12 years ago in Vermelha, a few actors were rehearsing inside a quiet bar while a movie was being filmed nearby. A much younger Michiko walks in the front door looking for Kiril of the “Phantasma” Group, which appears to be the resident gang with a tough boss. Michiko came to take a bit of revenge for the “Monstro” Group, and so Kiril offers to give it to her with a blade. Denying that she’s here on Satoshi’s behalf, Kiril admits to Michiko that he hates Monstro, but he’d like to keep things tidy if possible. He sends a blonde guy to offer her a star fruit that he elegantly sliced up, but she knocks the tray out of his hands. Insulted by Kiril’s words and attitude, she struts towards the bar but is interrupted by a chair crashing into her back by the blonde young man behind her. Kiril offers her the chance to leave while she picks herself up off the floor, but she answers by launching into the air and strangling him with her legs. Reaching for the knife he dropped, things almost go her way but he overpowers her down onto the bar. Pulling out his gun, he tells her that she’s pretty spoiled for having such a pretty face. Following the sentiments of the young actress he just pissed off, he gives Michiko 4 seconds to take herself out or be taken out.
12 years later in present day, Michiko and Hatchin arrive in Vermelha on a rainy day, and Hatchin seems to be in high spirits, teasing Michiko about her big sunglasses. In an orphanage nearby, Liliana Amar is helping one of the children give an interview to prospective parents. Liliana receives a large amount of cash from the transaction, and stores it away in a drawer. While taking a cigarette break a bit later, a young black boy comes into her office demanding to know where the young girl disappeared to. She tells him she went to a good place but he doesn’t believe her.
That night, Michiko and Hatchin pull up on her motorcycle in front of a small café and are greeted by a flamboyant young man with an afro and hot pants. Inside, they watch a show about the local bullfight going on in town and gossip about the matadors. He’s shocked to find out Hatchin is Hiroshi’s son, and takes Michiko into the kitchen for a private conversation. She says she’s come back to meet with Satoshi. He tells her it’s too dangerous, because Satoshi is now the leader of the Monstro group. When she tells him her goal is to find Hiroshi, he’s shocked – Hiroshi reportedly died years ago in a bus accident. Unfazed and in complete denial, Michiko doesn’t believe that at all. That’s why she needs to find Satoshi, since he was a childhood friend, and should have some information that could help her find Hiroshi.
He tells her that because of the trouble she started 12 years ago, Phantasma and Monstro got into a devastating gang war, killing gang members and innocent people alike. What makes her think that she’ll be safe when she meets Satoshi? If Kiril finds her again, he’ll also definitely have her killed. Telling him that surely Kiril would have forgotten her face by now, Michiko strongly denies that she’s in any real danger. The mood darkens, and her friend tells her that there is no Hiroshi here. There’s only Monstra and Phantasma. She asks where Satoshi is, and he repeats that there’s no one here but the two gangs, and they’ll be out to kill her as soon as they find out she’s lurking around, so please get out immediately. He doesn’t want to see her face in here again…
Finding her way into a dark room with a solitary lighter, Michiko introduces Hatchin to an old abandoned apartment where she lived many years ago. She tells Hatchin she grew up in this town, and that her father was here, too. A flashback takes us back to two armed men breaking in on a topless, beer drinking, cigarette smoking Michiko in the exact same apartment. Hiroshi offers her a chance to put on a shirt, and even offers his own after unwrapping the one that was disguising his face and tossing it to her, but she drops it to the ground. While Michiko walks forward unabashedly and steadily, Hiroshi looks like a deer caught in headlights and suffers a stunning head-but while his partner escapes in fear. He looks up to find his own gun pointed at his face. Pitifully surrendering, Hiroshi is startled when Michiko leans in to wipe the blood from his nose. Taken aback by her actions, it looks like he’s just fallen in love as his nose begins bleeding from both sides.
In the apartment, Hatchin is cleaning up when she spots some photos in a drawer. One is of her father when he was a kid, next to a boy (presumably Satoshi). The other is of Hiroshi and Michiko looking like a happy couple. Michiko walks in and snatches the photo away, but confirms that the man was her father. Talking to herself, Hatchin thinks her dad has a weird face.
The next day, Michiko brings Hatchin to the front of the local orphanage on her bike and hands her a letter and the old photo of her father. Michiko is going to search for Satoshi alone, and will come pick up Hatchin when she’s finished. Hatchin wants to go too, but she refuses because it’s dangerous and she’ll just get in the way. Hatchin becomes furious at this rejection and begins hitting Michiko in the stomach. Michiko slaps her to stop the tantrum. Hatchin says she doesn’t believe that Michiko will stand by her word, and harshly says it’s fine if she stays at the orphanage after all. Michiko throws a nostalgic smile and picks up only the photo after a moment of thought. Mounting her bike, Michiko leaves a worried Hatchin behind as a man on a 2-way radio notifies his boss that Michiko has been spotted back in town with a child. The obese sweaty blonde man on the other end of the line doesn’t seem pleased.
