After the string of surreal events that happened recently in the lives of the Morita brothers, Kaoru went missing on the first day of snow. Shinobu thinks back about his conversation with his brother. He recalled that it was snowing outside and they were talking whilst sitting by the windowsill. Shinobu suggested that they should go somewhere warm and relax for a bit, but Kaoru refused out right and pointed out that Shinobu looked relieved as if he has finally been freed of his burden, the burden of supporting Kaoru and staying by his side even if it meant disobeying his father’s wishes. Kaoru asked for confirmation on whether or not what he said was true. Shinobu did not answer. Kaoru remembered what his father told him about heading towards the light. However, he confessed that he couldn’t see the light. He did not even know where it came from. With a sad voice, he told Shinobu that his dad only cared about Shinobu until the very end. Painfully, Kaoru wondered what it would’ve been like to be his brother. Shinobu now doubts as to whether he did the right thing in helping his brother exact revenge. Shiroyama assures Shinobu that the efforts, loyalty, and friendship of all of his father’s former employees and Shinobu will prevent Kaoru from harming himself. In a snow-filled park, Shinobu sits with his head down.
Meanwhile, Yamada and Takemoto are in the hospital to visit Hagu. A troubled Shuuji meets them and asks them to come back another time. Earlier that day, Hagu had been crying, shaking, and cringing in pain from the numerous injuries she sustained during the accident. Shuuji asked her if she wanted to take painkillers to numb her senses, but Hagu refused and told him that she would endure it, so she would be able to tell whether the nerves in her right arm have connected or not. Hagu was aware that in the case that she would not feel any sensation in her right hand soon, she would have to have another surgery. Thus, Hagu chose to endure the pain. Just then, she calls for Shuuji. In tears and with every bit of strength left, Hagu tells Shuuji that she could feel her right hand again. She weakly utters how glad she is and right after, succumbs to a deep sleep due to exhaustion. Takemoto, Yamada, and Shuuji are talking in the hospital hallway by a vending machine later, and Shuuji shares that he told Hagu everything about her present condition. He also recounts all the things that Hagu endured. Shuuji tells them that Hagu refused to take painkillers, refused to sleep, and even ignored the pain from all her other wounds just to feel the slightest hint of sensation from her hand.
As Yamada and Takemoto are walking home, they contemplate on the earlier events – both of them are overwhelmed with what they have heard, and they are still trying to imagine how Hagu could have dealt with all her struggles. Hagu’s inner strength, will, and courage, is beyond their comprehension; they are in awe of her. Takemoto ponders on what Shuuji told them earlier about the probability of Hagu not being able to regain sensation and feeling to her fingertips even after rehabilitation. Hagu might also develop other sensory disabilities for the rest of her life. Takemoto pauses, looks up to the night sky and utters a silent plead to God to save Hagu. The next morning, Nomiya spots Yamada looking at cell phone brochures. They go back to Fujiwara Design where Yamada explains that she wants to be of help to Hagu and Shuuji, so it would be better if she owns a cell phone. She feels that she doesn’t really have much to offer to someone like Hagu. Nomiya points out that Yamada may not be the only one thinking the same thing. He continues saying that if everyone looked at Hagu that way, then Hagu would definitely end up all alone. Nomiya then asks whether Yamada is Hagu’s friend or not. The question strikes Yamada like a thunderbolt as she realizes that she should stay with Hagu. She must…
All the while, Miwako and Yamazaki are behind them listening to Nomiya and Yamada’s conversation. Both are in tears, so moved by Nomiya’s speech. Yamazaki agrees that as they get older, they do lose touch with their friends and ultimately sever ties with them. Miwako reassures him that she will not allow it to happen with them and declares that they will be friends forever, much to Yamazaki’s dismay. Yamada works through the night and goes to see Hagu the next day. She has Hagu put on the coat that she made, and Hagu comments that it is warm. Yamada then suggests that they should also make a better pillow for Hagu’s arm. She cheerfully tells Hagu that she bought grapes, the non-peel kind that Hagu likes, as well as books and other things that Hagu might need. Hagu then notices a feather in Yamada’s hair. Yamada starts explaining that the feathers came from her father’s jacket, which she used to make Hagu’s coat, and how it made a big mess that took her 2 hours to clean up. There are more of those feathers on Yamada’s back, much to her dismay, so she asks Hagu if she could get them off. Hagu is misty-eyed – she gently smiles, thinking of how Yamada looks just like an angel.
