Episode 4: Single=Undutiful? But the Unmarried Woman's Big Struggle!
Chiharu wanders the apartment, staring at her new key happily. When Haruko gives her a hard time, she says it gives her a feeling of belonging, like she won't be lonely. Haruko insists that this isn't an invitation to stay forever, so she'd better keep looking for another place. And make sure her clutter doesn't leave her room.
Chiharu smiles as she watches her eat some fruit, and Haruko insists that she'll just have coffee. . . except that working at the shop is harder than she thought. For once, it's Chiharu who points out that they'll be late for work. Haha!
During lecture, Professor Tanigawa discusses the so-called marriage shortage and asks his class who would be most concerned about it, other than singles. One student calls out that politicians would be worried about an impending crisis. Another says the wedding industry is most worried, as their business keeps dropping. Someone else says that it's Professor Tanigawa himself who worries most. Tanigawa says they're all correct, but the most concerned people are the parents of this single generation, who spend lots of money trying to find partners for their children. He asks "Just who is this marriage thing for?"
Chiharu and Boy Crazy discuss a new travel plan targeted at parents trying to get their children married—an overnight destination Omiai. They wonder who would buy this package, but then Boy Crazy sees her parents' names on a list and say that they worry that she won't get married living in the city. Chiharu admits that she feels a bit of guilt, herself.
Playa interrupts by showing them a news story about legislation trying to create a tax for unmarried individuals. They complain about it, and Chiharu wonders who marriage is really for.
She gets a call from Mom to tell her that Chinatsu has backed out of her wedding ceremony. Chinatsu shows up and asks the question of the day. They go out for food and Chiharu asks her sister why she's suddenly so against the ceremony. Chinatsu pouts that Mom is too invested in the ceremony, but it's her wedding and she's decided she just wants a small celebration with friends at the end of the month. She wants it taken care of as soon as possible.
Junpei attends a family ceremony (a funeral, maybe?) and drinks with his older brother. Their uncle interrupts and praises Brother's new position, beautiful wife, and handsome son. He then asks if Junpei is married, and tells him he should follow his older brother's example. He asks about Junpei's job, too, and then bothers him about working as a part-timer, since he can't get married on that kind of salary. Luckily, Brother distracts uncle and Junpei wanders off.
He visits a storage room full of items stored under sheets. He pulls off the sheets, and we see some of his paintings, dated 2009, and art supplies. He packs away some of the paints and his brother comes in and says they should just throw them away, if he's not going to use them any more. He admits that he doesn't really want that, and neither do their parents, since they haven't gotten rid of them either. Junpei thanks him for rescuing him earlier. Brother says that if he's just going to do it (painting) halfway, he should just stop, so their parents can be reassured.
Chinatsu tries to convince Chiharu that she should let her stay the night, but Chiharu argues that Haruko likes being alone, and won't allow another extra person to stay. Chinatsu asks if her sister realizes that all their parents' expectations for marriage and grandkids have been placed on her, since Chiharu is still single. If she understands, she should make up for it a bit by letting her stay.
They go upstairs, and Haruko is surprisingly willing to let Chinatsu stay. Chiharu is amazed that she's being so nice to her sister, and Haruko explains that a mother shouldn't have to be denied the opportunity to see her daughter married. She knows, since she's disappointed her own mother in that regard, so it's important that Chinatsu is able to discuss things properly with their parents.
The sisters reminisce a bit over an old keychain and Chiharu remembers how Chinatsu used to dream of being a bride. She says that once she's married and has kids, she might understand the dream of wanting to see your kids get married. Chinatsu thinks agrees, but insists that she's not going through with the ceremony and ends the conversation.
Chiharu eats with her coworkers, and Boy Crazy reports that she was able to talk her parents out of the Omiai trip. She told them that her marriage isn't for them. Playa says that he thinks marriage is for the public—it's to show everyone else your commitment. Particularly for men, it's an opportunity to show their bosses that they've settled down and are ready for responsibility. You have to report marriage both to the government and your work.
Tanigawa shows up at the shop and watches Haruko for a moment before she notices him. He tells her he's decided to get a bouquet, but doesn't want one that's noticeable or draws attention. Um, you're missing the point, buddy. Haruko asks if he's worried about being seen carrying the bouquet around, and he admits it's true. She reassures him that they can wrap it so it's not so obvious and invites him inside, where he's not likely to run into anyone he knows. Except Mai, who comes downstairs just then and recognizes him. Haruko apologizes.
He tells her it's okay and tries to leave, but Mai overhears them mention a bouquet and happily insists on finding him the perfect flowers. She picks out the biggest and flashiest flowers she can find, and Haruko apologizes some more, since they won't be able to hide a bouquet like that. Hahaha!
As Chiharu gets ready to leave work, she gets a call to come to the hospital, where Chinatsu is staying after an examination. She meets Mom at the hospital and finds out that Chinatsu is pregnant, and mom and baby are fine. Mom realizes that this is why she didn't want to wait for the wedding ceremony. Mom says she wishes Chinatsu had just told them, but Chiharu points out that she was probably worried about not being able to meet everyone's expectations of her. The wedding would have been close to her due date, so she didn't want people to be disappointed in her. Plus, she feels all the added expectations that she talked about before.
Haruko visits her mother, who is confused, since Granny's in temporary care for the day. Haruko says she knows, but she came to see her mother, and presents her with a bouquet. Later, she asks Mother if she wants her to get married, since it's a parent's dream to see their daughter as a bride. Mother says that she's just happy Haruko grew up well, even if she grew a bit too much. Kekeke.
