We’re in the climax of sorts, therefore, the falling action is on the horizon. This episode was dreadfully hard to get through, for each time I view it, I get more upset with the treatment of mental illness and the lack of integrity and patience of certain characters. Then add to that real-life annoyances a la Photobucket and this episode has been sitting in my queue for close to a month.
Hiroki tears off after Yuki and holds her still to ask– ” Do you know Fukami Aki?”
Maki is barricaded in her room watching Yuri sleep, upset she wasn’t warned about Fumiya’s past, when Goro locates her. He reminds that Amamiya Kenji is a new man, with new goals and a new name — “Even you once liked him.” However, now all positive feelings have diminished in the light of knowledge and fear. Her motherly instincts screaming to protect her.
Kouhei drops in on Mom, vegetables in tow and she informs him Hiroki is returning soon with a nurse that knew Fumiya. As if on cue, Hiroki steps in and introduces Yukie. She’s reluctant and is that her story may create more problems but barrels on, at their request. Yukie met Fumiya scarce a year before his release from the rehabilitation center. He’d completed his rehabilitation process and been green-lighted to return to society, however, she was convinced, he didn’t believe he’d been cured.
On her first day, Yukie was shown around by a fellow nurse and given the procedural lowdown and lay of the land. The introductory tour stopped at the courtyard, where the boys did regimental exercise and recess, her guide called away briefly. Yukie spotted Fumiya immediately, for he was off by himself drawing. She inquired after his sketch and he’d asked if she knows anything about Mizuki Lake– she didn’t and their interaction is interrupted by her colleague ready to resume intros. Yukie’s interest was piqued, so she questioned Fumiya’s past, and her friend who divulges that he murdered a girl a few years back, the famous case near a lake in Mizuki. He was diagnosed to have suffered trauma dealing with his parents; his frequently absent father and his mother’s sudden death, but neither were considered to encapsulate his motive to murder. The nurse insisted he was cured but given what Yukie had just seen, she skeptical.
Fumiya was reclusive but Yukie took a liking to him immediately. She was intrigued by his story and his demeanor; quiet, aloof, determined. And being she’d previously engaged in a questionable relationship with a past patient, she had no qualms revealing her interest in Fumiya and approached him with treats, as he was headed to laundry. She asked him boldly if he was truly “cured” and guessed he was just faking to be released. Over time, their romance blossomed, as she brought him paints and brushes, his thanks gifted through colorful origami. Soon, rumors flew that she and Fumiya were in a relationship.
Outisde, Akari is impressed by Takami’s mom skills, for she can tell the difference between her girls’ clothes, down to their socks. Akari believes Mom isn’t to blame for Futaba’s disappearance, for she’s an adult. Shunsuke heads toward the van catching their attention and they question after him but he’s vague, focused. Akari wonders if he’s found Fumiya but he isn’t sure. Takami steps toward him and locks eyes, “Being you’re his father you will be able to tell what type of human being he is, right?” But Shunsuke leaves. Mom tells Akari they should have faith in her father.
Fumiya passed out due to over exertion and Yukie happily cared for him in the infirmary. Their conversation drifted to their immanent separation and she wondered if he was excited to be leaving soon, and though he was, he groggily answered he was happier to be cured– “The doctor said I’m cured.” One night, she and Fumiya met in the library after hours, where he stared longingly at the Paul Rubens’ painting “The Elevation of the Cross,” mentioned in A Dog of Flanders. Aki had told him of the story and said “It’d be better if I was never born.” Yukie listened and deduced he felt Aki was referring to herself and killed her for that reason. But Fumiya never confirmed or denied her thoughts, for they are interrupted. At Fumiya’s reluctance to leave the book behind, Yukie promises to purchase him a copy.
The day before his discharge, Fumiya cornered Yukie in the stairwell to show her his Aki drawing. Her immediate reaction was to keep it secret or he won’t be allowed to leave. She identified the face in the picture as Aki but he corrected her, “It’s a pitiful goldfish.” Upon his release, Yukie followed along behind Fumiya and his parole officer, as he’s introduced to his new life. She even trailed them to a nearby restaurant, where Fumiya spotted her and left an origami behind with his new name and address.
