Hakuba no Ouji-sama Episode 1 Recap
Romaji: Hakuba no Ouji-sama Junai Tekireiki
Broadcast network: NTV/YTV
Broadcast date: 3 October – ? 2013
Cast: Yuka, Miura Takahiro, Nakamura Shunsuke, Ichikawa Miwako, Yamada Maho, Yanagishita Tomo, Kawakita Mayuko, Yuki Mio, Arai Hirofumi, Yamamoto Hiroshi, Oka Mayumi, Nakamaru Shinsho, Kitaro
Theme song: “Koi no Ya” 「恋の矢」by kariyushi58 (かりゆし58)
Based on the manga Hakuba no Ouji-sama by Saku Yukizo (朔ユキ蔵)
Synopsis: A serious 32-year-old teacher (Hara Takako) who feels left behind with love starts falling for a younger new coworker (Ozu Koutarou) who vows that he will never make a woman cry, but it turns out he’s already engaged. To complicate matters, Hara’s married ex-lover and fellow teacher (Kurosawa Akio) shows renewed interest and Ozu’s friend Egawa Nobuo falls in love with Hara at first site during a goukon.
This, like Garasu no Ie, was a drama I was interested in after reading the plot. Is this an amazing drama? Too early to tell. I have to give huge props to the actress Yuka who plays the leading lady Hara Takako. How can she maintain that expressionless face? And how can she turn that expressionless face into a suddenly sad and puppy dog expression? While her character portrayal may seem a bit on the stale side, it’s amazing just how much her bland expression is hiding.
We open with Hara talking about being alone on holidays and breaks. She sees the people around her and talks about how they chose each other and ended up dating, married, with a baby, celebrating a milestone anniversary. Hara once thought that she had plenty of time, but before she knew it, she was 30 and all the men around her were taken. Now she feels like there is essentially no one out there for her. She goes to a salon where her hairdresser tries to encourage her to try a different hairstyle, but Hara calmly and expressionlessly refuses this. However, she begins to wonder if maybe her usual hairstyle is too young and she can’t carry it off anymore. She asks if she should try something more mature, but her hairdresser assures her that is not necessary.
The next day the new semester starts at school. Hara thinks to herself about how all these girls (it’s an all girl school) think that something exciting will happen this semester when in fact nothing will. This year will turn out to be just like any other. Then Hara literally bumps into the new teacher Ozu Koutarou (Miura Takahiro who plays his character…like a typical young man who may not be an idiot, but definitely kind of acts like one, but who also has a painful past and a very serious side). He apologizes an introduces himself and Hara immediately begins giving him advice about being a teacher like saying “he is teaching such and such” versus he has “been given the opportunity to teach.” He thanks her for this advice and she goes to sit down.
It turns out that this new teacher will be sitting across from Hara now as well as being in the same homeroom as Hara (probably so he can learn the ropes as it seems a little odd for a class to have two homeroom teachers). It comes time for the usual beginning of semester assembly and Ozu is asked to introduce himself to the students. The girls are thrilled to have a new young and handsome teacher. When they start asking personal questions, Principal Sano (Kitaro) tries to shush them as does Hara. However, Ozu decides to honestly answer their questions. He immediately tells them that he is not interested in younger girls and wishes them to have a happy and successful high school life. They then ask what his ideal type is. Ozu doesn’t answer this question but says he has only one absolute when it comes to dating—to not make his woman cry. This declaration has the kiddies hooting and really catches Hara’s attention as she loved a married man who always made her cry in the long run (since he always had to return home to his wife).
After the assembly, Hara does warn Ozu not to talk about such personal matters with the students as young girls are quite impressionable and easily affected by what people say. Ozu apologizes and thanks Hara again. The students then come up to the two teachers and then start quizzing Ozu again about the kind of woman he likes. Since he doesn’t like younger women, then what about an older woman like Hara? They call her Takako-sama. This is not because they respect Hara, but rather they are making fun of her since she is always serious, cold, and distant. Hara tries to nip this in the bud, especially when the girls talk about her being 32 and single. Ozu tells the girls that Hara is a beautiful and nice person. So why don’t they have lunch then? Hara immediately snaps and Ozu earnestly says that they should have lunch together sometime. This takes Hara aback.
During a break at school, Hara goes up to the…well…not exactly sure if it’s the roof or just an outside corridor…to be alone. She contemplates her past painful love with a married man and also thinks about the kind Ozu. Enter our new 25-year-old teacher. He apologizes as he was looking for a place to be alone to ready himself to face the softball club. Hara goes to leave, but pauses and apologizes for giving him all that advice earlier. She is really not in the position to do so. She then tells him the backstory behind being called Takako-sama and reveals that her students are so astute that it is frightening. This makes Ozu smile. Even a veteran teacher is frightened of the students? She must not yet be accustomed to her job, huh? Hara then tells him about this school being her alma matter and how she came back to teach there so it is all she knows. Ozu then earnestly asks Hara to share lunch with him someday. This takes Hara aback.
That night Hara meets with her girlfriends. They discuss the new young teacher and Hara’s friends encourage her to try for the younger man. Hara is worried about the 7 year age gap. It’s a little too much, isn’t? Plus, she doesn’t want to follow the trend of dating a younger man. Her friend Arima Yuuko (Ichikawa Miwako) says it isn’t a trend but a privilege. As women, they spend so much time and effort on makeup, hairstyles, clothes, so why waste it on a and ugly old man? Since Ozu has already asked Hara to lunch, this must mean he’s interested in her so Hara should seize the day.
