Day*13: Favorite “I Love You”

I’ve actually thought long and hard about this entry (what’s taken me this long to post) and still I’m not convinced I actually have one. Therefore, I’ve chosen one of my most “memorable” I love you moments.

I consider Tsuki no Koibito a melo portrayal of love and what love means, what type of love you choose and whether attraction is love at all. The main characters all experience and express love (romantic, familial, and filial), however, being in love wasn’t their motivating force and I actually respected this drama for that fact. Maemi, Xui Me, and Ren lived and worked and strove for goals beyond their feelings or the impulse of the moment.

Maemi sacrifices a lot in the drama but she does it from a place of wisdom and compassion, not out of blind devotion to Ren. She was her own person, practicing her own craft but a graceful, caring companion and support system to both Xui Me (a Chinese expat model) and Ren (a longtime college friend). Therefore, when Ren gets the opportunity to reunite with Xui Me, a woman who loves him and he deeply cares for, Maemi steps in again to help nudge him in the right direction.

 TNK was one of the most enjoyable dramas for me when it aired, for I found the interactions and emotions between characters rather adult, though stunted. Maturity comes with practice and desire and in love, it can be rather elusive, but not impossible. That is something Maemi proves when she chooses to confess to Ren.

Maemi speaks with Xui Me over the phone and realizes she’s leaving town, then she notices the words “I love you, Rensuke” written on the window in front of her as Xui Me hangs up. Ren walks in and asks after the others while Maemi begins to clean. He tells her he’ll clean when he returns and picks up his shades and keys. She figures he’s going to meet Xui Me and pushes him along, encouraging him not to be late. Rensuke turns around, with something on his mind, but Maemi stops him, “Don’t turn around!”

Maemi: Don’t turn around. Just listen like that. You see…

Ren: What?

Ren: Hurry up and say it.

Maemi: I love you, Rensuke.

Maemi: I’ve loved you. All this time. You probably never realized it but… How dense can you be? Well, if you have realized it, it would’ve been awkward. This feeling was kind of comfortable I guess. Kind of like being in a warm bath. Rensuke, you’ve somehow always been running ahead of me.

Maemi: Looking at your back, I really loved it. That’s why from now on too, keep on running, okay?

Maemi: That’s what I really wanted to say. Okay, the end. Go on. Rensuke. Hurry and go!

Personally, I don’t like to see women pine over unworthy men, nor do I encourage or like to witness female love confessions but this is one of the very few that haven’t made me cringe. Maemi, from the beginning, was a woman in love and committed Ren, regardless of the outcome of the relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe she ever thought Ren would meet and fall in love with some other woman, but she wasn’t holding her breath that they’d end up married eating rice together every morning, either. She enjoyed her work and accepted their relationship for what it was. It wasn’t until she saw her friend giving his heart away that she became greedy and decided it was time she let him go.

Throughout the series, she makes a few moves to get over her feelings but it isn’t until she sees Ren struggling with his own feelings and loyalties that she makes her final move. When I first saw this moment, I wasn’t pleased, I took it in but wished it played out differently, believing she should hold on to her pride forever. However, with further thought, I realized her action wasn’t selfish or self-promoting, it was her way of releasing them both. Maemi was being the best friend she could be in this moment, giving Ren the freedom to make an informed choice about his romantic future, no ties, no pressure, no games.

I usually feel that love confessions are a way to burden and pressure another person to love you back, to say it back. A type of selfishness that burns me to my core each time I hear or see it. But this moment– Maemi’s moment– was both heartbreaking and heartwarming because she isn’t confessing for personal gain or to just get it out there in the open but to wash them clean and start anew. As Ren’s friend she got him, she knew he was waffling and felt he wanted a safe place to fall. She thought that place was Xui Me and she didn’t want him to miss out on real love and companionship because he was loyal to her or their work or their friendship. Or out of spite, fear or complacency. Her confession, to me was more than just words, like most I witness, it was an action. Her final bold expression of love.

