Soredemo, Ikite Yuku: Episode 5

What I appreciate about SIY is that is doesn’t try to speed along or force anything from its characters. It gives each character the opportunity to speak their peace and in it’s own gentle way offers them forgiveness for their misgivings, wrong thinking or selfishness. This drama doesn’t make you hate anyone outright nor does it blame its characters for their feelings, but rather, gives them the opportunity to become aware of other alternatives to their actions and ways to redeem themselves, without leaving a bad taste in the mouth of the audience. Not every character is likeable but each personality has their own story to tell and emotional battle to endure. At times, it’s hard to watch and most times it seems unfair, but if there’s one thing this drama seems to draw from quite well is the knowledge that Life and therefore, living is far from fair.

Episode5: Seeking his whereabouts

Ominous, Hiroki repeats to Satuski that the nurse that had charge over Fumiya disappeared soon after his release. She wonders if he really wants to find Fumiya and if so offers her services. Turns out, the guy who killed her mother committed suicide, therefore, she and father never had any real closure. And she would have continued with her story, if Futaba hadn’t swung the door open mid-sentence.

Meanwhile, Kenji and a cheerful New Girl are trucking late at night, when he stops abruptly. She notices they’re no where near home and sits up to squeak a frightened– “What are you doing?” He gets out of the truck and starts walking a dark path, New Girl following close behind complaining about having work early in the morning. But Kenji only answers — “Do you think tomorrow will come? Who promised you tomorrow?”
New girl steps back in horror at the suggestion but Kenji steps even closer. She calls him a murderer and tries to side step him but he grabs her jacket collar and she erects, eyes bulged– “What is my name? Tell me what is my name?” She exhales his alias and he charges her not to forget, or perhaps she’d end up in a place as dark and isolated as where she stands. He drops his hand and she folds to the ground, scared and regretful she ever tried to taunt him.

Despite trying to leave, Futaba’s invited to dinner and Satsuki suggests they both impose on Hiroki for the night. She believes they’ve known each other for a long time and must know everything about one another, even about the Fumiya thing. Hiroki deflects and mentions that Futaba was in elementary at the time and Futaba agrees reluctantly. Satsuki wonders if they’re dating but they both deny it, after practically choking mid-slurp of course.

Getting ready for bed, Futaba sends her father a text informing she’s safe and Satuski starts in with a heart to heart, about her feelings for Hiroki. She thinks Futaba may understand and feel the same but Futaba interprets her veiled language as being eager to sleep and turns off the light.

Downstairs cleaning, Hiroki spots the girls’ shoes at the foot of stairs, Satsuki’s cute, clean white heels perched and prepared perfectly for the next day, but it’s Futaba’s blue bruised sneakers scattered clumsily that make him smile. He walks over and places Futaba’s shoes together and turns them ready for her to slip back into the next morning.

Over breakfast, Maki is quite curious about New Girl (Saho) and Kenji’s outing the previous night. She tells them he only accompanied her to pachinko and Maki finds that odd but Goro laments that it’s a pretty popular hang out.

It’s morning and Satsuki left but she’s left a piece of herself as well— her necklace, conveniently in the bathroom for Hiroki to find. He calls her to let her know he found it and will return it when he comes to Tokyo the next week. Futaba witnesses his boyish gushing and notes he ends the conversation with “Take care”– mumbling, perhaps she should go to Tokyo as well. Hiroki wonders why she’s slept in and she admits she couldn’t fall asleep. He looks up concerned and asks why she dropped by so late but Futaba isn’t into explaining and clears her dishes, thanking him for breakfast. On her way to the sink, she spots Shunsuke letting himself in.

Shunsuke bows before Hiroki and asks if he can meet and apologize to his mother, but Hiroki is only interested in the progress on Fumiya and how he plans to locate him. Shunsuke explains he’s going to use the only lead they have– the hyuga-natsu. He’ll track down every cultivator and bring Fumiya back, so he can atone for his crime with the support of his family. Hiroki hands him the picture Fumiya drew, believing that the drawing reveals that Fumiya isn’t remorseful for his crime.

