When I get frustrated with the one step forward two steps back emotional tango between Hyuga and Makoto in Rich Man, Poor Woman, I try to remind myself that a person changing their fundamental behavioral tendencies takes time through baby steps. I’ve been so proud watching both leads do exactly that during the course of ten episodes of this dorama, and sometimes my own desire for big leaps forward makes me gnaw my teeth when I don’t get that satisfaction. So while it makes sense that even if Hyuga and Makoto know that they like each other, that still isn’t enough when insecurities rise up and pride gets in the way. I watched all of episode 10 knowing that this episode was acting as a set up for the grand finale, and I did love so many little touches sprinkled throughout, such as Makoto schooling Hyuga in social niceties (about time!) and Hyuga’s trip to the countryside to learn more about Makoto and his mom.
I was impressed that the dorama chose not to make a big deal of Hyuga finally meeting his mom, or hammer home the pain that Asahina has brought to himself and those around him. The world continues to turn, and everyone is trying to walk forward while processing what has happened so far. I love that my belief in Hyuga being able to pick himself up happened so quickly, but honestly the man is a brilliant mad IT genius and his brain is worth more than the stock of Next Innovation. Watching this dorama is such a treat in seeing the wonderful physical expressiveness between the OTP even if verbally both are like cagey hedgehogs that can’t seem to spit out the three simple words in “I love you.” I’m hoping I don’t need to a buy a ticket to Japan next week, so writer-sama, please don’t fail me in wrapping this one up with a giant pink bow.
Episode 10 recap:
Following the news reports of Asahina leaking the personal files, Yoko is being hounded by the media outside the restaurant. She tells them that her brother has nothing to do with this restaurant and refuses to answer any questions. When she walks inside, her staff is pissed at her for this negative attenton on their restaurant. Nogi tells Yoko to take a break and he’ll run the restaurant for the time being.
Hyuga sits in the police station and is told that the cops have proof that Asahina leaked the personal files because his cohort turned him in. Turns out that Tono confessed (not sure why, guilt perhaps, or maybe the evidence led to him and he folded like paper in the wind). Tono tearfully explains that he didn’t do it for money, he just wanted validation from Hyuga if even just once.
Makoto paces outside the office waiting for Hyuga to return. When she hears his footsteps, she rushes inside (adorably tripping over boxes in her rush) and tells the other three to smile widely and act like everything is fine.
When Hyuga comes in, Makoto shoots him a mega watt smile and welcomes him back, as does the other three. Hyuga snarks that its impossible for laughter to be medicine. Makoto grumbles that they were just trying to buoy his spirits.
The Wonder Wall four gathers around Yasuoka’s computer to watch a video of the current state of Next Innovation, where the offices are empty as all the computers have been confiscated as evidence and rumors are the company is facing bankruptcy. Everyone worries about how the other employees are doing, mumbling about why Asahina would do this.
Makoto changes the subject and tells everyone that they have a new client project to work on. Everyone gets back to work understanding they have a new company to get on its feet. The next scene has Yasuoka screaming about whether Hyuga wants to do this, which is his demonstration of how the client yelled at Hyuga because Hyuga obviously failed to communicate properly with the client.
Makoto sits with Hyuga and gives him lessons on conversing, explaining that he needs to be patient and explain things again if the client asks and not to call people idiots.
Makoto even gives Hyuga lessons on how to smile as they are walking to meet the client, and HOMG the way he smiles stiffly per her lessons is hilariously scary. Hyuga and Makoto are at the bookstore meeting with a client and Hyuga tries hard but he almost gets the guy’s name wrong and needs Makoto to quickly jump in for the save.
Afterwards Hyuga sighs that working hard is actually quite exhausting. He asks Makoto how she would rate him today, and she gives him a 75 since he got the guy’s name wrong at the end. He calls her a harsh grader and she tells him that successfully completing the project is the only way he would get a perfect score.
Hyuga goes to the detention facility to see Asahina and is told that in the first 22 days, Asahina cannot meet with anyone connected with the case. After Hyuga leaves, the guard brings Asahina a book to read, giving him fifteen minutes until the material will be passed to another inmate. We see Asahina standing in prison staring out the window.
