After the intensity and roller coaster of revelations and betrayals, episode 9 of Rich Man, Poor Woman was like a soft warm sweater that wraps up poor battered Hyuga in some comfort and security. Old habits die hard, and Hyuga was already a prickly loner who didn’t have much interpersonal trust when he met Asahina, but after what he just went through, I would’t be surprised if he turned into a cat guy and locked himself inside. But that was never a possibility, not when he has Makoto by his side. This isn’t just about a girl keeping him company when he’s down and out, this is about Hyuga finding that people can be trusted not to hurt him even if there are times he will still be hurt. It’s about having faith, and Makoto’s compassion and innate goodness causes Hyuga not to take a personal betrayal as the validation of a greater failure of human kind.
I confess that there were moments I felt a twinge of something akin to sadness for Asahina, the sadness stemming from pitying a man who would destroy something good because of his own insecurity and impotent rage. What’s pitiful is that Asahina knows it, and still he couldn’t stop himself. Yoko remains ever the peripheral figure, but her attempt to sabotage Hyuga and Makoto’s relationship backfired into bringing them closer together, so for that I’ll let her off the hook. This drama is just so damn amazing for making every single scene between the OTP from episode 1 until now (and most likely to the end) completely memorable, spazz-worthy, and just so sweet in an off-beat way. Still scratching my head that RMPW is from the same writer as Taisetsu na Koto wa Subete Kimi ga Oshiete Kureta, the dorama which gives me a headache even when I need to remember its long-ass name. RMPW on the other hand – thisclose to perfection at this point.
Episode 9 recap:
Hyuga sleeps fitfully and wakes up with a scream as he leaps off Makoto’s lap onto the sand. She asks if he’s alright, and he looks around and realizes they are at the beach. He’s shocked that he could have fallen asleep like that. I would pay a million bucks to find out what they were doing before Hyuga fell asleep on her lap.
Makoto can sense his anxiety and she tries too hard to tell him everything is fine and he can still do a lot in the future. In the middle of her speech the wind blows a plastic bag onto her face. She shrieks and Hyuga laughs as he pulls the bag off her and helps her wipe the sand off her face.
The laughter turns into silence as Hyuga stares at Makoto’s face and leans in for a kiss. She closes her eyes and waits for the kiss, and their lips are millimeters apart when Hyuga stops. He pulls back and says that the kiss will surely be sandy since she has sand all over her face. OMG whut? What the hell excuse is that, dude! Also, Oguri Shun‘s jawline is so perfect Michelangelo should sculpt it.
Makoto frantically wipes sand off her face while Hyuga stretches and tell her that they should head back home. Otherwise people will show up soon and think they are the sort of silly lovers who spend the night at the beach enjoying the mood. Makoto tells Hyuga that they ought to create a plan tomorrow for what the next steps are and he agrees.
The newspapers are writing about how Asahina was always the better choice to lead Next Innovation, which appears to validate Asahina’s power grab. Hyuga takes Makoto to the new office he rented and she realizes that he has seats prepared for the three employees who were planning to follow him. Makoto makes a side comment that there isn’t a seat for her, to which Hyuga points out she never told him she was coming along.
Makoto notices the lease on the table and how expensive the rent for this place is. She realizes that Hyuga has no concept of money. Turns out Hyuga’s house and car belonged to the company and we see his accountant showing him how much he has left in the bank account. Hyuga’s roomba is robotically vacuuming his empty living room floor and he turns to ask his account how much he can get if he sold his motorcycle?
Makoto opens the door to her apartment to see Hyuga standing there with a suitcase in one hand and his roomba in the other. He looks off to her side and asks if he can come live with him and Makoto screeches “whaaaaat????” I’m sorry, girlfriend? You should be screaming “Hell yeah!” and “I just won the lottery!” and dragging his gorgeous behind into her apartment and locking the door before throwing away the key.
Makoto and Hyuga walk to the temple and Hyuga says he must’ve been insane to consider living with Makoto when he had another place to go. Hyuga sits off to the side while Makoto speaks with the priest. The priest is so happy Hyuga has Makoto by his side. He reveals Hyuga was abandoned by his mother, and finding a business partner led Hyuga to believe he could rely on another person again.
Makoto wonders if Hyuga genuinely trusts and relies on her? The priests tell her to go full steam ahead and break down Hyuga’s walls. Makoto smiles and nods.
Asahina is meeting with the big wigs at JI Technology who want him to change the interface because it costs much. Asahina agrees but after the meeting the engineers are not happy that they are sacrificing technological prowess for the sake of saving money. Asahina hands the engineers and Yasuoka a new contract that has a huge salary increase, explaining that he needs them to build up the future infrastructure of Japan.
