「TV Series of the Week」 Ashita, Mama ga Inai #05.

『明日、ママがいない』 第5話 超絶美少女のピアノパパはここにいる…

Ashita, Mama ga Inai #05. 「The Super Beautiful Girl’s Piano Papa Is Here…」

Screenwriter(s): Matsuda Saya (松田沙也)
Chief Producer: Ito Hibiki (伊藤響)
Producer(s): Fukui Yuta (福井雄太), Namba Toshiaki (難波利昭)
Director(s): Inomata Ryuichi, Naganuma Makoto, Suzuki Yuma (鈴木勇馬)
Music: Haketa Takefumi

An all-inclusive episode for our characters this week, and boy do I mean that – from the main cast of girls, Posuto, Donki, Piami, and Bonbi; to the side-characters, Pachi, Locker, Maou and Kana; to the even more side-casted, arguably inconsequential characters, Han and Ryu (the twin-brother of Kogamo no Ie who have essentially been background props up until now) and the infamous Japanese Joripi; it’s the whole cast shebang this time around.

Summary:

It’s a new day at Kogamo no Ie and with the sunny morning comes sunny news for the girls. Expecting outright elation from Bonbi, Piami, Donki and Posuto inform her that the Japanese Joripi couple actually are without a child and are thus potential foster parents, but Bonbi’s response is one of unusual indifference. Subsequently and conversely, Donki is ecstatic when Maou makes his usual foreboding entrance into the kitchen and tells her that she has another chance with the trial parents she had met previously. The opportunity was initially forwarded to Posuto, but in the end Kana, Maou and Posuto all rightfully saw it more fit for Donki. So, while Donki skips school to re-do her trial, on the school-grounds, Piami plays the piano for an undercover talent agent and is then invited to compete in the nation’s most prestigious piano contest. Piami sees this equally as an opportunity to have her talent recognized by the world and by her long-since aloof father. In being her tight-knit friend,  Posuto is dragged into Piami’s efforts to secure the victory, which mostly involves sneaking out at night with her to keep watch while she practices piano in the school’s music room. By effect, Posuto’s attention is diverted from Pachi as he undergoes his own trial and gradually comes to accept his trial parents as viable candidates, going so far as to replace his mother’s shampoo keepsake with a lollipop candy from his current mother. Likewise, Donki too is learning to accept her own comfort in happiness after she profusely apologizes to her trial parents for her previous breakdown at the amusement park and beseeches them to treat her as a family member equally in both good and bad times. Meanwhile, off on her own as always, Bonbi stakes out the Japanese Joripi’s house but is once again caught by the girl she thought to be their daughter. The good-natured girl reveals to Bonbi that she is actually their niece who comes to visit to ease their yearning for a child of their own and then requests that Bonbi visits them in her place next week so she can attend a piano competition, the same competition that Paimi is to enter. Donki continues to emotionally support Pachi through his trial, while Posuto helps Locker with his relationship with Kana. The two make a cake for her together but soon find out when they wait outside her workplace that Kana already has a boyfriend and is to be married. Quick-witted as always, Posuto plays off the cake as something the children of Kogamo no Ie, and not Locker, put together for her birthday and makes a quick retreat, dragging Locker behind with her. As Posuto and Locker re-assess the situation on the hill-top walkway (that has essentially because the signature locale in the series), the arguably most interesting love triangle dynamic is introduced as Posuto asks Locker if he will wait for her, and the scene overtly cuts to Pachi making a candy model of Posuto and nods enthusiastically when his trial father asks him if he likes her. In the immediately following scene, Pachi is taking a bath and notices the same exact shampoo as his old heirloom in this new household. His trial mother enters the bathroom and notices this, seemingly aware of his history with past trial parents, but nevertheless displays a kind acceptance of his behavior. One night when returning from the school, Piami and Posuto find out that they are locked outside Kogamo no Ie, ultimately giving Piami a chance to confess to Posuto her intentions to find her father at the competition. Maou then arrives home just in time to ruin the moment and rip the photo of Piami and her father in half. The day of the competition, behind the scenes, Piami finds out her crush, Ren, is the rumored dead-winner of the contest, while in the audience, Maou and Posuto are seated together for another tense but somehow simultaneously sentimental interaction. Concurrently, Bonbi arrives at the Japanese Joripi home just in time to witness the husband, Yuki, rapidly dashing out of the house and into the car. After finding out that he had been abandoned by his wife, she hilariously intrudes into the car and bluntly tells him to start driving so that they can go find her together. Again, a scene culminates on the signature hill-top scene when the two find the wandering wife, Maria, walking wistfully down the walkway. As fate may have it, she wished to file a divorce because she felt too much guilt from being infertile. Yuki, makes amends with her by accepting the fate that they cannot bear a child together. In witnessing the whole affair, Bonbi interrupts to ask the two to not only consider each other’s feelings but also the feelings of  the many, emphasis on many, orphaned children across the country who are even more so helpless in finding and having parents. Back at the piano competition, after Posuto runs off to find Piami’s father, Maou sits by himself soulfully listening to the piano performances as a scene with Otsubone and the lunchbox lady is juxtaposed. The threads of fate continue to connect all the characters together as it is revealed what Maou had meant when he told Donki that he had killed the child of the lunchbox lady and that he was not lying when he had said that he was her husband. As it so happened, when Maou was married to her, he had a painful decision to make during her pregnancy, whether to let her live or to let the unborn child be born. Upon regaining consciousness to realize his choice, his wife was so distraught that she could not only bear a child anymore but she could not bear him as a lover anymore. This essential narrative of what Maou is reminiscing as he watches the piano performances smoothly transitions into his actions and words upon intruding into the confrontation between Posuto and Piami’s father. Despite his initial and final bow of respect to Piami’s father, he is irrevocably unrelenting in what he says about him in order to explain to Posuto exactly why he cannot take Piami back. Piami’s father acknowledges his past failures and his continued inability to raise Piami to unearth her true potential as his last gem and leaves. Again, Posuto tastes the failure of not being able to help a friend. The following night while the girls are all recapping their days to one another, Posuto surprisingly lies to Piami and the others about not finding her father. In the kitchen, Locker listens to a live message left by Kana as he is washing dishes in the dead of the night. The episode ultimately ends where it began, at the family breakfast table, where Posuto finally realizes what everyone else had known, that Pachi is leaving Kogamo no Ie. Definitely mature now more than ever, and pretty damn mature to begin with, Posuto gives Pachi a tearful and resounding farewell.

