Shattered hopes, confrontations and anonymous calls keep our characters busy this episode, as the Misakis and Fukamis inch closer to the truths that bind them and become further connected through the interaction and budding companionship of their children.
Episode 2 Suppresssed Emotions
Futaba follows Hiroki to his van to further explain but he’s disinterested in her confession. She rattles as he changes, about their past; how they ate together as children and he ruined her favorite shirt with spaghetti sauce. “Do you know where he is?”– she doesn’t. It’s been fifteen years. He stopped all communication once he was arrested. Hiroki finds this irresponsible, “Why haven’t you tried to find him? Maybe he’s killed again?”
Futaba disagrees but apologizes, wondering if he was serious about killing Fumiya. He was and may have succeeded if she hadn’t intervened. She insists it wasn’t intervention per se but Hiroki interjects, “It doesn’t matter. You’re my enemy anyway.” Hiroki tries to drive away but Futaba blocks him fumbling through her pad. He threatens to run over her but doesn’t move until she tosses her number through his window.
It’s moving day and Futaba rides lost in thought as Akari complains in the background. A plane buzzes overhead and pricks a memory. Futaba flashes back to the day her brother was arrested. When she got home, her house swarmed with law enforcement, her brother announced as the culprit and ushered into a patrol car. She recognizes him and calls out to him and he pauses, glances at her, and climbs inside. Her pregnant mother sits dazed on the couch as her father fields questions about his son’s actions and demeanor. Futaba wanders between both parents inquiring after her brother’s return when in his room tucked in the ceiling, the murder weapon is found.
The Misakis unload, greeted by Tamaki’s brother, glad to have them but apologetic about the employment: a cleaning delivery service. But Shunsuke is grateful for any work. A local officer stops by and hands out a flyer for a missing neighborhood girl, who was lead away by a boy in a dark hat.
Hiroki meets Kohei while preparing their father’s burial. Kohei invites him over for dinner,citing Kyoko’s veiled concern.
Hiroki: I met him.
Hiroki: Boy A Misaki Fumiya
Kohei: He’s not in prison?
Hiroki: He looks pretty healthy.
Kohei: Don’t tell mom.
Futaba pours over the news of the missing girl while he father is looking for his glasses. Before she’s seen, she hides it and begins unpacking dishes. She asks when he last met the Higaki family but Shunsuke admits he never did. “Not since then. Have you?” She denies any connection and feigns anxiety over proximity– they’re now closer to their previous neighborhood, “What if they bump into them?”
Shunsuke says not to worry, if they do, they’ll just pretend they don’t know them and pass them by. But Futaba disagrees. Perhaps time really does heal. Perhaps they can all sit down and talk, “Maybe now they’ll listen and accept our apology.” Shunsuke stops her, “Futaba, we can’t ever hope for that.” The assailant’s family never be understood.
Shunsuke begins to take his search upstairs and Futaba blurts out, “What if he comes home? What would you do?” But Shunsuke just stares back at her, having never considered the option and Futaba takes it back. They don’t have room for him anyway.
Hiroki sits down to an awkward dinner with his estranged mother and Kohei’s new family, the Higakis. To his credit, Kohei’s father-in-law, Seiji, offers Hiroki employment and encouragement but Hiroki can hear none of it. Over dinner, he informs Kyoko, Katsuhiko sought forgiveness. He’d hated what he’d put her through. But Kyoko ignores him retreating for wine in the kitchen.
Hiroki follows her and defends his father believing Kyoko’s attitude too harsh. He wonders why she isn’t concerned about how her anger seems misplaced.Katsuhiko wanted justice. Doesn’t she care about the man that killed her daughter? What he’s doing? How he’s living? Seiji (Danta Yasunori) urges him to forget the past and focus on the future, in honor of his father but Hiroki shoots back that his father wanted something different. Then suddenly, he notices his words have dampened the mood and he leaves.
Kohei follows him out and shares that the Christmas after Aki’s death he and Kyoko ran into the Misaki’s buying a Christmas cake. At that time, he’d wanted to take revenge but has since learned it’s better to be grateful for what you have and look to the future.
(** Kouhei actually quotes Junbei from the One Piece manga but Hiroki has no idea to what he refers. It’s further proof that Hiroki has pretty much been in a time warp since Aki’s death.)
