Pure Episode 1 Recap
English title: Pure
Broadcast station: Fuji TV
Broadcast dates: 8 January – 18 March 1996
Cast: Wakui Emi, Tsutsumi Shinichi, Takahashi Katsunori, Shinohara Ryoko, Takaoka Saki, Fubuki Jun
Theme song: “Na mo Naki Uta” by Mr.Children
Synopsis: Mentally handicapped Orihara Yuka is a bright and cheerful girl who is just like everyone else – except her IQ is lower and she has trouble understanding complicated things. Yuka meets Sawatari Toru, a jaded news reporter stuck covering scandals instead of real news, who treats her like a normal person and helps her grow and become more independent. Will a worried mother, a doting cousin, a jealous coworker, and a dangerous politician get in Yuka and Toru’s way or will their innocent and pure love have a happy ending?
This episode opens with a young girl sitting in the middle of a street building a miniature snowman. Two men see her and wonder what she is doing. Liking her looks, they try to pick her up, but Orihara Yuka (Wakui Emi) ignores them and concentrates on finishing her snowman. The guys tell her the light is about to change and pull her up, inadvertently squashing her snowman. Yuka pulls away upset and then another guy steps between her and the other two who run off angry. The light turns green and cars are coming at them (they are still in the middle of the intersection). Yuka’s rescuer grabs her hand and pulls her safely across the street to the other side. After safely making it across, the man turns and walks away with Yuka following after him like a little puppy. The man, Sawatari Toru (Tsutsumi Shinichi), finally turns around and asks her what she wants. When Yuka doesn’t say anything right away, he asks if she knew the two men. Yuka immediately pipes up that she didn’t. She was minding her own business and building a grave when these two men came up and grabbed her and destroyed the grave. This surprises Toru. Yuka goes on to say that a bird had died there earlier and she was so bothered by it that she decided to erect a small memorial for it. After hearing her explanation, Toru asks her if she is stupid. Well, I guess that makes sense. How many people would be so bothered by the death of a bird that they would sit in the middle of a road and build a snowman memorial? Toru turns and walks away and Yuka follows him and calls out to him again. When he turns around, Yuka greets him with a bright smile, points at him and tells him that he is a good person. Toru doesn’t even blink or say anything before turning around and walking away.
Yuka heads home where she is met by her worried cousin, Kamizaki Ryo (Takahashi Katsunori). He scolds her for making her mother worry because she was out so late all alone. Yuka worries that her mom might be really angry at her, but Ryo tells her not to worry that he will apologize with her. Yuka immediately brightens up, but then she recalls what Toru said about being stupid. Yuka tells Ryo that she was building a grave and he says that sounds just like her. Yuka asks if this makes her stupid. As Yuka walks away, Ryo says that she is not stupid, it just goes to show Yuka’s pure-heartedness (to himself, not to her). They have a fun little snow fight on their way home and Yuka mentions that she met a nice person, but Ryo doesn’t really understand what she said as he couldn’t hear her properly.
The next day, Yuka’s mother scolds her for going out without telling her and then staying out so late. Yuka says that she is listening and promises that she won’t do it again. Her mother says that her words sound nice, but she doesn’t know if Yuka will actually keep her promise. Yuka puts the phone away and gives her mom the weather report. No umbrella as there will be sunny skies all day. Yuka’s mom smiles and says okay and leaves. Yuka promptly locks the door behind her and her mom checks it before she leaves (there is a note on the door reminding Yuka to lock it). After her mom leaves, Yuka takes care of the laundry and watches TV. We can see notes and reminders all over the house: on the washing machine, and even the TV remote. After Yuka gets all of her chores done, she heads into a workshop where she does art. She also talks to her deceased father there as well.
While Yuka is working in her workshop, her cousin Ryo is working at a restaurant. He asks his boss about their previous discussion about displaying artwork in the restaurant. The boss asks if Ryo means his cousin’s pieces. Ryo says yes and that Yuka is a wonderful artist. His boss tells him that he can’t make a decision without seeing the pieces, so have Yuka come by one day. This makes Ryo happy and he promises that he will get her to come right away. While Yuka is working on her art and Ryo in the restaurant, Orihara Takako (Fubuki Jun) is working in a hair salon. One customer complains about having only sons and how she really wants a daughter so she can be involved in the wedding. Takako says that she has a daughter, but she isn’t excited about weddings or anything of the like. With Yuka’s slight handicap, is marriage even a possibility? Though I am sure that Takako would love to see her daughter happy, in love, and in a wedding dress under normal circumstances. We then cut to Toru who is being handed a special scoop assignment from his boss to catch some actress with a younger idol. Toru shows no enthusiasm and his boss yells at him to forget about being a news reporter as their news is report the hot gossip. Toru says he will get the job done (but you can definitely tell that tabloid stuff is not what he’d like to be doing – wonder what the story is there). Fujiki Asako (Shinohara Ryoko) approaches Toru and asks if he is going on a stakeout. He replies no and she asks if she can come over again. He says that he is busier than she thinks and leaves. Burn.
