I’d say that this episode of Kazoku Game (家族ゲーム) is where the shit hits the fan (please forgive my language, but I can’t stand self-censorship), but honestly, it’s been hitting pretty steadily throughout the series. After all, in the previous episode we saw Kayoko (Suzuki Honami) contemplate suicide after ending up with a hefty stock market debt (presumably because she traded on margin).
But this is bound to be an even more damaging episode to the Numata family, so it’s appropriate that Kazushige (Itao Itsuji) narrates at the beginning of it. While doing the recap, we get the sense that he’s far more concerned about who Tachibana Maki (Kutsuna Shiori) is than what Yoshimoto (Sakurai Sho) is doing, even though Yoshimoto declared the demise of the family in the previous episode.
I came to the conclusion that this was going to be a dire episode pretty early on. In fact, it was right around the time I saw Kazushige embezzling the needed 10 million yen ($100,000) from the severance pay list. That is not only desperate, but also probably the stupidest way to embezzle money I’ve ever seen.
Shinichi (Kamiki Ryunosuke) has begun to doubt Maki after seeing her talking amiably with Yoshimoto, even though they’re supposed to be mortal enemies. She gives him a lame excuse but seals it with a kiss. Is he really going to fall for that ploy? Well, honestly, I can’t blame him – in fiction and usually in fact, a kiss is a surefire remedy for the faults in any excuse.
Usually the dinners at the Numata house look quite remarkable, but it’s not surprising that Kayoko’s heart finally wasn’t in it this time.
While Yoshimoto enjoys dinner, the family remember his admonitions of them from the incidents last time. But did they get the message?
Shinichi tries to make a rather silly deal with Yoshimoto about whether he’ll stay in school or not. If Shinichi stays in school, Yoshimoto has to kill himself (Shinichi is not a very subtle child, is he?). If Shinichi doesn’t, he has to give Yoshimoto what the tutor wants, which Yoshimoto suggests would be a trip to Hawaii, but could be anything.
It turns out that Shinichi’s girlfriend didn’t hand the photos of him stealing to a teacher or other authority – yet . . .
. . . but the way Shinichi acts, he’s practically begging her to do it, which seems like the wrong way to win the bet. He’s clearly not as smart as we were initially led to believe.
Back at the office, Kazushige thinks he’s gotten away with his embezzlement. That’s only because he doesn’t realize he’s in a drama series where his bad behavior has led the audience to almost root for his demise.
Shigeyuki (Uragami Seishuu) tries to ask Yoshimoto about a situation in school where his new friends are now turning against the former bully leader . . .
. . . but Shinichi interrupts, approaching Yoshimoto about the photos given to his girlfriend. Of course, there’d be less of a problem if he had just been a bit more conciliatory with his girlfriend.
After that, Shigeyuki decided against talking to Yoshimoto about his school issue – probably a bad decision, but one with a purpose (as everything in this series has).
Before Shigeyuki can walk away, though, Yoshimoto grabs his arms, pulls the boy to face him, and says to his eyes that he’s the only person who can save the family. That contradicts his earlier statement that there’s no hope for the family, so is he just playing around with Shigeyuki?
In their normal meeting room, Kazushige says that he has the money and points out to Yoshimoto that the bonds that bind a family together can’t fall apart so easily. Yoshimoto shoots back that this assumes there were bonds in the first place. We’ve seen plenty of evidence that there aren’t real bonds within the Numata family.
Shinichi does some investigating at the location of the Tachibana tragedy . . .
. . . but can Maki still explain her way around what he finds?
I hope it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that Kazushige gets into trouble for his attempt to procure the money through frankly illegal means. I don’t even consider it a spoiler.
But there are other events around this point that I can’t really discuss without giving too much away.
It’s fair to point out, though, that Shigeyuki suddenly finds himself in the opposite position to the one in which he found himself in episode one. His friends are beating up the boy who was once the bully, and they bid Shigeyuki to throw some punches, too. Will he do it?
As he returns home, he discovers his father outside of the house, lying drunk on the pavement.
Shinichi seems unconcerned, but he doesn’t really appreciate the enormity of the situation yet – the enormity of his father’s arrogance, pride, and stupidity.
Summer’s over, and Yoshimoto is moving out of the Numata household (though he’s still working as a tutor for the family), so he needs to wake Kazushige up in order to take his leave properly. This calls for the traditional splash of water to wake the drunkard up.
Eventually, Kazushige reveals what he did to try and get the money and the consequences.
Finally, the disaster has come to its fruition, so Yoshimoto grabs his bullhorn and explains everything to them – all his machinations (most of which we already knew about, but they didn’t), but also the fact that they took it further than he was responsible for. After all, he has given each of them an opportunity to escape their fate. For instance, he had warned Kayoko after her initial loss. He had also arranged for Kayoko’s father to offer Kazushige the 10 million yen, which Kazushige’s pride and arrogance (and stupidity) led him to refuse.
There are some things that we didn’t know, though, and some dots that were connected that may not have been apparent before – or, over the course of so many weeks, the viewer might have forgotten about.
Kazushige fires Yoshimoto and, while that’s technically against their contract . . .
. . . Yoshimoto takes his leave anyway, in triumph.
But Shigeyuki has a final word with his tutor. Will Yoshimoto reveal how Shigeyuki can save the day, or did Shigeyuki already fail?
Because this was the culmination of threads that we already knew were in play, there’s been nothing too surprising in this episode so far, but what follows is the icing of the episode – the most epic family fight and breakdown I’ve ever seen. The breakdown part felt a bit forced, but the shouting match before that was perfect – just the sorts of things that would really be said in this situation with these sorts of people. It was a cathartic moment for the viewer as we’ve been waiting for these four to finally communicate their grievances with each other.
So, that leaves two more episodes. With the Numata family epically shattered (and you’ll have to see the last few minutes of this episode to appreciate how far they’ve been brought down), what could possibly happen in the last episodes to redeem them?
This was one of those necessary episodes, so it wasn’t as brilliantly crafted as some of the other episodes of this series were. However, they definitely did what they had to do and we’re left wondering how things will turn out – there’s no way a viewer could come this far and then decide not to watch the final episodes (while there are series like Biblia Koshodou no Jiken where there was really no incentive to watch to the end).