nagareboshi: episode ten (final)

Finales are usually hard to watch. The most logical and probably selfishly basic reason is, they rarely, if ever, end the way you envision, desire, or are even led to believe. I’m not one that needs a “happily ever after” but I always need an ending that makes sense. Love stories need to end cohesively, whether the couple remains together, separates or is open-ended. But regardless, if you’ve grown to love characters and relished the opportunity to see them live, laugh and love, the ending is a parting. Therefore, no matter what type of person or story lover you are, romantic or realistic, parting has to feel like a resolution. Whether it resolves some things, rekindles many things, or removes all things, once we part, there has to be a reason for the journey.

[Typically, during a recap I take about 100-150 screencaps,but in this episode I took over 200! So since I got a little snap happy, for the finale, I thought I’d jam in as many as  I could to this final recap. Be prepared for a snapped recap! Enjoy :)]

Shuichi stands over Maria’s bed, hands at her throat, when her head tilts towards him. He pulls his hands back, disappointed in himself and walks towards the door, but is Maria stirs awake and stops him, wondering if he’s a reporter. When he answers yes, she’s not surprised and tells Shuichi to ask her anything.

Shuichi: How do you feel about your brother’s partner in his contract marriage being your donor? Risa?

Maria: It’s not a contract marriage. My brother tricked her. He tricked Risa.

Shuichi:Then what your brother did was cruel, don’t you think?

Maria: You’re right.

Shuichi: Then why are you proud?

Maria: Because my brother did it for me.

Shuichi believes they must be close and Maria confirms they are. He admits he also has a younger sister that couldn’t do anything without him when she was young and Maria begins to giggle. She thinks her brother probably believes the same of her. She thinks aloud that it must be hard to be an older brother, “That’s why next time, I’ll be the one to help him.”

Shuichi’s eyes brim as he remembers Risa saying something similar to him in the past and gets up to leave. Maria invites to him come again but he replies that he won’t be returning.

He closes the door as Nurse Rumi turns the corner, scared by his appearance near Maria.

He smirks and simply comments that Maria is an interesting young girl and walks away.

Risa and Kamiya are still on the bridge. She lifts her head and sees him sitting next her and tries to stumble away. Kamiya asks where she may be going but she doesn’t know. Exhausted from crying, she grips the railing to break her fall.

She wakes up at a hospital, Kamiya by her side, on an IV for her fever. She states that Kengo really turned himself in to the police and Kamiya asks her to please try to understand his decision. He also informs her she will be staying in the hospital for a few more days to dodge media scrutiny. He suggests after everything dies down she should contact Kengo but she blurts she’s over it, “I don’t care anymore.”

After Kamiya leaves, she gets a call from Shuichi but she ignores it. When the nurse comes for lights out, she’s gone. At a bus stop listen checks her voice mail, where Shuichi left a cryptic message.

Shuichi: Risa. Do you remember? Not too long ago you told me to die. Perhaps that’s all I can do for you now, because as you know I can’t live on without you. So, goodbye.

As she listens, Shuichi stands atop a building ledge and falls forward. Only his scarf left behind.

One Year Later.

Maria bikes home from school, to Mom decorating their Christmas tree. She’s rushed in to show her she’s been admitted to this year’s art competition.

Outside eating lunch, Kengo is on the phone with Maria and congratulates her. He’s using his technician skills in a new way, at a plant, where he picks up new fish and he checks them out before he returns.

Kamiya gets stopped by a nurse to tells him he has a visitor, and Maria waves to him from across the hall. He tells her if she has all this free time should spend it studying but she counters that she wanted to stop by and show him she’s living well. She still considers him her doctor, eventhough he is now practices Internal Medicine. She hands him the pamphlet for the competition, pretty impressed, he congratulates her.– “Is this the one you were working on at the school before?”

She confirms it is, though it’s taken a year and invites him to come and see the finished product. He muses about the time passing quickly and she wonders if he’s heard from Risa but he hasn’t.

At Aqua Pet Shop, Risa works diligently cleaning and helping customers.

Afterward, she deposits all her money in the bank and rushes to meet Shuichi for his physical therapy. He believes he’s almost recovered and apologizes for causing trouble but Risa admits it’s nothing new. He asks if there is a park nearby her apartment, “Let’s pick up where we left off.”

She doesn’t understand but he’s talking about bike practice and he offers to buy her one she likes. She’s shocked he remembers but tells him she already knows how to ride, and she’s no longer a kid. Shuichi reluctantly agrees.

