nagareboshi: episode eight

I’ve been feeling a little sentimental this week. I blame it wholly on my constant replay of Adele’s 21 album and her amazing and hauntingly emotional final track “Someone Like You” (Thanks Adele 😐 ). With the album playing as I was finishing up this recap, it got me thinking that we’re so close to the end. It’s bittersweet in that I’ll be completing my first recapping venture but also that I’ll have to say goodbye to these characters. And to be honest, I hate to even think about it.

There are some great dramas out there, but the majority are great in the moment, blooming on the high of it’s airing and only work for that moment in time in your drama viewing life. But when you find a drama that holds up to rewatch, like your favorite novel, it springs alive and tells you something new, it hid away from you or reemphasizes with fervent clarity what you learned initially. This drama is definitely that type of story. Each episode I watch, I add one more example to my list of what makes this drama marvelous. We’ve got two more episodes to go but what grabs me each time is the characters feel so real, I truly want to peek in on their lives, for the rest of mine.

Risa wakes up to see Kengo sleeping next her, having spent the night watching over her. She smiles to herself and watches him a while before he stirs awake. He asks if she’s awake and she immediately quanders after Maria but she’s doing fine.The surgery was a success and Risa is elated. Kengo blinks back tears thanking her. Risa tells him he should be with Maria but Mom is with her so she’s being cared for. — “With this our contract is over right?” Kengo’s face drops but he agrees and makes the excuse to leave to get a doctor to check her out. Once outside, he hangs his head revealing his disappointment in her mention of the contract.

Shuichi extrapolates that Risa was tricked into marriage, ordered to keep her surgery a secret, then performed the surgery under duress, hurting her body for money. He paints the idea that Kengo is only using her– “How can I forgive such a man? Won’t you the article?”

Risa and Nurse Rumi came back from her first stroll after surgery and Kengo beams that Maria is awake and wants to see her. They look at one another, now forever connected and Maria chokes back tears, holding up her fingers in victory. — “Thank you.”

Risa picks through her food and Dr. Kamiya warns she must eat. She jokes she’s afraid her seams might burst open but then thanks him seriously for performing the surgery. She complains that after such invasive surgery it’s almost criminal to serve such horrible food but Kamiya suggests she get Kengo to take her out to a fancy restaurant. Risa thinks since it’s his scar, it should be his treat, plus doctors are rich.  He admits he isn’t rich but can certainly afford a celebratory lunch. — “Therefore, please make do with this for now.” He pushes the tray closer to her. She grimaces but picks up her sticks and takes a bite.

Shuichi walks in and introduces himself to Kamiya, offering his help with recovery to Risa. He seems genuinely burdened and apologetic for being a hapless human being and not being able to properly help her. She turns her head and tells him to leave. He’s brought her favorite treat but since she’s ignoring him, he places the dessert in the fridge and leaves.

Maria sends Minako a text and Minako sits on a bench reading through apologetic tears and relief:

Maria: It’s been a long time. This is Maria. My surgery was ten days ago and everything went well. I’m now back in the normal ward. I can finally see the world outside. I made you worry about me alot. For that, I’m truly sorry. Good luck at your job.

Risa has been discharged and she comes to say her goodbyes to Maria. She pretends to be able to return home alone but Mom knows she’s still in pain and insists on going together. Maria’s upset Kengo isn’t there to escort her and reminds Risa of their promised future manicure and Risa smiles.

Kengo glances at his watch, very much aware Risa should’ve been released by now. He, Junji annd Yuya are setting up a goblet display for the holidays. Junji wonders if he will be bringing Maria by to see and hopes they can have a welcome home party once she’s released.

Mom has laid out a smorgasbord for Risa’s return home and everyone is excited to dig in. Risa can barely contain her glee as she takes her first bite. Mom tells Risa to stay with them but Risa wants to adhere to the contract. Mom looks to Kengo for support but he’s reluctant to even speak on the topic. He tells Risa to at least stay until she’s found another place to live.

In their separate rooms, Risa and Kengo have never seemed more alone, both painfully aware the terms of their contract have ended. Neither get much sleep that night.

Life falls back into routine, Maria quickly on the mend, Kengo working and Risa looking for apartments. However, with the loom of impending separation fast approaching, Kengo and Risa tour an apartment together. She walks straight to the balcony concerned whether she’ll be able to see the stars from there. Kengo joins her, wondering if she’ll be fine living alone. But she feels she’ll be fine– “I’ve decided to make it on my own.”

