The cliffhanger ending in Episode 8 left me seriously unhappy, mostly because I didn’t like Naoki’s wishy-washiness (please, none of that namby-pamby “I can’t make up my mind between my first love and this one” nonsense for me) and how it looked like he was actually going to tell Natsuki something like, “I can’t forget you too…” but fortunately the scriptwriters for Buzzer Beat must think along the same lines as me, because Episode 9 was rescued by Naoki’s steadfastness!
The beginning of the episode replays the end of 8 (of course) and continues with Naoki pulling out of Natsuki’s grip (yes! there is a scriptwriter who knows what they’re doing!) and then asking her, “What’s wrong? I still have an appointment with a friend tonight, so I have to go. What’s wrong?” so of course Natsuki does her whole pseudo-innocent-pained face and shakes her head and tells him, “Nothing’s wrong. Just go.” and she leaves with his umbrella.
So Naoki then makes his way to Riko in the rain (and the poor girl is still waiting! …talk about dedication.) and it turns out Riko’s not leaving for her old home that night after all, since she wanted so desperately to see Naoki. (Cute moments here where he’s drying off in her home and realises she was holding on to the plastic bag with the terribly made French toast, and he teases her by picking it up and refusing to return it to her. Very Cute Naoki!)
…Up until this moment, I thought to myself, Oh good, Naoki’s being steadfast, and Riko managed to hold on and wait for him, so it wasn’t going to be one of those dramatic “Oh I missed you by half a second” moments – although I admit to snorting at the dramatic irony of Riko telling Naoki, “I was afraid you weren’t going to show up, because you would meet someone else you liked on the way and realise you don’t like me that much, after all.” and all Naoki says is, “Sorry I made you worry.” But, since this is a shoujo drama, and the bad person must, after all, be bad, Natsuki ends up calling Riko and telling her, “Is Naoki meeting up with you? He said he was meeting a friend. [Okay, first arrow here already. Like, friend. Huh. Right.] I’m really sorry he was late. I was caught in the rain and didn’t have an umbrella so he ran up to me and insisted on giving me his umbrella. If he was late, it’s all my fault and I apologise so please don’t blame him.” Oooooh the bitch! Second arrow, and she draws blood! Although technically, she isn’t lying, so it’s also partially Naoki’s fault for not telling Riko anything. Instead he told her practice ended late and now she finds out it’s not true! Riko walks out and tells Naoki it’s better if he heads home for a hot shower so that his health isn’t compromised since he was running in the rain, and Naoki leaves reluctantly.
So, my predictions (they’re going to break up! ..or at least have a fight) looked like they were, more or less, about to come true, but to a certain extent, it was less heartrending than I thought it was going to be, since Naoki’s moments of “wavering” were short-lived, and he was very honest about who and what he was thinking about – one of my favourite things in any person.
Back to what happened: On one hand, Riko heads home and enjoys being with her family (and eating apparently, since she put on 1.5kg – a girl after my own heart!); on the other, Mai and Shuji (yay!) finally tell Utsunomiya Toru (who is played by Nagai Masaru) that they are dating (originally Mai was interested in Toru, and it seemed Toru was about to return her interest but nooo he tells her he’s actually been in love for a long time with another girl, but she has a boyfriend and it’s about time that he gives up – NOW, I GIVE YOU THREE GUESSES AS TO WHO THE GIRL IS!!!!! ….GIVE UP!? It’s Natsuki! Definitely Natsuki!!! Ahem. Watch and finnnnddd outttt).
At Riko’s old home, her mother tells her, “Your father and I think it’s about time that you give up your violin. It’s been two years since you’ve graduated but you haven’t been able to find a proper job. Please. Your father’s retiring next year. Will you move back home here before it’s too late? You’ll be able to get a job here easily. Please.” and Riko looks at her parents, nods dutifully and replies, “I’ll think about it.” before taking a gulp of water (or whatever liquid it is she has in her cup, for all I know it could just be alcohol which, I think, is what she needs). Riko heads back to (I assume it is) Tokyo and heads for the bookstore where she looks for Mai so that the two can go off and have an awesome buddy dinner together (oh, I love friends). At the bookstore however, she meets Natsuki, who, while casually browsing some books on a shelf, asks, “How’s Coach? Oh. Don’t tell me. You’re cheating on him, aren’t you?” At Riko’s gasp, Natsuki swings around and says, “With Naoki, right?” She then goes on to belittle their relationship by telling Riko, “Did you know he has an ankle injury and refuses to go for surgery? You don’t, right? It’s the important things he doesn’t tell you. You’re not important to him. All you have going for you is the fact that the both of you lick each other’s wounds, and make each other feel better. He doesn’t have to feel inferior when he’s in your company.” (OOOooohhhh, I have no words to describe this woman, but man, I have to give the scriptwriter a prize. Great speech.) Riko is taken aback and at first tries to defend herself, and asks Natsuki, “What is the purpose of you telling me this?” Natsuki: “I don’t like people like you, who only talk about your dreams and don’t live up to reality.”