7 Replies to “Day*13: Favorite “I Love You””

  1. My fav ILU confessions are those conveyed without the saying of those 3 words – a confession thru gesture, thru eyes, mannerisms and thoughts. While I don’t think it’s always a pressurizing or pressing gesture for someone to reciprocate, I think the utterance just dials down the whole intensity and growing affection between 2 individuals (not in RL, but on TV and in my dramas), signaling to the other that: Hey, I’ve said it, I’m done so I don’t have to say it anymore…etc you get me. And more often than not, we always get the ILU after like what, 2 episodes spent together? We all know how we’ve laughed over tropes like these in our K-dramas. lol

    Can’t really think of a really meaningful verbal ILU or confession that I’ve seen in my K-dramas. But memorable ones, the My Girl and MISA one come right to mind. The former just because it was pure cuteness done at the right time with sheer amount of surprise, and the latter, just cos it’s a classic confession of the explosive kind, the kind that you’ll never get in dramas anymore.

    1. I get you. I usually go for ILUs exactly the way you mentioned, that’s why I usually like how it’s done in Jodorama. They rarely say it, almost never. I identify more with that approach. But this one stuck with me because it felt genuine and unselfish. And that’s rare. In reel and real life.
      In Kdrama I can’t think of one I liked, let alone felt was my fav or memorable. Maybe I just haven’t met that drama yet? No worries, no hurries, ne?

  2. Aww you watched this while it was airing? I did as well, my first time for a Jdorama. I enjoyed it for the same reasons as you, and for the way Maemi handled her feelings. I have liked both actors for a while so it was a treat to see them play off each other in this drama. As for the ILU itself, I am of the same mind as you: I don’t encourage or like witnessing female confessions, but this one tore me. I remember feeling like Maemi as a person needed to do this for herself.

    Is this going to be a series of your thoughts on other drama ILUs? What do you think of the way the relationship is unfolding in Queen In Hyun’s Man? I know Heejin is more forward than any Kdrama heroine I’ve encountered.

    1. Hey Gail T seems like forever!!
      But no I’m still trudging through this drama challenge. It would be interesting to tackle something like that though. However, I’m not easily moved by many things so I’m sure people would despise me if I did. Still not a bad idea though… Hmm.
      As for HJ, she is forward but in a harmless sort of way to me. It’s no mistake on her or the writer’s part that she’s picked BD to act this way with. Sure it’s in her personality but she not a fool. So in many ways I find her refreshing for most of her actions may be out of the norm for someone like myself but in every case I felt the urge to do them before she acted. To me that’s the beauty of QIHM, with them. And I’ve relished every second.

      1. You should do the ILUs as a series. There are so many things to talk about and analyze. Is the confession in character? Is it organic? What does it do to the relationship? I’d love to hear you pick it apart, even if it turns out to be unpleasant for some fans. It would still be fun. 🙂

        I confess, I haven’t seen ep 12 till 15 yet. I’m hoarding them for one great marathon. But I’m reading the livecaps and recaps and lurking in soompi. Someone brought up how she thought that the writer put Hee-jin in a situation where she can’t do anything to help solve Boong-do’s riddle, that Hee-jin is always waiting and passive. That had never entered my mind, but it makes me think that maybe the writer-nim will make Hee-jin be the decisive actor in her and Boong-do’s destiny in the last ep. I don’t know. I usually do not second-guess when I’m watching/reading something. I just let things unfold.

  3. Such a great entry :P!

    I watched this scene many times and the only thing I could feel was just Maemi’s courage to confess her love to Ren. I’ve never thought that it had a deep meaning inside.

    Thank you so much for writing this entry and let me know :D.

    “it was her way of releasing them both”

    I was really moved when I read your sentences :P.

    You know, when the first time I watched Tsuki no Koibito, I was a little girl. Although now I didn’t grow much from that time but I came over the 20th years old. I have met many people, experienced many things in the two years afer (now I’m 22) and then suddenly one day I felt like I could understand many things that I used to be puzzled.


    1. Aw thank you! xữa, your words are always so kind.
      And it’s always nice to go back and revisit dramas as you get older because your identification and thoughts on them can surely change. I also find that I have little patience for some storylines and characters that perhaps I would’ve understood or let slide in the past. I also like to revisit to examine my ideas towards characters and stories I disliked to see if perhaps I have become more understanding. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen too often. LOL. I will admit that it does happen though.
      I’m not sure how I would have felt about Maemi and Ren when I was that young, therefore I’m so glad I met them when I did. They remain one of my favorite, yet subtle love stories.

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