Yukie and Fumiya soon begin to date and she confessed his presence in her life as changed her, watching how earnest he is and he asks, tears in his eyes, “Then am I cured? Has the murderer disappeared?” To which she confirmed, she truly believed it had. They quickly moved into together and she gets pregnant. Excited, she informed Fumiya but he didn’t feel the same, though he kept quiet. That night, as he climbed the stairs to their apartment, he hesitated for a long glance down the flight, before he entered. He’d bought milk but mutters that he wants beer and she gingerly offers to get him some. Once she leaves, he flips through a magazine to the Rubens’ painting and there’s a loud crash outside. He rushes out and looks over the ledge, where Yukie laid at the bottom, clutching her stomach.
Yukie explains to the Fukamis that Fumiya placed a plastic shopping bag purposely on the step, and she’d miscarried. After she left the hospital, she found his diary, filled with drawings of a goldfish with a red tail. To him, humans are goldfish in a bowl he’d like to scoop out and destroy. One by one she recites the diary entries of Fumiya’s thoughts and past times, mostly of him trying to refrain from killing others. He’d even stalked a woman to her house a couple days after work, had the urge to enter her place but didn’t:
September 5 I went to yesterday’s apartment. I wanted to confirm the curtain once more. I couldn’t see clearly, so I thought to open the door, but I didn’t. I went to the rooftop. I could see the streets clearly. I tried to peer into the water well of my mind. But there wasn’t any, I was thirsty. I wanted to pour water in. I was really troubled. I wanted to die.
November 9 Humans are sad. They don’t know why they were born but they exist. They don’t know how to continue living but they do. Just like that, without knowing anything. And without knowing anything, they will die.
Yukie continues to regurgitate what she’d remembered to the horror of the entire family. In one entry Fumiya even admits he’s a murderer–
Fumiya: I’m a murderer. The murderer within me, probably killed my own child. I just watched. I just watched that murderer kill my own child. Even so, I’ll keep living.
Yukie: Seeing his diary I realized that to him I’m not a woman or a mother, not even human. I’m was just a fish tank. A tank that contained a pitiful goldfish that would break if it fell.
That night before he’d returned she ran away and hasn’t seen him since. Finished, she looks across to them and admits, “I couldn’t save him.” Hiroki kindly thanks her for sharing her story, Mom and Kouhei stunned silent. Yukie asks if they want to still speak with him and Hiroko confirms they do. She gives them his location in Chiba.
At the farm, Fumiya sits in his room drawing Aki’s picture over and over, while Yuri begs him to play outside his door. Finally, Maki pulls her away and he determines to distract himself with exercise. Goro decides to visit Fumiya, for he’s remained holed up in his room for days, but New Girl intercepts him with a telephone call. It’s Shunsuke, who’s called all the local produce farms in search of his son.
New girl watches Yuri run across the field with rackets in her hands to play. Inside, Maki is making arrangements to leave the farm when she notices Yuri isn’t playing next door. In a panic, she busts into to Fumyia’s room demanding to know where he hid her. She opens his closets emptying them, interrupting Fumiya in his distraction exercise routine. She spots a drawing of a small girl curled up in a field, which scares her and she runs out.
New Girl and Yuri are play batminton, when Fumiya shows up with a hammer in his hand. New Girl tries to distract him, telling Yuri to return home but Fumiya is determined, tries to push passed her, then hits her to get by. He turns the hedge and finds Yuri happy to see him, but he just stands there looking past her, shaking.
Meanwhile, the fathers meet to confirm Kenji and Fumiya are one in the same. Goro is reluctant to allow Shunsuke to see him, being he’s never spoken of a family but believes if Shunsuke truly wants to make amends he won’t stop him— “This time, you really mustn’t abandon him anymore.” He suggests if he can’t do that, he’ll pretend they never met.