The men return downstairs to a sleeping Futaba. Hiroki wonders if something happened for she was unable to sleep the night before. He pulls a chair out for Shunsuke and takes out the trash. Once, Hiroki leaves, Futaba nods awake and Shunsuke suggests they go home. He apologizes and explains that he got remarried when she was only a year old, therefore, Takami is the only mother she’s ever really known. Futaba wonders if Fumiya recognized that his mother had changed, since he was five at the time and Shunsuke admits that he did but never said a word about it. Futaba asks whether their mother is still alive, or if there is any memorabilia from her time with them but Shunsuke can only say “No,” she died, leaving only the kimono Futaba was to wear to the festival.

At home, Akari stares at her cellphone waiting for news about her sister and yells for her mother as Shunsuke and Futaba pull into the yard. Takami rushes out and welcomes them home, announcing dinner with a smile and Futaba returns it and walks inside.

Hiroki sits down to another awkward dinner with Kouhei’s family and they discuss what Hiroki should do for a living. He stands up and tells Kyoko he has something to speak with her about and they excuse themselves. She asks for a massage and laughs that he’s not that good at it. He shares that Shunsuke would like to meet and when she pretends to be distracted by his abrasive massage skills he repeats himself. But she doesn’t want to meet him and wonders why she should. Hiroki thinks that this is her opportunity to let everything out, to finally get the chance to confront them, to ask what she needs to know, to let go of what she’s bottled inside. She admits she could kill him, her anger is so great and Hiroki understands but truly believes that if they meet she has a chance to break from where she is and start living again. Hiroki faces her and simply says, “Mom, I want you to be happy.”

Kouhei steps in to mention Kyoko’s bath is ready, but she passes. When he begins to insist, Hiroki stands and tells him they are in the middle of a conversation, but Kouhei pushes him and scolds that he isn’t a fool and won’t be treated that way. He’s insulted by the suggestion that Kyoko isn’t happy, for he’s given her a home and a family, he’s given her a life. “Can you not disrupt that?” To stop his yelling, Kyoko retreats to take her bath, leaving Hiroki alone with Kouhei.

Takami joins Shunsuke outside, thinking about Funiya. He thinks they should’ve separated long ago, at least then, she and Akari would be living differently now. Takami smiles and calls him sneaky, for she’s never once regretted her choice to marry him nor becoming his children’s mother. She reminisces that once she held Futaba’s hand for the first time she realized how strong she was but also how she was grasping out for her because she needed someone. It was then that she knew she wanted to protect her however, even then there was a difference in Fumiya, “But you know, Fumiya, he never grasped my hand.”

In Tokyo, Hiroki and Satsuki meet with their nurse contact (Muraoka Nozomi). She didn’t know him personally, for she had just started at the time, but she found the picture and kept it as a remembrance of him, for he was quite popular. Satuski asks after Azuma Yukie and her disappearance and the nurse says that there was a rumor that she and Fumiya were dating but there was never any proof. And one day, she left to take out the trash, and never returned.

After the meeting, Satuski decides to track down Azuma’s family and then reminds that he should start thinking about filing his lawsuit against the assailant’s family, for they have to take responsibility for their part in the matter. But Hiroki stops her, he has no intention for doing anything like that, “I don’t need that.” He tries to walk away but she hands him an envelope instead. Inside, are articles from the incident, Futaba and her grandmother’s faces blotted out to hide their identity. Satuski knows that’s Futaba and questions why he spends time with her.

That night Futaba peers in the shop door, at a sleeping Hiroki, drinks in hand. She tips in and stares at him, then reaches her fingers to his, brushing them lightly and he jumps awake. She encourages him to sleep but he has a call to make, then thinks better of it given the time is past 10pm. He mumbles the person may be taking their bath and Futaba jokes he shouldn’t jump to such conclusions in order to picture them naked but Hiroki denies any dirty thoughts, for all people take baths, well unless, “You do take baths, right?”