Asahina reads news articles about himself while having coffee at Yoko’s restaurant. She kicks him out and then tells her brother that she’s planning to move out. He tells her not to do this just because she wants to express outrage. Yoko tells him it’s not like that, she’s always disliked him. Ouch, but…..yeah, he totally deserved it.
Yoko holds a USB drive in her hand and meets up with Hyuga. She wants to apologize but Hyuga says no need. Hyuga asks how Asahina is doing and Yoko is stunned that he would care about someone who kicked him out of the company. She ask Hyuga if he shouldn’t hate Asahina and want revenge on him for what he did? Hyuga thinks he ought to be angry, but for some reason he isn’t. Yoko thought he would be totally depressed and downtrodden, but Hyuga explains that he has an idiot following him right now.
Makoto looks at Hyuga’s balance and realizes he’s still spending money like mad. She puts up signs on the wall intended to re-educate Hyuga’s formerly rich man mentality and change it to someone who lives within his means. He refuses because this is too embarrassing and puts his head on the table saying his head hurts. I love these obvious reminders that in so many ways, Hyuga is just a boy genius who emotionally hasn’t yet caught up with his own IQ.
Makoto refuses to give up and makes him pay attention to what she’s saying. She tells him working will help him get back on his feet. Hyuga says there is nothing he feels like working on. Makoto says working and the prospect of getting a job gives people something to strive for. Hyuga agrees, but asks Makoto to lend him a buck to buy pudding at a cake shop that is about to close so the stuff is half off.
Makoto watches Hyuga go buy a pudding and thinks to herself that he’s hopeless. Makoto gets a call from her folks and takes it. Hyuga comes out and listens to her conversation, where she tells her family that she turned down the pharmaceutical company job and she started her own company and is doing just fine.
Makoto turns around and notices Hyuga standing there so she quickly ends the call. She asks him if he wants to buy some beer and he agrees but only if she promises not to get all over him after she gets drunk. Makoto gets drunk on beer and passes out, while Hyuga happily eats his pudding and turns on the TV. Her phone rings and Hyuga tells Makoto to answer it. She’s too drunk to answer and Hyuga notices that it’s a call from Makoto’s mother.
A news update comes on about the Next Innovation personal file project, and Hyuga watches dumbfounded and horrified at the interface shown on screen. He mutters in disgust “what is this piece of shit?!?”, and OMG his expression is just priceless as his nose twitches in rage. Imagine Coco Chanel resurrected and the first thing she sees is a Juicy Couture track suit with the words “sexy” emblazoned on the butt. Or something like that.
Asahina shows off the new personal file interface to the Ministry big wigs. Only Vice Minister Fujikawa brings up that this interface doesn’t appear to cut it. Unlike the original suggested interface, this one is cluttered and no different than any of the government websites out there. Oh tell it like it is, sister!
The engineers look embarrassed and Asahina explains that this is due to budgetary concerns. The original interface was too expensive. Vice Minister Fujikawa says this is what Next Innovation has become without Hyuga Toru.
The employees of Next Innovation are gathered together and look somber. Turns out painters have been hired to paint over the wall. Asahina stops the painters from painting and takes the paint brush to do it himself. He does it in an increasingly angry and violent gesture before stopping and plastering his fake smile back on his face. He tells everyone to go back to work. Asahina turns around and looks at the wall again. This time he notices where Makoto had written down Hyuga’s mom’s address and he takes it down. If you try to fuck with Hyuga through his Mommy, I swear you will burn in Hell, bastard!
Hyuga sits in his office just goofing off while Makoto makes calls to line up jobs. Hyuya notices the picture of the two of them outside Next Innovation and he stares at it. Makoto goes to the bank with her friend Haruka, who tries to counsel Makoto to stop this silliness in opening a company with that guy. Makoto checks her account and is stunned that suddenly her balance has increased dramatically.
Asahina leaves the office and runs into Yoko outside. He asks where she moved to but she won’t tell him. He claims that he’s fine with her leaving since he can bring girlfriends over now. In fact, he’s meeting a girl now and reveals that he’s off to see Makoto. Yoko hears the address he gave the cab driver.
Asahina tells Makoto to keep the money which was promised her when she signed the contract. He asks how Hyuga is doing? Makoto says he’s doing nothing and she’s not sure he wants to even be with her. Asahina asks Makoto if this wasn’t her own choice in the first place, and she looks up with very certain eyes and confirms this was indeed her own decision. As Makoto gets up to leave, Asahina asks if she can stay a bit longer. He doesn’t know how to explain it, but he’s really tired now. Awwww, you have no friends, Asahina? I would feel sorry if you weren’t a backstabbing bastard who backstabbed your own best friend.
