How long does it take for a lie to catch up with you? Fortunately for me, not very long and while the big question at the end of episode one isn’t answered, there’s plenty of other secrets popping out to engage my interest. There’s a lot less plot maneuvering in this episode and a lot more character interaction, which I love because this show knows how to sell it.
Toru’s getting ready to leave when he spots the shoes Chihiro left in his car. He guesses she won’t need them anymore and throws them away.
Chihiro is looking for said shoes before remembering that she left them in Toru’s car. She decides to just go with her old pair when Haruka calls. She asks if Chihiro successfully got into Next Innovation. We flashback to the conversation between Chihiro and Asahina; they can’t hire her if she’s using someone else’s identity. He’s investigated her thoroughly and he’s surprised that she would use such a lie. By all accounts, she’s just an ordinary student; no secret past or hidden traumas here. Chihiro says the name just slipped out when Toru asked. She says she’s happy that Asahina found her out since doing something like this isn’t in her nature and she apologizes for lying.
Back on the phone, Chihiro says that it doesn’t matter anyway; she’ll keep searching until she gets that job. She checks her mailbox as she leaves, but there’s no mail. Stepping out into the hot sun, she yells that she’ll do her best.
Yoko’s having trouble at work already; the food she ordered is totally different from what comes in thanks to one of the workers. He tells her it will work out and condescendingly just tells her to work on her “innovative” cooking since it’s her restaurant. Jealous much?
The food truck is blocking the parking garage when Toru drives up. Yoko goes to greet him, but he doesn’t recognize her. He doesn’t even give her a chance to remind him before driving off as soon as the truck moves. When Toru relates the incident to Asahina, he reminds him that they met the other day. Toru had just thought she was an aggressive woman.
They have another meeting with Vice-director Fujikawa and Asahina asks if he wants to call Chihiro in. Toru tells him to do as he wants; she’ll probably come running in like a dog anyway. Asahina asks why he chose her; did it have to be Sawaki Chihiro? Toru hesitates for a moment, but he’s confident as he says that Chihiro was the only person that could persuade the vice-director so he made the right decision.
As Toru enters the office, Yamagami, the other employee working on the public file project, starts pestering him about his clothes. He has a board of directors meeting today and he’s going to go dressed like that? They banter back and forth, with Yamagami finally begging him not to go to the meeting with sandals before leaving. Yasuoka, Toru’s assistant, comes up with the schedule for today. Yasuoka doesn’t even wait for Toru to ask for his name like he always does before showing him his name tag.
Chihiro shows up at Next Innovation, wondering why they called her, thinking that she’s still in trouble for using a fake identity. A cart carrying some plants runs into her. They’re for Yoko’s restaurant and she runs up to apologize. She pulls a leaf out of Chihiro’s hair, pretending it’s a four-leaf clover. Just because it’s not true, she reasons, faith makes you stronger, right? She tells Chihiro to come to her restaurant before running off and Chihiro can’t believe people are so nice to her.
The same woman who greeted Chihiro last time comments that she’s always dressed like she’s job hunting. Chihiro also runs into Yasuoka again, who is now wearing a t-shirt with his name written in English and in kanji. It’s already been seventeen times today, so he’s trying to make it easier for Toru to remember.
Toru comes into the office, ready for the meeting and all dressed up. He asks a rather disheveled looking Yamagami if he’s really going to the meeting dressed the way he is. He tells him to stop mocking him for dressing his age. Toru only did as Yamagami asked; if he’s dressed too young, then he’ll go there naked. Yamagami quickly stops him, saying that Toru looks fine and that he’ll go change.
Toru spots Chihiro and yells. Ha, what’s wrong with this guy? He gets all up in her space and says that the board of directors meeting will have to wait because he has serious matters to discuss with her. Happy that he’s not looking down on her for once, Chihiro puts a smile on and walks away with him.
Cut to Toru introducing Chihiro at a meeting as an example of an idiot. There goes that smile. Apparently this is the meeting for all the workers involved in the public file project. Chihiro is an unofficial member of the team, so for now, her job hunting status will be kept a secret. He then starts to dig into her about her suit; doesn’t she have anything else to wear? Chihiro protests that she’s job hunting so shouldn’t she wear job hunting clothes?
Chihiro asks Asahina later why he hasn’t told Toru the truth. They still need her, so it would be unwise to reveal anything to Toru now. Besides, he still wants to know the truth behind her pseudonym and its connection to Toru. Chihiro’s just relieved that he didn’t sue her. He asks that if he doesn’t, does that mean she’ll just continue lying? Before she had said it was hard for her, so can she continue deceiving Toru?
