I did use some of this time to marathon another jdorama—Guilty Akuma to Keiyakushita Onna—which also stars Kanno Miho and Tamaki Hiroshi, but is a dark revenge drama. It's not my usual thing, but it's good, and compelling. Thank you to Anonymous, who recommended it to me. However, after watching so much heartbreak between Tamaki Hiroshi and Kanno Miho, it's great to get back to the happier and lighter story of Kekkon Shinai.
So let's jump back in for the last few episodes.
Episode 8: A Night Kiss. . . the Great Reversal of Love and Life!
Chiharu is assigned to help out the new guy, which irritates Boy Crazy, who has already noticed that Takahara seems interested in Chiharu. Playa doesn't help matters when he teases her about being so close and getting shut down so easily.
Haruko tells Boss-man that she won't join him at his new company, and refuses his offer to get back together.
Mizuki is excited that Junpei will paint again, and he confirms that he'll also go with her to Paris.
Professor Tanigawa sees Mai's drawing of the day, and asks if his lecture taught her that there are separate paths to take in life—marriage or career. Another student asks about one of the graphs he used in lecture, since the number of women in the workplace decreases substantially when they are in their 30s and 40s. Professor Tanigawa explains that this is the time that women get married and have children and leave the workforce. The friend says that she'd rather be married and still have her career, and another friend chimes in that he'd want his partner to keep working as well.
Mai says that she's decided to be a career woman who doesn't marry, like her wonderful boss at work. That gets Tanigawa's attention. After her friends all leave, Tanigawa asks Mai about Haruko's hobbies and likes, but she tells him that he should ask Haruko himself. (So, does this mean that Mai has finally caught on? It's about time.) As she leaves, he mutters to himself that if he could ask Haruko, he wouldn't have needed to ask Mai. (Poor wee lamb!)
She discusses it that night with Haruko, explaining that many young women seem to be focused on marriage and becoming a bride again, instead of dreaming of their careers. Haruko worries that she's become the old fashioned type if that's the case, but Chiharu insists that Haruko is cool.
Chiharu wonders if there's really any aspect of her job worth dedicating herself to. After all, she chose this job because it would give her experience and seemed fun at the time, but it was just something to do until she decided on a real career path.
Haruko admits that she turned down Boss-man's offer—she just felt that it was wrong. She says that no matter what choice you make, even if things don't turn out how you want, you shouldn't regret it.
The next day at work, Mai contemplates her choice between work and marriage. Haruko wonders why so many people around her are asking that question lately. Mai points out that Haruko chose her garden planning work, and she hopes that one day she can find something she's so dedicated to and talented at. She wants a dream.
Junpei listens in the background and remarks to Haruko that as children they used to hear "What is your dream?" all the time. But now, they have to figure out how to live while seeking their dreams. Haruko asks if he's found a dream to work for and he confesses that he's planning to take a step forward in his dream of being a painter and wants to go to Paris.
Chiharu and Takahara work together to find an appealing new travel package for women in their 30s. Chiharu points out that many women want trips that include spas and other health and beauty options, but that they should also add options that allow the women to experience nature. Takahara likes that plan and asks her to dinner.
Mizuki takes Junpei shopping for art supplies. She's glad that they can talk about art again.
Takahara chatters during dinner, but then apologizes for dominating the conversation. He asks Chiharu if she's traveled and they bond over having both admired the sunsets in Malaysia. Chiharu explains that she picked up yoga on a trip to India, and Takahara says that he got into Muay Thai when he was in Thailand. They laugh about being overly influenced by their travels. He says that he wants to help others discover this same love for traveling, and is glad to have found someone who feels the same.
Junpei heads to the garden to start drawing again. Chiharu works on her proposal late, and Haruko watches her before looking sadly at the photo of her garden, like she misses working at her dream.
Chiharu turns in her travel package and Takahara guesses that she worked on it all night. While he shows it to the manager, Boy Crazy teases Chiharu about having a relationship with Takahara. She can tell by the way he looks at Chiharu that there's something there. She decides she's willing to give him up, since she'll have many more opportunities to find a man. Chiharu laughs that they only met yesterday, but Boy Crazy insists that it only takes a moment to make that connection.
Tanigawa shows up at the shop with tickets to a concert. Before he can ask Haruko out, though, Mai interrupts (of course) and says their accidental meeting is romantic—until she hears that it was at a nursing home. For once she wanders off to let him talk to Haruko, but they're interrupted again by one of the bosses at the company. He tells Haruko that he's replaced Boss-man, and that they would like to offer her a spot back at the company headquarters, as per Boss-man's request. Haruko asks for some time to think about it. Tanigawa asks Mai about the conversation and finds out that Haruko was a garden designer. He puts the tickets away.
Chiharu and Takahara are asked to talk to the manager. He likes the new package, and wants to develop it further. He asks Takahara to head up the development team and decides that Playa should be the other person on the team. Takahara tries to argue that Chiharu should be the one to develop her own proposal, but the manager just says that she can help them out if they need it. He then adds insult to injury by asking Chiharu to bring the 3 of them tea while they work on the details.
Chiharu heads to the garden, but tries to sneak away when she sees Junpei drawing. He sees her and invites her to join him. She's excited to see that he's moving forward and asks about Paris. He tells her he's going, then asks what happened to her. She tells him that she's decided to try her hardest at work, because she doesn't want to fall behind him. She doesn't tell him the whole story about her project, even though it's clearly weighing on her mind, and gets up to leave. She even refuses Junpei's offer to walk her home, which hurts him. But he doesn't let her see how hurt he is.