At the same time, Ozu is drinking with his friends Imamura Takashi (Yanagishita Tomo) and Egawa Nobuo (Arai Hirofumi). Imamura is the same age as Ozu while Egawa is older and a coworker from Ozu’s old company (he tried the corporate world but couldn’t kiss up to people he didn’t really like at company dinners, hence he quit to be a teacher). Imamura cannot believe that Ozu won’t consider high school girls. Egawa reminds them that dating a high school student at their age is a crime and if Ozu did such a thing, it would be hard to keep the scandal from breaking. So Imamura switches topics to the female staff at the school. Ozu does mention one pretty teacher (Hara) and how he’s asked her out to lunch. Both friend are astounded that he did something like that. He must really like her since he only does such things with people he feels he can connect with and chat with for a long time.
The next morning Hara pays extra close attention to her clothing and makeup. She revels in any time that she can see or be with Ozu. Her quiet liking of the younger Ozu is really kind of cute. Even though she has had some experience with love, she still kind of acts like a shy teenager who is unable to confess, but enjoys watching from afar. They even end up eating the exact same sandwich as one another which seems to please them both.
That night they hold a welcome party for Ozu at the school and Ozu reveals that he said what he said at the opening ceremony as he was trying to put his fiancée at ease since she was worried about him teaching in an all girl school. This shatters Hara. Just when she was thinking about opening herself up to this nice man who vows to never make his girlfriend cry, she learns he’s already taken. During this announcement fellow teacher Kurosawa Akio (Nakamura Shunsuke) keeps a watchful eye on Hara. Afterwards, it looks like he wishes to say something to her, but Hara just bids him a forlorn goodnight.
She dejectedly goes home where she dreams of her painful relationship with the married Kurosawa and she juxtaposes Ozu and his declaration about not making a woman cry on top of all of this. When she wakes up, she has tears rolling down her cheeks. Even though it’s already been a year, Kurosawa can still make her cry.
The next day Kurosawa, who has been keeping his eye on Ozu and Hara, finds it necessary to try to come between the two. When Ozu asks Hara for help on what to do with a certain form, Kurosawa quickly jumps up and invites Ozu to the biology room for a lengthy discussion on proper protocol, etc. since Hara has to teach. This puzzles Hara and also worries her.
While she is in class (I’m guessing she’s a literature teacher or something to that effect since they are discussing tankas—a type of Japanese poetry), she worries that Kurosawa is telling Ozu about their past relationship. She can handle anything else, but not the pure and shining Ozu to know about how she committed adultery with a married man. She doesn’t want him to hate her. But she needn’t have worried as Kurosawa is NOT discussing that part of their relationship.
In the biology room, Ozu sees a picture of Kurosawa, his wife, and their two children. It turns out that Kurosawa married a former student. He assures Ozu that the did not have a relationship until after the girl graduated. Ozu then asks if Kurosawa had Hara as a student since she went to that school Kurosawa answer that he did teach her and he was very happy that she came back to the school as a teacher herself. He smiles to himself as he says she hasn’t changed in all of this time and is still a very serious person.
I will stop here and say that Kurosawa’s lecture was such a typical cheating guy lecture. I mean, yes, I am aware of what he’s talking about. In cultural anthropology you learn that a woman’s mentality is to find a stable, secure man to have children with and who will be able to provide and take care of them (mating wisely). Men, on the other hand, desire a young child-bearing woman and move on to the next young woman (mating widely to spread their seed—I’m not kidding, they teach this stuff in…college at least). Kurosawa finds it odd that Ozu wouldn’t desire a young high school girl as that is really what is most desirous to males. At Ozu’s shock and discomfort, Kurosawa laughs this off saying that is the difference between animals and humans. Then he’s an animal.
That night Hara stays late at school to try to get her materials in order for the next month. She recalls her past relationship with Kurosawa once more and thinks about the kind Ozu. Depressed and hurting she starts humming/singing to herself about how she is okay and happy. Ozu stops by and is surprised she is still there. He is also surprised that she hums to herself as well. He finds that more comforting and better than karaoke. How much more alike can these two get?
Hara takes this opportunity to ask what Ozu discussed with Kurosawa the other day (she still doesn’t want him to know and hater her) and Ozu tells her they talked about Kurosawa being her former teacher and being happy she came back to the school. Well, at least she can be relieved for now. However, hearing that Kurosawa said he was happy she came back, she breaks a glass. She goes to clean it up and slices open her finger. She quickly and calmly gets the first aid kit as Ozu cleans up the glass. He then quickly comes over and bandages her finger for her. At this time Ozu gets a call from his fiancée. He takes the call and promises to call her back when he’s home. He then bids an awkward farewell to Hara. I will say this…something seems off with his fiancée, but I can’t quite put my finger on it…I know that it’s NOT the fact she’s studying abroad, but just he seem a bit tense or really awkward talking about her.
After that Kurosawa comes into the teaching room. He immediately notices Hara’s injury and asks what happened. Hara waves it off as nothing and in the heavy silence, Kurosawa goes to head home, only Hara grabs his sleeve and looks at him with teary eyes. I’m not even really sure its love on her part or just her overwhelming sense of loneliness. The two end up taking a taxi back to Hara’s apartment which is witnessed by student Ichikawa Kotomi [Yuki Mio]. That’s where this episodes leaves off.
Not what I expected, but’s not bland or terrible even though our leading lady does seem rather droll and the leading male seems…just like a typical stock character in these sorts of dramas. I like that Hara is flawed and lonely and despite her age (not that 32 is all that old), she is still very much like a lost little girl. Besides being overly serious, it is kind of wondering how she’s become like she is. I am looking forward to seeing how this progresses, especially since a student has already discovered the illicit affair in a single episode.