Unmei ni, Nita Koi Episode 1 Recap
The summer when Sakurai Kasumi was in middle school, her mother passed away. She was despondent and contemplated suicide until she met a remarkable little boy and the neighborhood dog. The two instantly bonded, but were forced apart when Kasumi’s father and stepmother came to take her back to live with them. Kasumi gave the boy a precious hairpin made by her mother and told him that he must return it to her someday. Fast-forward 30-some years later and Kasumi is a 45-year-old divorcee raising her teenage son by herself.
Episode 1: Forbidden Games
The drama opens with Ozawa Yuri [Saito Takumi] finishing the detail work on a chair when his doorbell rings. He opens the door and finds Sakurai Kasumi [Harada Tomoyo] there with clothes for him (she works at a high-end dry cleaner that caters to the wealthy). He seems confused and it is rather awkward. As Kasumi bends down to take his dress shirts from her bag, inspiration seems to strike and he immediately invites her in to try out the chair he had just made. Kasumi hesitates for a while as you can tell she is completely confused, but she does eventually come in. She is amazed at the simplistic beauty of the chair. Is it really okay for her to sit on it? Yuri assures her it is and she finally sits down in the chair.
Yuri kneels down next to the chair while Kasumi enjoys the seat. It feels like she’s some rich country madam and some interesting show will soon start. Yuri quickly apologies saying that nothing will happen and Kasumi laughs happily. She runs her hands over the carved details on the chair’s arms and Yuri just sits and watches her…enraptured.
Kasumi then leaves, but finds another van parked near her own. She tries to back it out herself, but has great difficulties. She mostly walks everywhere and has not driven herself for a long time. They are shorthanded at the cleaners and thus she is doing jobs she doesn’t normally do. Enter Yuri to save the day. He offers to help her back the van out. Kasumi, as before, hesitates, but eventually accepts his help. Instead of stopping the van and getting out, he keeps driving. This really throws Kasumi. He asks if he should head to her shop and she says yes. Apparently he was on his way out to get some food after realizing he was ravenously hungry and stopped and helped her. It’s very awkward and very odd. It’s lucky he’s not some creepy killer, isn’t it?
As they come to a red light, Yuri proposes a game. If the next light they come to is green, then shall they continue on to some unknown destination? Earlier he had mentioned about going to the beach and asks about if they really should go. Kasumi does find this amusing. What would happen if the light were to be red at the next intersection? Then of course Yuri must stop, lol.
Kasumi during an inner monologue says that of course the next light was neither green nor red, but rather yellow. That is the story of her life. Her husband divorced her to marry a much younger woman and left her to raise their teenage son. Her life is very ordinary with nothing amazing or spectacular happening in it. You know, to add insult to injury, ex-hubby (a photographer, by the way) constantly swings by her job to demand money from her. What a jackie. Oh, and we get to meet her son Tsugumi. He is a high jumper in track and field since he loves to look up at the sky as he jumps over the bar. They have a cute relationship and she does things that embarrasses a typical teenage boy. They are cute together.
We get to meet a regular customer of Kasumi’s workplace, Shirai Maho [Yamaguchi Sayaka]. Maho is the wife of a wealthy businessman and spends money like water (she’s the top client of Kasumi’s work who spends the most money in a year). Theirs is also a lot of rumors about her being a second or third wife. Oh…and it seems she’s having an extramarital affair with Yuri (we learn this later, though, not right at this instance). Go figure. It’s a very tangle web just to start. But, Maho gives Kasumi a very expensive dress as a gift since she says it doesn’t flatter her own looks. Kasumi takes the dress, but wonders if she will ever have a chance to wear something so beautiful.
Kasumi eats lunch at a café where she happens upon Yuri once more…or rather Yuri happens upon her. She’s just starting to eat when he comes to sit down. There are other seats, you know, so why must he sit with her? He immediately brings up their drive from the other day. He then tells Kasumi that she’s his destined person. She immediately tells him that he’s made a mistake as she’s already 45. This shocks him. Really? She looks so young, he thought that she was only 44. What a blow. This annoys her very much, but before she can really react, Yuri’s assistant [Ohgo Suzuka as Ayase Riri] yells at him that it is time for an interview. He turns to leave, but comes back to invite Kasumi to a party he’s having later that week. The girl is stunned. What just happened?
