Episode 7: The Cost of an Awkward Love is Goodbye?!
Chiharu notices a pamphlet for seeing fall colors at work. Boy Crazy mopes that they're already in the autumn of their lives, and it's only a little while before winter comes. She talks about stubbing her toe and how that led to thoughts that she'd be alone forever, with nobody to ask if she's okay or take care of her. In the background, Playa stubs his own toe and hops around. Hahaha! (Oh, the things you notice upon multiple viewings.) Chiharu tells her she's exaggerating, but she insists she'll die alone. A customer enters, and Chiharu recognizes Mizuki.
Mai and her friends discuss upcoming recruitment visits before class. Professor Tanigawa overhears and begins his lecture discussing anxiety and the future that may await them when they retire. He mentions that many people of retirement age live alone. Mai's drawing of Dorothy and Co. shows them all with wrinkles.
Chiharu and Mizuki discuss plans for her trip to Paris, and Mizuki admits that she's planning on taking Junpei with her. She knows he'll be a success if he goes, and although he hasn't given her an answer yet, she has faith that he'll come. Chiharu says that she's happy he has someone who is so supportive of him.
At home, Chiharu is reading a book giving advice on living alone. This sparks a discussion with Haruko, who tells her that she's pretty much set up already—she will own her apartment within the next few years, has her health insurance set up, has a plan for her future, and has some savings. She's even set up death benefits to cover her funeral, since she wouldn't have a beneficiary for life insurance. Chiharu is amazed at her preparation, and Haruko tells her that she'll enjoy growing old.
As Chiharu heads to work, she's met by Boy Crazy and explains that she gave up her trip for viewing the fall foliage in order to economize, so that she can prepare for her future. She gets a brochure for an apartment open house, and says that she's looking into buying a place for her future, since she can't go back home. Boy Crazy warns her that they say that getting an apartment or a dog delays marriage, so she should focus on finding a man first.
This brings up discussion of an employee being sent down from company headquarters, and Boy Crazy calls dibs on him.
Haruko ignores another call from Boss-man, while Mai chatters about wanting to visit Paris, which makes Junpei uneasy. Haruko asks her what brought this up, and she admits that she's worried about her future after lecture. Haruko reassures her that it's hard for everyone to imagine their future, especially young people. Junpei agrees and says that he just can't at this rate.
Chiharu visits home and asks if her parents had set up an insurance plan for her. They tell her about a savings plan that has just matured, which they set up to pay for her marriage. She decides to reinvest it. Yo gets home with a crib, and Chiharu volunteers her room for a nursery, since she doesn't use it any more. Only Mom notices her sadness to be kicked out (although she is truly excited about the baby).
Haruko worries when she visits her home and finds Mother asleep at the table. She asks if she should move back home to help out, but Mother says that she'd go crazy watching Haruko take care of Granny. She wants to have her spend the rest of her days at home, and then she's going to live for herself. Mother shows her a brochure for the retirement home she's already picked out for herself. Mother says Haruko can join her there, if she wants. Keke.
Haruko gets home and notices Chiharu looking at the apartment brochure. Chiharu has plans to go check it out and invites Haruko to go with her, but Haruko tells her she has somewhere to go that day. In the morning, Chiharu gets a call from Junpei offering to go with her.
When they meet, he explains that Haruko wanted to make sure Chiharu stayed out of trouble, so she asked him to go. When Chiharu tries to convince her that she's fine on her own, he cuts her off and says "Let's go." The realtor apologizes for thinking they were a newlywed couple, which they're both quick to deny. He explains that she doesn't need to pay a down payment, but she does have to prove that she has permanent employment. Unfortunately, that doesn't include contract employees.
Haruko goes to check out the retirement home her mother has picked out for herself and runs into Tanigawa, who is there visiting his mother. He explains that his parents chose this home for their final years, even though he always thought he would care for them. But they were aware that he was "an unreliable son."
Haruko asks if he has planned for his future and he explains his very simple will. He remarks that "Having an awareness of our deaths is a strange thing." At their ages, they're half looking to their pasts and half wanting to make a change for their future. He admits that what he wants is a partner to share the remaining years with. Haruko says that sounds wonderful, and he becomes a bit hopeful.
Chiharu and Junpei walk home that evening, and Chiharu complains that being a contract employee doesn't cut it. Junpei says that that's what's wonderful about her—she tries to make things work despite her circumstances. She sighs that she's just not good enough, and Junpei repeats her words, referencing himself with a sorrowful look.
They pause and Chiharu recognizes the jewelry shop where they first met. She reminds him of their meeting and he notes that the flowers in the window now are stock flowers instead of the Gerbers. Chiharu says that he mad her so happy when he said he was like her in not being able to take that one step, but she's not a Gerber daisy anymore.
She tells him that he's taking that step by making plans to go to Paris, and he stares at her, dumbfounded. She reveals that Mizuki came to her for help in the preparations and asks if he's going to respond to her feelings, since Mizuki is the person who has the most faith in him and his talent. He denies having such talent and admits that he's scared to disappoint Mizuki, since she seems so focused on the past Junpei. Chiharu disagrees and says she thinks that Mizuki sees the present Junpei the clearest. She asks if he and Mizuki can't take one step forward together.
At home, Chiharu sits at her desk with her head down thinking and staring at her book about living alone. The doorbell rings and it's Boss-man. He's very nervous and thinks he has the wrong place, but Chiharu assures him that Haruko should be home soon. He makes excuses and tries to leave, but Haruko comes home just then and stares at him in shock.
Boss-man and Haruko go out for drinks and he asks if they can start over—both professionally and personally. He explains that he wants to start his own company and wants her to join him. He's also decided to file for divorce, and wants to start his life again with her.
