Kyou wa Kaisha Yasumimasu is nothing if not consistent the whole way through. All the characters stay the same for the most part in ways that can either be aggravating or satisfying depending on how a viewer approaches this story. The ten-episode dorama was the latter for me, definitely skewing towards the satisfying less for the outcome than for the sweet journey. It also deviated so significantly from the still ongoing manga there leaves room for a different process and outcome in the original medium, though all signs point to the manga eventually ending along the same vein as the live action series.
Of all my rather inconsequential complaints about KwKY it would be the gradual deflation of tension from a crackling first episode to a final episode 10 that felt as placid as a warm onsen pool with nary a ripple in it. I can feel the ease by which the story stayed true to its premise but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t looking for a rock tossed in to upset the waves a bit. It’s still nice to have a genuine romance-driven dorama to consume and this one just needed more adult maturity and sexy juice to reach full potential. Sadly that didn’t quite happen but along the way one woman’s romantic exploration was entertaining enough to be worth the ride.
Episode 10 recap:
Hanae goes from breaking up with her younger boyfriend so as to not impede his studies to getting a marriage proposal from the older hottie who has a crush on her. Talk about trading up LOL. Hanae thinks Yu is joking but he’s dead serious, if not jumping from point B to Z in about a nanosecond. Yu thinks Hanae’s reluctance is on his future being uncertain since he just started a restaurant, but he wants her to accompany him on the journey.
Hanae sincerely turns Yu down because she doesn’t feel that way about him. He’s not deterred and explains her limited romantic experience is clouding her judgment. She thinks love is attraction and affection but it’s more than that. Just love alone can easily impede each other’s future and that is what happened to Yuto and Hanae. Yu leans in and assures Hanae that will never happen between him and Hanae.
They can continue to say what is on their mind and be at ease around each other. For Yu, Hanae is the first person he’s met that he feels that way about. She must feel the same about him, yes? Hanae chalks it up to them being friends but Yu takes it a step further as a romance based on friendship is even stronger. He ends with that and strides towards the kitchen to bring out dinner for Hanae.
Hanae walks home and mulls over what Yu said and acknowledges that she is always able to be herself more around him. Is that a type of love? Hanae can’t accept that since she still only likes Yuto even after they broke up.
Hanae and Yuto return to being cordial and professional at work and So takes note of Yuto returning to calling Hanae “Aoshi-san” instead of her first name. He stops Hanae to ask if she’s planning to go to Yuto’s going away party, and if she’s not comfortable then he’ll make an excuse for her absence. So’s such a good friend. Hanae declines his help and is fine going. She gets a text from Ichika wanting to meet Yu and help Hanae make a decision.
Ichika is basically drooling over Yu as she brings little Sayaka to join Hanae for a meal at Yu’s newly opened restaurant. He makes small talk wanting to know how Hanae was like in college and hears she’s exactly the same as now, unassuming and humble but super stubborn. Yu notes it must’ve been hard for Ichika to stay friends with Hanae for so long and thanks her for being so caring towards Hanae.
Hanae wonders why Yu is thanking Ichika on her behalf and he smoothly explains that he admires Ichika’s selflessness and charity in putting up with Hanae. Ichika is moved to find a kindred spirit in Yu who understands her. Hanae interjects and returns Yu’s comment, she’s being selfless and charitable in bringing friends to dine at his establishment. Yu thanks Hanae but she’s not looking out for him, she worries about the employees here if the restaurant closed.
Little Sayaka pipes up that Hanae’s worry is for naught, she finds the service and food quite good here so there is nothing to worry about. Yu thanks the ladies for their compliments before strolling away. Ichika gushes over Yu to Hanae and is shocked to see Hanae bantering so comfortably with a man. Hanae chalks it up to a rabbit biting back when cornered so she can’t help but always have a ready retort around Yu.
Ichika glances at the smexy Yu and doesn’t believe Hanae, if she had no interest in the guy she wouldn’t care to sass back towards anything he says. True dat! Ichika wants Hanae to admit it, that she likes Yu! Hanae insists she doesn’t which is when Sayaka interjects that she’s taking the opportunity if Hanae doesn’t want him. She bounds over to ask Yu where the ladies room is and he takes her hand to show her where it is.
