nagareboshi: episode five

Do you know why people like contract marriages? Because outside of them being beyond the realm of normal possibilities and wonderful fuel for hijinks and fun, they give a false sense of security. I think everyone loves to feel like they are in control and in a marriage based on tangible things, people feel safe. This way there’s no possibility of romance or love, therefore, no hurt feelings. I know I’m not the only one that knows, what builds a relationship or bonds two people isn’t a ring, sex or even love alone, but a meeting of the minds, genuine heartfelt conversation, and yes, proximity. It’s kinda sad we dupe ourselves into believing, words on a piece paper can dictate actions or feelings but generally it’s hilariously naïve, which makes humanity so stinking cooky and wonderful.

Ah. So here’s episode 5. Get ready for an emotional ride guys. I suppose we’re at the point where emotions are high and attitudes and positions must be revealed. Secrets come to light and relationships deepen and solidify, where others are severed (hopefully, for good).

I know I haven’t spoken once about Ryota and yes, that has been purposeful, but who wouldn’t think he’s the cutest kid ever right here.

Like everyone else today, Kengo is lost in thought when Junji finds him. He believes Kengo is wasting his time playing music for the brainless moonjellies but Kengo pipes research has shown the fish respond well to sound. He gets a call from Risa and rushes to the hospital. When he gets to Maria’s room, Dr. Kamiya assures him that Maria is MIA but stable, then draws his attention to the broken plaque.

On a train, Maria moves over for the chatty person next to her and looks up to see Ryota. She’s shocked and wonders why he’s there but he points out what’s more important is her presence there. She covers with needing a scenery change, Ryota claims the same.

She turns off her ringing cellphone but Ryota worries if that’s a good idea just as his phone buzzes. It’s Dr.Kamiya. Maria hints phones and trains don’t mix, so he ignores the call. Kamiya hangs up, telling Kengo no luck contacting Ryota. He asks if he told Maria everything and Kengo confirms he did and leaves to track her down.

First he calls Risa at home checking if Maria came back there. He asks for her to stay home today and not tell Mom that Maria is missing. Risa feels she’s to blame for Maria’s disappearance but Kengo knows he’s at fault and tells her to contact him if she has any news.

Mizuki is rebuffed to hear Maria and Ryota have run-off together, assuming it’s a romantic excursion. In the art room, she notices Maria’s sculpture has been worked on recently. She wonders if Maria will be discharged soon but Kengo says it’ll take a little while longer. She informs him the competition ends soon so Maria will have to finish quickly. She congratulates him on his marriage knowing how hard Maria worked on his wedding welcome board. Kengo sheepishly accepts.

Nurse Rumi passes Maria’s room and finds Shuichi waiting, flowers in hand, flipping through Maria’s sketchbook. He questions if Maria is out for tests and introduces himself as Kengo’s friend. Rumi remembers him and answers Maria is unavailable. He says that’s too bad, gives her the flowers and leaves.

Next, Kengo contacts Minako. She relays she got the impression Maria didn’t know they’d broken up. Kengo admits he only recently told her. Minako wonders if something has happened but Kengo denies it and asks her to contact him if Maria calls her again.

Maria’s annoyed Ryota is tagging along with her.  Believing it’s more fun to be together than alone, he quotes a proverb, “In traveling, companionship; in life, kindness.” She threatens to ditch him, if he passes out again and gets in line for a bus. Ryota is curious of her destination plans, but she hasn’t decided, so he chooses.

Risa’s at home watching daytime TV, bored, when Mom comes home. She’s decided to take Maria the meal she missed the night before. To detour her, Risa suggests perhaps Maria couldn’t eat, rather than, didn’t eat and believes there’s no need to visit but Mom wants to try and speak with Maria once more as well.

