Episode 3: Ryota knows his father’s secret and can’t tell his mother
Ryota becomes obsessed with the small triangular red hat that he found in the forest the previous day. Although he tells Sae that Moe is the one intent on searching for the ‘Kuna’, he visits the ‘Kuna Office’ in secret to hunt for clues while Moe goes to the hospital with her grandmother. However, Osamu spots Ryota before he can slip into the office through the clinic. And so, Ryota invents an excuse about a toothache in his right molar and ends up having dental treatment. When he finally works his way round to asking questions about the ‘Kuna’, Osamu once again denies its existence and speculates that Eisuke’s search was motivated by money since power spots are enjoying a boom in the country.
Meanwhile, another patient arrives. Seizing the opportunity, Ryota lies to Osamu about having to retrieve something that Moe had left behind in the ‘Kuna Office’ the last time they came. As he snoops around the place, his eyes fall on a desk with a locked drawer. Taking out the key found inside his father’s bag, Ryota places it in the keyhole and turns. He succeeds in opening the desk drawer and discovers Eisuke’s old notebook with ‘Kuna’ written on the front cover. It is in his handwriting and there is a drawing of a red hat that looks like the one Ryota picked up in the forest. A photograph of an unfamiliar open space of land is wedged between the notes.
In it, Eisuke writes that a small dwarf deity called the Sukunahikona who created the country with the Okuninushi appeared in the Records of Ancient Matters, and led to the dwarf legends around the country. The Sukunahikona is believed to be a deity that protects small things like rice and yarn. The children of those forests and villages called the deity ‘Kuna’ or ‘Hikko’ until the Edo period. The ‘Kuna’, which lived in the forest, had no land and was not literate. It was a peaceful, nomadic creature that did not kill other than for food. Many people saw the ‘Kuna’ at graveyards and shrines, and Eisuke’s mother believed that it bound the living and the dead together.
Relying on the detailed description in the notes, Ryota walks along paths with graves and shrines where the ‘Kuna’ is said to appear frequently. There is also the name of an unknown woman called “Kumi” in the notes. It seems that his father, Osamu and Kumi had seen the ‘Kuna’ in the forest in their childhood. Eisuke wrote that it was some place where the sound of running water could be heard although he was no longer sure. Ryota wonders if the character ‘Ku’ written in his father’s notebook is ‘Kumi’ instead of ‘Kuna’. Musing over the sentence “a hometown with you gone… …”, Ryota looks up in surprise to see Naho appear in front of him.
During lunch with Naho at a restaurant, Ryota overhears from some regulars acquainted with Naho that Naho’s late mother was called Kumi. A long time ago, Eisuke left Kumi and their hometown for Tokyo. Afterwards, Osamu married her and Naho was born. One of the regulars thinks that Osamu took advantage of the void in Kumi’s heart or he would not have been able to marry a beauty like her. They speak critically about Eisuke’s return after such a long time to oppose the construction of a dam His talk about protecting the forest and taking their jobs … … Ryota develops mixed feelings while an embarrassed Naho apologises. She thinks that her mother would have been happier together with his father, but Ryota disagrees. She gives Eisuke more credit than he deserves because he was only pleasant to outsiders. His father had girlfriends, raised a hand against people when drunk, put the company first and neglected the family.
At that moment, Moe arrives alone at Osamu’s clinic. Behaving like her father when Osamu spots her, she gives the excuse of a painful molar. But he sees through it after he takes a look at her teeth. “Have you seen the ‘Kuna’?” Moe finally asks him. After a brief silence, Osamu honestly admits that he saw it in the forest a long time ago. He even smiles kindly at her and asks, “You want to try find it? You’ve to search or won’t know if you’ll find it or not … …” It is a completely different attitude from the one Osamu showed to Ryota. Moments later, Moe sneaks into the ‘Kuna Office’ and runs off with the figurine, blissfully unaware that her getaway has been witnessed by Osamu.
Meanwhile, Sae, who is on location at the movie set, hurriedly searches for an old multi-tiered food box at the request of the movie director. Finally finding a multi-tiered food box that fits the image, she and her assistant, Jun, listen to the owner’s recollections of her mother’s rice balls coated with sweetened red beans for picnics. Although this moves Jun, Sae declares in a business-like manner, “If we think that her memories will be captured on film, we won’t be able to bring out the attractiveness of the serving dish.” But in the end, she decides to that the rice balls would be the best match for the colour and size of that multi-tiered food box.
On the night of Halloween, Naho confesses to Ryota that his father had collapsed while playing soccer with Daichi and not at the golf course. She had lied about it because Eisuke made her promise not to tell his family.
And then, on the way back to the hotel, Ryota asks Moe if she believes the ‘Kuna’ truly exists. He is told that his father had talked to her about the ‘Kuna’ many times and she would get 1,000 yen when she listened. “He probably wanted people who looked like they would believe him to listen,” Ryota observes and feels a little sad that it was not him … …
Sae, on the other hand, has drinks with Yamanaka and the rest of the production crew. Yamanaka observes that Ryota did not stop Sae from coming out to the countryside and is miffed to be taken so lightly. He wonders if she is satisfied being the wife of a man who is known in the industry as ‘Ma-kun’. It is the first time that Sae is hearing this and she reacts with surprise. In any case, she is not dissatisfied and points out that someone needs to play this kind of role. When Yamanaka notes a little sourly that she has taken Ryota’s side, Sae cheerfully declares that is only natural because they are a husband and wife. This fails to deter Yamanaka who goes on to gripe that there were more talented guys around. Like him, for example. Why did she choose Ryota? Sae bursts out laughing and tells him not to use the word “talent” in this way. She liked Ryota for his modesty. Yamanaka scoffs. She can say what she likes but Ryota is too modest. Sae thinks it remains to be seen.
Then, Yamanaka abruptly changes topic and tells Sae to quit commercials and do movies. After all, commercials are a bunch of lies while movies are real to him. But for Sae both are just about as unreal. She adds that she does not mean to disparage her own work. In fact, her work is to do her very best to make things up in both mediums.
At the same moment, in the hospital ward, Eisuke opens his eyes when Toshiko looks back as she prepares to go back … …
It’s nice to read a synopsis after watching it. Keep it up.
PS: The “Relying on the detailed…” are written two times