So I finished watching episode 15 and came running here, eager to write this out.
Just where do I begin? Shall I start with the statement I’ve probably said a million times by now, which is that this show is so effortlessly watchable with just the right amount of heart and earnestness? I love this show, it’s official – a week to its finale and I know for certain that Mischievous Kiss ~ Love in Tokyo has finally been able to penetrate right into my heart, owning it. I suspect its got lots to do with our bumbling heroine, Kotoko.
Which, by the way, as the title suggests – how many times can my heart break for Kotoko? Thanks to this episode… plenty, it turns out.
What is definite about episode 15 is that Kotoko is at the heart of it; it’s an episode dedicated to her and I’m surprisingly so much more emotionally invested than I would never have guessed. Let’s jump right in… to our leading man, the ever-elusive and silent Naoki. He’s obviously surprised at the piece of news relayed to him over breakfast that Kotoko’s out on a date…
But of course he’s not about to show it, even when he’s by himself and deep in thoughts.
And by the way, this particular screen cap below? Because you know it, I’m such a sucker for these quiet beats and especially those of him drinking his coffee. It’s quick, small moments like this that gives me an insight to Naoki as a person and this one’s not an exception.
I don’t know whether to console or whack him because for the most part – the exception being Kotoko’s rather subdued expressions – the date with Kin-chan clearly went well. These two… they’re such great buddies, I’ll agree to that. In each other’s company, I think it’s pretty much always a great time, but must this then translate to being in love? I love Kin-chan, I do, but…
What can I say? My heart’s firmly on Team Naoki, his robot-ways be damned. Later that night on his own date with Sahoko, who remains as saccharine sweet as ever, she brought up her annoyance at an audience in the front row who’d swayed and such to the orchestra music, clearly meant he fell asleep. Naoki immediately thought of Kotoko, because obviously it’s something she’d do and whaddya know, a huge grin just at the thought of her!
Yes Naoki, do tell – what or who exactly, are you thinking of?
Arriving home at about the same time though means inevitable friction between these two and their already fragile relationship. Irie-Mama tried to put a stop to the bickering as she hilariously exclaimed, “You two are arguing like an old married couple!”, only to be flatly disagreed upon.
The next day, Naoki visited Irie-Papa at the hospital. More push-and-pull in this “I don’t want you to sacrifice your happiness and future for me!” talk with Naoki being stubborn and hard-pressed as usual. “I’ve made up my mind, it’s my decision,” he finally said with a tone of finality.
But it’s Naoki we’re talking about and I’ve basically learned to decode his words and emotions through facial expression and body language. I know I screen cap his side profile way too much, but it’s moments like this that’s so telling of what he really feels. He’s clearly trying to convince himself that he’s made the right decision and that yes, despite what others may think or feel, he’s the master of his life path.
But clearly his facial expression tells a different story; he’s so close to his breaking point.
As if to convince himself further, especially since he was at the hospital and heard/saw/passed by (a cameo by the actor who used to play Naoki in the 1996 version!) doctors and was thus, reminded of his own broken dream… He headed straight to his bookshelf, grabbed those medical school-related textbooks he’d been studying, transferred them to a paper bag and left it at the corner of the room. In due time, perhaps conveniently forgotten.
Or so he thinks or hopes, I’m sure.
I love this scene so, so much because it’s so telling of his true feelings about his current situation. I friggin’ love the director’s touch and skill, seriously I do. Here’s my interpretation of these two screen caps, to put it simply: between a rock and a hard place.
We then proceed to Irie-Papa being discharged from the hospital, thus greeted to a family party-slash-reunion. Only of course Naoki did the unthinkable (or okay maybe not, but kinda insensitive?) – inviting the potential wife-to-be and her influential grandfather, Chairman Oizumi.
The Chairman eyed Kotoko rather rudely, clearly putting her on the spot and later, these two ladies sat together and discussed Naoki, being in love and all that jazz. My heart especially breaks for Kotoko as she affirms Sahoko’s interest in Naoki by relating it to her own; there’s a bittersweet tone as she reflects upon their seemingly endless cycle of push-and-pull. I get the sense that Sahoko knows or guessed that Kotoko was talking about Naoki, but neither said anything to confirm this. Instead, they simply continued to be incredibly polite to one another, albeit rather uncomfortably.
Later that night after a quick heart-to-heart talk with Irie-Mama (who’d run off in tears at Kotoko’s words), these two find themselves face to face once more. I love this particular scene and the angle it’s shot at – that pillar in-between them, in my opinion, is really symbolic of where they stand in terms of their relationship to each other.
So close and yet still separated by an invisible force, made stronger partly due to Naoki’s stubbornness.
Naoki seriously, you need to stop being so mean towards her!
I mean, how could you so coolly walk away, feigning ignorance at the fact that she’s broken to pieces?
And right on, though she’d politely complimented and congratulated him on his bride-to-be and upcoming nuptial just seconds ago, in truth she’s heartbroken. This scene of Kotoko… it kills me, because it’s like resignation and acceptance finally hit at the same time; double-whammy.
It’s having to face the truth that dreams and reality do not always align and an one-sided love that she’d held onto for too long… isn’t happening.
The director did great in capturing the emotional tone through the lighting and wide-shot; it feels like Kotoko’s alone in her sorrow. My heart breaks, ugh it just breaks so much for her as she stood at the end of the staircase – awkward and out of place, still in her pink apron in the quietness of the dark.
The next day, oh my god just as I thought the emotional blow’s done for – apparently not.
In fact, this one’s worse in my opinion because it’s like the aftermath, post-acceptance namely trying to pick up the remaining pieces (what’s left of herself and her heart, that is) and moving forward. Dejection, acceptance or resilience? You decide.
She’s surprisingly calm as her dad tells her it’s happening – they’ll need to move out.
This is relayed crystal clear through this beautiful scene in which father and daughter sit side by side and she’s just holding back her tears but… failing. She’s wispy and seems rather mature in this particular scene as she admits aloud her failed love story to her dad, no less.
“Knowing when to quit is what’s most important,” he tells her, rather regretfully and sympathetically as her tears continue to fall.
Who else if not Kin-chan who’s within earshot? This particular shot of him kills me too – so much earnestness, as always, mixed with… hurt.
The next day however, it’s like everyone’s renewed or something. Kotoko and Kin-chan are off on their second date.
Whereas our resident hero is… Yup, it’s happening folks. It’s happening. This is the engagement ceremony.
As they’re walking down the street though, Kotoko stopped in her tracks when she saw a bridal store and in a surprising turn-of-event, Kin-chan proposed! Rather random, very sweet but also so very, very wrong.
It’s the final episode next week! My heart’s on my sleeve for everyone, particularly Kotoko and Naoki to seal the happy ending with a kiss. You know it’s got to happen or else… Naoki, I’m calling quits on you, so don’t you dare!