Chihiro wants to go on; though she hates being treated like a fool by Toru, she wants to prove that she’s not as inept as he thinks. Asahina pats her on the shoulder and whispers to her that he’s counting on her to show Toru, a man who hates the educational system, the power of higher learning. He graduated from Tokyo University too after all.
Everyone that isn’t in on the project believes that Chihiro really is a former employee at Power Trunk so they treat her with respect. The board of directors meeting ends with many of the shareholders looking upset at the way Toru’s treating them. Yamagami’s trying to smooth it over, saying that Toru has no common sense when Toru enters, catching the tail end of the conversation. “Common sense? Ah, that sense which belongs to common people.” Yamagami pushes Toru back into his office and ushers the shareholders out, saying that he’ll treat them to dinner. Toru just presses his face against the door, blowing air out like the man-child he is, making Chihiro laugh.
An employee gives Chihiro some new clothes, which Chihiro wears when she goes to meet Toru again. The vice-director must really like her since she asked to see her again. “Birds of a feather know each other’s song,” he muses as he rides around on his little bike. Chihiro tosses back at him that he only knows those he needs.
Unruffled, he asks her to sign the contract. She doesn’t work all day so she has a fixed rate of fifty dollars. In the event of amazing achievement, she will receive 1,500,000 yen. All she has to do is listen and nod her head for two months. Chihiro is just in shock; she can receive this much money in only two months? As long as she can keep up the charade, she can receive it all.
Chihiro agrees, but she asks if she can tell the truth to the employees. They’ve made her into some sort of superstar, calling her “Cloud’s Big Shot.” It’s so ridiculous that Toru starts laughing and Chihiro does too. He says it’s amazing, but he forbids her from revealing the truth. Everyone’s life is exposed on the Internet nowadays; if the truth about Chihiro being a new graduate looking for work was leaked out to Fujikawa, it would be disastrous.
Chihiro asks that he at least give her work to do then; receiving money without doing anything feels wrong. Toru tells her this is not a school, they don’t give out homework. If she feels unworthy of the money they give her, then she can find something in the company to do. He leaves on his little motor bike, before stopping and wondering what she can do.
After they meet with Fujikawa, Toru gives her another mound of “homework” to commit to memory for their next meeting. In spite of the fact she asked for it, Chihiro says she doesn’t have a lot of time for this. She still needs to find a job and has classes to attend. Toru thinks that’s even more incentive to study; if she doesn’t do this job well she’ll end up unemployed. Then again, with the money he’s offering her, she can at least live well for a year. I know Chihiro, I want to slap him too.
He stops the car to drop off Chihiro; there’s some place he wants to head alone. Chihiro remembers at the last moment to ask for her shoes back. Toru hands her some money and tells her to buy new ones since he threw away the old ones. They were old anyway and she’ll make a better impression with new shoes. Chihiro thinks back to when she bought the shoes with the money her family had sent her and when she had put her shoe back on after falling.
She starts crying, a tear falling on the bills in Toru’s hand. He asks what’s wrong with her now. “You can buy people with money. Those shoes you trashed had a sentimental value. It doesn’t matter to you. I don’t need your money, good-bye.” Chihiro runs off, leaving Toru completely baffled.
Asahina is drinking with Yamagami, who’s still upset with Toru’s behavior at the board of directors meeting. He says that Asahina would make a much better president and that they should vote on it at the next meeting. Asahina waves away his aspirations, saying Toru’s the drive behind their success. Yamagami wishes he had such faith in Toru.
Yoko shows up and invites Yamagami to the opening of her restaurant, Eclat Noble. She inquires after Toru and Asahina wonders why all women seem to be in love with him. Yoko tries to play it like she’s not interested in Toru, but she asks her brother to invite Toru, if he wants.
Toru is trying to clear his head at the temple. He can’t get Chihiro’s angry departure out of his mind as he looks at the money he tried to give her. The priest appears and asks what’s bothering him.
Toru tells him about Chihiro. He knows she’s just a stranger, but he keeps finding excuses to keep her around. “When she’s around, I can’t keep functioning smoothly. I’m restless.” The priest thinks the name thing is strange, but if she’s causing him to react this way, he wonders if she resembles his mother. Toru laughs and says that his mother was a heavy and troublesome person like Chihiro.
