Yoshimoto Koya (Sakurai Sho), tutor to Numata Shigeyuki (Uragami Seishuu), begins this episode by doing morning exercises in a blazer and jeans in the Numata yard. If this seems odd to you, you might have missed the first episode, because this is practically normal for Yoshimoto. Apparently Numata Kazushige (Itao Itsuji) missed key parts of the first episode, too, because it is only with these radio exercises that he decides Yoshimoto is insane.
They show other views of Yoshimoto briefly, but that’s really a laugh-worthy moment so I’ll save it as a surprise.
We get a recap of the previous episode – a little reminder about why we viewers know that Yoshimoto is insane far beyond his radio exercise routine. And since everyone knows that Yoshimoto is off his rocker . . . why is he still with the Numata household serving as a tutor?
Well, basically its that contract Kazushige signed without reading combined with a new deal – Yoshimoto agreed to quit if Shigeyuki went to school for a week.
And that’s why Yoshimoto is doing his exercises in the Numata yard – because he’s checking to see whether Shigeyuki goes to school.
But here’s the question: does he really want Shigeyuki to go to school for a week straight, or does he want the opportunity to continue tormenting the poor kid? If it’s the latter, then is there anything preventing Yoshimoto from doing something nasty to force Shigeyuki to stay home?
Of course, if Kazushige was willing to take the financial hit of just firing Yoshimoto in order to spare his son, it could be all over. But Kazushige isn’t exactly a bastion of morality, which makes the fact that he went drinking with Mizukawa Sara (Kutsuna Shiori) suspicious even though we don’t know that anything illicit happened.
Kayoko (Suzuki Honami) tries to persuade Kazushige to convince Yoshimoto to quit, but does she really do that out of care for her son – or even for herself since Yoshimoto was violent towards her as well – or because she’s afraid of what the neighbors will think if Yoshimoto does something outrageous again?
Unhinged though he might be, at least Yoshimoto is entirely cheerful about his lack of constraint – he enters the house singing at the top of his voice. And while Kazushige tries to start a conversation with Yoshimoto, Shigeyuki descends the stairs. Seeing his son actually going to school derails the father, and he decides to leave Yoshimoto in-place.
Yoshimoto already told Shigeyuki that he’s killed someone, so you’ve got to figure the kid isn’t thrilled by the way his tutor stalks him all the way to school. Unavoidable, though, since Yoshimoto has to be sure Shigeyuki is actually attending all week.
Ah, but Yoshimoto already modifies the conditions by introducing a penalty if Shigeyuki tries to skip class, saying that the kid will become his ‘dog’ if he’s absent for any day. What . . . exactly does that mean? I don’t actually want to find out, but I get a sinking feeling that it’s inevitable. Also – who agreed to that part of the deal?
Unfortunately, Shigeyuki doesn’t think to object to the new condition – probably because he’s confident that he can deal with a week of school. Will he ultimately regret that?
Well, his classmates are certainly not going to make it any easier for him – there seems to be a tack on his seat from each one of them. And the tacks are glued on. And Shigeyuki can’t bring himself to speak up and tell the teacher as the other students make snide remarks.
And, unknown to Shigeyuki, Yoshimoto is outside taking pictures of the scene. The way the tutor delights in it, you’d think he was the one who came up with the idea – or even glued the tacks on himself.
After class, the bullying gets more direct, and it’s gut-wrenching to watch as one of the boys says his cell phone’s broken and demands 30,000 yen from Shigeyuki by tomorrow. It’s not even close to being worth that 30,000 yen.
Yoshimoto confronts Shigeyuki’s bullies, and it seems like he isn’t in on it after all, but from the first episode we know how misleading these encounters can be. What is the tutor really up to in talking with these guys? Does he want them to do something in particular to Shigeyuki – something that will guarantee Shigeyuki will become his dog?
Back at home, Shigeyuki turns to Shinichi (Kamiki Ryunosuke) for help, but instead of asking for practical help, he asks for money – 5000 yen for now. He also tells Shinichi that Yoshimoto claimed to have killed someone.
During the actual tutoring session, Yoshimoto tells Shigeyuki to practice his Japanese by writing down every way he was bullied that day. Since Yoshimoto already has photographic evidence of it, what does he intend to do with this? Is it really just a way for the kid to get some emotional release?
Well, Shigeyuki is suspicious of his tutor’s intentions as well, and denies being bullied at all, but Yoshimoto hints that he already knows what happened with the tacks. Shigeyuki does the writing and then reads it out loud. It’s pretty extreme, but while he’s reading it, Yoshimoto goes to sleep. Of course, we’re not going to get any signs of real sympathy from the psychopath – I hope Shigeyuki wasn’t expecting anything of the sort.
Shinichi tells his parents that Shigeyuki is likely getting bullied again. He’s a long way from knowing the severity of the situation – he only knows that his younger brother asked for money, and that the money is probably going to the bullies.
Kazushige proposes to talk to Shigeyuki about it, but Shinichi shoots that idea down and the parents chicken out.
