Episode 1: Weird turning point in the life of a timid man – Sudden appearance of a beautiful woman and mystery of the legendary living creature, Kuna
Tsuboi Ryota is a producer at a CM production company, and envied by his neighbour, Kobayashi Satoru. But in contrast to his fancy title, he is always in a quandary at work every day. While he claims that nothing will progress in his absence, he merely gets past situations by stammering “Come now, come now … …” so much so that his subordinates call him “Ma-kun” behind his back. At home, Ryota is no match for his popular food stylist wife, Sae. Even their daughter, Moe, a fourth grade elementary school student, treats him a little contemptuously.
Sae, who was called up by Moe’s form teacher because Moe has been creating a fuss about a small living creature that she calls Frodo, presses Ryota to give a stern reprimand. After some grumbling about how she pushes such things to him and what she could possibly want him to say to their daughter, a reluctant Ryota makes a feeble attempt at telling Moe not to believe the unscientific. Moe claims Frodo is of Japanese-Australian origin; she sees him everywhere and communicates with him through telepathy. Even though Ryota tries to scold her with dignity, he ends up getting talked down and dismissed without realising it, to the exasperation of Sae.
However, this timid man with a big body is somehow loveable, and leads a happy life in his own way.
One day, at a preview for a new commercial, Ryota is asked by Ikehori Keiji, a company president who is his client, to make changes. “That’s a bit difficult to read,” Ikehori says as he gestures at no place in particular with his golf club. This appears to be yet another of the many times he has asked for changes but Ryota ingratiatingly agrees that he feels the same way too. Insinuating that he cannot wait until tomorrow, Ikehori insists on seeing the edited version that night.
In a fix, Ryota immediately goes back to his company to ask the director who made the commercial for the changes. However, he has no specific instructions and merely repeats the comment that Ikehori made along with a mimicry of his gestures. Although the director is appalled, the team has no choice but to second guess what the client meant.
Then, Ryota’s estranged father Eisuke collapses at a sauna in his hometown in Nagano Prefecture, a sleepy place where wild animals are more visible than people when the local bus service stops running for the day.
Ryota’s mother, Toshiko, is waiting when he rushes to the hospital just as his older sister Takiko and her husband, Ito Kenji, arrive. Eisuke is unconscious and Takiko wants to go back instead of keeping him company like their mother intends to do. That earns her a rebuke for being heartless. Yamashita, Eisuke’s secretary from the days when he was still a director at a major drug manufacturer, calmly deals with the family and they end up being put on two-hour rotating shifts to keep Eisuke company at the intensive care unit.
Meanwhile, Sae’s mother, Tokiko, who has come over to take care of Moe, urges Sae to pay her father-in-law a courtesy call. But when Sae says she cannot help it because of her work, Tokiko warns her that the in-laws will not think that way and will harp on it for a long time to come. She speculates what would happen if Eisuke were to pass on and leave Toshiko alone. Will Ryota have to take care of his mother since he is the eldest son? Sae brushes this off as needless worry. After all, Takiko lives near the family home.
At the hospital, Toshiko sees someone weeping and wonders if she will cry like that for her husband. She feels that she does not have any tears left because she has cried so much all this time. At that same moment, Yamashita is on the phone giving someone an update on Eisuke and ends the call with advice not to pay a visit for a while. While Eisuke’s condition is not critical, he suffered a haemorrhage and needs complete bed rest.
When Ryota returns home, Sae tries to check if she and Moe should go with him during the next visit to the hospital. Ryota thinks they ought to wait until after his father’s condition has stabilised. Moe, who has been silently listening to their conversation, gets up and leaves without expressing appreciation for her food. Getting only half a reply when she reminds Moe about her manners, Sae walks over to stand in front of Ryota. He promises her that he will set their daughter straight once things with his father have settled down. In response she calls him crafty for bringing up his father as an excuse.