Yoko hands the USB drive to Hyuga containing evidence that her brother leaked the personal files. She cannot let it go because Hyuga was set up. Hyuga doesn’t care anymore. Yoko wants to do something for Hyuga, especially since she knew what Asahina had done but didn’t say anything about it. Hyuga doesn’t respond and Yoko realizes that she’s pretty much unwanted around here.
Yoko looks up and sees all the notes that Makoto has written on the wall. She flashes to Asahina heading to meet Makoto and she turns to ask Hyuga to accompany her to a new coffee shop she wants to check out.
Yoko walks up to the coffee shop with Hyuga following her and he freezes when he sees Makoto and Asahina sitting inside chatting. DIE YOKO DIE!!! Yoko tells Hyuga that being too kind means that he will always be taken advantage of. She pulls Hyuga’s hand to leave but he shakes her off and remains rooted on the spot as he stares at the tableau.
Makoto goes to meet with Vice Minister Fujikawa on the rooftop parking lot, and its like they are doing a covert operations deal. The Vice Minister confirms Makoto still has her crack memorization skills and asks Makoto to memorize something within 30 minutes. She has a project that only Hyuga Toru can do.
Makoto happily runs back to the office but gets a call right outside. It’s from a company called Tetra Works which claims to have just talked to Hyuga Toru. Makoto goes inside and confronts Hyuga about why he accepted a job for her. Hyuga wants to settle Makoto on a good job, and tells her to return to Next Innovation if she wants to. He suggests that her future is better left in Asahina’s hand, and reveals that he saw her meeting with Asahina. He apologizes for what’s she’s endured recently and he knows she probably can’t deal with it anymore. Makoto asks if she’s a burden for him?
Hyuga pauses before saying that Makoto will leave him one day anyways. He walks away but Makoto asks if he still can’t trust her? He stops but says nothing. Makoto says of course he can’t trust her, she’s a woman who lies. Hyuga looks heartbroken but agrees with what she says before leaving the office. Makoto cries and looks at the picture of her and Hyuga.
Makoto grabs a pen and starts frantically writing and crying at the same time. It’s nighttime when Hyuga returns to the office and he looks up to see the lights are off. He walks into the office and flashes back to his mom leaving, Asahina betraying him, and finally Makoto crying. He cries and says “they all end up leaving me.” Oh baby, don’t cry, please don’t cry!
Hyuga ends up crying and laughing and he wipes away his tears. Hyuga turns on the lights in the office and looks around in shock. All around the office walls are pieces of paper where Makoto wrote down the project that Vice Minister Fujikawa wanted him to work on. Hyuga grabs the picture frame with the picture of him and Makoto in front of Next Innovation.
He puts the picture with Makoto on the table and turns on his computer. He says a deadline of three days is thinking too little of him. He needs only two days. Hyuga gets to work and pulls the pieces of paper off the wall as he programs.
Vice Minister Fujikawa shows off the new clean and simple personal file interface she had created with only half the budget of what JI Technology had allotted. The two engineers realize an Easter egg has been embedded in the program and unlock it to reveal a cute little video of the two of them with Yasuoka slaying dragons and the slogan “Change the World.” Yasuoka smiles and teases that Hyuga got his name wrong again, its not Yamaoka.
Hyuga runs to the subway station to wait for Makoto, and he changed into a snappy dress shirt, slacks, and vest combo, plus he shaved and combed his hair. Someone wants to look nice. He hops around outside and Makoto walks out of the subway and sees him. She smiles and when he spots her looking at him, he goes to hid behind the wall and peek at her.
Makoto smiles and walks out, asking if Hyuga is out for a walk. He doesn’t say anything and walks away, but tells Makoto that the personal file interface he designed has been accepted by the Ministry. He chides her on wasting paper when she was the one harping on being frugal. Makoto smiles broadly and apologizes before running after him.
Hyuga and Makoto return to the office and he notices the door is unlocked. They cautiously walk in to find Yasuoka and the two engineers inside. They knew the new interface was created by Hyuga and they want to be a part of a company that makes innovative things. Yasuoka teases Hyuga about getting his name wrong and shows off his name t-shirt again.
Yamagami tells Asahina that the three employees have left the company to join Hyuga. Asahina asks Yamagami about the bank loan and Yamagami tells Asahina to leave the finances to him and handle how to revive the company spirits. Yamagami points out the obvious – that everything Asahina is doing is merely repeating what Hyuga did 8 years ago. Yamagami concedes that he should have stopped Asahina from pushing Hyuga out. Now all Asahina is doing is a waste of time.
The scene cuts to Asahina attending the Global ICT Summit and presenting on the personal file project in Japan. Hyuga meets with his new team and discuss how to win back the project. Yasuoka wonders what their new company should be called. Hyuga looks at the wall filled with Makoto’s notes and suggests Wonder Wall, a place where they have everything they need and create the things they dream about.
