Rich Man Poor Woman in New York

RMPW SP.mp4_snapshot_00.16.57_[2015.05.18_00.42.25]In two hours, this Special wraps up the story while keeping the characters and their emotions at the core. People change, not at the same speed, which leads to some miscommunication and a lot of frustration. At least, we have the satisfaction to see that our leads became the better version of themselves and ended up with the happiness they deserve. Goodbye, Show!

Song of the Post: Miwa – Delight

On a whim, Hyuga decides to go to New York. Not to look for Makoto, but because he wants to optimize his Personal File project and needs bigger data servers. His idea is to add a virtual space where people can store their memories, just like a closet. Hence the name:「押し入れ」- Oshiire (Closet). That said, he still finds a way to meet with Makoto who happens to be in the city for a conference. Their meeting place? Times Square, silly!

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They don’t have much time to play the lovely lovers in love though, and we’re given a measly montage of them playing the tourists. Sure, they’re cute and all, Makoto feeding Hyuga a donut before chomping on it, but we want moar! Tch, cheapskate. They part begrudgingly, each wanting to spend more time with the other.

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Weeks later, we’re back in Tokyo where an angry Makoto channels her inner ghost bride behind Hyuga, enjoying an evening with female clients. She’s only there temporarily and Hyuga tells her right away that he won’t take her in. Since she didn’t book a hotel room, he has to yield. Cohabitation at last!

His huge condo doesn’t even have furnitures, and Hyuga is happy enough with see-through toilets, a fridge and a couch. Less is more, y’know. Makoto has to settle for a sleeping bag on the floor until Hyuga lets her have the couch. She asks him to open the sleeping bag a bit, so that she can stretch her hand to make sure he’s next to her. Aw. Though it looks like he’s opening a Kinder Surprise Egg, but hey.

She strokes his cheek, noting that he’s cold, and suggests that he buys a futon. He presses his forehead againt hers, noting that she’s warm, and hugs her. Aaaah, she was so expecting a kiss! Bummer.

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But the next day, the horror! She dared cook with his precious frying pan! He’s about to faint as she cracks the eggs on it and lectures her long and hard. Worse, she put towel on the towel rack! And such a tacky towel, to boot! Her bad taste is gonna kill him. He throws a fit and rips off all she did, only to stutter when she uses his own arguments against him! Clever girl.

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OMG. What happened to Kosuke? Seems like he gave up on joining Next Innovation. He’s on his own, starting over at the bottom as a simple IT technician. Yoko tracked him down and tries to convince him to see their parents but he finds this carefree lifestyle more comfortable. Methinks you’re lying to yourself…

A problem arises with JI Tech: they want to develop Personal File into an ATM kind of machine that they’ll rent to public services. Hyuga wants everyone to use the system freely, with their computers, but JI Tech wants a quick return on investment through maintenance fees. Hyuga explodes, asking them for whom they created this project.

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Makoto runs into Yoko, working part-time in a humble restaurant where she’s the one at the wheels. Sous-chef Noda (now Chef) came to check on her, and grumbles that she should just stick to their fancy restaurant so that they run it together. Heh.

Hyuga is frustrated at the lack of ambition of his staff, and realizes that only Kosuke would help him. To force his hand, he spread the rumor that Kosuke will come back. But the moment they meet, Kosuke confirms that he still doesn’t want to return, so Hyuga offers to create a new company.

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Instead of his current staff, he needs someone who won’t give up because it’s difficult and who’ll have the confidence to go through ordeals. He isn’t afraid to give up the big player that Next Innovation has become and declares that if Kosuke is onboard, they can start in his shabby apartment. “If we’re together, I can do everything.” Huzzah!

But Kosuke isn’t happy to hear that, and tells him to do it alone. Won’t things repeat themselves? He advises Hyuga to think again, because it’s only natural for a big company to slow a bit when different people bring different visions. Or maybe Hyuga is afraid of the vision he hasn’t seen? I also think that it’s too easy for Hyuga to quit once it doesn’t go the way he planned it.

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Kosuke reminds Hyuga that he has all the cards in hand and can change the world, as he wanted. Holding back bitter tears, he enjoins him to fight to the end, to not feel regret. Now smiling, Hyuga accepts the challenge, and promises to fight so well it’ll change Kosuke’s mind. On his way, he plays with the stray cat Kosuke takes care of and jokes: “You find comfort in running away, right?” BroFiiiiiiiist!!

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It turns out that Makoto isn’t really on vacation. Her laboratory has been bought by an American group, and she has to choose between taking the opportunity to work abroad (read: leave her family and Hyuga) or stay in Japan to resume job-hunting.

