Rie shows Tenma and Ota a brochure of a ceremony hall so they can hold a formal ceremony for Ota on her 18th birthday. Ota feels perturbed but manages to hide it. She looks at the brochure along with Tenma while Rie recalls an incident she witnessed in the parking lot earlier that day. She remembers seeing Ota run after Haruto’s father and beg him to be there the next day too to encourage Haruto. Mr. Kaguragi scoffs that it was he who incited the two boys to bet on Ota so Haruto could get over her once and for all. She tells him that Haruto is going through all this only to see his father proud of him. But Mr. Kaguragi couldn’t care less and he leaves without paying heed to her.
Haruto feels restless on having to sit with his hand in ice water to heal his sprained wrist. He asks C5 about Megumi and they tell him that she did not come with them. They are relieved that Haruto is injured and will not be able to compete but Haruto firmly declares that he will not give up under any circumstance.
Ota reaches the dojo early so she can leave Haruto’s lucky hippo in his locker without having to talk to him but she is in for a surprise when she hears him chant cheers for himself. Like a little child, Haruto imagines himself winning and enacts his victory scene with the announcer declaring him the winner followed by fireworks and the audience’s loud cheer. He spins triumphantly when he suddenly notices Ota standing right behind him. He freezes looking at her while she smiles weakly at his typical antics. (Awww……. Look at her! This is the first time I see her look ‘that way’ at him.)
Haruto asks her since when she has been there and she mimics his shooting action to imply her time of arrival. Embarrassed, he crumples to the floor and she asks him what his crazy acting was for. He tells her that he was following his doctors’ suggestion of Imetore i.e. image training while his wrist heals. She teases that he need not scream so loudly as archery matches are never this noisy. Then she places his lucky charm before him asking him to take it back since he needs it the most right now. She adds that she wants him to fight with all his might and his lucky charm will only add more luck. She then inquires about his wrist and he replies with probably a dialogue from a movie or drama indicating that he is doing just fine.
They then hear someone screaming and run to see Konoe being shoved around by two thugs. They hold Konoe against a wall threatening him while he says that he has already paid them enough. One of the thugs holds a sharp weapon against his throat when Haruto suddenly launches himself at them. He takes a leap and lands with his backside hitting the thugs face as they all drop to the floor. Ota looks confused and Haruto explains that he could not help jumping backward because of his wrist injury. (Hahaha…that was funny!)
Ota then recognizes one of the thugs as the person who attacked her a few days ago. She instantly starts screaming for help and Haruto joins her too while the thugs manage to escape. Konoe then looks up at Haruto and sneers that had it not been for him he would never have to stoop so low to help Tenma. Just then, Tenma arrives holding the thug by his collar.
Tenma questions Konoe about his statement while Konoe looks shell-shocked at him. The thug intervenes that Konoe had paid them to attack Ota. Tenma states that the three of them will now be taken to the police. He apologises to Ota for not trusting her. She then asks for the thugs and Konoe to be let free and not involve the police in this matter. Konoe tries to talk to Tenma but he asks him to buzz off.
At the archery competition, C5 and Ota are happy to see more people turn up in support of Haruto. Before the match, Haruto places his lucky charm Washington on his seat hoping to gain some good luck from it. Tenma’s name is announced multiple times and Haruto turns to look at him and finds him looking devastated. Tenma eventually snaps out of his reverie and joins Haruto. When Haruto’s name is announced, he proposes the match be postponed because of the unfortunate events that occurred that morning. Tenma however, does not wish the same and tells the announcer that he is willing to go on with the competition.
Haruto takes the first shot which hits the bull area surprising everyone including Haruto himself. Seeing Haruto’s wonderful shot, people are confident that Tenma will surpass that shot. However, when Tenma launches the arrow, it hits way outside the board. Tenma and everyone present is equally surprised.
Haruto’s second shot too hits the bull area. Haruto is stunned and believes that this is because of his lucky charm. But C5 has a different opinion. Kaito says this is because of his wrist injury. Sojiro had warned Haruto from using extra force from his dominant hand. Because of the injury, Haruto is refraining from exerting his right hand which is helping him hit the arrow right on target. Meanwhile, Tenma misses another shot by a huge margin. It now looks like the two boys have swapped skills as Tenma is performing as badly as Haruto did the previous day while Haruto is effortlessly acing all shots.
After missing the third shot, Haruto’s fourth arrow hits the bulls-eye and he jumps in excitement. He looks around to find the crowd looking dead silent. Finally, C5 realise that Haruto has won and the crowd cheers for him. Megumi who has been hiding all this while too screams happily for Haruto. Tenma looks dejected and Ota too feels sad for him.
Ota joins a lonely and sad Tenma in the locker room and putting up a fake smile he assures to win the next competition. He starts to talk about the Konoe incident and she stops him mid-sentence saying that she will always be by his side no matter what. Tenma starts looking for Konoe but to no avail. Ota then suggests they visit the place Tenma first saved him.
Megumi brings Haruto a bento box for probably the last time and tells him that after the final kendo competition she will set him free from being forcibly tied to her by their fathers. She says that she will not stop loving him but won’t bother him either which is why he needs to give the competition his best shot. He says that he regrets being mean to her. She instead urges him to smile and work hard to win the competition. She bids him goodbye only to run to the stairs and cry her eyes out. A few moments later she is joined by Airi who asks her to quit crying and accompany her to meet their ‘sis’.
