I’ll be honest, when I first watched this episode I felt a bit meh about it. I think I was focusing overly on the acting (I’ll elaborate later), and the fact that it’s a bit slow-moving compared to the previous episodes. But when I watched it a second time I realised that this episode, like the ones before, runs a consistent thread throughout. The end comes full circle from the beginning plot-wise, and it’s incredibly satisfying.
In Episode 2 we already got some insight into why Kenji fell for Arare. This episode, in a flashback that brings us even further back in time, we see young Arare chase after teenaged Kenji after he fights with her mother and decides to leave the store. She begs him to stay because he’s one of the few workers that remain after her dad’s passing. Though it’s not said, it’s clear that Arare’s passion for Fukaya touches him.
We fade back to the present day, where we left off last episode, when he is about to respond to Arare’s questions regarding his feelings for her. This editing makes it clear once again that Kenji has had feelings for her for a long time, and it is in part due to their shared love for Fukuyado.
Of course, before he has a chance to answer, we get a phone call interruption. Gawd let this be the last cliché!
Turns out mother dearest in hospital because of a sprain. It’s no big deal, but her being in hospital makes way for us to see just how much the business means to Arare. This happens in a couple of ways.
For one, Arare immediately takes leave from her company to spy on the business and make sure that everything is going fine. She gets caught, by Kenji no less, and it’s sweet because after assuring her that everything is fine so far, he thanks her. Then stares at her a little longer than he should (because deep inside he’s a lovelorn puppy amirite).
Meanwhile, she can’t stop thinking about Kenji’s words regarding her succeeding the business. He thinks she should face her feelings regarding the shop.
Eventually, she goes to visit her mother, and she tells her mum that if it’s what her mum wants, she’ll succeed the business.
What she doesn’t know though, is that her mum just had a conversation with Hina, who told her that she wished that she would have been a mum at least once before she shouldered the burden of the shop after her dad passed. Hina, seeing her mum, felt pressured to fulfil her mum’s wishes to succeed the business. She tells her mum that she was sacrificed to the shop.
Again, Hina’s feelings are completely understandable, and opposite to Arare’s.
It’s a case of misfortunate timing. Mum doesn’t want Arare to have to feel forced to take over the shop like Hina did. But it’s also good because it prevents Arare from using her mother as an excuse. Like Kenji says, Arare should face her feelings head on. I like how the show makes it challenging for Arare. If she likes the shop and wants to be its boss, she should just say so. Eventually she will have to eat humble pie, face her mother and ask her to let her succeed the shop. But that’s growth for a stubborn child like Arare – and I love it.
But before that, she returns home from the hospital to see Kenji in the kitchen.
As hard as it is, her pride is hurt and she tells Kenji that she finally has an answer to his question. She will not take over the shop. Though quiet, Kenji obviously can’t accept that it’s her true feelings. When she goes on to explain that her mother wouldn’t let her become the next owner, he insists that in that case she hadn’t answered his question. For Kenji, he just wants to know Arare’s desires.
Arare admits that wagashi and Fukuya are her pride and of course she loves the business.
The next part just completely melted my stone cold heart. Kenji tells her, “Then take it over! If you love it then stop beating around the bush and take over! I’ll support you.”
Haha, I love dying of feels.
But here is where everything comes full circle. As Kenji tells Arare in the present not to cry, he reaches out to touch her head, and as he does, we get a flashback of young Kenji doing the same to young Arare. In that instance her passion convinces him to stay, and in the present he’s able to keep her from forsaking the shop. In both cases their bond in strong.
The only thing that bugged me about the scene in the kitchen (despite the lovely framing and gratuitous shots of my favourite red bean paste) was that the kid actors acted way better than Hayami Akari. She can’t handle a crying scene and it was painfully obvious. So that was the only gripe I had. Kid actors though, 10 stars.
Next morning, we get an equally touching scene when Arare tells her mother, that she wants to protect the shop and be the successor.
That’s what I love about Arare. She’s feisty yes, but she is willing to listen and willing to follow her heart. Though she jokingly complains about the chores that an owner has to do, she does them anyway, because it’s part of her job now.
I also love how the camera cuts to Hina smiling and Kenji silently nodding his head, glad that Arare finally did what she had to.
Later on, Hina thanks Arare, because now she can marry without any worries. But of course, this scene cuts to Hinoyama seeing the maiko Shijaku at his door. Hopefully this will spice things up because Hinoyama and Hina’s relationship is a little mundane.