Episode 6: Major Turbulence! The Explosive Love Triangle!
Sakura is awakened by her doorbell ringing repeatedly. She opens to Rintaro, who wants to come in, but can't because the chain is on. (I love that she put it on after seeing him through the peephole. Haha!)
He tells her that he's been offered an omiai (blind date for marriage), and asks if she wants to see the pictures of the girl. He taunts her by cracking the folder open and shutting it fast, then holding it just out of Sakura's reach as she strains through the tiny gap.
Inside, Sakura tells him to take the omiai, since the girl seems pretty enough. He says that she's not his type, and Sakura says that she may be unexpectedly attractive, but there's a high probability that she'll find HIM repulsive. Hahaha! She crawls over him to find some nail clippers, sticking her butt in his face.
Rintaro goes to the kitchen to make coffee, and Sakura asks something she's wondered for a long time. "Are you gay?" Rintaro drops the kettle in his indignation and insists that he's a true ladies man. She says that although she knows he's a pervert, there must be something else to it, like some physical problem/deformity he's been hiding all these years. He continues to insist that he's just not interested in dating right now, and he doesn't want to get married, and informs her when she asks that his sex life is none of her business.
BUT, in order to get out of the omiai, he did tell his mother that he has a girlfriend. So, could Sakura please just do him this one huge favor and pretend to be his girlfriend for a day to meet his mom?
Sakura objects, and then remembers Hiroto's complaints about her friendship with Rintaro and refuses to help him. She runs to her room and slides the door closed—except she only slides half of it, so it doesn't really do her any good. *snicker snicker* Rintaro opens it again to beg her, since he's always helped her out when she needed it. Sakura finally gives in. They continue to bicker adorably as Sakura insists on joining Rintaro at his place for coffee.
Chiyoko sits in her room watching the Slideshow of Creepiness, and Hiroto knocks and asks what's wrong. She turns off the SoC and lets him in, telling him that she was rejected. She wonders if she was born under a star that keeps her from connecting to anyone. (Or, it could be your unhealthy relationship with your brother and your crazy stalking. Just sayin'.)
Hiroto joins her on her bed (lets all squirm with the squickiness for a moment) and asks what she likes about Rintaro. "Everything." She tells him that when she was in middle school she was ostracized by all the girls and teased by all the boys. Rintaro befriended her and told her that she was cute when she smiled. "It's better than the love 'em and leave 'em act that somebody pulls." She laughs when he takes that seriously and they start a tickle fight. (More grossed out shivering here.)
Miki heads out to interview for a part-time job, much to MIL's annoyance. MIL doesn't accept it quietly, either, insulting and rebuking her. Miki grumbles outside that it's because of MIL that she feels the need to get out of the house anyway. Her interview doesn't go very well.
Rintaro brings Sakura some decent clothes for their dinner with his mom. When he pulls out the shoes, she gets very excited and says they look like Cinderella shoes. Ever since she was a kid, she wanted Cinderella shoes. She even made "glass slippers" as a child. Well, they were really plastic bottles she cut up and wore, but they cut her feet up. Rintaro can't stop smiling at her excitement, but acts gruff when he tells her she needs to watch a DVD on table manners. He tells her if she watches it, she can keep the outfit.
While she practices walking in the heels, she mutters to herself in old-man speech. It's a hilarious contrast, and she still manages to be her adorable self at the same time.
Miki complains to Kohei that none of her interviews worked out. He berates her for being naive and thinking they'd hire her just like that without any experience. Then he wonders why she storms off.
Shima and Sakura decide to do something to cheer Miki up for their girls' night. Shima comes up with the idea to visit a host club full of really young guys.
Kohei drinks in the bar and is joined by Rintaro and that one employee he always hangs out with. (I should come up with a name for him, but he really has so little to do with the story, I can't be bothered yet.) Rintaro grumbles about girls' nights and the junior talks about how they're more than just getting together. They could include classes, spa visits, and even going out to host clubs. Barkeep says it sounds like a female-oriented soap opera. Kohei grumbles that his wife is living a soap opera. (Hee! It's a meta moment I just love.) They all sigh together.
At the host club, Shima buys a round of champagne for all the hosts, and they stand around and cheer her. Sakura complains that it's a waste for them to order champagne and only get one glass each, since they have to share it with the boys.
One of the guys takes Shima outside and asks if they can hook up later. She remembers Kohei lecturing her and it makes her upset enough that she agrees. Inside, another host joins Miki and tries to get her to relax by giving her a personality test. He tells her that the results indicate that she's uncertain about the future and gives up easily if things don't go her way. She starts crying and leaves. Sakura chases after her, and Shima follows behind, calling the guy a fool. (Yeah, I'm pretty sure the #1 rule of hosting is to not make your customers feel bad about themselves.) He finds Miki's resumé on the seat.