The bell rings and Risa answers, Minako at the door. She comes in concerned something may have happened to Maria. Mom knows nothing and looks to Risa, who then admits Maria snuck out of the hospital. Minako immediately assumes she’s the culprit blaming, her refusal to be a donor but Risa counters convinced Maria just doesn’t want her liver. Mom tries to refute both insinuations as Kengo walks in.

He’s shocked to see Minako and Risa rushes to explain. She clarifies that she and Kengo have no romantic relationship and will divorce promptly after surgery. Confused Minako eyes Kengo, “Divorce?” Kengo confirms he and Risa are married and Minako turns to leave stunned and embarrassed. At the door, she asks Kengo to keep her abreast of Maria’s whereabouts.

Mom grabs her jacket and heads to the door to look for Maria but Kengo barrels after her reminding she doesn’t know where to look. She blazes, angry he kept Maria missing and secret. “I didn’t want you to worry about Maria.” Indignant Mom questions, “Is it wrong for me to worry about Maria?” Kengo soothes he meant nothing like that and tells her to calm down, for he already filed a police report.

Ryota and Maria end up at an open market and Ryota bubbles he’s always wanted to have one date at Asakusa. Maria corrects that they are not on date but he teases she should just face reality. Ryota suggests they take a water-bus and then go to Odaiba. She finds his plans a little cliché but says it almost feels like they are normal high school students. She tells him she’s going to die soon and he says join the club and runs off to another store.

As they look out over the water, Maria inquires what Ryota wants to do most. He wants to see his niece’s face for he knows she going to be the cutest baby girl. When he throws the question back to her, she replies she wants to see the ocean.

Minako goes to the Shine no Shima to watch the jellyfish, no doubt reminiscing over Kengo. Yuya informs her they are closing and she scurries away near tears. On her way out, she bumps into Junji and spills everything. Chizura guesses Kengo paid Risa to be a donor, concluding if true, he’s committed a crime.

Kengo is still busy dialing around for Maria when Risa steps out of the shower. However, still no news from Maria. Risa suggests they try their old house in Yamanashi– “She said she was born in Yamanshi the prefecture with no sea.” Mom and Kengo trade glances and he grabs his coat to rush out — “Did she say anything else?”

Tired, Ryota suggests they rest somewhere for the night and Maria checks them into a love hotel. Not too impressed with the digs, she immediately raids the fridge and opens a beer. Ryota snatches it from her. As it spills over the floor, she pounces on him– “Let’s try it. Since we’re dying anyway.” Ryota shoves her off him and begins wiping up the beer. She curious why he hasn’t grilled her and he offers to ask questions if that’s what she wants. She tells him she’ll answer if he asks.

Dr. Kamiya drops by hoping Maria’s been found. Mom brings him in for tea and he spies an old picture Mom had pulled out right before he came. Mom explains that the picture was of Maria and her father. But Kamiya asks, “Who is the woman next to her?”

Maria reveals between she and her parents, she was the only one that survived the fire. “Just like that I’ve always been a burden on someone. And now they say I need a transplant.” Ryota believes he’s been a burden as well.

Needing a transplant has turned his family chaotic, with relatives being asked to be donors and refusing. At this point, all his family’s relational ties are tense, even his sister apologized to me for getting pregnant dampening her joyous occasion. He smiles — “I’m just like you.”

Driving out to Yamanshi, Risa wonders how Maria could’ve been born in Yamanashi if Kengo’s family has never moved. Kengo explains Maria isn’t Mom’s daughter but the child of his father’s mistress they took in when she was two. They stop somewhere near his dad’s old home, for the actual house burned down years ago.

Kengo takes Risa to an empty lot, where Kengo’s father’s house once stood. Flowers sit as a memorial outside and Risa believes Maria may have been there. An older lady sees them and recognizes Kengo as Kensuke’s son. She tells them it was she who placed the flowers there; their graves being so far away. Kengo thanks her and she suddenly remembers something and asks them to follow her to her store.

