On the surface, everything is the same.
On the surface, Ruka is simply looking for a place to live for six months before she goes out of the country. On the surface, Michiru is only making lunch for Takeru to thank him for finding her a new employment opportunity – to work as his assistant. On the surface, Takeru is still gay to Eri.
But nothing is the same again.
Cleaning up after work, Michiru and Takeru reach for the same foundation. Their hands make timid contact for a split of a second before immediately splitting apart. Takeru looks up at Michiru, and then hides his gaze away from her. “Sorry.” Takeru says in a small voice and walks away to the other side to resume packing. Or, contact. Physical and emotional. Michiru follows Takeru with her eyes. She bites her lip, musters a smile, and finally breaks the silence again, “Takeru-kun. Regarding what I asked earlier… Don’t worry about it. I’ve probably said something silly… I was thinking that I can stay by your side when you are lonely or sad. I wasn’t expecting anything.” Takeru turns and says, gratefully, “Thank you”; perhaps for her willingness to stay by his side in difficult times, perhaps for her effort to lessen the awkwardness between them.
Night at the tatami desk, members of the share house cook dinner together. Casually inquiring each other’s days, Michiru tells Eri she really likes her new job with Takeru. Even though the wage is considerably lower, the experience is priceless. Ruka opportunistically adds that if Michiru needs any help on work, she can discuss it with Takeru, who has arisen to be her boss. Eri asks about the coach and Ruka’s romantic progress with the coach. Ruka agrees to invite the coach over, but suspects he may say no because, according to him, he doesn’t get along with the young ones that well. “Doesn’t get along with the young ones? He’s probably the same age as me!” exclaims Ogura. Eri turns to him, “When he says the young ones, he’s not referring to you!” The others laugh. Then the door bell goes off. Eri opens the door to find the little boy Sosuke took home the night before, holding out a letter for Michiru.
Ruka happens to walk past the door and takes the letter from Eri. She turns it aside and notices the cursive “S” on the flip side of the envelope. “It’s from Sosuke”, she opens it and starts reading. Sosuke wrote to Michiru in the hospital, asking her to pay him a visit. Ruka frowns and considers it a trap. She hand the letter back to Eri and dismisses the importance of the content.
Sosuke is writing on the hospital bed. A nurse comes in and tells Sosuke he has a visitor. It’s Eri. She brought him some melon. He fiddles with his pen to hide the disappointment. Eri returns the letter to Sosuke. “Aren’t you ashamed of using violence to keep a woman by your side? Anyway, have some melons.” Eri walks towards the door. “Wait!” Sosuke stops Eri and asks her a favor. He opens the drawl next to his bed, a drawl of letters addressed to Michiru, “Can you give those to Michiru? I don’t know her new mailbox. If I send it to share house straight, it will be intersected like this again.” Eri starts to hesistate. “Please. You are such a considerate person.” Eri looks shaken. “I hate men like you. Egocentric. Domineering. You speak of love, but really, all you wanted is for someone to attend to your needs. Childish. Utterly narcissistic.” Sosuke is untouched by Eri’s accusation, “Whatever you say. I love Michiru, more than anymore. Always.”
“I decide to move out of share house. Find a place where no one knows me and start anew. When things settle down, I plan to find a way and immigrate to another country.” Ruka tells her psych counselor, “If it’s possible, I want to undergo the operation during that time.” “What are you in such a hurry for?” the counselor asks. There is not yet strong evidence to diagnose you with genderqueer. Your symptoms only match that of one. Why are you in such a hurry?” Ruka looks up, tears in her eyes, “Because it’s too painful. So excruciatingly painful that I just want to scream. But, once revealed, the entire equilibrium will be disrupted.” “Maybe not all of it.” the counselor continues, “Wanting those close to you to accept who you really are is what everybody wishes for. If this problem could be solved, you wouldn’t be moving out.”
Eri lays in bed, reading Sosuke’s letters to Michiru. Ogura comes in, asking Eri if she wants to go to a spa with him. She teases him , telling him she’s been receiving countless letters of admiration and reasons that he shouldn’t get mad at her because he sees his wife in secrecy too.
Sosuke is sitting up in his hospital bed. The little boy is playing with a toy train beside him. Sosuke tells the boy to go home, his mother may be back already. The boy replies, “But onii-chan is very lonely.” Sosuke looks away, something sinister glimmering in his eyes.
