While last episode was all about Kotoko, Naoki takes center stage this time. Seriously, I don’t think Naoki has ever gotten this much screen time in one episode before.
Episode 13: A Mischief of Fate
Picking up where we left off, Irie-papa is now in the hospital and it doesn’t look good. The doctor recommends that he has complete bed rest or his condition may get worse. The family worries about the company, but Naoki says that he’ll take care of it. He realizes his dad was rushing him to become the successor because he was ill, and though his family is grateful that he’s stepping up, Kotoko worries that he’s given up on becoming a doctor.
Kotoko fills in her friends about the new situation; with Irie-papa still in the hospital, Naoki has moved back home and taken a temporary leave of absence from school. Jinko points out that this could bring Kotoko and Naoki closer together, but for once, romance is the last thing on Kotoko’s mind. She says she just wants to support Naoki and hopes that Irie-papa can get better so Naoki can return to school, even if that means that Naoki will be far away. Satomi says that’s not what she really wants, but Kin-chan agrees with Kotoko.
Satomi and Jinko tease him, saying he just doesn’t want Kotoko and Naoki to become closer, but he’s serious. Knowing Naoki, he’s probably trying to appear tough, but is actually scared and anxious. Kin-chan encourages Kotoko to do whatever she can for Naoki and to come to him if she ever needs help. Damn it Kotoko, if you’re not going to take him, can I have him?
After Kotoko leaves, Satomi and Jinko ask if Kin-chan’s given up on Kotoko, but Kin-chan hasn’t reached that point yet. He says that stealing Kotoko from Naoki while his family is undergoing a crisis would make him less of a man. Satomi and Jinko think that Kin-chan and Kotoko really are alike, always sacrificing themselves in order for the person they love to be happy. They say that the two would make a good couple, making Kin-chan giddy, before pointing out that that’s impossible, since Kotoko will only love Naoki forever. Sad, but true.
Kotoko has taken up cooking and cleaning since Irie-mama’s at the hospital and the results are disastrous, naturally. Yuki complains, but Naoki tells his brother to suck it up and eats Kotoko’s horrible food anyway. I understand that these are tough times, and I’m sure Kotoko is doing her best, but eating undercooked food is basically asking for a trip to the hospital.
After dinner, Kotoko asks Naoki if he’s really giving up on becoming a doctor. Naoki says that he didn’t want to run away. He’s faced a lot of trials with Kotoko around and he never imagined his father would collapse, but he didn’t want to run away from it by pursuing his own desires. He assures her that he only plans to look after the company until his father is better; he’ll still have time to go back to school, but it’s good to get some real life experience now. Kotoko’s relieved that he hasn’t given up on his dream and says she’ll do what she can to help.
And so Kotoko and Naoki settle into their new roles. Irie-papa’s company (lol, Pandai? Real subtle there Director-san) hasn’t been doing well for a while, and even Naoki, who can apparently learn business management in one night, is struggling to keep it afloat. With Naoki busy working and Kotoko watching the house, Kotoko can’t help but think that they’re now like a newlywed couple. She happily makes Naoki lunch with a heart and the word ‘fight’ spelled incorrectly, but at least Naoki eats it.
Kotoko’s too busy at home so she resigns from the tennis team, but she’s not the only one. Ayako is also skipping out on tennis, as she has a new boyfriend, making me wonder what the point was of introducing her since she did absolutely nothing.
Yuko pulls aside Kotoko to ask how Naoki’s doing and for once, Kotoko gets to be smug about being able to help Naoki. Yuko thinks that Naoki will probably quit school for good and take over his father’s company, but Kotoko says that Naoki wants to come back to school. Even if that’s what he wants, reality may not allow that to happen. Thanks for the foreshadowing Yuko.
She tells Kotoko to stop making lunch for Naoki; she’s making lunch time hell for him. Kotoko asks how she knows that (seriously, how does she know that?) and Yuko says that she knows the two well enough that she’s sure nothing’s going on betweeen them. So did Naoki tell you he wants to be a doctor? Or did he invite you to his apartment? No? I didn’t think so. But of course Kotoko doesn’t say anything, which satisfies Yuko and she leaves.
Time for some good news: Irie-papa is getting better and will be able to come home in a month and Kotoko thinks that Naoki can go back to school soon. However, Irie-papa is still pushing himself to work and when Naoki comes to visit, he sees him talking with Chairman Oizumi, who’s interested in investing in the company. Naoki asks that they leave, offending Oizumi’s assistant, who says they should rethink the investment plan. Naoki informs them that he’s acting as the president now, so any business should be discussed with him, not his father. Oizumi seems impressed with Naoki’s filial piety and asks to meet with Naoki the next day.
The meeting with Oizumi goes well and I get a kick out of watching Naoki tell the annoying assistant that though he’s been majoring in science, he taught himself business management. Too bad no one ever taught you how to be humble. As he’s leaving he bumps into a girl on an elevator, who instantly gets starry eyed as he asks if she’s okay. We don’t catch her name, but I’m sure we’ll see her again.
