Normally I don’t jump ahead when it comes to recapping, but with respect to Zenkai Girl it’s pretty much a given this baby is going to end well. It might go insane for an episode or two, but it’s sure to be rainbows and unicorns by the end. If anyone thought otherwise, sorry to say burst your naysayer bubble. Heh. So everyone can rest easy while I finish recapping this baby, this week’s live airing of the finale of Zenkai Girl was one delicious ball of cotton candy that I stuffed all over my face. Forget the fact that it gave me a tooth ache and had zero substance, but man did the sugar high feel exhilarating.
I think Zenkai Girl will ultimately be considered a drama with no discernible plot, coasting entirely on overwhelming us with feelings when we watch it. And sometimes that is exactly what we need. A surfeit of feelings plus the perfect pairing of Ryo and Gakki. Episode 7 takes us from one anger-engagement to one hug-of-tenderness. I can totally get onboard that plot direction.
Episode 7 recap:
Wakaba overhears Shota’s ex-wife Ririka declare that she wants to get back together with him, and together they can take Piitaro to New York. She somehow takes a giant leap of logic and thinks her newly discovered feelings for Shota are irrelevant now. When she conveniently gets a call from Shindo sensei, she accepts his clinical marriage proposal. While staring right at Shota’s stunned face.
Before anyone can react, Shota gets a call from a daddy that he’s headed back to the restaurant with the kids in tow, having just had a great time at the temple festival. Shota tells Ririka that now is not the time to talk and promises to contact her later. Ririka leaves her contact information and leaves, but not before giving Wakaba a curious look.
The kids come back and Shota confirm in a roundabout way that Piitaro didn’t run into his mom outside. Shota keeps offering the kids food to keep the conversation going. Wakaba drags Hinata out of the restaurant.
On their walk home, Wakaba keeps muttering that she can’t believe she considered declaring her feelings for that pillbug. When Hinata asks what’s going on, Wakaba just screams “bakayaro!” i.e. “you idiot” from the bridge. Poor Hinata has to walk double time just to keep up with Wakaba.
Back in her apartment, Wakaba takes a drink of milk to calm herself down. Suddenly she gets a knock on her door and it’s Shindo, here with champagne to celebrate after finding out from Soyoko where she lives. She tries to pretend he’s got the wrong place but he reminds her that her name tag is on the door. Wakaba has no choice but the crack the door open and say hello. Her reluctance to let him in only makes him more curious about her place. She tries to feign a headache, to which Shindo asks if Wakaba would like to go out with him and clear her head?
He takes her to a darkened building through the service tunnel until they enter a room where the lights suddenly all turn on to reveal a glittering jewelry store. A row of employees are waiting to show Wakaba engagement rings, as Shindo has booked this place for the night just for her. He tells her that he never thought he would find someone he wanted to share his life with. Everyone always conceal their true nature, but Wakaba doesn’t ever do that. Shindo promises that since he’s selected her as his life partner, he will never betray her. He asks her to please accept his ring. Wakaba looks stunned.
On the walk to school the next morning, Wakaba purposely displays her ring proudly. Hinata asks if it’s from Shindo sensei? When Wakaba says yes, Hinata mutters under her breath that Wakaba promised she would be honest with herself, and then she sighs a big fat little girl sigh of resignation.
They girls arrive at the school just in time to see Shota dropping Piitaro off. The daddies drag him outside to ask if he’s planning ton get back together with Ririka? Before Shota can answer, another kid comes over bearing little chicks he won at the temple yesterday.
Wabaka drags Shota aside and tells him to calm down, mistakenly thinking Shota’s nervous energy is excitement about Ririka’s return. The daddies think Wakaba is also against Shota getting back together with Ririka and are amazed they actually agree on something for the first time. They think that Wakaba is actually cute compared to Ririka, who is a true demon woman who abandoned Piitaro.