When Hyuga comes home after an all-nighter, she says nothing and insists they go shopping so that he helps her pick the dress she’ll wear at Yasuoka’s wedding. Times for a Pretty Woman montage V.2. After Makoto fails to show her stylishness, Hyuga takes a cute overall but is struck by his Shojo vision because of how lovely she’s in it.

Once home, he sleeps like a log while Makoto answers a call from her co-worker. She made her choice: she wants to be with someone, so she’ll stay in Japan. Hmm, not digging it.

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It’s a rough Monday for Hyuga as everyone in the staff wants him to simply follow JI Tech’s vision. For him, they’re simply running away from the difficulty but they’re all ready to move to WonderWall if he doesn’t relent. Wow Yasuoka, once a traitor…

Yamagami takes the opportunity to voice his opposition to Kosuke’s return, which would make them lose their credibility again. Hyuga counters that credibility can be gained back with good results but it’s clear that he doesn’t have one ally around him. Faced with the HR, Makoto loses her assurance when they overtly ridicule her choice. They point out that she only has one year’s experience and imply that she isn’t that competent, which is enough to make her think twice.

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Coming back after his crappy day, Hyuga zooms past her to take his things for an other all-nighter but his inattention to Makoto’s presence is painful to watch. Trying to sound cheerful, she wonders if he’d be lonely if she had to work abroad forever, but he ignores her. Without even looking at her, he says that he won’t enter such a ridiculous conversation and bluntly tells her to shut up. She snaps: “So it’s always you who have a hard time? Many things happen in my company as well!”

Here starts two different conversations, with Makoto speaking for the employees and Hyuga for the entrepreneurs. Each thinks of their own personal situations, of course, but they’re throwing cutting remarks without explanations.

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Twice, Hyuga unwittingly hurts Makoto, driving her to nag at him until he roars that he really can’t tolerate anyone disturbing the way he operates. Tired of the drama, Hyuga sighs that it was better when they were apart. Nice, HyugAss.

To add insult to injury, he throws her overall at her feet as she’s leaving. She stops in her tracks, telling him that his compliments made her feel good about herself: “I thought that you saw something in me that I didn’t even notice! But actually, you don’t care what people think, right?” She leaves, and they’re both crying. Hats off, kids. That was ugly.

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Penniless, she wanders in the streets where Kosuke finds her and they go to a manga-café. They mostly talk about Hyuga with Kosuke reading the hidden meaning behind his Oshiire project right away. Since Hyuga was abandoned at a young age, he has retained nothing of his childhood and wants to create a space he can keep memories in forever.

Makoto realizes that she crossed a line in their argument, but is afraid Hyuga drifted away from what he became after creating WonderWall. Kosuke muses that Makoto thinks that Hyuga can become an even greater man whereas he always said to Hyuga that he was fine as he is.

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Little Hobo has nowhere to stay once Kosuke heads to work so she goes to Yoko who tells her that she’s living with her parents. Risa (Yasuoka’s bride) offers to take them both in if they help her with the hand-made wedding invitations. Sleepover Time! Makoto opens up about her dilemma and Risa pins her veil on her, saying that she just has to get married.

Gazing at her reflection, Makoto states that she chose employment to empower herself. She thinks back to that time Hyuga praised her adult look in New York and hopes to be even more mature. She goes on about their fight but Yoko insists they talk it out. THANK YOU. Risa wants to help and puts Makoto and Hyuga together in her seating plan.

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Working late, Hyuga hears about Makoto’s laboratory. Her words ring differently now, making him cringe. That night, his apartment seems more emptier than ever. He finds a note left by Makoto, saying that they’ll meet at Yasuoka’s wedding. He reassures himself: “This is my room.” but something is lacking.

Soon, it’s Wedding Day and Yasuoka calls Hyuga to make sure his moving speech is ready. But bad news arise: JI Tech administration is going bankrupt and Hyuga runs off to meet the board. Hm, how convenient.

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At the wedding venue, Makoto tells Yoko she’ll fly off to Boston in the afternoon and waits for Hyuga while emptying glasses of vine. Hyuga couldn’t make it but Yasuoka plays his Best Man’s speech video. Wait, what? You want to make me believe he had the time to do that?

Meanwhile, Hyuga gives a rousing and thought-provoking speech to the board, to convince them to give up on their ATM idea. They’re trail blazers, he argues, and should spark new trends. Why not make Personal File an open source software, so that it can be installed in any device? It’s not easy but Hyuga manages to overcome their concerns, saying that their goal is to revive the country. That appeals to the president who approves the new direction.

