Last Friends 10 – love and death

Ridding on the top, Sosuke violently rips open Ruka’s shirt, revealing her undershirt. Smiling triumphantly and sinisterly, Sosuke bends down to kiss her. Ruka lets out a desperate yelp of hatred and reaches out to grasp a lamp that fell during the struggle, she hits him on the back, hard enough to knock him off her and runs out with her bag. She hastily crosses the street, covering herself with the torn shirt and enters the nearest store. She grabs a slack off the racket, dashes into the fitting room, furiously buttoning the over-sized shirt around her. She begins to cry.

Takeru glues the handle back onto the cup. Once done, it looks as if it has never fallen off the cup. Ruka comes back. Not a trace of what happened. Only Takeru notices that something is amiss.

At the dinner table, the housemates enjoy their happy meal when the door bell rings. Pause. Silence. Then, looking at each other, someone asks, “Who is going to answer the door?” It turns out to be a package addressed to Eri. After signing and receiving the package, Eri enters to explain it’s her package, trying to lessen the tension and cortisol rush the door bell caused. Michiru puts down her chopsticks and proposes to move out. “That way”, she explains, “everybody won’t have to live in fear.” “Don’t be silly.” Ruka dissuades Michiru.

Takeru returns to work to face failure and rejection as a result of the condition of his hand. All Michiru can do is apologize and wallow in guilt. “It’s not your fault.” Takeru assures her resolutely. “We’re not going to be defeated so easily. No matter what happens, don’t run back to him in defeat. If you did, you would be betraying Ruka. Because Ruka has been protecting you with her life.”

Sosuke goes to the park to see the little boy after work. The boy’s mother came back. Seeing the boy play happily with his mother watching, Sosuke leaves as if he has been abandoned again.

Eri is shopping one day, she flips through a magazine and accidentally stumbles upon an article that attacks Ruka for being a genderqueer.

Eri buys the magazine and discusses the extent jealous competitors are willing to go with Takeru. Ruka comes back and discovers the magazine. Ruka denies the truth of the article but tears it up once she is in the same zone of her room.

Takeru enters to provide Ruka with comfort and courage. He suggests for Ruka to tell Michiru the truth. The truth about Ruka and the truth about her feelings. Michiru comes back home and overhears the conversation at Ruka’s door.

Michiru and I get to know each other in middle school. We have a lot of wonderful memories together. Then, shortly before graduation, Michiru disappeared. I thought I will never see her again. When I did see her again, I was so happy that I thought I was dreaming.

I am scared. Scared that Michiru only sees me as a friend. While I, I feel something different. Since the beginning, it’s not just a simple friendship. If Michiru knows the truth, she will be hurt. The pure memories between us will fade to gray.

Michiru drops the dry clean clothes and runs out of the door to let the conflicting feelings settle. She stops in the middle of the park, in front of the stone benches where Ruka found her and brought her to share house the first time. All the memories flood back. What Sosuke said about Ruka, her reunion with Ruka, they all crash down on her.

The next morning, Michiru gathers her bags to leave.

Not knowing how to face Ruka, Michiru returns home, to her mother.

Ruka’s father sees the same magazine in a bookstore. Confounded, he pays Ruka a little visit at the tracks. They go to Takeru’s bar for a drink together. The father asks Ruka about the upcoming race. She tells him she feels peaceful, as if there is a blue ocean in front of her. All she needs to do is to cross it. Like that’s easy. “Are you happy right now?” he asks. “Yes I am. Father, thank you. Thank you for always encouraging me.” “Is there anything you want to tell me?” her father finally asks. There is a pause. Takeru, who is sitting in the next room perks up to listen. “Sorry father. I, am different from the other girls. Therefore, I can’t live the happy life you wished for. I will not marry, will not have children. I cannot fall in love with a man.” More silence ensues. “But I will be happy. Don’t worry about me. I’ve always wanted to tell father you about this. Because that is the real me.” Ruka’s father turns to face her, “Is that so? Alright. I will support you. That’s what a parent should do.” “Thank you father.”

Walking home from work, Takeru sees Ruka’s father sitting on a bench alone, overlooking the lake. Takeru offers him a bottle of tea. The father starts, “I thought Ruka and you were dating.” “Sorry, I wasn’t capable enough.” “Weren’t capable. heh.” the father helplessly chuckles, “Ruka has always preferred pants over skirts. Whenever summer arrives, she would change into shorts and play with boys. She is my cute little girl.” He breaks into a sob.

