Dayum, this episode of Zenkai Girl almost made me punch the screen I was so pissed. Put aside all the shoddy lawyering and an IP case that was as elementary as it was heavy-handed, THIS was the episode of ZG I was dreading. Almost every single romance J-dorama hits this episode in it’s airing, always pissing me off. Call it the noble idiocy trope, or the convenient last minute switcheroo trope, whatever it was, it simply delays all the happy we’re dying to see for the OTP. No wonder J-doramas are known for having the least making out scenes in its love stories. Who has time to make out if they are constantly getting the rug pulled out from under them? But since ZG is done airing, I can tell you to keep the faith it’ll all get squared away eventually. Too bad it wasn’t in this episode.
Episode 9 recap:
Shota is walking Piitaro to school and the munchin asks his daddy if he’s thinking about Wakaba? Shota has given up on denial and wearily says he is, and confesses to Piitaro that he likes her quite a lot. But there is nothing he can do, Wakaba is marrying Shindo sensei. Piitaro tells Shota to confess his feelings anyways. Shota says it would just complicate things for Wakaba. Piitaro crosses his arms and sighs that things are so complicated. You and me, kid, you and me.
Shota is clearly in a honestly mood, because he even concedes that all of what he just said are likely just convenient excuses, and what he is really lacking is courage. Piitaro gets a great idea and tells his dad that he will demonstrate courage for him. You show him, Piitaro! Piitaro takes off running.
Hinata reminds Wakaba that the wedding is coming up soon, and is she alright with that? What about Piitaro’s dad? Wakaba concedes she does like him, but she’s not ready to give up on her dreams and ambitions. Hinata thinks Wakaba’s attitude and thought process are really not attractive in the least right now. Wakaba says adults have way more things to take into consideration than a kid would understand. They hurry because they are late for the school’s weekly radio exercise.
They run into Shota and Piitaro right outside of school as Piitaro runs into the yard. He climbs on top of the table and turns off the radio. He screams out that he is demonstrating courage right now. He grabs the loudspeaker and addresses Hinata. He tells Hinata that he likes her, and would she marry him when they grow up. Hinata gives a little smile, but then tells Piitaro that he just embarrassed her and hurries into the school. The principal tells Piitaro that Hinata is just embarrassed, but compliments Piitaro on being so brave and honest today.
Piitaro asks his dad if he saw the demonstration. Shota also compliments Piitaro on his courage, confessing his feelings even without the wanted response is still a very good thing to do. He makes eye contact with Wakaba across the yard but neither say anything.
Shota goes to deliver lunch to the law firm. He sees Wakaba in the office and goes to talk with her. Shota is uncomfortable and clearly wants to say something, but he keeps stuttering and finally tells her it’s nothing. Shota leaves, muttering that he’s clearly an idiot for trying to say something here. Wakaba gets called away by Shindo to discuss the upcoming wedding.
Piitaro finds out his dad still hasn’t said anything, and worries that time is running out. They see a wooden toy for sale, the popular hippo who eats treats and says cute phrases. They play with the toy, but run off after seeing Wakaba and Hinata walk past. They follow them, only to see Wakaba and Hinata walk into a bridal dress shop, where Soyoko is waiting for them.
Wakaba sees the wedding dress Shindo sensei chose for her. Hinata tells her to put it on, maybe it will strengthen her resolve to get married. Shota is reluctant to go in, which finally annoys Piitaro so much the kid runs into the dress shop. Shota chases him, and the two of them walk in just as Wakaba walks out wearing the dress.
Piitaro compliments Wakaba on looking so beautiful. Before they can talk, Shota drags Piitaro out, saying that it’s already too late. Wakaba stares at them, with Hinata and even Soyoko urging her to go after him. Wakaba makes up her mind and chases after Shota, deciding that she has to tell him.
Just as Wakaba is running, she trips over her gown and does a face plant on the ground. She raises her head and says “ow, that hurts.”Wakaba, foiled by her hem.
At the law firm the next day, Sakuragawa sensei hands everyone a new intellectual property case, where their main client Brighton is intending to enforce it’s IP against a small Japanese company manufacturing the popular hippo toy Piitaro and Shota checked out. The firm has been retained to win this case and allow Brighton to be the sole manufacturer of the toy by owning the computer chip technology for the hippo to say cute phrases.
A few days later, Wakaba goes to the restaurant to pick up Hinata and sees the daddies all looking depressed. The kids are playing with the hippo toy while the daddies are discussing the company that makes the toy. Turns out one daddy works for the company, which has gotten an injunction against it by Brighton and can’t produce the toy anymore. They find out Wakaba’s firm is representing the other company.
The daddies are upset that Wakaba’s client wants to drive their small family company out of business. Shota tells the daddies to calm down, Wakaba hasn’t done anything wrong. Shota closes the door so the kids can’t overhear this conversation. The daddy says it was his dream to make this toy so kids can be happy.