Hiroki takes Yukie back to the train station to say their goodbyes and she asks one thing of him— to help put Fumiya out of his misery.
In the truck, Hiroki offers to drop Kouhei home but Kouhei’s decided to ride along, “If you become a murderer that will be bad for me too.”
In the field, Fumiya stares, as Yuri pick flowers. She reaches out for another and cuts herself and cries out. Fumiya suggests she go back inside to her mother and she walks away. Once out of range, his hammer hand jerks involuntarily and he peels his fingers from the handle and throws it into the grass gasping.
Just before Maki calls the police, Yuri walks in, Fumiya not far behind. When she clamps eyes on him, she clutches Yuri to sheild her from him, but he just bows and passes them by. Upstairs, he grabs his things ready to make a run for it, knowing it’s time for him to go. Maki steps in the door, knife in hand and demands to know what he did to her child. Fumiya backs away like a scared animal shaking his head that nothing happened. She scolds that he shouldn’t be so non-chalant, living well, when he’s robbed another mother of her child.
Maki: Don’t you know that girl had a mother that loved and cherished her too? Didn’t you have a mother? It would have been better if a person like you were never born. You should have never been born.
Fumiya lifts his head his eyes confused, then angry, and stumbles toward her.
Futaba comes by the shop looking for Hiroki but he’s in Chiba on the hunt for Fumiya. Futaba immediately apologizes for her brother. After meeting him, she’s realized that he’s unrepentant. She’d been silly to think that one day her family would be whole and happy again, that they would laugh together once more. That one day, she and Hiroki would laugh wholeheartedly together as well. She knew it was too much to hope for, but somewhere, ever so faintly she had. She bows her to Kyoko and apologizes. But Kyoko doesn’t think apologies are necessary, for there’s no reason she shouldn’t have hope– especially for happiness.
Kyoko: You and Hiroki have to figure out your own happiness. The two of you have to think of what is best for one another. Hiroki needs to think of your happiness, you for his.
Futaba: You know? I’d like to buy Hiroki some new socks. He’s always walking on the heels of his shoes and all his socks have weird colors. Ah, I’d like to cook for him too.
She smiles and asks what’s his favorite dish,it’s frozen oranges and they both chuckle there’s no use cooking for him then. Futaba wipes away tears from her cheeks as Kyoko takes her in, moved she thinks of her son in this way and thanks her. Now, she wants to know what Futaba wants from Hiroki, but Futaba after a second says there’s nothing. Kyoko believes there must be something, but Futaba admits there really isn’t. — “Then hold on to that, those thoughts and have faith in Hiroki.”
The fathers are back at the farm and Goro explains that Fumiya won’t turn him away but will more than likely be shocked to see him. Shunsule understands and waits downstairs as he goes to locate Maki and Fumiya. Goro knocks on Fumyia’s door but at no answer, he opens it, while downstairs they hear him shout Maki’s name.
Meanwhile, in tunnel, Fumyia pounds his head against a wall.
The boys stop for bathroom breaks and coffee. As soon as Kouhei is out of sight, Hiroki flips off the overheard light and opens his glove compartment. He retrieves something and conceals in underneath the wheel, so no onlookers can see. It’s a knife, wrapped and taped in newspaper. His hands shake as he checks that blade, then slides it into his vest pocket.
Reactions, Ramblings and Rants
I had thought I wouldn’t speak much about this episode, for I feel there’s a huge disconnect with the sensitivity to which mental illness and common decency was portrayed this episode, however, there are many other juicy bits that have remained consistent and true about this story, that I definitely wanted to discuss.
