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Buzzer Beat 10

I’ve been terribly busy this week catching up on YEH’s new drama, Take Care of the Young Lady (10 episodes! In a week!) so I haven’t exactly had time to pen down any thoughts, but thought I’d better make some time for the latest episode of Buzzer Beat. Since my internet is fail, which equates to downloading at the pace of a snail, I only just finished watching the subbed version of it on Friday, although I know raws have been out since Tuesday morning (it’s like, if my internet worked any faster it would curl up and die…). Thanks to spoilers from various sources, I’ve also managed to figure out most of what happened even before watching it, but this did not stop my heart from breaking right at the end, when they both do the right thing and walk away from each other in tears!

So recapping from the end of the last episode, with Riko being hugged by Coach Kanzaki, and Naoki on his way to Riko’s apartment with a sunflower…

just as he gets to the door of her apartment, the door opens and Coach Kanzaki steps out, and sees Naoki, and says, "Oh...Naoki.". Naoki hesitates, and in that moment, Coach Kanzaki brushes past Naoki, and heads towards the basketball court.

Just as he gets to the door of her apartment, the door opens and Coach Kanzaki steps out, and sees Naoki, and says, "Oh...Naoki." Naoki hesitates, and in that moment, Coach Kanzaki brushes past Naoki, and heads towards the basketball court.

Naoki follows him and what follows is both the cutest and sweetest confrontation between two love rivals that I’ve ever seen:

Naoki, immediately after dropping his bag on the bench, bows and apologises to Coach Kanzaki, saying, "I'm sorry. I like Shirahaka-san (Riko's surname), but she wasn't at fault, it was all my fault. I couldn't stop myself (from falling for her)." Coach Kanzaki, "Naoki. Do you know what Riko and I were doing in the room? ...She cried, because of you, and it was I who wrapped her in my warm embrace. I don't think you can protect her." Naoki, "No, I want to protect Riko. It is true that I am not strong enough, that I don't have faith in myself, that I feel inferior, but this is the me she accepted. My basketball...my way of life.  With her, I think I will become stronger. Since she is important to me, I will protect and cherish her. Together with Riko, I want to fulfil our dreams." After which, the boy bows again and apologises, "I'm really sorry." (ARGH I want to hire these scriptwriters to go and write My Fair Lady for Yoon Eun Hye!! The poor girl is suffering from a terrible script and awful direction)

Naoki, immediately after dropping his bag on the bench, bows and apologises to Coach Kanzaki, saying, "I'm sorry. I like Shirahaka-san (Riko's surname), but she wasn't at fault, it was all my fault. I couldn't stop myself (from falling for her)." Coach Kanzaki, "Naoki. Do you know what Riko and I were doing in the room? ...She cried, because of you, and it was I who wrapped her in my warm embrace. I don't think you can protect her."

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Naoki, "No, I want to protect Riko. It's true that I'm not strong enough, that I'm not confident enough, and that I feel inferior, but she accepted me the way I am. My way of playing basketball...my way of life. With her, I think I will become stronger. Since she is an important person to me, I want to protect and cherish her. With Riko, I want to fulfil our dreams together." After which, the boy bows again and apologises, "I'm really sorry, but I will never let her go." (ARGH I want to hire these scriptwriters to go and write My Fair Lady for Yoon Eun Hye!! The poor girl is suffering from a terrible script and awful direction)

At this Coach Kanzaki turns around, basketball in hand, smiles wryly and lets out a, "Ahhh...The two of you are really an annoying couple. Riko said the same thing, earlier. Forget it, I'll let the two of you immature little kids just be together. I don't care anymore."

At this, Coach Kanzaki turns around, basketball in hand, smiles wryly and lets out a, "Ahhh...The two of you are really an annoying couple. Riko said the same thing, earlier. Forget it, I'll let the two of you immature little kids just be together. I don't care anymore." (Is that NOT JUST THE SWEETEST THING YOU HAVE EVER HEARD?! Coach Kanzaki is the probably the best love rival I've ever come across in any sort of drama...)

In a symbolic move, Coach Kanzaki suddenly walks over to Naoki, and presses the ball into his hands, saying, "But I'll wait to see how strong you've grown. Show how much Riko's love has changed you, on the basketball court." Naoki: "Yes."  As Coach Kanzaki walks away, he holds up the small white box (with his proposal ring in it) and lets out another wry smile as he waves goodbye to Naoki. Naoki in turn, immediately says, "Thank you very much." and bows yet again.