Wakaba says that doesn’t matter, all she can do is protect the interests of her client. The daddies get on their knees and beg Wakaba to please save the company that makes the hippos. Wakaba says she can’t, especially since she represents the other side.
Hinata asks Wakaba if it’s okay not to help them, since it involves the guy Wakaba likes. Wakaba says work is work, and it can’t be personal. Shota flags Wakaba down and asks her if there really isn’t anything Wakaba can do to help. Will she be willing to stand by their side, as a friend and to help someone being pressured by a stronger party. Wakaba says she can’t help. Shota apologizes for bothering her, saying they will find a way themselves then.
The daddies go beg Kujo sensei to help them. She of course says no, despite all their begging and pleading, though she looks quite sad about it. The daddies are leaving when Soyoko runs after them, telling them to be strong because she supports them. Even if she gets fired, she’s on their side. Shota sees this and looks affected.
Shindo asks Wakaba if the daddies came by to plead their case. He explains the new CEO of Brighton is just an opportunist looking for any chance to make money, and doesn’t care about toys that make kids happy. After Shindo walks away, Wakaba realizes that she’s wavering. Plus she keeps seeing the daddies faces as pillbugs bothering her. She swats them away.
The daddies are outside passing out flyers to raise attention to the case. Soyoko joins them to pass out flyers and get signatures. Wakaba peeks at this, knowing it won’t do anything. She goes back to the firm and gets marching orders from Shindo that they will squeeze the company tight and drive them out of business. The hippo toys are packed up at stores and cannot even be sold anymore.
Wakaba goes to plan the wedding with Shindo and she’s quite distracted. Later that night she sits at home and goes online, reading public comments on this IP dispute, with the public overwhelmingly on the side of the company that makes the toy which brings happiness to their kids.
The next day, Wakaba runs into Shota at the school and overhear the daddy discussing how he’s planning to move to Okinawa soon because he’s out of a job. The principal hears this, and goes to visit Sakuragawa sensei.
They go out for tea, and he begs her to please help the daddy whose job is on the line if the company goes out of business. Sakuragawa sensei smiles that he’s still the same, always caring about others. That is why she entrusts Hinata to him. She says she cannot help, because she is not the same person she was. She gets up to leave, grabbing the check. He stops her and says he will pay for it. Sakuragawa sensei hurries out of the cafe.
Wakaba runs into the principal as they are walking home. He confirms that Sakuragawa sensei was his first love, but he never told her how he felt. He was devastated when she got married. We see a cute flashback of them back in college. Poor principal passes by Sakuragawa sensei and stops her to say something, but then he looses his nerve and runs away. He confesses that he really regrets not telling her back then, which was due to his fear of getting rejected.
Shota and Piitaro go visit the daddy at the factory, where he is still making toys. Wakaba arrives and peers into the factory floor. She looks at the work tables strewn with toys. Suddenly Shota notices her and they go outside to talk. She claims to be here for her job, explaining that legally Brighton is not doing anything wrong.
Shota wonders what the law is? If you ask a child, they can easily say what is right and wrong. The law for him is what his grandmother taught him, not to tell a lie or bully another. Why can’t that be the law?
Wakaba goes home and looks conflicted. She sees a postcard that her dad mailed to her. He apologizes for coming to visit her without notice, and thanks her for mailing back the baby book. He wants her to decide what she wants and be honest with herself. Honesty is the only thing he’s given to her, and he wants her to always have an open heart. He wishes her happiness. Wakaba thinks back to her daddy and starts to cry. She keeps asking herself “why”, why does he say this to her at this juncture. She thinks back to Shota apologizing to Sakuragawa sensei in episode one when Hinata got a shock from kissing Piitaro.
Wakaba hears from Shindo that Brighton is refusing to discuss a settlement with the company. She wonders if perhaps the CEO of Brighton won’t be willing to change his mind? Shindo tells her to stop being so idealistic, and perhaps she shouldn’t work on this case anymore. He hands her the guest list for the wedding, containing all the notable people she is determined to join their ranks. He reminds her that this is exactly what she wants.
The lawyers of the firm are at Brighton headquarters when they see the new CEO walking past. Wakaba looks determined and appears to want to approach him to talk, but Shindo puts a hand on her shoulder and restrains her. Which is when Kujo sensei runs out and approaches the CEO, begging for him to reconsider the IP suit. Shindo goes to stop her and apologizes profusely to the CEO.
Back at the firm, Kujo sensei is not sorry for what she did, even if she gets fired for it. She says this life doesn’t really suit her, she’s from Kyushu and loves drinking and laughing loudly. Wakaba tries to take the blame, saying Kujo sensei did it because of what Wakaba said.
