Mirrors and reflections are used several times through this drama, which I love. Some of the best shots are of moments that are unnoticed by the subject, a visual of how the character pictures themselves or voyeuristic. These types of shots tell us so many things not only about the characters but about the director how he or she sees the character/story or how they would like for us to see it.
Junji is a character that is experiencing most things at the moment from where he stands above. He’s curious and concerned because his friend is acting and reacting in ways that are suspicious but he can’t put his finger on what is going on, nor is Kengo being forthcoming. It’s a wonderful shot because not only do we see Junji confusion, we see Kengo’s reflection. Suggesting, Junji sees what we see: shocked surprise, anxiety and acute unease. Only we know why.
It’s not enough to say that I love this drama, for there’s so much that draws me to it, however, honestly it’s quite simple and mundane. It speaks about the normal challenges of normal people in human situations. No matter how perfect something or someone may seem, no one is exempt from pain or heartache, regardless of age, race or culture. Nagareboshi tells such a story about extremely regular people.
These regular people, eat and work and strive for their goals; to live ordinary lives. I also love that it takes place in one of the hugest bustling cities in Japan. For such simple, working-class people, to live there with little aspirations outside, a normal, healthy home; it’s somehow refreshingly honest, genuine and extremely heartfelt.
[edit Comments are up. Sorry about the wait.]
Junji and Kengo drive to the wharf to pick up feed and assess the catch of the day. Junji announces squids have come in and Maria should check it out. Kengo informs him Maria’s in the hospital, so Junji extends the invite until she’s discharged, for Chizura wants to see her as well.
Back at the aquarium, Dr. Kamiya is waiting for Kengo. He apologizes for coming abruptly and tells him he saw a recent photo with Kengo engaged to someone else. He’s confused that Maria didn’t know Kengo married Risa. Kengo explains he didn’t know how to broach it, given Maria’s friendly relationship with his ex-fiancee but wonders why Kamiya came by. Kamiya Kengo’s sudden breakup and “quickie” marriage to Maria’s donor unsettle him. Ultimately, he’s suspicious but can’t bring himself to voice it, instead he says can no longer recommend the surgery. Kengo tells him sternly there’s nothing to concern himself over, for he’s been upfront and honest with Risa about everything.
Mom wakes a reluctant Risa for breakfast but questions why the hospital would want her to come in again so soon. Risa pokes into her stew before exclaiming its “awesome.” Mom drops that it’s Kengo’s favorite and asks if Risa cooks. Of course she can–for herself but Mom is skeptical.
Maria sees Risa on the patio and thanks her for the other day. She notices her nails, captivated she asks if she does them herself. Risa offers to do her nails for her sometime, now that she has more free time. Maria wants to make a date soon but Risa gets a call from the inside and has to leave. Maria draws attention to their matching phone charms, Risa looks down and smiles at the coincidence.
Dr. Kamiya reports to Risa that he met with Kengo and asks if she’s ever met Maria. If not, wondering if there’s any particular reason for that, thinking their marriage rather sudden. Risa confirms she’s never met Maria but doesn’t find her marriage odd however, is a shotgun wedding a donor deal breaker? Kamiya denies this assumption but doesn’t feel being a donor should be decided so easily. Risa asks if he really wants to save Maria, because for her, it’s quite simple, Maria is an important person and she’s in trouble, so she wants to help her.
That night Risa and Kengo talk about Kamiya’s suspicions. She tells him she covered with Dr. Kamiya but thinks that his sister would be pretty shocked if she were told he was now married to her. Kengo is silent but his face reveals his concern.
Shuichi returns home to find two men loitering near his door. They act friendly with him and let him know his payment is overdue. He tells them he was going to contact them to pay them next week. But next week soon good enough and the men get more aggressive, grabbing him in a threat. Shuichi hurriedly informs them he has some solid prospects to obtain the funds.
Kengo comes up on Risa killing time at the grocery store and tells her to put anything she needs in the cart. She asks what his mom likes to eat that she can prepare. He settles on anything with pumpkin and tosses one in the cart. Risa goes over to the nail polishes and asks Kengo to choose between two packs of nail art. He cops that he can’t choose but she tells him to just make a choice. Frustrated she turns to decide herself when he reaches over her shoulder, “This.”– he hands her a packet of stars.
Nurse Rumi catches Maria carving Kengo’s gift and tells her to get to bed but Maria begs for five more minutes. In the nurses station, Dr. Kamiya believes breaking off one engagement then immediately marrying someone else is not only rash but questionable, however Rumi feels it’s not too uncommon, being that men divorce their wives only to marry their mistresses.