Futaba sneers, clutches her chest and kids that now he’s picturing her bathing. And with that, Hiroki takes the envelope off the the table and leaves her to her own assumptions to make dinner, leaving Futaba to grin to herself. In the kitchen, he chucks the information in the trash and chuckles.

Over dinner, Futaba notices he only eats noodles and invites him to the bar if he’s ever out late, “I’ll wait for you.” He suggests, now that she has a new job, perhaps, she should buy herself something new, like, clothes, for in Tokyo everyone seemed so stylish, dressed very different from the two of them. Futaba wonders if she’s dressed oddly and says she’s completely content with what she wears, Hiroki chimes that he is too. “But is there anything you would change? If there was something– what would it be?” Futaba gets excited by this line of questioning and suggests he answer first. He admits his isn’t that big but one thing is he’d like to say random things like inviting friends to karaoke. Futaba japes that his wish is indeed a little small and tells him to brace himself for hers, for what she wants is pretty large and surprising, “I want, to be able to bend a spoon, with my mind.” Hiroki looks at her and goes back to eating, continuing in her banter she remarks that he should take one’s life goals seriously or he won’t be liked, but he quips, suddenly getting far more serious, that he’s never cared about being liked.

Hiroki: But things will work out eventually. Many things will happen, and there may be painful things along the way, but eventually, things will end well. The spoon this isn’t possible though.

Futaba: Huh? You heard about my mother? I was wonder why you were so kind today. So that’s why.

Tears threaten her eyes and she turns her attention to the ramen, commenting that it’s quite good tonight but Hiroki says it’s always this way, nothing’s changed and adds with a smile that he plans to keep it that way always. Futaba puts her sticks down and looks at him, “Will you say it again, what you said earlier?” Hiroki’s face washes with kindness and reaches to take her hand but stops short, and repeats himself, “Things will go well, Toyama. Because you’ve been trying so hard.” Futaba takes in his words and lets the tears fall freely, filled with gratitude for his comfort.

Futaba washes the dishes and Hiroki assumes she’s staying over and wonders if her regular room is still fine for her. She agrees and he runs upstairs to prepare it for her. As she leaves to follow, she spies the envelope in the trash and opens it. Upstairs, Hiroki is excited setting out her mattress when he remembers Satsuki’s words and pauses. He trots downstairs and looks for Futaba but she’s gone, having left the envelope and a note on the table. He immediately decides to run after her, but chooses against it.

Futaba calls Akari to check and lies that she’s with a friend and she’s fine. Before they can hang up, Akari says they should visit Disneyland together, for they’ve never been as a family. She confesses she has gone before though, with her friends. Futaba listens to sister rattle on choking back tears, when Akari presses they should definitely go together as a family soon and Futaba agrees.

Akari: Onee-chan?

Futaba: Yes?

Akari: Nothing. Just wanted to call you.

Futaba: Akari?

Akari: Hmm?

Futaba: I just wanted to say your name. Goodnight.

Futaba closes her phone and cries, looking around at the empty train station, then checks out the departure times on the marquee above her.

Hiroki gets a call from Kouhei, concerned that Kyoko may have dropped by, for he can’t find her. They spend all day trying to track her down but even in his last attempt, Kouhei closes the phone with zero result. He blames Hiroki, believing if anything happens to her, it’s his fault. For Hiroki has done nothing but cause trouble since he showed up and wonders how he plans to be responsible. Kouhei screeches that Hiroki should try to be supportive instead of push Kyoko emotionally, and steps toward him as if to hit him, but Seiji intercepts. He calms Kouhei down and suggests they contact the police. Kouhei dismisses Hiroki, just as Kyoko walks in the door. Kouhei starts in, berating her for being gone so long, demanding where she’s been, but she looks past him and tells Seiji she needs to discuss something with him. But Kouhei isn’t deterred and yells that it’s her responsibility to tell them where she’s been and she admits she went to the place Aki was killed. She explains that she went back home. She retraced Aki steps and re-enacted the day she died, by leaving at the same time and taking the route she would’ve taken that day.

