Piece tells the story of Suga Mizuho (Honda Tsubasa) and Narumi Hikaru (Nakayama Yuma). They were briefly a couple in high school, parted ways under troubling circumstances, and meet again three years later upon the death of a classmate. The story is a mystery centered on that deceased classmate, Origuchi Haruka (Mizuno Erina), and the identity of the boyfriend who got her pregnant in high school.

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We begin where we left off, with Yanai Takashi (Matsumura Hokuto) getting the call from Mizuho to talk about Haruka. The mention of her name immediately brings his eyes to a lily in the corner of his room, and his memory goes back to his high school days, when a similar flower fell. Mizuho apologizes profusely for the inconvenience helping her clean up might cause him.
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Yanai points out that it’s better to say “thank you” than “sorry” in this circumstance.

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Haruka was the one who brought the lily there in the first place, and Yanai complements her for it. Considering he still keeps a lily three years later in commemoration of it, he must either have really grown to like lilies, or he definitely had an attachment to Haruka.

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Right away, it’s clear that this episode is going to be quite different from the previous four in that the focus isn’t on Mizuho and Narumi, but on Yanai and Haruka.

Even walking to and from school, Yanai can’t help being the target of adulation. His friend Koike (Yasui Kentaro) points out that he’s got everything, including a cute girlfriend.

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But then they spot that cute girlfriend, Miku, and the interaction doesn’t go as perfectly as Koike’s comment suggested that it would. Miku doesn’t think Yanai really likes her.

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Miku doesn’t like that his texts are short and he fails to use emoticons. Wow. Things sure have changed from when I was in high school – those were simpler days.

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Miku’s real harsh about it, saying dramatically that Yanai gives a false impression (見かけ倒し) – he looks fair, but acts cold.

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After that rebuke, seeing himself at the top of the class ranking with a perfect score doesn’t really help.

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His narration says that he suddenly became super-conscious of the image of Yanai and the misguided expectations – especially fawning girls – had of him.

It’s with these thoughts in his head that he notices Narumi at work on yet another girl.

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Seeing how easily Narumi manipulates them, Yanai concludes in a bout of misogyny that women are fools. But his narration, reflecting on the situation, says that it was just a result of the blow to his pride caused by Miku’s words.
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Seeing a new lily, he starts talking to Haruka about them and surprises her into a smile, but it’s just a flash of one.

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She explains that she basically got ridiculed out of smiling by a boy in elementary school.

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Yanai tries his hand at cheering her up. Is this genuine, or is he simply practicing to live up to the expectations other girls have about him?

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Well, whatever his original intention, her reaction strikes his heart and he recognizes a feeling that he’s never experienced before. Is it love? Anyway, he gets her to show a nice, sustained smile this time:

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Later, Koike is ogling a very popular girl, and Yanai suggest that he should just ask her to go out.

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Something Koike says in response – about how taking the initiative and being rejected is a blow to his pride – strikes Yanai as important.

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Koike suddenly realizes that Yanai must like someone, but Yanai rejects the notion. Why is he so quick to dismiss the idea that he could like anyone? The narration of his older self says that he’s 98% pride. That . . . could be somewhat of a stumbling block in even starting a relationship.

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At a school committee meeting, Yanai has trouble taking his eyes off of Haruka. At the end of it, he tries to confess to her, but fails to get the words out.

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While walking, he sees a flyer for a flower event . . .

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But when he gets a chance to invite her to go with him, he sees her on the phone with someone who is also inviting her, and she readily accepts that mysterious person’s invitation. Could it be that Yanai wasn’t her boyfriend at all, and that the real culprit was at the other end of that phone line?

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He actually asks her whether the person she was speaking to was her boyfriend, and she smiles and says that it’s “something like that.” Oh, dear. Poor Yanai.

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With that, we get back to the present day. All those memories sped through his mind just at the mention of Haruka’s name. In answer to Mizuho’s question, though, he says he doesn’t know anything about Haruka except that she was part of the school committee – a patent lie. But I guess we can understand why he doesn’t want to admit how she broke his heart. Pride, and all that.

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He had participated in the funeral without giving any sign that he had special feelings for Haruka, but we see that when, in a private moment at the funeral, he saw a lily, his composure broke down. Just for a second, though.

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The thought of the lily, combined with Mizuho’s words about wanting to know Haruka, ends any attempt on his part to maintain his wall of pride.

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He decides to meet with Mizuho and Narumi to talk about Haruka, and he tells them the story about her accepting the invitation on the cell phone.

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Yanai has a question of his own, though – why is Haruka’s mother trying to find Haruka’s boyfriend after all this time. We know there’s a matter of that boyfriend getting Haruka pregnant, leading to an abortion, but maybe even that isn’t the whole story. Mizuho is reluctant to tell Yanani about the pregnancy . . .

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. . . so Narumi artfully interrupted.

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Yanai has another question – this one of Narumi. How did Narumi know Yanai liked Haruka?

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Turns out it was just a chance view into the committee room.

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At the end of the meeting, Narumi dashes off, leaving Yanai and Mizuho to speak. Yanai notes that Narumi seems “cold and inhuman” – sort of the pot calling the kettle black isn’t it?

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They talk a bit more about Yanai’s complicated feelings about Haruka, and he offers to help Mizuho find out about Haruka’s boyfriend. Are all the suspects going to end up part of the detective team? Well, it’ll sure make it easier to get them all in a room together at the end for the final reveal (though I doubt this series is going to go that traditional suddenly).

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Narumi does not seem happy. Actually, he’s in an outright morbid mood. What’s brought this about?

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Meanwhile, something occurs to Yanai – something Koike had said – that gets us the next lead in the case.

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And here that lead is:

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We’ll pick that up in the next episode.

This was a good episode. It developed two characters that we’ve waited four episodes to learn more about. At this point, regardless of the ratings, I definitely prefer Piece over Sprout, simply by virtue of the depth of the characters, the focus on a specific conflict, and the excellent acting.

Matsumura Hokuto-kun is proving himself a phenomenal actor, when we see the range of his performances over the course of the past few season. The key criteria for that, in my book, is that the camera should be able to linger on a character’s face, and during that time the actor can convey the thoughts and emotions of the character without saying a word – the Humphrey Bogart style of acting, if you will. Hokuto-kun shows every sign that he can do that in a whole variety of circumstances, including when expressing subtle grief at seeing the lily at the funeral and crazed anger in Shiritsu Bakarea Koukou.

I’m also happy to see the series will now involve a broader range of characters instead of just the two principals.

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