It’s nice to regain freedom from an oppressive abuser. Michiru searches for books to enrich herself one day after work. She is happy to pick up a good book. Just as she decides to go to the cash register, she sees her old co-worker from the hair salon, the one who constantly bullies Michiru. The co-worker is picking out a book from a shelf, but when she sees Michiru, she hastily pushes the book back and runs out of the store. Michiru walks pases the shelf and takes one glance at it. One glance is enough. Michiru takes a deep breath. The category for the shelf in question is Domestic Violence.
Eri and Ogura called a number of spa places for an appointment without much success. Ogura suggests that they can use the internet to search for more places. Eri recalls that Ruka is the only one in the house who owns a computer. She enters Ruka’s empty room, apologizing for intruding and using her computer. Eri flips open the laptop screen, waking up the computer from sleep mode and sees the webpage Ruka was reading – genital exchange surgery. She flips down the computer screen before Ogura enters the room. In a hurry to get out, she accidentally knocks down a magazine onto the floor.
Eri chats with Takeru at the bar. She tells him his discovery, he is neither appalled nor surprised. Eri dismisses the thought when considering Ruka’s recent relationship with the coach and Ruka’s lack of pursuit to Eri herself. Then Eri asks Takeru, “Takeru, there is something I want to confirm. You don’t like girls right?” He merely looks up from his cup and said nothing. She continues to ask, “How do you think of Michiru?” “A friend” Takeru curtly replies. “But..” “Michiru-chan only considers me a friend too.” Takeru answers before Eri can say anything. “But I don’t think that’s it.” “That is.” Takeru cuts off. Eri presses her lips and stops insisting. He is, so in denial. As if talking to herself, Eri starts again, “I just think that, how Takeru reacted to me that time… If you accept Michiru now, I would be shocked. As a woman.” “That’s not how it is.” Takeru says lightly. “That’s not how it is? What does that mean? … Doe that mean Michiru is not your type? Or are you really not gay? Were you feeling unwell that day?” Takeru cooks his head and lets out a deep, thoughtful “ummm…” Eri follows crooks her own head and lets out a dubious “ummm” urging him to go on. Takeru smiles. Eri chuckles and yells at him, “Don’t think you can get away by smiling!”
Ruka returns at night and notices the magazine on the floor. She sees Ogura who just came out of shower and starts, “My computer…” Ogura gives Ruka a quizzical look. Ruka lets out a small sigh and walks towards her room when, Ogura sudden remembers. “Oh! Your computer. Eri used it.” “And then?” “She looked at it for a short time and said she doesn’t know how to use it.”
Eri and Takeru come back together. Eri enters first while Takeru checks the mailbox. Ruka walks out to welcome Eri. Eri greets her and walks in her room to change. Ruka is uneasy whether or not Eri discovers her secret. Takeru walks in with the letters and hands Ruka her letter from a real estate company. He asks her why she is getting letters from them, Ruka dodges his gaze and answers that she is moving out. “Why?” “For racing. It’s closer. … I, have always been alone. I’m not used to troubling over other people’s matter. It’s agonizing. I’ve reached my limit.” She walks away, leaving Takeru speechless.
The next day at work, Takeru is not himself. Michiru sits down next to Takeru, who’s zooming out, deep in thought. She hands him a lunch box and urges him to eat. He opens it, and puts it down on the side. “Michiru-chan, you can go home after this. There doesn’t seem to be that much work left to do.” Michiru almost bursts into tears and wonders aloud, “Is there nothing I can do?” Takeru softens and tells Michiru that Ruka is moving out.
Eri asks Ruka to help her burn Sosuke’s letters. While looking at the pile of love letters, Eri tells Ruka,
I don’t believe in true love. I’ve been with many men. When we are together, passion lights up quickly. And then we separate. Looking back, I often wonder what does it mean to be together. That’s why I never say things like “I love you”. … But, after reading these, I think that maybe, maybe somewhere in the world, there exists a thing called pure love. Isn’t it amazing?
Ruka calls her silly,
Because you feel hurt, so you work extra hard to spread the love. Do you think that’s what love really is? Sometimes, suppressing your own feelings for someone else is real love. Alright, let’s light them up.
Sosuke tries to leave the hospital.