In a symbolic move, Coach Kanzaki suddenly walks over to Naoki, and presses the ball into his hands, saying, "But I'll wait to see how strong you've grown. Show how much Riko's love has changed you, on the basketball court." Naoki: "Yes." As Coach Kanzaki walks away, he holds up the small white box (with his proposal ring in it) and lets out another wry smile as he waves goodbye to Naoki. Naoki in turn, immediately says, "Thank you very much." and bows yet again. (Quite pensive and bittersweet)

The symbolism of the transferring ball from Coach Kanzaki to Naoki here is strangely paternal and at the same time, an acknowledgment of Naoki’s “win” over Kanzaki in gaining the fair lady’s heart (although to be honest, since Riko had been, metaphorically speaking, in Naoki’s court the whole time, it wasn’t exactly a gargantuan task).

See, I always knew I liked the scriptwriters of Buzzer Beat for a good reason (okay, so some people will say this script is boring since everything’s progressing so smoothly…which is rare in a drama! It’s about time people started writing things that don’t frustrate me at every corner, which I will angst about in my review of MFL, as much as I love YEH) and the best thing here is that, so far, I like and/or understand/empathise with most of the characters (even the crazy bitch-ex-girlfriend, since I can tell she loves him in her own way, and is rather human with the way she expresses it). I especially love Coach Kanzaki for being able to tell that Riko and Naoki really, truly love each other, and thus, even as he lets go, he issues Naoki a (sort of embedded) warning not to break Riko’s heart. (Although, as much as I love Coach Kanzaki, I love the fact that Naoki and Riko are finally free from that particular burden!)

As Naoki stands in the basketball court at South Park, he looks towards Riko’s window, only to see her staring down back at him. There’s a rather beatific smile on her face (she’s never looked so at peace with herself before in the show, which, I guess, goes to show that the cry she had on Coach Kanzaki’s shoulder was cathartic).

Back at the house, Naoki is bowing and apologising for the thousandth time in the first 5 minutes of this episode. Riko: "I felt lonely. I knew nothing about the injury on your leg, and the fact that it was so serious you might need surgery." Puzzled, Naoki asks, "How did you know?" to which Riko replies, "You don't have to know. I won't tell you." There's a momentary pause, and then she looks up and asks in concern, "Are you okay?" Naoki nods, answering, "Mm. Actually, I just didn't want you to worry." To which Riko nods and gives an understanding sort of smile. Naoki: "Men...don't like to expose their vulnerable (actually here he says lame, but I thought vulnerable would sound better in the context) sides

Back at the house, Naoki is bowing and apologising for the thousandth time in the first 5 minutes of this episode. A bit too much "sorry"-ing going on, but never mind, how else are you supposed to tell the scene is meant to be harmonious anyway?

Riko starts off with, “I felt lonely. I knew nothing about the injury on your leg, and the fact that it was so serious you might need surgery.” Puzzled, Naoki asks, “How did you know?” to which Riko replies, “You don’t have to know. I won’t tell you.” There’s a momentary pause, and then she looks up and asks in concern, “Are you okay?” Naoki nods, answering, “Mm. Actually, I just didn’t want you to worry.” To which, Riko nods and gives an understanding sort of smile. Naoki: “Men…don’t like to expose their vulnerable (actually here he says lame, but I thought vulnerable would sound better in the context) sides in front of the woman they like.” (HAH. Excuses. Men.) To which Riko gives an (understandingly) feminine snort (I like to think, of disbelief) as she smiles and says, “Ah, is that so? How strange.”

And since this is turning out to be some major fessing-up session, Naoki in turn tells Riko, “Actually, I also felt lonely, since Riko, you didn’t tell me about how you lost your violin job.” There’s a LOL moment here as Riko widens her eyes and immediately says, “Ah, I just didn’t want you to worry…” and Naoki perches on the couch comfortably as he goes, “You see?” (Man, I hate it when people say that, but since I am guilty of throwing it out myself rather smugly on occasion, I can completely understand where they’re coming from.) It is Riko’s turn then to apologise, and after she does, Naoki reaches behind him and pulls out…

The sunflower he bought for Riko! She beams in joy and tells him, "I love sunflowers! Come to think of it, I also received a sunflower the other time when I finished performing at the recital in the building near the bus stop." Naoki smiles secretly at this, but doesn't tell her that in reality, he'd bought that other sunflower for her too. (I found the comparison of the living sunflower that Naoki bought for her vs the dying rose that Kanzaki bought for her absolutely hilarious for unknown reasons)

The sunflower he bought for Riko! She beams in joy and tells him, "I love sunflowers! Come to think of it, I also received a sunflower the other time when I finished performing at the recital in the building near the bus stop." Naoki smiles secretly at this, but doesn't tell her that in reality, he'd bought that other sunflower for her too. (I found the comparison of the living sunflower that Naoki bought for her vs the dying rose that Kanzaki bought for her absolutely hilarious for unknown reasons)

Naoki then tells Riko, “The only person in my heart is Riko, so, please, have faith in me. Okay?” And Riko nods firmly and gives him her trademark smile. So, this particular scene played out really well and had a happy ending as I’d hoped it would, which made me delirious with joy. For about 7 minutes, anyway, since this is how long the entire thing lasted.

