Run don’t walk to the nearest computer to start watching Kyou wa Kaisha Yasumimasu. I’m not issuing a direct marching order but episode 2 of this dorama is so wonderful it cements this as the new crack. I was basically laughing and smiling the whole way through. This is hands down the best romance drama airing right now in all the East Asian drama outlets. The perfect starting execution of this romance is why I’m so frustrated that J-doramas now offer so few straight up renzoku doramas. KwKY confirms that the Japanese storytelling flair and flavor, when done right, can produce the best funny and stirring romance genre works.
The Japanese audience are also loving KwKY as well, with episode 1 already netting an enviable 14.3%, episode 2 jumped a startling nearly 3% to garner a stunning 17.0% and making it nearly the fall ratings leader. The dorama continues to deviate significantly from the original source manga, increasing second male lead Yu’s screen time and cultivating the amazing chemistry between Tamaki Hiroshi and Ayase Haruka. Fukushi Sota fans needn’t worry since Yuto gets to romance Hanae first no matter what deviations come since the crux of the story is how inexperienced Hanae blooms (like the flower in her name) after an unexpected noona-dongsaeng romance with Yuto.
Episode 2 recap:
Yu sits down unsolicited at Hanae’s table and immediately offers to listen to her problems and give her advice. She’s startled to hear him correctly guess that she’s stressed about her much younger boyfriend from work. Hanae tries to demur and ask Yu to stop bothering her. Yu just smiles and claims smoothly that he can’t help it, if he sees someone in need then he’ll be spurred to offer assistance. Yeah right, but that is a good line you got there, Yu.
Hanae insists she doesn’t have a problem despite Yu pointing out she showed up at work wearing the same clothes two days in a row and then walked right past the office without going in. Clearly something is bothering her. Hanae just tells Yu to stop meddling in her matters so Yu doesn’t press Hanae further and gets up to leave her alone seeing as she’s not going to open up to him. He does drop one piece of advice before swanning off – he hopes that she doesn’t end up getting hurt if she takes it seriously and gets played.
Hanae returns to the office and sunshine boy So immediately comes over to point out how Hanae is glowing lately. It must be the handiwork of her boyfriend Mamoru, who we all know is the family bulldog. So wants to see a picture of Mamoru and Hanae lies that he doesn’t want her to take his picture. So knows it’s a lie as well and demands a picture, all the while he picks up doggie Mamoru’s picture from Hanae’s desk to look at unaware that it’s the Mamoru. Cute!
Hitomi flounces back to the office carrying flyers printed out for the upcoming inter-company party between their food import company and Yu’s company one floor above. Hitomi reveals that the handsome flower man who dined with Hanae is actually the company CEO. Hanae is stunned to learn that Yu is a CEO and even more perplexed that someone like him would keep wanting to interact with her.
Hitomi isn’t just boy crazy, she actually is pretty savvy at her job. She explains to the other coworkers that doing this party will be great for their company as well. Their company imports raw food goods while Yu’s company is a manufacturer of Italian food items for sale domestically. There is a chance for the two companies to work together. Boss rounds up everyone to prepare for the party and hands the drink orders to Hanae to take care of. Part time employee Yuto is asked if he wants to attend but Yuto demurs claiming he has a prior engagement for that day.
Hitomi whispers to Hanae that Yuto is declining to attend the party because he doesn’t want to run into Yu. Hanae learns that on the day she took off work, Yu came by looking for her and pointedly noticed that Yuto was wearing the same outfit as the day before. Hanae freaks out inwardly knowing that Yu figured out she and Yuto slept together by their wearing the same outfits on successive days.
Hanae goes back to the conference where Yuto is still sorting pistachios. She immediately asks him to keep what happened between them private and Yuto is more than happy to do so. He wants to know her answer to his question in elevator about dating him but all Hanae can say is to reserve her answer for a later time, i.e. she’s not ready yet.