Maria informs Mizuki she’ll be repeating her school term. Clearly disappointed, Maria comforts her saying nothing will change, plus she’ll be able to enter the competition next year as well. Mizuki reminds Maria that she hasn’t completely kept her promise to Ryota and encourages her to hand his drawing over to his family.

Risa returns to the realtor having changed her mind about locale. She now wants a place closer to the city, nowhere near the sea. As if to put as much distance as possible between herself and Kengo. She gets a phone call and meets Kamiya at a small restaurant. She feels it’s a little shabby for a doctor and jokes he must be poor but he feels he’s more middle-class. Inside, he wonders if she’s healing properly and besides a little pain, the dissipates after medication, she’s fine.

Kamiya mentions Shuichi and his fax, believing him to be too nice to create such havoc. Risa notes that’s how he’s able to swindle everyone he meets and tells Kamiya, Shuichi shouldn’t bother him again. She asks if he’s ever moved before and he admits he has several times.

Risa: Your parents transferred jobs alot?

Kamiya: No. Packing and fleeing. We were plagued by debt so we moved around alot until I was in junior high.

Risa: Same here. At times like that, didn’t you think things would get better after you moved?

Kamiya: You’re probably right. But it would usually get worse though.

Risa: Things have to get better this time.

Mom asks Risa if she’s found a place to stay and Risa thinks she may have settled on a place. Kengo thinks it’s the place they toured before but she found another one. Mom asks where but Risa feels she’s just being polite and answers vaguely that it’s cheap and seems nice.

Maria and Kengo are drawing together when Minako comes by. Maria is excited to see her, thankful she came and kindly brought a gift. Minako apologizes but Maria’s just glad she came. Chizuru and Junji follow in behind her, making it a party, bearing gifts.

Risa comes by ready to give her manicure but sees every enjoying themselves and turns and walks away. Minako notices her just as she exits the room. Risa sits having a drink when Minako comes by her table and asks how she ‘s feeling. She sits at the table behind her and thanks her for all she’s done. She tells Risa if not for her she would’ve never said she’d be a donor. — “I was also a bit jealous. But Kengo told me plainly he can’t marry me. And I felt better.”

Risa tells her she really is a nice woman and Minako jokingly agrees.– “Take care of Kengo.”

After everyone leaves, Kengo is putting away all the presents. Maria wonders what Risa will be doing now that the surgery is over. Kengo pauses, a little disgruntled by the question but answers, “She’s moving out.”

Maria: Sometime ago, you said, you’d do anything to save me. But it’s not like anyone would have been right, don’t you think? It had to be Risa, right? I’m glad you chose Risa. That’s how I feel.

The next morning Risa is packing and Kengo offers his help but she doesn’t need it. Mom gives her some of their old things and they pack leisurely together. Kengo stands awkward, clearly uncomfortable, that this move isn’t ruffling anyone but him.

Ryota’s sister comes by with Mizuki to congratulate Maria on a successful surgery and Mizuki reminds of the portrait. Maria feels reluctant but hands the picture over to her. She takes it gladly believing Ryota would be very grateful. With all this revealing, Mizuki bursts– “I liked Ryota!”

On her way home Risa stops to take in the sea view and Shuichi shows up behind her. He’s come to help her get her things now that she’s divorcing but Risa tells him, though she may be getting a divorce– “I’ve made up my mind. I won’t be coming back to you.”

Everyone sits down to their first and last home cooked meal by Risa but quickly realize she only cooked one item– pumpkin. They all laugh at the revelation and Kengo hands Risa a key. He bought her bike, being she’ll live so far from the train station. Risa goes to look at the bike, then downstairs to Kengo’s room. She needs him to teach her to ride.

On break from the cutest bike lesson ever, Kengo asks Risa if she ever tried to learn. Turns out, Shuichi did try to teach her:

Risa: On our days off from school we’d go to the park early in the morning, but I could never learn.

Kengo: You’re just not athletic.

Risa: Don’t make fun of me. Before we’d know it, night would fall. He’d promise we’d continue the next day and we’d go home. and he’d hold the bike from behind. But then our parents died. And there wasn’t time to learn how to anymore. If I’d learned how to ride a bike back then, I might have cut off all contact with my brother by now.

They start with the bike again and Risa begs Kengo not to let go but eventually he does and happily watches her pedal away. When she notices he’s not there, she turns and the smile happily at her accomplishment.

It’s moving day and Risa says her goodbyes to the moonjellies and hands Kengo their divorce papers, her part filled in and signed. He pulls out the remainder of her money, she takes it and thanks him. Reaching out her hand, they end this transaction the way it began– a handshake.