Chihiro complains to her friends about Toru, but Haruka points out that she’s working hard right now for this troublesome person. Chihiro says it’s because of pride and that she needs the money. Fujikawa happens to be on campus and sees Chihiro talking with her friends, but before she can verify it’s Chihiro, she’s called away to deliver her lecture. Whew, close call.
Chihiro is at another job interview and it’s going surprisingly well. The interviewer says she has a lot of confidence and Chihiro thinks it may be due to the way that Toru’s been treating her. “The situation was difficult, but I didn’t give up. He compelled me to reconsider. When someone told me I did a good job, I did the best I could…and surprisingly well.” Realizing she’s on a tangent, Chihiro brings herself back to the present and continues the interview.
She comes out, giddy with excitement at finally having a promising interview only to see the other applicants comforting a girl who was rejected. Awkwaaard. She apologizes before running off.
At the next meeting with Fujikawa, we get a flashback of what else the interviewer said to Chihiro. “That person has helped your personality to grow. Our company appreciates what he has made of you.” However, Chihiro doubts that Toru is that type of benevolent person. She glances at Toru and he gives her a “What are you looking at?” face making her turn around. The exchange does not go unnoticed by Fujikawa.
The opening party for Eclat Noble arrives and all is going smoothly for Yoko except that she can’t find Toru. Nogi, the snobby chef from earlier, comes near her and “apologizes” for his dishes being so popular. She says they’re just adornment for the main event, but he says he’s been doing all the work while all she does is pose for pictures. She’s about to tell him off when she finally spots Toru. She tells him that he’s doing good work before running off to Toru.
Back in the kitchen, the other workers are talking about how Asahina is just using Yoko for advertising purposes because she’s studied abroad. As far as everyone else is concerned, Nogi’s still the real chef around here since he was supposed to head the restaurant before Yoko showed up. What’s so great about her anyways, since her so-called innovative cooking is nothing more than omurice?
Yoko goes over to the table where Toru, Asahina, and Chihiro are eating and asks if the meal is to Toru’s taste. Before he can ask, Yoko re-introduces herself and Toru says he might remember next time. Yoko doubts it as he doesn’t even remember that they met nine years ago, shocking everyone.
That was before Asahina had even met Toru, back when Toru was just a freeter. Yoko says they spoke for about two hours and Asahina says there’s no way that Toru would remember such a conversation. Toru can’t remember names or faces, but Yoko wonders if that means that he forgets conversations too. Just then, Yasuoka appears and drags Chihiro away for a drink.
Yoko asks if he likes the omurice, since she made it just for him. He was so picky about food back when she met him. He had said that he could eat his favorite dish every day so she had asked what it was. Toru looks at his food, but he still doesn’t recall the conversation. Yoko laughs it off, saying that it was only something that she remembered recently as well.
Asahina says they still have work to do later, so Yoko gets up to leave. Before she goes, Toru says the dish is delicious, the food he could eat everyday. Yoko thanks him and leaves as Chihiro watches from the table behind them.
Yoko cleans some dishes in the kitchen, angry that Toru doesn’t remember her. Nogi comes over to pick on her some more, but Yoko’s not in the mood, telling him to say something straight if he has something to say.
Chihiro and the rest of the employees are passed out in the office. Chihiro manages to wake herself up and looks at the Next Innovation wall. Her eyes land on the picture of Asahina and Toru when they first founded the company and she remembers Yoko’s words about how she met Toru when he was just a freeter. She looks up at his office where Toru’s busy working and is amazed to see how someone who was like her has come so far.
She comes into Toru’s office to drop off some coffee unnoticed, but Toru spots her. She’s startled, but he barely acknowledges her before returning back to work. He waits until she leaves before tentatively drinking it.
Chihiro goes home early the next morning and finds a letter from a company asking for another interview. She embraces the letter, rejoicing that she is taking the first step to no longer being unemployed.
Chihiro tells Asahina that she’s going to quit working at Next Innovation. She’s not the type of person to work at this company. She wants to be herself and fully dedicate herself to her new job. She hands over the badge Toru gave her and Asahina asks if she’s told him yet. Chihiro doesn’t know how to handle him so Asahina will have to deal with it. Asahina laments that he’ll never know the mystery behind Sawaki Chihiro.
Chihiro prepares for her interview happily and is heading out the door when Asahina calls. He asks what time her interview is at and sighs at the answer. She asks what the matter is. He starts to say something about Fujikawa, but then decides that it’s a big day for her and he shouldn’t ruin it. He wishes her luck before hanging up.