Hiroto joins Rintaro at the bar and Rintaro confronts him about his last name. Hiroto admits that Saeki is his mother's family name, and when his parents divorced, he lived with her and took that name. Although he's legally Ogami, he still uses Saeki. Rintaro asks him why he hasn't bothered to tell Sakura that he's related to Chiyoko (in the subs I saw, he says sister-in-law, but I'm pretty sure that also means step-sister), and Hiroto lies and says he didn't think it mattered, or that Sakura and Chiyoko knew each other very well. Rintaro is not pleased with his answer.
Miki gets home and finds MIL waiting up to lecture her on her duties as a mother. She runs away and locks herself in her room.
Sakura shows up at the bar and acts all cutesy with Hiroto. She finally greets Rintaro, who barely nods in response. He watches with anger and jealousy as Hiroto fawns over Sakura and kisses her ear. He asks to come over, even if he can't stay the night. It's enough to make Rintaro leave.
Shima goes to a hotel with her boy toy, but can't go through with it.
Hiroto takes a shower at Sakura's while she nervously brushes her teeth. Then she takes a bath and starts practicing her kiss face (it needs LOTS of work). She's so distracted that she doesn't notice that she's slipping under the water. "Whew, that was dangerous!"
In bed, she starts complaining that it hurts, which confuses Hiroto because he says he hasn't done anything yet. Finally she yells that her tooth hurts. Hahaha!
Hiroto goes home the next day and shocks everyone by staying for dinner. Chiyoko tells their dad about the BMX tournament and dad lectures him about becoming serious about his future and joining the company. Everyone is shocked when Hiroto just asks for a little more time to think about it.
Rintaro waits nervously with his mom for Sakura to meet them. When she shows up he stares like the wind has been knocked out of him. Sakura introduces herself and Mom remarks on her name being reminiscent of Toyama Kin (if you remember, that's why Rintaro always calls her Kin) and says that her parents had good sense to give her such a name. Sakura is much more gracious about that with Mom than she is with Rintaro. Ha. Rintaro laughs and tells Sakura that's where he got her nickname. Sakura mumbles darkly that blood will tell. Mom also mentions that Sakura has good fashion sense. At least Rintaro is good at reading her.
They show up at a really nice traditional restaurant. Sakura is so amazed, she hangs back to stare at everything. When Rintaro tries to drag her along her shoe comes off. Mom notices that she has a run in her stocking and gives her an extra pair. (Rintaro also stops Sakura from cursing when she notices, mortified by her lack of good manners.)
Dinner is a comedy of errors for poor Sakura. While they eat, Sakura dribbles beer all over and explains that she went to the dentist and had anesthesia. Then, when concentrating on eating hard food, she ends up spilling soy sauce all over her white sweater. ("Soy sauce! She's covered my Paris gown with soy sauce!" For any Thoroughly Modern Millie fans out there.)
Then, Sakura holds up a course by picking every scrap of meat from the fish while Rintaro and Mom look on. The next course comes with a covered bowl, which Sakura can't open and she drops. It rolls outside and Rintaro scolds her. Mom chuckles and covers it up by eating more. Mom also asks Sakura if she plans to give up working when they're married, which Rintaro tries to cover, but Mom insists it's important.
Mom decides that their next activity be karaoke. Sakura tries to stand but has to clutch Rintaro's arm because her legs are asleep. Mom can't contain her laughter any more and falls to the ground, rolling. She tells Sakura that she really likes her, since she reminds her of herself when she was younger. She encourages her to take her own time to learn manners and decide about marriage. She just hopes to see her grandchild's face soon and wants the two of them to build up the company. When she leaves, Sakura admonishes Rintaro to hurry and find a wife.
Chiyoko asks Hiroto if he's serious about joining the family business. He tells her that it's difficult for him to have to leave a date just to go to work. She asks if he's that serious about Sakura and if it's because she reminds him of his late mother. He stares off into the distance and asks Chiyoko to keep the secret about asking him to get close to Sakura. Chiyoko slams her dishes down and screams "Why does everyone like her so much? What is so good about that woman?!" She breaks her glass as she runs off (Hiroto stays behind to clean it up) and outside she runs straight into Mom.
Mom asks if she's okay and Chiyoko spots Rintaro supporting Sakura since her legs are still asleep. They jump apart and stare at her guiltily. Rintaro looks around and sees Hiroto watching them jealously from inside. After Chiyoko runs off and the other two women head to the karaoke bar, Hiroto and Rintaro glare at one another.