Makoto and Hyuga meet with another client and Hyuga bows low and respectfully when the man leaves. Afterwards he asks Makoto for his score and she gives him 89 points, because he was a bit fake in how low he bowed. Hyuga says he’s really trying hard, and know he knows how the older guys running factories feel when they bow low to a client. Makoto tells him that he’s very cool, he’s the coolest right now that she’s ever seen him. Hyuga smiles to hear that.
Makoto and Hyuga ride the bus home and Makoto nods off. Her head rolls onto Hyuga’s shoulder and he blinks a few times before turning his head to rest on hers.
Hyuga leads a group of women through a department store to show off new software that helps busy women streamline their shopping for clothes. He has Makoto run into a booth and her full body is scanned and an image comes up on the screen as a full scale 3D model. Hyuga explains that this model allows the woman to sit at home and try out all the clothes from the store. Hyuga flips through the catalogue and dresses computer model Makoto in various outfits. So cute!
After the presentation, Hyuga turns around and sees his four company employees giving him thumbs up and encouragement. Afterwards Hyuga tells the media that this project was the collaboration of all the company employees and he asks that people continue to support Wonder Wall.
After the event ends, everyone says goodbye but Hyuga runs back to Makoto to invite her to go out with them afterwards. Makoto declines but points out that Hyuga got the name of the client right tonight.
Before getting in the car, Hyuga turns around and asks her how she would grade him, and she gives him 120 points for being beyond perfect today. Hyuga smiles at her (this man does NOT need smiling lessons when he’s facing Makoto) and gets into the car. Makoto’s heart lurches because he’s so perfect.
Afterwards Makoto walks through the offices of Wonder Wall and looks at the latest magazine articles talking about the return of Hyuga Toru through Wonder Wall. Obviously his greatness continues to hover in the back of her mind.
Hyuga goes to the detention facility and is told that Asahina refuses to see him. The guard brings a book to Asahina again and tells him that this book is perfect for him since he has this look like he wants to die. The book is a comic book.
Hyuga sits with Yamagami, who looks unkempt and tired. Yamagami asks if Hyuga is willing to return to Next Innovation. He bows his head and says that the company can only be saved with Hyuga back. Yamagami thought he could broker the differences between Hyuga and Asahina but in the end he just sat by and did nothing. Hyuga tells him that he did nothing wrong.
Yamagami sighs and says that if Next Innovation fails, the public will only use that as an excuse that people looking for the newest breakthroughs are seeking unrealistic pursuits. Hyuga bows his head and apologies to Yamagami for letting him down. He has something else he wants to protect now.
Makoto gets a job at a lab and tells her friend Haruka that she’s not needed at Wonder Wall anymore. Now the new company is on its feet, she’s done all she wanted. She wanted to support Hyuga when he was down and now he’s picked himself up again. Makoto cries on Haruka’s shoulder, explaining that it’s very painful to be with Hyuga because he’s so incredibly dynamic and amazing.
Hyuga sits in the Wonder Wall and listens to the three employees discuss how a Chinese firm wants to buy NI for cheap. Hyuga asks if they would support him going back to revive Next Innovation. When they look shocked, Hyuga backtracks and says he was joking.
Hyuga gets a text from Makoto asking to take a vacation. Turns out she’s working in a lab at S-tel now. When the employees leave work, Hyuga has a box of pudding and wonders where Makoto went. He calls her but she doesn’t pick up her cell phone.
Makoto gets off work and sees the missed calls from Hyuga. She looks happy but then sad and puts her phone away. Hyuga waits for her call and then goes to her apartment to look for her. He worries and wonders if she died inside, running around trying to peer into her room. He has to run away when a woman walks by because his behavior is so suspicious.
Hyuga stands in the temple room and mutters that Makoto promised she wouldn’t leave him. She’s succeeded in teaching him the joy in work again, so what is going on? He mutters that he’s returned her feelings so what else does she want. He squirms on the ground and says this is why he hates having personal interactions with people because this is what happens. The monk walks by and says that despite it all, Hyuga has accepted Makoto. Hyuga confesses that he just wants to see her face.
