Episode 2: I Want to Get Married! But What Nonnegotiable Conditions do I Have?!
We see Chiharu asleep on the couch at Haruko's house, with the Gerber on the table next to her. Haruko comes to wake her up, and Chiharu begs for a few more minutes, calling Haruko "magistrate" and speaking in Edo-era language. Haha, it's so cute. Haruko asks how long she's going to stay, and Chiharu answers until the storm blows over. Haruko scoffs that there isn't a storm and then tells Chiharu she'll be late for work. On their way, Haruko asks if this is going to be a daily occurrence. Why yes, yes it is.
Mai draws a new Wizard of Oz doodle as Professor Tanigawa explains the 3 Highs that women used to look for—high salary, high education, and, well, height. But now, with the economy like it is, women are looking for the 3 Averages—average income, average looks, and average personality. But it's more difficult to meet these conditions than it may seem. Professor Tanigawa asks what nonnegotiable conditions his students have set for their future spouses.
At work, Chiharu overhears Boy Crazy and Playa arguing about a guy he wants her to meet who is not working. Boy Crazy is upset that he'd think such a man is worthy of her, and sighs that at least Chiharu found Yuji. Chiharu explains that that didn't work out and Boy Crazy demands that Playa find them both a man on the "Kagawa level." Her conditions are: between 25-35, who doesn't want to live with his parents after marriage, makes at least 10 million yen/year, and has some land. Playa's conditions are for a woman who doesn't have conditions. Haha! They're so meant to be together! They ask Chiharu what her conditions are, but she hasn't determined them yet.
Haruko shows up for her new job and introduces herself as the new manager of Maison Floral. Junpei and Mai welcome her.
Chiharu meets Mom, who wants her to go on an Omiai with a man her aunt knows. Chiharu laughs that she wouldn't be interested, but Mom insists it's more like a blind date. He's 40, has a good job, and, most importantly, has decided it's okay that Chiharu is 35. This annoys Chiharu, especially when Mom mentions that he's loosened his conditions to include a 35-year old, which is a rarity these days. Mom asks her to think about it, then mentions that it's already been arranged for the weekend. When Chiharu hedges some more, Mom replies "I'm not going to be healthy forever, you know."
Junpei shows Haruko around the shop and teaches her how they do things. She asks how long he's been working there (2 years) and if he likes it because of the colors. She assumes that he is into oil painting. He uncomfortably answers that he isn't any more, but he does this job because he likes the work.
Chiharu does her yoga while thinking up her conditions for a man. Haruko comes in and sees her list—kind, honest, fun to be with, etc. Haruko asks if she's going on the Omiai, and she admits that she hasn't decided yet, but if she does, and he meets her conditions, she should probably marry him. Haruko tells her not to force herself, then gives her a card for Maison Floral and tells her to visit when she can.
Haruko ignores a call from Boss, and Chiharu asks if she's ever thought of marriage. She's distracted, so Chiharu has to ask again, and she answers that she hasn't. Chiharu asks if there's ever been a man she's considered, but she says that even if there was, he wasn't in a position to make that choice. She covers by saying that she doesn't want her life to change, since she's satisfied with her life and work. Chiharu decides that Haruko's condition is that her life shouldn't change because of a man. Haruko says it's more like a condition of nobody being hurt.
The next day, Haruko talks to Boss and apologizes for not answering earlier. He asks how she's adjusting and then starts to ask something else, but a customer comes in and she hangs up.
At lunch, Boy Crazy announces that she wants to try an Omiai, since there aren't many ways to meet eligible men. Plus, it's efficient, since both parties already know what they're looking for. She has to start now, because after 30, your value on the Omiai market slumps. Playa assigns her a red card, and Chiharu decides she should take a step forward.
She goes to visit Haruko at work and asks the man outside for help. He stands and recognizes her. She takes a moment to remember Junpei and thanks him for cheering her up that one time. They stand awkwardly for a moment, and then she offers to pay for the Gerber he gave her. They have a very polite argument, but he finally insists that he felt cheered to give her the flower, so she shouldn't pay. She decides to buy something from him today, then. He tries to stop her, but she insists on buying some asters. As she tries to ask him what they mean in flower language, Haruko comes down and interrupts.