The next scene, unfortunately, stars our favourite bad girl, Natsuki. What happens is that during practice, as Naoki is running to grab the basketball, his ankle gives out and he crashes to the floor grunting and sweating in pain, clutching his ankle. The camera then pans to the hospital and we see Natsuki and Naoki in the doctor’s office. The doctor advises Naoki to go for surgery in order to cure his ankle once and for all, telling him he should recover in time for the later half of the season and wouldn’t miss the season entirely.

As Natsuki walks out of the doctor's office, Naoki scrambling behind to follow her on crutches, she stops suddenly, turns around and tells Naoki, "Sorry. If I were by your side, I would have stepped in to help you make the decision earlier. Then you wouldn't have had to suffer so." And Naoki watches her back as she walks away again.

However, Naoki is adamant on not operating, since he doesn't even want to miss out on half the season. Natsuki watches Naoki arguing with the doctor in mounting horror and just when we think Naoki is about to get his way, Natsuki steps in and immediately tells the doctor to set a date for the surgery, completely bypassing Naoki.

As Natsuki walks out of the doctor’s office, Naoki scrambling behind to follow her on crutches, Naoki asks her, “Why did you make the decision for me?” Natsuki snaps back, “If this happens again in a match, can you imagine the trouble it would bring to the team? I know this season is important to you, but because it is, you can’t go out fighting in your current condition.” She adds, “Sorry. If I were by your side, I would have stepped in to help you make the decision earlier.” And Naoki watches her back as she walks away again. I have to say, no matter how much of a bitch Natsuki is, she’s terribly responsible and capable, and I can see why she rose so fast in the ranks of the company. However, the woman also does emotional blackmail really well, and I can almost see the guilt welling in Naoki as he realises he should have taken the surgery earlier, if only for his team-mates. Still, here you can see genuine concern for Naoki in Natsuki’s eyes, once again making the point that in her own selfish way, she does love the boy (not that we really care, but oh well, good try anyway scriptwriters).

In the meantime, good news descends for Riko, who finally picked up that unknown number that she keeps receiving on her phone. Turns out, of course, that the guest who reprimanded her in the lounge in the previous episode is actually the Director of a company that drafts and operates concerts (as far as I can tell, it seems akin to some concert-specific event management company).

Director Yao Ryusuke...who, as he sat down, apologised for getting her fired from her job, which wasn't his intention, but added, "It was partially your own fault. Every time I hear your recital, there's a massive difference. Sometimes, it's very good...and sometimes, it's very bad. In other words, emotionally speaking, you're not very professional. Which university did you graduate from, who was your instructor, what is your current income and current lifestyle like, and how much do you practise everyday?"

Director Yao Ryusuke...who, as he sat down, apologised for getting her fired from her job, which wasn't his intention, but added, "It was partially your own fault. Every time I hear your recital, there's a massive difference. Sometimes, it's very good...and sometimes, it's very bad. In other words, emotionally speaking, you're not very professional." He then proceeded to pepper her, bullet-like, with questions,"Which university did you graduate from, who was your instructor, what is your current income and current lifestyle like, and how much do you practise everyday?" Stunned, Riko replied only to the last one, "I practise about 3 hours a day..." Ryusuke leans back, "I see. No wonder you play the violin like that."

Ryusuke then tells her, “Can you give me your next week?” To which Riko is flabbergasted, until Ryusuke explains, “In a week’s time, we have an opening for a violinist in one of our concerts. We can consider you for the position, depending on the amount of effort you invest in the next week.” As Riko picks up the brochure they give her, he ends off with, “Give it some thought, and then call us.” Riko can’t believe her luck in this turn of events, and as she leaves, she dials Naoki, who is lounging in the boys’ locker room, and tells him everything that has happened. Naoki is delighted for Riko, and Riko tells him, “This is all thanks to Naoki. You were the one who told me, ‘Someone will always listen to you.'” and Naoki replies, “Work hard, okay?” And as he sets down the phone, Naoki lifts his injured ankle, grimacing.

As Naoki tries to shoot a hoop with his injured leg at the usual basketball court where they hang out, the ball bounces off the board without going into the hoop. Naoki hobbles over to catch the rebound and stands morosely beneath the board

As Naoki tries to shoot a hoop with his injured leg at the usual basketball court where they hang out, the ball bounces off the board without going into the hoop. Naoki hobbles over to catch the rebound and stands morosely beneath the board, before throwing the ball down in disgust.