They discuss how Ririka has always been pawning Piitaro off on Shota from the first time they met. We see flashbacks from the daddies imagination of how Ririka dumped Piitaro on Shota, who was used and abused. Shota tries to explain that the daddies are mistaken about Ririka. Wakaba says none of this has anything to do with her. In another month she will be done with her nanny duties. Plus she’s engaged to Shindo sensei now, which is when she flashes her giant bling directly in Shota’s face. Niiiiice, Wakaba. That was the very opposite of nice.
Wakaba purposely holds her work folder in a way to display her ring for all to see. When she bumps into Sakuragawa sensei, the latter correctly assesses the value of the diamond at roughly a cool 7 million Yen. Wakaba suddenly feels an arctic chill on her hand knowing the cost of the bling she is wearing. Sakuragawa sensei doesn’t want to interfere, but she merely wanted to remind Wakaba that she has another month of nanny duties. Wakaba knows and since she made a promise, she won’t let anything get in the way of doing her job. Sakuragawa sensei asks Wakaba to bring Hinata by earlier since she’s planning to leave work early today. The other lawyer notes that Sakuragawa sensei appears to be spending more time with her daughter, and now might be a good time to stage a coup for power.
Wakaba heads out on a work assignment when she sees Shota on the street and can’t help it but follow him to a meeting with Ririka. She accidentally runs into the waiter and the clatter causes everyone to notice her in the restaurant. Wakaba says hello and hands her lawyer card to Ririka before quickly leaving the restaurant.
When she goes to pick up Hinata, Shota tries to talk with Wakaba who just ignores him. She notices that the kids are crowded around a box of three little chicks, which the preschool has decided to raise. Piitaro offers raise the chicks. Wakaba tells the kids that chickens are not pets, they are household animals. We see young Wakaba birthing a chicken from an egg and then raising that chicken until it starts to hatch eggs, which she would happily crack over a bowl of rice and eat. Little Wakaba is just a billion percent too awesome for words. I want little Wakaba and Hinata to cross-time realities and meet and conquer the world together.
Wakaba picks up the chick and says these are all males, so they can’t lay any eggs. Since they have no use, in a few months they will be full sized and start crowing and bothering the neighbors. If it were her, she would just eat it. When she makes this speech, all the adults are just staring at her with terror in their eyes, while the kids are literally scared speechless.
Shota follows Wakaba out of the preschool and keeps insisting that he needs to explain something to her. He first met Ririka a year ago, she was an aspiring dancer who got pregnant young and is trying to raise her son alone and trying to pursue her dream. She was actually very apologetic to keep asking Shota to help her watch Piitaro as she went for auditions.
But Shota grew to never want to see Piitaro cry as he was constantly being teased by the kids at the playground. Shota naturally became a family with Ririka, until she had a chance to pursue her dream and left with a dancer to New York. Shota tells her to go and don’t cry for Piitaro.
He knows he’s stupid, but he doesn’t regret getting married or raising Piitaro. Wakaba asks why he doesn’t go to New York with Ririka now. That would fix everything. He needs to do it for Piitaro. She has also picked the road she’s going to walk for her journey.
Shota watches Piitaro taking care of the chicks at night. Piitaro asks where the chicks mother is? Shota says they were separated from their mom when they were young. Piitaro thinks they should be lonely, but Shota says they’ll be fine because Piitaro will take care of them.
When Piitaro laughs about how easy it is to raise something, Shota grows quiet and then tells Piitaro that raising something isn’t easy at all. Raising something requires giving up time, giving up interests, learning lots of patience. Piitaro asks if his dad is holding back a lot of things right now? When Shota says no, Piitaro yells at his dad, crying that he doesn’t like it when he’s dad is like this.
Hinata talks with her mom about how Piitaro and Shota are having problems. Sakuragawa sensei says it’s difficult and they can only watch from the sidelines and wish them well. When Hinata worries about Wakaba marrying Shindo sensei, her mom says the same advice she gave early, they can only send well wishes to them that everything will work out in the end.
Piitaro brings the chicks to school the next day and immediately the kids crowd around the box wanting to hold the chicks and play with them. Wakaba schools them on the care and nurturing of chicks, which does not involve kid-handling them to death. The kids beg her to team teach how to raise the chicks properly.
