If episode 1 of Rich Man, Poor Woman was a solid beginning, then episode 2 proved it was capable of taking a solid set up and running with it. What’s great about RMPW is how it confidently toggles so many different elements all at once, like a juggler who expertly keeps our attention by the action on top that we don’t see the slight of hand below. I enjoy the interpersonal relationships in this story because it’s not spelled out clearly. The viewers are getting to know the characters at the same time the other characters are also doing the same discovery. Little time is wasted on exposition so the story hurtles along because the folks in it are trying to get somewhere. Chihiro wants a job, Hyuga wants his government contract for his grand project, Yoko wants Hyuga to remember her, and Asahina acts like a Greek Chorus commenting on the action yet somehow filing information away in his trove for use later. It’s nice to see how quickly Chihiro and Hyuga already affect each other in positive ways, with their characters evolving before our eyes quite believably. Is that the hallmark of a great OTP? Most definitely.
Episode 2 recap:
Hyuga wakes up in his living room and gets ready to go to work. The lights flick on in his massive garage to show off his sizeable collection of fancy cars. He walks to his white Lexus convertible where he spots Chihiro’s new pumps. He flashes back to their previous interactions, including when she helped him with the person he didn’t recognize, and when he yelled at her later. He picks the pumps up and looks at it before tossing it in the dumpster by telling himself that she doesn’t need those shoes anymore.
Chihiro gets ready for yet another day of job searching, which is when she realizes that she left her new pumps in Hyuga’s car. Her friend calls her and asks about her gig at Next Innovation, which leads Chihiro to admit she screwed it up there. She thinks back to her conversation with Asahina in the car, where he confronted her on using the false name of Sawaki Chihiro. She tells Asahina that she’s relieved he busted her since she doesn’t like lying about who she is and she never meant to do it purposely. Chihiro heads off to work and gives herself a pep talk after she checks her mailbox and sees there is no letter from prospective employers.
At the Next Innovation building, Yoko is taking a delivery of groceries for the new restaurant and she confronts the delivery man on the items not being what she ordered. A male chef comes out and brusquely tells her that he changed the order since all the “innovative” item she ordered isn’t what the restaurant will be selling to the majority of the customers. Yoko grumbles that the guy is just a sore loser that she got the job of head chef. Hyuga pulls up and Yoko goes to greet him, but of course he doesn’t recognize her and brushes her off.
In the elevator, Asahina has to remind Hyuga that the chef girl he just brushed off is Asahina’s younger sister. Asahina reveals he wants to call Chihiro back since there is another meeting with the Ministry and Hyuga is fine with it, since she’ll come running if like an obedient dog. They discuss how Chihiro appeared to have hit it off with the Vice Minister.
Hyuga arrives at work and Yamagami immediately asks him to change into a suit because he’s meeting with the company Board of Directors today. Hyuga teases that says his outfit is fashion forward and perfect for the Summer season, leaving Yamagami dismayed at how Hyuga refuses to play by the proper etiquette. When discussing today’s schedule with Yasuoka, Hyuga looks at him curiously and Yasuoka happily pulls out his name badge to remind Hyuga.
Chihiro arrives at Next Innovation and she gets bumped into by a person moving a potted plant. Yoko asks if she’s alright and sees a four leaf clover on her head which brings luck. This makes Chihiro so happy to feel like people here are so nice. Chihiro takes the elevator up, where she is sandwiched between a bunch of suited men who turn out to be the aforementioned Board of Directors.
Chihiro is welcomed to the company, with folks thinking she’s some newly hired big shot from the India cloud computing company. Suddenly all the women gasp as Hyuga walks out wearing a snappy double-breasted suit. They exclaim over how handsome he is, and Hyuga ribs Yamagami for being so shabbily dressed when Yamagami asked him to look dapper for the Board Meeting.
Hyuga sees Chihiro and has this wolfish devious look on his face. He gives Asahina a side glance before loudly greeting her and says he would rather spend time talking to her rather than attend a stodgy old Board Meeting. He steers her off with everyone staring.