In the meantime, Riko undergoes really harsh training. I'm not musically trained, so I have no idea what the teacher in here is saying, but she seems quite critical. You can tell from her eyes that Riko is a little disheartened at all the critique, but the spunky girl decides to keep going at it (and I say kudos to Keiko for an excellent performance here).

In the meantime, Riko undergoes really harsh training. I'm not musically trained, so I have no idea what the teacher in here is saying, but she seems quite critical. You can tell from her eyes that Riko is a little disheartened at all the critique, but the spunky girl decides to keep going at it (and I say kudos to Keiko for an excellent performance here).

Naoki

Naoki watches all his team-mates practise without him, and his lonely silhouette projects a feeling of abandonment, as he feels he is being left behind.

Upon seeing his despondence at home, Naoki’s mother decides that she will go watch his basketball matches when he recovers from the surgery, which she previously hadn’t due to a superstition that if she goes she would cause him to lose his match (which he had in the high school matches that she goes to watch. It’s a kind of silly superstition, but I can see where she’s coming from, because I’ve felt like that before, which is why I adamantly refuse to take sides in a match). Naoki is cheered by this, and the camera snaps to Naoki and Riko sitting by the river at night. (What I don’t quite understand is how Naoki and Riko managed to get there without Naoki giving away the fact that he was on crutches and would definitely be going for surgery – where the hell did he hide them and how did he get there if it wasn’t on crutches since he can’t walk by himself?! …okay, okay, yes, I get it, it’s called suspension of disbelief.)

Riko shows Naoki a magazine

Riko shows Naoki a magazine, where his team is featured, and tells Naoki that she's so excited that the season is starting (which is the WRONG THING to say, as we can ALL TELL). Naoki, in turn, opened his mouth to tell her about his surgery, but got as far as, "Er...that...Nevermind." and he immediately switches the topic to that of her practice for the concert. (Coward! Seriously, even if you don't want to worry your other half...TELL THEM THINGS. Keeping secrets do not a good couple make.)

Riko tells him that practice is hard, and that she gets very depressed thinking that she’s not very good since her bad habits are picked on every day. She has the additional stress of knowing that she hasn’t been officially selected to fill in the role yet either, and then she decides to confess to Naoki that she originally planned on going back home and giving up violin since she hasn’t had a real job in the two years since she’s graduated (this just gets worse and worse, woman you are not looking at your boy and his eyes properly because he’s becoming more and more worried for you and thus refusing to tell you about his ankle injury!) but decided she would press on a little more. Naoki suppresses his own worries and tells her, “Even if there is only a single ray of hope, please work hard.” Riko nods and adds, “And you are by my side.”

The scene then proceeds to dissolve into saccharine sweetness, as they playfully push each other and then Naoki enfolds her in his embrace. Riko later sits up, turns around and puckers her lips cutely for a kiss, and Naoki presses a chaste sweet kiss on a lips.

The scene then proceeds to dissolve into saccharine sweetness, as they playfully push each other and then Naoki enfolds her in his embrace. Riko later sits up, turns around and puckers her lips cutely for a kiss, and Naoki presses a chaste sweet kiss on a lips.

What I find important is that all the underlying things that aren’t being said by Naoki here…things that I think undermine Riko’s trust and faith in him. Not very smart of the boy, since her faith and all that has already been eroded from all the little manipulations Natsuki has pulled. Still, it’s very consistent with his character, so I can’t fault the scriptwriters, director OR actor. Can only gnaw on my fist, shake it at the screen and go, “Naoki, you FOOL!”

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Naoki and Yoyogi brush past each other as Naoki finishes throwing a ball and Yoyogi comes in for practice. As he is about to leave, Yoyogi asks, "Are you going for surgery now?" Naoki answers, "Mm." and makes to leave, but stops and turns around.

He then starts telling Yoyogi about his team-mates’ idiosyncrasies during the games, and tells Yoyogi to trust them more. In return, Yoyogi asks, “Why are you telling me all this?” Naoki replies, “Because to win, the Arcs need you. So please, trust your team-mates more.” You can tell this actually moves Yoyogi, perhaps because he’s always been slated as an outsider of the team, and now to have a pillar of the team tell him that he is needed for the team to go all the way to success…not to mention all the emotional baggage and rivalry between them; it probably really hits home for Yoyogi because the man actually says, as Naoki is leaving, “Your ankle injury isn’t a big deal right? So stop nagging here. Just get better sooner and come back.” (Kaneko is really improving in his acting, because he’s starting to look less stiff in his later scenes, and it comes out really well here because there’s a careful balance of rivalry and yet camaraderie in his words and in his facial expression. You can tell he’s started to convert to being a real part of the team, and is starting to trust in Naoki, treating him like a comrade)

Naoki is in turn touched by this, as he retorts, “You’d better play well before I return.” and smiles. As he is really about to leave (I almost wish he would leave already, there’s way too much “about to leave” bits here), the whole manly-bond-touching-scene is taken in by the rest of his crazy team-mates, who cheer and whoop at the sight.