Yuto accepts that but wants to know how he can see Hanae outside of work? Can he have her number? Hanae writes her number down on the whiteboard but not before reminding Yuto to erase it after he saves it. Yuto stares at Hanae before dropping a bombshell statement “Aoshi-san, I think you like me, right?”
Hanae is dazed and confused the rest of the work day, once again startled out of her comfort zone by Yuto. She can’t process how he could say something like that and after work goes to the bookstore to read up on whether he’s trying to hypnotize her into liking him by some newfangled modern dating tactics she knows nothing about.
Hanae is grooming Mamoru later that night and she’s really so clueless about her own appeal. She knows why her Mamoru likes her, she takes him for walks, feeds him, and scratches his itch. But conversely she doesn’t know why Yuto likes her. He likes her for no reason since she’s not fed Yuto before nor has she scratched his itch. I can’t believe she’s comparing Yuto to her dog!
As Hanae sits with her parents watching TV, she can’t wrap her mind around Yuto liking her unless she was the last woman on earth. Hanae’s mom loudly cackles at something funny on TV which makes both Hanae and her very low key serious dad stare at her. Hanae thinks to herself that she still doesn’t have a clue how her very different parents got married to each other.
Hanae gets a text from Yuto with his cell phone number attached asking her to save it. She writes back received and he texts wondering what she’s doing it now since he’s watching TV and drinking a beer. That’s exactly what Hanae is doing so she starts to freak out. Her parents notice Hanae staring at her cell phone and wonder who is texting so late? Hanae writes back to Yuto that she’s doing the same thing.
Hanae keeps texting Yuto after she’s washing up for her and her mom is really curious how odd it is for Hanae to be checking her phone all night long. Hanae and Yuto wish each other good night and she lays down to sleep with a giant happy grin on her face while clutching her cell phone to her chest.
Hanae is then startled out of her reverie when she feels like what is happening is exactly like Yuto predicted as she remembers Yuto asking if she likes him back? She can’t believe this young man keeps affecting her life and making her experience new things. Hanae wonders if she’s mistaken liking the first man she slept with? She flops down on her bed dramatically with a loud sigh.
The day of the inter-company party arrives and Hanae accepts delivery of the Japanese sake and beer their company is bringing to the party. Everyone files up one level to Yu’s company and walks into a dazzling modern office space decked out like a television network food show setting. Hanae’s coworkers are all feeling slightly shabby compared to all the sleek and pretty employees at Yu’s company, all of whom are very welcoming to the guests. Everyone is surprised to see eccentric Ryusei at the party already having come up alone himself.
Champagne bottles are popped and the two companies face each other as Yu gives a welcome toast. He is happy to welcome their fellow office colleagues to this meet-and-greet party and perhaps one day in the future folks will look back and realize something started from this first interaction. Hanae’s boss gives a Japanese toast holler while Yu says the more chic salute and both companies cheer this chance to mingle.
So and Ryusei are exchanging business cards with the other company employees and Ryusei riles So up with his unorthodox way of offering his car by holding it up for the other person to pick rather than the polite way of handing it over with two hands. Hitomi talks with all the female employees of Yu’s company for information about him, whether he’s single and what kind of woman he likes. Yu’s employees have never seen him interested in a particular woman but there have been plenty of women throwing themselves at him.
Hanae is very uncomfortable mingling because she never knows what to do or say. She goes to grab a plate of food and two of Yu’s employees encounter her at the buffet table. She ends up serving everyone which makes her happy since it gives her something to do, everyone is very grateful to her for doing this, and she doesn’t need to awkwardly make small talk.
Yu sidles up next to Hanae and wonders why her little boyfriend isn’t at this party? He’s so disappointed since he wanted to get to know him better. Hanae whispers a plea for Yu not to tell her company folks about what he knows, which only confirms for Yu that his suspicion is true. He smirks and asks if Hanae is confirming that she’s dating that little boyfriend?
Hanae denies it and asks Yu to stop with his random speculating since it upsets her. Yu thinks it’s more upsetting for him as the event organizer to see her hiding away here serving food rather than enjoying the party. Hanae tells him to leave her alone since she likes doing this. Yu gives her a lingering “I see…..” before wandering away.