Hyuga takes her to a board room and introduces her to a bunch of employees working on the personal data project as the example of an idiot who should not be emulated. Chihiro did nothing particular in dealing with the Vice Minister and she’s failed at all her job interviews. The few people are asked to keep her presence a secret on this team to win the government project. He criticizes her stodgy suit again and she snaps back that she’s job hunting and there is nothing wrong with what she’s wearing!
Later Asahina and Chihiro chat in the employee lounge alone and he asks what she’s going to do about him knowing the truth about her giving a false name. He wonders if maybe he should keep quiet and let her continue her deception. Chihiro says if he doesn’t out her, she’ll finish this job and give it her all. He decides to sit back and keep watching how Chihiro can show Hyuga the power of higher education.
All the employees are very solicitous towards Chihiro since Hyuga remembers her name, which means she’s someone important working on a confidential project. The Board of Directors are pissed at how Hyuga brushed them off. Which is when Hyuga arrives and Yamagami has to shove him aside before he insults the Board even further. Hyuga hilariously blows agains the glass door to show mock them some more. Chihiro is given another suit to change into for her meeting with the government agencies.
Hyuga calls Chihiro onto his office to hand her a contract for this engagement, which pays quite well and leaves her stunned. She wonders if the employees at the company could be told that she’s not some hot shot from the India cloud company, but Hyuga calls her an idiot for suggesting it. If the Ministry found out she was just a student, they’d be in busted. He tells her to find something to do at the company if she feels like she’s not earning her salary. He sarcastically wonders what she can do.
After another promising meeting with the Vice Minister, Hyuga drives Chihiro home and gives her more homework. As she gets out of the car, she asks if she can go pick up her new shoes which she left in his car. Hyuga says he threw the shoes away and then takes out money for her to buy new ones.
Chihiro sees his cavalier attitude and cries, telling him that the shoes had sentimental value to her and he can’t buy people with money. She declines his money and leaves. Her outburst makes Hyuga uncomfortable.
Asahina and Yamagami are having drinks and Yamagami asks why Asahina is content to stand in the background while Hyuga is the face of the company. Hyuga insults the Board and is hard to deal with. Asahina says Hyuga is the brains behind the company. Yoko arrives and invites Yamagami to the opening of the restaurant. She wonders where Hyuga is, which leads her brother to mumble that all women appear to like that guy. Yoko hands her brother an invitation to the restaurant party to give to Hyuga.
Hyuga is at the temple and staring at the money he offered Chihiro to buy new shoes. The priest wonders why he keeps coming here and Hyuga answers that he feels at peace here.. He reveals that he met a woman recently with the same name as his mother. He knows she’s a stranger but he makes excuses to hold on to this coincidence. Plus when she’s around, it disrupts his routine and he can’t concentrate. The priest wonders if this woman looks like Hyuga’s mother in any way? Hyuga laughs and says both women are burdensome indeed.
Chihiro is at school and preparing for another interview. She is raging to her friends about Hyuga for wanting to buy people off with money. We see the Vice Minister walking through the campus headed to give a lecture and she spots Chihiro. At the interview, Chihiro is confident and impresses the interviewer. She realizes that Hyuga pushing her has made her want to improve herself. The interviewer is pleased with her confidence and extends her another interview.
Chihiro attends a meeting with Hyuga and Asahina with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and she confidently and intelligently is able to answer all the questions about why the personal file system will improve civil infrastructure and be good for the people. The Vice Minister appears to notice Hyuga and Chihiro looking at each other ever so briefly.
The restaurant has the opening party with head chef Yoko and everyone at the company attends. Chihiro arrives and Asahina introduces Yoko as his sister. Yoko looks around for Hyuga but can’t find him. Her sous chef Nogi is annoyed that he’s done all the work while she gets all the publicity. Yoko sees Hyuga arrive and runs off to talk with him.
Yoko sees Hyuga eating and asks if he likes the food, introducing herself to him again. Asahina reveals to the table that Hyuga has a problem recognizing faces. She sits down and reveals that she met Hyuga 9 years ago, even before her brother met him. They spoke for two hours at that time. Yoko offers to make whatever food Hyuga likes since he’s so picky. Hyuga tells her the dish is delicious and he could eat it every day. Yoko thanks him for the compliment, but back in kitchen she’s angry because the omurice didn’t bring back his memory of her.