Hyuga gets on a train and tells his employees to hold down the fort, he’s on his way to Makoto’s hometown to find her. Yoko darts on the same train and they sit and talk during the trip. Yoko reveals she’s taking time off from the restaurant and decided to go for a trip away. Hyuga explains that he’s going to look for someone. He wants to asks about Asahina and Yoko shakes her head, saying that he won’t even see their parents. Hyuga confirms that Asahina won’t see him either.
Asahina sits in jail and the guard brings him a newspaper. Asahina puts the comic book down and the guard asks if he enjoyed it? The guard promises to bring the second volume tomorrow. Asahina sits in jail and mumbles that it wasn’t funny at all, just stupid scribbles.
Hyuga wonders when Asahina will be willing to see any of them? Yoko says he will never return to the people he hurt. We see flashbacks of Asahina and Hyuga starting Next Innovation. Asahina sits in jail and says the comic was a mess, but it was funny. He realizes that he’s crying when he wipes away tears. He says that they were once so happy. Hyuga sits in the train and says the same thing, that they were once so happy. Yoko looks at her phone and asks Hyuga if she can go visit Makoto’s family with him. She wants to help him.
Makoto is at the lab and her supervisor explains that the work may be repetitive and dreary, but even the higher ups do the same thing. Makoto asks if the work they do will improve the lives of people and her supervisor says yes.
Hyuga and Yoko arrive at Makoto’s family pension and her mom makes a feast for the two of them. The family reveals that their sister has gone off the deep end. She graduated college but won’t get a job, insisting on starting a company with some guy. Hyuga and Yoko exchange looks. Dad says the guy is clearly out to seduce his daughter. Mom thinks the guy is a lecher, but since Makoto says she’s happy, she must really like that guy a lot. Hyuga doesn’t say anything when he hears this but he’s clearly affected.
Hyuga and Yoko walk around the pier and she asks if he’s not planning to go see his mother since he’s here? She shows him the address of his mother that Asahina took down from the wall. Hyuga and Yoko walk to the restaurant and Hyuga says she won’t recognize him. He’s grown up and his name was changed when he was adopted at the orphanage.
Suddenly Hyuga’s mom returns to the restaurant and opens the store for them. Hyuga and Yoko sit down while his mom offers to make him omurice since she doesn’t have much ingredients on hand. Hyuga’s mom puts a plate of omurice in front of him and he tentatively takes a bite. She asks if it doesn’t take good and offers to make something else. Hyuga says its delicious and quietly keeps eating.
Hyuga’s mom stares at him and walks closer, almost like she recognizes him, before saying he’s the famous company president she’s seen on TV. She thinks he’s an amazing young man and his mom must be so proud of him. Hyuga doesn’t say anything other than shoving more food in his mouth.
Afterwards Hyuga and Yoko sit at the train station and he says that he feels okay actually that she didn’t recognize him. She seems happy and now he doesn’t know why he was so fixated on finding her all these years. Yoko points out that Hyuga has someone else he wants to see now, and that person is Makoto. Hyuga nods and Yoko smiles at how honest he is.
Hyuga thanks Yoko, saying that he really enjoyed coming here with her. Because of her, he’s made up his mind. Yoko smiles and teases him for being so indecisive.
Hyuga is running somewhere and we see Sakaguchi meeting with the three employees to tell them that Hyuga is going back to Next Innovation. The three guys are angry but Sakaguchi yells at them for being so reliant on Hyuga. He reveals that Hyuga bowed low to Sakaguchi to ask him to come help. He tells them that they cannot continue to rely on Hyuga anymore.
Hyuga runs to S-tel and sees Makoto sitting in the parking lot. She asks how he found her and he explains that he called her school and found out. He reveals that he’s been calling everywhere, even going to her apartment and to her home in the countryside. She asks why and he has a hard time coming clean so he makes the excuse that his employee went missing so of course he’s concerned.