Shuichi is back at the aquarium to pump Yuya for information and finds out that Kengo left to go to the hospital. He digs for which hospital, dropping — “Oh that important one” but Junji comes up and inquires how he knows Kengo. Shuichi admits to only being an acquaintance and walks away displeased.
Risa searches the hall looking for Maria’s room and bumps into her. Maria glazes over the Risa’s polishes, overwhelmed at where to begin. Risa laughs at Maria’s indecision but Maria grumbles that she’s usually the one waiting for her “uselessly handsome” brother to make choices. She decides on the color of the ocean, so Risa picks up two blue options but Maria hands her orange.
As she’s painting, Risa and Maria chat about how long Risa’s lived in Yokohama. She muses she’s never lived by the sea before. Maria confides she once lived in the Yamanash prefecture which also has no sea. Maria wonders if Risa has a family member that’s hospitalized but Risa admits she doesn’t have family and is used to being alone. Maria mulls aloud, “I’m alone as well.” When Risa finishes, Maria wishes on her stars to be discharged soon. They giggle, about exchange email addresses, when Kengo walks him. Kengo and Risa are stunned stiff but politely speak as Maria gets Risa’s name and introduces her. Maria shows off her nails and Risa scurries out.
She speeds toward the exit doors then stops glancing through the corridors, an eerie feeling surrounding her. Shuichi appears behind her, as Rumi intercepts Risa addressing her as Mrs. Okada. He watches Risa leave and gets Rumi’s attention to inquire after Kengo, claiming to be an aquarium co-worker. Rumi informs him she can’t divulge patient information and tries to walk away but Shuichi persists. Changing his strategy, he asks for her phone number but she turns him down.
Kengo’s sitting at the dining table alone when Risa walks in for a drink, both still awkward from earlier. She apologizes revealing she didn’t know the girl was his sister. He understands and admits he was still unable to tell her the truth. Disappointed, Risa attempts to return to her room when Kengo thanks her, “Maria looked really happy.” Risa comments he really is a good brother.
Maria catches Mizuki visiting Ryota alone again, when she comes to borrow anther Rakugo CD, this time, sharing pudding. She calls her out on it but Mizuki blows her off. Ryota teases her about being addicted to Rakugo but she refuses to admit it, saying she’s only trying to kill time. Maria sneezes and Ryota jokes, “What is that? A sneeze in the mouth of a demon?” Maria isn’t amused, tells them to enjoy themselves and takes her CD. Ryota follows her out and wraps his scarf around her neck. She insists she doesn’t feel that bad, plus, he should keep his sister’s gift, but he wants her to keep it, for if she’s bedridden he’ll have no one to hang out with.
Maria calls Minako to catch up and complains that she hasn’t been to see her at all lately. Minako apologizes but Maria asks about the wedding preparations instead. She encourages her to push Kengo, for he does nothing if not urged along. Maria’s excited about the ceremony and can’t wait to see Minako in her dress again. Near tears, Minako remains pleasant saying everything is going well. She sincerely apologizes and tells her to get well soon. Maria promises to be well by the wedding.
Junji makes sure Kengo is doing well. He’s curious due to a weird guy in his thirties, with seaweed hair lurking around asking about him. He wonders if anything shady is going down but Kengo says, “No”– which relieves Junji. Kengo bikes home and finds Risa outside, head tilted to the sky, drinking, “Didn’t I tell you, you can’t drink?”– But it’s actually non-alcoholic beer Mom bought for her.
He reminds her of her comment about stars disappearing like jellyfish and tells her slender cardinal-fish are like stars that never fade. Once in Okinawa, he was diving watching a school of them; their bodies are transparent so light sparkles through them– “It really looked like a bunch of stars were falling from the sky.” Risa believes being able to make several wishes would be pretty nice and asks if Kengo will take her there for their honeymoon. He says he will, after the operation, if she wants. She looks away and laughs, telling him he’s a bad actor and won’t ever be able to fool that Kamiya doctor. She pauses and thanks him– “If not for this, I wouldn’t be able to start over.”
Kengo uses this opportunity to ask her what happened between she and her brother, though if she’s not comfortable she doesn’t have to answer. She confinds that she and her brother are the complete opposite of he and Maria. Her brother is a useless liar that racks up debt. She adds that she doesn’t want to be involved with him any longer– “But it’s not like I’ll ever see him again.”