Ichika leaves Hanae with the advice that this is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a man this eligible, who knows and accepts her full personality, and still wants her. If Hanae passes it up and goes back to the college student then she’s just jumping back into an unknown abyss. Hanae claims she understands what Ichika is saying but later when she goes home to think about a future with Yu, she freaks that that she may be moving on from Yuto too fast since their break up and what that means about how she really felt about him?
Hanae steps into the elevator and wonders if she started liking Yuto after he said that he liked her, in the elevator when he kabedon-ed her and asked her to give him a chance. Was she affected by his repeated overtures like the unexpected kiss, giving her his apartment keys, agreeing to meet her parents, all the things he did were so sincere. But was she simply moved by the effusiveness of his gestures?
Hanae then has a fantasy where Yu is the one doing everything Yuto did to her, from the elevator kabedon to giving her the keys to his restaurant and a new home before going to ask Hanae’s dad for her hand in marriage. Dad immediately agrees and Mom gushes over how the name Asao Hanae will sound soooooo good. The two men shake on it while Hanae looks on in shock. Hanae thinks it’s totally possible that if Yu did all the things Yuto did towards her then she would have fallen for him.
Hanae runs into Ryusei and Hitomi making a date in the storage room to dine at Yu’s new restaurant. Hanae sits down with Hitomi in the lunch room and hears that the new relationship is going well. Hitomi admits she didn’t have the heartstopping sensation around Ryusei but she wanted to give him a chance. She’s quite happy in the relationship as being with Ryusei is very comforting like being with a close friend. Hanae is surprised to hear Hitomo’s love philosophy sounds like what Yu said to her about love between people who are friends first.
Hanae is reminded that tonight is Christmas eve which is typically a romantic evening out for lovers in Japan. She glances over at Yuto and wonders what he has planned?
Yuto is at school and his senpai gives him the bad news that their professor doesn’t plan to accept Yuto back to grad school after he turned it down the first time. Senpai hands over a file with another graduate studies option which is a year long grad student exchange program with a US institution.
Hanae spends her Christmas eve at home with her family when there is a delivery at the door. Mom rushed in with a huge bouquet of flowers for Hanae from an Asao-san and she quickly explains to her parents that the guy is just a friend. The card with the flowers read “with affection to the dog, from the monkey.”
Hitomi and Ryusei are spending their Christmas eve romantic dinner at Yu’s restaurant, with Yu coming by the table to pour Hitomi a glass of champagne while Ryusei is locked in the bathroom trying to get his courage up. Hitomi points out the restaurant is going well and wonders if Yu has moved on from Hanae? Yu explains that he treats both his love life and career as long term goals so isn’t about to give up that quickly.
Ryusei returns with a compliment to Yu on the restaurant before gulping down his champagne for courage. He then hands Hitomi a present of a box containing a key for a suite claiming that the present is himself. He’s a virgin and has decided to give himself to Hitomi. She’s insulted that he thinks she has a lot of experience but he keeps trying to explain that he’s so sincere with it because a virgin guy like him wouldn’t offer himself unless he was going to marry her. They banter back and first teasing each other.
Dad asks Hanae about the guy who sent her flowers and hear that he’s 35 years old which makes them happy since it’s the right age for an eligible bachelor. Hanae goes back to her room and checks her date book and realizes soon Yuto will be leaving the company and she won’t see him again anymore.
It’s Yuto’s farewell party coupled with the company year end party. Boss encourages his employees on a year of working hard and a lot of things happening they overcame together. Hanae is back to serving everyone and hears the other employees asking Yuto what he has planned after he leaves the company.
So and Ryusei head off so So can draw Hitomi’s face on Ryusei’s belly. Ryusei thanks So for all the encouragement and advice and turns the tables, offering to be his advisor on how to get a girlfriend.
