Asahina, Asahina. Out of two-faced characters, I bow to him because even knowing that he is up to evil, it’s really hard to believe when he’s doing the usual buddy-buddy act with Toru. Interesting enough, even though Asahina really does seem to like Natsui…it’s just so…so…not believable in certain aspects. Does he truly like her or is she another way to try and win against his former best friend?
So let’s start off with a bet. Which is? What will Toru do? Start a brand new company or join Sakaguchi’s now that Asahina stabbed his startup in the back, too? Oh, and I’m will to bet that no matter what he chooses, the loyal quartet will quit Asahina’s version of Next Innovation and go over to Toru’s new company.
Was the storytelling always so non-linear or is that starting since the last episode? LOL. I found it completely random that we started at the beach when we left off with Toru KISSING Yoko. So our loyal employees are at the beach on a mini-break after Next Innovation has been instructed to stop all business. Yasuoka, Ogawa, Hosoki are completely out of their element. Just when they feel completely out of place, Risa comes up in her bikini and they willingly follow her into the sea to play. Meanwhile Natsui is worried about Toru and feeling completely out of her element as well. She is mistaken for a local when a news report comes on about Next Innovation being forced to cease operations. She becomes angry when people start badmouthing Toru, but Yasuoka comes up in time and stops her from unleashing her fury—too bad. That could have been really funny. At the day’s end, the four decide that they cannot just idle their time away. They need to go back to Next Innovation and get back to work. This makes Natsui happy. Toru does have allies left after all.
Yamagami, Asahina, and Toru sit in the empty Next Innovation office. Thanks to the plummet in stock, the cessation of business order all coinciding with payday, it makes things even tougher on the company. Yamagami is worried about how they will recover, but Toru and Asahina talk about their love lives instead. Apparently Toru did come to his senses and ended the kiss with Yoko (thank god!). Asahina insults his sister by saying she was too aggressive and just using Toru’s weakness against him. Asahina then admits he confessed and was brutally turned down by Natsui. You can tell how uncomfortable Toru was with Asahina’s confession of sincerely liking Natsui, but Toru laughs it off and says that Asahina is free to do what he likes. Well, no one should ever be able to necessarily dictate other’s feelings, so yeah. But it would have been nice if Toru did outright confess that he likes Natsui as well. Although, by this time, I think Asahina has that figured out.
Enter our loyal quartet with their beach equipment and souvenirs. They talk about how the day off was nice, but they are ready to get back to work. Enter Natsui. Awkward. She explains she was dragged along and both Asahina and Toru tell her out its not a problem and they don’t care. LOL. Toru then goes off to his office and Natsui follows (with souvenirs) and immediately apologizes for not answering the phone after Toru calls her a liar. She then says she immediately tried to call him back several times, but never got through. Toru rolls around his floor, recalling the kiss, and says that he was otherwise engaged at that time. Natsui then vows that she will never miss another phone call and will even take it into the toilet with her. LMAO. That’s Natsui for you. She prattles endlessly and goes from one extreme to another. Got to love her.
The conversation then turns on a more serious note when Natsui asks if he is all right. Toru says he has hit rock bottom if his present state incites Natsui’s pity. Harsh. Natsui then tells him what happened earlier with the news report and people hating on Toru. She couldn’t believe it, but then there was what happened with the quartet. She knows Toru is not alone and that makes her happy. So can’t Toru just tell one lie to make others feel better and make it seem like everything will be all right? This makes Toru laugh. He smiles at Natsui and says it isn’t a lie. There’s a way out of this mess and he will make sure he takes it and gets Next Innovation back on its feet. This makes Natsui very happy.
Toru goes to Yamagami and Asahina and lays out his new plan. What is it? He will pay out money to all 5 million citizens whose information was leaked. Granted, the sum will not be much per person, but it will cost the company a grand total of 500 million yen. Ouch. That’s quite the sum. How will he be able to get the funds to do this? Toru can’t sell his stock since it is worth nowhere near that amount currently, but he will put his shares as collateral for a bank loan to fund the reparations. Asahina points out that this makes Toru even more vulnerable, but Toru says that once the company is stable again, his shares will be removed as collateral and all will be well. When it is just Toru and Asahina alone, Toru wonders if he’s doing the right thing. Asahina promises to never doubt him again and that Toru should just do as he has and follow his gut. Toru then confesses he thought of doing such a thing because of Natsui. Yeah, Asahina doesn’t like that.