She runs to the back and recites his father’s intentions to repair and give him a congratulatory present on his first job but he died before she could give it to him. — “Your father’s compass.”

Returning to the car, Risa asks what they’ll do next and Kengo decides to visit Maria’s parents’ grave tomorrow. Risa concludes they’ll be sleeping in the car but Kengo wants to take her home and come back on his own. She turns him down saying she’ll keep him company. He’s apologetic but she jokes it’s fine, she’ll just charge him a little extra for her effort.

Maria can’t sleep and asks Ryota to recite some rakugo for her but his joke bombs. He grimaces he’s only now started to memorize the longer riddles and they pact to try again when he’s succeeded. Ryota wonders why they are going to the beach and Maria reveals she needs to make some decisions.

Kengo and Risa park at a convenience store. Risa waits outside as Kengo buys them a couple meals and drinks. He drapes his coat over her shoulders but she gives it back saying she’d feel bad if she kept it. He said he’s fine but she finishes — “Not for you.” Risa wonders if he’d planned to always keep Maria’s birth a secret but he confides he and Mom were going to tell her after she graduated high school.

Kengo: But I really had no idea.

Risa: About what?

Kengo: I wonder how long she’s known. I didn’t notice at all.

Risa: Does being a good brother mean you automatically know everything about your little sister?

Kengo: A good brother, huh?

Risa: That’s what you are isn’t it?

Kengo: That’s not true at all. I’m the one who chose to take Maria in. I drove my father out. I just couldn’t forgive him.

Risa: So you raised her because you felt responsible. You’re so stupid.

Kengo: I guess I am.

The next morning, Risa wakes up in the car alone and finds Kengo sitting out nearby. She mentions she thinks he should go back to his girlfriend once the surgery is complete. Kengo disagrees, “She’s not my girlfriend anymore.” Risa believes it’s a possibility– “She still loves you.”


Shuichi and Rumi sit at a bar drinking. Clearly he’s gotten her drunk in order to divulge information and she rambles revealing Kengo got married quickly, believing men only want women with perfect nails and skin. He flatters her, complimenting her beauty and suggest they change venues. In the morning, Rumi wakes up  naked and hung over in a hotel room. Shuichi greets her from the window, glad they both had a good talk and a good time.

Kengo and Risa arrive at an empty church. Risa assumes the graves must be out back but Kengo isn’t sure. “I’ve never been here.” Risa understands– “It’s not like I’ve ever visited someone’s grave either.” Kengo tells Risa to stay put while he looks around. He finds his father’s grave and acknowledges the importance of this moment. He looks down at his compass and toggles it in his hand. It bounces over to reveal an inscription: To Kengo.

Risa follows him to the grave area and sees him kneeling next to his father’s. She steps away, and waits by the car, giving him some privacy. Kengo finishes and announces Maria’s no where around. Risa poses, “What color is the sea?” Kengo answers, blue or green but Risa recounts Maria identifying it with the color, orange.

Mom is asleep in the living room from waiting up all night, when Kengo calls. He asks if  “orange-sea” means anything to her, for Maria mentioned it. Mom whispers, “Maria must remember.”

Ryota believes Yamanashi doesn’t have an ocean but Maria says there is one in her memories. “And once we get there, I think I’ll know what I want to do.” They get off the bus facing a body of water. Ryota clearly feels ill and tries to leave, “There’s something I need to do.” He goes to a nearby hospital checks himself in.

The nurse informs him Dr. Kamiya is on his way. Maria decides to sit and wait with him but Ryota tells her to go on ahead, “You were going to decide on things, on the orange sea.” He jokes he won’t be around to bug her so she can make a sound choice, “But when you get back, draw me.”

Dr. Kamiya arrives and berates Ryota for doing something so rash but Ryota flashes his smiles– “Rashness is a man’s charms.”  Then honestly apologizes, saying he couldn’t let Maria be alone.