Ryo comes home and tells Yuka the good news. This surprises Yuka and makes her happy. Ryo even says that if things go well, they may be able to even sell her artwork at the restaurant as well. Takako scolds Ryo and tells him not to get her hopes up. Yuka goes to do the dishes and Ryo asks why his aunt doesn’t want to let Yuka be more free and to try new things to see how far she can get – to test her limits. Takako then asks if he’s never felt burdened because of Yuka, he immediately replies no, but there have been times when she has troubled him. This proves Takako’s point. Yuka is different, not like others. At first she seems normal, but people are quick to misunderstand her and she’s even been brought home by the police several times for doing odd things. Be that as it may, I think Ryo is right that Yuka should be able to test her limitations and see how far she can go. Isn’t that better than keeping your 25-year-old daughter at home all day, every day? Yuka finishes the dishes and comes back into the living room. She turns on the television and watches the weather. She turns to her mother and cousin with a big smile on her face and announces that it will be sunny again tomorrow.
The next day Yuka goes with Ryo to the restaurant and shows her artwork. The boss is impressed and asks if he can display it making Yuka and Ryo both happy. Yuka bows to him and he returns it, but she stays bowed, making the boss uncomfortable so he keeps bowing, but Yuka doesn’t straighten up until someone else comes in. Ryo introduces Yuka to waitress Terao Machiko (Takaoka Saki). Yuka asks if she is a cook too and Machiko replies that she is a waitress. Yuka doesn’t get it and Machiko elaborates that she serves the food. They bow to each other, and like with Ryo’s boss, Yuka stays bowed making Machiko keep bowing. Ryo asks what they are doing, embarrassing Machiko. Yuka then copies Machiko’s movements and speaking – kind of like a girl bonding moment if you didn’t know the reason behind it. 😉 It was a really cute Yuka moment.
On the bus ride home from the restaurant, Yuka recalls that she forgot to thank Toru for saving her the other night, which she feels badly about. She then keeps repeating that she needs to be home before six when her mom gets off of work; however, she catches sight of Toru and hops off the bus to follow him. Toru is setting up his camera to get the big scoop. When the actress and her lover come out of the building, Toru zooms in and just as he is about to get his shot, Yuka’s head gets in the way so he doesn’t get the picture needed for the scoop. A smiling Yuka is glad that she found him and she thanks him. An annoyed Toru asks what she wants and she repeats that she is glad that she found him and thanks him again. Toru asks for what and she says for saving her the other day. At first Toru draws a blank, but then he recalls the incident, but acts like he doesn’t. He packs up his camera and Yuka thanks him again and he replies that he doesn’t remember saving her before walking off. Yuka then stops him and asks where the bus stop is. She can’t remember where she got off at, let alone where the bus stop is.
Meanwhile, Takako is visiting Yuka’s doctor. Apparently she is worried about Yuka acting on impulse again. The doctor asks what kind of art Yuka has been creating of late. Takako replies that no matter what she makes, Yuka always adds wings to all of her art pieces. The doctor says that over the years people change – Yuka will not stay the same. She is a bright girl with a pure heart. The doctor then tells Takako that Yuka knows her limits. She knows that she is different from everyone else, that she can’t understand difficult things, and is not capable of doing as well in school as others do. That being said, the doctor tells Takako that due to Yuka being honest and pure, she might be going through a difficult time right now. This is definitely not what Takako wants to hear. What can she do if Yuka is going through a difficult stage?
Toru takes Yuka to the bus stop where he sits with her. She thanks him for saving her twice now. He replies that he didn’t save her as he had to go to the bus stop anyways. Then a beeping noise starts. Yuka looks all around and Toru takes a pager out of his bag. Yuka asks what it is and he tells her its a pager so people can call him and let him know where he is wanted/needed. Yuka finds this interesting, she calls it a “magic bell” that can let her call him. This surprises Toru and he says that even elementary school students know what a pager is. Toru throws his cigarette butt on the ground and Yuka automatically jumps up and throws it in the ashtray attached to the bus sign. It is really cute when she turns to Toru and says very seriously that he should always put his cigarettes in the ashtray when he is done with them – another surprise for Toru. Yuka then asks if the bus approaching is the right one. Toru says yes. Yuka reaches into her pocket and pulls out a candy and tells him that it gives one energy (she says that he looks tired). Toru doesn’t want to take it, but she takes his hand and puts it in. She then smiles and gets on the bus. Toru stares at the candy and when he looks up, there is Yuka waving from the back window with a big smile. He calls her weird – he just doesn’t know how to take Yuka who is always doing odd things around him and acting very child-like at times.
That evening the Oriharas receive a phone call from an art foundation. Ryo immediately takes the phone from his aunt and is elated to hear that the art piece he entered in place of Yuka won first prize. Ryo hurries over and tells Yuka that her art won a grand prize. Yuka doesn’t understand him and she asks if that is good. He says that it is very good and something that her father had always wanted to win himself. This makes Yuka happy and excited, but definitely upsets her mother who can’t believe that Ryo did this behind her back. When Yuka goes to the workshop to tell her father the good news, Takako asks him what is going on. He tells her that he knew Yuka could do it all along – this proves that she has great potential. Ryo is surprised by the look on Takako’s face. Kind of a mix of shock and horror, but you can understand why she might be feeling that. It has nothing to do with her not wanting her daughter to accomplish things and do well, but fear of what will happen to Yuka if she is thrust into this new world.