Hanae’s boss is one unassuming but incisive businessman as he sits down with Yu to sample the Italian cuisine that has been prepared using his company’s products. Boss suggests some more food pairings and calls over Hitomi and So, both of whom are also good salespersons as they suggest pairing green apple jam with the gorgonzola cheese and pistachios with the red wine. Boss sends them downstairs to grab some samples which their trading company imports.
Yu tries out the suggested pairings and really likes it, as does everyone at his company. The collaboration is on as Yu is interesting in working with Hanae’s company in preparing for an upcoming Italian food faire with the new pairings.
Hanae sadly notes that her serving job is done as all the food has been devoured and the guests have moved on to the dessert section. She cleans up the tables instead of going to mingle which is when she gets a text from Yuto asking how the party is going and correctly assuming that she’s probably weary of it all. Hanae texts back that everyone is happily drinking so Yuto asks her to have ramen with him after the party is done.
The party ends and Hanae’s coworkers head off for more drinking downstairs in their own office. She bows out and goes to have ramen with Yuto. While waiting for their ramen, Yuto brings up the first time he met Hanae, an encounter that she doesn’t even recollect. He was waiting for an interview in the office conference and she brought him tea and told him not to be nervous. But she didn’t say it very warmly, she was very professional and matter of fact about it which left an impression with him.
Hanae and Yuto sit down to two steaming bowls of ramen and dig in. Yuto wonders why Hanae isn’t taking off her glasses since it gets fogged up in the hot ramen steam. Hanae thinks it’s part of the enjoyment of ramen so Yuto just says again that he really likes it when Hanae takes her glasses off. Talk turns to why Yuto chose to work part time at their company and he explains his international business major needing experience at a company that does international trade. He picked their company because the pay was high and the work right up his alley.
Hanae watches Yuto eat and thinks about their vast age difference. Even three years would be a lot in terms of having different life experiences much less nine years. She suddenly realizes he was in first grade when she was in high school, and he was a fourth grader when she was already in college!
Hanae turns and suddenly Yuto morphs into his fourth grade self slurping ramen right next to her. Little Yuto turns to Hanae and she imagines him saying the same compliment “I really like it when you don’t wear your glasses”, a line that is romantic and flirty coming from 21 year old Yuto but totally inappropriate coming from 10 year old Yuto. Hanae’s psyches herself out even more thinking that it would even be illegal if she were to date Yuto ten years ago!
Hitomi lingers at the party after her coworkers have all left to pointedly ask Yu to hang out. He admires Hitomi for her directness and compliments her as being an attractive woman with everything to offer a man in terms of personality and looks. Unfortunately he’s not interested in her so there is no point in her pursuing him.
Hitomi’s not that easily deterred and runs after Yu to ask if he’s still single. Yu is single but he’s finally encountered a woman he’s interested in after a long time. Hitomi is even more ready for action now that she’s got a rival and declares that she’ll win over that woman.
Yuto and Hanae are finished with dinner and Yuto can’t find his wallet to pay the bill. He apologizes to Hanae for leaving his wallet at home but she doesn’t mind and pulls out her wallet to pay.
Yuto and Hanae walk after dinner and he asks her out to dinner Sunday and it’ll be his treat. Hanae agrees which makes Yuto break into a beaming smile. Hanae writes down on her event planner the Sunday dinner with Yuto before taking the bus home.
While Hanae is sitting around with her parents watching TV, the news flashes a report on the recent conman schemes plaguing the gullible citizens of their city. Mom thinks it’s the ones that look trustworthy that turn out to be the schemers. Hanae thinks back to Yuto forgetting his wallet and her paying for their dinner. She wonders if Yuto is feigning interest in her to get her to be his sugar mommy?
Hanae has a nightmare that night, first about Yuto conning her at another dinner where he claims to have left his wallet at home. Then it gets worse as a drunken Yuto confronts Hanae for a huge sum of cash and tells her to come up with it since she runs the finances at the company.