Kyoko joins them, handing Hiroki leftovers. He wonders if she saw the Misaki’s that night but she brushes it off as long forgotten. This burns Hiroki for Dad never forgot, “That’s why till the end he was seeking revenge.” Kyoko smirks, finding the idea laughable but Hiroki finds nothing funny and returns inside.
Akari primps for school the next day and suggests Futaba should wear makeup too. She confesses she’s not going to turn out like her, “I’m going to live the life I want. For you, your fate was set by Onii-san, right?” Akari leaves the room and Futaba laughs at her sister’s naiveté. She takes a look at the lipstick and swirls it open, but she tosses it aside guiltily when her phone rings.
Downstairs, her father wonders if Akari will survive in school but the mother is just grateful it was Futaba who endured the past for Akari would’ve never held up. “Thank God it’s Futaba who’s his younger sister.”
Hiroki is struggling over the shop books when Futaba shows up. She scrambles to help him and her bag tumbles to the ground, emptying its contents. Hiroki spots the lipstick tube and scoffs at how someone like her (a murder’s family member) would wear the stuff. But then shrugs it off and asks after her brother. She assures she hasn’t heard from him and hands over the paper with the missing girl. The incident took place near Mikazuki Mountain.
On the news, reports are everywhere and Hiroki narrates the emotions of the family seen on screen. He can relate. He deduces aloud that if Fumiya is the assailant the body may be in the lake as well. Futaba suggests they go check it out together.
Tamaki calls Shunsuke home informing him the anonymous calls have begun again. When he arrives, she’s distraught and confused being they just moved. As they discuss strategy, the phone rings.
As they make their way up the mountain Hiroki asks why her brother killed his sister. Since they’re family she should know but she insists he was always kind to her and she relied on him for everything.
Hiroki: How did you feel when you found out you brother killed a seven-year old child?
Futaba: Does it matter? I was ten. My mind was blank. My parents were like that too. All I could think about was what to prepare for dinner. Then an officer called saying my brother had confessed. After that people started to come by and told us we couldn’t live there anymore. I moved in with my grandparents in Odawara. My shoes were really tight. I didn’t have much time so I didn’t know what to bring. So I just packed dolls, I never played with. My parents said they’d come and get me but they never came. I keep myself busy doing homework I didn’t really have to do. My father came on TV but they blurred his face so I couldn’t see him…
Her story is interrupted as she falls over a tree stump. Hiroki reaches out to help her. She almost takes his hand but brushes hers off instead, and pushes herself to her feet. Back on the path, she shares a story of how she and Fumiya, found and rescued a litter of stray cats from a nearby lake. Together, they’d rushed them to the vet, but they died anyway and for a full week, they’d mourned them, crying and skipping meals. She continues, bragging that Fumiya helped the elderly and was genuinely a polite boy. And to her was always kind. However, once he was arrested he only sent her one letter, which simply said, “For the festival being cancelled, I’m sorry.” This piques Hiroki’s interest, for he didn’t write to her parents, only to Futaba. But she dismisses the suspicion, and defends him. Believing his letter from an understanding and concerned brother, comforting her inevitable disappointment. Hiroki listens and remarks that she must really still love her brother. Though he killed a girl.
Hiroki: He smashed a seven-year old over the head an innumerable amount of times, grabbed her legs and hands, threw her into the river like an object, then left her behind in that cold water. He committed such a horrendous crime.
Futaba: That’s not true.
Hiroki: What’s untrue?
Futaba lowers her head as Hiroki steps to her face asking a second time. Futaba believes there’s a possibility that he was falsely accused. Her brother isn’t capable of such a crime. Hiroki incensed, pushes her to ground at the mere thought. He towers over her and roars fuming at how her family could buy Christmas cakes and celebrate when his family has had no joyful moments since that day. “How about I allow you to experience what Aki did?”
He jumps on top of her and squeezes her neck convinced she’ll never understand without experience. Futaba coughs but doesn’t struggle and he let’s go, clearly frightened by them both. Futaba catches her breath but turns and faces him again, “Go ahead.” His accusations aren’t new. She’s heard it all before, and her entire family embraces it. For years, they’ve been badgered to all commit suicide as retribution. With this, Hiroki collapses beside her but she continues.