When she gets home, she wonders that Chiharu isn't bothering her with questions, but Chiharu implies that she already knows who he is. Haruko tells her that they dated for a long time when she was in her 30's, but they broke up many years ago. Chiharu asks if they had a promise like the one she had with Yuji. They did—after his daughter was an adult, they would be together. But a past promise is just that, and should stay in the past.
Haruko asks about the apartment and Chiharu tells her about the employment conditions. She thanks her for Junpei (I think it's more than just sending him with her—it's more like she's thanking her for all her efforts to get them together), but says that it's okay now. She thinks that their life paths are different from here on, and she needs to determine how to follow her own path. *Holds up her book* She goes to her room and sadly looks at herself in the mirror. Meanwhile, Junpei stares at the plane ticket in the garden and Haruko mulls over the phrase "my own path in life."
Chiharu wakes up at her desk and has the sniffles. She tells Haruko that she just had so much to think about to plan for her future, and she's decided to start with her savings.
At work, Haruko laments the loss of the stock flowers that Junpei is throwing away just because they've wilted a bit. Mai shows them a website that shows that Haruko's garden design won an award. They want to send her with a bouquet of stock flowers, but she informs them that the company will send a representative, and she won't be attending the ceremony. She takes a call from Boss-man, who tells her that she hasn't reached the end of her talent and asks if she's decided. He says he'll wait for her answer and hangs up.
Haruko goes to our favorite garden and watches all the people enjoying it. She visits her mother and asks her if she should take one more risk for the rest of her life. She explains Boss-man's job offer, and Mother doesn't respond right away. Finally, Mother says that if this is the man who brought her into the company, and Haruko's talking about the rest of her life, she should remember that his wife also has the rest of her own life to think of. Like Mother. She goes on to say that she had to decide what to do with the rest of her life and determined to repay Granny for all the care she put into her. Haruko is strong enough to live well on her own, and can work out a better place to find her happiness. Right? Haruko sips her coffee and remarks on its bitterness.
Chiharu huddles under a blanket at home, nursing her cold and watching a documentary called Death by Loneliness. Hahaha! Haruko comes home and chides her for not sleeping in her futon. Chiharu admits that she was worried she wouldn't be noticed, and Haruko reassures her that she's noticed her. She makes her some porridge. They check her temperature, and are surprised that it's normal. Chiharu admits that she must have overreacted a bit.
Haruko tells her that no matter how they prepare for the future and look to the past, they can still be burnt by them. She looks over at her stock flowers and says that even though a flower's life is short, right now it's blooming to its fullest.
The next morning, Haruko is interrupted while tending her plants by a much-better Chiharu, who asks to go and see the fall leaves together. She says that they're blooming at their fullest right now. They take Haruko's bike out and Chiharu yells that she now understands. "For tomorrow, we first have to live being moved deeply by today." Haruko pretends that she couldn't hear, and when Chiharu tries to repeat it, she speeds up, making Chiharu stop talking.
Junpei labels the stock flowers as meaning "Gazing into the Future."
Haruko and Chiharu discuss Chiharu's newfound wisdom, and she explains that although we all have anxieties about the future, we have to live desperately today. She determines to stop worrying about the future and live each moment to its fullest. And the best thing for that? A good buddy. They laugh and then playfully argue over who has to buy coffee.
Junpei meets Mizuki to return the painting of her. He reveals that he's decided to start drawing again.
Haruko meets with Boss-man to give her answer.
Chiharu takes some stock flowers to work and explains her new philosophy to Boy Crazy and Playa. The new employee is introduced at, and Boy Crazy reminds her about him. (His name is Takahara Seiji.) As he looks at all the employees, he stops and stares at Chiharu. He smiles and bows to her.
Another love interest for Chiharu, huh? He's cute, and from the tiny glimpse of him we've seen, he seems to have potential as a real plot-thickener/-mover. I think it will be good for her to have someone to help her figure out her feelings for Junpei. And it will probably push him to acknowledge his own feelings. And to actually act on them, since they're both stuck in limbo, circling one another without ever getting too close.
One interesting thing in this episode was Haruko's conversation with Mother. Mother finally showed that she knows all about Boss-man, which Haruko clearly never suspected. And yet, Mother is so completely supportive of her daughter and proves her love. If she hadn't been so amazing about it, Haruko would never have taken her advice so well. In fact, I think it could have caused a serious crack in their relationship. But instead, this conversation seems to have drawn them closer.
I really appreciate that this drama isn't just about the romance and the relationship between Chiharu and Haruko, but also about their relationships with their families. Haruko seems to be growing closer to her family, while Chiharu is a bit more distant. But that distance feels more like she's learning to stand on her own, and it's more of a shift in the family dynamics than some kind of permanent divide. As her family changes around her, she's finding how she fits into the new configuration, and in the process is learning more about herself.
This brings up the other major exploration of relationships in this drama—the relationship with onesself. Haruko is discovering more and more what it will mean for her to live alone. And while it doesn't seem to worry her, she's also realizing that she can't plan for everything and will just have to live life as it comes. She's making efforts to strengthen her ties to those around her.
Chiharu is also facing a future alone, and is learning how to be strong enough to deal with that possibility. She's taking steps to becoming more independent, and is discovering new strengths and weaknesses along the way. She's rapidly maturing in so many ways, yet maintains her optimism despite the bleakness that could dominate these changes. Instead of giving it room in her life, though, she's working on making each day count.
Now, if she could only take that final step and let each day count with Junpei. Because that seriously needs to happen. Soon.