Futaba and Kyoko are truly precious in that last moments of this episode, for we can see glimpses of where Hiroki got his understanding personality. For the majority of this series, Kyoko is unpleasant at best but once she’s finally unburdened, she opens up and there are glimpses of a likable person underneath all that bitterness and disgust. I honestly, don’t believe she ever had real hard feelings towards Futaba, especially given how they met. She’d liked her from the start and saw something genuine between this girl and her son, that doesn’t change just because of who her family members are. The encouragement she gives Futaba touches my heart because it’s hope that Futaba daren’t muster, and yet, she shares it with the one person who shouldn’t understand but does. And not only that, gives her comfort by believing there’s no shame in her desires.
Futaba’s dreams are so small, yet so wide for her, so loving and tender, that tears race to my eyes each time I hear them. When Kyoko asked her what she wanted from Hiroki, I knew there’d be nothing, not because Futaba’s selfless and needs nothing, but because he’s given it all. That bit of emotion right before she answers, says it all, her reaction to the question like it’s ludicrus in a way, for he’s already received everything she could want from him– trust, understanding, kindness, love. She has all of that. And it’s more than enough.
Yukie is the person that Hiroki has been trying to track down for weeks and to her credit, she’s very honest with her interpretation of her actions and events. It’s clear, that she loved Fumiya, but why? I don’t believe that he’s an unlovable guy, even given what he did, but moreso, why did she approach him in the beginning? Don’t her actions reflect of someone not mentally stable herself? I definitely think so. It’s true that in our jobs, there are some rules we skirt and others we make allowance, while some we abide. But in this instance, her inability to refrain from fraternization is concerning. For, if her tryst with Fumiya had been the first, perhaps, I’d chalk it up to misguided infatuation or even some manifestation of love but repetition begs a pattern and that pattern, in these circumstances leads to nothing healthy, rational, stable or good. I think, however, the issue lay in her statement to the Fukamis– I couldn’t save him.
Yukie is a character we know little about beyond her connection to Fumiya, therefore it intrigues me to why she ever felt she could. For wasn’t her initial attraction to him predicated on the fact he was a criminal? Wasn’t she drawn to the danger he represented, then subdued by his isolation and vulnerability? I’ll concede that she seemed to have felt she could influence him or manipulate him through encouragement, understanding and routine but what ever made her qualified to meet the mental inconsistencies within another individual?
I don’t want this to sound as though I blame her entirely, because I don’t. Fumiya most definitely played his role in this situation for not being more forthcoming with his thoughts, urges and distractions but I also don’t blame him for remaining quiet and aloof. He’d spent years being brain washed hoping to tamp down his nature, believing he’d found a way to survive to be the way he should but realized he was wrong, that he hasn’t worked hard enough, exercised long enough. His thinking was still skewed. He was still different. Not something you share readily.
The lighting during Fumiya’s parts in this episode especially are filled with darkness and shadows. I don’t believe that’s is short-hand for evil however, but rather, clouded or unclear. Darkness is devoid of light, which is synonymous with happiness or joy, where darkness isn’t the inherent presence of evil, but more an opportunity or place to hide and I think that’s the case for Fumiya as a character. No matter where we turn, we never get any clear answers from him, regardless of how many journals are read or memories are shared, we never really know Fumiya, himself. His journals don’t speak to the “true” him or the totality of his personality but the him that struggles, the part of himself that hints towards psychosis, but not the person that is a caring, thoughtful brother or reliable employee.
One thing I like about this episode is the juxtaposition between what happened between he and Yukie and the current happenings on the farm, for circumstances are vastly different, though the outcome eerily the same. It shows that Fumyia has changed, but he’s not cured. Since leaving Yukie, he’s done well, and found a way to isolate himself emotionally from others, to keep his mind from wandering and concentrate on what he’s told is rightful, moral living. It’s not until his secret is revealed and mistrust arrives that he unravels. He lets that other nature take hold because he’s lost the confidence to deny it’s desires or perhaps, it’s truth or existence.
With Yukie he was going through the motions, driven more by trying to fit in, rather than, a true conviction that his tendencies were incorrect. He makes the choice to kill his child, not because he’s a serial killer or murderer but because of a belief system within himself that stems from a lack of understanding, for he can’t compute the importance or meaning of Life.