Hirugao: Episode 2

Escape. There are times we all want to retreat or disappear or just plain walk away. It would be nice sometimes, if it were possible, but I don’t believe many of us want to make the choice in finality, but in more minute ways. So we watch dramas and read, sit on sandy beaches or take long walks and breaks in coffee shops.

In episode one, a fire occurs and in many ways, while fire destroys, it also purifies and may create a chance at rebooting or renewing things lost. This idea appeals to Sawa, for she’s ready for something different; a change that sparks something afresh in her. However, Rikako poses the idea that you don’t have to burn anything down, rather, why not escape in a living breathing person?

Hanging out laundry Sawa wonders who started the fire across the way and gossips that it has been rumored to be arson (the doors were locked the inside). Eventhough, Shunsuke doesn’t believe someone would intentionally burn down their own home, Sawa thinks aloud—- “They could have secrets to hide.”

Shunsuke turns to scan Sawa’s face probing if she has secrets but when she spurts her interest is only curiosity, he laughs as if the idea was ludicrous. Just as he leaves, Shunsuke asks for his hand lotion and Sawa runs out to give it to him, he grunts at the wrong SPF balance but takes it anyway and disappears into the elevator. When Sawa turns around, her mother-in-law appears and let’s herself in, saying they need to talk.

The girls and Toru are critiquing Kota’s portrait,  questioning his talent. They all rush out for school and work and Rikako spies Toru tossing her picture in the trash. She walks him to his car wanting a new portrait but he tells her to let it go —“Kota was just sticking it to me.”

As she closes the door, she eyes Garage dude across the street. Their eyes meet but she quickly returns to the house only to reemerge seconds later, bringing a bright smile to his face. She hops in her car and drives toward him, but when he tries to let himself in, the doors are locked and he’s left running after her for miles.

She finally stops in a secluded lot and tells him they won’t meet again. If they continue to meet she won’t be able to leave her husband, but that’s exactly what he thinks she should do, determined to never give up. However, when he hears the reality of their circumstance; two daughters, no alimony, elderly parents, steady pay, his face drops and Rikako roars in laughter at his horror. He’s hurt she was testing him, believing this was all some game to her and she confirms that’s all it’s been;the game of a sexually frustrated housewife. — “All I wanted was your young body and I’m bored now.”

Mom feeds the hamsters then gets to the point—- she saw Sawa talking alone with a man and wants confirmation she wasn’t cheating. She immediately trails off into a diatribe about current housewives but Sawa is lost in her own thoughts, thinking if she cheated this woman would be the first to condemn her, while her husband might even hit her. And, even though she didn’t have anything to truly feel guilty about, for she and Sensei only talked—she couldn’t stop thinking about him. Because to her, in her mind, they’d laughed and played, kissed and snuggled. And all within that time, with him, she’d never felt so free.

Rikako shows up at Sawa’s job saying she’ll waiting until she’s off, for 3pm is her favorite time of day; it isn’t morning or evening or night— “It’s a time that doesn’t belong anywhere.”

And as usual Sawa counters with the alternate perspective that to her that hour just the span of time she uses to cook and take in laundry, however Rikako suggests —“Your can start dinner at 5.”

After work, Sawa heads toward her bike hesitant she might she Rikao but when she doesn’t, instead of leaving, she walks across the street to make sure she isn’t there and runs into Kitano Sensei standing near a food truck. However, he isn’t at all surprised to see her and apologizes for being late, for Rikako setup up another meeting for the settlement.

Meanwhile, Rikako is at Kota’s studio trying to convince him to draw her again, offering to pay, dropping, his last sketch excited her. Now that she’s getting older, she wants to capture how she is today — “I want you to draw me, exactly as you see me.”

But Kota declines, for he believes an artist should love his work and he sees no beauty in her and walks away. When he returns, he sees where she left an apple and scribbled her number on his canvas.

Kitano Sensei figures Rikako was setting them up (again), given she comes across rather infatuated with physical relationships. Sawa agrees, noting they’d never do that, for though he’s attractive, she’s married. Then runs through her stats: thirty- one year old, five years married, no kids, renting, part-time worker. Sensei is surprised disclosing she doesn’t look like the “domestic” type (hinting she appeared incapable). Sawa chuckles people must get annoyed with him often, considering his thoughtless way of speech and it’s true, his colleagues avoid him and his students don’t really care for him but it doesn’t bother him.

Sawa suggest that’s the problem, for wouldn’t it be more appropriate to pretend he is concerned about whether his students like him or not? Sawa thinks he must also have trouble with the ladies and he doesn’t deny it, for even he’s surprised he managed to marry. Sawa finds that hard to believe as well, he doesn’t come across as someone who could support a wife. Therefore, Kitano Sensei too rattles off his stats; thirty-three years old, married two years, wife older by one year.

Sawa: Kids?

Kitano: None.

Sawa: House?

Kitano: Mortgage.