Irie-mama calls Naoki to the hospital and judging by her face, it’s bad news. Naoki doesn’t say anything when he comes home, but his bad mood doesn’t go unnoticed by Kotoko and Yuki and they wonder if work is finally taking a toll on him.
Kin-chan delivers a lunchbox to Kotoko from her dad. Kin-chan’s noticed that Kotoko hasn’t been going to school lately, but she assures him she’ll graduate. Right now though she wants to focus on helping the Irie family. Kin-chan sees through her and says she really just wants to help Naoki. It’s sad as he says that he always knows what she’s thinking, though he wishes he didn’t, but he asks that she doesn’t take on too much alone and ask him for help if she needs it. He’ll even go to class for her, though he won’t write any papers because then she’ll definitely fail.
Kotoko tries to pass off Dad’s food as her own, but Yuki’s smart enough to know Kotoko didn’t improve that much. Kotoko starts ranting about how she’s doing her best too, almost missing Yuki’s little thank you. She stops mid-sentence as Yuki says that her cooking has improved a lot, bringing a smile to her face.
Kotoko stays up late waiting for Naoki as usual when Sudo calls. He tells her that Yuko plans to confess to Naoki tonight, sending Kotoko in a panic. She starts looking for them, but she doesn’t even know where to start. She wonders in horror if Yuko already confessed and imagines that they’re together. There’s no way she can let that happen and she continues her search.
She finally finds them and eavesdrops on the conversation. Yuko doesn’t mince her words, but Naoki says that he only sees her as a friend. I would feel sorry for Yuko if 1) I didn’t remember Naoki’s cold rejection of Kotoko back in high school and 2) She didn’t do this.
I’m basically doing what Kotoko is doing right now.
Yuko says she can’t give up on him and goes in for a kiss, but Naoki pushes her away, asking if she feels better now. He says that he doesn’t want that from her and she asks who he would kiss then. He admits that he’s kissed Kotoko before, shocking Yuko and Kotoko. Yuko’s pride is hurt, blah, blah, no one cares, but she wishes that Irie-papa gets better soon before leaving.
Kotoko, still unaware of the second kiss, wonders why Naoki mentioned a kiss that happened over a year ago as she tries to hide so Naoki doesn’t see her, but he knew she was hiding there the whole time. He tells her not to eavesdrop on his love life, but considering the fact that you just indirectly said the only person you’ll ever kiss is Kotoko, your statement holds no weight.
He’s still moody and instead of heading home he goes to a park with Kotoko following him. He confesses that his father actually isn’t getting better; he has a heart disease and requires an operation. Even if the operation is successful, it will be a long time before he’s able to work again. Naoki thinks stressing over the company is what made Irie-papa ill in the first place, so working again might force him back in the hospital. He says dejectedly that if he takes over the company, everything will be solved.
Kotoko asks if he still wants to become a doctor and Naoki tries to shrug it off, saying that it hasn’t even been that long since he decided to go into medicine. Kotoko asks if he’s really going to give up his dream and there are flashbacks to how Naoki said being a doctor was the first job he was ever interested in. Naoki doesn’t respond, his eyes lowered, but that’s enough for Kotoko, who gives him a comforting hug around the shoulders.
Kotoko: “Irie-kun looked so sad…Before I knew it, I was hugging Irie-kun. but he didn’t take my hands away. At that moment, I felt like our hearts were connected.”
The next morning, when Kotoko tells him that the sauteed leek she packed for lunch is supposed to make you smarter, he asks why she doesn’t eat it then. Well if you’re back to teasing Kotoko, then I guess you’re in a better mood. Kotoko seems to think the same, smiling as he leaves, but in voiceover she says, “Despite that…”
Cut to Chairman Oizumi, who has come to see Naoki again, but not about business. He wants Naoki to go on an omiai with his granddaughter. Oh no, where’s Irie-mama when you need her? Oizumi can tell Naoki’s hesitant and asks that Naoki consider it for a few days, and then they can talk about investing. Just in case we didn’t catch what Oizumi meant, Naoki says that this meeting will be a great advantage to their company.
Duh, duh, duh! Finally, some real stakes!
I think last episode fell flat for me because it focused on Kotoko and though I love her and she’s adorable, she’s a very one-dimensional character; just about everything she does goes back to Naoki and unless we want to drastically deviate from source material, she’s going to stay like that. As a result, I’m more invested in Naoki, since whatever he does directly impacts Kotoko, so I was more engaged this episode. It’s not like Naoki’s free from Kotoko’s influence either, but she doesn’t dictate every aspect of his life. I think this episode also worked better since Naoki’s struggle wasn’t crammed into one episode like Kotoko’s, but has been spread out since he moved out of the house. It makes it that much more crushing to see him finally find what he wants to do, only to realize that life doesn’t always work out the way you want it to and that he’ll have to give up his dream.
I cannot wait for the next episode, mostly because the preview showed Yuko and Kotoko working together to sabotage the omiai. And failing hilariously in these disguises.
I. must. see. this.
You can do it girls!