Hanae sneaks into her company at night and finds Yu sitting at her boss’ desk tsk-tsk-ing that she turned out to be an embezzeler like he suspected. Hanae tells him to leave her alone before going to the office safe to crack it open. She then screams because her boss is crouched inside to catch her in the act. Hanae wakes up from this nightmare and realizes she needs to figure out what Yuto wants from her before she gets even more involved with him.
Hanae goes to get advice from best friend Ichika who is getting discharged from the hospital with her newborn baby. Ichika smartly points out that a guy who keeps not having the money to pay is clearly just looking for a woman to milk dry, but at the same time Yuto could have genuinely forgotten his wallet that day. She needs to give him a few more outings to determine whether it was a one-time incident or a foreshadowing of what’s to come.
Ichika chides Hanae for wanting to end things now before figuring out what is going on with Yuto, pointing out that this is why Hanae won’t ever get a boyfriend if she keeps behaving like this. Ichika calls her older kindergartener inside to grab their bags and tells Hanae that her lack of dating even loses out to a 6 year old who already has a boyfriend in the same kindergarten.
Ichika’s older daughter adorably sighs over Hanae not having a boyfriend yet and then offers Hanae advice on texting with a boy. The trick is to end every text with a question which increases the chance of him texting back because he needs to give an answer. Hanae is thoroughly schooled by a baby girl.
Hanae meets Yuto for their Sunday night dinner date and she keeps checking out the bulge in his back pocket, wondering if it’s a wallet or cell phone. LOL, just ogle that young behind all you want, Hanae!
Yuto takes Hanae to a small Japanese restaurant run by his senpai from the same university. The chef is surprised to see Yuto bring a girl here and teases that his date doesn’t seem all that willing. Hanae is in fact all tense wondering still if Yuto is going to make her pay and how much everything costs. Yuto laughs that he just has a one-sided crush right now but he’s working hard to make it a reality.
Hanae is dismayed to find the menu doesn’t have any prices on it and then frets even more when Yuto goes ahead and orders. She even snaps at the chef when he brings out a grilled fish dish since it wasn’t ordered, only to be chastened when the chef explains that this is on the house.
After a tense meal, Hanae visibly relaxes when the bill comes and Yuto takes out his wallet to pay for it. She’s then able to really appreciate the feeling of having a guy treat her to a meal for the first time.
On their way out, a girl around Yuto’s age walks inside and the two greet each other with familiarity. The girl is Hirono and she works at the restaurant and is here to bring a trip present for the chef. Yuto introduces Hanae to Hirono and Hanae notices that Yuto refers to her formally as “Aoshi-san” while he address the girl with more closeness as “Hirono-chan”.
Hanae silently walks beside Yuto and Hirono as the three of them leave the restaurant. Talk turns to Hirono thanking Yuto for lending a CD to her of a new group that Hanae hasn’t even heard about, making keenly aware of her age gap with Yuto and Hirono’s generation. She sees Yuto and Hirono exchanging phone numbers by shaking their cell phone which is something Hanae never knew.
Hanae declines Yuto’s offer to walk her to the bus stop and watches him head off in the same direction as Hirono. On the bus ride home, Hanae sends Yuto a thank you text for dinner and then waits for his response.
Hanae has her cell phone by her side the entire night waiting for Yuto to text back, a situation her parents take note of. Hanae lies in bed and can’t fall asleep so she finally gets out of bed to tire herself out.
Hanae attempts to drag poor Mamoru out for a midnight walk and the pooch is pointedly refusing to move a muscle from his comfy perch. Hanae’s dad hears noise and comes out to investigate only to hear Hanae claim that Mamoru totally wants to go out for a late night walk. Sleepy dad can tell Mamaru wants no such thing but Hanae fairly drags Mamoru out of the house against his will.
Mamoru is one stubborn dog and just plops down in front of the house and refuses to take another step. Hanae won’t give up either so she ends up carrying fat Mamoru on his “walk” around the neighborhood. I’m dying here!
