Prologue: The main purpose of creating this page is to enable all audiences to see the development of things between Naoki and Kotoko, and to prove that Naoki is not as mean to Kotoko as he appears to be. He does feel something for her along the way. Hope that this would allow all to truly appreciate the drama for what it is, and to view it at a higher literary level.
Now playing: For You by Hikaru
There is always this saying that LOVE is not about binding a person by your side. Setting him free is also a kind of love.
Often, the question buzzing around everybody is how come Naoki chooses Kotoko in the end (though audiences already guessed it long ago) when initially, he treated her so badly and seemingly detested her. Even towards the end, Reiko is the one who links her arm through his and also knows practically everything in his household. Not to mention that he tends to Reiko immediately when both girls hurt their fingers simultaneously. So many years of being together, is it possible that Naoki never fell for Reiko at any point in time?
Well, the answer could be that all long, Reiko is always in Naoki's circle but Kotoko's intrusion just about turns his life upside down. In the manga, a certain character said the reason Naoki is so mean to Kotoko is that he notices her too much. This point is quite relevant as Naoki's indifference towards his surroundings (including Reiko) is one of the major themes in the drama.
I quote from the manga, "The 90% that I can do, Kotoko can't do. However, the 10% that I can't do, she can do." (Naoki).
And Naoki is not entirely oblivious to Kotoko's feelings too. Check out the emotional glances targeted at Kotoko at various points in the drama below:
Fig (a) >>> Naoki: Your house burnt down, wasn't it?
Fig (b) >>> When Kotoko reveals the long list of people she had asked
Fig (c) >>> When Kotoko looks devastated upon finding out that Naoki & Reiko will be studying together again
Fig (d) >>> When Kotoko is extremely upset by Reiko's gloating
And Naoki is NOT always mean towards Kotoko... (21/11/01)
>>> It may seem like so, but it is only in front of her. Whenever she's not around, Naoki can be quite nice towards her. Obvious ones like carrying her home in Race of Love & Tears and rushing her to the hospital in Bring me to Todai are needless to say. The sweetest part of all is how he tries to protect Kotoko in his own subtle way.
No matter how much Kotoko can annoy Naoki sometimes, he knows that she is basically a cute and innocent girl with no bad intentions at all. It can be seen that he always defences Kotoko and does not allow anyone to defame her.
There are many examples to prove this.
Naoki's different responses towards Kotoko & Reiko: (21/11/01)
In the show, Reiko is Kotoko's biggest (and most powerful) love rival. She's rich, beautiful and smart. But just how much Naoki pays attention to her?
1. In the beginning part, she is like almost invisible. We just see her following Naoki wherever he goes but seldom does the guy turn back to take a good look at her.
2. She needs to plant a kiss on Naoki herself in Episode 4 (See When a Heart is broken) and beg for one in Episode 5. Notice that Naoki looks very reluctant on both occasions.
But for Kotoko, he initiated the 1st kiss and accepted her kiss in Episode 5 quite willingly. (see Cold & Hot Kiss)
3. Even when she expresses her feelings for him in Episode 3, his face remains a stony expression. Compare this to Kotoko's love declaration in Episode 4, one would see the vast difference in his two responses quite clearly.
4. Even in the last episode, though Naoki seems happy with Reiko, remember that this change in him is brought about by Kotoko. Come to think of it, I'm sure Naoki treats everyone that way now, just that Reiko has been with him for a much longer time.
Relieved... or... Sad? (21/11/01)
Special thanks to 'M C' for informing me about this scene! ^_^
>>>In this scene, Kotoko's father has asked Naoki to his restaurant for a small chat. He apologises for all the trouble Kotoko has brought to him, but Naoki replied that it's okay.
The highlight of this scene is that when Aihara reveals that he and Kotoko will be moving out soon, Naoki suddenly drops his uninterested look and becomes very alert (See pictures below). There are two possibilities for this:
1. He's relieved that Kotoko will be moving out soon.
2. He is taken aback by the news as he has already grown accustomed to her.
No matter what, there should be some kind of struggle/confusion in him upon hearing the unexpected news. My personal viewpoint is that the precise reason why he's taken by surprise is that he is starting to accept Kotoko in his household and does not expect her to move out so soon anymore.
<<< Earlier look - seems uninterested and not really listening.
When the news is out, suddenly becomes very alert and attentive >>>
When Kotoko really moved out... (21/11/01)
>>> Naoki then starts to miss her and realise that she had indeed left many lovely memories for the Irie family.
For interests' sake: in the pic on the left, Naoki is reminscing the time he had tutored Kotoko in her studies. He also reflects on how hard she had run for the race and at the end, made a blunder by passing the sash to him instead of Kinnosuke. He called her 'baka' then.
Let us now trace the couple's love path with particular scenes in the drama >>>
Release of Results (E1)
Race of Love & Tears (E2)
Cold & Hot Kiss (E4/5)
Book of Dreams (E6)
Bring me to Todai (E8)
The Reunion (E9)
The Chase (E9)
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