Episode 7: Independence of father and son
Yumi, who had presumed that Akira’s father is deceased because of the photograph on the office table, learns from Akira that he is still alive. Akira explains that he had placed it there so his mother would not feel lonely.
At work that day, Yumi is in a contemplative mood as she stands in front of the photograph of Yasu. She says to it, “He’s your pride and joy, isn’t he?” Meanwhile, Rokugawa sees Akira reading a fashion magazine’s tips for choosing engagement rings and advises him to go with Yumi to select it rather than try to act cool. Akira can make it seem impromptu while they are out for a meal, Rokugawa suggests when Akira worries that she will say she does not need one or that any one will do if he tells her.
Taking Rokugawa’s advice, Akira invites Yumi out for dinner that night. He is tense and a bundle of nerves as they walk along a stretch of shops. Just as they approach a wedding boutique, Yumi suddenly blurts out questions about his father. Is he living alone? Does Akira intend to ask him to come over here in the future? Akira assures her that Yasu may be a pain but he loves children and will be happy to meet Kensuke. A conflicted look crosses Yumi’s face and she tries to say something. However, Akira gets distracted by a proud father making his embarrassed daughter strike a pose outside a shop’s window with her first clothing design. It strikes him how a child will consider himself independent when he is past 20, but will forever be a child in the eyes of his parents.
In 1992, Yasu looks forward to Akira’s homecoming for the New Year. That night he receives a phone call from Akira, who is attending Waseda University in Tokyo. Although a smile lights up his face, he quickly conceals his pleasure. His manner is gruff when he speaks. Akira says he is working part-time at the editorial department of a magazine called City Beat, doing odd jobs and manning the phones. When Yasu expresses concern that he is working so late, he reveals that he wants to become a magazine editor. This is news to Yasu who had believed that Akira would become a lawyer because he is studying law at the law faculty even though Akira had not said a word about it. Did he not go to Waseda so that he can help the weak and crush the strong? Akira says that is antiquated thinking. These days, every law faculty graduate joins places like trading companies. Moreover, it will take years to pass the bar exam. Yasu will not approve of Akira becoming an editor. Exploding in anger, he yells that he did not let him go to Tokyo for that and slams down the phone.
Yasu also declares his disapproval to Taeko, Shoun, Kuzuhara and Bito, calling Akira’s ambition to be a magazine editor after attending Waseda University a shameful choice. Shoun points out that even so, there is nothing Yasu can do about it. Akira is an adult now. Moreover, he does not understand why Yasu is so vehemently opposed to this when it is what Akira wants. Yasu decides to write a letter to Akira in an attempt to get him to reconsider his future with the threat that he will not give him allowance and even stop his tuition fees. Kuzuhara thinks that is low of him. But Yasu cannot remember his kanji characters and gives up after struggling with the first few words.
Yasu’s anger does not abate but just as he is considering how to summon Akira home for a face-to-face talk rather than communicating through a letter or phone call, Kobayashi, the editor of City Beat, calls him with an apology. Akira slipped on the stairs during a photoshoot and has been hospitalised with a fractured left wrist. Although Yasu is worried about Akira, he hesitates to go to Tokyo. As a result, Shoun ends up visiting Tokyo to see Akira on behalf of a stubborn Yasu.
Akira learns from Shoun that his father has been angry. However, Shoun thinks he should not to let it get to him since Yasu was the one with the expectation that he would be a lawyer. Shoun does express surprise at Akira’s decision since he had no particular inclination for comics or magazines. Akira admits that he did not come to Tokyo because there was something he wanted to do.
At first, Akira tried to enjoy life in Tokyo to the fullest. When he got here, he was a country boy and by the time he caught up, the fellows who were considered cool were already doing something else. He felt he was not suited to Tokyo. So he attended school and worked part-time at a place like Yunagi. On one occasion, City Beat came to do an interview. The food at the place was absolutely delicious but it was also very difficult to locate so he did not think a magazine would come. The shop owner refused to oblige. But in the end, he was persuaded and the place was featured. After that, many people came and Akira found that he no longer feared Tokyo. He realised that beneath the surface, everyone is the same. That inspired him to seek this type of job because he believed there are many fellows like him and he wants them to be able to enjoy Tokyo.
