Last time on Kazoku Game (家族ゲーム), Shinichi (Kamiki Ryunosuke) got an earful of how Yoshimoto (Sakurai Sho) was a demon. It’s looking more and more like Yoshimoto is more of an outright villain who is trying to make Shigeyuki (Uragami Seishuu) trust and rely on him solely – the way victimizers do. But is Yoshimoto playing all of this up as part of the game he’s playing with the Numata family?

For instance, was Yoshimoto the one who put up the website that Shinichi is looking at in the beginning of this episode – the one that says “Yoshimoto Kouya killed my entire family”? (it might just be ‘tried to kill’)

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Well, Shinichi gets suckered by it, anyway (assuming it isn’t real, but given what we’ve already seen from Yoshimoto . . .). He sends an e-mail to the site owner, Maki, explaining his situation and wondering how Yoshimoto killed her family. Maki asks a series of questions to check whether he’s honest. Unfortunately, he’s neither honest nor a good liar. For instance, he said he trusts his parents, teachers, and friends, but she points out that if he really trusted them, he wouldn’t be coming to her for help. This is the first time we really see how dysfunctional and vindictive he is, though.

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Shinichi frames his desire to know more about Maki’s family in terms of being concerned for his younger brother, but while Shigeyuki seems a bit withdrawn in class . . .

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. . . there are signs that he’s got a far more positive self-image than he had at the start of the series. At least he’s not wearing a box on his head and talking like a computer. He also got a letter from a girl he admires! (though in this series, we always have to wonder whether Yoshimoto put the girl up to it)

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The scene where Shigeyuki tells Yoshimoto about the letter is really cute and amusing. It was probably Uragami-kun’s best acting since the first episode.

Anyway, we hear Maki pointing out Shinichi’s lies to him as we see him steal a book from a store again.

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Maki wonders whether Shinichi isn’t the one who is really lonely, and jealous of Shigeyuki having someone to confide in.

Meanwhile, Yoshimoto gives Shigeyuki’s parents good news about their youngest child’s academic progress, and Kazushige (Itao Itsuji) offers a bonus if Shigeyuki is in the upper half of the percentiles on the next test.

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Kazushige also asks Yoshimoto to tutor Shinichi, since the elder son’s results have been falling. Yoshimoto readily agrees while managing not to seem too delighted.

Relations between wife and husband remain strained, though.

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Shinichi makes a fresh bid to convince Maki of his sincerity – by being sincere this time.

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Next door, Shigeyuki and Yoshimoto talk about the girl who gave Shigeyuki the letter – Mano. Shigeyuki thinks that Mano likes Sonoda – his former friend turned nemesis. This is bound to get ugly, right?

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Yoshimoto tries to make it seem like getting a girlfriend is simpler than making friends, which it isn’t. Yup, this is going to turn out ugly.

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Next, Yoshimoto lies to just about everybody about what happened regarding that tape during Shigeyuki’s birthday party which revealed Kazushige was cheating on his wife.

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In the course of lying to Kayoko (Suzuki Honami), he also said that this stock looked like a good buy:

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It isn’t. Just judging from the chart, I’d say that looks like it’s coming off of its highs and is in a risky position on low volume. There were two averages drawn on the graph – a green line and a blue line – and on purely technical terms, I’d wait for the price to drop to the blue line before buying in. There are plenty of stocks in the sea, and there’s no point chasing one that is already close to its highs. Of course, Yoshimoto suggests Kayoko should basically put all her money into it and . . . have you noticed that his suggestions tend to lead to bad results?

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Actually, Yoshimoto considers gambling a means of reducing stress, and it might be. Losing money on stocks, however, tends to be stress-inducing, and doesn’t have the same effect as, say, doing horribly in Friday Night poker with friends or going to Vegas prepared to lose everything but your clothes and your ticket home.

Kayoko said that she used to keep a diary to relieve stress, but doesn’t do so anymore. That somehow leads Yoshimoto to broach the subject of Kazushige’s infidelity, in which he gives a very different version of events to her with the goal of stoking the wife’s hatred of Asami (Kutsuna Shiori).

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Yoshimoto takes Shigeyuki to a roller rink . . .

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. . . where he hands the kid a complete dossier on Mano Sakura. I can’t think of a less healthy way to start a relationship than having a file on the other person – there’s just something creepy about that. It’s very . . . maybe that’s the way an NSA agent tries to hook up (maybe that’s why they like keeping databases on everyone).

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The net result is that Yoshimoto suggests that Shigeyuki should learn inline skating because that’s Sakura’s main hobby.

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Too bad for Shigeyuki, Yoshimoto has no intention of teaching his student how to do it, and leaves him at the rink.

Shinichi and Yoshimoto then spent some quality time, as Maki told Shinichi that Yoshimoto got her entire family to attempt a group suicide and he catches Yoshimoto snooping into the origins of his parent’s relationship.

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Kazushige tries to break up with Asami, as he told his wife he would, but Asami makes it hard for him. What’s her game?

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I’m not going to reveal anything more about the Shigeyuki-Sakura plot – you’ll have to see how that unfolds for yourself.

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While waiting for Shigeyuki, Yoshimoto reads a short history of Japanese involvement in World War II and its immediate aftermath. Is Shigeyuki getting back home late a good thing or a bad thing?

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Other than Shigeyuki, the Numata household remains a tense and awkward place.

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Maki tells Shinichi to stop Yoshimoto from messing with his family, which is exactly what he wanted to hear. Now . . . how does he do it? And for that matter, should he do it?

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I’m afraid that, even though this only covers half the episode, it’s all highly spoilerish from here, so I’ll break off the synopsis.

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So, will Shigeyuki’s attempt to court Sakura really turn out as badly as I fear? Is Yoshimoto stringing Shinichi along, creating the Maki site himself? Will Shigeyuki at least come out of this knowing how to skate?

On the whole, I thought this was the first truly light-hearted episode of the series – it was really pure fun to watch. That’s not to say Yoshimoto’s any less devious and insane – far from it – but that the series retains its wonderful unpredictability.

Kamiki-kun and Uragami-kun get the prizes for best acting in this hour – both were brilliant in completely opposite ways. The real burden in this episode was on Kamiki-kun’s shoulders, and it looks like his character is now firmly engaged with Yoshimoto in the tug-of-war over the fate of the Numata family.

Sakurai-san’s acting was also worth noting here. Unlike in the first episode, where there was a fake tinge to his insane outburst at the end, I thought he conveyed his character much better in this episode. It might also help that we know more about Yoshimoto now.

It’s still a fascinating and engaging drama. On to the next episode!