All of them yell out encouragement, wishing Naoki luck for the surgery. It's quite cute really, a bunch of grown men going insane like this!

All of them yell out encouragement, wishing Naoki luck for the surgery. It's quite cute really, a bunch of grown men going insane like this!

With the support of his whole team behind him, Naoki leaves in peace for the surgery. This whole scene was really quite heartwarming (oh, manly love!) and I’m quite glad Naoki and Yoyogi seem to be over Natsuki now (since the woman is really not worth fighting over, in my opinion). At the end, Yoyogi smiles and and sighs, “He’s really a good guy.” after which he casually throws a ball that goes into the hoop (the first one he’s thrown recently that’s gone in!…symbolism here, anyone?).

This was shown in the teaser from the last episode, which now all makes sense to me as Natsuki sees Naoki into surgery. Obviously, Riko's not around since the stupid boy didn't tell his own girlfriend he would be undergoing surgery since she was actually doing the audition for the concert spot on the same day as his surgery. Must have thought it would affect her (which I think it would have)...it IS kind of sweet, but dumb.

This was shown in the teaser from the last episode, which now all makes sense to me as Natsuki sees Naoki into surgery. Obviously, Riko's not around since the stupid boy didn't tell his own girlfriend he would be undergoing surgery since she was actually doing the audition for the concert spot on the same day as his surgery. He must have thought it would affect her (he does have a point) so I can't say it isn't sweet, but that doesn't stop it from also being dumb.

Riko's audition goes well and she's chosen for the violin vacancy, and she's super delighted. She tried to call Naoki but couldn't get through (since he was in surgery) so she texted him instead, telling him, "I made it!"

Riko's audition goes well and she's chosen for the violin vacancy, and she's super delighted. She tried to call Naoki but couldn't get through (since he was in surgery) so she texted him instead, telling him, "I made it!"

Riko reaches home and shares her good news with Mai, and both of them squeal in delight. Mai is genuinely delighted for Riko, as good friends are wont to be, but realises that Riko doesn’t know that Naoki is in surgery, so of course, Mai spills the beans about everything.

Riko runs desperately to the hospital...

Riko runs desperately to the hospital...

But when she finally gets there and is about to enter his room, who else would she see but our favourite bad girl?

But when she finally gets there and is about to enter his room, who else would she see but our favourite bad girl?

Natsuki asks Naoki if there’s anything he wants so she can buy it for him (taking on responsibilities Riko should have been taking!) and when he replies in the negative, she tells him, “Then I’ll go home. Oh, but before I do…” and she pulls out a bag with (as far as I can tell) a couple of computer games (I gather they’re the latest editions from what Naoki says). As Natsuki makes to leave, Naoki calls out, “Thank you. If not for Natsuki, I would not have had the determination to go through with the surgery. I’m feeling a little sleepy now.” When Riko hears this, she’s even more dismayed than when she first saw Natsuki in the room. Our dear boy is always honest with the wrong person at the wrong moments. So, anyway, Natsuki rushes over to Naoki’s side to pull the blankets over him.

As Riko leans back morosely against the hospital walls, she hears a, "Excuse me..." looks up and sees Naoki's mother and sister.

As Riko leans back morosely against the hospital walls, she hears a, "Excuse me...", looks up and sees Naoki's mother and sister. She immediately apologises for blocking the door (UGH! Why hasn't Naoki introduced her to his family yet so they recognise her??) and moves to the other side, but doesn't leave yet.

As they enter the room, they are surprised to see Natsuki, who holds up a finger in the universal signal for silence, and tells them that Naoki has just fallen asleep due to the medication.

As they enter the room, they are surprised to see Natsuki, who holds up a finger in the universal signal for silence, and tells them that Naoki has just fallen asleep due to the medication.

Unfortunately, as they come fully into the room and Natsuki looks up, she spots Riko peering into the room, which immediately spurs her (again!) into action (I don’t quite know why she doesn’t take no for an answer, but I suppose it’s the same reason why she’s so successful at work). She apologises to Naoki’s mother, bowing, “It’s all because I broke up with Naoki so rashly. I didn’t take good care of him…so…I shouldn’t have broken up with him.” At this point Riko, who had been about to leave, immediately comes back and leans in to eavesdrop (and I would scold her for this, except I would probably do the same in her shoes).

Natsuki then continues, "I still like Naoki. I can't forget him. I regret this." Riko looks more and more distraught as Natsuki tears up and tells Naoki's mother, "After losing him, I realised I'm really nothing without him.

