Episode 5: Farewell, dear man
Akira arrives at Yumi’s apartment in time to see her and Kensuke bow in apology to Hayashida, a parent of a nursery schoolmate whom Kensuke had hit earlier in the day. He overhears Hayashida ask about Yumi’s relationship with him. Since Kensuke had told his son that Akira is not his father, then they must be cohabiting. Hayashida criticises her for lacking the common sense to keep such a loose relationship out of the nursery school. This exchange reminds Akira of the time in high school when his foolish actions had hurt the people around him.
Yumi explains that Akira is a junior colleague at work. She is to blame for presuming on his kindness and being dependent on him but she has already told him that she will not inconvenience him in the future. However, Hayashida appears skeptical. Akira hurriedly steps forward to make his presence known to a surprised Yumi and bows to Hayashida too because this time, he is no longer the child hanging his head by his father’s side.
In 1989, Kaiun is hospitalised. Yasu cheerfully visits him at the hospital but storms out of his room in a dark mood moments later and swears never to come again after Kaiun sends him packing by suddenly declaring that he was sick of his stupid face. Yukie rushes into the room to find Kaiun doubled over in pain. Kaiun refuses to tell Yasu the truth about his illness because he worries that Yasu would neglect his work to come everyday.
On the other hand, Akira, who is now a second-year high school student, has been devoting himself to practice for the final test that would decide the regulars for the high school baseball team. Yasu complains to Kaiun that Akira does not respond much when he talks to him and has also been coming home late. But Kaiun assures him that if there is one thing that he can be confident about, it is that he is the best father. More precisely, the best example to Akira of what he should not be. So there is no way Akira will go astray. All of a sudden, Kaiun clutches his chest in pain and Yasu panics.
Yasu is told by Shoun that his father will not be able to live until summer because his cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. The way he says it makes Yasu think that he is taking Kaiun’s eventual death lightly. To Shoun, his father has had a good life and is also getting on in age. Therefore the family has come to terms with it. Shoun explains that Kaiun’s pain is so great that he cannot sleep even if he wants to. At the very end, they want to give him a drug to make him feel better and let him pass on while he is rendered unconscious. Shoun wants to decide the moment to inject the drug with Yasu because Yasu is just like a son to his father. He also asks that Yasu bring Akira to see Kaiun while he is still conscious.
That evening, Yasu urges Akira to go and visit Kaiun soon since he will not live long. However, Akira refuses and says that what is important right now is baseball practice. He will not take a break from daily club activities or leave practice early to go to the hospital. When Yasu reminds Akira how Kaiun doted on him, he points out that he did not say he was not going, he just needs more time. If he takes a break now, it will be the end of him and there will not be another chance next year. His attitude infuriates Yasu who slams his fist on the table and criticises him for being so busy chasing balls that he has not even paid a visit. Akira ventures to suggest that going to see Kaiun at the hospital is merely a consideration towards others. Moreover, it must be difficult for him to get up. So it will not make a difference whether he goes or not. Yasu stares at him in disbelief, too angry for words.
Several days later, Yasu receives a poster of the actress Asano Yuko from Kuzuhara’s wife because Kaiun had previously mentioned that he liked her. This kind gesture depresses Yasu who confides that he cannot get Akira to visit Kaiun. Taking Kuzuhara’s wife’s advice to drag Akira to the hospital, Yasu drops by practice at the baseball club. However, he unwittingly sees his son giving three first-year juniors a good hiding with a bat, and rushes forward break it up.
Yasu ends up having a shouting match with Akira who says he did it because they were slacking. It is a tradition which he also had a taste of when he was in first year. Yasu does not agree with Akira’s method of disciplining his juniors. After all, if they sustain injuries, it will do more harm than good. In his opinion, this tradition should be scrapped. Akira mutters that he would lose out if he said that. Yasu cannot believe what he is hearing and tells Akira to repeat what he said. “Because everyone who got it would be on the losing end!” Yasu involuntarily punches him in the face and roars that he is a disgrace.
