I'm so happy to see in the comments that others are discovering this drama too! I just love it so much and am glad to share it.Episode 3: Are We Too Awkward?! The Hot Topic! Where Love Is!! Tonight a Live Web Interlock!
Aww, Chiharu is up early, and of course it's to make her roommate breakfast so she'll have more than just coffee in the morning! Of course, Haruko being Haruko, she insists on just drinking coffee anyway. Chiharu tells her that she plans on making breakfast tomorrow, too, and Haruko asks if she'll still be there tomorrow. Chiharu says she plans on believing in her future, and Haruko asks if she's referencing the asters. Which she is. Of course. Because she's Chiharu. And adorable.
Aaand, neither of them eat, because they'll be late for work, as Haruko points out. Chiharu complains that she doesn't even have a key to the house in an effort to score a ride with Haruko. Which she successfully does.
Professor Tanigawa asks his class for examples of how finding a partner is like hunting for a job. They're both in an ice age right now, you have to have a relationship first so you won't be turned down, etc. Professor Tanigawa explains that Omiais were once the most common way to find a marriage partner, but that's not true any more. You have to tie that red string for yourself.
Chiharu gets to work and everyone is congratulating one of her coworkers. She hesitantly tells Chiharu that she's engaged, but was worried to tell her because Chiharu is "so much more senior" and might feel bad that she's getting married first. Well, if you put it that way, of course she'll feel a little sad about it.
Mai asks about the lenten roses Junpei is arranging and he explains that they're for Mizuki's exhibition. Mai gets excited and wishes she could go, so Junpei fishes out some tickets for her. He gives some to Haruko as well. Mai gets a call for some bouquets for the Grand Hills opening party and Junpei offers to deliver it, but Haruko steps in and says she will do it instead. She stares at her design drawings sadly.
Boy Crazy invites Chiharu to a Gokon, or group match-up. Chiharu tries to get out of it, but can't find a good enough excuse. Boy Crazy points out that tying the red string is like fishing at sea, but you need bait.
Haruko delivers the bouquets and some of the guys rib her a bit about being a florist. Boss calls out to her and tells her he hoped she'd come. She says she's happy that the garden turned out so well, and Boss promises that he's doing all he can to get her back to HQ. Haruko goes home and writes a letter of resignation.
At the Gokon, Chiharu is totally out of her element, surrounded by much younger people. Playa whispers loudly to Boy Crazy that Chiharu's too old for this crowd, and they decide to play some games to liven the atmosphere. Poor Chiharu doesn't know any of the games they propose and fakes a phone call to get away.
Chiharu leaves and passes a standing bar advertising vegetable chips. She goes inside and finds a place next to a very drunk man, and realizes it's Keisuke, her ex. They reminisce about the old days when they used to go out for karaoke, and Keisuke admits that he was always able to laugh with Chiharu. He becomes quiet and then tells her that his marriage failed.
Chiharu reports her encounter to Haruko and Haruko says she's worried—about Chiharu. Before she can explain why, Chiharu gets a text thanking her for the encounter and Haruko warns that loneliness is behind that text. She reminds her of a saying that warns that 2 lonely people getting together will only find loneliness. Chiharu replies that she already knows that, then gets excited when the phone rings. It's Boy Crazy, cancelling on their plans to go buy wedding gifts for their coworker the next day. When the phone rings again, both women jump towards it, but it's just Playa, also calling to cancel.
Haruko gives Chiharu her ticket to the art exhibition for Mizuki, and Chiharu asks why she doesn't go. She replies that she's good friends with loneliness, so it's okay.
At work, Haruko finishes her first bouquet, then notices a customer standing outside. She goes out and greets Professor Tanigawa and offers to help him. He seems embarrassed and runs away, saying he'll come back another time. Mai comes in and is shown Haruko's bouquet. Haruko decides she'll buy it and Mai thinks it's for her husband, but Haruko corrects her. Mai says she thought that anyone with the name Haruko (Spring Child) would be married.
Junpei delivers the flower arrangements to Mizuki's gallery and she invites him in to see her work.
Chiharu shops for kitchenware for her coworker's wedding, but is reminded of her singleness everywhere she goes.