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At last, Hyuga makes his grand entrance (pfft, whose wedding is it?) and by now Makoto is beyond tipsy. Left alone when their table goes to perform a dance routine for the married couple, Hyuga tells Makoto that she should have told him about the takeover.

She retorts that he should have catch on her mood. Hyuga wonders if one day they’ll look like the stupid couple marrying today and Makoto chokes on her laughter. No way, buddy! They concedes that they can’t help hurting each other, though they were a good duo. They keep the atmosphere light but you know they’re heading to the end.

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Hyuga notes that Makoto and him can’t be like the loving couple on stage. She agrees, which upsets him. Everyone comes behind them for a picture, and of course Hyuga picks this very moment to officially break up with her. Makoto puts on a smile, pointing out that they never properly dated anyway. They both seem to look for excuses, Hyuga even declaring that she needs to be free to start a new life abroad. Grooooooan. Once again, they’re not being frank to each other, keeping up their facade. But Makoto breaks down in the plane, laughing, yelling and sobbing.

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Weeks later, Hyuga tells his staff that he is open to critics but wants to work with fearless people and suggests that those afraid of hard work or those looking for fun should leave. Everyone is stumped until he reveals the ambitious plan behind Personal File redux. Now, they all want to be a part of it. Even Kosuke’s spark is rekindled by the news. He pays a surprise visit to Yoko, wondering if she kept his things. Yay, you’re back!

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Hyuga works on phone features and finds a picture of Makoto he took in New York. Now in Boston, Makoto answers a call from Yoko, who’s fast on her way to become her best friend. She worries about Makoto’s well-being and about the break-up. Makoto ruefully comments that Hyuga and her were more work partners than lovers. Hyuga mulls over calling her, as we see a montage of their interactions. Alone in his house, he whispers that this is his room. How meaningless, now.

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Hyuga returns to New York to negotiate for hard disks but faces contempt. A sleek Kosuke enters, calling the negotiation off. JI Tech has developed a better system, Hyuga just has to sign the agreement. Grinning, Hyuga turns to the Americans. After all, he’ll need a factory to produce this technology so why not buy their racist asses? The two jerks wonder who is Kosuke and Hyuga tells them, in English, that he’s his partner.

Kosuke explains that he came up with this idea along with Yamagami. Yep, the one dead against Kosuke’s return. They’re living in a period of constant change, so they should look forward and seize any opportunity. Hyuga notes that Kosuke’s character changed, to what Kosuke declares that he wants to live boldly. Aaaaand here comes the BroFiiiiiiiist I was waiting for! Well, not really, but I’ll take it anyway.

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In Boston, Makoto is assailed by texts from the team, informing her that Hyuga is heading to her town. They all urge her to call him and be honest. Oy, that’s cyber bullying! Risa sends her the NG videos of Hyuga’s congratulatory speech, which makes her smile until he shares his doubt about marital bliss. Oh, that’s a clever way to make him speak his mind so that Makoto can hear it. Speaking about experience, he gripes about Makoto’s reactions and how she always says the things he doesn’t want to hear. Which is why he ended up not holding back either, thinking that she’d forgive him.

I’ve hurt you. So, you’re better off without me.

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Noble idiocy. So endemic in DramaLand. Crying, Makoto whines about finding out only now. She goes back to work but can’t focus. Kosuke calls her to give Hyuga’s location in Boston and she’s overwhelmed by everyone’s attention so Kosuke points out that they all agree that she’s the only one for Hyuga, adding that Hyuga himself told him that he changed because of her.

Walking in the city, Hyuga spots Makoto, who’s looking for the company he’s supposed to meet. He turns to hide but loudly coughs so that she notices him. Pffft, still a brat, I see. They sit down for a chat at a café, where she admits that she had to ask him what went wrong between them. Why tell her that he loves her and wants her by his side? He stutters that she was the one who forced him to say it but that backfires, Makoto yelling that he’s the worst for saying things he didn’t mean.

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Irritated, Hyuga stresses that she could have called or texted him that, prompting Makoto to remind him they promised not to. She may have said her piece but he didn’t, so he stops her as she takes her leave. He leans towards her, taking his time to stare at her face before saying that it’s enough. She’s puzzled, and he explains that he just wanted to see her face. Now that it’s done, she can go. Of course she can’t, her eyes brimming with tears.