The party ends and everyone files out together. Some clueless folks notice that Hanae and Yuto didn’t talk much during the night and push him towards her for final words. Hanae awkwardly thanks him for working hard with her and wishes him well in the future while Yuto stands there silently. Hanae walks off alone and thinks she hears Yuto calling her name only to turn around and there is no one there.
Hanae gets a text from Yuto where he explains that he thought through many things after their break up. The time they dated and his future, he really was forcing things just to make her happy. A person who can’t treat oneself right can’t love another person right so while he still misses her he thinks he will be able to slowly move on from her. Yuto ends by thanking her for everything. Hanae wipes away her tears before heading off in another direction.
Hanae goes to Yu’s restaurant and finds him closing up alone. She’s here to answer his proposal and her answer is that she can’t marry him. Yu asks if Hanae can’t forget Yuto but she’s certain that she can and must forget Yuto. She realized something after getting a text from Yuto, as much as she wanted to forget Yuto she was secretly waiting for him to contact her. To like a person is to wait for that person and it’s a feeling that can’t be forgotten even if one tries.
Yu looks sad and confirms that Hanae can’t be with him because she still likes a man that she must now forget. Hanae is fine with that even if it means she’ll be alone in the future. Yu smiles at her as she smiles and he teases that she’s so moved by how nice he is towards her.
A new year is about to start at work with all the employees participating in a thorough office cleaning. Hanae pauses when she notices Yu’s now empty desk before going back to cleaning. She later meets with Boss and accepts the promotion to take on a more diverse position. She finally gets around to deleting Yuto’s cell phone number from her phone.
Sayaka is enjoying soba with Hanae’s parents while the two besties are outside in the courtyard grilling mocha for the new year. Ichika smarts over Hanae letting the prime catch Yu go akin to having a giant tasty steamed bun that is tossed aside. Hanae might be alone for the rest of her life and never meet a better guy than Yu. Hanae is fine with that and wants to just work hard in the coming year. Mom comes out with soba noodles for the girls and hears that Hanae turned down a very eligible marriage proposal. Mom figures as much with the flowers from Yu over Christmas and sighs that Hanae will be living at home for longer now.
Hanae counts down the new year with Mamoru as a wild ride of a year comes to an end. She hugs her precious dog while looking skyward with a smile.
Hanae is quickly acclimating to her new position at work, going out to meet clients with So and having a new hairstyle. The office is gushing over a pretty new intern who has taken over Yuto’s position. Hanae semi-returns to her old lifestyle such as watching a movie alone on ladies’ night, though she hits up a later showtime because she works late now.
Boss announces the happy news to the office that Ryusei and Hitomi are getting married. Hanae smiles while thinking that she’ll be congratulating people on getting married from now on. Ryusei wants to invite Yuto but So quickly interjects that Yuto is busy with school probably and changes the topic to where the newlyweds are planning to honeymoon. Boss can tell Hanae looks a bit forlorn.
Hanae runs into Yuto’s ex-girlfriend/senpai at ladies night movie and the two sit down to talk about Yuto. Hanae learns that Yuto is planning to leave for the US in the spring for a grad student exchange program for a year. Senpai is pleased and relieved that Yuto is focusing on his future and making the right choices. Hanae asks if senpai and Yuto are back together now and hears that is not happening, senpai is focusing on her research and doesn’t have time for dating and she’s fine with that.
Hanae is at the wedding but nervously looking around for whether Yuto will come. So tells her not to worry, he heard from Yuto that he’s not coming. Hanae brings up Yuto being busy preparing to go study abroad and So knows even more than her and says Yuto is actually leaving today to go to the US.
Ryusei and Hitomi exchange their vows before the priest declares that the groom can kiss the bride. Ryusei is leaning in to kiss Hitomi when she makes him stop because he’s got a nosebleed. The office team look around for a pack of tissues and Hanae is the one to has one handy. She hurries up to hand over the tissue and Hitomi helps clean Ryusei up. Boss hilariously falls out of his seat as Hanae runs back to rejoin the group. Ryusei and Hitomi safely kiss and are declared husband and wife.
The wedding banquet is held at Yu’s restaurant and Hanae stands towards the back admiring how beautiful Hitomi and Ryusei look all dressed up. She wonders if Yuto is already at the airport and notices that the bread on a plate looks like North and South America.