She tells him their last day together made a huge impression on her, for when she saw a cicada that morning, instead of having the urge to kill it, she thought how they mate for life. But just as Sensei leans in for deeper conversation Sawa cuts it short. It’s now 5 o’clock and she needs to get dinner ready for husband. Before, she walks away Sensei suggests they exchange numbers and right over at the food truck, hidden behind an umbrella Mom is watching, huffing that Sawa is with, yet another man.

Noriko, Kitano’s wife calls inviting him out to dinner, announcing she has news, some news. Over wine, she shares she got an associate professor. Kitano is visually taken aback but congratulates her gingerly. She wonders if he feels odd that she has the position but he insists he doesn’t. He left research on his own and his reaction is only due to being impressed she got it even after everything that happened. —- “Do you think it’s because I’m a woman?”

Later, Kitano Sensei struggles to help a tipsy Noriko inside and she pours herself another drink. She points out an unfamiliar supermarket shopping  bag, that he explains is a place with decent bentos on the way to work, just before she passes out. But when he tries to get her off to bed, she grabs ahold of him slurring she doesn’t want him to be jealous — “I could’ be a researcher without your support.”

Mom tells Papa about Sawa’s mystery men and tries to interrogate her on who they may be. And though she does admit to meeting two men on two different occasions, she asserts they are only acquaintances; friends of a friend.  So when Rikako shows up, she nods to confirm those men were her friends. For Sawa would never meet men secretly. And Papa scolds Mom who denies ever misunderstanding in the first place.

Sawa walks Rikako to the elevators but when Riako suggests they’re even, she spits back there was nothing to repay because this was always her mess to begin with.

Toru hands Kato back his latest submission believing it isn’t nearly as captivating as his first, then asks to speak with him privately. He wonders why he never draws what is requested but thinks they should talk more over drinks. Kato declines and poses instead he take his wife— “She’s brimming with loneliness and anger.” But when Toru prods how could know such things, Kato deflects he only studies his subjects lightly before drawing, then turns to leave once Toru grows more condescending.

Shunsuke sings Rikako’s praises, as she’s not only beautiful but nice and a great cook, thinking Sawa has truly met a good friend. But Sawa wants to know if he was jealous when he’d heard she was out with two different guys and to her dismay, Shunsuke trusts her implicitly. Sawa is concerned he just thinks she’s not attractive enough, however, he hasn’t forgotten how popular she once was. She crawls into bed and he reaches out his hand so they can sleep, then she turns and asks him to be jealous, then snuggles  up to him. She thinks it’s good to be close sometimes and he agrees, yet when he leans in as well, he begins to cough and she turns over.

The next day, while collecting a package, one of the hamsters (Hamumi/Hamusuke) opens their cage latch and escapes, sending the house into a tizzy. Shunsuke is frantic and picks a fight, raising his voice blaming everything on Sawa, declaring she’s too rough with them. Sawa doesn’t react well to his yelling and responds in kind, then runs out of the house. But once she’s gone realizes she has no where to escape to — “I hope at least the hamster escaped.”

At work, Garage dude is introduced as new hire Hagiwara Tomoya (Fuchikami Yasuhi). Later, Sawa sneaks out to speak to with him, labeling him a stalker, when he relays, he’s decided to earn a living in order to take care of Rikako, taking the job believing he might run into her there. Sawa retorts that he’s young and must pull loads of women, with no need to fool around with another man’s wife, but Tomoya refuses to give up. He wants to know everything about Rikako.

Shunsuke calls Sawa but there’s no answer, just as Misuzu shows up and with a quick glance at his lunch, guesses correctly he and his wife had fought. He looks around concerned someone may see them but she assures him she’ll be careful — “I like married men, that I don’t have worry about marriage.”

Rikako catches Sawa staring at the burnt apartment and invites her over for tea. When she notices Sawa studying her family, she remarks that having a family can be  suffocating sometimes, but you just have accept at some point that you can never get away. Sawa jokes she sounds like she’s thought of burning down her own house and Rikako quickly admits it’s true but being her family is so important to her, she’d never do it.

But she’s the last person who should be saying such things and Sawa wonders if this happy family will survive now that Tomoya is working nearby. Rikako isn’t ruffled though, she’s rather flattered he’s bettering himself because of their brief dalliance. She hopes Sawa wants to change her mundane existence as well, but the latter isn’t foolish enough to throw all she has away. 

Rikako: So, you’re happy?
Sawa: I’m happy.
Rikako: Liar.
Sawa: I’m not lying. I don’t need an excessive lifestyle, just a content life with my husband.
Rikako: Liar. You don’t look like you’re in love.
Sawa: That’s none of your business. We are… We’re in love.
Rikako: Liar.

Rikako goes on that Sawa knows her husband no longer loves her but has chosen to ignore it because she doesn’t want to lose what she has. And she knows, because she was like that too.  Then continues, it’s important to be true to yourself or one day you will explode. Sawa isn’t buying it but when Rikako presses about their physical relationship, she excuses herself for a second. While she’s gone, Rikako helps herself to Sawa’s cell phone and finds Kitano’s number but she’s caught right before she dials. She promises to let it ring only one time and says they can do it together. There’s someone she wants too.—- “I don’t want to throw anything away but is it wrong to want some excitement?”