Chihiro goes back to the office and sees Hyuga’s picture from years ago on the Next Innovation wall. She looks up at where he is currently hard at work. She brings him a cup of coffee and he accepts it. After she leaves, he sips the coffee even though its too hot.
Chihiro gets a final interview notice from the company she interviewed with earlier. She is so pleased that she meets with Asahina and informs him that she’s sure to get a job soon and wants to stop working on this project. She hands him back her employee ID. Asahina says its a shame, for the mystery of Sawaki Chihiro will never be revealed.
As Chihiro heads off to her final interview, she gets a frantic call from Asahina. He wants to know when her interview is, and reveals that a problem has arisen at the Ministry. Chihiro heads to her interview on the subway but she looks worried.
Turns out the Vice Minister saw Chihiro at Todai when she was speaking there and knows Chihiro is still a college student and not a valued employee at Next Innovation. Asahina takes the fall for the deception about her identity as an employee of the company, though she is a member of the project. The Vice Minister realizes that Chihiro was picked to appeal to her, since they have similar personalities and both went to Todai.
Chihiro barges into the meeting and realizes the jig is up. Asahina realizes Chihiro has missed her final job interview to be here. Hyuga isn’t cowed and says now that the deception is up, they can finally talk business. The Vice Minister is angry about the deception and bars Next Innovation from participating in this or any other government projects.
Yamagami says they project needs to be aborted but Hyuga says they need another method. He was wrong to try to appeal to the Vice Minister’s personal side. Hyuga finds out from Asahina that Chihiro missed her very important final interview for a job in order to help them out. Hyuga asks if Chihiro would have been hired and Asahina says yes, she would definitely have been hired. He feels bad calling her, and says Hyuga doesn’t know how hard job hunting is since he’s never looked for a job before.
Chihiro tries time and again to speak with the Vice Minister and try to convince her that Next Innovation wants to do something important for the country. Each time she is ignored and kept from speaking with the Vice Minister. Finally she gets the Vice Minister to listen to her by shouting out that Hyuga wants to better people’s lives and she is so sorry about the deception.
The Vice Minister says the deception hurt her feelings but isn’t the reason she is mad. She thinks Hyuga has the right ideals but is surrounded by people who don’t care. Chihiro tells the Vice Minister that she admires her and wants be become a woman with conviction like her. Asahina stands to the side and has witnessed this interaction.
Asahina tells Hyuga about Chihiro constantly going to the Ministry to try and win a second chance for the company. Hyuga acts like he doesn’t care and checks his phone, saying that all Chihiro knows is effort and she thinks she can make anything happen. After Asahina steps off the elevator, Hyuga looks deeps in thought.
As Chihiro is walking out of her lab, she sees a commotion around her as students crowd forward to see something. She turns and is shocked to see that Hyuga is walking through the crowd like a rock star while people are taking cell phone pictures of him.
Hyuga storms up to her and starts yelling at her. He calls her an idiot and asks why she missed her interview yesterday to show up at the Ministry meeting? Why did she not put her own future first? Doesn’t she have the ability to prioritize. Chihiro stammers that she wanted to help, but Hyuga reminds her that the project is his and she’s just a chess piece. If he wanted help, he can get it anywhere.
Chihiro asks if he’s mad that she went to the meeting? Hyuga asks if he looks mad right now, and she says yes. Hyuga says he’s upset that he was responsible for her throwing away an employment opportunity, which makes Chihiro realize that he’s here to apologize to her. LOL, worst apology attitude ever. Hyuga stammers and says that it was her choice to attend the meeting, so in the end its her own fault.
As Hyuga walks away, Chihiro asks if that is all he’s here for. Hyuga turns back and hands her a bag. She opens it to find her pumps neatly wrapped inside. She is surprised to see it while Hyuga demands to know why she didn’t come to pick it up if it was so important. Chihiro reminds him that he said he threw them away, and he has to yell at her not to take what people say so literally.
When she made a mistake with the Ministry, she didn’t just go apologize, she actually tried to convince the Vice Minister to change her mind. Hyuga says that Chihiro is almost good enough at what she does, if only she thought just a little bit more she could succeed since she’s just a step short at what she does. Chihiro breaks into a tearful smile and says she understands. She thanks him for wrapping the shoes so nicely, which he brushes off as not liking odors.