Haruko goes to visit her family, where Mother is a bit down. She explains that in the morning, Granny apologized for living so long. They both agree that living a long life is nothing to be sorry about. Haruko presents the bouquet to Granny, who says she's grateful to receive such beautiful flowers from a stranger. Haruko smiles sadly and then asks Granny to live a long life. She then says that she wonders if she'll ever be a person who is needed by someone.
Chiharu goes to the exhibit and wanders around. Mizuki's paintings are very vibrant and definitely inspired by Klimt. She hears Junpei's voice and goes to greet him, but stops short when she notices Mizuki. He congratulates Mizuki that so many of her paintings have already sold, and she answers that she's grateful, since her work isn't really sought-after. Before he can leave, Mizuki grabs the gallery owner and introduces them. He mentions that he's heard a lot about Junpei and understands that he inspired much of Mizuki's work.
Mizuki leaves the men to talk, and Gallery Owner asks if Junpei is still drawing. Junpei admits that he isn't and Gallery Owner sighs and says that artists need to be able to sell if they want to eat. He offers Junpei a job at the gallery, since Mizuki has been so insistent on that point, but Junpei demurs. Gallery Owner says that it would be good for him to be working in the art world at least and presents his card. When Junpei refuses to take it, he tucks it into Junpei's coat pocket and leaves. Junpei leaves a bit deflated, and Chiharu turns so he won't notice her. She seems sad about what she overheard.
Junpei walks home, but stops on a bridge to think. Chiharu approaches and explains that she was at the exhibit. She says that although she doesn't know much about painting, it seems as though he misses it, and then quickly apologizes for eavesdropping. She asks if it's necessary for him to quit, and points out that selling his paintings isn't really the most important thing. He should just draw, because having talent alone is incredible in itself.
He shakes his head and she explains that she's just an ordinary person with no special gifts. When he shakes his head again, she tries to cheer him by saying that if he'd paint again, she'd be his #1 fan. He smiles bitterly and asks if she's ever seen his work. She tries to apologize, and he says that he knows his place as an unwanted guy, and will stay in that place. He excuses himself and leaves.
Haruko decides to stay late to help her mom, and texts Chiharu to let her know. Chiharu calls her sister to ask if she can come home for the night, but gets a lecture about her failed Omiai instead. She hangs up and heads back to wait for Haruko in the hall outside the apartment. She gets a call from Keisuke and they start chatting about old friends, while Haruko looks at the design books at her mom's house and contemplates her resignation.
In the morning, Haruko is surprised to find Chiharu sleeping outside the apartment, wrapped in her scarf for warmth. She asks why she didn't go home, like she said she would, and Chiharu says that she was talking with Keisuke until dawn, much to Haruko's disapproval. Chiharu wonders if she can become friendly with loneliness and strong like Haruko, and Haruko admits that she's not as strong as she seems.
Haruko gets a call from Mother while she's at work to tell her that Granny is asking for a bouquet. She asks Junpei for help and he suggests lenten roses.
Chiharu goes out with Keisuke that night and he thanks her for being the only person that can help him with his loneliness. He admits that he can't handle being alone and then wonders if Chiharu is the person tied to him by the red string. They've never even really had a fight. He says that from the moment that they were married, and even when they lived together, he and his wife quarreled constantly. He wonders if he proposed to the wrong woman and reiterates that he can't handle being alone. He reaches for Chiharu's hand.
They end up in a hotel room overlooking the city. As Chiharu stares out the window, Keisuke gives her a back hug and then turns her as she stares at him nervously. He leans in to kiss her, and at the last second she puts her hands in front of her face and says she needs a shower. Hahaha! Have I mentioned before that I love this girl?
She turns on the water while she debates what to do. She's nervous and realizes it's been so long, and checks out all the parts of her body that she feels have "broken down." She tells herself that she can't do this, but then tries to rally her spirits with the thought that she doesn't know when her next opportunity to land a man will come, so she needs to take advantage of this chance.
She hears Keisuke shouting outside, yelling at his wife that just saying she had the marriage blues doesn't fix everything. He asks if she knows what he went through when she left him and then pleads with her, saying "I need you." This seems to be the deciding factor for Chiharu, and she goes out and pretends that she's sobered up, so they should just go home.