Natsui is at home complaining of how hot it is when her phone rings. She immediately rushes into the bathroom to grab it as she cannot miss another of Toru’s calls, but it turns out it isn’t her boss. It’s a representative from S-Tel Pharmaceuticals asking her for an interview for a research position! The interview goes really well and they wish to hire her in spite of her being only an undergraduate student. Her ability to process and analyze tons of raw data in such short amounts of time is right up their alley. Natsui knows she should be happy, but she’s conflicted instead. Should she take the job or not? We all know that she’s reluctant to leave Toru in his hour of need. I feel bad for Ono and Kuga who worked so hard to celebrate her good fortune, but Natsui was just a stick in the mud thanks to her conflicting feelings.
It is now Natsui’s last week at Next Innovation. Yasuoka is really sad when he realizes this. He will miss Natsui when her contract is up. Meanwhile, Toru makes the reparation announcement which meets with more positive reviews as he’s taking responsibility for the incident and he’s doing his best to move his company forward after a hard lesson learned. Toru tells Asahina that while he does not like doing such sort of things that are out of character, thanks to Natsui, he realizes that he is not alone and needs to do whatever he can. Again, Asahina doesn’t like this Natsui reference, but he keeps smiling and pats Toru’s shoulder. No, Toru isn’t alone. Toru isn’t when you think about it, but save for Yamagami, isn’t Asahina all alone?
At the restaurant, Nogi’s class with the housewives is a smash hit! He has them completely charmed. They all promise to come and eat at the restaurant regularly. This thrills Yoko. She thanks Nogi for his hard work and for cooperating with her plan. I think that Nogi has developed a crush on Yoko. And you know…I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but when did he start caring? His change of attitude, while cute, makes one wonder if it wasn’t just a tad too abrupt. But I won’t complain for the slight problem as I like the new Nogi who isn’t a complete stuck arse. It’s cute to see his and Yoko’s friendly rivalry. I ship this couple as it keeps Yoko from Toru. ;)
After work, Natsui gets a call from Ono scolding her for not coming to a decision. Natsui blathers on about how she will come to one eventually when Yoko comes up and forces her to go get drinks with her. Yoko is happy with the successful event and Natsui needs to talk. It’s perfect, isn’t it? But when they get to the bar, there sits Asahina and Toru. Totally awkward atmosphere. Like the last time, Natsui is more left out of the conversation. She is horrified to learn that Yoko put the moves on Toru. We then learn that it is Natsui’s phone call that stopped him from going any further with Yoko (teehee). When Natsui catches this, Yoko and Asahina wonder if she was the caller. Natsui immediately denies this. Asahina then starts acting as an ass again and asks Natsui who she likes. Natsui gets annoyed and tells them to stop. She’s here for work after all. She doesn’t want to doubt Asahina’s sincerity, but with his actions, its hard not to and she doesn’t want to do anything to hurt him. Sigh. If only Asahina was deserving of her concern. Oh, and Yoko spills the beans about Natsui’s job offer.
Oddly enough, it’s Toru and Natsui walking together after the bar. It’s a bit awkward as the atmosphere is filled with things left unsaid. Toru praises her for her hard work and determination finally paying off. Her skill was finally recognized. Natsui, in lieu of confessing, says that the offer should have come earlier so she wouldn’t be so confused right now. Toru finally turns to look at her (she’s been following him from a bit of distance, but still close enough so they can talk without yelling). Natsui asks him to hire her. Toru is happy that she wishes to stay, but he can’t bring himself to grant her wish. He tells her that at this time, it’s best for Natsui to think of herself and not others. Natsui tears up and says Toru’s right. She’s always doing things without thinking and getting herself into trouble. This…was an epically great non-confession confession scene. By asking to stay, Natsui is basically confessing as she wishes to stay by him and work with him. Toru is also confessing that he cares too much for her to let her ruin her own future to follow him. Sigh. That’s my interpretation. Feel free to disagree. Toru then gets a cab and drags a surprised Natsui to it. He tells her goodnight and sends her on her way. Natsui wasn’t the only one with tears, Toru’s eyes were misty as well.
The Asahina siblings return to their apartment. Yoko is upset that she ended up going home with her older brother instead of Toru. She then scolds Asahina for not escorting Natsui home. She even drunkenly encourages him to to force himself on Natsui. Um…because using force is such a great way to win a woman’s heart—NOT! She then throws the suit jacket he put on top of her at him. This accidentally knocks his laptop off and she’s immediately a little more sober. She apologizes profusely and picks it up, check to make sure it was working properly. What she sees when the computer screen comes on shocks her. Asahina asks if the computer is okay and that’s where we end this seen. Don’t worry, it will finish a wee bit later.
The reparation payment did a great job at raising Next Innovation’s image. The stock price slowly (and I mean very slowly) climbs a wee bit. This is great news. Toru wishes to hold a board meeting to talk about the future of Next Innovation and to get the board’s approval of his personal file system at along last. Yamagami doesn’t seem too keen on this, but Asahina stops him with a knowing look between conspirators. And by conspirators, I don’t mean that Yamagami is joining Asahina in his evil plot, it’s just that we all know how Yamagami feels about Toru’s leadership of the company.