Hanae deposits a sprawled out Mamoru back in front of his dog house after his “walk” and goes back inside her room to get some sleep. She checks her phone and still no response from Yuto. Hanae’s mind wanders from whether Yuto is with Hirono or if he’s just too busy to respond? She commences cleaning the living room to keep busy and realizes she didn’t take Ichika’s daughter’s advice to heart as her last text to Yuto didn’t contain a question for him to text back.
Hanae ends up having the first sleepless night of her life, yet another first thanks to Yuto.
Hanae’s parents are having breakfast and Mom brings up to Dad that their daughter finally has a guy in her life what with all the cell phone stalking she’s been doing. Dad refuses to discuss it. Hanae comes out to breakfast and Mom wants to know if she’s been waiting for a text from a guy which makes her Dad drop his soup bowl.
On the bus ride to work, Hanae suddenly sees a man and a woman walking on the street that resembles Yuto and Hirono. She gets off at the next stop and runs in their direction, tracking them to a convenience store. Once she gets a good look, she realizes it’s not them and that she’s been behaving like a total wacko.
Hanae ends up taking a taxi to work to arrive on time and even Hitomi notices that she seems out of it at the office. Boss calls Hanae over to check on an invoice that isn’t adding up and Hanae realizes she make a tabulation error and quickly goes to correct it. So then asks Hanae to deliver a PO upstairs for Yu to review as part of the company’s upcoming collaboration. She suggest Yuto do it and hears from So that Yuto is not coming to work for a few days because he has exams coming up.
Hanae takes a detour up to the roof to clear her mind first. She realizes that she’s overreacting to not getting a return text back and it’s all on her mind.
Hanae delivers the PO to Yu’s fancy CEO office and he welcomes her to wait and enjoy some coffee while he reviews the documents and gives her the response to take back. As usual Hanae is very hesitant around Yu while he continues to probe and speak his mind around her. Yu looks up from reviewing the documents to notice that Hanae is standing at the far end of his office keeping her distance from him.
Yu asks how things are going with Hanae and her boyfriend and she reluctantly tells him that things are over. He wants to know who broke up with whom? Hanae clarifies that it never began in the first place, and with so many things that happened, it’s just at an end is all. Yu laughs about a romance that came to an end before it even started.
Hanae finally opens up and tells Yu that she was really flustered by it all, becoming suspicious and having her emotions off kilter. She didn’t like this about her. Yu stares at Hanae and gets up from his desk to walk over to her. Hanae figures this wasn’t like her to begin with and it was a mistake to even give it a chance.
Yu asks the million dollar question “Are you really that scared of getting hurt?” Yu thinks it’s even scarier for a person to never change, more so then getting hurt by taking a chance on something unknown. It’s like a light bulb goes off in Hanae’s head and she is clearly really shaken by what Yu just said. She asks for the documents and he readily hands it over. On her way out the door Yu gives her a final pithy observation that falling in love is just like this.
Hanae has totally calmed down after her talk with Yu and finishes up the workday before going home to keep thinking about what Yu said. After giving Mamoru a nice brushing she finally gets a text from Yuto who apologizes for not replying earlier since he didn’t notice her text until now.
Hanae allows herself to be happy to get this text from Yuto and writes back to ask if he doesn’t like a girl who doesn’t take off her glasses when eating ramen. Yuto writes back that Hanae is Hanae, if he can sit with her and eat ramen then she can do whatever she likes. Hanae is sooooo happy to read his text and when she’s brushing her teeth that night she keeps staring at herself in the mirror.
Yuto walks to work and gets a text from Hanae asking him to hang out after work.
Boss stands outside the conference room staring and summons the other male coworkers over to check out the new and improved Hanae who isn’t wearing her glasses for the first time ever at work. Everyone marvels at what a beauty Hanae is hiding under her spectacles and gives kudos to boyfriend Mamoru for turning Hanae all womanly.