She presses the button and Kitano’s phone buzzes across from his Noriko, who kids it must be one of his female students but when he checks, his face suggests there’s little to joke about. With her call done Rikako looks to Sawa to do her part and she does. Kato is with a client and connects the number to Rikako but tosses it on the table and gets back to sketching.

Done, Sawa throws the phone down and reaches to grab hers but Rikako holds firm with another proposition— “If you don’t want to be my first, at least be my accomplice.”

When Toru arrives home, he chides Rikako for having Sawa and Sasamoto over believing they aren’t the type of people they should associate with. As they are setting the table, Kitano returns Sawa’s call and though she chooses not to answer, replays his message several times throughout her day at work.

Meanwhile, Kitano is counseling with two students about their public displays suggesting they cool it until they can take responsibility for their actions. But Kinoshita doesn’t think they have to wait, especially since they have no intentions of being in love, instead, they are just using one another for sex. His partner, however, hesitates in her agreement but evades that Kitano is the one  that taught them about intercourse.

Noriko shows up at the supermarket and enlists Sawa for help with bentos for her husband. Afterward, Sawa returns Kitano’s call and apologizes, saying her misdialed. He draws her attention to the cicadas in the background and she stands to get a better listen, then lifts her phone for him to hear better as well.

After work, hurriedly, Sawa bikes out to a nearby bridge but stops short once she sees Kitano. She smiles and leans in to admire how engrossed he is with the world around him.

Rikako visits Kato again and when she finds out he knew she called but never got back to her, she quips he must like her. She wonders if he’s bow more inclined to draw her and he sighs, but lifts a blank canvas from his colldction and tells her to follow him outside. He set leads her to a shaded ipeingi n the yard and sets up his easel— “Take off your clothes.”

Rikako can’t hide her surprise and Kato goads he thought she wanted a potrait, the way he sees her. Thunder rumbles and lifts his head to the sky, then down woth smirk as Rikako unbuttons her blouse.

Kitano Sensei is giving Sawa a lesson on beetles when it begins to pour. She has an umbrella but Sensei takes her hand and offers to run instead. Quickly they find a tree shelter and he notices her shoe is untied and bends down to retie it. And as she looking down on her rained socked head she thinks:

“Men are always unfair. They knock on the door but never open it. The woman always has to unlock it and call him come inside, with a gentle ‘I’m here.’ Otherwise, they’ll pretend to be blind and walk away. Especially a forbidden door”.

Reactions, Ramblings and Remarks

The husbands of this drama are dull and chauvinistic, in their typical ways, while our potential lovers are electric and empowering, and of course there’s no mistake in that. Kato is beyond sexy, being a painter and creator; using his hands. [The direction and angles in Kazuki’s scenes are so damp, close and tight, you actually want to reach out and touch him.] But he isn’t just a simple painter, instead, he’s hinted to be genius, not to mention he’s intelligent  and unyielding in his convictions, with Kitano being the same, just in a scholarly field.  These men are perfect for our ladies, so it’s no wonder their knees gel when they are around. It is surprising, however that Kitano is married but I appreciated that he and Sawa shared their initial assumptions. Neither has the air or stigma of marriage wafting about them, but in truth, what is that really? For both were hiding nothing and though I admit, Sawa seemed to share her status to draw a line, it was matter of fact for them both. Yet, from what we can see, both marriages are strained with their own set of problems.

With Sawa’s last musing, I believe most women would concur, at least about the decent guys in life. Perhaps, not everyone has experienced this reality but sometimes women literally have to spell out their intentions in order for a man to even make an attempt to say “Hello” to her. I suppose it comes from the assumption that women are just sitting around waiting to be snagged up, while in the mean time are sexless beings, with little resonance of desire and attraction.

And at times, that it what I see Rikako trying to convey. That just because she is married, she’s still alive and all woman. She hasn’t lost her sense of desire and being desirable. When looked at from that point of view, you can’t actually disagree with her feelings of disillusionment or discontentment, even though it’s also undeniable that her way of “balancing” her
situation is completely irrational. I can’t help but believe that Rikako reminds me of the adage “misery loves company” even if she wraps it in tantalizing verbiage. I do like however, that she uses the word
“accomplice” because that is exactly what she needs. She needs someone who will shroud her secrets and cloak her lies as she leads her double life. And she wants Sawa to be that girl. Rikako is such a predator in my eyes that I can’t escape the feeling she’s left other broken and betrayed women in her wake over the years, however, I won’t go as far as to say, Sawa is some grazing unaware doe. For she is by no means naïve prey.

Sawa likes the idea of meeting someone new; someone she’s attracted to, someone she has a secret with. Right now, she likes the fantasy of Yuichiro, the fact that he’s so different and knowledgeable, yet extremely easy to talk to. And I don’t blame her either. The problem is, he’s not a new friend, he’s someone she fantasizes about. He’s someone that sparks something more than he should, giving her the courage to voice and act on things she never would have before. He’s dangerous. She knows it. And she likes it.


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