Wow, a Jdrama romance that actually boasts thematic continuity?! Is more than a bunch of clichés strung together?! Includes non-romance related character development?! Is this real life?!
This week reveals just how similar Hina and Arare are as sisters. It intertwines their dilemmas together, while still managing to give each of them their own story. It’s pretty cool how this plays out.
Early in the episode Hina gets a fax (trust Japan to be the only first world country to STILL use fax) from Shoujuro. He wants to meet her in a restaurant at 7 that night. Receiving the fax, Hina gets the lipstick she got from him in Ep 1 and puts it on. From this simple act we can tell that she does have feelings for him. Yet later on in the episode, she tells Arare that it is not suited for her. Why the turn of events? Why is she pushing Shoujuro away yet again?
We get the answer in yet another well-placed flashback, this time of her delivering wagashi to her fiancé Hinoyama’s house. Hinoyama (Sandaime JSB’s Yamashita Kenjiro) invites her to stay for tea in his luxurious home (all the rich boys like Hina, eh eh).
However, seeing no one else around, Hina insists that Fukuyado’s reputation will be ruined if people catch wind of them being alone in his home and start gossiping about it. Chastised, he calls for his helper so that she knows that there’s someone. After tea, he sends her to the door, but just as she is about to walk out, he pulls her in for a kiss.
He asks her if it’s bad for the shop’s reputation that he kisses her. Then he tells her that she and the shop are two separate entities, and that it’s not guaranteed that she’d definitely ruin the shop’s reputation.
I went from “What the heck?” to “Wow this is actually brilliant!” in two seconds. It shed so much light on Hina’s actions and we learn so much about her. She’s still conflicted, but slowly chooses the route that would afford her the most freedom. I can’t help but think about Hina must have gone through growing up, thinking that she had no choice but to walk the path set out for her. I didn’t need her to tell me she hated the shop at every turn (once was enough), and the drama didn’t even need to show me a flashback of her as a child. Her current decisions spell it out well and clear, and as an audience, I am trusted to make an inference. Thanks writers!
Also, I have a feeling there is more to this Hinoyama guy than meets the eye.
Meanwhile, Arare (my dear stubborn mule child) has to deal with the fact that she loves the business, just as she loves Kenji. She makes a trip down to Fukuyado to catch a glimpse of Kenji, but pretends she’s there to help Hinoyama ask Hina where she wants to go on a honeymoon (Hinoyama actually intended for it to be a surprise).
She chats with Hina, who asks her to come home because she obviously cares about the shop. Arare refuses and once again, she’s asked about whether it is taking over the business that irks her, or marrying Kenji. Arare tries to deflect the conversation, but is angered when Hina offers her the lipstick that she doesn’t want anymore. It angers her because this is exactly what she hates about the situation. When Hina doesn’t want something, she pushes it to her. It was the same with the clothes she used to have as a kid, and it is the same with Kenji. Hina by no means meant to say that Kenji was inferior, but to point out what exactly it was that irked her in the situation. Hina and Arare’s disagreement is complex, because both of them have every right to feel the way they do. That’s another thing I love about the show – neither of the sisters are villains.
Unfortunately Kenji walks by just as Arare was giving her impassioned speech (but of course…), and comes to think that Arare doesn’t want to marry him. He calls her out the next day, and brings her to a café which gets their desserts from Fukuyado.
It’s nice how they both talk about the change in business strategy that her mum put in place. For all their childish arguments they are two individuals equally invested in Fukuyado.
Flipping through the menu, Arare spots a new dessert which is named after her.
It’s such a sweet moment. She’s obviously happy but the girl loves to front, so she asks him what he means. Pleased, he tells her that the dessert Arare was created with her image in mind. The look on his face when he told her that and when she finally digs in…I swear I melted.
I’ve said it before, but it is the moments where love for wagashi and admiration for each other intertwine that makes watching the Kenji-Arare romance so satisfying.
Walking back, he asks her to return to Fukuyado. Then he says pretty much the same thing Hinoyama told Hina earlier in the episode – Taking over the business, and marrying him, are two separate things. But of course the same sentence has different implications for the two sisters. I love how Kenji says tells her that because he doesn’t want her to feel coerced into marrying him. He knows she loves Fukuyado, and he doesn’t want her to feel that she couldn’t inherit it without marrying him.
But Arare wants to know his feelings. She knows how he feels about the shop, but she wants to know, definitively, what he feels about her. Kenji doesn’t realise it but it’s because she has feelings for him that she wants to know. Proud Kenji (Arare and Kenji are really a case of pot and kettle) tries to talk about the shop again, saying that it’s not like he would definitely get it anyway…Arare sees right through his BS and says, “You told me that you’ve liked me”.
The start of a relationship is often tricky. You want to protect your own pride but you also want to be open and honest. Kenji and Arare’s story details the vulnerable balancing act, and the push and pull, that comes with blossoming romance. They both want the best for each other and they both want each other to be candid about what they really want, but that can be scary to admit as well. I also like how straightforward Arare is in this scene. She’s not some sobbing mess in the corner. When she can tell Kenji isn’t being honest with her, she calls him out, just like he does when she pretends that leaving the shop is ok with her. This show is doing my favourite trope right and I am loving it!
Then there’s how #relatable Arare was all episode! Last episode Kenji told her that he didn’t have a problem with marrying her instead of Hina, because he never wanted to marry Hina anyway. He then surprises her by saying, “I’ve liked you.”
#relatable Arare spends the next day contemplating what on earth he meant by that, even typing in his words in an online dictionary. As a self-confessed over-thinker I was like, “Wow I might do something like that”.
It also makes for a hilarious scene between her and Hinoyama. Hinoyama tells her that guys don’t tell women that they like them easily. So Arare debates with him on whether Kenji’s “I’ve liked you” meant he used to like her and doesn’t anymore, or that he liked her and continues to do so. She pretends she’s helping her ‘friend’ ask, and she’s disappointed when Hinoyama believes that it’s used as a past tense.
There’s also the part when Kenji calls her and she goes into full on panic mode, wondering about what to text him when she misses his call – #totallyme #relatable
Another sweet scene would be when Kenji spots Hana when she walks home from school. It’s cute how he is so doting and protective of her, but she rebuffs him when he fails to give her good advice about boys. In a huff she states, “You’re not a guy!” And he has nothing to say because of course this junior high girl doesn’t see him as a ‘real guy’, aka someone she would feel attracted to. I felt so sorry for him but it was also hilarious. The classic “You don’t understand! It’s not so simple! You’re unreliable!” teenage lament.
Next episode will be a little more Hina-centric I think. It seems like Hinoyama has something going on with a geisha. Hmmm…past lovers? Current affair? I would love to know.