The board meeting shows a more humble and proper Hyuga and the board does give the green light for a fresh start with the file system. Before the meeting closes, Yamagami proposes that Toru be kicked out of the president position. Asahina strongly (and fakely) opposes this, confusing Yamagami. However, the matter does go up for a vote and Toru ends up being dethroned. Needless to say, the young man doesn’t know what hit him. This news puts the entire office in an uproar. Toru comes in and acts ad if nothing happened before locking himself in his office with the blinds closed.
That night Natsui is the last one to leave work. She looks in worry at Toru’s office and then squats in front of the Next Innovation wall. Asahina comes out and then says that thanks to her, he wishes he had a dog. Omo. What comes next is one of the worst pickup lines ever. So, why does he want a dog? Because she’d be eagerly awaiting him just like that. *SHUDDERS* I kid you not, that is what he said. He then tells Natsui that Toru will not be leaving the office tonight. She gets up to leave and you see at this moment how Asahina really does like her. He also seems a bit conflicted as he looks at the wall, but then again…for whatever reason, everything seems fake now. I can’t genuinely believe much of the character anymore.
The next day Yoko is taking inventory when Nogi comes out. She ignores him and rushes over to Toru. She tries to talk to him about her big brother (Asahina has been selected as the new president while Toru would be demoted to VP). Asahina isn’t up to running the company. Toru doesn’t think so. He believes that Asahina will do all right. We then learn that Yoko discovered her older brother’s plan to destroy Toru. To make matters worse, Asahina places the blame partially on Yoko. No, not revenge for his little sister or anything like that. It’s thanks to Yoko’s comments about him being the puppet master and always being the eternal number two. Now Asahina wishes to fight with Toru and win him. Asahina will prove he’s the best at long last. Okay. We ALL know that it’s not just Yoko’s words. Everyone has been comparing the two and when Asahina’s hold on Toru slipped thanks to Natsui’s presence and when Asahina learned that Toru was not the man he thought…that all contributed to this desire of his. Unfortunately, Yoko cannot bring herself to oust her brother even though you can tell how conflicted she is. She wants to tell Toru the truth, but she doesn’t want to throw her brother under the bus. What’s a girl to do?
Some Next Innovation people think that Asahina as president is best, but Yasuoka remains devout in his belief that Toru is the one who should be leading the company. He flubs and calls Toru president and then former president. Toru tells him that’s okay and then tries to recall his name. Yasuoka then goes an impersonation of Toru before running away saying he was only kidding. Then Natsui shows up in her job hunting suit. Toru smiles—boy does that bring back memories. Natsui says it’s the final interview. Toru is happy and tells her to leave without being confused anymore. Natsui gives a more relaxed smile and agrees to leave without any problems/conflictions.
And now the big reveal! Toru gets an email from Asahina announcing Toru’s removal as president. This floors Toru. I guess…just the way the message was worded…or something…starts alarm bells. Toru seeks Asahina out, but he’s gone to the bank with Yamagami (who complains that he was made the bad guy and Asahina says it can’t be helped as he can’t reveal his hand just yet). Toru then gets a call from Sakaguchi who says that three of his programmers have left him and joined a company known as Tohno Trading. More pieces fall into place. Toru then does a search on Tohno Trading and wouldn’t you know that Asahina’s name shows up as a member? Poor Toru has been hit by the truth train. His best friend has sold him out and stabbed him in the back. And not only has Asahina targeted Toru, but he’s trying to make Sakaguchi fail as well. What gives?
Yoko anxiously watches the emergency press conference on her phone while Nogi watches her in worry. He knows that something’s wrong even when Yoko assures him she’s fine. Toru is still reeling. He goes to the podium and when he passes by Asahina, his friend whispers “Too bad for you.” Toru continues on up as Asahina leaves with a giant smirk over his shoulder. The press conference starts and Toru announces not only is he resigning as president (well, it’s a forced resignation), but he is also completely quitting Next Innovation. What a shock! Asahina just laughs uncontrollably and calls Toru an idiot in his office. Of course, Toru’s quitting immediately receives lots of negative reactions. Again Natsui stands and listens while people badmouth Toru.
And that’s where we end. Truthfully, I think Toru quitting is the right thing. I say this because Asahina needs to be woken up and Toru quitting is the best way to do that. Sure, Asahina can probably run a successful company, but I don’t think it can be nearly as successful as Toru. Asahina complained about Tohno’s shortsightedness, but he’s no better at this moment.
Can’t wait for episode 8! Looks like Asahina’s offering Natsui a job. I think if that’s the case, she’d follow Toru’s footsteps.