Futaba: I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to live either. My younger sister even told me this, “Onee-chan, you didn’t choose your own life did you?” But I’ve never thought that way. I chose it myself. This is the result of my decision. And I don’t regret anything. This is who I am. This is my life.
Finished, she looks at him, understanding, acceptance and sympathy in her eyes. “Go ahead. It’s fine. I won’t tell anyone that you killed me.”
At her compliance, Hiroki beats the ground and gets up to storm away. Futaba adds they didn’t eat the cake. They were actually returning the gift. And Hiroki leaves her there, just as it begins to rain.
Home, Hiroki turns on the television. Futaba remains on the ground, getting soaked, when her phone rings. It’s Hiroki, he leaves a message informing her the little girl was found. She’d just gone to be with her father.
At Kusama Farm, Kenji (Masaki Fumiya), is asked about his late return last night, Maki noticing his hand is broken out and bruised. Later, she solves the mystery; Kenji fixed her daughter’s bike. While picking cherries Goro has a heart to heart with Kenji, concerned about his daughter’s feelings and future. He explains that he’s always given work to ex-convicts, convinced no one is evil by nature. However, he’s never felt hesitant about that choice until Kenji came along, eventhough, he’s convinced he’s reformed. Kenji solemnly listens, most likely waiting to be fired. Dad catches on to this and stops himself but Kenji makes it clear, ” I won’t ever love again. And I won’t allow anyone to ever love me.”
Futaba finishes her journey to the mountain, with a memory in her mind. Her brother covered up in his bed, quiet and unresponsive as she giggled about her yutaka and the festival. She finds a packet of red poppy flower seeds and asks after them but he doesn’t answer as he worriedly looks at the crawl space above his bed.
Futaba walks in the rain and comes face to face with a garden of red poppies. Dripping rain she wails at the discovery and sinks among the red blossoms.
Akari discovers a box of Futaba’s returned letters addressed to Fumiya and promptly gives them her parents, who then boldly read them. Inside, she’s painted a pretty life of a healthy successful benevolent family, waiting for his return, embellished with posed pictures to encourage her brother. Her parents drink in her words with sorrow and pity but mostly shame, for they’re all lies.
After the rain, Hiroki finds Futaba still crying among the flowers and tries to persuade her go home. But now with the discovery of the poppy field, she’s put the pieces together. He brother did kill Aki. For when the cats didn’t recover he’d also planted flowers on their graves. Hysterical, she apologizes and believes he may kill again. What if he’s a serial killer?
Hiroki, however, has simmered and doesn’t want an apology nor is he willing to assume Fumiya will kill again. But Futaba is convinced he will, and sheepishly admits, “He tried to choke me once. Perhaps if I’d died then, Aki wouldn’t have had to.”
Once cleaned up, Futaba apologizes for the trouble and turns to leave but Hiroki hears the festival nearby and invites her to drop in. Self-conscious (her clothes still smudged from the mud), Futaba walks beside Hiroki, laughter and games buzzing around them. Nearing the festivities, he admits he wishes he could hate her, “But you don’t seem like the type I’d hate at all.”
Ultimately, he believes they are the same, though they are on opposite sides, for they’ve been living similarly all this time. He wonders if now they can change. He smiles and throws his hands in the air in a “guts-pose” (made famous by World Cup athletes) and Futaba follows suit. They share a laugh but his freezes mid-frame when he spots his mother, only a few feet away.
Reactions, Ramblings and Remarks
Ugh. What a way to ruin a moment of camaraderie! It’s no secret that I don’t care for Kyoko, so I hate we even see her again this episode. And though, I found her smirk at her husband’s dying wish and feelings to be creepy, I felt it was completely understandable. She probably finds it bitterly laughable that he died with those regrets and urges because in her mind (I assume), he never tried to understand her grief. She was deeply shaken and destroyed by Aki’s death and he wanted her to just move on? How could any parent do that? I believe Katsuhiko had his family’s best interest at heart, and didn’t want them to suffer any further, or to wallow in their grief but he was so wrong regarding his actions and especially his words. Therefore, it’s interesting that he is the one eaten up with sorrow, while she’s bitter. Well, perhaps it’s not interesting, it’s exactly the way it should be. Given what has happened to them, it’s the path they would both take– self-pity and revenge.