Chiharu comes home, distracted and sighs that everyone is making choices for their lives, but she doesn't really even have any choices she can make, either in marriage or work. She can't even choose to focus on her job, because she doesn't have a future there. Haruko asks her if she's deliberately not choosing Junpei, but she tries to avoid the question. Haruko asks if she's really okay with him going off to Paris, and she answers that it's more like a wish for her. She's decided that she wants for him to have the things she can't achieve in her own life. That's why she's just going to let things continue as they are. Haruko is very disappointed.
Tanigawa shows up at the shop and gives Haruko a drawing of the garden at his family home. He tells her that he checked into her background after hearing about her work and wants to hire her to design the garden. His mother has asked for it to be done, and he wants Haruko to return to doing the thing that she loves. Tanigawa explains that to his mother, even one flower is like a garden. He tells her he'll wait for her answer, and she thanks him. He mumbles about this being a good present for her, but doesn't repeat himself when she asks what he said.
Chiharu heads to the garden again and sighs to herself when she sees Junpei drawing. He turns and sees her, and she points out that he's moving forward. He sheepishly explains that he hasn't been able to draw anything, and he's at a loss. She replies that she feels the same way. She pushes back the tears that are almost welling in her eyes and laughs that she can't advance in her company since she's not a real employee.
She hands Junpei a beer, and he admits that he doesn't feel like he can draw. And maybe going to Paris is a bad idea, too. Chiharu encourages him and tells him that although her situation is hopeless, his ticket to Paris is also his way out of the maze he finds himself in. Her expression shows how sad she really is to encourage him down a path that will take him away.
At home, Chiharu notices the stock flowers and thinks back over all the flowers Junpei has taught her about. She gets an idea and starts researching flower language. She stops on the wild rose. While Haruko is contemplating Tanigawa's garden layout, Chiharu comes in and asks if they have novarra flowers (I think it's the wild rose) at the shop. Haruko explains that they are an early summer flower, so in autumn they would be hard to find.
However, the next day when Junpei returns with the new stock, Haruko presents a bouquet of novarra buds and tells him they're from Chiharu. He grins and wonders why she would send him novarras, when they aren't even in bloom. He reads the card and smiles even wider.
Haruko brings some novarras home and shows them to Chiharu, who says that she'd love to see the cute white flowers in bloom. Haruko chides her for not giving Junpei the flowers herself. She says that it's because she hasn't moved forward yet, and is struggling to give herself a push from behind. She hasn't figured out whether she wants to work or get married. Haruko asks which she'll choose when the time comes, and she answers that she'll choose both.
Junpei sits in the garden and prepares to start drawing. He looks at the bouquet for encouragement, but gets inspiration instead and starts drawing. Chiharu works on another project for work. And Haruko starts the plan for Tanigawa's garden. They each work day and night on their respective projects.
Chiharu shows Takahara a revised version of the travel package and explains that she's always been a bit aimless at work, since she just jumped into the field. She wants to start giving it her all, and asks to be included in the project again.
Haruko tells her new boss that although garden design is her calling, being back at headquarters isn't her place anymore. Since she started working with flowers, she's realized that she wants to help those people who can't have a garden or who can't visit a garden to still be able to feel like they have a garden. Even if it's just one flower. Her boss tells her that this was an eventuality that Boss-man foresaw, and that he asked him to give her the award for the Grand Hills garden. She tearfully thanks him.
Chiharu and Takahara work late on the travel package, and he insists on driving her home.
Junpei finishes his painting and smiles at it. We see that it's a painting of the bouquet from Chiharu, but with the flowers in full bloom, and the bouquet is placed on their bench in the garden. He pulls out the card and reads it again.
"To Kudo—I want to see what kind of flowers bloom from these. In flower language, novarra are 'Rising from the Pain.' Tanaka Chiharu"Junpei walks happily, with the bouquet in one hand and his painting in the other. As he crosses the bridge, he remembers when Chiharu told him she'd be his biggest fan if he started drawing again, and when she tried to storm the gallery, and when he told her that she'd be the first person he'd want to show his work to.
As he nears her house, he's passed by a taxi. When he sees Chiharu get out, he tries to call to her, but stops when Takahara gets out too. He watches from afar as Chiharu thanks Takahara for helping her, and Takahara promises that he'll make sure her project is realized.
As she turns to go inside, Takahara grabs her hand and turns her back for a kiss. She stares in shock, but it's nothing to the shock Junpei feels as he watches. He jerks back, and almost drops the bouquet.
AAARGH! I hate it when this happens in dramas! Poor Junpei has to just sit there and watch while the woman he loves is kissed by another man. And just when he seems to have decided to do something about his feelings. And it's not like he can just interrupt, because he doesn't even know who Takahara is or what their relationship is.
I have to say, Takahara sure is a fast mover. I like that he's so supportive of Chiharu in her work and that he seems to truly value her talents. He's definitely realized that he wants more from their relationship, but it feels like they barely know each other. It's just so sudden, but Boy Crazy is right when she says that sometimes you just know in the first moment.
I love that Junpei has started to paint again, and that his true inspiration comes from Chiharu. Her encouragement has always been the type that is non-invasive, but is still able to give him the support he needs. It's sweet that he can draw when he thinks of her and what he wants to show her. And it's through encouraging Junpei that she seems to find the motivation she needs in her own life, coupled with the encouragement he gives her in turn.
It hurt, though, when she consciously pushed him away—a touch of noble idiocy that I can understand, but it still cuts. Especially when we could clearly see how much it hurt both her and Junpei, and how they hid that pain from one another.
I'm so glad that Tanigawa has finally found a way to reach out to Haruko. After so much awkwardness and effort, and he's finally making progress in expressing himself. It's a baby step, but it's still progress. Plus, it's about time Mai caught on and left him to try to woo Haruko without her interference. Yes, she interrupted, but she also tried to leave them alone after that. Another baby step of progress.