The waitress asks if Kasumi is acquaintances with the famous young designer Ozawa Yuri. Eh, he’s famous? The waitress says that the restaurant’s interior was designed by Yuri and then takes Kasumi over to a magazine where he and his work is featured. She can’t believe it. Meanwhile, Yuri is posing for photographs and complaining to the photographer when Maho arrives. Yuri doesn’t give her too much time as he’s very busy being the boss of his own company and that makes her rather unhappy.
Kasumi goes to visit her mother-in-law Fuji Akari [Kusabue Mitsuko]. Even though she and Fuji Yoji [Koichi Mantaro] have divorced, she maintains a good relationship with his mother who also does old-time portraits for her clients. The two sit down to tea and snacks and Kasumi asks if Akari has ever been to a party. Why? Has a man invited Kasumi to one? Kasumi laughs it off saying she believes Yuri was only teasing her with the invitation. While they are chatting a song comes on the radio. Akari loves the song and goes to turn up the volume; it is called “Forbidden Games.” This song really seems to affect Kasumi. It is also a favorite song of hers. This surprises her MIL. Kasumi then opens up about the summer her mother passed away when she was 14. She was sent to live with her maternal grandmother for awhile in 1986.
As Kasumi was complicating suicide, a dog started barking and swimming towards her. Kasumi freaked out and falls into the water. A little boy wearing a cape arrives and pulls Kasumi upright (the water wasn’t very deep, but she was panicking). Kasumi asks if the dog is the boy’s. No, Halo is the neighborhood dog. The little boy then introduces himself as Amuro because he is a hero (I’m guessing in reference to the popular anime Mobile Suit Gundam where Amuro Ray/Amuro Rei was a mechanic turned pilot of the giant mobile suit and this would have been on TV probably when they were younger). The two immediately begin to spend all of their time together.
The little boy likes to carve things, but he refuses to tell Kasumi what he is making. Then one day Halo is hit but a car. Amuro takes care of the animal and wraps it in his cape telling Kasumi to stay away so she doesn’t see. The two then make a grave for the dog and began to decorate it with dead grasshoppers, broken toys, and bad test papers. At that time, they came up with a plan to bury things there that were related to bad memories or caused them pain in an effort to overcome the problems. The adult Kasumi breaks into tears. She had kept a diary during the time her mother was sick and they built the grave around that diary. Akari apologies for making Kasumi tell the heartbreaking story, but Kasumi shakes it off. No, she had always hoped to tell Akari some day.
We take a break from the story with a brief interruption. Yuri is working on something with wires in his apartment when Maho enters. She sees the chair and says it looks lewd to her. She goes to sit in it, but Yuri pops up and pushes her butt away with his hands. She is not allowed to sit there. Maho is miffed, but says that is okay as a bed is more their forte anyways. Shakes head. Already not liking her. Yuri…is different. I just wonder what goes on in that head of his because you don’t really know. It’s interesting how he physically rejects Maho quite often (even though they are lovers) and even keeps her from that chair, but he’s immediately interested in Kasumi and asked her to sit there calling her his “destined person.”
Back to 1986. Kasumi’s father and stepmother come to take her home with them which means Kasumi and her Amuro will have to part ways. Amuro rushes to the train station to give her a present. It’s a shell he’s been carving and he’s made it into a music box! It plays…of course…”Forbidden Games.” Kasumi is touched by the present. What can she give him in return? The precious barrette that she wouldn’t let her stepmother touch since it was handmade by her mother before she passed away! She only gives it to the little boy after stressing he must return it to her someday. The two then watch until the train puts them out of sight of each other. That was their last meeting.
Kasumi goes back to Yuri’s apartment to deliver his laundry, but he’s not there. She leaves his things at his door and goes to leave, thinking about his invitation. Wouldn’t you know, Yuri happens to catch sight of Kasumi as she’s leaving and he rushes out to see her. She tells him she left his things for him and starts working with a machine to check the inventory. He seems fascinated by this. She tells him it’s nothing impressive and he catches sight of a coat. Isn’t that his? No. He then changes the topic and asks if she’s married, dating, or has someone she likes. This annoys Kasumi once more and she practically shuts his head in her van’s back door. She’s 45, right? There’s no way she hasn’t done one of those things. She goes to leave and he slams his hand down on the back of the van, shocking and trapping her. It’s weird to see him so much more awkward in his approach with her. You can feel that he’s struggling and can’t really get out what he wants to say. It’s cute as he can see a boyish side of him there, awkwardly dealing with his first crush almost. She tells him he has thick lips and gets in the van to drive off. Before she can leave, he rushes to ask her once more to come to his party. She refuses since she’s very busy, but he tells her to come whenever she’s free as he’ll be waiting.
