In her excitement to spill the beans of her passing her nursing exam, Kotoko skips off to Kobe without a second thought. Not like she often has a second thought, but thankfully she tells mama she’s leaving to see Naoki. As she boards her train she can’t hold down the sheer happiness in her heart at the idea that she’ll finally be able to reunite with Naoki, yelling at the top of her lungs ‘Wait for me!’
However, in true Kotoko fashion, she encounters a series of mishaps, leaving her cold and wandering the streets of Kobe, without so much as a cell phone. With no clue as to where she’s at, nor a map to guide her, she comes across a man who appears to be sleeping under his coat on a bench, whom she assumes to be drunk and a non threat. She decides to take refuge on the bench next to him. Approaching him timidly, calling him ‘mister’, with little knowledge of who the person might be, she politely asks if he doesn’t mind her taking up the seat next to him for the night.
With no response, she awkwardly takes a seat furthest away from him, and bumbles on, apologising for intruding in on his space, and admitting it’s the first time she’s slept outside of the house in such a manner. I love the way she just carries on assuming it must be the norm for the stranger to sleep out, regardless she treats him with respect and almost talks as if she’s carrying away talking to her friend. Her innocence and naivety shine through. Despite not having even seen his face, and vice versa, she continues to clarify that she’s not cosplaying in her nurses uniform, it’s just that a lot is going on in her life, and there’s so much to explain. He still has no response. In her frustration, she tries to argue why he won’t respond, but then gives up quite quickly and accepts it’s perfectly fine if he just listens silently, ‘Ah, it’s okay if you fall asleep. I’ll just talk by myself.’
In their comfortable one person conversation she retells her adventures of making it to Kobe, about how she ended up helping someone who needed medical attention, thus leading her to miss the first train. Eventually forcing her to catch the final train, in her frazzled state of mind, how she forgot her coat, which also had her phone and map inside it. Many a times in the conversation she blurts out Irie’s name, like the strange man should know of him only to correct herself referring to him as her husband. All the while, the man doesn’t move a muscle, hidden under his coat, quietly listening.
Suddenly, a small laugh erupts from under the coat. She looks back in surprise, then tells him off for laughing at her, even hitting him gently on his leg. Finally, he utters from under his coat, ‘That was a big ordeal, wasn’t it?’ Slowly he rises up from his posture, to reveal Naoki. Not like we all didn’t know it was him to begin with, but Kotoko’s astonishment, makes me feel so happy for her. He looks at her with a straight expression, signs of exhaustion reveal themselves on his face, but with a slight tilt to his head, there is a sense of affection in the way he looks at her. Almost as if he’s saying, ‘I’m exhausted but I’m glad it’s you here.’
He complains ‘you were too loud’ and admits to being sleep deprived. She stands up, unable to believe it’s still Naoki. She rambles uncontrollably, as it’s her who’s been surprised as opposed to her initial plan. He retorts back, he is surprised, at her outfit though. Kotoko responds with another question, as to how he knew where to find her. He reveals mama told him, and she had doubts herself that Kotoko would make it safely to Kobe without losing her way. He then further asks, why she always turns up without telling him beforehand.
She clasps her hands nervously, her sincerity and how much she has missed him pours through her words; she couldn’t call or text him and she wanted to tell him, so much. She feels bad for causing him more stress, and he can tell, he stands up and places his hand gently on her head. Kotoko looks up at him, wide eyed, not quite sure what’s going through his head. ‘I’ll finally be able to work with you’, he says. Tears are almost brimming in her eyes, he credits her for working hard for a year. No longer able to hold in her tears, she mumbles Irie’s name and goes in for a huge hug. That’s when I squeed my heart out.
The chemistry, and level of comfort between the two feels almost tangible. There’s a hearty warmth that emanates from the innocent gesture of a hug, and it kind of makes up for all the disappointment I’ve felt through the previous episodes. I felt like they were skimming over things that helped them become the couple they were, the small gestures were disappearing, but episode 12 made up for it. Something felt warm and fuzzy again, the very thing that made season 1. Watching them walk away hand in hand, while Kotoko goes over her same adventure for the third time, makes me smile, something in that makes me think all they need is each other for comfort and home, The scene ends up with their backs to the camera, as they carry on walking back to his place, bickering and chatting like an old couple.