Five episodes into Zenkai Girl and I officially love all the characterizations. Oh, and we have also achieved the princess carry. Woot woot! There are lots of extremes meant for contrast purposes, yet the characters feel so three-dimensional, like meeting quirky cousins you only conjured up in your dreams. There are times when I want Ryo to bow less and be more alpha male, and then I realize his strength comes from his goodness and capacity for love. There are moments when I want Wakaba to unbend a little, but then I realize her fundamental dream for success is how she crawled out of poverty.
I just want Ryo and Wakaba to meet in the middle, you know what I mean? Except the joy comes from watching them struggle against their feelings butting up against their own determinations of self-worth. Wakaba thinks she deserves better than Ryo, Ryo thinks he’s not good enough for Wakaba. But everyone around them can see it’s a futile battle, one that ought to be fought smashing watermelons instead.
Episode 5 recap:
The daddies are drinking with the principal when Shota walks into the restaurant. Everyone immediately gets up to congratulate him. Soyoko is a great girl and wonderful catch. Shota tells everyone to stop the toasting since he just turned Soyoko down. The daddies rage, accusing him of not knowing a good thing when he sees it, or perhaps he’s in the clutches of the she-devil. They remind him that he needs a gentle woman like Soyoko, while Shota makes the excuse that he’s not good enough for Soyoko, plus he has to take care of Piitaro.
The next day, Piitaro encourages his dad to confess his feelings to Wakaba. His dad says he doesn’t have those feelings for her, plus he doesn’t suit her either. Piitaro thinks his dad is preemptively giving up. Yes, Ryo, listen to the cry boy of a son you’ve got there.
Hinata asks Wakaba if she’s dating Shindo sensei, which surprises Hinata, since she thought Wakaba liked Piitaro’s dad. Wakaba starts to sputter, and her nervousness whenever Shota’s name is mentioned, is pointed out by Hinata as a clear indicator she likes him. Yes, listen to the little dictator guru, Wakaba.
The “him” in question happens to run into Wakaba and Hinata right at that moment. Piitaro loudly asks Hinata if Wakaba likes his dad. He then proceeds to announce that his dad likes……which is when Shota distracts Piitaro with a bug. Hinata sighs that Shota’s so damn obvious.
Hinata asks Wakaba when she’s going to be candid. Wakaba returns the same question to Hinata, who clearly likes Piitaro. Hinata tells Wakaba not to use her line against her. God I love this little pint-sized Napoleon. They two girls huff each other off.
Soyoko tells Wakaba that Shota turned her down, but all the daddies have sent her encouraging text messages to not give up. Wakaba is distracted and keeps bumping into people. She hides in the stacks and reminds herself to calm down. Sakuragawa sensei walks up and asks what she’s doing? She points out that Wakaba is standing on a magazine that has Sakuragawa sensei’s face on it. Wakaba freaks out! She keeps reminding herself to focus on work, but she makes a mistake in preparing a document and gets chewed out rightfully by Sakaragawa sensei.
Shindo offers her a coffee and the encouragement that failure can easy be forgotten the next time she succeeds. He hands her a ticket to a music salon performance, where his mom is looking forward to meeting her. This refocuses Wakaba, rightfully remembering that THIS is the world that she’s dreaming about. Shindo is happy to see that she’s immediately perked up and back to the Wakaba he knows.
Wakaba doesn’t know what to wear for a fancy schmancy music salon and goes to ask for advice from Soyoko. Soyoko in turn points to a box which contains an elegant cocktail dress that Shindo sensei left at her desk for her. Everyone compliments Shindo sensei on being so thorough and having great taste. Yes, not to mentioned controlling.
Wakaba goes to the restaurant to pick up Hinata, finding Soyoko working next to Shota. The daddies discuss the upcoming preschool sleepover event, where the kids have to bring their yukata (a Japanese casual kimono) and get ready to play a game of smash the watermelon blindfolded. Soyoko says she loves sleepovers, and is looking forward to one day sleeping over at Shota’s place. One daddy is encouraged by Soyoko’s courage and decides to confess his feelings to the cute preschool teacher. Wakaba drags Hinata out and rails at all this ridiculous confessing of feelings.
Sakuragawa sensei gives detailed instructions to Wakaba for getting Hinata’s yukata ready. Wakaba takes a work project and promises to do her best. We see Wakaba back to the multitasking crazy focused girl. Except when she’s studying classical music, she keeps picturing pillbug Shota’s face everywhere.
A daddy is reading up on love books when Shota announces to everyone that he heard the cute preschool teacher is going on a matchmaking date today. The daddy rushes to the matchmaking date site, which is at a music salon. Shota and Piitaro follow him inside, where Shota looks up and sees a shining Wakaba walk down the stairs on Shindo sensei’s arms, beaming at him.
