Takunomi. – 02

Michiru has somewhat overblown standards of how a young Tokyoite office woman should look, and her perceived failure to meet them leave her frustrated to the point of tears upon coming home. Enter Nao, who works at a clothing store. Michiru offers shochu as payment for fashion advice.

After the presentation of “chu-hi” (shochu highballs) as one of the more delicious alcoholic beverages one can enjoy (for those over the age of 20), Nao opens her closet for Michiru, who settles on an understated natural look. In doing so, Michiru rekindles the passion that drove Nao into clothing industry: that satisfying moment when a customer has found their look.

As for things like finding a man to accompany her to couples spots like Tokyo Sky Tree and an office demeanor in which she’s not mixing up words like “call” with “coal”, Michiru is on her own. But when she comes home, she can be assured of good drink, good food, and good friends.

Update: What do you know, my local state-run wine & spirits store actually sells shochu, a 50-proof mugi (barley) variety made in Kyoto. Earthy and nutty, it’s great neat, on the rocks, or with club or flavored soda. Kanpai!

Sakamichi no Apollon – 05

When Ritsuko turns Kaoru down (because there’s someone else she’s in love with), not even the arrival of his dad can cheer him up. Vowing never to return to the music store, Sentaro sneaks in his room to snap him out of it. Kaoru’s father gives him the address of his mother in Tokyo, and Kaoru decides to take a trip to get over his heartache; Sentaro tags along. After getting drunk with some of Jun’s neighbors, he finally reunites with his mother, who isn’t what he expected, but is kind and helps him get over his lovelornness. Back in Kyushu, Kaoru returns to the music store to practice, and is friendly to Ritsuko, to her relief.

If you’ve never been rejected, the events of this episode may not move you all that much, but with both rejectors and rejectees among us, we can attest that it’s not usually fun for either party. When dealing with a friendship you may have damaged with one-sided romantic feelings, it can feel worse, because it means you’re out a good friend, which Ritsuko most certainly is (she even makes him lunch for his train ride!). What Kaoru needs is to take a brief break from his bleak world. What better way to escape than to visit one of the biggest cities in the world?

We can also attest that Tokyo is a place that can make you feel like a million bucks, and, depending on your feelings about big cities, will either make you feel like you’re merely a hopeless ant in a maze, or a part of something great and amazing. It’s important to have a place to go and a reason to be there, even if that reason is just wandering around, but Kaoru found what he needed: A.), shochu, and B.) the comfort of an estranged but still loving mother, who reminds him he’s in his heydey of youth, far too young to give up on happines. So he doesn’t. He moves forward.

Rating: 8 (Great)

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