Kengo gets home and Maria follows him in excited about the upcoming exhibition. She wonders if she can invite Minako and the lot and Kengo agrees they should all come.

However, one person is missing. But before she asks, Kengo tells her that he and Risa are no longer together.

Kamiya surprises Risa at work and admits he’s been looking for her for awhile,then Nurse Rumi saw her randomly on the internet. He tells her that Maria is worried about her. Risa asks if they are still in contact, then asks for him not to let Maria know where she is.

He hands her a pamphlet for Maria’s exhibition, informing her that Maria’s piece was chosen this year. Risa’s manager pops out and leaves to run an errand, mentioning Shuichi. Risa cuts the conversation short suggesting his treat her to lunch– Italian– on his next visit and retreats inside.

Kengo meets Juji and Yuya at the observatory, where they are setting up a display. Junji called him out for help since they’ve doneseveral times before. Junji wants him to return to Shine no Shima but Kengo says that won’t be happening and moves on to the set-up preparations.

Everyone gathers for Maria’s exhibition happily taking pictures and Maria takes time to explain her creative process.

Afterward, Kengo and Minako chat about Maria and how healthy she seems. Kengo thinks she’s a little too healthy for she’s not spending enough time studying. Minako laughs and can only imagine. Then she reveals that she’s actively looking for a husband. Her parents are pressuring her, but she actually feels it’s time as well.

Kengo is pleasantly surprised, but genuinely happy for her– “I hope you find someone good.”

Minako: And you? Are you going to wait forever?

Exhibition finished, the Okadas walk home, cheerfully scrolling photos and reminiscing over they’re night together. Maria skips ahead and snaps some shots over the bridge as Mom and Kengo muse about how healthy and happy she is.

Meanwhile, per her daily ritual, Risa adds money to her account and checks the balance. She smiles at the progress and returns her bankbook to her purse and finds the pamphlet for the exhibition. She decides to stop by and sees the Okadas gleefully taking pictures, walking home on the bridge across the street.

She smiles and stops for a moment to watch them, but when she starts back on her way, she bumps into a passerby, which gets Kengo’s attention.

He looks below and sees her back, thinking he’s recognized the woman, just then he’s distracted by Maria who calls out at him lagging behind. He answers he’s on his way and looks back immediately, but she’s gone.

By the time Risa makes it to the exhibition, it’s closed but she walks around and locates Maria’s piece through the window.

As she takes in the artwork, she hears footsteps approaching her and she walks closer and sees a shadow around the corner. It’s Kamiya, sad he was too late to go in as well. Risa’s face drops but answers that they’re both too late.

Inside a cafe, he buys them snacks, joking since she suggested he buy Italian he splurged on buns (which is a pun, for it sounds like pizza).

He’s glad she came by the exhibition and informs her he took a position at a university in Hokkaido. He wants to work with transplants and feels a new city and atmosphere is exactly what he needs. She thinks he’s inviting her along, but he doesn’t mean for her to come with him. Instead, he suggests it’s a new environment that she may need.

 

Kengo stops by Maria’s room to tell her the bathroom is free and bug her about her upcoming exams. She says she’s studying but she’s actually thinking about going to see the constellations with Mizuki. She tells him she plans to do all the things she didn’t have a chance to do the previous year and wonders if he’s been able to do the same.

He doesn’t answer but on returning to his room, he looks around at his empty tanks, and ponders her words.

Shuichi finds Risa alone in his room lost in thought. He tells her he plans to get a real job once he’s discharged but she doesn’t want to hear it, knowing that he’ll never be able to work given his condition. She tells him to just stay at her place and leaves to buy coffee.

Once she leaves, Shuichi riffles through her purse and lifts her bankbook.

At work, Kengo retrieves a package for a customer and notices Risa’s name as the sender. When the customer leaves, he glances over the packing slipping one more time.

Risa comes to visit her brother again but she just missed him. He’s been discharged and paid all his fees. At this news, Risa frantically looks through her purse for her bankbook but it’s gone. Risa rushes to the exit hoping to catch him. But he’s no where in sight.

Meanwhile, Shuichi limps around the corner, then stops short, leans his crutch against the wall and walks on, needing no support.

Walking a patient out, Kamiya sees Risa sitting on a bench across from the entrance. He invites her inside and over coffee she reveals her brother disappeared with all her savings.

Risa: You know, sometimes it feels like it’s all been a dream.

Kamiya: A dream?

Risa: Meeting him and living in that house. The surgery. All of it.