Hanae runs into Yuto as he’s arriving at work and the poor boy looks absolutely gobsmacked to see Hanae not wearing glasses.
Yu is outside the office when he spots Hanae leaving work and he stares at her walking by without wearing glasses.
Hanae meets up with Yuto and this time she’s ready to give him an answer. Hanae bows and says “please take care of me”, confirming that she wants to date him too. Yuto breaks into a beaming smile and takes Hanae by the hand asking if she wants ramen.
Hanae and Yuto quietly walk to dinner chatting about what kind of ramen each wants to order. They want different types so Yuto asks to share which makes Hanae happy to do something that is very coupley. Hanae thinks to herself that she is 30 years and has a boyfriend for the first time ever.
Thoughts of Mine:
This dorama is way better watched than even my recaps do it justice. That’s due to the phenomenal acting talents of the cast that manage to bring life without turning anyone into a caricature. We’re so used to the K-drama (and often TW-drama) penchant for overly animated acting that it’s beyond refreshing to encounter characters that are dynamic and interesting without resorting to broad performance strokes. Even better is the great personalities that are presented among all the material characters to create a world that’s interesting even if it’s rooted firmly in the mundane. Hanae’s life is so utterly ordinary and even her first romance at the older age of 30 years is spurred on by some really inconsequential worries. She’s much older than Yuto, that’s a legit concern, but right now he’s just wanting to date her and for all she knows a happy healthy relationship would be great for her emotional maturation. She needn’t over think things yet she does because she doesn’t have any context to work through the little details of flirtation. The minor issues are brought to life because Ayase Haruka’s tiniest eye and face gestures coupled with her great grasp of body language sells Hanae completely. We twinge to be in her shoes, whether it’s excitement for a potential new romance or the anxiety that it’s too confusing for Hanae to handle.
Hanae’s surrounded by the most functional group of drama characters I’ve seen in a long while. Her parents are absolutely charming in their practical love for their daughter, with neither disinterest nor overbearing intrusion into her life. Mamoru is such a scene stealer and works even better with the great synergy in which he’s written into the show. He’s not just a dog stashed in the scene to make us all go awwww, he’s actually a participating member of the family in the way he’s there for the human characters to interact with whenever each needs the other. I died laughing when Hanae compared her confusion to why Yuto liked her to her full understanding of why Mamoru likes her, i.e. because she feeds him and grooms him, as if the basis for a human attraction is reduced to just what one can do for the other. I never think Hanae is being purposely clueless or obtuse because she simply can’t read clues or figure out subtle gestures on her own without experience to fall back on. That’s even more true when taking into account her awkwardness with too much social interactions. The dorama is doing a bang up job of fleshing out Hanae and shows that making a story revolve around an ordinary female lead is possible without having to pander to the masses by overselling the male leads. I like Hanae even more than I like her suitors.
Hanae’s coworkers are all fun to watch, especially taking into account how normal yet unique everyone is. There isn’t a baddie written into the story for the sake of creating conflict down the road which is much appreciated since the slings and arrows of romance is really a landmine in and of itself. I can’t get over how much I adore the drama version of Yu, even more than the manga version which I liked already. It’s a combination of his character getting more screen time and the way Tamaki Hiroshi pours on the charm without the smarm. His mysterious interest in Hanae isn’t even all that perplexing, he finds her reserved awkwardness refreshing in a world where most women around him are like Hitomi, aware of their own feminine appeal and adept at romance. Yuto’s interest in Hanae is actually harder to fathom since she really is way older and it’s not obvious that someone as young as Yuto would be able to discern her attractive qualities underneath her school marm exterior. I always thought Yu existed as a future possibility but now it’s fantastic watching the dorama elevate both male leads to their own unique connection and understanding with Hanae. She’s turning into the luckiest lady alive and deserving of all the male interest come her way. I like both male leads equally even if my mind tells me Yu is more suited for Hanae but her heart is engaged for the first time and I want her to enjoy her ride with Yuto wherever it takes her.