Pouring out her emotions, she tells hims that everything reminds her of him. Important, painful or trivial things, she remembers them all. Sure, they’re arguing again, but she wants him to be the one she quarrels with. She’s eager to make concessions so can’t he give it a try too?

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Unsettled by his silence, she muses that it’s not like he can change but he scoffs that he didn’t speak yet. She knows without him speaking that he can’t be with someone. Hyuga wonders if this is how she sees him, and she reminds him that he said he couldn’t recognize himself when she’s with him. He acknowledges that though he was a brat when he said it. Omo, you think so too?

His former self was a coward who was afraid to change, and yet people can suddenly become brave. Makoto doesn’t get it so he makes it clear that it’s easy to change. He’s about to go into detail but Makoto’s puppy eyes spurs him on and he suddenly swoops in for a kiss.

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If it’s for her sake, he can change. Makoto swings between tears of joy and laughter and asks him to prove his transformation by calling her first name (sign of close intimacy in Japan) but oh look, already time to get to the airport! Haha, Hyuga, you’re so transparent.

In his plane, he feigns to be bothered by Makoto’s texts but can’t help smiling at her message: a vow to fill up his closet, complete with dozens of fist bump emoticons and a final heart. LOL. Did she understand that the way through Hyuga’s heart entails the Holy BroFist?

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Hyuga is a secret romantic, and has kept Makoto’s goodbye note. He takes a picture of it to save it in his virtual closet. When Makoto visits his apartment, he agrees to put towels on the towel rack but forbids the bear motif. He throws a sleeping bag at her: “It’s yours, Makoto.” She gapes: did he just say her name?

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Playing along, he repeats it and she squeals. She grabs his head and kisses him, wanting to hear it again. He worries they’re becoming a「バカップル」- Ba-Kapuru (Baka Couple – Stupid Couple), being all lovey-dovey couple and she nods. Slowly, he repeats her name and she dissolves into giggles, saying his name. The End….is the next beginning.

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Impressions:

It’s really over! Man, that was a fun ride. What I’ll remember most, aside from the ridiculous chemistry of the leads, is its take on contemporary romance. The characters are all flawed in their own ways, and are allowed to be. As funny and outlandish as it sometimes was, the romance wasn’t depicted as a fantasy, or the end of the game. In that way, it was pretty realistic.

Sure, the romance was important (it IS a rom-com, after all), but unlike standard romances, our leads had to figure out where to place love in their overall life.

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I felt at first that the SP was reusing some of the central conflicts our characters went through in the drama, but I was wrong. We think that love stories end once the couple is together, when actually it’s simply the beginning. The SP took its leads through an emotional journey they needed to realize that there’s more to love than a kiss at the airport. Yup, there’s work to be done to bear with each other’s kinks. Also, as much as it frustrated me to see Hyuga and Makoto apart because of their miscommunication, their romance was made of fights and drama from the start, so something would have been missing.

Playing house was fun for a while, but Makoto quickly came to see that a day-to-day cohabitation is much more complicated. In their couple, communication was (hope I can use the past tense here) the biggest hurdle. Hyuga being more distant, emotionally speaking, he had more to learn and his lesson was that not everything has to go his way, both at work or at home.

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The SP showed us that his character didn’t change right after the series finale, and it still was a big deal for him to let someone enter his personal space. This is a point I liked in this SP, because none of the characters really changed dramatically, which would have been unconvincing. By the end of the two hours, our leads learned not to let their personality traits control them. And I thought it was a nice touch to make Hyuga call Makoto by her name, not only because of the intimacy but because of their history together, and how she introduced herself as someone else the first time they met.

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I was pleasantly surprised by Makoto’s growth, who showed that she’s pretty pragmatic. Her character tends to be an「大人可愛い」- Otona Kawaii (Adult Cute), so she’s at times childlike and mature. The sleepover segment let us compare three different views on the romance-work spectrum, with Risa the bride, Yoko the career girl, and Makoto, navigating in the middle. Makoto cares about Hyuga, but not to the point she’d give up on her career. I’m glad she managed to be true to herself while working hard for her love story. Girl had the cake and ate it too!

I also welcomed the way the SP handled Kosuke, and how he needed to distance himself from Hyuga. It would have been too simple to let him take back his place at the end of the drama, and resume work as if nothing happened. Hyuga didn’t mind but Kosuke obviously did. I like that he had his own arc, subtly woven in the general story.

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Though it was satisfying to give our characters a closure, I think that two hours were too long. The SP kept the freshness of the drama but draggued it through moments that could have been avoided.

In the end, the biggest flaw of Rich Man Poor Women may be its title. Isn’t that a compliment in itself?

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