Wakaba holds her class on Chick Raising 101. First is poking holes in the box so the chicks get plenty of air. Then is shredding newspapers to make their house softer. She tells them to clip a lamp to the side of the box to keep the chicks warm. Finally it’s out to the garden to pick vegetables to mash up and feed to the chicks. The kids are enthusiastic and happily comply with all her lessons.
Shota tells lovelorn daddy that Ririka asked to get back together. Before they can chat some more, a call comes in to bring take-out food to the law firm. Lovelorn daddy offers to go for Shota, where he promptly stalks Kujo sensei and begs her to go on a date with him. Before Wakaba can interrupt, Shindo walks over and hilariously points out that Kujo sensei appears to be quite pleased with the attention, despite her claims to the contrary. Shindo tells Wakaba that he’s scheduled a lunch to announce their engagement to the people at the firm.
Piitaro overhears his dad on the phone with his mom and he can clearly sense something. He goes back inside to check on his chicks, asking if they are okay. Suddenly Piitaro runs out of the house bearing the box of chicks, as Shota asks where he’s going. Piitaro runs to Wakaba and begs her to please save the chicks, which are all dying. We see Shota sitting outside as he’s accompanied Piitaro but doesn’t want to come inside.
Wakaba takes Piitaro and the box of chicks inside her apartment and proceeds to revive them with some extra heat and sugar water. She asks Piitaro why he didn’t take better care of the chicks? Piitaro confesses to being distracted because of something he’s not telling his dad. He doesn’t like himself, and if the chicks die it’s all his fault since he’s responsible for raising them. Piitaro starts to cry so Wakaba tells him to stay put and she runs outside to school Shota.
She tells Shota that he needs to tell Piitaro the truth and then make a decision. Because of Shota’s inability to make hard decisions, it’s instead caused Pitaro much worry. She tells Shota to figure out what he wants and then do it, stop frustrating the people around him.
Shota calls Ririka and tells her that he doesn’t want to get back together. He knows it’s the best for them as a family, but he can’t go back to being a husband to her. In the past he would have agreed to do it for her and endure it for Piitaro, but he knows now that isn’t what will make them all happy in the end. Ririka understands that Shota must like someone right now. Shota confirms it, but says she’s going to marry another man soon. Ririka guesses that it’s Ayukawa Wakaba. She doesn’t say anything but looks sadly at the picture in her wallet of her, Shota, and Piitaro.
Shota tells Piitaro that his mother is back, and he wants Piitaro to meet her and decide what he wants to do. Piitaro asks if Shota will be going with him to New York. Shota says he’s planning to stay here. Piitaro starts crying as he asks if this means he won’t be living with his dad anymore? Shota says if Piitaro decides to go with his mom, that does mean he won’t be living with him.
Shota asks Piitaro to think about what he wants and decide himself. Piitaro cries and says he wants to stay with his dad, because he is his dad’s son. Shota’s eyes redden as he hears this. Shota changes the subject and goes to check on the revived chicks with Piitaro. Wakaba watches this scene and smiles.
Shota takes Piitaro to the bus station to say goodbye to Ririka. Piitaro hides behind Shota’s arm, which confirms for Ririka that her son as chosen Shota. Shota apologizes to Ririka, who tells him she is the one who ought to apologize for leaving. A year really is such a long time for a child. Ririka tells Piitaro that she heard from the principal that Piitaro doesn’t cry anymore and instead smiles every day. She thanks Shota for making Piitaro smile instead of cry. Ririka kneels down for a hug, which Piitaro is initially reluctant to give.
But when Shota nudges him, Piitaro walks into Ririka’s arms for a hug. Suddenly Piitaro smiles and says “it’s the smell of mommy” and tells Ririka that she smells so good. We see Shota’s face freeze at that moment.
Ririka wipes the tears from her eyes as she gets up and leaves. Piitaro runs after his mom and tells her to dance hard. She nods and smiles back at him through her tears. Piitaro waves until his mom has walked out of sight. Shota stands there silently watching everything.