Ota’s guess is right and Konoe is that the same bridge where Tenma first met him. Seeing Ota and Tenma, his knees give away and he slumps to the ground. Ota tells him that she does not want to hold any grudge against him. Konoe then bows and begs for her forgiveness. Ota looks at Tenma who moves forward and helps Konoe up. He asks to help him with his Kendo practice and he readily agrees to it.
As Ota heads home, she is surprised to find Haruto waiting outside her house. He tells her about the bet and is shocked to know that she was already aware of the fact that Tenma and he have bet her in the competition. She tells him that the bet makes no difference to her as even if he wins the Kendo match she will still go with Tenma and that she has decided to spend her life with Tenma. He tells her that if he wins he will not force her to be with him. He says that he wants her to love the man of her choosing but after his win, he will still wait for her at Eiban place time square. After he walks away, we see that Ota’s mother has secretly heard her conversation with Haruto.
Next morning, C5 apologise to Haruto for speaking ill about Ota initially. They admit that Ota is the one who managed to stir Haruto’s heart and is also loved by all of them. They give her credit for being instrumental in making Haruto popular amongst their peers. They share a light moment before heading towards the Kendo match.
The stadium is full of Haruto and Tenma supporters cheering for their favourite person. Just before the match, Haruto recalls a special training he underwent with Sojiro. He remembers Sojiro telling him the importance of striking the waist while the opponent tries to go for a head strike. He keeps the tip in mind and takes a deep breath in before heading out on the court.
As the match starts, Haruto keeps repeating to himself that he loves Ota and will not give up on her. Tenma raises his stick to strike Haruto’s head but he ducks and tries to hit Tenma’s waist but misses it. In the next move, as Haruto advances toward Tenma, he trips over his pants and Tenma once again raises his arm to strike his head. However, this time Haruto accidentally happens to strike Tenma’s throat which earns him a crucial point. Tenma and everyone in the crowd is stunned as the referee announces that Haruto has earned a Tsuki point. His supporters rise to their feet cheering for their winner. (Wait. What? And he won!? Just like that? In one move? Geez. I thought Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg at Survivor Series was the lamest match in the world. This Kendo match beat even that. Kudos to the lazy screenplay writer.)
Haruto is declared the winner and Tenma shakes hand with him while Ota looks completely shaken by the final outcome. She quickly leaves the stadium to join Tenma in the locker room. She asks him to get changed fast so they can head home soon. He instead asks her for a favour. He asks to have her stir-fried vegetables which she readily agrees to.
Haruto is surprised to know that his father saw his match. His father, however, still looks unimpressed as he tells him that he is now free to do anything. Haruto says that he is always working hard to win his approval. His father derides that he only needs a perfect son nothing else. He then adds that Haruto’s performance today was 6 on 10 which leaves Haruto overjoyed.
Tenma has Ota’s stir-fried vegetables and thanks her for always being there for him. He goes on to say that he loved her a lot but the person who truly affected her was Haruto and not him. He says that he was always aware of it but did not want to acknowledge it. He feels guilty for hurting her but she contradicts him. She says she was the one who hurt him when she never really intended to.
Tenma moves closer to Ota and suggests they call it quits. Ota shakes her head as tears flow ceaselessly down her cheeks. He says he will always support her throughout their lives but now she has to stop thinking about others and follow her heart. She meekly agrees and he then thanks her for supporting him till the very end.
Tenma then commands her to run to the love of her life. Ota looks at him for a second before sprinting into Haruto’s direction completely oblivious to the tears that left Tenma’s eyes following her departure.
Next, we see Ota running to meet Haruto who is waiting for her at Eiban place time square for her. In a recap of sorts, we see all those who helped Ota and Haruto come closer and then eventually fall in love. They each recall their good times together. They even imagine their first kiss. But the last scene is them anxiously waiting to see each other.
And my most awaited Japanese drama finally ends. Though this last episode was slightly dull, I enjoyed the drama overall. It is nothing compared to the original Hana Yori Dango but is still decent to watch. Yes, the script was weak. The story is similar to the original series and had potential but the weak script did not live up to the hype.
I felt that the three main leads did a fantabulous job portraying their respective characters. Ota is certainly not my favourite drama character but actress Hana Sugisaki played her character reasonably well. She was cute with her one ear sticking out of her hair. Her character did not leave much scope for her but she still appeared to be a pleasant person especially after she decides to stick to Tenma come what may.
Singer and actor, Sho Hirano had some big shoes to fill and the boy has done well in it. Jun Matsumoto’s performance as the dumb and overbearing Domyuji is no easy task to surpass. However, Sho has managed to make Haruto his own unique character. Haruto is stupid but is not aware of it and that is where his appeal lies. Haruto’s determination to uphold the name of his academy may be good but his ways to achieve it may not always be right. When he meets Ota he, like Domyuji, undergoes a transformation that doesn’t make him more intelligent but surely makes him more kind. Ota brings out the good side of Haruto and we get a new silly but sweet leader of C5.
Coming to the star of the show and my favourite Taishi Nakagawa, I think he has shown marked improvement in his acting in this dorama. I now understand why he agreed to play the second lead in this drama. His character was unbelievably and impractically angelic. Taishi’s baby face helped make him a convincing Tenma. The wide range of emotions that he has shown in this drama probably makes up for all his dramas till date. I am super impressed by him and I hope he continues working this hard in the future also.
I give Hana Nochi Hare or Boys Over Flowers (Season 2) 3.5 out 5. This dorama need not remind you of the original Hana Yori Dango but will surely make a place for itself in your heart. Just go for it.
Image Courtesy: Tokyo Broadcasting System