Natsuki then continues, "I still like Naoki. I can't forget him. I regret this." Riko looks more and more distraught as Natsuki tears up and tells Naoki's mother, "After losing him, I realised I'm really nothing without him. It doesn't matter if it's one-sided, but as long as I can support him like this, even if it's only as a team-mate, I'll be happy."

Of course, Naoki’s mother being the soft-hearted creature she is (the whole family faults on the side of being too nice and gentle) immediately steps up to comfort Natsuki and rubs her back in concern. Meanwhile, Riko’s face grows increasingly despondent. Natsuki seemingly rallies and smiles through her tears saying, “I will stay by his side and protect him. One day, he will need me.” and Naoki’s mother replies, “Indeed. I’m on your side.” (Which is possibly the worst comment one’s mother can make in front of one’s new and ex-girlfriends! Meanwhile Naoki is happily SNOOZING through all this unfolding drama?! I want to knock the boy out myself – through traditional means.) Riko leaves in grief as Naoki’s mother embraces Natsuki, and Natsuki’s eyes reveal a hint of insecurity – she’s not quite sure if she’s done the right thing, but she’s done it. (Man I can anticipate that this is going to lead to some awkwardness, to say the least, when Naoki finally gets around to introducing Riko to his family.) As Riko is on her way home, she passes by the empty basketball court, looks up and sees the sign “Love Makes Me Strong” (which has been a running motto throughout the show) and scrunches her brows further. (Lots of dramatic irony and symbolism in this episode, which I am more or less loving.)

Naoki just read Riko's text message about the audition and (very cutely) went, "Yes!! Ow ow ow." in pain as in his jubilation he forgot to be careful of his ankle. He tried calling her but couldn't get through so he texted her back instead.

Naoki just read Riko's text message about the audition and (very cutely) went, "Yes!! Ow ow ow." in pain as in his jubilation he forgot to be careful of his ankle. He tried calling her but couldn't get through so he texted her back instead.

“Dear Riko,” says Naoki’s text message, “Congratulations on passing the audition! I’m as happy for you as I would have felt if it was something I was doing. Perhaps you’re still in practice now, but I just wanted to tell you…Actually, I had surgery on my ankle today. I didn’t want you to worry about me at this important point in time, so I could only tell you after the fact, but everything went smoothly and the operation was a success. From now on, all that is left is recovery. I won’t be able to participate in matches for now,  I would really like you to see me in a match soon, but due to this period that I’ve been given to rest and recuperate, I’m able to view the team’s strengths and weaknesses through new eyes. I think this is also a kind of reward. So, don’t worry about me. I’m looking forward to your concert, please work hard.” (In the meantime they have flashes of Riko’s practice, Naoki sitting on the bench cheering his team-mates during practice, Natsuki looking at Naoki fondly, and Toru looking, in turn, at Natsuki…ARG! The love triangle!…that, well, doesn’t technically exist anymore since Naoki’s made it very clear to Natsuki that he’s moved on, the good boy.)

When Riko sees the text message, she smiles, and replies, “Naoki. Thank you. Is your ankle alright? Don’t force yourself too much. I will work doubly hard from tomorrow onwards, I love you.”

We finally arrive at the day of the concert, and we see Mai coming in to locate her seat and finding Riko's parents.

We finally arrive at the day of the concert, and we see Mai coming in to locate her seat and finding Riko's parents. Riko walks in together with the rest of the violinists, and Mai, upon seeing Riko, smiles delightedly even with tears in her eyes, saying,"Riko's beautiful today." She then gives a few tiny claps with her fingertips. (Ah, the beauty of friendship!)

As Riko is tuning her violin, she pauses to look up into the audience. At first, she’s a little disappointed she can’t see Naoki at all. Then, the heavy double doors swing open, and…

...and who else would be standing in the doorway but our dear boy with a bouquet of sunflowers? Upon seeing Riko, he transfers the flowers to his other hand, and holds up his right hand in their trademark salute. Riko beams and goes back to tuning her violin at ease.

...and who else would be standing in the doorway but our dear boy with a bouquet of sunflowers? Upon seeing Riko, he transfers the flowers to his other hand, and holds up his right hand in their trademark salute. Riko beams and goes back to tuning her violin at ease.

Riko's the one in blue, in case you can't tell. Anyway, the concert turns out to be a smashing success, and everyone, even Director Ryusuke and the harsh music teacher, who were all standing in the back wings, ended up hugging each other delightedly at the close of the concert.

Riko's the one in blue, in case you can't tell. Anyway, the concert turns out to be a smashing success, and everyone, even Director Ryusuke, his assistant and the harsh music teacher, who were all standing in the back wings, ended up hugging each other delightedly (or at least Director Ryusuke and his assistant did) at the close of the concert.

