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Time jump. We’re one year and nine months later. Hyuga brings back Kosuke in the office, where everyone eyes him warily. Kosuke is so hesitant that Hyuga has to drag his ass for him to face them all. He bows deeply, his guilt made apparent, and that eases the tension. Hyuga gives him a marker and knocks on the wall, signaling that he’s allowed to take back his place. And it’s more or less the same old quote that Kosuke writes on the wall, with one important difference: “If it’s us, we can do it.” He wonders if he did it right, but Hyuga simply stretches out a Bro-Fist which Kosuke returns. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAALS!!!! I love them so much, I can’t stand it.

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Hyuga makes a video-call with Makoto but clearly isn’t interested in her scientific conversation. She notices that and demands more attention, though she should know better. Being the rude jerk that he is, Hyuga tells her that she’s annoying and hangs up. His eyes grow wide when he hears her complaining about his attitude and he turns his head, grinning from ear to ear: Makoto is here! He welcomes her back and she jumps in his arms. Why do we only have mere seconds of their couple cuteness? The office assembles for a picture which Hyuga hangs on a space dedicated to the important moments of his family/company. Loonking at it fondly, he muses: “Not bad.”

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Impressions:

All is well that ends well.

The plot kinda went the old-fashioned way with the airport scene. But what this drama did best was to pull familiar conventional elements and twist them in a modern way. Truthfully, Japanese dramas often lack in the romance department…I mean, they’re generally more down-to-earth and romance is not really at the core of the story (depending on the genre, but still). They make up for that by being more experimental, and in that way, Rich Man Poor Woman was a J-drama / K-drama fusion. The thing is, in wanting too much, it sometimes fell flat.

It wanted to take the best of both worlds: being realistic, romantic, flamboyant, nerdy, moving…And all in all, it kinda managed to be. But there’s something, this little dissatisfaction I can’t help feeling when I remember the first episodes and the direction I thought it’d take. Now, maybe I’m overthinking it. Unlike the majority of dramas, Rich Man Poor Woman was brisk, light-hearted, and entertaining, with an impressive cast to boot (emphasis on Oguri Shun and Iura Arata).

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Oguri Shun managed to tone down Hyuga’s eccentricity with each episode, while maintaining his distinctive quirkiness. By doing so, he fleshed out a character by giving him layers when he could easily have been cartoonish. I can’t believe it’s the same guy who played Hanazawa Rui in Hana yori Dango (OMG, 10 years already!! I’m so old). He of the blank expression (yes, I was NOT a fan of Rui) can actually show such a range of emotions. Kudos, Shun-kun, count me in your fans.

I wish I could say the same for Ishihara Satomi. I know part of Makoto’s appeal lies in her awkwardness, and yet Ishihara Satomi, while playing her part with charm, went over-the-top too many times. It pains me even more because I find her utterly adorable. I still don’t know if it’s the character, the acting, or the plot that is to blame, but there were many instances I couldn’t sympathise with Makoto nor invest myself in her feelings. Something in her portrayal was too much, even hollow. That’s too bad, since she started out as an intriguing character, what’s with her identity theft and all. I also think that she didn’t change much from the beginning, but maybe it’s because Hyuga went through such an impressive emotional growth.

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That said, Ishihara and Oguri ooze charisma, and their chemistry is incredibly natural and intense at the same time. And as much as Makoto’s decisions infuriated me, I must give it to her that she wasn’t acting out of Noble Idiocy. The way I see it, she wasn’t pushing Hyuga away for his own good, but rather her own. In a way, it was a self-preservation move, and she made a choice for herself.

It’s telling that I squealed much more at the Bro-Fist than at the Kiss, which frankly made me laugh. I love Hyuga and Makoto, they’re so cute and funny when they want to, but they don’t hold a candle to the depth of Hyuga and Kosuke’s web of emotions. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, mind you, but I feel that their friendship is so much more compelling and complex, even though we’re not given that much. Yet, I want to know more.

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That may be thanks to Iura Arata’s acting chops. He lured me in from the start, and had a wonderful dynamic with Oguri. He also makes me buy his guilt towards his sister. There’s nothing like family to tug at your heartstrings.

I’m not sure it’s the kind of drama I’ll rewatch, but I’ll certainly remember it. Sure, it had its frustrating moments (communication, people!) but it was breezy and light, perfect for a summer watch. The way it ends is well-handled and I could do without the special episode (though I’ll totally watch it and maybe recap it). It gave us resolution for our leads, cuteness, and Bromance to the max. What more could you ask for?

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