Futaba goes to the nursing home to visit her grandmother. She pours out her heart to her, feeling isolated and alone, wondering if she could hide away there with her—“Futaba is tired. She’s tired already, grandma.” Then she notices the colorful origami fish and assumes the nurses have made them for her and smiles, teasing her sleeping (comatose?) grandmother, that the nurses must like her.

Kyoko: I took the same route at the same time as Aki did that day. I could hear the chime from her primary school. I wondered what Aki’s friends were doing at the moment, if they’d forgotten all about Aki, or if it’s still a fearful memory for them. While thinking all that, I crossed the bridge. At the corner, where there was a laundry shop, the road separates into two turns. That day, Aki wanted to go to the park and she could have taken either turn. Normally, Aki would have taken the road with the Ojizou-san statue, but that day, she took the road with the post office, because the Ojizou-san road was too trafficky. I told her to take that road. It was me who told her. While taking that road, Aki…met that young boy who had a hammer. There was a big lily magnolia tree and the cicada was buzzing.There I was, for some reason–for some reason–I could see this big pitfall of my life.

She confesses that she may seem composed but she’s not. For since Aki died, all she’s ever wanted was for others to feel her hurt, experience this type of pain. She continues saying she never accepts others’ kindness but rather denounces it, scoffing at their empathy, whether it’s parents laughing happily with her children or people with encouraging words, she resents and smites them. Several times, she’s tried to convince herself she could think better, feel better, live better but it’s never happened, she’s only ever concluded that everyone around her should die. — “If a mother has her child taken away, perhaps she doesn’t just cease to be a mother, she stops being human.”

There were tons of theories and consolations others drew to explain away Aki’s murder, like the cultural climate or the Law, the boy’s upbringing, but Kyoko admits she only thought of the ways she could have contributed to the incident, for it was she who allowed her short skirt or insisted she take a safer path to play. With those thoughts, she’d completely forgotten about the killer but she’s since realized there is something she needs from him, something she must say, “Return Aki to me.”

She tells them that she plans to meet Fumiya and request this of him. But Kouhei knows this isn’t possible, his eyes filled with confusion and concern. Kyoko turns to him and sincerely thanks him for always thinking of her, for sheltering her all this time, she says the same to Seiji and encourages Yuka to raise Ryota well. Kouhei bursts angrily that she’s evading and asks what’s going on but Kyoko stands, turns to Hiroki and says “Let’s go home.”

Kyoko unpacks, concerned that Katsuhiko would be a little upset with her coming back after all these years, but Hiroki doesn’t think he’d be upset at all. Then they divvy out the chores, Hiroki commissioning Kyoko to cook for him daily and she teases him about being shy. Downstairs, the doors slide open and he rushes to welcome the guest, Kyoko follows, but they both hesitate when they see Takami waiting to greet them.

Futaba does end up spending the night with her grandmother and wakes up when she hears someone open the door. She looks up and meets eyes with Fumiya. She’s shocked and slightly groggy but manages a bewildered “Onni-chan?”–realizing she isn’t dreaming. He steps closer and asks her pointedly. “Futaba, do you want to come with me?”

Reactions, Ramblings and Remarks

Ok, Fumiya? What are your plans? We get so little time with him that I’m not sure if we should be afraid of him and for Futaba or consider him a kid that is running scared himself. He’s quiet but very self-aware, problem is, we have no idea what that means. He’s definitely eerily commanding and when he threatens Saho I believed him, therefore, should we encourage Futaba to follow this brother she hasn’t seen since he bludgened a kid to death? Even if for now, he’s the only family she feels she can trust?

Futaba remains the most endearing character in this show for the simple fact that it’s so hard not to love her, cry for or with her and want to be her shoulder and friend. She has so much locked inside, that she can’t handle all on her own but somehow, she finds a way to journey on, which brings unflappable depth to the power of the concept of this drama. She’s not superhuman and her pain does cripple her at times but she picks herself up, no matter the obstacle. Her conversation with Akari broke my heart, watching her listen as her sister inches the divide further between them, reminding her of all she’s lost and given up, of which Akari has made no concessions. I don’t blame either girl, per se, but viewing from Futaba’s perspective it throws more salt on the fact that they are so different, were raised differently, experience and examine the world differently.

