「川は流れて 榀子帰郷」 (Kawa wa nagarete Shinako kikyō)
“The River Flows Back Home to Shinako”
This episode showed us a little more about this artistic teen named Rou. He’s Shinako’s love’s younger sibling and he’s moved to Tokyo with his father from Kanazawa, and now attends the highschool Shinako teaches at – the same highschool Haru dropped out of. There are so many interconnected stories here and they’re coming at each other at full speed, I feel like inevitably, one or many of these storylines is going to come to an abrupt and painful halt, almost like a crash.
At the rate these rivals are coming in and meeting one another, there’s no way this amount of emotional tension will hold up. One of the characters, if not all, will lose.
We already have the issue of Rikuo who is experiencing unrequited love. He’s pining over a woman who can’t see him as anything more than a friend. Then we have Haru, who no matter how many times she’s blatantly rejected, will not give up the feat of winning over Rikuo’s heart. Something I just can’t seem to put my finger on is why she’s so head over heels for the guy. Not because he isn’t a catch. But because the brief encounter they had when he was running to catch the bus just doesn’t seem enough to me as a reason for why she feels so connected or at least imagines her connection to him. And then we have Rou. Young Rou is so talented but something tells me he isn’t exploring his artistic ability to its full potential. The trials that come with loving someone who doesn’t see the real you might be blocking some part of him. And using his art as the only thing to distinguish himself from his brother isn’t a very healthy goal. And finally, we have Shinako.
The thing about Shinako is that she has been living in the past for 6 whole years, which means she’s been oblivious to her present. She’s fallen into this trap where even though her life seems to move on, she feels forever stuck in time because, after all, she carries with her the heart she had as a teenage girl in love with Yuu.
I, myself, was getting upset at Shinako. I saw this scene coming: where she would be reminded of Yuu by just observing Rou’s small habits. It diminishes the person Rou is trying to become and it adds additional pressure he doesn’t need.
This episode gave some good background about how Rou felt and perceived his life alongside his older, sickly brother. The fact is, the boy has lived in his older brother’s shadow his entire life, even after his passing. His father can’t seem to let go and neither can the woman he has feelings for. As a result, he’s felt unseen, unheard, and just not as important. Clearly his father is very proud and supportive of him, but there’s this sense of not validating him that lingers around. Perhaps these feelings are only a result of how he perceives what he experiences but nonetheless, I can’t imagine the burden he’s had to carry all these years.
The story of love here is getting messier and more complicated as time passes. Rou is now officially set on winning Shinako’s heart, no matter how long it takes I assume, and Rikuo is still at a standstill hoping Shinako will one day open her heart to him. But… what about Shinako is so appealing to these guys? No offense to her. I think she’s great, but I feel like I would want a little bit of ‘spice’ in my life, and Haru is exactly that. She offers the opposite of what Shinako does. She represents chaos, spontaneity, instability, and perhaps even a freedom to life many wish they could have. She seems to not care much for what others think whereas Shinako is walking a straight line, as she should. As everyone should.
For Rikuo’s sake, I would like him to be with Shinako because he’s loved her for so long. But for my sake, I would like to see Haru turn his world upside down for a few episodes (more than she is at the moment). But who knows how this is going to play out. Haru could end up with the talented Rou. Maybe she’ll end up going back to school. When Shinako returns from Kanazawa, maybe she’ll have finally let go of Yuu’s memory and be able to see the men right in front of her. And maybe Rikuo will make something of himself because let’s face it, the boy is really bored/boring.
But whatever happens, it seems like these four will have a handful dealing with each other and their feelings. I mean, we’re also talking about young adults having to deal with teenage flings here…Nevertheless, they’re going to have to create space for each other in their lives and take things day by day.