In the blonde man’s flashback, he remembers Kiril discussing the consequences of releasing Michiko, and deciding what the gang’s next move would be. In the kitchen while sharpening his knife, Kiril asks Sasha (the skinny blonde guy) what he thinks, but Sasha doesn’t have an answer. He wants to go too, but Kiril says he’ll be fine, because it’s his job to protect him. Back in the spa, the now much larger Sasha says he understands that taking care of Michiko is his job, too.
Reading the letter full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, Liliana grills Hatchin about what a miserable situation she’s in. Without even bringing money and only offering a single-page letter, Liliana thinks it’s a bit too unreasonable for her to accept the forlorn Hatchin, and kicks her back out onto the streets. Outside, Hatchin paces and rants furiously, bitter about being hit by Michiko and runs off into the city determined to get even.
On top of a building overlooking the city, Michiko daydreams about another flashback of Hiroshi. Talking in her apartment the same day as the robbery attempt (now with a shirt on), she confirms his story about saving a hostage and asks if he’s going on his mission alone, even if he’s in great danger. He’ll go alone, because it’s alright if he dies, as long as a lot of people are saved in the process. If he has no choice, Michiko thinks it’s better if he quits, but unable to say anything, Hiroshi just sulks on her couch. Michiko says she hates the rain, and cheerfully invites him to eat something with her. She’ll go with him to Kiril’s.
Sitting alone in a small bar, Liliana has a back and forth with the bartender about how she spends all her saved money on liquor. He says she has a duty to care for the children, but she asks who cares for her. And besides, she hates the annoying, dirty, cheeky kids that roam the streets here.
Alone in Michiko’s apartment, a grumpy Hatchin looks surprised to hear a car pull up, but pretty soon three armed men break in and search the house, drugging Hatchin with a needle in the process. With no Michiko in sight, they are ordered to kidnap the now helpless Hatchin, and her last blurry vision is a man spray painting a message on Michiko’s wall as they carry her out the door.
Thoughts spilled over from Episode 4:
Well, What I thought was the most shocking cliffhanger ever was actually just the most devastatingly abrupt and sad ending to an arc I’ve ever seen. Don’t worry, it’s my own fault for being so naive as to think they would come back in episode 5 with guns blazing to save the day. As it turns out, this is not that kind of show. God forbid I take the words “A Continuar” seriously next time…
However, the sudden true understanding of Pepe’s sad ending has led to a deeper appreciation for what actually happened. Not only did Pepe die without regaining the trust in friends (that the writers were dangling in front of her so cruelly), but it proved she would face her death head-on if it meant saving Lulu. The only reason Michiko didn’t go with her to help was because she has an obligation to Hatchin that is too important to throw her life away in a dangerous situation before she reaches her goal. But the simile has been drawn – If it were Michiko instead of Pepe, I think it’s been made clear that she would have made the same choice.
What you should be asking yourself is why the writers chose such an ending. They could have pulled a Sunrise and made everything all better, but they chose this bitter ending for a reason. It really stuck with me… (even a week later. I really liked Pepe and Lulu.)
This week Michiko really upset Hatchin by dumping her off at the orphanage after all that talk about protecting her and doing this for her sake. Feeling abandoned, and subsequently denied access to the orphanage by the old lady running the place, she must have felt incredibly lonely. What she doesn’t realize yet (and possibly the viewer as well) is exactly how dangerous the group Michiko is fighting really is. Michiko is showing tough and responsible judgment to protect Hatchin above all else. There are two possibilities for this: 1) She’s doing it for Hiroshi, or 2) She’s doing it because she genuinely cares for Hatchin. More likely is that the original reason was for Hiroshi, but her affection for Hatchin is catching up steadily, and now it’s a good combination of both.
Michiko brought up Satoshi’s name last week but immediately dismissed the idea of talking to him. He was an acquaintance of Hiroshi’s, but he’s such a dangerous guy that she really didn’t want to come to this town and find him unless it was her last and only option. Her friend with the afro told her that Hiroshi died in a bus crash, but Michiko absolutely refuses to believe it. I don’t know if this is her being obstinately blind, or if she has better reasoning behind her strong belief.
I wanted to save Episode 5 until I had a larger resolution for screen shots, but no one is putting it out there. Episode 6 is already out as well (they aired M&H twice this week) but please give me a little time to play catch up. Out in this place called real life, I have a very daunting 2-kyuu JLPT test in 2 weeks, so please forgive me if I’m a bit more irregular than I’d like to be. However, I won’t stop writing here, because – and I’m sure many of you may understand the sentiment – I crave distractions and procrastination in times of high stress.