So she told him a half truth. It’s not a lie that work is very busy, but it’s a lie that it’s too busy for her to go to his party. Anywho, while Kasumi’s coworkers gossip about Maho, she is there to pick up last minute emergency clothes for Yuri’s party. Kasumi has no problem taking care of this and tells Maho next time she can just deliver them to her house. Maho then invites Kasumi to go to the party with her since she has no one to go with. Kasumi hesitates…she has nothing to wear, right? Maho reminds Kasumi that she gave her that designer dress. Kasumi then ends up reluctantly agreeing to this scheme. Things go well until Kasumi lets Maho know that she’s delivered clothes to Yuri’s apartment and tried out that chair he refused to let Maho sit in. Yep, Maho is the jealous kind. Forget that she’s a trophy wife of a wealthy businessman, heaven forbid someone go near her boy toy.
Maho goes home and tries on the dress. Tsugumi comes home and is floored by the site of his mother in that designer dress. Who is she? Does it look that bad? Not at all. Kasumi then gets a call from Maho. Looks like she won’t get to wear a pretty dress after all. It will be a costumer party. This so reeked of a setup, I can’t believe Kasumi wasn’t suspicious. Her son couldn’t believe that she would need to dress up like an extreme anime/manga character. Kasumi says it can’t be helped and that Maho would be going as Doraemon (as if it is believable that Maho would dress up as a popular anime/manga chubby blue character). Just…not believable at all. But, then again, Kasumi is a very innocent woman given her age and what she’s been through. She has no reason not to take Maho at face value, does she? In reality, Kasumi is a very simple person.
So Kasumi heads up to the party where Maho opens the door and immediately demands her coat. You can see enough from the cracked doorway that Maho was definitely NOT dressed as Doraemon, so Kasumi should have just turned around and left, but she didn’t. She handed over her coat and was completely humiliated by Maho who introduced her as a person she always depended on from the dry cleaner’s and people immediately poked fun of her costume. Oddly enough, Yuri doesn’t save the day, he just did the character’s catchphrase. The horrified Kasumi immediately runs out. Yuri watches as she walks away and calls out to her. It’s too cold to go around dressed like that. He throws down a scarf. Kasumi watches it fall. It it catches on a tree, Yuri is a bad person; if it makes its way to her without a problem, Yuri is a good person. The scarf lands safely in her arms and she wraps it around herself.
We finish with Maho taking the very drunk Yuri to bed. The minx wants some action. Yuri says he’s too drunk and looks over at the table where he has Kasumi’s barrette inside a little glass case. He then seems to be in the mood after that…just weird. Kind of creepy for some reason. End episode. See? Already very complicated and we haven’t even gotten into the meat of the story!
I had to look up Harada Tomoyo’s age. This actress is actually 50-years-old! I thought she may have been in her late thirties, but she’ll be 50 in November! She has definitely aged very well. Meanwhile, Saito Takumi is only 4 years older than myself, so he’ll be 36 this year. A real-life age gap of 14 years. Not the worst. In the drama, I want to say Kasumi was 14 when she meets the little boy who was between the ages of 5-9 (I believe). So in the drama, it’s only a 5-9 year gap, isn’t it? Oh, and Yamaguchi Sayaka is only a year older than Saito-san in real life, just FYI. And just for fun, the man playing Harada’s husband, Koichi Mantaro, is two years younger than she is in real life while the boy playing their son was born in 1998 making him 19 sometime this year.
I find this drama to be intriguing. I feel like Yamaguchi tend to play characters I don’t like very much. I have a feeling she’ll do everything she can to come between Yuri and Kasumi. These two are drawn to each other and you know since she’s older, divorced, and has a teenage son there will be tons of problems with just society hating on them for that. I am surprised that the drama lets you know from episode one that Kasumi’s Amuro is really Yuri. I would have thought they would have tried to make that plot twist go for a little longer. Oh, sure, there were tons of hints before they came right out and showed us Kasumi’s barrette in Yuri’s apartment, but you still think they’d keep that a bit more suspenseful. Of course, this will set up situational irony since we are all well aware that sweet little Amuro has become the very complex Yuri while Kasumi has no idea of his real identity.