She leaves to go back inside but turns and repeats that Maria called him “uselessly handsome.” He’s a little embarrassed by this but she continues with encouragement. Stop keeping secrets from Maria and just tell her everything— “You’re a good family, after all.”
Kengo stops by to request a temporary discharge for Maria to tell her about his marriage. Dr. Kamiya pointedly asks if Kengo married just to find a donor but Kengo answers that he didn’t. Kamiya feels silly for asking but Kengo dismisses it as though it’s understandable. Kamiya says he’ll ask Dr. Taninaka and get back to him.
Everyone sits down for dinner and Mom encourages Kengo to try the pumpkin. He says it’s different but delicious and Mom beams that Risa made it. Mom sneaks an approving look at Risa, as she smiles timidly to herself— “I told you I can cook on my own, if I want to.”
The phone rings. It’s the hospital confirming Maria has permission to come home for a day. Risa believes the time has finally come for them to meet properly but Kengo asks if just the three of them could speak first. Risa says it’s fine, she’ll be able to find a place to stay.
Maria is all ready to go when Kamiya steps in her room. He asks when her mom will be by and she dupes him to drive her instead. They make a pit stop at her school and she pulls up her sleeves to finish up her project. Kamiya finds her art pretty eccentric and Maria expects as much– from him. He tells her not to strain herself but she informs him that this is her last high school competition and the deadline is fast approaching. She asks if he was apart of a club in high school. He did soccer but dropped out to study for medical school. She asks if he regrets quitting — “I think I would’ve regretted not becoming a doctor.” Maria thinks she’ll regret not entering this competition. He understands but orders not to overdo it. Maria assures she won’t then smiles, even if she passes out, a capable doctor is here save her.
Risa gets her purse and heads for the door. Mom asks if she really has a place to go but Risa affirms she’s fine. Leaving the house, Risa jolts as she sees a bright red sports car speed by. Shuichi rings the Okada’s doorbell and waits for an answer, when Risa runs up and drags him away. He believes he should at least greet the Okadas but Risa tells him to just get in the car. On his way home, Kengo recognizes Risa and Shuichi tearing through an intersection and whips around to follow.
Shuichi wanes he’s elated to see his little sister married but also feels a little lonely. Risa tells him it’s not the type of marriage he thinks it is. As they park, he remarks that Kengo seems like a pretty decent diligent man— “I wonder if he has any savings.” Risa asks him how much but he stalls. She yells, annoyed and he caves– “Five hundred thousand yen.” She tells him she’ll just work it off, but in exchange, leave the Okadas alone. He agrees and she gets out of the car to leave. Shuichi follows trying to curb her anger, when someone calls out to them.
Kengo rolls up out of breath and walks toward them. Risa tries to usher Shuichi away but Kengo runs up and jerks her towards him– “Let’s go.” She twists away and tells him to leave her alone– “This has nothing to do with you.” Shuichi agrees and turns to continue on.
Seeing his back turned, Risa looks to Kengo emphatic she’ll keep her promise and follows Shuichi. Kengo watches for a moment then runs, grips her again and implores Shuichi stop following her. Shuichi believes that to be impossible, being they only have one another but Kengo interjects— “Risa is my wife. And I’m taking her home.”
At an intersection, Risa teases that Kengo’s acting has gotten better. She tells him to hurry home, knowing Mom and Maria are waiting for him. She tells him goodbye and heads in the opposite direction. Kengo doesn’t get very far before he turns around and calls out to her — “Risa, let’s go home. Together.”
Kamiya drops Maria home and tells Mom to contact him if there are any problems. Maria hurries downstairs to her room, excited to be back. She eagerly asks what’s for dinner and Mom’s making her favorite croquettes. They hear Kengo at the door and Maria greets him but is surprised to see Risa with him.
They sit Maria down and Kengo tells her, he and Risa are married. Maria doesn’t understand worried for Minako but Mom comforts her and tells her to just listen for awhile. He continues, revealing she’s extremely sick and needs surgery to live. Having no compatible family member, Risa is her donor. Now, she need only to give her consent. Maria tries to listen but can’t process anything and gets up to be by herself— “Give me some time.”
Mom and Kengo want to follow but allow her leave, giving her space. Risa returns to her room, leaving Kengo and Mom alone to talk. Mom states if Kengo’s father and “that person” were still around, perhaps they could have saved Maria. Kengo stands outside Maria’s room but never knocks to enter. Maria sits inside alone thinking.
The next morning, Mom sees a distant Maria and Kengo off, as Risa awkwardly paces inside. The ride is quiet but once at the hospital, Maria tells Kengo she’ll do the surgery. She smiles and says she’ll go in alone. Maria walks into her room and opens the box to Kengo’s wedding present.