Kamiya: It wasn’t a dream.

Risa: Eh?

Kamiya: You already know right? That it wasn’t a dream. That house. And that person.

Kengo bikes home and takes a long look at Risa’s bike parked at the door.He sighs and hesitates at the door, clearly missing and concerned about her after seeing her name earlier.

Inside, Mom hands him Risa’s bankbook explaining it was delivered today and it seems she’s been depositing money each day to returned to them.

Risa returns to work and her boss informs her a man came looking for her but she told him she quit. Risa starts out the door to catch up with him but stops, thinking better of tracking down Shuichi.

She stares at tank after tank, as if it’s inhabitants held answers to the thoughts clouding her mind, when her boss notes that the fish really seem to calm her down. “I actually prefer jellyfish.”

Her boss chuckles noting that she and her brother are similar, for he’d asked about jellyfish. Risa shoots up and asks about the man that dropped– “Did he have tousled hair? Was he tall? Pointlessly handsome?” Her boss throws her head back in laughter, for, though his hair wasn’t tousled she totally agreed he was pointlessly handsome. With that, Risa bolts outside.

Kengo walks alone then stops to retrieve his cellphone, he hovers over Risa’s number but decides not to call. Risa sees him stopped on the opposite platform and runs over to him but misses him by seconds.

Dejected, she walks the streets and passes a store window playing a broadcast about the upcoming Geminoid eclipse reaching it’s peak the next morning.

Across town, Kengo looks over at the observatory bright in the distance and decides to stop by. He looks around the jellyfish tanks as one of the lights flickers off. He bends down to fix it.

He finishes up and looks at the tank to see if it’s working. Through the tank, he sees Risa watching the moonjellies inside, unable to believe his eyes. A moment later she notices him as well, stunned.

He stands up and she immediately asks why he came by her work place. Kengo reaches in his pocket and pulls out her bankbook, explaining he came to return it. Risa snatches it and flips through to check nothing is missing.

She recognizes Shuichi’s handiwork and hands it back. But Kengo doesn’t want it. She walks over and shoves it in his pocket and heads to the observatory window. Kengo follows and places the book in her bag– “Don’t worry about it. Really.”

Risa asks him to point out the stars from there but notes they can’t be seen very well from there either and turns away.

Risa inquires after Kengo’s jellyfish back at his house. But Kengo tells her he no longer owns any, he donated them to the aquarium.

Risa: Oh. They’re probably crying out of loneliness by now.

Kengo: Jellyfish don’t have brains. They don’t feel loneliness and sadness…

Risa interjects that she’s heard that before and turns her attention outside. She wonders if they’d have a better view from there.

Kengo: Risa.

Risa: Yea.

Kengo: Let’s go home together.

Risa: I’ve heard that before, too.

Kengo: Let’s go home.

Kengo: Let’s go home.

Risa: Ok.

Reactions, Ramblings and Remarks

[Like I said previously, I will do an OMS post about the entire drama, therefore, don’t worry, what I don’t say here, I will say there. Plus, I might have another treat concerning this last scene.]

It’s over. But what a good fulfilling ending. I’ll start by saying that this wasn’t the best ending I’ve seen, but there aren’t that many out there. This final episode was more of an extension or couplet with the previous episode, therefore my comments will encompass a bit of both. Honestly, there are a few things that felt drawn out and labored just to get our lovers to the observatory and fill the 40+ minute time slot, but I won’t complain. I just needed to get that out of the way, lest you think I’m just a gushing fangirl, with no constructive thoughts.

This last episode, rounds out our characters and how far they’ve come over the course of this drama wonderfully. The drama fast-forwards one year because frankly, no one cares about all Maria’s weeks and months in recovery and check-ups, how Shuichi lived, or what Kengo’s sentence was. All we care about is that they are living well, and Risa and Kengo will end up together. Thankfully, we get that.

Like any good finale, Nagareboshi wraps up everyone’s story and manages to give the audience a decent ending for each and every character. The episode shines a small light on some of the things I’ve discussed before, like Shuichi and Kengo’s foil, Shuichi’s inability to recognize the present (in relation to his relationship to Risa), and Kengo and Risa’s coping mechanisms. There’s also the comparison of the way the drama began, with the way the drama ended.

Usually the future montage of each character annoys me, but here, we’re told bits and pieces like Mizuki doing well in college or Kamiya going to Hokkaido, even Minako finding a husband, all these things are dropped in to let us know that these characters will live on and do well. They’ve made choices they can live with and their journey continues without the audience being beat over the head.