At the prize meeting, the board are surprised to find out that Yuka has a mental handicap, especially as it is not noticeable to them (at least not right away). Ryo says that is why he didn’t mention it, it wasn’t that big of a deal. But then there comes a problem. Yuka creates artwork freely of her own choice and design, would she be able to create specific pieces desired by the sponsors (what the winner will have to do for a period of time)? Also, they don’t want the news leaked that someone with a disability won the prize. Why? How could that reflect negatively on their organization? A female board member says that can be overcome as she makes great artwork and seems normal. Yuka’s mother does not like this at all and says that she would rather decline the award because if news gets out, then there could be negative backlash on Yuka and how someone like her could create such art. The woman then turns and asks Yuka what she thinks. Poor Yuka through all of this conversation, really has no idea what is going on as it’s a little too far above her head, but what she does know is that it makes her mother extremely unhappy.
That night, Takako sees that Yuka isn’t in her room and goes to the studio where she hears Yuka talking to her deceased father. Yuka wonders if she did the right thing, but regardless, all she wants is to see her mother’s smiling face. This really touches Takako and makes her feel a little guilty. The next day Yuka gets the weather report and catches her mom before she leaves. She tells her that there is a chance of evening showers. Yuka digs out an umbrella and hands it to her mom who says that despite what she said yesterday, she thinks it will be a good idea to take the award. Yuka smiles and agrees.
Toru is told of a big scoop. This time, the winner of a prestigious art award is apparently mentally handicapped, which would make a sensational item for the tabloid. Toru asks if the source is reliable, but the man refuses to give it up and says to trust him and tell no one about this. Toru’s job is just to go there and get the picture of the winner and to see if you can tell that she is mentally handicapped (which is what the foundation is trying to keep covered up). The man goes to leave and there is Asako with her ear to the door. He asks if she overheard and she says that she didn’t mean to (yeah right, she was blatantly eavesdropping). He pulls Asako into the room and tells Toru to take her with him as her female intuition might better be able to pick up the situation. Later that night Toru is in bed and Asako is getting ready to go. She tells him that she would like to hear about his reporter days. He says that her sleeping with him will not be advantageous to trying to jump start her own career as a reporter. Asako replies that she deems who is worthy and who isn’t and leaves. Apparently she doesn’t like him just because he used to be a news reporter.
The day of the press conference for the award ceremony dawns. Yuka is busy learning her script: “Thank you and I will work hard.” The one board lady wishes that Yuka would use her own words to express her feelings about the awards, but Ryo, Takako and the other boards members think this is the best way to keep Yuka’s disability hidden. Asako arrives at the conference and is wondering where Toru is – he’s running a little late. More like he’s meandering his way slowly to the press conference. Yeah, got to love his enthusiasm for his job. When Yuka goes out on stage she immediately goes back to her mother and cousin, shocked by all the reporters and camera flashes. Ryo tells her to not worry and just smile. Yuka repeats the advice and goes back on stage with a big smile.
The conference starts. Yuka basically only says yes or no and when any more complicated questions come up, the MC tells the reporters to look at the provided brochure. Asako immediately picks up that something isn’t quite right. Toru finally makes it and is surprised to see Yuka up on stage. Things start going south when they ask Yuka for her final statement. Instead of saying anything she remains quiet. Her mother worries and Ryo mouths the words to her, but Yuka remains silent, much to the dislike of the reporters. Finally she speaks up and says that she wishes she were a bird. This makes the reporters start asking more question and the MC ends the press conference. As they are walking off stage, Asako asks Yuka when she will become a bird. Yuka searches for the one who asked and smiles saying that she is looking forward to spring. Yuka’s words shocked her mother and Toru who recalled Yuka telling him about building the grave for the bird. He then reaches into his pocket and pulls out the candy she gave him.
My thoughts: Wakui Emi does a great job at playing the slightly handicapped Orihara Yuka. She displays child-like innocence and disappoint remarkably well, without it seeming too overdone and without us being aware that she is actually “acting,” which is good. Sometimes when people act out people with disabilities they play them to the extremes and make them seem too over the top and I am glad that is not the case in this drama.
I am glad that Takako gave her daughter the chance to show the world her art and to accept the prize, even though she was worried about what would happen. At least she is trying to give her daughter more freedom. It kind of broke my heart when Yuka said she wished she were a bird. Why? Because I get the feeling its because she wants a different kind of freedom and to possibly escape the limited person she knows herself to be.
My only real complaint as of now is Takahashi Katsunori’s acting. He plays her cousin Ryo and I must say that as long as he doesn’t open his mouth in this drama, he’s an okay actor. His Ryo seems way too loud and abrasive and you can tell that Takahashi is acting, which kind of makes me dislike him even though the character of Ryo isn’t all that bad. He is fully supportive and genuinely loves his cousin and wants to see her go as far as she is able with her art and in her life. Though sometimes it seems as if his glances at his cousin are filled with more than familial love. Is he in love with his cousin?