Risa and Kengo arrive at the spot Mom lead them and find Maria by the water’s edge. Maria tells Kengo she’s decided not to take Risa’s liver. “I don’t want anything from Risa. I won’t do the surgery. I don’t need a donor.”

Mom shows up and apologizes to Maria for not being upfront about her past sooner.But Maria has known since middle school.  “I couldn’t say anything. Because I wanted to be a family with you two.”

Mom states that Maria remembers them returning to this place and Maria says she does. She remembers them coming alone and having a great time, it was also the first time she felt — but Mom cuts in.

Mom: Maria, ever since you came to our house, I always thought: I have to love her just as I love Kengo. But I just couldn’t accept you. I didn’t know what to do. Before I realized it, I had come her with you. I wanted us to die together. But you know, you said to me, “It’s an orange sea! It’s so beautiful, Mom.” You were so excited. When I saw your smile, I knew I couldn’t die. I decided to live on with you.

Maria looks out into the water and walks in. Kengo steps in after to her trying to pull her back put she jerks away. He gets her attention and desperately tells her that they’ve found a way to save her; they have a donor. Risa is a match, all that’s left is the operation. She tells him to forget it. He yells– “How can we forget it!”

She wonders then why he kept it secret, her needing donor and not finding one– “You pitied me.” Kengo disagrees, “It’s because I want you to live.”

She says she’s done with them and wades out further, Kengo clutching her, begging her to stop. Risa gets fed up and charges in, pushing Maria under– “You say you don’t want the transplant. That means you don’t care if you die?’ Maria pushes her away and explains it’s not like that. She just doesn’t want everyone giving up something for her, Kengo entering a fake marriage– “I don’t want to live if he has to go that far for me.” Risa shakes her and hisses for her to stop being conceited, making her only choice death.

Kengo moves Risa aside, saying it’s a family matter and Mom steps in, embracing Maria. Holding her tightly, Maria breaks into sobs. Mom suggests they go home, as they all cry.

At the Okada’s Shuichi rings the bell outside. Finding no one home, he breaks in and rifles through Kengo’s drawers downstairs. He finds Kengo’s bank book and takes a photo with his phone for evidence. Then he comes across a packet of pictures; one catches his eye.

[I just have to interject, don’t they look like a couple in love? Pictures express more than we know(even when we take them), expect or even mean to. LOVE IT!]

Reactions, Ramblings and Remarks

Whoa. Mom tried to kill them both! That’s a lot to take in but at least she came to her senses. Children can do that (or innocents on the outside looking in). I can definitely identify with Kengo and Mom in this situation and can empathize with how they both felt in this situation. No matter how old you get, if a parent has an affair, it’s devastating. Forgiveness doesn’t come easy. Then to have them die and leave a child that needs a guardian? Who would really want to take that responsibility? I won’t be dishing out any humanitarian awards but I know guilt, betrayal, pity, anger, remorse are only the tip of what these two were feeling during the events that lead Maria to live with them. Therefore, how they chose to deal with their circumstance was more commendable than acceptance of expectation. Ultimately, though, none of those things matter now. At present, how they became a family means nothing, for blood connections aren’t what makes a happy functional home.

That’s what makes the conversations between Risa and Kengo or Mom and Kengo so poignant. Kengo admits that he raised Maria out of guilt but it’s obvious, guilt isn’t what makes him love her or fight for her. Just as Risa sees, he’s a good brother. He takes care of her, supports her and no matter how that all began, the present reality is what makes the difference. Mom is the same, guilty about the past, concerned it outweighs the present. Our past definitely colors the present but it doesn’t dictate it and that’s where this family came together in this episode.