Hyuga says he has something important to say….about the company. Makoto also has something to say but she tells Hyuga to go first. Hyuga takes a deep breath and reveals that he’s going back to NI. That is where he wants to be, to wait for Asahina to return. Makoto smiles and says she really loved their partnership. Hyuga is candid that he’s not sure the company can be saved, but Makoto calmly says he can do it.
Hyuga smiles and says that the way Makoto says it makes it feel like it will be true. Makoto asks if he managed to meet his mom and Hyuga confirms he did. Makoto thinks his mom knows who he is now, but Hyuga says they merely met and he’s seen that she’s doing well. He asks if he behaved maturely this time? He tells her that finding someone he’s been looking for is a great feeling, but now there is someone else he wants to see.
Makoto asks who that person is he wants to see? Hyuga cannot get the words out of her mouth so he changes the subject and asks what she wanted to say to him. Makoto says she’s going to work at the lab. Watching Hyuga succeed has made her want to pursue her own career. Hyuga looks shocked but says its good since she’s not someone who doesn’t have her own talents. Makoto apologizes for not keeping her promise to never leave him.
Hyuga lies and says he never took her promise seriously. Makoto says the person Hyuga wants to see now is Asahina, right? She tells him that he will be able to see Asahina again. Makoto bids farewell to Hyuga and starts to walk away. Hyuga stares at her back as she walks back to the lab. He looks really torn but then turns around and walks away. Makoto stops and turns back but all she sees is Hyuga walking away.
She resumes walking away and Hyuga turns back and stares at her, but she doesn’t look back. The two of them walk away from each other.
Thoughts of Mine:
C’mon you two! I love love LOVE Hyuga and Makoto, but watching their emotional reticence and hesitation towards each other makes me want to go over there and shove them in each other’s faces while pointing and screaming “that’s his/her mouth, now KISS IT!” Aside from the immensely frustrating final five minutes of this episode, I actually loved everything else about it. I understood Hyuga’s need to go back to Next Innovation. It wasn’t out of guilt or duty, but because he genuinely loves that company and still remembers what it felt like to build it from scratch with Asahina. It looks like Hyuga isn’t as angry at Asahina as he’s disappointment and saddened by what happened. What Asahina did is like watching a drug addict in a self-aware downward spiral, with the end results affecting people around him, but really Asahina destroyed himself more than he hurt others. It was reassuring to see that he was capable of shedding tears, and perhaps could be redeemed one day. I like that Hyuga is going with what he wants to do, which is help Next Innovation through this crisis that no one at that company is to blame for.
Yoko continues to befuddle me. As a character, she’s not particularly interesting in her own side story about the restaurant, but now and then she serves a positive purpose in pushing Hyuga forward and that is when I remember that I quite liked her a lot when she was first introduced. She hasn’t changed in terms of personality, and really her pursuit of Hyuga was quite honorable and open. I disliked her more because I don’t like having characters around that pop in and out without much significance, and because she took time away from the OTP. But in this episode, I really liked her trip to the countryside with Hyuga, and didn’t even mind that Hyuga didn’t meet his mom with Makoto. I liked that Hyuga got to deal with his own mommy issues on his own, without Makoto as a fall back support. He exhibited great maturity in meeting her without making the truth known, accepting that she’s made peace with her life without a son, and he needed to do so as well.
At eleven episodes, RMPW feels so short compared to K-dramas. Yet at one episode a week, it ran for eleven weeks which is longer than a sixteen episode K-drama running at two episodes a week which equals only a short 8 weeks. I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time with Hyuga and Makoto, two truly fascinating fictional characters, but I long to get to know them even more. I love watching them react to new things they encounter, whether its something happy or difficult, because they always have unexpected surprises up their sleeves. I enjoyed RMPW not just for the romance, but because within the romance was the emotional and psychological maturation of two people because they met each other. I think it would be a true shame if this dorama didn’t end with some hugs, kisses, and a promise of forever after so that I can smile fondly and close the book on this quirky Cinderella tale done right.