Keisuke realizes that she overheard his conversation and she tells him that he should forgive his wife. And even though they never fought, they also didn't have a relationship where they could be open with one another. He and his wife fit so well, which is part of why they fight. She tells him that he shouldn't spend another second in a place like this and sends him out the door, after he apologizes to her and thanks her. She tries to distract herself with the tv, and then laughs to herself that she's such a fool.
Haruko goes home and hands the bouquet to Granny. Granny thanks her and then hands the bouquet right back, saying she's grateful for getting a bouquet from Haruko the day before. She may seem like a silly woman, but she's glad to have met someone who would give her flowers. Haruko overcomes her surprise and thanks Granny.
Haruko goes back to the shop and explains the situation to Junpei. He answers that if there's someone in her life that is important, then she would be important to that person as well.
Junpei walks past the garden and spots Chiharu drinking. He awkwardly greets her and they both apologize repeatedly for the day before, he for being rude and she for intruding. They keep apologizing and then pause for a charged moment before breaking into laughter. Chiharu laughs that they're taking their apologies so seriously and they sit on their bench.
Chiharu tells Junpei that his girlfriend is very beautiful. She admits that she saw them on a date before and he explains that they're just friends from school. She replies that they seem so well-matched, but he answers back that he just wants her to find success and happiness. They sit comfortably for a moment, the Junpei jumps up to examine some lenten roses he's noticed. He tells her that they mean "The one you cherish or are firm friends with."
Haruko prepares to close the shop, but Professor Tanigawa comes and asks about a bouquet. He finally manages to tell her that his mother's birthday is coming up and he wants a bouquet, but she wouldn't even understand it if he gave it to her. He goes to leave, but Haruko stops him and tells him that in her opinion, his feelings would still reach his mother. They smile at one another and she tells him to come and order any time. He leaves and she remembers her resignation letter, which she pulls out and rips up. She looks at her bouquet from Granny.
Chiharu and Junpei count down together when the fountain will go off. The next day he puts out lenten roses with their meaning on a tag.
Chiharu informs Haruko that Keisuke emailed her to say he'd reconciled with his wife. Chiharu decides that although she and Keisuke are connected by their relationship, it's not tied with a red string. She realizes that even with a red string, if lovers demand 100% compatibility, they'll never make it work. What's most important is that they need each other. She says that whatever color the string that binds people together, they're still connected. Like to a friend. Or family. Or a freeloader. Haruko absently agrees and Chiharu excitedly crows that she finally got Haruko to admit that she needs her. Haruko says it was just a figure of speech and then holds out a key. Chiharu is overjoyed, and is especially happy to note the red ribbon tied to it. When she changes and says it's a red string, Haruko gets annoyed and tells her to calm down.
Okay, what is with these insanely long episode titles? Since they're already hitting the floral theme pretty hard, I think they should just keep with that and name each episode after the flor du jour.
Speaking of, I liked how they brought that theme out in this episode. We have the cherished and firm friendships of Junpei and Mizuki, Chiharu and Keisuke, and Chiharu and Haruko (although that one is still growing, like the lenten roses in the garden that haven't bloomed yet).
I like how this show continues to explore the romantic possibilities available to singles. First, a friendship in the past that could have potential as a romantic relationship. Second, a new relationship started through a blind date. And now, rekindling an old flame. (Although it doesn't seem like there was much passion there, so I'm not sure flame is the best word. Heh.)
And yet, in Chiharu's case, I'm so glad that she decided not to pursue any of those options, since none of those men are really a great match for her. Sure, she could probably have made things work with each of these men (you know, barring Keisuke's reconciliation with his wife), but she is realizing that they aren't really what she's looking for. And while she still hasn't awakened to the possibility of a relationship with Junpei, she is coming to truly value him as a friend she can be open and honest with. And that's something she hasn't had with any of these men.
I'm so happy that Professor Tanigawa and Haruko have finally met. He's so awkward about wanting a bouquet! I love that she was able to express her new-found understanding of touching peoples' hearts to him.
In addition to that, she had some other really great moments in this episode dealing with her emotional issues. Her desire to feel needed is so poignant and profound. Although she feels some fulfillment of that desire through helping her mother and Granny, and even in her relationship with Chiharu, it's not enough to fill that longing she has. I'm proud of her acknowledgment of that desire, because while I feel that she truly is comfortable alone, there are some things that she still finds lacking in her life. Yay for positive emotional growth and maturity!