Mai then arrives at the scene, and becomes all outraged on Riko’s behalf, “Why don’t you tell Naoki this yourself? Why did you come here to look for Riko and tell her all these?” Natsuki: “I will.” Mai becomes even more furious, but then Riko interrupts: “I think you may be right, but I can’t forgive you for not believing in Naoki’s dream.” and all Natsuki does is smile at her and go, “You’re…so gentle. So kind. Isn’t that great?” … OHHHhhhhhhh.
(I discover in this episode that Mai is the epitome of what a good girl friend is meant to be, and salute Shihori for being able to pull it all off so naturally)
That night, Shuji comes back home and tells Mai (and unintentionally, Riko) that Naoki and Yoyogi fought in the dressing room over Natsuki, which of course, just makes Riko feel worse. Mai, being Mai, immediately shoves Shuji into the cupboard and tells him not to come out until she finishes dinner (oh, Mai!…excuse the pun) and becomes all awkward as Riko stares at her phone morosely when Naoki sends her a text message telling her he can’t come see her tonight.
In the morning, Riko hears the sounds of a dribbling basketball, pulls open her window and peers out to find Naoki standing, waiting for her in their usual basketball court.
She goes down to see him, and when they meet, he said, “Sorry I couldn’t see you last night. I was talking to Toru.” …which is, I think, the last straw for Riko. She turns around and tells him, “Why do you gloss it over like that?” Naoki: “What do you mean?” Riko: “Why do you gloss it over like that?” Naoki: “Eh?” Riko: “That night when it was raining…it was Natsuki you were with. Yesterday, you got into a fight, because of Natsuki. I know it all. All your lies. Why did you lie?” Naoki: “I didn’t mean to lie. I just didn’t want you to get the wrong idea.” (Yeah, dude, that’s what they all say)
While Riko waits for a phone call from Naoki (that never happens), she lets Mai know that she’s thinking of going home for good and giving up the violin. Mai’s woebegone expression was terribly heartwarming. (Meanwhile poor Riko doesn’t realise that the customer who critiqued her so seriously at her last performance in the lounge and caused her to lose her job is now searching for her because he actually didn’t mean to make her lose her job; rather he wanted her to improve i.e. so I get the vibe that it means he thinks she’s a talent and wants to make her perform to her full potential)
Teaser for Episode 10 (which is, by the way, the last episode, if you are able to read Chinese or Japanese) shows: both Riko and Naoki in formal suits saying “Goodbye” in Japanese, Riko doing lots of running, Naoki going into surgery while Natsuki looks on…
and I wonder how they will end it off, seeing as how they only have about 45 mins to wrap up the love …quadrangle! I had mixed feelings about this episode, and unfortunately, not enough Mai & Shuji moments to sustain me, although I squeal whenever they appear simply because they’re so funny. The loyalty here is good and at least Naoki, surprisingly, didn’t really waver when Natsuki re-confessed to him (and I thought they would make him but fortunately Bacchus appears to be on my side at least). Like I said, I can’t stand being wishy-washy and namby-pamby, so Naoki was resurrected in my good graces (which he had fallen from at the end of Ep 8 and in the beginning of 9). I’m rather skeptical at what will happen with the Kanzaki and Riko hugging scene (will Naoki see it and think Riko’s cheating on him??? Replay of Natsuki?? Will Kanzaki try forcing a kiss??? Is the goodbye scene they show them saying goodbye to each other forever???) …and so the questions go…but so far, I’ve really enjoyed it, and the scriptwriters I think have done a really good job in making me not hate the drama (I usually tend to drop dramas when I hit a particular scene or episode I don’t like i.e. Kami no Shizuku even though I absolutely adore Kame) so I’m looking forward to how they will wrap it all up.
What do you think?