Woman: Ep 2
I was waiting listlessly for episode 2 to air this week because so far Woman is a must-watch of the summer jdrama season. Episode 1 was very powerful and was unafraid to show the ups and downs of Koharu’s motherhood and family problems. I think I like the way Supa (at SuLovesDrama) put it best: Woman shows the spirit of humanity & the strengths and weaknesses of being a mother. Anyways episode 2 slows down the pacing but still keeps up the momentum. It feels more like a transitional episode that is setting us up for some bigger reveals that are to be made later on.
This episode mainly makes me way more curious about the character of Uesugi Shiori, who is the younger half-sister of Koharu. She is estranged from Koharu but she also knows of Koharu’s circumstances and is even mysteriously connected to Shin. It seems like Shiori wants to get closer to her older sister but at the same time she knows of her mother’s stubbornness so she holds back. She also has a strange fixation on sketching hands, an interest in Shin, and a phobia of riding on trains. All of these odd points come together when it is hinted that Shiori was a victim of molestation. (thus, her phobia of trains, her drawings of hands) AND…Shin was suspected of molestation!!!!!!! WHAAT? Is this why Shiori sketched his picture!?!? And how is this connected to Shin’s death? Now all of a sudden it feels like there is way more to the story than I thought at first.
Anyways the big cliffhanger at the end of the episode is when Shiori and Koharu finally meet face-to-face. Seems like Koharu has never met Shiori, but Shiori knows who Koharu is. I doubt Koharu will accept Shiori…since in a way, Shiori has taken Koharu’s place as her mother’s daughter.
There are no long moving monologues in this episode, but instead it says a lot with mere silence. There are a lot of shots that show Koharu’s loneliness and overwhelmed mindset even when nothing is being said. My favorite shot is when Koharu walks home at night and then sits on the stairs, all alone. A train passes by, always reminding her of the passing time and of Shin’s death. Life goes on, Koharu knows she has to work hard to support her family, and yet sometimes everything just feels so empty without Shin.
Another sad scene is when the child welfare people visit Koharu and imply that she is neglecting and abusing her children. We all know that Koharu is far from it, but in the eyes of her neighbors, they think she is shirking her responsibility as a mother by leaving her children alone at night. I really wanted Koharu to explode at the welfare lady who was being all pedantic about what it means to be a mother, but actually Koharu stays silent and listens to what the lady says. Later on, when she bumps into Ryosuke (the guy at the welfare office) she mentions that she is a failure as a mother. Now it all makes much more sense why she stayed silent when she was being told about the responsibilities of a mother..it’s because she already feels like a failure and didn’t feel worthy to deny the accusations against her.
Koharu’s experience as a single-mom is contrasted with her friend Yuki’s experience. Yuki is also a single-mom with 2 kids, but she quickly gets remarried to a rich guy. She believes that getting remarried is the best option and that she cannot always dwell on her dead husband. Koharu, on the other hand, cannot forget Shin and is even reluctant to allow herself to indulge in any of life’s luxuries. She refuses to drink any wine (it’s ambiguous whether she doesn’t want to enjoy herself or she doesn’t want to get out of control) and when she considers buying some at the store, she ends up putting it back on the shelf. There is something so telling by that simple action..that she believes part of being a mother is being selfless and putting her children before herself. But Koharu also denies herself the happiness of drinking wine alone, perhaps out of guilt towards Shin.
Anyways Koharu lets her kids stay over for a few playdates at Yuki’s new house. She misses her kids a lot but it is the better option since her health is bad and she can’t take the chance of being reported for child neglect again. It’s really sad when Koharu talks to Nozomi over the phone, and hopefully asks if Nozomi is lonely. Koharu really wants Nozomi to say yes, it is like she wants to be sure that she is missed by her kids and that they still need her around. :'(
Riku & Nozomi’s story in this episode is rather simple–the two of them feel guilty over breaking their promise to play with the fireworks with their mom. So their solution is to run away from Yuki’s house and hop on the train to go home. By themselves. Ummm I can’t say I ran away like that when I was a kid, but once I did go MIA when I walked off on my own in the mall. O_O””” So even though I was all ‘NOOO DON’T DO THIS!’ at the screen while this was happening, I had the niggling feeling that………I’ve done something like that too and at the time I thought it made perfect sense. Oops. Anyways the ending is more of a feel-good ending but it is done in such a way that it is not too cheesy or preachy.
Koharu’s kids are still really cute but not in a way that they are trying too hard to be cute. Nozomi is super smart and resourceful (way smarter than I was at her age O___O) while Riku is SOOO SWEET. All Riku says it “TOTORO!” but I love how he silently sticks by Nozomi & Koharu’s side. How did they get such great kid actors?!?!
One of the warning signs, though, is that Koharu might have leukemia. Omg I really hope this doesn’t take that route because I feel like that will just be too much to handle. But perhaps Koharu’s anemia and possible leukemia will serve as a plot device to let the kids stay with their Grandpa. I just really hope that things do not get too melodramatic if Koharu really does have leukemia.