Michiru rushes home to confirm Ruka’s intention of moving away. Ruka confirms and tries to put the matter lightly. She tells Michiru she is tired of putting up with people. Michiru begs for Ruka to change her mind, “If without Ruka you, I will not be able to hold myself up anymore. I will be devoured in my sense of insecurity.” “Don’t you have Takeru? Eri is here too. You will be fine.” Michiru shakes her head and raises her voice, “HOW CAN IT BE OKAY?” Ruka cuts her off, fearing Michiru’s plead will soften her determination, “YOU HAVE TO LEARN TO RELY ON YOUR SELF!”
Michiru couldn’t sleep at night. She enters the kitchen to find Takeru standing by the sink. His eyes stare into nothingness ahead of him, his hands mechanically cleaning Ruka’s cup, like, he’s lost his, soul…
Michiru’s shuffling pulls Takeru back into reality. He offers to pour her a herbal tea. She notices the lunch she prepared for him is untouched. He explains that he had no appetite. “Are you worried about Ruka?” Michiru asks. Takeru says nothing. “Don’t tell me you…” Takeru says nothing. “Oh. No wonder. If I had known, I wouldn’t say those words to you earlier..” Michiru tries to conceal her disappointment of the discovery of Takeru’s emotion towards Ruka lightly, but fails. Takeru turns around and asks, “Those words?” Michiru looks down, “The ‘Can I like you?’ … You must be troubled. Sorry.”
Takeru looks straights at Michiru and assures her, “I am not troubled.” Michiru looks up. Takeru continues, “I can understand your tender feeling when you said those words. Especially when Ruka doesn’t even feel the same way about me.” Having said that, he turns back to his cups. “Why must Ruka move? Why does she want to be by herself?” Michiru questions.
The next day, Eri, Takeru, Michiru, and Ogura watch as Ruka packs.
Takeru visits Ruka’s practice track after work and finds out about the posting Susoke distributed days ago and understands the oppression exerted on Ruka.
Packing at home, Ruka stops at a photo album and starts to flip through them. The album consists of pictures of members of the share house – the same one Michiru was looking at in the first episode. An important memory. She enters the kitchen to retrieve her cup and pauses to look at Takeru’s cup sitting next to what used to be her cup. With nostalgia.
Michiru returns home after buying grocery for the goodbye party and sees Ruka moving boxes onto a truck, ready to move out, a day earlier than expected. They go to the park for a last walk.
Takeru comes home to find Ruka already gone. On her desk is the key and a letter. The last letter. To Takeru.
Takeru, I decide to live alone for six month, then immigrate and have the surgery there. I only want to tell the truth to you. Me, the real me.
Takeru, thank you. When I heard you say you liked me, I’m sincerely happy. If only I could openly accept you at the time… But I didn’t have the courage, so I didn’t say it.
When you said you liked me, I was surprised. At the same time, I desired more. I didn’t want to see your feeling towards me disintegrate.
I am afraid of telling you all these in person. So I decided to write them down. I’ve always equipped myself with a heavy façade. But you, Takeru, you are the first person to tell me you liked me. You are the only person to have opened up to me. Therefore, I, cannot lie to you. Takeru, I… the real me, …
Takeru runs out of the door at top speed.
Ruka gets ready to go, Michiru reaches out her hand as a final gesture of goodbye and an encouragement. Ruka extends her hand in return. Michiru puts her other hand on top of Ruka’s. Ruka pulls away and flings her bag over her shoulder, ready to leave.
“Ruka!” Takeru arrives in time. Still panting, Takeru yells out,
Don’t leave, Ruka! I’ve read the letter. I know how you feel.
Even if you tell me you can’t accept my feelings, I, I still like you.
Don’t ask me whether I like you as a person or as a woman. Because I don’t even know myself. But I, want to be able to encourage you. No matter how you end up, I want to protect you.
I DON’T WANT TO LOSE YOU!
He walks towards her and hugs her.
Michiru watches in a distance,
At that moment, I saw the birth of Unconditional Love.
Sosuke has escaped the asylum hospital.
Good episode. I didn’t particularly enjoy the beginning ‘cos I thought it wasn’t pertinent enough. Even though we Are getting a glimpse of Eri, but her character and her approach to loneness is still largely underrepresented. Yet, as it develops, its climax unfolds, it grabs your heart and rips it out with a violent display of emotions.
Next episode looks very sad with Sosuke starting his attack, at Takeru. Ugh.
PS: God, please send me a guy like Takeru. 😀