Shindo sensei’s elegant mother arrives and approaches Wakaba to make her introductions. She asks Wakaba how the performance was today. Wakaba says she’s been studying hard, but she still hasn’t a clue about music, though she knows she was really moved by what she heard. Shindo’s mom thinks Wakaba is as interesting as his son described her. She walks away and Shindo sensei tells Wakaba that his mom has a good impression of her.
Piitaro thinks Wakaba is so beautiful today and his dad concurs, noting that she really does belong to a different world than him. Suddenly the daddy finds the date and runs out the door, causing Wakaba and Shindo to look over and see Shota and Piitaro standing there. They wonder what they are doing here?
They see the matchmaking date going on outside. The daddy runs up and announces that he likes the preschool teacher. But he gets chewed out by the principal for not knowing the place to make such a declaration. But the principal tells his daughter to answer the daddy. She first tells her matchmaking date that she’s sorry, then she also turns towards the daddy and bows her apology, saying that she has someone (else) she likes. The daddy faints in shock.
Shindo and Wakaba discuss how forward and courageous that declaration was, without a care for what other people thought. Shindo finds it quite inappropriate nonetheless. Wakaba says that even though it wasn’t very thought out, but it’s candid like what a kid would do. Shindo notices that Wakaba gets flustered whenever she discusses anything associated with Shota.
Wakaba is working at home, using techniques like snapping a rubber hand on herself and poking herself with a sharp tool to stay awake. She drinks tonics to keep her energy up.
Shota arrives to deliver lunch to the law firm. Shindo has Soyoko tell Shota to go ahead and deliver the food directly to the conference room. Shota walks in and sees a large law firm conference in progress, including Wakaba showing off her legal prowess.
Shota puts the food down on the table and is schooled for letting a little bit of sauce drip on the table. He hurries to leave the conference room and walks past Soyoko abruptly. As he’s entering the elevator, Wakaba pulls the doors open and gets in, telling him it’s for work and he shouldn’t misunderstand.
Shota tells Wakaba that she’s really something, so capable at what she’s doing. Wakaba chides Shota for being annoying and always causing her to be confused and distracted. He asks if she thinks he’s an eyesore. She says yes, but then tries to amend what she said. When the door opens and Shota gets out, Wakaba stays in the elevator. He asks if she’s not getting out. She tries to say that she wants to understanding what her feelings mean but the door closes on her before she can finish talking.
Sakaragawa sensei runs into Shota in the lobby and recognizes him as one of the daddies. She confirms that Hinata loves spending time with them. Sakuragawa sensei asks if this year’s sleepover will involve playing the watermelon game? She smiles and wonders if the legend of the game is still true.
The lovelorn daddy finally regains his energy and decides to set up a group date at the restaurant. Soyoko brings Kujo sensei and two blond assistants from the law firm. Kujo sensei wants to leave until Shota shows her a very limited bottle of sake that he’s taking out for this event. Kujo sensei stays and everyone has a great time.
Soyoko is talking with Shota, who thinks the law firm is so capable, what with Shindo sensei who speaks such fluent English. Soyoko thinks Shota seems to care quite a bit about Shindo sensei. Kujo sensei gets drunk and toddles off, but she seems to have made an impression with the lovelorn daddy.
Wakaba is hard at work in the office. Shindo hands Wakaba some snacks and a box of classical music that his mom sent to her. He wonders why she’s working so hard. Is it because there is something she wants to forget? He tells her to smile more, otherwise she’s getting a frown line between her eyes. She’d smile more if she didn’t have to look at your smirk all the time, Shindo.
Wakaba arrives at the restaurant and Shota notices that she’s looking terrible. She confesses that she hasn’t slept in 42 hours. Shota makes her sit down and serves her some seawood soup. They discuss the lovelorn daddy’s public confession and how admirable it is. Piitaro wakes up and asks if preparations for the watermelon game is ready. Shota explains to Wakaba that the loser of the watermelon game has to publicly announce the name of the person he/she likes.
Piitaro asks his little girlfriend Hinata why people can’t be honest about who they like. Hinata says it happens when people grow up. Piitaro whispers a great idea to Hinata who seems quite pleased with it. When Wakaba asks what they were whispering about, Hinata says adults can’t possible understand.
Wakaba pulls another all nighter doing work and preparing Hinata’s yukata and overnight bag for her sleepover. Wakaba takes Hinata to a salon for her hair done and changed into her yukata. Hinata is so cute it should be illegal. When Wakaba goes to pay, Hinata purposely takes out one of her bags and leaves it behind. Piitaro does the same thing before he leaves the house.
Wakaba hands a completed assignment to Sakuragawa sensei, who takes it but tells Wakaba she’s not coming to court with them. She looks like an exhausted mess, so she orders Wakaba home to sleep.
Wakaba and Shota both receives calls that Hinata and Piitaro have left things behind. Wakaba and Shota deliver the purposely left items to the preschool, arriving at the same time. Wakaba realizes that they were both played by the kids.