Chiharu marvels that they would work together, and explains that he gave her the Gerber. Haruko asks "You mean the one you cherish so much and stare at every day?" Chiharu is embarrassed, and Junpei looks on, pleased. He asks how they're acquainted, and Haruko answers that Chiharu is a freeloader, while Chiharu says they're roommates. They bicker over their relationship until Junpei cuts in and says he understands somehow. He leaves and they talk about how it's a small world. Chiharu says that thanks to him, she's decided to take a step forward and go on the Omiai.
Her date Asai shows up late, and conversation starts reeeaaally slowly. They finally start talking about her job, and Chiharu says that if brochures count, then she's been everywhere in the world. He asks if she's been to Germany and if she likes it. She asks if he likes it, and the conversation stalls again. He asks about her hobbies and she brings up yoga. He asks her to teach him a pose, and she shows him one of clasping the hands behind the back. He tries and can't manage, but insists on keeping on. She notices people staring and convinces him to stop.
As they leave, Asai apologizes for making him come on his schedule and says that he wanted to meet her as soon as he could.
Chiharu goes to Friend 1's house and they and the other married friend (#2) discuss her Omiai. She says he was nice enough, but didn't make her heart flutter. Friend 2 points out that marriage is more about living together than feeling flutters. She needs to find out how he spends money and investigate into his life first. Friend 1 says that even if you know each others' conditions, things may not work out after marriage. Friend 1 gives Chiharu tickets to an art exhibit and says she should ask her date to go.
That night, Chiharu contemplates the tickets and a text from Asai thanking her and saying he'd like to see her again. She gets a call from Mom asking how things went, and she answers that it was okay, although he was a bit plain. Mom says that doesn't matter, since being handsome isn't one of her conditions, and suggests that she see him again.
This talk of conditions makes Chiharu decide to evaluate where Asai stands in regards to her conditions, and she marks her list accordingly. She decides to send him a text inviting him to go with her to the art exhibit. After she sends it, she sees her asters and tells them she never got to hear their meaning.
Junpei walks home and stops outside an art supply store, looking sadly at the display in the window. He stares longingly for a long while, then sighs and continues on his way.
Chiharu and Asai wander the exhibit, and he admits that he envies artists. They do as they please, don't have any earning potential, and yet are still popular with women. He talks about Modigliani, who lived off women then drowned himself in alcohol at 35. But Asai says he wants to live a long and healthy life, so he only drinks a little.
Mizuki waits for Junpei. He asks how her exhibit is going, and she asks him to come with her to another exhibit. They walk past Asai and Chiharu, who are on their way out, and Chiharu turns and recognizes Junpei, but doesn't call out to get his attention when she sees that he's with Mizuki.
Inside, Mizuki reminisces about how they used to visit this gallery often, and how they didn't have money, but would spend all they had on art supplies and exhibitions. She tells him that she wants him to start painting again. She brought him here so that she could introduce him to someone. He thanks her, but says that she shouldn't worry about him, and should focus on her own painting.
Asai apologizes to Chiharu, but says he has a business meeting to go to. She apologizes for making him come out with her on such a busy day, and he explains that he replied thinking it was a different day, and because he was surprised and glad she wanted to see him again.
Haruko listens to Mai talk about her Sociology class and her homework to read blogs about looking for marriage partners. She mentions one man that she finds fascinating, and describes his recent date, not knowing that she's talking about Haruko's roommate. She mentions that the man couldn't forget a previous Omiai, but the woman never called him back, so he decided to try older women and loosen his conditions. She shows the blog to Haruko, who recognizes Asai's name.
Haruko reads about his thoughts on their first date, and he compares Chiharu to "Y-san." He notes that he could easily feel the difference in the ages of the women, indicating that "C-san" lacked sexiness and vivacity. He doubts that she's a good match for him, but since he was rejected by Y-san, maybe he should just settle.
Haruko reads more at home, and Asai describes his conditions. The first is a woman who is willing to go with him to Germany, where he's being transferred for his job, and can accept him as a 40-year old. He mentions his second date with C-san and says "I guess I'll ask her to go with me if I see her again."
Chiharu comes home and Haruko closes her laptop quickly. She asks if she's met Asai again and Chiharu answers that they met today. She says that she realizes that marriage in your 30's isn't so much about passion and that she's going to proceed calmly. Haruko asks if she's decided to marry Asai, and she answers that she hasn't decided yet, but he meets her conditions and she has no reason to refuse him. She notices that Haruko is acting a bit cagey and presses her to tell her what's wrong.