Yu walks over to point out that Hanae is standing in the back serving people per usual. He heard from So that Yuto isn’t coming today and wonders if Hanae is disappointed. She claims to have forgotten him already. Yu tells her to go get some wedding cake since he hears that people who are not happy need to eat more. He gets a glare from Hanae back for saying that.
The newlyweds play a bingo game with their wedding guests and Hanae holds her bingo form while her mind is still on Yuto leaving for the US today. The presents are given out one after another until the last grand prize is announced as round trip tickets to the US. That gets Hanae’s attention and she looks at her form and is close to bingo with only the number 50 needed for her to win. The next number is announced as 51 and she just misses out on that prize.
Yu points out that Hanae is suddenly way too interested in the bingo game and clearly she’s not over Yuto. Hanae claims to already have forgotten Yuto. Yu sighs before giving her one big piece of advice the way he always does – a person who has forgotten another will never say that. Yu clearly still likes Hanae and she still likes Yuto because Yu likes the Hanae who is so one-track minded in her like for Yuto. Yu smiles as he pushes Hanae towards the front door, telling her to hurry now and she can still catch Yuto before he leaves for the US.
Yu asks So for help to let Hanae use his bingo prize of a new bike to hurry to the bus station to catch Yuto. Hanae thanks So before getting on the bike and pedaling off.
Both So and Yu stand there watching Hanae rush off. Yu points out that So looks rather dejected seeing Hanae leave, does he like Hanae? So just wants Hanae to be happy because she’s the only same class colleague left. Yu wonders if So never thought to give Hanae happiness himself? So tosses it back at Yu and the two head back inside for a drink to mull over that topic. Yu turns and gives one last look at the direction where Hanae rode off.
Poor Hanae is having a hard time riding the new electric bike because it hasn’t been charged yet. She ends up ditching it and running the rest of the way to the airport bus stop. She finds Yuto before he boards and asks if he’s forgotten her yet? Yuto smiles and says no, he hasn’t forgotten her. Hanae gets up the courage to ask if she can wait for Yuto? He smiles and reminds her that he said from the very beginning that he knows she really does like him. He pulls her in for a hug and asks that she wait for him and he’ll be back in a year. Hanae cries and tells him to take care of himself.
Yuto gets on the bus but opens the window to watch as Hanae runs along with the bus a few more streets to wave him off. Hanae catches her breath and smiles as the bus pulls out of sight.
Time jump and it’s one year later. Hanae is tending to the plants on the roof as usual and gets a text from Yuto that he’s coming back tomorrow at noon. She realizes that Yuto has been gone a year but his texts remain the same, so calm and composed. Boss arrives at work interjecting Hawaiian slang into his words after just spending a few days there on vacation last year. Hanae wonders how much Yuto has changed after living in the US for a year? She’s been working so hard the last year she’s found new white hairs and wonders if Yuto will still like her the same way after he comes back.
Hanae goes to Mushi’s restaurant and wonders if he still remembers her? Mushi claims he totally remembers her but can’t quite get name out until Hanae puts on her glasses and jogs his memory. She sits down to eat and tells Mushi that Yuto is coming back tomorrow. She does feel dejected that Mushi has forgotten her after just a year and wonders if the same will happen with Yuto.
Hanae has a fantasy with Yuto arriving at the airport to a gaggle of girls with ponytails and eyeglasses welcoming him. He mistakenly hugs various girls and calls them all Hanae. Mushi hands Hanae her beer and asks if she’s still dating Yuto? Hanae won’t know for certain until he comes back tomorrow and Mushi hopes they will come back to the restaurant together since it’s been less lively without them.
Hanae sits down to breakfast with her parents and informs them that she’s not going to work today and will instead be heading to the airport to pick up Yuto. Dad spills his miso in shock but Boss is less surprised when Hanae calls informing him that she’s taking the day off to do something important. Hanae gets dressed to head out and can’t decide whether to wear her glasses or not. She bids farewell to Mamoru and heads out without her glasses.