One day away from Ruka’s race. In the morning, going to work, Ogura remarks that Michiru hasn’t been back. Eri hits him for him to stop. They leave for the airport together. Still standing in the door way, Takeru continues Ogura’s sentence, “But she will be there for the race.” “Will she?” Ruka asks dubiously. “Definitely.” Takeru assures Ruka with a smile. She smiles back and leaves for practice. =]

Ogura and Eri are walking together when Ogura directs Eri’s attention to the bench a little distance away. Sosuke is sitting there. He gets up to leave. Eri walks towards him and stops him, “Wait. Perhaps you plan to loitering around the neighborhood or use violence to pressure us, but these are all useless to me. All I feel towards you is pity.” She walks closer to him, “Honestly, the more you do these things, the further you are pushing Michiru-Chan away from you. Stalkers like you who perseverate endlessly are the worse kind of men. Learn to accept reality!” Ogura cowardly asks Eri to stop, but she continues. “If you are a man, then let it go and let Michiru live a little easier. Why can’t you understand something so simple?” She walks away. Eri is finally showing some personality aside from the typical cheery flight attendant.

Ogura catches up to her. Eri stops and says, “I’m not talking about anyone else.” Ogura lets out a surprised gasp. “A man can’t always depend on other people. Ogura-San, please return to your wife, alright?” She turns and walks off the stairs. Finally. About time someone tells Ogura to tough it up.

Sosuke calls Michiru. He tells her to pick up her things left at his apartment and to return the key to the apartment. He assures her that his sudden change of attitude is due to what Michiru’s friend said to him. “Your friend said, ‘if you are a man then you should let go.’ I decide to end everything.”

Michiru falls for it and goes to Sosuke’s apartment alone. She rings the doorbell twice, he comes to open the door for her and holds it open. She puts down the key and walks over to gather her luggage. Sosuke offers her a cup of coffee. She silently complies. He walks to the kitchen to pour the coffee when Michiru notices the lucky charm left by Ruka during the struggle. Recalling the scar on Ruka’s face when she returned home that day, Michiru understands it all.

She turns to ask him, “Sosuke, did Ruka come?” He nods after a moment of hesistation. “You must know about her liking you.” seeing Michiru lowering her head, Sosuke continues, “The first time I saw her, I thought to myself, if there is someone who comes between you and I, then it must be her. Just as I thought.” “What do you mean?” “She’s an idiot. Using her life to protect you, when she doesn’t even have the ability.” Takeru’s words starts to ring in Michiru’s ear, “Ruka is protecting you with her life.” Clutching the lucky charm to her bosom, Michiru takes a step closer and demands, “What did she say to you?” “She said, ‘the one who loves Michiru, is me.'” The memories of Ruka standing up for her, pushing Takeru to her, comforting her all zoom past Michiru. She gasps for air and half trembling, asks Sosuke what he has done to Ruka. He turns his head not to answer. She demands. He smiles and sits down on the chair, “Nothing. Just taught her a lesson.” Crying now, Michiru walks over and slaps Sosuke across the face. She walks back to gather her luggage. “Where are you going?” “Going home. I want to go to where Ruka is at.” Sosuke grabs her arm, “I won’t let you go!” “Why? Did you say you packed my luggage and ask me to return the keys?” “If I don’t say that, how would I get you to come here?” “You lied? Again.”

Without a second word, Sosuke grabs Michiru, throws her on the ground and starts to slap her. She pushes him away, shouting stop. “I don’t belong to you anymore!” she grabs her bag. “You don’t care about them anymore?” She stops. He takes the opportunity to grab her and throws her onto bed. He gets on top of her, she pushes him off again. And then, she screams. Pitch black.

The next moment, Michiru is lying in bed, emotionless and covered in sheets. “Sosuke, do me a favor. Don’t touch my friends again. Don’t hurt Ruka. Don’t hurt Takeru-kun. If you swear you can do that, I will stay.” Sosuke opens his eyes. “No matter how many times you do this.” He turns to look at her. Sitting up in bed, Sosuke wipes away Michiru’s tear and asks her, “Why are you crying Michiru? Stop crying. Stop crying!” She only stares up at him. He starts to cry.

Sosuke leaves the room and slides the door behind him. Sitting down on the other end of the sliding door, he takes the photos that Michiru brings with her from her purse and starts to look at them, the happy pictures of share house, of friends, of Ruka, of Takeru, of belonging, of happiness, however brief.

When morning comes again, it’s Ruka’s competition. Her family sit in the audience seats. A glance and a nod says everything. Friends from share house all stand in the audience cheering for Ruka.

15 seconds left. Ruka unconsciously reaches down to touch the lucky charm. It’s gone. She thinks to herself, “Michiru, I’m going.”

Michiru has gotten dressed. She walks out of the bedroom.

Lying on the sofa, a figure dressed in immaculate white, peaceful as an angel, soaked in scarlet from the wrist down, a remaining blood drop feebly drips into the red pool of blood.

The first half of this episode is very slow. Slow but inevitable, (but still slow). Ruka finally breaks free from the constraints she set on herself. Eri steps out from her fear of being alone at last. Ogura gets what he simply deserves from the very start.

What I did like is the role reversal between Michiru and Sosuke. Although Michiru is the one being raped, Sosuke no longer holds the power. Realizing this, he cries for the very first time.

Finally, loneness and despair prevail and take Sosuke away with them.

Next episode should wrap up everything and take us back to the beginning of episode one with Michiru pregnant, away, and independent.

Now, what about Takeru?

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