As Chihiro goes to her interview she can’t help but check the time and look at her phone, wondering what has happened with Fujikawa.
Fujikawa meets with Toru and Asahina and says that she knows that Chihiro is really a university student. Asahina admits the truth, but stands by the fact that she’s an important person for their project. Fujikawa then asks about how Chihiro was the chief of system development in India and a founding member of the company? None of that was true either right?
Fujikawa knows what their plan was and she makes it clear that it’s not going to work anymore. Just then Chihiro comes in, still in her job hunting suit, making the situation worse. Fujikawa quickly makes the situation clear to her. She brushes aside Chihiro’s apology, saying it’s her fault for allowing her emotions to get the best of her and being so easily manipulated. It doesn’t matter though, since she now knows the truth and she says they shouldn’t have underestimated her.
Asahina asks that if they plan to sue them, at least leave Chihiro out of it as they dragged her into it. Fujikawa’s not so forgiving however, she’s been humiliated and she wants everyone involved to pay.
Toru, who has been strangely silent up till this point, stretches and says that they should just drop the pretense then. He was sick of watching Chihiro and Fujikawa being so chummy anyway; now that their plan is out, why don’t they just talk about business instead?
The other government officials speak up, saying they never wanted to start such a risky venture with Next Innovation in the first place and that they only followed because of Fujikawa. Fujikawa says that Next Innovation is prohibited from entering into any government contracts in the telecommunications industry. Well that sinks the entire personal file project.
Yamagami is thinking the same thing as he, Asahina, and Toru have a meeting to plan their next strategy. Toru’s already typing away, preparing his back-up plan though he doesn’t say what yet. Asahina says it was a mistake hiring Chihiro and Toru agrees, telling him to revoke her contract. Asahina says there’s no need, since Chihiro already quit. He tells him about the job interview she missed and how she probably would have a job now if he hadn’t panicked and called her. Toru stops typing for just a second, before continuing, saying that it’s Chihiro’s fault anyway; she knew she didn’t have any prospects here.
Asahina gives a bitter laugh. Of course Toru wouldn’t understand how important the final interview is since he’s never had to look for a job before. Toru hits the keyboard a little too hard and agrees, he’s never had that problem. Asahina says that she put all of her feelings into coming here, but Toru says she shouldn’t have done that so easily and hopes she learns from it next time.
Chihiro goes to visit Fujikawa at work every day, rain or shine, though she always ignores her. Finally Chihiro trips in front of her as clumsy heroines are wont to do and Fujikawa is forced to help her up. She tries to get away from Chihiro as fast as possible, but Chihiro is determined. She’s sorry for lying to Fujikawa, but everything about Toru’s project was true, he really wants to improve people’s lives.
That makes Fujikawa stop and she turns back around. Yes, she’s mad about being deceived, but that’s not the only thing. She knows that Toru, like her, wants to help people, but he’s surrounded by people that don’t care. She turns to leave and Chihiro yells after her that she wants to be just like her. For eight months she’s been searching for a job, not thinking that she could make it, but she really wanted to meet her. Fujikawa doesn’t even turn around to look at her before going inside.
From far away, Asahina has been watching the exchange. That’s kind of strange, but his presence is quickly explained when one of his workers shows up and says that he’s found a subordinate of Fujikawa’s that Asahina used to go to school with. He asks to get the classmate’s contact information before looking back at Chihiro who’s slowly walking away.
Asahina tells Toru about what Chihiro’s doing. Toru thinks it’s typical of her; a lot of effort that will end up getting her nowhere. Asahina tells him that people like Chihiro use effort and guts because they have no other option. Though he appeared nonchalant in front of Asahina, as soon as he leaves, he seems more worried.
Chihiro is going to class when she notices that a crowd is gathering. It quickly becomes clear why as Toru comes into view carrying a paper bag and he’s heading towards her. She starts freaking out, seeing how mad he looks. He stops in front of her and she starts apologizing, but Toru cuts her off.
Toru: “You’re an idiot! You had a final interview to attend, why didn’t you go? Between your own future and someone else’s company, can’t you know your own good? Can’t you discern things correctly?”
Chihiro stutters that she just wanted to help, but Toru says that it was his project. Does she think she’s so important that she has to be held responsible for his work? He can get help from where ever he wants. Chihiro realizes he’s mad that she went to go visit Fujikawa and Toru asks does he look angry, as he’s huffing and puffing and yelling. You know, things people don’t normally do when they’re angry.