Wakaba gets a call from Ririka, who tells Wakaba that she is leaving Shota in her hands. Wakaba goes into the classroom and sees Piitaro happily playing, and hears from Urara sensei that Shota dropped off Piitaro earlier and left looking pretty depressed and unlike himself. Back at the office, Sakuragawa sensei notes that Wakaba has chosen Shindo, but drops the suggestion that perhaps her feelings may not be so truthworthy.
Wakaba gets a call from Shota, who tells her that he lied about Piitaro. He’s a really pathetic guy. Things became like this because he planned it from the beginning, so that Piitaro would choose him. All the guests arrive at the lunch except for Wakaba. Shindo says she’ll be here soon. Wakaba runs around until she finds Shota sitting despondently at the park. The kids at school are enjoying their lunch, but not before the principal explains to them that the food they are eating has a life and they need to be thankful for it. Shindo calls a missing Wakaba to remind her that she’s late. Sakuragawa sensei looks at the empty seat next to her with a thoughtful expression.
Wakaba takes Shota home and demands to know what he’s talking about? Ririka is on the plane now so there is no point in being upset about it. Shota asks if it’s the right thing to ask Piitaro to pick. Wakaba says yes, since that allows his feelings to be taken into account. Shota shakes his head and says he planned it, asking a five year old to pick. Small kids always pick the person closest to them.
In a year from now, Piitaro won’t even remember his mom’s face. He’s already begun to forget her. But today when he hugged his mom and happily remembered her smell, Shota knew that Piitaro missed his mom. Yet he’s just a pathetic man who wants to be with Piitaro.
Shota starts to sob and Wakaba pulls him into her embrace. She tells him that she lost her mother young and she doesn’t have any memory of her. But she knows that if she was in Piitaro’s shoes, she would make the same decision. No one can know what the right decision is.
Wakaba hugs Shota tighter, telling him that what is most important is if Shota can give Piitaro happiness. Shota hugs Wakaba back as he continues to sob into her shoulders. Wakaba’s phone rings in her purse but she doesn’t hear it. We see it’s Sakuragawa sensei calling her from outside the restaurant where Shindo is waiting for her.
Thoughts of Mine:
Oh god. Was that a hug or was that a HUG? Hells yes, we’re finally gaining some traction on the OTP front. I know I mentioned how I loved the family aspect of this drama more than the love story, but I still want the darn love story to start moving somewhere other than in opposite directions. Yes, I know Wakaba got herself engaged to Shindo already. Like, who the heck gets herself engaged in a fit of pique? Angry sex I understand. Angry engagement, this is a first for me.
I don’t hate Shindo, who is all sorts of honest and decent with Wakaba, and really does treat her with respect, admiration, and courtesy. It was nice to see him dig up where she lived and come over with celebratory champagne, and not act all affronted that she lives in such a dump. I dig that about Shindo, a man who may be calculating and smarmy, but is nevertheless someone who never pretends otherwise and has so far not exhibited any haughty pretensions. And taking Wakaba to a jewelry store late at night, which he privately booked, just for her to pick a ring? That was something to behold.
I really enjoyed the metaphor for this episode – Piitaro raising the chicks who have no mom segueing into Ryo raising Piitaro for Ririka. It wasn’t hammered home to death, and was a way for everyone to discuss the question of nature versus nurture. Should Piitaro go with Ririka because she’s his birth mom, or stay with Shota who has been raising him with such love. I’m thrilled the drama chose not to portray Ririka as a selfish and hateful woman, but rather someone who may seem flighty, but genuinely wants her son and her dream at the same time. She’s not going to win any mothering awards, but at least she’s not the terrible human being I was expecting her to be.
I think having Piitaro choose was not the right thing to do, and I’m glad Shota chose to acknowledge that truth, and confess to allowing it to happen because he knew Piitaro would choose him. Watching Shota cry took my breath away, and clearly made Wakaba lose her mind and forget she had an engagement lunch to go to. Good for her, being there for Shota and comforting him when he was so very down. I don’t think the Piitaro issue is resolved for good, but I’m glad this episode moved the story one giant step forward for everyone involved.