Suddenly Sakuragawa sensei walks in announcing that Brighton has decided to dismiss the IP suit and decided to acquire the Japanese company making the toy. Even if they win the IP suit, they still need skilled toymakers to produce the toy. She went above the CEO and discussed this with the Chairman and founder of Brighton, who is someone with a dream and idealism in his company. Wakaba is thrilled that the daddy won’t be losing his job. Sakuragawa sensei tells Kujo sensei to draft the acquisition documents.
Wakaba thanks Sakuragawa sensei, who says she didn’t do anything. Shindo walks by and says that Sakuragawa sensei just pissed off the Brighton CEO by going over his head, and the time has come for him to step up. He asks Wakaba if she’ll be on his side no matter what. Wakaba doesn’t say anything.
The daddies are having a celebration at the restaurant, thrilled that everything was resolved. Shota and Soyoko are out at an Okinawa restaurant to buy supplies for making an Okinawan dish. As they are walking back, Soyoko candidly says this feels like they are a couple walking together. She confesses this is her dream. Even if Shota thinks she’s throwing herself at him, she wants to marry Shota. She tells him that he doesn’t need to respond to her now, she just wanted to tell him how she feels.
Wakaba goes to see Sakuragawa sensei to ask why she helped the company? Wakaba concedes that because of Shota, she got confused with her role as a lawyer. She wonders if Sakuragawa sensei was influenced by the principal coming to plead for her help. Sakuragawa sensei concedes he was her first love, but she doesn’t regret the road she took. If anything, her only regret might be closing her heart so that she can pursue her dreams. She tells Wakaba to think carefully about what she wants.
Wakaba calls Shota and tells him that she has something to say to him and for him to wait for her. Soyoko and Shota return to the restaurant with the ingrediants. Just as Shota is going to cook the food, Shindo suddenly walks inside. He apologizes for disturbing them, but walks up to Shota and asks to speak with him privately.
Shindo cuts to the chase and asks Shota if he likes Wakaba? Shindo continues and says Shota should want Wakaba’s happiness above all else. He tells Shota not to block Wakaba’s chance at happiness. Wakaba has unlimited potential. She got to where she is through unbelievable hard work, climbing up from a dirt poor childhood. Shindo wants to help Wakaba achieve her dreams. Shota says he wants that as well. Shindo snaps at him, asking what he can do for her? Shindo tells Shota to stop being an obstacle for Wakaba. Back at the restaurant, Soyoko is worried and runs out to check on Shota.
Wakaba arrvies and sees Shota standing alone and staring ahead. She asks if he’s alright? Wakaba takes off her ring and confesses to Shota that she hesitated for a long time before deciding what to do. Even if doing this causes trouble for a lot of people, she wants to tell Shota no matter what. Wakaba confesses that she likes Shota. She knows that she’s silly, but even then, she still likes the pillbug that is Shota.
Shota listens to her confession and his face is just so despondent. He swallows and says that he also……used to like her, using past tense on purpose. Shota continues and says he likes someone else now, that person is Soyoko.
Which is when Soyoko overhears this and is just overcome with emotion. Shota confirms to Soyoko that he likes her and not Wakaba. Shota turns to give Wakaba a bow before taking Soyoko’s hand and walking away with her.
Wakaba stares at his slowing retreating back and finally starts to cry.
Thoughts of Mine:
RAGE. Shindo, you smarmy asswipe, I know you think you mean well for Wakaba, but you are a controlling jackanapes that ought to take the first plane to New York and stay there. I’m probably being too harsh on Shindo, because ultimately Shindo’s position is perfectly legit and he merely told Shota what he thought. It was up to Shota to decide what to do, and he decided wrong! He decided to make Wakaba’s choice for her, which is numero uno on my list of “shit one should never do for another”. It hurts even more that this all came at the very moment Wakaba got up the courage to confess her feelings for Shota! Way to trample on the heart of the girl you love, Shota.
This episode was really one I can do without, from the Death Star vs. Good Guys IP battle that was so utterly one-sided (complete with evil white CEO of Brighton) it was laughable. But the talking hippo toy was cute, so that helped cut down on my annoyance somewhat. I loved how Piitaro really schooled his daddy multiple times in this episode, pushing Shota to be brave and tell Wakaba how he feels. Too bad Shota never got up the courage, and ended the episode doing a dingbat move of rejecting Wakaba for her own good.
What annoys me more is that Shota knows how strong Wakaba is, mentally her intelligence and convictions puts her completely able to decide what she wants in life. It took her that long to confess her feelings to Shota, he should have told her the truth and let HER decide what she wanted to do, throw her dreams away on a chance with Shota, or perhaps just confirm their feelings and then bury this love forever as she still marries Shindo. Either way, he took the decision out of her hands, and I can’t approve of that. Wakaba’s final tear was just so heartbreaking, because we know how far she’s had to travel emotionally to open herself up to Shota. Argh, I’m going to make a Shindo voodoo doll and stabbity it all night now.