Back at work, Ryota’s junior, Sanada Jun, asks what makes him happy. Ryota rattles off about winning a competitive pitch or raising sales, but what Sanada really wants to know is Ryota’s purpose in work or in life. In fact, he remembers a time when Ryota was different. Without missing a beat, Ryota replies that it is world peace even if it seems irrelevant. Sanada wonders if he is trying too hard. However, Ryota says he is happy every day. Sanada appears unconvinced as he does not see any sign of it. This leads to a lecture from Ryota who chastises him “If work to you is about like or dislike, you should go back to university and do independent films.”
Several days later at the Tsuboi home, Takiko prods Ryota to prepare to take their mother in. He is the eldest son, she reminds him. Moreover, their mother intends to outlive their father so that she can live with Ryota. Ryota is not particular and tells Takiko that he will leave their mother in her care. The exchange gets interrupted by Toshiko who expresses her wish that the two of them take over from her on Sundays until their father’s condition stabilises and he is moved to a nearby hospital. She will even pay their commuting fare. They immediately agree, and when she is out of hearing range, the exchange resumes and devolves into verbal sparring about taking money from parents and filial obligation.
One day, Ryota sees a beautiful young lady enter his father’s hospital room with a bouquet of flowers to pay a visit while Eisuke lies unconscious. Is she an illegitimate child of his father? Surely she’s not his mistress?! When she emerges from the room a short while later, Ryota tails her to the lift and pretends to talk on the phone with his back facing her as he furtively snaps a photo.
Nothing can be seen because of the closing lift door and Takiko chides him for being useless. This touches on a sore spot as Sanada had implied the same thing the other day when Ryota had taken him to task for failing to ask a confectionary store president, whom they are trying to win over from a competing agency, for his opinion of the actor-comedian Takada Junji. Ryota is aware that his colleagues have been calling him “Ma-kun” behind his back and it is not for the mayonnaise that he loves.
The family cannot stop the whirl of questions going through their minds. And so, Ryota is elected to open up Eisuke’s bag and go through its contents. He finds out the lady’s name and address from a notebook inside the bag. Shimojima Naho. Furthermore, she hails from the same hometown as Eisuke.
Meanwhile, Sae is called up again by Moe’s form teacher. This time Moe pushed a fellow classmate off a table and refuses to explain her actions. Thankfully the boy is uninjured. The teacher suggests that Sae make time for Moe, and Sae apologetically replies that she intends to do as much as she can. On the way home with Moe, Sae learns that her daughter had behaved in that manner because she could not stand the boy and it was not because he had antagonised her. Sae sighs aloud that she has completely no idea what Moe is thinking.
Assigned to probe the identity of the mysterious young lady by his mother and sister after a trip to see Yamashita arouses their suspicion that he is hiding what he knows but fails to yield information, Ryota goes to Nagano again. When he visits the address written in the notebook, he comes across a young boy out in the front garden devising a trap with a watermelon to snare a ‘Kuna’. According to the boy, the ‘Kuna’ will enter one of the holes dug into the watermelon and eat so much of the fruit that it will grow too fat to get out. His name is Daichi and it turns out that Naho is his mother. Ryota immediately reports this to his mother, who excitedly tells him that his father wanted to give him the name Daichi when he was born but she refused because it is a name associated with a person that would be stepped on by people and not achieve success in life. Could Daichi be his stepbrother?
Daichi takes Ryota to the town’s only dental clinic. It is operated by Torii Osamu whom Ryota soon learns is his father’s childhood friend. Naho is Osamu’s daughter and runs the ‘Kuna Office’ next to the clinic. In the office, Ryota sees a photograph of Eisuke, Naho, Daichi and a party of people bearing banners that read ‘Meet the Kuna, Kuna Exploration Tour’. Hearing from Naho that his father had been searching the forests with children for the ‘Kuna’ which he saw as a kid, Ryota gets more and more puzzled for he cannot reconcile that with what he knows of him. Naho turns to her father for confirmation. However, Osamu claims that he did not. He must have mistaken a frog for the ‘Kuna’ and even if he had seen it, it would no longer be there now because it could not possibly have survive in that place. Naho stands up in alarm. He was the cause of it? Osamu merely agrees, “I killed it.”
A baffled Ryota wonders what his father’s objective was. Money? A woman? Or …?