Episode 1: The forbidden encounter
Fukami Hiroki helps his father, Tatsuhiko, at ‘Fukami’, a lakeside fishing boat shop, while living with him. The next day is the birthday of his younger sister, Aki, who died one summer 15 years ago. With the passage of time, Hiroki finds that he can no longer remember Aki’s face clearly, but remains haunted by her question.
“Why do they have this book ‘A Dog of Flanders’?
Nello had no parents, he was bullied, cheated.
And in the end he died. Together with his dog.
Why is there such a sad story?
Wouldn’t it have been better if Nello wasn’t born?
What do you think, brother?”
At that moment, his father collapses inside the shop.
Toyama Futaba returns home after her boyfriend asks her to break up with him. 15 years ago, her family had changed their surname from Misaki to her mother’s maiden name, Toyama. Only her father, Misaki Shunsuke, and grandmother use the surname Misaki. It is probably because of this that persistent slurs have continued to follow the family. This unbearable reality spurs Futaba to take action.
Tatsuhiko has cancer which he has not told anyone about, and he is hospitalised. When Hiroki returns to the shop from the hospital, a stranger is there. It is Futaba. He suspects that she wants to kill herself, and is on his guard. But because Futaba tells him that she is hungry, he plans to go and buy food. Then, his younger brother, Higaki Kohei, brings their father home. It appears that Tatsuhiko had slipped out of the hospital and gone to see his ex-wife, Nomoto Kyoko. Kohei says he could not get them to meet. He leaves Tatsuhiko with Hiroki and goes back. Hiroki’s family had broken up because of a tragedy 15 years ago.
Hiroki goes to a family restaurant with Futaba after settling his father in. For some reason, he opens up and starts to tell her about the tragedy 15 years ago … … the murder of Aki. The murderer had been his friend from his junior high school days. Unable to endure being in the restaurant listening to the matter-of-fact way he talks about the circumstances surrounding his sister’s death, Futaba dashes out of the place. Futaba’s older brother, Misaki Fumiya, was the person who had killed Aki. When Hiroki gives chase, Futaba asks him why he told her this story. His reply is that he felt she had experienced something similar … … that she is also a victim like him. That day, Futaba stays at ‘Fukami’.
When Hiroki wakes up the next morning, his father is gone. A short while later, he receives a call from the police. Tatsuhiko had been taken into custody for trying to board a train bound for Tokyo with a knife. Hiroki goes to collect his father with Futaba. Tatsuhiko says he knows the whereabouts of Aki’s murderer, whom he refers to as ‘Boy A’. He was trying to avenge his daughter. Hiroki attempts to bring his father back to the hospital, but lets him go to the house where they once lived. Tatsuhiko expresses regret for Aki’s death and his resentment toward ‘Boy A’.
“He’s not sorry for his actions!
It’s just a beautiful memory to him.
Why is this fellow living when he has killed Aki?!
She can no longer come back!
Cannot grow up!
And yet he was released in only 7 years!
And become a grown up!
He hasn’t paid for his crime!
He hasn’t repented.
He has no criminal record, he’s free!
He’s somewhere on the streets, living among people,
behaving as if nothing had happened!
But, he’ll do it again. He’ll kill someone again!”
He presses Hiroki to take him to a funeral service at a shrine in Tokyo which ‘Boy A’ (Fumiya) may appear at tomorrow. Hiroki answers that that is not possible, but … … Futaba, who has been listening to the conversation between the two men, is overcome with emotion and disappears somewhere.
Hiroki brings his father back to the hospital and goes back to ‘Fukami’. While keeping his father’s futon, he comes across Aki’s school bag and boxes of girl’s shoes that Tatsuhiko had kept buying for her every birthday even after her death. He discovers a crayon drawing of her flying a kite inside the school bag. In that instant, his memories of Aki’s facial features which had begun to fade over the years, come vividly back to him. Like a man possessed, Hiroki springs to action and makes the kite he remembers from their childhood. Then, he heads to the lake where Aki had been murdered to fly the kite. As he does so, he sees an apparition of his sister by his side, gazing in awe at the kite in the sky. And the same sort of feelings that his father has grows in him too.
The next day, Hiroki, who has made up his mind and cut his hair short, receives a call from the hospital informing him that Tatsuhiko has passed away. He changes into mourning clothes, and goes to convey the news to his mother. However, she shows no reaction to her ex-husband’s death. To her, nothing in this world can be as tragic as the loss of her daughter.
Armed with a knife, Hiroki goes to the funeral home that he had heard from his father. Futaba turns up as he searches around for Fumiya. She tries to find some way to stop him, but at that moment, Hiroki spots her brother standing on an overhead bridge overlooking the funeral home. He takes out the hidden knife that he had been carrying and hurries after Fumiya. However, Futaba desperately clings to his leg and gets in his way as she finally yells out, “Run away, brother!” Fumiya hears her voice. By the time Hiroki manages to shake Futaba off, and reach the top of the overhead bridge, Fumiya has walked away. All he finds is a fruit that Fumiya has left behind. Futaba confesses to a stunned Hiroki that she is Fumiya’s younger sister.
When Fumiya returns to the fruit orchard where he works, he is welcomed by Kusama Goro and his daughter, Maki. At this orchard Fumiya goes by the name Amemiya Kenji. Maki asks Fumiya about a picture book that he had read to her daughter, Yuri, the day before.
“‘A Dog of Flanders’ seemed like a story where the protagonist was beyond saving.
Yuri asked me why there had to be such a tragic story.”
“It’s probably because humans are sad living creatures.”
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