Shuichi gets a call from the reporter and is surprised to hear the article is already in print. However, things must not have gone to plan for he’s agitated and tells her that she’s wrong on a few facts. He hurries to the nearest stand and is disturbed by what he reads.

Kengo helps bind everything to the truck but Mom tells her she can come back home anytime. Risa says goodbye then turns to Kengo, who smiles but doesn’t look her in the eyes.  As they watch her ride away, Mom wonders– “Is it really okay to just let her go?” Kengo leaves as the truck pulls off, biking in the opposite direction to work. But the farther away he pedals the more uncomfortable he feels. He suddenly stops and tears off after Risa. He treads not far behind, pedaling as quickly as he can to catch up but later loses them at an intersection. He pauses and glances around to see where they’ve gone but there’s no sign of them. He shakes his head acknowledging defeat, then smiles resolutely to himself and rolls on to work.

Tired, he pulls into to Shine no Shima but instead of going straight in, he detours towards the shore and walks straight up to Risa. She turns around and stands up a little embarrassed:

Risa: It’s not open yet. I wanted see the jellyfish here one last time.

But Kengo doesn’t answer. He stands frozen looking at her, so she says goodbye and tries to leave. She nearly passes him but he grabs her arm and pulls her into a hug.

Reactions, Ramblings and Remarks

Look guys, I’m not big on physical affection so hugging and different things are a little difficult for me but THIS WAS THE BEST HUG EVER! I need a Kengo hug– STAT! One thing that we know very well about this couple is they don’t say many things to one another directly. There are more quiet unspoken gestures and alot ALOT of subtext. Therefore, something like a hug is HUGE and we all feel it’s magnitude. I always find it interesting that kisses/sex are always the route dramas use to solidify a couple as romantically linked but WOW look at what one hug can do. There is something extremely intimate about what we just witnessed and all I can say is “THANK YOU SHOW!” Kengo doesn’t say, “I love you” or “Baby, please don’t go,” but the way he clutches and squeezes her, you’d have to be a fool not to know what this means.

In the earlier scene when he bikes after her, it’s crushing when he loses her. However, his reaction was so telling of him as a character. He doesn’t curse himself or God, nor does he continue to look, he just turns around and returns to his place. He’s a man that accepts reality. He doesn’t fight with himself or the world over things he can’t change. Now, I would also argue, that his resolution comes quicker in this instance because he knows he’s partly to blame, waiting until the last minute to run after her, not asking her to stay sooner, etc. That is also something that is so admirable about Kengo. But when he sees her waiting there, in their spot, it’s evident this is his last chance. One that I find it was so sweet of Risa to give him.

This drama relies heavily on subtext, therefore it comes up in every episode. I’m not complaining though, because it’s woven into the personality of the main characters. Maria has even had her moments over the last two episodes revealing that she knows these two people care for one another. When she speaks with Kengo she’s letting him know— Risa’s the one. For there, had to be a reason she was her donor. She was meant to be his wife.

The best scene however, was the bike lesson. Several things were going on in that moment between Risa and Kengo, the largest one being, the illusion of letting go versus holding on. Teaching someone to ride a bike isn’t inherently difficult. Where the issue lay is the learner and the teacher’s fear. If the learner is never comfortable with the bike then they may never want the teacher to let go. Conversely, the teacher may be concerned about the dangers that await the learner once they ride away. Kengo has been a haven for Risa, protecting her and sheltering her but now he has to let her go. During their lesson, Risa says “Don’t let go” but Kengo counters that he has to at some point. Letting go is one of the biggest lessons anyone who’s ever loved anything has to learn. It’s a testament of real love and profound trust. The concept is translated into all relationships but the root and result are the same.

Also, again this episode, Shuichi and Kengo are foiled. For, the illusion of “letting go” works for Kengo and Risa’s current situation, but also for Shuichi and Risa’s ongoing relationship. In the scene, she shares that she “never quite learned” how to ride but isn’t it also possible that Shuichi never let her go? Unlike, Kengo, Shuichi can’t allow Risa to move on without him.