Still, Hiroki and Futaba are the my favorite characters and every moment they spend together is magical to me. The two of them traveling to the mountain is both intense and gripping but necessary. Hiroki needed to burst and Futaba had to say her peace. When she falls and he immediately reaches to help her, symbolizes the dynamic of their relationship to me. She wanted so badly to take his hand, to depend on someone but she can’t, especially not him. While he has no qualms reaching out to her, because she needed help. Though Futaba reaches out to him first (by coming to the shop) it’s Hiroki that continues to extend himself, unreservedly. In this moment, it’s very clear that their feelings are the same, that they are connected but crossing that divide is impossible for Futaba. For Hiroki, I believe it’s a bit different, he hasn’t had the stigma of her past and the fear of acceptance. I love that Hiroki is inherently aware of their similarities, that he isn’t afraid to be kind to her and admit his true feelings. He understands that they are both in a bad situation and acknowledges that they are both victims but not helpless. I also adore the fact that he takes her for who she is and pays no heed to her appearance. One thing that constantly swims in my mind is how shabby both of them dress. How stagnant and detached they are in their outward appearance, normally. Like how Futaba is painfully aware of how dingy and dirty she looks on the way to the festival, where Hiroki seems completely unfazed. He isn’t concerned about how she looks, or what she wears, he wanted to spend time with her. To set her mind at ease and encourage her, to confide in her, to be her confidant.
Ultimately, I find Hiroki to be a very level-headed person. He thinks things through, recognizes truth and tries to treat people with courtesy and understanding. Though I don’t agree with his assessment of his mother’s actions, I understand how he comes to the conclusion. It’s true that she’s very cold and distant but to me, it’s a sign that she has more to hide and definitely has more reasons to find it necessary to do so.
Futaba and Shunsuke’s conversation sparks several questions for me because, though I get his point (and find Futaba’s stance too fanciful), I also sense a bit of irritation and bitterness, perhaps even anger and disdain toward the Fukami family. I can’t blame him really but I find it interesting because initially he comes across as humbly, not reluctantly, bearing the brunt of the problem. I also wonder why he never apologized. Was it guilt? Pride? I’m leaning towards both but it doesn’t make his actions any better. It’s true that nothing would change the facts or soften their hearts immediately but it’s really disrespectful not to at least speak to the family your son ruined. Especially, being he was so young, the children played together and you all lived in the same neighborhood. Personally, this fact alters my opinions and my remorse for the family because Shunsuke’s lack of confrontation doesn’t display a person that is remorseful or disappointed, hurt or disgusted by his son’s actions, it doesn’t exhibit shame. To me it reveals the opposite, a man’s inability to admit he was wrong, to protect his family, to take responsibility. In a way, Shunsuke abandoned his son by not owing up to the family by not simply offering their condolences and their sincere apologies. Not for raising such a son but for what Fumiya did, what he’s taken, how he’s damaged the Fukamis for life.
Fumiya is an interesting character and from the onset I’ve questioned whether he is really the culprit. I wish my thoughts could be based on Futaba’s confusion but it’s not. All evidence points to him but what about the drawings? Of course, he could just be mentally ill but even if that’s true, there’s more to it, right? Even his family seems content with believing he’s guilty, which I find rather sad. Again, I’m just not convinced of his guilt at this point, at least not entirely. It’s almost like he’s covering for someone or was found at the wrong place at the wrong time. I don’t negate the fact he could be guilty, honestly, there’s no rational reason to believe he’s innocent, he was on the mountain, the weapon was found stashed in his room and he admitted the crime. But several of his actions lead me to believe the contrary. However, with Futaba discovering the poppies (gosh if that didn’t crush me) and then the newfound memory of him choking her, I am put on pause. After years of thinking he’s innocent, she’s flipped and I think we can trust her thoughts on the matter. It’s hard not to side with her, not necessarily be convinced but trust that her shift in conviction is valid. Now all we need to know is why? Also, has he really changed? But will we be satisfied with the answers? His conversation with Goro appears to indicate that if he committed the crime, he’s now seen his wrong and trying to live better, but Goro seems concerned and ashamed of his own apprehension. Should we be concerned as well? Could he kill again? Will he?
Overall, this drama continues to be wonderful. I’d say truly now, this is a character study, a study of the spirit and reality of family. Though it surrounds this tragedy, it’s not Aki’s death that is the issue but how it is dealt with. How tragedy alters people but also how it can create a determination to grow stronger, to live and love better.