Sometime after Yamada leaves, Shuuji and Hagu’s doctor are talking in the hallway. Shuuji remembers the shock on Hagu’s face when, earlier that day, she had touched the surface of a sand paper and realized that she could not feel it’s roughness. This memory is so powerful that the doctor has to call for his attention again as she continues to give him instruction on how to make Hagu relax and avoid getting her upper body stiff. Meanwhile, Takemoto ponders on how expensive a single flower is in the flower shop when Yamada appears behind him. She asks Takemoto if he wanted to go somewhere nice. They end up at a field by the riverbank near the train tracks, which is filled with flowers. Yamada exclaims that Hagu would be happier if they pick the flowers themselves. The two return to the hospital and present Hagu a small bouquet of flowers that they picked, making Hagu quite happy. She then tries to touch the flowers with her right hand, causing tears to form in her eyes. It’s later that evening, on the rooftop of the hospital, that Shuuji explains to the two that Hagu has lost sensation in her fingertips. Yamada and Takemoto are saddened with this revelation and question whether it is possible and whether it is really true. Shuuji encourages them by saying that a lot of people similar to Hagu’s case have regained the sensation in their fingertips. He adds that they must remain strong and faithful, so Hagu would be able to depend on them – they must continue to live their lives. Back downstairs, Takemoto asks Shuuji whether the man who came to visit Hagu the night before was her father. Shuuji tells him that it was, and Takemoto realizes that the place that Hagu is supposed to return to is no longer the same. He asks God why all these things happen to Hagu, because at this rate she won’t be able to endure it.
Soon after, bruises starts to appear on Hagu’s left hand. All the stress that has been inflicted upon her has caused her to bite herself. Takemoto notices that soon after the bruises moved to Shuuji’s hand. He can hardly believe how Shuuji remains composed despite of everything – it so unreal that it is scary. Takemoto also receives a letter from the restoration workers whom he met during his journey. The fax reads that they are starting their new work and would like him to join them sometime soon after graduation. He then starts to think of not taking the job at all because of what happened to Hagu and debates with himself that what good would come if he did not. He questions whether he would be capable of offering anything worthwhile to Hagu. Takemoto later concludes that he is not in a position to give her anything and would ultimately become a burden to her. Despite that, he still juggles on a few ideas on how he could sustain himself. He could take on part-time jobs, and try living more thriftily. Yet, if that were the case, he would not be able to have time with Hagu. He remembered the words of Mayama about being able to provide for the woman he loved and being able to let her depend on him if something were to happen. In the end, Takemoto admits that he did not want to save Hagu… it was more selfish than that… he just wants to be with the person he loves.
“Stop pinching my heart!”
Emotions were pouring out as I saw this episode. It tugged, twisted and pinched my heart as I experienced an array of emotions from being terrified that Hagu might not be able to draw anymore, to that wonderful sigh of relief when I knew that Hagu has regained some feeling in her arm, to sympathy towards Takemoto’s indecision on what he should do.
This was a really sad episode and comic relief was really hard to come by. But, all is well. I loved the character development in this one. I have newfound reverence for Shuuji. His dedication, love, and devotion to Hagu, was simply moving.
Nomiya, as usual, was frank to a fault. Yet, this is one of the few times that I totally respected him for it. I do not even want to imagine Hagu being left alone because everybody else was “alienated” by how different she is. Yes, Nomiya… you have certainly won me over now by your words.
The highlight of this episode was Hagu… Oh, Hagu… How could that big heart of yours fit in that small, fragile body? Who would have ever thought that such strength could emanate from that tiny frame? I felt for Hagu so much. I was a worried sick of her. I wanted to go into that world, hug her tightly, and tell her that everything was going to be all right. But no, I was at the mercy of the storytellers and I had no control over what was going to happen. I can only wish and I know you were all too.
Next episode, I hope that someone could inform Shinobu of what happened to Hagu. I want to know his reaction, if he would have one. I seriously hope that Hagu will be able to regain the sensation in her fingertips. Imposing such a fate on Hagu is too cruel.
Omni’s notes: the insert song this episode was Suga Shikao’s 「風なぎ」 (Kazenagi). This entry was done by Seleria as a sample write-up. Hopefully she’ll be able to continue writing for Random Curiosity through the end of this series.