At least someone is in a good mood:
But why does he have to sound so devilish when he says “ii ne?”
With everything else that’s going on, do I really care about what’s happening between Kazushige and Mizukawa?
Well, maybe – because Yoshimoto is taking pictures of all of it. It doesn’t take too much imagination to figure out how he might use the images.
Kayoko is more intent on eavesdropping as her neighbors gossip – and their gossip is about Shigeyuki being bullied and refusing to go to class as a result.
Yoshimoto takes a photo at point-blank range while she’s in the middle of eavesdropping. He drops hints to her about her husband philandering, though he doesn’t show the photos.
And here comes the part I have to grit my teeth at – the part where Yoshimoto laments how teachers can no longer raise a hand against their students and parents are unwilling to discipline their children. The writers decided to make this Yoshimoto’s most lucid moment in the episode – the point where he sounds the most reasonable and respectable. Does that mean they agree with this point of view? Would they rather see parents and teacher beating up young people in the name of discipline?
Well, that’s something I’m going to have to push back on if I see more of that philosophy being spouted. As we see in Yoshimoto, often the adults who use discipline as an excuse to beat kids are really doing so to find a release for their own anger, frustration, and in this case, trauma.
The solution to bullying is not more bullying.
The interactions between Shinichi and Yoshimoto are perhaps the most interesting in the series – they have the feel of two people playing chess with words instead of pieces. And for now, Shinichi is not up to the tutor’s level.
After taking all those blows from the bullies, Shigeyuki is in a bad state, collapsing on the floor once he gets home.
Yoshimoto asks him to take his clothes off, but he refuses, so Yoshimoto wrestles with him a bit. In this case, I forgive Yoshimoto for the roughness – Shinichi and Kayoko really need to be shown the truth about what is happening to Shigeyuki, and the kid isn’t willing to speak out on his own.
But Kayoko doesn’t have any idea about what to do, and Yoshimoto points that out.
Shinichi’s answer to everything is to wait and see – is that what he’d want everyone to do if he was the one getting punched? He was so condescending and trite in his words to Shigeyuki that it made Yoshimoto cackle. And frankly that laugh was deserved – Shinichi spouting such meaningless words that ridicule was the only suitable reaction.
Yoshimoto’s words here are correct . . .
. . . but what does he intend to do with an “extracurricular lesson” at the place where Shigeyuki was attacked by the bullies?
Well, to put it bluntly, I don’t approve of his approach, but his proposed solution to the bullying – that Shigeyuki should bare his fangs a bit and show a willingness to stand up for himself – is a possibility. I don’t think it’s the smoothest method, and it certainly would have never worked for me (I think I just started finding friends by being interested in . . . pretty much everything . . . and having a sense of humor. Being seen with friends is a solid deterrent to potential bullies). But perhaps Yoshimoto has Shigeyuki’s personality and situation down – maybe because he was like the kid, or someone he knew was – and he knows that Shige is the type who wants to or has to fight back. At least, Shige does fight back here.
Kayoko sent Shinichi to see what was going on between Yoshimoto and Shigeyuki, and he dutifully reported back that they were practicing fighting. That doesn’t make the mother feel any better, but the father was sanguine about it. Typical.
Yoshimoto has one of his trauma moments, and we get a much clearer picture of what he has in his past. In fact, I think we got the short answer, though there will undoubtedly be a more detailed revelation in further episodes.
So, is anything going to change for Shigeyuki?
And what is Yoshimoto really up to? He talked to the bullies after all. What is he planning?
Whatever it is, it can’t just be a change in Shigeyuki – clearly, the whole family needs help.
By the way, Shinichi is not satisfied with how that mental chess match ended up earlier – he’s doing some homework of his own.
But that’s as far as I’m going to reveal the events of the episode.
Altogether, I think I’m getting a better feel for how to look at things. To a large degree, my impression of Yoshimoto was rehabilitated by this episode. He’s still a demented villain, but he’s an interesting and brilliant villain who is trying to atone for his sins in the most despicable ways possible. It’s . . . complicated.
My worry that he was only out to torment Shigeyuki proved unfounded – there is finally some evidence that he actually wants to help his student. The way he goes about it, though . . . .
Sakurai-san’s acting was marginally better in this episode as well. Suzuki-san had a huge jump in my estimation – her character was somewhat annoying in the first episode, but totally sympathetic and complex in this one. Kamiki-kun benefited from the fact that his character was more active. The bulk of the acting burden is still on Uragami-kun’s shoulders, though, and while he didn’t hit quite as many home-runs as in the first episode, maybe that was just because it was a shorter episode.
The episode was more palatable than episode one, and still every bit as engaging. No problem with the pacing at all. I’m going to have some fun coming up with enough synonyms for “insane” to describe Yoshimoto with. The sharp characterizations really drive the show and keep things interesting.
The only issue I have is with the philosophy Yoshimoto might spout in his pseudo-sane moments that people might take seriously. Fortunately, it was only a brief moment in this episode, and I can hope we don’t have to hear much more of that in the further episodes. We’ll see.