Timeout: Standing at the Fork in the Path of Naoki & Kotoko’s Love.

The truth is, I’ve been struggling to write. This is perhaps my third “Add New Post” in the past week.

Real Life is currently up and down, which is nothing new, but I’m in this weird, funky transition that I can’t yet put a name to – I’m trying to write it all out here but the words just aren’t coming together, despite multiple attempts. I’m aware I’m being rather impatient with myself – sometimes a slump is exactly what it is and requires one to simply ride it out, until the wave subsides – but this inability to coherently express and make sense of these jumble of thoughts and emotions… I’m an internal mess.

I’m currently forcing myself to write this because this writer’s (emotional) block is frustrating, plus episode 14 makes me feel sad.

A fellow reader here, Sara, had helpfully informed me that Mischievous Kiss ~ Love in Tokyo actually has three directors working on this show, which perhaps explained why certain episodes were lackluster and lacking in coherence. Fortunately however, the main director, Nagata Koto who directed the first episode – I don’t know which other ones she’d directed, but I know for sure she did the first one based on a random BTS clip I found and watched some weeks ago – is the one directing the final three episodes, which of course includes episode 14. All I can say is, thank goodness.

Where episode 13 introduced us to the final conflict of this show, episode 14 wheeled this right along and jumped into the heart of the matter: perhaps Kotoko and Naoki are indeed not meant to be and thus, it’s timely that Kotoko let go of her feelings towards him and move forward.

The path to that decision however, is one that’s particularly painful, as depicted with such bittersweet nuance throughout this episode. The episode started off light enough with more sleuthing and stalking by Kotoko, Mum (whom frankly I’m starting to be really annoyed at cos she’s so friggin’ immature) and whaddya know, Matsumoto Yuko herself.

MKLiT 14-1

Unfortunately for them, their efforts went down to naught as not only was the (arranged) first date successful, the chairman’s granddaughter also turned out to be the exact definition of a gentle, traditional Japanese woman. Honestly, she seems genuinely nice which pretty much unintentionally adds salt to the wound, both mine and Kotoko’s – how the hell do you hate someone like this, you know?

In addition, because nothing Kotoko does escapes Naoki’s attention, he of course called her out on the sleuthing and failed attempts to sabotage the date, chiding her as per usual.

MKLiT 14-2

What makes this time different than all the others in the past though, is that this one’s tinged with a kind of bittersweet feeling. Kotoko tries as per her usual to put a stop to things and people standing in the way between her and Naoki but based upon her expression below, personally I think she realizes this herself; more sad than anything because this time around, it really feels like it’s the real deal.

Try as she might – this date, relationship and marriage of convenience will very likely take place.

MKLiT 14-3

Similarly, Naoki being Naoki and trying to do the right thing, is all too aware himself. I love this scene below so, so much because it speaks volume of what Naoki feels – dejection towards reality and doing the right, responsible thing …at the expense of his own dreams, desires and perhaps too, love.

MKLiT 14-4

It’s not long before we reach the fork in the path of this love and subsequently, the inevitable face-off between our silent hero and loyal second lead. At stake is of course, as depicted so aptly through this scene, is our endearing Kotoko.

MKLiT 14-5

She, who knows to whom her heart wishes to belong to but is slowly and painfully realizing that dreams don’t necessarily match with reality. Her expression here gutted me right at the heart because the truth is clearly dawning upon her as she fervently, internally wishes, “Say you know that I love you, Naoki. Tell him that you know Kotoko loves you. Say it, please.” 

MKLiT 14-6

When has he ever done what she wants? Of course Naoki went with his usual response, “Do whatever you want.” Smirking at Kin-chan with such bravado and without missing a beat, coolly walking away.

In truth however and once more in the quiet darkness by himself, the truth is apparent. This scene too, gutted and half-frustrated me because he’s pretty much giving up without even trying! What’s even more painful though, is the fact that there’s no need to be screaming murder at Naoki because he’s yes, all-too aware himself.