Back at home, Shoun tells Yasu that Akira has been working hard and has found what he wants to do. He heard that it is very challenging to secure a position in a publishing company so Akira is extremely lucky to have got into the editorial department through his part-time job. It appears that Akira wants to chart his own course there. Yasu blusters that if it is impossible for Akira to be a lawyer, he can even become a teacher, police officer or government official. Shoun, who cannot comprehend Yasu’s behaviour, demands to know why he dislikes the idea so much. Yasu finally admits that it is because Akira did not discuss his future with him.
That night, Yasu receives a phone call from Akira and heatedly reminds him that he will not approve. If Akira does not change his mind, he will not let him set foot in the house again. Akira just calmly acknowledges that it is reasonable for Yasu to oppose his choice. He has the right as his parent. Hearing this, Yasu threatens to cut his allowance. When Akira does not rise to the bait, Yasu promises to act on his words if he does not quit messing around. Akira says Yasu does not need to give permission because he is the one who has to make him accept his choice. Then he informs his father that he will not be able to return for the New Year because of his part-time job.
On New Year’s eve, Kobayashi observes that Akira, who had spent the day at a ski resort interviewing people for a page of the magazine, worked hard. Akira replies that it is because he wants to be accepted quickly. Not just by the editorial department but also by his father. He had always been given permission. In high school, he was all about baseball and even though he did not perform, Yasu did not say anything. Now that he is an adult, he feels that he should produce results to get Yasu to accept his career choice. Otherwise, his father cannot feel at ease.
On the other hand, Yasu has dinner alone at a noodle shop after refusing to join Taeko or Shoun in their activities. Finding a well-used copy of a City Beat magazine, Yasu thumbs through and scoffs that it is rubbish. An-chan, the cook, points out that high school students would flip through the magazine when they come here to eat to find out where to go if they get accepted by a Tokyo university. When Yasu lets on that his son is working part-time at City Beat, An-chan thinks that is great and that he must be hardworking. Yasu worries that a magazine job would not need certification and is not stable in a recession. An-chan says parents will let their children experiment and will not give up on them even if they do not produce results. Akira must have realised that it is irresponsible of him and he cannot go on this way. Yasu confesses that he will worry even if Akira becomes the prime minister. In any case, An-chan’s opinions seem to give him a different perspective.
Several days later, Yasu receives a City Beat magazine in the mail. It is from Akira. A post-it strip has been stuck to one of the pages as a marker. While he stares at the page, a note slipped into the magazine drops out. In it, Akira tells Yasu that this is the first article he has written. He was allowed to do so in recognition of his good work ethic. While he cannot help the weak and crush the strong, he believes he will be able to help people walking in Tokyo. He signs this off with the character (A). Yasu looks at the page again and is overcome with emotion at Akira’s choice of homecoming. That night at the editorial department, Kobayashi passes a phone message from an anonymous caller to Akira. “Congratulations on ‘taking the mound’. Ace A.” Akira breaks into a wide smile.
From that day on, Yasu would buy 20 copies of City Beat each month from the local bookstore, and distribute the magazine to many places and get the neighbours familiar with Tokyo.
After Akira finishes telling Yumi how doting his father is, she exclaims that it is impossible for her to marry him. She believes his father would be given a shock if Akira were to marry a woman seven years his senior and with a child from a previous relationship. No matter how good a child Kensuke is, he will think that there are other better children. Akira protests. But Yumi has made up her mind and bids him farewell. As she leaves, she slips on the walkway. Akira rushes towards her. However, she will not let him come near.
At work the next day, Yasu receives a phone call from a man who identifies himself as Shimano Akiyuki. Shimano tells a baffled Yasu that he is the son of Yasu’s father … …
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