In the episode, Futaba wanted to run away and the first place she goes is to Hiroki. I’m not going to say that this is too telling, beyond the fact that he’s extremely kind to her, a great listener and at present, her only friend. Also he’s someone she doesn’t have to disguise her feelings, someone she can be honest with (if she chooses), for he knows where the bulk of her struggle lay. They’ve sped through the small talk and pretense, because of their past, which I love, therefore it makes their lighter, flirty, teasing moments that much more precious, and thankfully, we get a bit of that this episode as well. Truly, I find that their interaction in this episode was riddled with Futaba covering her true feelings, which may be indicative of something (mainly, I’d say that she still has some ounce of pride).However, what is important, that she is more comfortable with him and I see that as her considering him a confidant. Someone she can just be around without explaining– just being with him is enough.

Unfortunately, more than anything, Hiroki and Futaba scream tragedy, which hits, me in the gut each time I see them, for they want to literally reach out to one another but can’t seem to take that step. It’s not that they don’t know if they should but more that they know they can’t. And that fact stops them both from grabbing each other’s hand, each time and why Hiroki doesn’t go after her. The strained distance between them is played wonderfully, that’s why it hurts so bad.

Overall, this episode was a showcase of the women in this drama which is always a good thing in my book. Kyoko and Takami and I will never agree, however, that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate or commend them when they do something good. I greatly admired Kyoko for facing Aki and then apologizing to Higaki Seiji, and thanking Kouhei. There is so much more for her to do, to patch her family back together, but this is a marvelous start. Her confession was both riveting and frightening but most of all raw, bare and honest. She conveys the basest of human instincts and emotions and it was simply flawless. Again, Otake Shinobu owned this scene (Eita, a close second), with her cascade of emotions, flickering behind her eyes from malice to guilt to fear to remorse. I absolutely adored it, for it’s so true and tangible, that you can’t help but be scared for her and of her, all at the same time. And for anyone who’s gone through deep debilitating pain, I’m sure you can relate to the evil thoughts and desires that linger within the human psyche.

Though this was a female-centric episode, from Satsuki to Akari even, it was Kouhei that got a special highlight in my mind. For no matter how much we personally differ, my heart goes out to him. He’s still this scared little boy, that was thrust into being his mother’s husband and brother (read: protector), that it’s inevitable for him to become a sort of menace to her growth. [This weighs heavy on the issue I have with Kyoko as a character, for she’s damaged her children so greatly, it’s unbearable to watch at times.] For, Kouhei has done everything for her, being the perfect role model of steady and flawless, giving her a family and security, choosing to fill her life, rather than rock the boat but it’s never been good enough. And hearing that from his own mother’s mouth had to sting. Of course, the answer was always simple but, all he’s ever wanted to do was please and ease, instead of pushing her away. Like I’ve said before, Kouhei has lived in fear so long that it’s almost palpable when he’s in Hiroki’s presence. The rival between the brothers is entirely one-sided but it’s very real. Kouhei watched his mother choose a child (Aki) and walk away from her family. All he did was follow, afraid of losing her or causing her to abandon him too, therefore, he becomes everything to/for her, or so he hoped. When Hiroki steps back into their world, he realizes this isn’t the case, that his position in his mother’s life isn’t as solid as he’d worked so hard to maintain and preserve. Kouhei’s anger in this episode is misplaced initially toward Hiroki, in that he’s afraid to be angry with his mother and it’s even further heart-wrenching when he realizes his fears were warranted, as she chooses to leave. Kyoko’s choice was the right one but boy does it cut. Out of all the characters, Kouhei is the most pitiable because he gets so little healing. No one seems to see his anger (for what it is), confusion or dismay. Even the family he’s created is oblivious to how deep his heartache runs, how much the love and security he’s dished out is only the tip of what he alone needs.

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