Specifically, I’ve never liked Shuichi and that remains true until the end.However, it’s on this recapping venture that I truly began to see him as a flawed, broken (though diabolical) human being (instead of just a slimy swarmy selfish nut bag). Nothing he could ever do, negates the pain and problem he’s been to Risa since their childhood, but it’s wonderful that he finally got it. I’m not sure if it’s the drama being lax or a truly cohesive moment for Shuichi to come to this spot emotionally. Throughout the entire drama he’s encountered individuals, mainly, Kengo and Risa’s boss, if not Risa herself, that remind him that he sucks as a brother, therefore, those instances and his own buried conscience play a large role in his decisions this episode. I would love to say that his conversation with Maria pushes him into the greater revelation but I don’t think I can. That conversation, was another layer, that opens his eyes to his inadequacies as a brother but I’m not sure it changes his motives. When he jumps and lives, he still uses Risa. It’s not until he realizes that things are never returning to the way they were and that she’s pining for the Okadas, he takes and makes his first unselfish or self-serving action.

I find it interesting because I believe that though Shuichi’s suicide fake out was a ploy for attention, he remained so long because he wanted a bit of what Kengo and Maria have. His scene with Maria is telling and touching, for perhaps it gives him an understanding into what he truly wants from Risa. He wanted that kind of trust, loyalty and love from his sister as well. Over this year, I think he was hoping to get that. He hoped that Risa could feel that way about him but he recognizes that it’s too late. At least for now.

In the end, he disappears like he promised he would at the beginning of the episode and I can’t say it came a moment too soon. Rather, I feel, it was on the late side. If he’d made that choice, in the peaceable way he does, sooner, he and Risa could have had a better relationship, by the finale. For, I believe, though Risa has little faith in him, she wants to remember who was and wouldn’t mind rebuilding something, if she was given hope. Ultimately, I guess it’s a better late than never situation, making his decision is a step in the right direction.

Risa and Kengo stay true to their characterizations but still manage to get it together in the end and all I can say is HOORAY! When Kengo makes the choice to turn himself in, he views that as an end to he and Risa, at least for the moment. His conversation with Minako gives us indication that perhaps he had hopes of seeing her again, her waiting for him, passing on a crowded street, etc. But ultimately, when he signed the divorce papers that was his way of releasing her to live the life he felt she deserved, for he didn’t know what the future held for him. Honestly, I don’t know what to think of his choice, for I’d rather for him to have done what she wanted and stayed married, kept their heads low, all that, but being a mature man, Kengo decided being honest and taking his punishment, whilst releasing Risa was the best bet and well… I trust him. [If he had been a different sort of man and made this choice, I’m sure my thoughts would be vastly different.]

You could say that this year separation was brought on by a bout of noble idiocy but I won’t give in entirely to that notion. For Kengo never told Risa to disappear from the Okadas’ lives nor to lose contact, he only made it so she wasn’t married to a convict and well, THANK YOU KENGO! If after he was released (or whatever legal judgment was made), she wanted to “remarry” ex-con Kengo, then that would be fine but breaking their tie made sense in the moment, though I don’t entirely agree.

As for Risa, her actions are little less understandable, though relatable. For ultimately, she uses her insecurities and circumstance as a reason to steer clear of the Okadas. She considered them as “the perfect family” and didn’t want to sully them with her brother, and though I don’t blame her, I also don’t agree with her decision. She actually hides behind the decisions of those two men to shut herself off from people she’d grown to love and I only see that as selfish and self-deprecating(which I have little stomach for). I understand that she felt hurt and abandoned but that wasn’t actually the reality and deep down, I’m sure she knew that.

At first, I was thinking, perhaps Kengo’s resolve tactics had rubbed off on her. But actually, her way of coping was always fight and run and though she didn’t fight too much (I honestly think she was too physically and emotionally weak at the time), she most certainly ran.

Kengo and Risa are two people that had been through so much emotionally, neither really knew how to voice what they wanted. Even in the end, Risa tried to run. Standing in front of Kengo, she may have left the observatory, alone, without giving him any (communicable) indication that she wanted to be with him. Risa had a deep rooted fear that is never overtly addressed but is brought to the surface almost every episode. She was deathly afraid of needing someone, of desiring love and allowing others to know it.

I, for one, am so grateful that in this final episode Risa’s cycle of searching and hoping and regretting it, are over. For she finally realizes that she’s met someone that needs her just as much, and he is someone worthy to trust herself to, so she can rest easy and trust his love.

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