He’s responsible for her lie and he hates thinking that he ruined her interview. Wait, so is he, trying to apologize? Toru isn’t humble enough to apologize straightforwardly though, so he says that visiting Fujikawa at work was her fault before turning around to leave. Chihiro asks if that’s really all he came here to say.
Toru looks at the paper bag in his hand and walks back over to give it to her, saying she forgot something. Chihiro’s sure she didn’t and he tells her to just open it. She obeys and inside are her shoes. She asks where he got them and he yells that if they were so important why she didn’t come get them. Well, you said you threw them away and he asks if she believes in everything people tell her.
Toru: “You didn’t give up for the Ministry. You didn’t merely go to atone and apologize. You actually were arrogant enough to negotiate with her. The fact is that you impressed that woman. You could succeed. You’re always one step short…if you just pondered a little more, a little more, you’d be…almost good.”
I guess almost good is better than no good as Chihiro starts smiling, pleased that he’s starting to see her worth. She thanks him for wrapping up the shoes and he starts to leave again. She yells after him that she’ll work hard to get a job. Toru stops and mumbles that they’re considering her application. He clarifies in a roundabout way that they’re only officially hiring her because Fujikawa requested it in order for talks to resume, but Chihiro lights up anyway at the idea of having a job.
Toru gruffly tells her to come tomorrow, tossing her back her badge. The students follow Toru as he leaves and he tells them not to stick close to him.
Chihiro goes to thank Fujikawa for changing her mind, but Fujikawa only wants Chihiro to work at Next Innovation, she’s not lifting the prohibition. She explains that Toru was the one who came to her and that she gave him the virtual data of the Social Insurance Agency of 13 million people, the equivalent of Tokyo’s population. In an hour, he had transferred them all their files online. Toru truly understood the frustration government officials felt with their job; their work was tedious and could take years to complete. With this system, it could cut down their work more than they ever thought possible. “Isn’t that,” he asked, “a system worthy of smart people?” Fujikawa: “He’s so amazing…Hyuga Toru.”
Chihiro goes into her first day of work, finally free of the confining job hunting suit. She spots Toru driving up. He greets Yoko, actually recognizing her this time. As he drives off, Yoko can’t help but be a little happy that he finally remembers her.
Now that Chihiro’s an official employee, Asahina’s looking into finding out more about the real Sawaki Chihiro, though he’s keeping it under wraps.
Chihiro gets on the same elevator as Toru. He says that her skin sensation has finally returned, talking about her clothes and she says it’s because it’s summer. Before they get off the elevator, he says he likes her better this way.
I’m slightly disappointed that Chihiro isn’t quite the dark heroine I was hoping for, but I can live with that since this is a Cinderella style romantic comedy after all. More than that, I like seeing her gain confidence in herself as she tries to prove herself to Toru. Chihiro isn’t pitted against someone that was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, like most Cinderellas, but against a man that spit on the common way to success and paved his own way to power with his own talent. When Toru gives up on the Ministry, I can’t help but cheer for Chihiro because she does the only thing she can do, despite the fact that all her efforts may be in vain. In the end, yes, it is mainly Toru’s abilities that give them another shot with the Ministry, but it’s also because of Chihiro’s hard work. Is it cheesy? Yes, but I can buy into that because I saw Chihiro before that. Depressed and afraid, she lacked the nerve that we can clearly see now, so I can admire her for finding the courage to apply herself and showing Toru that all of her hard work isn’t for nothing.
I can’t believe that’s all there is to the past between Yoko and Toru. I guess I was expecting something more dramatic since she seemed so interested in him, so I was let down by that. Just because you’re a secondary character doesn’t mean you have to be boring, look at her brother, I know I’m not the only one dying to know what’s going on in his head. It just sort of sucks when you have three other characters who actually have layers and then there’s Yoko’s who’s rather flat. I don’t hate her, but I just wish there was more to her than just liking Toru.
I like that Asahina isn’t exactly the ambitious business partner or the more rational, warm-hearted sidekick. He’s a strange mix of both, so you’re never quite sure what his intentions are. Was he just baiting Toru when he told him about Chihiro going to see Fujikawa to see what Toru would do or was he genuinely moved by Chihiro’s actions? It could be both and I like that Asahina falls into that gray area of characterization because real people are like that.