Hitomi takes over making coffee for the office with Hanae out today and gets complimented for her coffee making skills improving after marriage. Hitomi claims she cooks while Ryusei gripes that he is the one making their lunch bentos. Over at Yu’s restaurant, things remain bustling as he’s hard at work running the joint.
Hanae arrives at the airport and puts on her glasses. She looks around before spotting Yuto in the crowd. They smile at each other and he offers her his hand and tells her that he’s back. She takes his hand with a smile and they walk off together as Hanae thinks to herself that she’s 31 years old and her second romance with her ex-boyfriend has started now.
Thoughts of Mine:
As the final scene played in the last episode, it cemented this resigned feeling that Hanae basically went in a giant circle and ended up where she started off at the beginning of the drama. Sure she went through undeniable emotional maturity and had the courage to pick the harder path against all practical reason, but ultimately having Hanae restart her romance with Yuto didn’t feel very cathartic. It’s not a recipe for failure but I still never got the good sense for why she liked him so much as to not give Yu a chance, EVER, and have the courage to keep on reaching out to over and over again to Yuto. If all Yuto did was be the first guy to ever hug/kiss/sleep with Hanae and thereby earn her everlasting devotion then so be it. Otherwise for the life of me I can’t understand why Hanae wouldn’t use the time away from Yuto to at least date another guy, it doesn’t have to be Yu, before reaching the conclusion that it has to be Yuto and no other. Yuto was basically 路人A (Chinese modern drama slang of road person A meaning just a random bystander on the road watching the action) in this episode, off to the sidelines while Hanae works through a marriage proposal before going back to him. Not much work from a leading man to keep his lady’s heart, eh?
What I loved the most about KwKY isn’t the message about modern dating, marriage, and love. I loved the old school feel of how lovely all the characters were, a story that had enough tension without any single instance of misconduct or cringeworthy behavior. Sure most female viewers would likely not be able to personally relate to Hanae, nor subscribe to her particular choices, but the story did a great job of fleshing out her character so that the viewer can understand why she chooses to act a certain way. Maybe I want to shake some sense into her, but it’s her life and picking Yuto is hardly the reason to tsk-tsk our disapproval. Ichika was a great best friend side character, flitting in when necessary to impart her support and wisdom, but never does she impose on Hanae’s choices. Yu ended up being the most memorable character in the drama, and Tamaki Hiroshi’s performance was sparkling with charisma in a wink-wink acknowledgment that he was both the eye candy and the better choice in the mind of everyone other than Hanae. She’s lucky to have so many supportive people who love her, including sweet dim Mamoru dog-pretend boyfriend and her doting parents. Whatever happens down the road at least the audience can feel reassured Hanae will be fine. I found myself smiling through this episode even if Hanae’s logic and choices were at the opposite end of the spectrum from how I would have decided in her shoes.
Ryusei and Hitomi’s happy ending was the alternate pairing of what Hanae and Yu could have looked like had she given the awesome guy a chance. He’s too cool for me to pity him, at the same time knowing he’ll be just fine, but the worst part is this nugget of longing that can be glimpsed inside him. It’s that longing and real understanding of what he could have with Hanae but remains beyond his grasp because he’s too gentlemanly to pursue her with anything beyond candor and respect. If he kept clinging on like Ryusei did with Hitomi perhaps he would wear Hanae down, but that’s just not his style. It was only partially surprising to find out that So had been quietly caring for Hanae as more than a friend, he did keep helping her above what a work colleague needed to do. He’s such a warm kind character, if there was ever a season 2 then he needs his own love line for sure. That’s actually what I half want, a season 2 that maybe upends the ending and shows us that Yuto and Hanae round 2 couldn’t overcome the age and life stage differential. Then we could also see Hitomi and Ryusei being hilarious parents, Hanae and Yu dating, and So with his own cute girlfriend. But my other half says that would ruin the whole point of Hanae’s hard learned lesson in this story to be true to her heart and stick around for the guy she wants regardless of what everyone else thinks. If that’s the case then I’m happy for her and pleasantly satisfied with this entire dorama from beginning to end.