After handing over the items, Piitaro asks if his dad and Wakaba can stay to play the watermelon smashing. Shota agrees but Wakaba says she doesn’t have the time to play these kids games. Hinata walks in and asks if perhaps Wakaba doesn’t know how to play. Wakaba says she won all the physical fitness awards growing up. So Piitaro asks her to show her skills. When Wakaba still says no, Hinata asks if perhaps Wakaba is scared of failing. Ooooh, I love her wily reverse psychology ways.
Wakaba finally agrees, and reveals that she was great at chopping wood as well so a measly smash the watermelon is kid’s play for her. We see the young Wakaba chants to herself “No distracting thoughts, poverty will be eliminated” as she prepares to drop the axe down.
It’s not typical Wakaba if she didn’t tell everyone to hurry up because she doesn’t have all day. It’s Hinata’s turn and Wakaba thinks she’ll be confessing soon enough and asks if the person she likes is Piitaro. Hinata doesn’t answer and heads towards the watermelon blindfolded.
Sad for poor Piitaro, Hinata smashes the watermelon dead center and doesn’t have to make her confession today. She walks over to Wakaba and hands her the blindfold and tells Wakaba it’s her turn. The principal takes out a special big stick for Wakaba.
Wakaba is turned around and heads towards the watermelon. She’s so dizzy and exhausted that she starts stumbling towards the kids, who run away screaming. She’s pushed back towards the watermelon again. She hits and strikes something. Suddenly she hears someone crying out in pain, which turns out to be poor Shota, who she has just brained in the noggin.
The principal declares Wakaba has to reveal who she really likes. Everyone chants as Wakaba looks very distressed. The principal tells her to put her hand on her heart and speak what it says. She thinks it’s Shindo sensei. The principal tells her to close her eyes and the first face that pops up is the person she likes. Wakaba closes her eyes and of course she immediately sees Shota.
She keeps seeing him despite her attempts to make his visage disappear from her mind. She wonders if she really does like Shota, which is why she can’t stop thinking about him. Suddenly Wakaba puts the stick down and her head falls forward resting on the stick.
Shota checks on her, only to find Wakaba has fallen asleep standing up (and right when she is about to figure out her feelings). Shota princess carries her inside to rest. Piitaro peeks at them until Hinata reminds him not to be a distraction.
Shota looks at the sleeping Wakaba and confesses that he wants to know more about her, such as her childhood and her family, her friends and her love history. He wonders if perhaps what he wants is overreaching and Wakaba will yell at him for thinking such thoughts. But he sees how hard she works at everything, and he really likes this her. OH god, Shota’s confession is just so perfect and sweet, just like who is he.
Shota yawns himself and stretches, leaning back to watch Wakaba sleep. Soyoko finds out from the daddies that Shota is at the preschool and she heads there. The daddies wonder if Shota really likes that she-devil, while lovelorn daddy is teased for liking another she-devil (Kuji sensei). Soyoko heads inside and sees Shota sleeping against the wall (but she doesn’t see Wakaba behind a bookshelf still sleeping).
Soyoko watches Shota sleep, and then tentatively leans forward and places a kiss on his lips. Which is when Wakaba wakes up and sees Soyoko kissing a sleeping Shota.
A plane arrives at Narita international airport. A woman walks out. She calls Shota’s cellphone but gets no answer since he left it at the restaurant. Shota’s cellphone shows that the caller (the woman) is Ririko, his ex-wife and Piitaro’s mom. Oh shit.
Thoughts of Mine:
ZG is a drama where I’m enjoying the story but don’t necessarily buy into the idealized fairytale it may be selling. Unlike some dramas where you strive to adopt the message it leaves behind (love your family, be kind, etc.), I don’t necessarily agree with the love conquers all message that a girl like Wakaba ought to take a chance on a guy like Ryo in the real world. I think Wakaba should stop fighting her feelings for Ryo, and maybe the drama will develop them enough so that when they do get together it’ll make sense and be well-earned. But as a whole, I’m not one to push such wholly disparate people together, which is mostly a recipe for a lot of misaligned expectations. But dramawise I love this type of opposites attract pairing.
I love how funny and light this drama is, like a breath of warm Summer air, spreading smiles and heart tugs everywhere. Hinata cannot get any cuter, and then she out cutes herself in this episode wearing the world’s prettiest yukata. I was half jealous and half mooning over her. It’s really so charming how the drama miniatures Ryo and Wakaba into Piitaro and Hinata, yet give the kids their own distinct personalities. It’s clear the children as a concept ought to show Wakaba that a hard biting girl like herself can be with a more relaxed and cheerful bloke like Ryo simply by watching Hinata interact with Piitaro.
But Hinata hit the nail on the head when she explained to Piitaro that growing up means adding inhibitions and a refusal to be candid. This episode was all about lovelorn daddy being candid, and Soyoko continuing her sweet pursuit of Ryo. I feel like Wakaba was pushed to the limit in terms of lack of sleep and everyone telling her to be honest. She’ll come around in due time. But the question is: will it be too late by then? For my shippy heart, I sure hope not.