MKLiT 14-7

We return to our heroine and this is another beautifully done scene, one that specifically reflects the inner turmoils of the character. It starts off by showing us a panned out view of Kotoko illuminated by a single, faint street light…

MKLiT 14-8

Then slowly zooming in to Kotoko, whose facial expression is a contortion of heartbreak, reality check and the cold, hard truth.

MKLiT 14-9       MKLiT 14-10       MKLiT 14-11

For the third time in this episode – clearly a symbolic scene as an entirety, speaking on behalf of Naoki where he isn’t able to and a raw depiction of his true feelings – Naoki is surrounded by the quiet darkness. His facial expression betrays his outward facade just minutes earlier and he contemplates, perhaps a million times over, the previous scene and his supposedly, necessary-cruel decision.

It’s rather ironic, this scene and the one above of Kotoko – they’re both basked in a single, dim light in the quietness of the dark. They’re both deep in thoughts, defeated by reality and finally having to face their first entry into maturity. It is no laughing matter, there is nothing funny about this entire episode, what more this particular outcome and I love that the director is able to really encapsulate this heartbreak with so much nuance. Additionally, I love it as well that she’s respectful of her characters’ emotions – in a larger scope, this is perhaps trivial and childish but in the grand scheme of things within this show’s world and especially where Kotoko and Naoki are concerned, this heartbreak is real.

I think his heart is breaking, just as hers is and well… so is mine.

MKLiT 14-12Yuki then tried to inject some sense into his brother, having been the sole witness to the epic and wonderful second kiss in episode 10.

MKLiT 14-14

Unfortunately, it’s to no avail as Naoki didn’t even put up a fight, nor give an explanation. The very next day too, Kin-chan mustered all his courage to actively (attempt) to step into leading man territory with Kotoko, asking her out on a date.

MKLiT 14-13

To which she… you guessed it, said yes. Not even unkindly, I might add, but sincerely, clearly meaning it this time around. In fact, another great scene that thoughtfully complements the conflict at heart, addressing and perhaps even, answering the question posed earlier in the episode: this fork in the path of love, which is the path to tread upon?

MKLiT 14-15

Like it or not, Kotoko’s made a decision.

On the other side of town, as if giving us a preview of the subsequent slipping slope of this decision, Naoki’s finally basked in a bright, white light and as usual, deep in thoughts. I suspect he’s made his decision too.

MKLiT 14-16

If one looks closely, in truth he is… I dare say that Naoki is, like me, a jumble of an emotional mess

MKLiT 14-17

Is it regret? Is it dejection? Is it acceptance at a decision made, perhaps an entire life plan’s worth? Is this sacrifice worth what he thinks it is?

Hold on to your heart and emotions – we’ll find out this week.

2 thoughts on “Timeout: Standing at the Fork in the Path of Naoki & Kotoko’s Love.

  1. Ahaha I totally love your screencap of Yuko & Kotoko, jealously spying on Naoki’s omiai. I thought it was really funny when they both looked so deflated after they saw his perfect omiai-partner. I’m also glad that the good PD is in charge of the last three episodes, I have higher hopes for the finale now!

    Ah Jan. :'( *gives hug* Aren’t we ALL emotional messes!?!? (ok maybe not but I’m one of them. That’s not much encouragement eh. YOU’RE NOT ALONE!!) Maybe if the words aren’t coming to mind for expressing your feelings, you could try drawing them. I know it sounds cheesy but sometimes when I’m down I just draw my angst rather than..writing it. O_O

    1. Heisui, thanks!! *big hug*

      Unfortunately I’m not great with drawing so I can’t/don’t really know how to express myself apart from writing :( I just attempted to write another entry and ugh, epic fail again. I’m happy enough this one was successfully written though, but prolly easier since it’s not about me…

      Good days and bad days, le sigh. Thanks for trying to console though :”)

      PS that screencap – just at the right second!

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