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Naoki gives Riko the bouquet of sunflowers as he congratulates her on the stellar performance. Riko is delighted, and the both sit down for a small chat.

Riko tells Naoki, “Just now, I had an offer from the Director to join the leading orchestra for his company; it’s an orchestra that gathers youthful talents from Karuizawa.” Naoki, “Isn’t that great?” Riko, “Yeah, but if I go, it’ll be really hard. I’ll have to practise 10 hours a day, and there will be slated concerts to perform at, and… (at this point she glances over at Naoki before looking away) if I accept the offer, I’ll have to go to Karuizawa for a year, next week.”

Naoki, “…Next week?”

Riko turns back to Naoki and offers him a brilliant smile, “That’s why I’m not going. If I go, I won’t be able to see you, and I won’t be able to support you at your matches.” Naoki tries to protest with a, “But…” Riko cuts in, “I want to remain by Naoki’s side. I want to stay in the place closest to you. I don’t want to be apart from you.” It’s Naoki’s turn to be worried, as he watches Riko go on about how wonderful it is to play in the orchestra, even if only for one day, under a famous conductor, while letting Naoki hear her playing. Riko finishes with, “I’m happy enough, like this. From now on, I will remain by Naoki’s side, and continue working hard, and auditioning for more violin positions, and working hard at my violin.”

Naoki can only nod at this point and smile encouragingly back at her, but of course, everyone can sense here that he’s feeling very uneasy about her decision to (sort of) give up her dream to follow him (in a way). As Riko gets called back in by the Director’s assistant, Naoki watches her go and you can almost follow his thought processes here as he thinks about all the things that Riko hasn’t said. (The boy’s quite perceptive when he wants to be!) Back at the basketball court, he stands there with a ball under his arm, gazing into air (I think at the same signboard that says, Love Makes Me Strong)…so we all know what’s going to happen next, don’t we?

Back at home, Riko tells Mai about the job offer and Mai wonders why she turned it down.

Back at home, Mai asks Riko if it's really okay with her turning down the Karuizawa offer, and Riko admits that she's afraid of being apart from Naoki, and she's afraid of Natsuki since she will always be with him. So, she would rather sacrifice the job offer and stay by her man's side. (Not that I don't understand where she's coming from, but I do have to say, I disagree. And apparently so does Naoki...)

asd

The two of them meet up again at night in their usual hangout (the South Park basketball court) and they start off by reminiscing about when they first met.

Naoki admits that it was Riko who had changed him, when he met her at his lowest point in life, and she supported him and his dreams. “Which is why…(he takes a deep breath)…I wish for you to go to Karuizawa. I hope that Riko will also be able to pursue her own dreams.” When Riko stands up in protest and says, “I don’t want to split up with Naoki – ” He steps forth and pulls her into his arms, telling her, “It will be fine. Even if we are apart, I will always be your strongest armour, because I am your number one fan. Let’s work hard together. Although we are at the age where we can’t live on dreams alone, and it’s about time to face reality, but the two of us, let’s never give up even at the very last second, and work hard together.” (This all sounds very awkward in English but is very heartmelting in Japanese!) Poor Riko is about to weep buckets of tears now, and Naoki pats her gently on the head. “Go to Karuizawa.”

The most heartbreaking best part about this scene is the way Riko's tears keep falling, but for Naoki, she puts on a smile in between her tears and nods, saying, "

The most heartbreaking best part about this scene is the way Riko's tears keep falling, but for Naoki, she puts on a smile in between her tears and nods, saying, "I understand." She then turns to the bag she was carrying, and takes out a white box from it.

Turns out the girl collected enough stickers to redeem a cup for him and wanted to give it to him tonight to celebrate her concert. Riko adds wryly, “If I’d known you were going to say all that, I would’ve prepared a cooler present for you tonight.” Naoki smiles, “I’m glad.” Riko nods and replies, “You’re right. Until the very last second of the very last second, we shouldn’t give up. It’s a promise I made with you.” Naoki: “Even if we’re not together, just thinking of you makes me braver.” With tear trail marks showing clearly against her cheek, Riko tells Naoki, “Me too. Thinking of you makes me stronger.”

Naoki nods and Riko finishes off with a smile saying, “Let’s not meet any more. If we meet again, it will only make the parting harder to bear. Goodbye.” Naoki, “Goodbye.” (Argh! This is the part from the teaser! The reason why the sadness is compounded here is because they use the formal version of “Goodbye” in Japanese i.e. sayonara which most people don’t use unless it’s a very formal or significant occasion…in other words, an official goodbye. It feels like they’re biding each other farewell forever!…well, but since it’s a drama, they still have one episode left to ties things up properly.)