Review:

I can’t help but imagine the pure nostalgia and sentimentality that these friends will experience years later in their story whenif they finally reunite, but I suppose that’s a discussion better left four episodes from now. This episode more than any before felt extensive in material and length, heck, I was even fidgeting about in my chair at times looking at the remaining time left; but if anything, the episode rightfully represents what the latter half of this series will be delving into content-wise. For the first time, we see the children finding trial parents who are not neither bat-shit insane nor just downright insensitive, but rather, keenly aware of the emotional situations both foster parents and foster children come from. Before the episode had concluded with Pachi’s departure, I was thinking to myself how hard it is to believe the couples as being “the one” for the respective characters, just because of how much the show’s writing has vacillated between the “orphanage becoming one big happy family” route and the “everyone splitting off into their own lives one by one” route. At this point, it definitely seems like all the elements are set up for the latter – Donki being happy with her current trial parents, Bonbi coming to the rescue of the Japanese Joripi’s marriage, Locker and Kana having a complex but indefinitely intimate understanding of each other, Maou rekindling his marriage, Otsubone gradually gaining self-confidence and individuality, Piami’s father being the only parent so far to actually care about his child enough to re-visit her, and of course; Posuto representing this kind of altruistic savior for everyone but simultaneously being one who is destined to be a lone-wolf, vagabond of sorts. I mentioned it earlier, but Posuto’s words to Locker about waiting for her to grow up were rooted in a lot of emotional depth. Of all the characters, Posuto has the most in-depth and concerning story to be told, despite her already-existing subjugation of the limelight. These occasional intimate revelations of hers will be the greatest clues as to what her future holds for her, or rather, what kind of happiness she will make for herself.

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