Chiharu reads the blog, then sighs that she can't really say anything, because she acted the same way and compared him to her conditions. Haruko tries to cheer her up by saying there are other men, but Chiharu asks who. She already told everyone she didn't need any more Omiais. Haruko, a woman who has decided not to bother with marriage, can't understand, and she doesn't want her sympathy. She goes to her room angrily and notices her list of conditions.
The next day, Chiharu visits a bakery and is surprised to find Friend 1 behind the counter. Friend 1 explains that her husband's business is probably headed toward bankruptcy, so she's working part time to help out. She mentions how ironic it is, since her marriage was one of perfect conditions, but conditions can change. She says that she feels like it's a new start for them, where she can fall in love with her husband again, but this time for himself, and not for the conditions he meets. Love is supporting one another through hard times. Chiharu says she is envious of this opportunity for Friend 1 to support the one she loves.
Chiharu calls Asai for another meeting. He tells her that he wanted to ask her something, and asks her to go to Germany with him on his relocation. He talks about how there will be dinner parties and functions that he'll need a wife for, and it's lonely living abroad, and his boss thinks he's already married.
Chiharu thanks him and says that those conditions are better than a 35-year old like her could hope for, but she has her own conditions. She pauses and then says that she wants to marry for love. Even though it seems far-fetched that she could achieve that goal at her age, she really wants to marry someone who is in love with her, and she realizes that Asai doesn't feel that way about her. She apologizes and bows to him.
As she walks home, she pauses to look out at the city. She rallies herself, then heads to a store for her booze and snacks. At the counter, Junpei notices her. They head to the garden and Junpei admits that he comes here when he feels bad. Chiharu excitedly explains that she does too, and takes him to her favorite bench. She mentions the fact that this was Haruko's first garden design, and he asks if they should invite her.
Chiharu says no and then confesses that she's nervous to go home, since she said some mean things to Haruko. She says she's a freeloader already, but now she doesn't know how to face Haruko. Junpei looks at her for a moment, then starts packing up his things and tells her to go home. "It's times like this that you need to return home as soon as possible." He smiles at her reassuringly.
She heads home and finds Haruko outside waiting for her. She says that Junpei called and told her that someone was coming to talk to her and she should wait outside. Chiharu hesitantly says she doesn't really have anything to say, and Haruko tells her to come inside. Chiharu stops her and apologizes for her behavior. Haruko stares at her for a moment and says "Welcome home."
Inside, they drink and talk. Chiharu says that the whole love thing was just a cover with Aisa, and maybe she needs to evaluate if she can even find love at her age. Before going on dates, she should see if she feels anything for that person. She asks Haruko until what age she thinks people can still fall in love. Haruko answers that it's as long as they believe in it and then explains that the asters mean "Love is believing." They laugh together over whether Chiharu can fall in love again.
Junpei tends the flowers at the shop and straightens the asters, which have a new card with their meaning.
Chiharu runs outside, late as always, and Haruko pulls up to give her a ride to work.
I continue to love the relationships at play here. I like how the friendship between Haruko and Chiharu is deepening, and how they bicker, but are also able to resolve the bigger arguments that they have. I also love that Junpei was the voice of wisdom here, encouraging Chiharu to make up with Haruko.
I appreciated how Chiharu was able to explain herself to Asai, as well. She did it in such a sweet way that showed consideration for his feelings. She didn't confront him about his blog or make a big deal of things, but explained herself in a way that was respectful and kind. I'm so glad she didn't take him up on his offer, too, because they both deserve to find someone who loves and appreciates who they are.
While this episode was pretty light on the Haruko angle, we did see some important insights into her character. I get the feeling that although she seduced Boss, she never really wanted to marry him. Also, I think she really came to regret it as she started to think about how it would affect his family. Hence, her condition that her love/marriage shouldn't hurt anyone. I also like that she is getting to a point where she actually welcomes Chiharu in her home, instead of just tolerating her presence.
I'm also glad to see a bit more of Junpei's character open up. Although he seems to have forsaken painting, he still longs for it. I don't think he actually regrets his decision, so much as he yearns to have that feeling once again, to feel that love for it that he once had. Also, in the scene where he and Chiharu first meet again, I find it very sweet how happy he was to have cheered her up. He seems to be a very giving and caring person, although he keeps himself walled away from others.
Another thing I like about this show is the flowers theme. Especially using the meaning of different flowers to tie things in. And while the flower of the day seems to bear meaning on that episode, it's clear that this episode also carried through the message of One Step from the last episode and the Gerber. And I can see that message continuing into other episodes as well.