And the episode ends off Riko crying as she walks away from Naoki (a scene which Keiko does really well you almost can see her heart breaking) and Naoki follows her out the court and looks at her retreating back (here you can see he almost regrets saying what he said, and he opens his mouth to call out to her, but he doesn’t. VERY WELL DONE YAMAPI! I knew there was a reason I liked you so much) and he recollects moments of them being together in happier times (their first meeting, the sparklers, their first kiss, her confession, her waiting in the rain for him, her smile as she learns how to play basketball for the first time) and tears well up in his eyes before he drops his head and turns away.

Unfortunately I found the whole lights going off at the "Love Makes Me Stronger!" signboard at this point in time terribly amusing.

Unfortunately I found the whole lights going off at the "Love Makes Me Strong!" signboard at this point in time terribly amusing.

Next is the last episode and the special’s going to be 75 minutes long apparently. (I think the last episode and the special will be 2 different episodes because that’s how it’s usually done, but I could be wrong.) There are quite a few loose threads to wrap up i.e. the whole Natsuki thing, and of course, if Riko will be able to come support Naoki in his most important match (which I think she will) and whether he will introduce her to his family (please do!) and what happens to poor Toru who still appears to be pining over Natsuki. Sadly, there are no cute Mai and Shuji moments in this episode, but there are enough tension-filled moments to make you forget that. While I’m looking forward to the last episode, I’m also a bit reluctant for the drama to end, since it’s been a great 11 weeks. I’m probably going to have to look for something new to stoop the gap. If you have any dramas you’d like to recommend, now’s the time!

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3 responses

  1. honeydew

    Hey, I was actually looking for new Buzzer Beat reviews from you and was hoping that you would write about episode 10 and 11. I just finished watching episode 11 this week, and unfotunately, there is no SP. Episode 11 is the last episode. But I can tell you episode 11 ends off pretty sweet and happy! =)

    I was thinking the same about why Naoki hasn’t introduced the poor girl Riko to his family yet! But well, I guess because they always meet at the baksetball court, it’s a bit hard for him to introduce her to his family. And it was also probably because they were both still worried about how to tell coach about their relationship and all, and I don’t really think it’s a very great idea to introuduce to your mom a new girlfriend when you just broke up with the current one not too long ago, LOL.

    You totally got a point there with how Naoki made it to the sea side with Riko when he CLEARLY couldn’t walk. I guess that must’ve been a script error that they forgot to cover in the drama, or they were hoping we audience were too engrossed into the lovey-dovey sweetness of Naoki & Riko and wouldn’t question about that. XD But either way, I also found that part rather weird in the drama.

    And lastly, I couldn’t agree more with you about Riko’s crying in the last scene. She did a brilliant job! I also thought she did amazingly well in episode 9 when the coach said Naoki would never break her heart, and she started breaking into tears as she thought about all the things Naoki kept a secret from her and how he isn’t completely honest with her. Keiko sure knows how to work and use those pretty eyes of hers! Her crying acting scenes are almost close to real and you can really feel the pain and emotions in her character. I hope after working in Buzzer Beat, Keiko will get more drama acting opportunities because the girl really has some potential! =)

    September 26, 2009 at 2:27 am

    • rainerust

      Hullo! Been a bit tied up with work recently, so haven’t had the time to do a proper review for Ep 11 even though I’m done watching it (finished ages ago). I’ll commence on it soon and it’ll be up (albeit late, so I don’t know if people will still want to read it). Keiko needs more dramas to show off her acting chops! I wish they’d really work on giving good actors good scripts, like the way Buzzer Beat happened to Keiko. (I can think of a few actors offhand who would benefit tremendously from having a good supporting cast and script…Ikuta Toma, for one, and Kame, for another…)

      September 29, 2009 at 3:22 pm

      • honeydew

        Yes, she definitely needs more dramas to show off her acting skills. I think her popularity has risen by a lot after she starred in Buzzer Beat too, and the fact that she landed on a great character really helped a lot.

        Are you by any chance a fan of Toma? Yes, I agree that he’d make a great actor but he also doesn’t seem to get much great acting opportunities. I’m actually kind of glad that he was never debuted in Johnny’s Entertainment, since I see him more of an actor and doing more “theatre” work more than actually being a singer or dancer. Hopefully he’ll get more acting opportunities in the future. It’s a bit sad to think that he’s the only one who hasn’t debuted in Johnny’s that should have been. Oh well. I guess that only means he gets more time to spend in acting, whereas his fellow kouhais and senpais have to juggle through with singing, dancing, and acting….which some of them do poorly in all 3 aspects, lol. XD

        September 30, 2009 at 1:20 am

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