I was always of the mind that Shuichi is a pretty pejorative character. And he is. However, this episode shows a shadow of concern for Risa that I didn’t think was actually there. I’m not sure he’s motivated by unconditional love, but I do believe he feels something deep, real and true. Ultimately, I think it’s got more to do with him and his own selfish motives than with anything else. Whether it’s fear of abandonment or he’s just plain frightened, I’m not yet sure.  When he asks her if she’s returning, there was a stir in my heart because I genuinely pitied him. He’s very lonely and sad but mostly scared stiff she’d say “No.” Initially, when he would wax on about he and Risa having no one else in the world, I felt it was about impeding guilt and burden on Risa, and though I still believe that’s most of it, a large part has everything to do with his own loneliness and isolation. Because he lives the way he does, he has no friends, no family, nothing. Everyone is a mark. Everything is a job. Even Risa. However, she’s his. His only blood tie, therefore she has to remain loyal to him. Also he has to rest assure that she stays that way.

I don’t believe that Shuichi’s intentions in stopping the surgery or now revealing the “donor deal” through the media to be selfless nor in Risa’s best interests, for the simple fact that he actually took Mom’s money. But I suppose it’s also interesting that he didn’t spend it. In the beginning of the series, he extorted funds from Risa’s boyfriend, and quickly went on a shopping spree. The fact that Mom’s money was still in tact does speak to him not being a complete jerk. I think that he can’t help but lie and swindle but in this instance, he wanted to look out for his sister. I don’t really think he knows how any longer, but I will put an asterick by his name for trying.

6 Replies to “nagareboshi: episode eight”

  1. unnichan, you made me cry. The first time I ever cried while reading a recap. huhuhu.
    Gahh, this drama… I really felt those two scenes of Kengo tearing after Risa and heartbreakingly, missing her at the intersection and turning away back to his life, and also at the bike scene. Your analyses are so spot on. This drama is just so good, so layered, so real.

    On my first watch, I didn’t catch that beat of disgruntlement from Kengo during that scene with Maria, where she said those wise words. It had to be Risa. It’s so wise of her to realize that and point it out to her hopelessly handsome brother.

    I totally agree with you on THE hug. Gosh, the spoke volumes. Like you said, dramas too often rely on physical displays of affection as a crutch that they quickly become pointless and cliched. In this drama, THE HUG has so much impact because all along they’ve acted like they’d never get the chance to hold hands because the relationship has always been hinged on the contract. Interesting that in most usual contract dramas, there’s always a “skinship” clause, but this one pertains to a most personal kind of skinship: that of organ donation. And it’s not between the two contractual parties, but it is to benefit one who is so loved by one party that the other party came to love her eventually. So layered, so deep, so human. I love this drama. (I should download this myself).

    Coincidentally, I’ve also been in a sentimental mood for more than two weeks now. I’ve been trying to learn “Someone like you” on the piano. This song captures perfectly how I’m feeling these days. :((

  2. Oh no! I don’t know what to say, I hate you cried? But then again, I completely understand. No matter how many times I see it, I cry at Ryota dying and my heart stops when Kengo doesn’t catch her. And then the hug comes and I’m a puddle.
    …dramas too often rely on physical displays of affection as a crutch that they quickly become pointless and cliched.
    Couldn’t have said it better myself!
    And you know, I’ve never thought about the exclusion of “skinship” clause. You’re definitely right. I think it’s definitely because there’s nothing overtly sexual about this drama (outside of fact– Risa’s job), which is very interesting. Sexuality and passion are swopped for compassion and friendship. There’s a place for both in every story but it’s rare to see equality in any story. I prefer the latter on most accounts though.
    ** Adele seems to be on a roll… 😐

  3. Owh, i get so teary when i read your recap…i must say this the one of the best recap (from episode 1-8) i’ve ever read…with the analysis, and Reactions, Ramblings and Remarks (i love this section) makes me knowing more about this drama (my fav). I didn’t realize that some part that you mention like the parking scene (Kengo is a thinker man) and etc, understand about their character, feelings….. arrgghh…wanna watch it again… can’t wait for your next recap, no need to rush unnichan-shi/san..take your time to make the best recap for the last 2 episode…..fighthing!!!

    p.s: did you notice that Risa never call his name, “Kengo”?

    1. I am so glad you are enjoying them! And thank you for the encouragement. I do plan to get them both out pretty soon. I suppose saying goodbye is a little harder than I thought 😉
      And you know, I’m not sure I ever noticed that! Thank you! That’s a great observation. You’re definitely right. I suppose it has a lot to do with “what” to call him? For that matter, does she “call” anyone? I don’t think so. No one’s said Shuichi’s name yet either. Hmmm. My wheels are turning…

    1. That’s wonderful Christopher! I appreciate it!!
      And I just loved the drama when I first saw it but never saw anything about it online. I wanted others to experience what a beautiful story this was. Great characters, solid acting. One of my absolute favorite Jodoramas.
      I’m also glad I have these recaps for myself, to revisit over and over again.

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