When Chihiro says she’ll keep looking for a job, Hyuga tells her to come back to work on this project and he will consider her job application seriously. The Vice Minister has asked for her to be part of the team and Hyuga wonders how the heck she hit it off with the Vice Minister so well. He tosses her the job badge and takes off.
Chihiro sits with the Vice Minister and thanks her, but the Vice Minister says it was Chihiro’s sincerity that convinced her. She’s not lifting the ban yet, but she was impressed when Hyuga was able to transfer all the data of the Social Insurance Agency in one hour rather than in months it would take for the government to do it. Hyuga tells the Vice Minister that there is a smarter way to do things going forward. The Vice Minister is impressed with Hyuga’s ability.
A smartly-dressed Chihiro arrives at Next Innovation, pausing when she sees Hyuga pull up in his car. Hyuga stops and greets Yoko and remembers her name. Yoko is quite pleased by that little development. Asahina calls the private investigator and asks to look for more information about Sawaki Chihiro (the real one), but to keep it confidential.
Chihiro gets in the elevator and Hyuga is inside. He notes that she’s not all covered up today and Chihiro smiles and says it’s Summer. Hyuga casually says he likes this look better. They get off the elevator and enter the office together.
Thoughts of Mine:
I like RMPW but I don’t love it (yet), despite how addicting it is. It’s so easy to watch, each hour literally flies by with so much happening. At the same time, I feel slightly detached from the story, almost like I enjoy watching but don’t care about it. Whereas other dramas make me care about the characters early on and I feel this connection with what’s happening as if it matters to me. Not to say that it won’t happen in RMPW somewhere down the line, but so far the drama moves so fast it’s hard to get a handle on the characters. I’m pretty fascinated and amused by Hyuga, but I like him best during the quiet moments when he’s talking with the priest at the temple, working hard by himself, or just having his opinions challenged by Chihiro. As a lead he’s got all the quirks dramas love to dump on the quirky hero type, but he’s not so extreme in any direction that he starts to feel like a two dimensional caricature. Chihiro is much easier to relate to, her job hunting woes are prevalent when the world is in a recession and sometimes even a shiny degree and the right attitude doesn’t open doors. I like her can do spirit, and the fact that she’s written as an intelligent woman who just needs a little bit of real world experience and some ego boosting to unlock her confidence.
The siblings Asahina are the weak links for me at this point. Yoko seems so frivolous and ancillary to the story. Normally second female leads, however annoying, ought to be integrated to the narrative in ways that make them seem necessary to be there. Yoko could fall in a kitchen sinkhole tomorrow and affect the story not a whit. She doesn’t annoy me, I just wish her part would be more meaningful because otherwise she’s just a screen suck wasting time better spent elsewhere. I like her brother, but the drama is taking a little too long to show hand with him. It’s clear there is more to him (and what he’s thinking) than simply as the straight man to Hyuga’s crazy tics. Is he secretly waiting to take charge of the company, or is he content to be the shadow man manipulating the entire show from behind the scenes. I’m sure we’ll get his backstory on how he and Hyuga met and started the company together, but for now, he’s got the potential to be interesting but the show is electing to keep him under wraps.
What the drama is doing the best at is developing the chemistry and connection between Hyuga and Chihiro. We knew from episode 1 that, regardless of what her real name was, her personality is really what intrigues Hyuga in the long run. On paper she represents what he disdains – the establishment of higher education, rote memorization, meekness and patience. But in truth she is more than that, and I think the possibility of watching her blossom is one reason Hyuga finds her so irritating. Because she can prove that his thinking about people and systems is always right, and there is value in doing things within the box. So we are getting an OTP that is mutually affecting each other and this journey becomes one both of them take together. I like that the drama already discusses how he’s filthy rich and she has quickly told him to shove his money where the sun don’t shine (not in so many words), but in truth I don’t think the monetary disparity is really the heart of this search. Money affords Hyuga many things, but his facial recognition problems cuts him off from making meaningful connections. Perhaps meeting Chihiro is his first step in creating an emotional world of his own that he won’t forget.