Dad gets to the hospital and is excited to hear the news. Chiharu starts to lead him to Chinatsu's room, but they're stopped by a nurse asking if he's ready for his wife's coming admission. He tries to brush it off, but Chiharu insists that he tell her what's going on. Her mom has a small tumor in her stomach, so she's being admitted for surgery in 2 days. Chiharu realizes that this is why she's been so insistent on the ceremony, and Dad explains that seeing their child married is a parent's proudest moment, and they both want to be there for it. "Parents disappear someday. That's why they want to make sure of their children's happiness."
Chiharu notices Junpei drinking in the garden and sneaks up behind him. She manages to scare him out of his seat. Haha! He asks if something happened, since she came to the garden. She talks about her expectations of herself as a child for how she'd be in her 30's—mature, with kids, in the PTA. Junpei says that he expected to be the one taking care of his parents. Chiharu sighs and says she never thought she wouldn't have made anything of herself by this point, and Junpei agrees.
She wonders if parents think more about their children than their children think of themselves, if they worry more and expect more. She explains the disagreement between Chinatsu and Mom. And though they both worry so much about the other, they still clash. Junpei says it's nice to have such a good family, who thinks about each other so much, and cares for their happiness. It's wonderful. Chiharu says she wishes there was something she could do for Mom.
Chiharu picks Chinatsu up from the hospital, and both Chinatsu and Yo apologize for not telling them about the baby sooner. Chiharu tells them about Mom's surgery, and then gets an idea. She tells Chinatsu that they should do the wedding, but Chinatsu reminds her that the ceremony has already been canceled. Chiharu says they can still do something to make their mother happy and help her dream come true before she enters the hospital, and convinces her sister that she's the only one in a position to do so.
Junpei gets a text from Mizuki asking to meet up after work. Chiharu runs in to tell him that she found something she could do for her mom, and thanks him for helping her find a way. Haruko sees her as she tells Junpei she's off to find a wedding dress and runs out again. He runs out after her, and Haruko says "That girl is awfully slow on her feet." Junpei takes a moment to catch her meaning and then they nod conspiratorially. I love Haruko's conniving look.
As Chiharu runs down the street, Junpei pulls up in the delivery van and asks to be allowed to help. Junpei waits nervously outside the bridal shop while Chiharu tries to arrange a maternity gown, but she finds out that the shop needs more than a day's notice.
Haruko overhears Mai talking to a friend about a wedding at a nearby restaurant with a rooftop garden, and calls Chiharu to tell her that she has connections there, since she designed the garden. Chiharu asks her to set it up.
Chiharu calls Tsugumi to ask about maternity gowns, and Tsugumi lets her borrow the dress she bought for her own wedding. She insists, since it can be Chinatsu's Something Borrowed. However, since Tsugumi will be further along when she gets married, the dress will need to be taken in for Chinatsu. Tsugumi tells Chiharu that she's glad to help, since she's felt that Chiharu has been a bit distant since she told her she was getting married. But now she feels close again.
Junpei gets a report from Chiharu about the dress, and the 4 Somethings, as he gets back to the shop. He tells Haruko that he wants to work on something and sends her home, then leaves a message for Mizuki to cancel their meeting. He stays late to make a bouquet of blue delphiniums for the wedding. Chiharu works on altering the dress all night.
In the morning, Haruko gets up early and gets some coffee for Chiharu. She says that when she finishes, a motorcycle messenger will show up to take her to her parents' home and then to the ceremony, and holds up her bike key. As they head over, Chiharu yells her thanks.
At the restaurant, Junpei presents the bouquet, obviously pleased to be part of the ceremony. He runs out to stand with Haruko at the back. The sisters join their delighted parents outside and Chiharu wishes her sister happiness. Chinatsu asks if she can be happy, and Chiharu answers yes. She points out that she has the 4 Somethings for a happy bride—the borrowed dress, new shoes, a blue bouquet, and the old keyring of Chiharu's she had coveted.
Yo and his parents show up and they proceed with the small family ceremony. Afterwards, while watching the family, Chiharu tells Haruko that she thinks this is what marriage is about—for the sake of the couple's happiness. But also for the happiness of everyone around them who is praying for their happiness. Chiharu confides that she hopes for the day she can be married and make those around her happy as well.
Chiharu comments on how beautiful the bouquet is, and Haruko shows her the tag that identifies delphiniums as meaning "I will make you happy." She looks around for Junpei, who is admiring the plants. Then Chinatsu announces the bouquet toss, and as Chiharu runs to catch it, it hits her on the head and falls to the ground. Junpei steps up and picks it up for her, telling her she mustn't drop it. She studies the flowers.
Later, they walk together, and Chiharu thanks Junpei for his help. He thanks her as well and says that he wanted to make someone happy, too. They say goodbye, and as he walks away, he turns for one last look.
Well, this was an episode full of romantic undertones. Like Junpei handing the bouquet to Chiharu, plus his lingering stare at the end. I love how nervous and excited he was to help with the wedding, and how he really threw himself into it, even putting Mizuki off to help out. And how attentive he is toward Chiharu, always conscious of her moods. He's just so sweet.
And yet, we also saw more of the sadder side of his character in this episode. He's clearly disappointed in himself, and is conscious of how others see him. He's still struggling with his decision to give up his painting, and is aware of how it affects his family. And yet, he's not in a place to take it up again. I think one of the things that draws him to Chiharu is that she understands that feeling of being a disappointment and doesn't judge him. But she still wants to encourage him.
Something that I really appreciate in this drama is the amazing families depicted here. They're all loving and supportive, and not dysfunctional. It almost feels strange to have such "normal" families in a drama. I especially loved how Haruko's mother said that she is happy just to have Haruko, and doesn't regret Haruko's life choices. In an episode focused so much on how marriage makes the parents happy, having a parent express such acceptance of Haruko's singleness is a beautiful depiction of a different point of view.