Maria is a young girl with tons to think about and choosing life or possible death is extremely hard. As a kid, it’s daunting to try and think about something from all angles and not be selfish. Her choice to reject Risa as her donor, in her mind is for the best because she feels burdensome on people that she isn’t sure she should rely on. I say that because though she knows she can trust them she’s concerned that they only feel guilt toward her and will one day resent her. This is where misconception through non-communication come in. Everyone stays silent due to fear and it only creates more problems. I won’t pretend to know the best route for a situation like this but transparency is the key. Though I will admit, it’s hard to do so if you aren’t sure if your motives or feelings are pure and positive.

Risa’s layers peel back with each episode. Though I’m sure we’re all clear that she cares for Kengo and his family, she says as much when she hands Kengo his jacket back. I believe we see it again in her reaction to Mom’s confession and then her excluded from the family during Maria’s meltdown. [Check pictures above and below–notice the distance between Risa and the Okadas].

Risa is a little abrasive in her speech but her heart is sensitive and loving. I think Kengo definitely sees this more and more with each passing day with her. At first, he could chalk it up to the monetary agreement but when she suggests he pay her extra this episode he was genuinely amused. He’s getting to know that she’s constantly trying to deflect how much and deep she actually cares and by golly it’s just adorable.

OK so I’m not sure about you, but I was a tad annoyed when I watched this episode. They go on and on  about Yamanashi being landlocked and then we end up in a body of water!  Of course it isn’t the ocean but I they made no point to clarify, so I thought I’d explain that a bit here. Though the Yamanashi prefecture is surrounded by mountains, Fuji being one, it actually has five lakes: Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Chidori, Motosuko and Shoji. This “orange sea” is actually Lake Kawaguchiko. The giveaway of course is Fuji perched looking down on our characters but also the fact that it allows much easier access for filming (ahem, and tourists). This episode showcases not only the lake but most especially the mountainous terrains, the misty mornings and the overall beauty of natural Japan. The Travel Channel should buy this series just to enhance Japanese tourism. It’s that breathtakingly beautiful. I’m positive there are natives that watch the drama amazed at what their country has to offer.



3 Replies to “nagareboshi: episode five”

  1. And here I thought Korea is the most picturesque of all (which only shows how partial I’d been to Kdramas for the longest time). I’ve already watched a number of jdoramas before, and, while I didn’t fail to notice that Japan has its own charm, this is the first drama that made me want to go visit the Land of the Rising Sun. The mountains and the lake are really breathtaking, be it in the early morning, or in the dusk scene towards the end. Just.Lovely!

    And while we’re on the subject of “the view”, may I just say that Takenouchi Yutaka offers the best of them all? I thought, when I marathoned episodes 5-8 last night, that I have somewhat gotten tired of Kengo’s pensiveness, reading your recaps and wonderful insights just made me appreciate him more. And now, i can’t help but giggle whenever i would see a screencap of him.

    I agree with what you’ve said of him: he’s rarely emotional about anything, yet he’s pensive about almost everything. I didn’t know pensiveness could be so appealing. Or maybe it’s just Yutaka-san. Waht a very natural and talented actor.

    1. Suewellyn , Thank you so much for taking an interest in my thoughts and this series. Kengo is by far one of my favorite male leads in any series or film I’ve ever seen. He’s a joy. Every time I look back on this drama, he gets better, and I see something else I never mentioned in these recaps. And yes, the character may have been written well but it’s Yutaka-san that saturates him with humanity and a steadiness that I am in awe of constantly. In the hands of another, Kengo would’ve been a likeable cardboard cut out but nothing at all to write about.
      Thanks again. Visit often.

  2. I very much agree with you. It takes a good actor to be able to act out all those quiet, ponderous scenes and be able to deliver the emotions to the viewers.

    “Steadiness”. I actually thought of that exact word to describe Yutaka-san. I really like him in those two dramas i’ve seen him in so far. I hope you also liked him in Propose to You Once More. Haru’s strength and vulnerability is actually different than Kengo’s, and I love both versions.

    By the way, can you give me any drama recommendations? Preferrably one with Yutaka in it, but any other j-actor would be okay too. 🙂 Thanks unnichan!

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