At the karaoke bar, Sakura worries that Chiyoko would misunderstand and Rintaro promises to explain things to her. When it's Sakura's turn to sing, she asks for a minute to explain something. She tells Mom that she's not actually Rintaro's girlfriend. She says that they're both at a point in their lives where they aren't ready to get married, despite the fact that they're well past the typical marrying age. As they both live alone they understand how lonely it is, and how difficult and concerning it is for their families, but they need to make that decision when they're ready. She asks for Mom's forgiveness and bows to her.
Rintaro hides his face in shame and Mom sits quietly for a long time. Finally, she tells Sakura that she likes her more and more, and admits that she always knew she wasn't Rintaro's girlfriend. She explains that ever since he was a child, she's been so focused on work and he felt lonely. That's why he's always been attracted to modest, demure, elegant women who are the opposite of her and Sakura.
Mom and Sakura team up against him and say that if he wants to get away from omiais, he should just find himself a wife soon. He leans in and calls Sakura a traitor, a Judas, a Benedict Arnold, a Brutus, and a Char Aznable (a traitor from an anime series).
Miki keeps striking out in her interviews. After one, she's followed by the host that made her cry. He asks if they can have some tea together. She explains that she wants a job to help pay off their mortgage, but nobody will hire an old, inexperienced housewife like her. He comforts her by saying that it's because she's so pretty, the employers don't want their other female employees to feel jealous or unappreciated. He offers her a job helping him as a small-time stock broker.
She protests that she doesn't know anything about stocks and can barely use a computer. He grabs her hand and says that he feels protective over such hands that are trying their best. If she helps him out, she can earn money while learning about those things.
Hiroto heads to Sakura's place and runs into Rintaro on the stairs outside. Rintaro asks why Hiroto hid that day with Chiyoko and wants to know what he's hiding from Sakura. Hiroto answers that everything would be fixed if he'd just date Chiyoko, since she's jealous of Rintaro's closeness to Sakura. Even he has felt some jealousy over it.
"Chiyoko was really hurt by what you did to her. Who knows what she might do?" Rintaro grabs his collar and demands that Hiroto keep this from Sakura, and orders him to break up with her normally so she won't be hurt more. Hiroto asks why he should take orders from him and asks what his relationship really is with Sakura.
Rintaro is speechless for a moment before finally answering that she's a coworker. Hiroto scoffs at that and says that if he really wants to protect Sakura, then he should take care of Chiyoko.
Sakura packs away her glass slippers. Hiroto comes over and during their Othello game she stares at the shoe box. She tells Hiroto that she lied and explains the situation with Rintaro and his mom. He stares at her speechlessly for a minute and then admits that he has something to tell her as well.
"I've lied to you. I've been lying this whole time."
This episode was so much better than the last few. First, and most importantly, there was plenty of Sakura-Rintaro screen time. Always the highlight of this show. Secondly, there was more comedy than there has been for a while. Granted, most of the comedy in this drama happens between Rintaro and Sakura, so having more time together would naturally lead to that, but it makes me happy. Finally, there were many little nods to the Cinderella fairy tale that we haven't really had since Hiroto picked up Sakura's shoe in the first episode.
I think that's what I'd like to focus on this time. In doing so, I'm going to compare and contrast that first episode with this one, since there are some interesting parallels.
In that first episode, Sakura went to the ball/gokon. She didn't have any appropriate clothes, so her fairy godmother/old lady customer stepped in and helped her out. Unfortunately, that fairy godmother was a bit inept, or had limited magical resources, or whatever. So, Sakura's gown, while attention-getting, was not really helpful in her quest to find a man.
Then there was the ball itself, where Sakura was abandoned by her stepsisters/best friends and got drunk on her own. She started a fight, got chased away by the palace guards, and abandoned her painful and chafing shoe. A prince picked it up and swept her off her feet. Or something. Unfortunately, that prince has some deep, dark issues he needs to resolve and has been lying to Sakura this whole time, as well as keeping his family a secret. In contrast, this time around Sakura was hand picked by the dashing neighbor to attend a small affair. The same dashing neighbor also served as her fairy godmother by buying her clothes (which, by the way, were chic and elegant, but also simple, and not something unsuited to Sakura's character and tastes).
Also, during the small affair, Sakura lost her shoe on the stairs. But, being the strong, independent woman she is, she retrieved it for herself and continued on. She may have made many blunders, but the dashing neighbor's mother (who he didn't hide) was still won over by her. And they continued to enjoy themselves through the night, even after Sakura admitted that she isn't dating her dashing neighbor.
The dashing neighbor even watches out for Sakura by trying to get the prince to be honest with her. He shows genuine concern, even when he oversteps his bounds, and he's motivated by her well-being, not his own agenda. Is it any wonder that I hope Sakura will run away with the dashing neighbor instead of the prince?