Home alone, Risa finds Maria’s door open and peeks in noticing a star Maria chipped off her nail the night before. In Maria’s hospital room, her wedding gift to Minako and Kengo is smashed in pieces on the floor.
Reactions, Ramblings and Remarks
FINALLY! I can’t say that it was a huge reveal but it’s good to have the air clear. The truth is out among the family and ultimately, that’s a good thing. From what we’ve learned of Maria, she’s a perceptive kid, so she knew something was going on, however, that didn’t limit her shock because this news is pretty life altering. She’s also a kid that holds a lot of things in. She tries to remain cheery when she isn’t and though at times that is honorable, I always feel if you’re going to go on a rampage later (ie. crumbled gift), it’s not worth the pretense. Hopefully, she’s taken out all her anger but the last shot (a close up on Kengo’s cracked portion), suggests perhaps not.
I’ve been trying to decide when I would broach this subject but I suppose now is as good a time as any… SHUICHI IS A SNAKE IN THE GRASS! He slithers from place to place trying to gather as much information as possible to find what best benefits him. I’m not sure if it comes off well in the recaps but he is a master at manipulation; a true con man. He allows others to give themselves away by asking leading questions or saying open-ended statements. He may come across friendly, but he’s just cunning. And creepy. Very creepy. I like that Risa knows this all too well and therefore is frightened for him to even speak with people around her. Like he’s a leech, that will suck you dry, (which I don’t doubt) or hypnotic mind control super powers.
The parking lot scene with Kengo was stands out because you know it’s a turning point for all three characters. Shuichi actually has competition for Risa. Not in the romantic sense but in her life. Shuichi is used to the pattern of eliminating all people around the two of them but that didn’t happen this time. Kengo stands up to Shuichi and let’s him know where he stands. Risa is no longer the go between and Kengo doesn’t allow her to choose pain over freedom. It will be very interesting to see what, when and how Shuichi makes his next move.
As for Kengo, my heart was pounding with anticipation and pride, as he made the pinnacle decision to go after Risa and then ask her to come home. Honestly, that was huge! Especially for him. We’re told several times but, at least two or three times this episode, that Kengo isn’t very good at decision-making. He’d rather leave it to the ask-ee to decide than think it over himself, or so people believe. However, I believe, Kengo is a thinker (which he does often) and has no problem coming to the major decisions in life: marriage, family, work, safety. It’s the little things he would rather dismiss, which contrasts him greatly with all the women in his life. Therefore, when he runs after Risa and brings her home, it’s clear that she’s important to him and somehow fits in one of those categories. Just as when he chose the nail art, we see she has affected that aspect of his personality as well. Risa didn’t wait for him to ponder, she told him to choose then gave up. She wasn’t going to pacify him. He reacted to that and chose. He also gets an opportunity to hear more of Risa’s background. They’ve had conversations that give insight to how she thinks but not many that explore what has made her who she is as a person(today).
To me, Risa is such a wonderful character, because she can be so easily misunderstood. No matter how much she pretends to be acting and unaffected, she is the most emotionally invested in this arrangement with the Okadas. She comments a couple times about Kengo’s lack of acting skills but honestly, I think that it’s she that might need work. He has never professed to be disingenuous, whether with the honeymoon request or his declaration to Shuichi. She, on the other hand, has, though I believe there has never been a time she hasn’t spoken her mind or true feelings.
Of course, I don’t, for one moment believe, she believes their (Okadas) relationship is more than it is or imagines to covet what they have(as a family) for herself, however, she definitely recognizes it and would like the chance to obtain it herself one day. Therefore, everything that she experiences with them is more special to her than she actually wants it to be. Risa continues to give so much of herself that shows how large her heart is and how much she cares for people. She may be rough around the edges but she’s not a jaded whore off the street. She’s a girl who made a decision to survive; not the best one but one that has brought her this far. Now, she’s been given a way out and she had the good sense to take it.
This is why I believe there is so much eating in this drama. I think they eat about four or five times per episode but it’s not at street-side vendors or take-out eateries, it’s almost always at home, at a table, with home cooked food and family. A total culture shock to Risa. She gets to learn from Mom, have a steady dependable husband and a be normal contented housewife. She knows so little of family life and having that on a daily basis, is something that will definitely be hard to let go when the time comes. I actually love the eating scenes because Risa gets a family, in a family setting, though it may be borrowed in a sense.