At night, Yasu receives a phone call from the mother of Yamamoto Takuya, one of the first-year juniors Akira had hit. It appears that he had just received treatment at the hospital. She informs Yasu that she will discuss this with her husband and then hangs up. Akira tells Yasu that there is no need to go and apologise. Although the mother is making a fuss, her son only sustained bruises. If he apologises, it would only set a bad example to the others. Akira himself was beaten until he could not sit, but Yasu would probably not have called to complain even if he had told him about it. He thinks the boy should just quit if he dislikes being in such a club.
Yasu points out that while the boy may have been aware of the practices because he is a member of the club, his parents would certainly have been pained by his injury. So he should at least apologise to the mother. At that, Akira peels off the plaster covering his bruise and asks Yasu if it pains him to see this. Yasu says he will not apologise for it. Akira responds that in that case, there is no need for him to apologise too. Yasu stares at his son. “When did you become like this? When did you become this kind of guy?” Akira coldly blames it on his upbringing and stalks out of the room. A loud sound makes Akira turn back, and he sees his father repeatedly hit himself in the face. He tries to stop him but is pushed aside. Yasu declares that he will not apologise. He will not apologise but he feels his pain. Akira struggles to overpower his father and put a stop to it.
In the midst of this, the doorbell rings. The visitor is Takuya’s father. When Yasu bows his head in apology, Yamamoto asks if this means acknowledgement of Akira’s offense. He wants Akira to quit the baseball club because his son fears him and wants to drop out. Yamamoto says it is only reasonable that Akira be the one to do so and calls out to Akira to quit the next day. He is going easy on them when he should have asked for compensation since his wife wanted to report this to the police. Akira gets down on his knees to apologise and promises that it will not happen again. Yamamoto says an apology is not what he asked for and accuses Akira of hurting his son in order to retain a place as a regular in the final test tomorrow. Yasu orders Akira to leave the two of them alone and let him handle it. When Yamamoto derides him for cosseting Akira all the time, Yasu shouts that if a parent does not indulge a child, who would. If Yamamoto is doing that for his son, there is nothing wrong for him to do the same for Akira. In Yasu’s view, parental love is more important than parental responsibility. He asks Yamamoto to have faith that Akira will no longer discipline his juniors so a good-for-nothing parent like himself will not have to come forward in public and embarrass him. Then he chases Yamamoto out of the house before another word can be said.
The next morning, Akira waits at the school entrance for Takuya and apologises to him. On the other hand, Yasu, who has been informed that Kaiun is in a critical condition, rushes over to the baseball club while the final test is underway. Although he manages to get Akira’s attention, Yasu changes his mind at the last minute, wishes him good luck and hurries off. It dawns on Akira that this is about Kaiun. Just then, his name is called and he hesitates, wavering between staying and going to the hospital.
It is only when night falls that Akira bursts into Kaiun’s hospital room. Placing a baseball in the old man’s hand, Akira announces that he secured a place as a regular and will set his sights on the Koshien. By this time, life seems to gone out of Kaiun but he wraps his fingers around the baseball and gasps the word thank you. Yasu is handed a letter from Kaiun. In it, Kaiun writes that what comes to mind when he thinks of Yasu are his fists because he was obliged to hit him often. Even though he is not Yasu’s parent, he has been put through a lot of trouble so he did not think the day would come when he would express his gratitude to Yasu. He enjoyed having Yasu ask for advice about Akira. “While you stumbled every time and repeated mistakes, I loved watching you try harder in your own silly way, and each time Akira matured.” There is one thing he wants of Yasu. That is for him to continue being a parent in his own way even if it is foolish, wrong, gets him hit or hated by Akira.
Back in the present, Akira hits himself in the face and tells Hayashida that he is the person at fault. He was told by Yumi not to come anymore, but he wants to be Kensuke’s father if it is possible. This is why he has come today, he explains. Hayashida derisively remarks that it is as he said. They are loose people. But Yumi boldly challenges him by asking what is wrong with that? He is one as well or how could he have a child. He sputters with outrage that she would dare say this in front of her son. This earns him an apology dripping with sarcasm. She has taken leave of her senses because she is a green hand, and asks him to show her the ropes in the future.
After Hayashida leaves, Yumi turns to Akira to ask if he was playacting. Akira is about to repeat what he said to her again when Kensuke interrupts them to pass Akira a towel to dry himself.
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