Yasuoka wants to have a scribble wall but Hyuga isn’t so keen on it since the wall has Makoto’s notes. She puts a pen in Hyuga’s hand and tells him to write. She tears her notes down and tells him that they will stay with him no matter what. Hyuga walks up to the wall and writes “Money is important, will take on all jobs, but NEVER sell your soul!!” Everyone smiles and nods in approval. The words Wonder Wall is scribbled on and voila the new company is born. The sentiment is commendable, but we all know Asahina and Tono didn’t band together to destroy Hyuga because of money. It was because Hyuga’s talent emasculated them. Nothing anyone can do about that.
Asahina goes home and finds Yoko sitting outside crying, Okay, these two siblings need some counseling. Yoko cries that she’s hurt Hyuga, while Asahina asks if she still likes Hyuga? Yoko doesn’t answer but its clear she still does. Yoko gets a text from Asahina and it’s the address of Hyuga’s mom. He sends it to her and wishes her luck with Hyuga.
A new desk is being brought into the office for Makoto and she’s totally thrilled beyond belief. Hyuga calls her to the side to talk. Hyuga tells Makoto that he doesn’t know if she’s trustworthy or not, but he knows that he trusts her. He shows her the note talking about breaking down Hyuga’s (emotional) walls and says with a pout that his walls have been torn down and she has to take responsibility. Uh, did you just ask the girl to propose to you?
Hyuga reminds Makoto that she’s going to be embroiled in whatever is to come, and is that alright with her? Makoto smiles and says yes. Suddenly they are called outside where the news is showing Asahina being led away by the police to investigate his role in the leak of the personal files. Hyuga stares in shock, not looking happy about this new development.
Thoughts of Mine:
There is a fine line between quirky and eccentric, both in terms of writing a character and creating plot progression in dramas. K-dramas tend to be more straitlaced, but J-doramas love to flirt with boundaries and sometimes cross my comfort zone in pushing characters to act or do things that just defy believability. I think Asahina is treading on that thin line, and I have to commend ARATA for just bringing it in terms of making Asahina hard to fully figure out. But I think I finally figured him out. He’s not evil, he’s just a normal guy with the understanding of right and wrong, who makes one wrong decision and can’t back down from it. Maybe his resentment of Hyuga built and was pushed over the edge, leading him to plot to oust him. But quickly Asahina likely knew it was wrong and stupid, but backing down would admit he made a mistake, and that was something he couldn’t handle even more, because it would make him seem even more incompetent. His only viable option was to take his plan to the bitter end, even if deep down he knew it would never end well for himself. In some ways, we ought to all know Asahina has a self-destructive streak. When he smashed that concrete stand on his foot, that was a clear enough sign this man could swing between extremes.
In many ways, our beloved Hyuga is also a very extreme person, and so the two friends and business partners balanced each other out. I actually really love watching Hyuga struggle with the betrayal of probably the person closest to him in his adult life. He is angry and hurt, but he doesn’t seek personal revenge. I actually don’t see Hyuga as vindictive, even if he didn’t have Makoto around, because he just doesn’t have time to waste on that. Normally a failure will only propel Hyuga forward to his next challenge, but what happened wasn’t a failure but a personal attack that left him reeling, bringing forth all his feelings of insecurity and worthlessness. His mom didn’t want him and now Asahina doesn’t want him. But Makoto wants him, and for once the love of a good strong woman really isn’t just icing on the cake. She is the balm for his wounded soul and the inspiration for his battered psyche. Luckily for him, Makoto is pretty much made of sugar and spice and everything nice. I wished he kissed her good and long on that beach, but this episode was so rocking anyways I actually forgot about the thwarted kiss and moved on to more exciting new developments.
This episode really highlighted how Makoto’s can-do and never-give-up attitude makes her a great partner for Hyuga. Asahina was always covering for Hyuga’s inadequacies on the social side, but Makoto pushes Hyuga grow as a person to bridge his own inadequacies. Hyuga’s growing friendship and camaraderie with the two engineers and Yasuoka is the perfect example of how he actually gets along with them just fine by himself now. Makoto as a character needed less growth, and really her story arc is about finding her own calling in life. I actually don’t think she’ll end up at Wonder Wall beyond getting this company on its feet. I firmly believe her destiny with Hyuga is a personal one where they get married and have a happy little family, but she has her own career but is a supportive mind for him to bounce ideas off of when he comes home at night. Makoto needed some confidence and meeting Hyuga forced her to grow a firm backbone and learn to value her own self-worth. Once Hyuga v.2 launches, I would love to see her also find her own dreams aside from loving her man.