Yamada Tarou Monogatari – 04
Takako is so distraught upon learning that Tarou is actually poor that she runs straight home, without even noticing the man that she passes along the way. This man is none other than Tarou’s father Kazuo, and his wife quickly senses his return and rushes to hug him. After Tarou introduces him to Takako’s mother and to Takuya, Kazuo joins the family in enjoying the barbecue. Several days later, Takuya arrives at school to find Tarou looking exhausted because of how much partying at home his father has been doing since he came back and how much money he’s been spending on food. It’s not that Tarou didn’t want his father to return, but at this rate he needs to get another part-time job. When Tarou goes home that afternoon, he finds that there’s a foreign kid running around with everyone, and Kazuo explains that his friend Michael has entrusted this child Aaron to them for a home stay. Aaron isn’t used to Japan though, and he has no friends, so Tarou’s parents leave Aaron in Tarou’s hands. It is because of Aaron that Tarou goes to school exhausted again, and he tells Takuya about how Aaron wasted water, toilet paper, and ate a pudding cup all by himself. During dinner, Aaron had wanted the sole plate of tempura for himself, but when they gave it to him, he took one bite and then threw his fork down.
When Kazuo visits Tarou’s school sometime later, the principal mentions how it’s a shame that Tarou doesn’t want to go to college. Kazuo responds by saying that whether or not it’s a waste, it is something for Tarou himself to decide. He also points out that the painting of his that’s currently hanging on the principal’s wall is upside down. Takako meanwhile has concluded that the path she should take is the one of marrying into a rich family rather than the path of love, so she decides to forget Tarou. She thus asks her friend Masami to take her place for after-school gardening duty, and Masami immediately assumes that something happened with Tarou. Both she and Sugiura realize that Takako found out something bad about Tarou that makes her dislike him, but Takako ends up denying it. She is very conflicted inside because she knows how poor Tarou is, but she can’t tell anyone else because of the scandal that she imagines it would create. What’s more, when she hears the principal telling Tarou that his father was just there, she envisions a poor life with Tarou caring for his old, sickly father. She can’t stand the thought of this and runs away from him, only to notice a good looking guy on the street who appears to be getting out of a limousine. She immediately develops feelings for him, but the guy seems to disappear before she can do anything. Little does she know that this guy is actually Kazuo.
Since Tarou had earlier said, in reference to Aaron, that children should genuinely laugh like children, Takaya decides to bring a present to the Yamada home for the boy. It turns out to be a jack-in-the-box that startles Aaron, but instead of causing him to laugh, it makes him close himself off further. Undeterred, Takuya returns home and tells his butler Isogai to bring out his old toys. Tarou comes over the next day to find a room full of them, so Isogai explains that Takuya wasn’t able to play well with the kids around him when he was young, and no matter what they did, they couldn’t get him to laugh. That’s why Isogai is happy to see Takuya laugh and smile now. Takuya then brings them a bear costume and wants Isogai to teach Tarou his specialty. Around this time, Takako is out for a jog when she comes across a painting of a rainbow over a river. The artist soon returns, and Takako can’t believe that it is the same guy she had been admiring yesterday, so she starts thinking that this is a fated reunion. Although Kazuo claims that his job is a loafer, he also says that he travels the world and paints, which leads Takako to conclude that he’s rich and revives her dream of marrying into a rich family.
That night, Tarou witnesses Aaron finally laugh after he tries to defend his mother’s cooking to the rest of the family only to realize how bad it tasted. Because of this, Tarou decides that tomorrow will be the day, and he challenges Aaron to come to the park with everyone. When the time comes, Tarou dresses up in the bear costume and heads to the park’s assembly hall where he meets up with Isogai. In their final rehearsal however, Isogai feels that Tarou still isn’t good enough to pull this off. Nearby, Takako is searching for Kazuo, and when she can’t find him, she’s ready to start crying. She is thus quite emotional and hugs Kazuo when she does finally see him, though he then tells her that he has something to show her and takes her to the assembly hall where Tarou and Isogai have already started their performance. All the kids except for Aaron seem to love it, but during one part, the bear character trips and its head flies off to reveal Isogai underneath the costume. Isogai and Tarou had actually switched parts, and Tarou now takes the head and starts running around with it. Trying to get it back, Isogai chases him, and the sight of this causes everyone – including Aaron – to start laughing. Takako is meanwhile surprised to see Tarou performing, and she’s even more shocked when Kazuo identifies Tarou as his son, shattering her dream once again.
With the entire Yamada family celebrating now, Takuya thanks Isogai for what he did, but Isogai attributes it all to Tarou’s idea. Dinner that night is a happy affair with everyone including Aaron laughing and smiling. However, when Tarou arrives back from school the next day, he finds that Aaron has gone home after thanking them. Kazuo has also left to travel again, and Tarou’s mother thinks that he’ll someday come back again unexpectedly. He left them a painting to sell if money is a problem, but when Tarou sees that it depicts the family gathered around a bear under a rainbow, he quickly realizes that there’s no way they can sell such a good painting.
For me, this was the weakest episode so far because it focused on my least favorite character (Takako) and one of the types of stories that peeves me the most (a spoiled and/or bratty kid that needs to be won over). My main problem with Takako is that she’s currently too much of one-sided character with her constant gold digger ways, which invariably means that she’ll eventually realize that love is more important than money. There just doesn’t seem to be much depth to her character, and she’s not exactly eye candy to compensate for it. On that note, I’m not sure what the manga did with Tarou’s father in terms of story, but it felt kind of wasted for him to show up mainly for Takako to fall in love with and then have him leave again. At the very least, I had been hoping for more laughs out of his involvement in this, though at least the ending with painting finished the episode on a good note. Maybe next week’s episode, which looks fairly interesting from the preview, can get me smiling about this show again.