With the trainees in Miss Pilot now facing the need to prepare to fly a real airliner – the Boeing 767 (ironically, my least favorite airliner) – Tezuka (Horikita Maki) faces an additional stumbling block because her father is ill. She doesn’t know that yet, but it’s coming – presumably in this episode.

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Which leads me to an observation – is this a frequent plot point in dramas? A parent getting sick near the end of the series? We just saw it in Pin to Kona, and Asahi’s mother faked it in Ando Lloyd. I think this is reflective of an understandable anxiety among people as both Japan and America see the post-war generation age. It’s a concern for both generations, as the parents wonder whether their children will really be all right.

Well, these trainees sure look all right in their uniforms, don’t they?

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They face some serious simulator time where they’ll train not only to handle the normal routines of flight, but also to handle the emergencies that pilots are really there to manage. Unfortunately, Taiji (Mamiya Shotaro) seems to be less focused on the task at hand and more interested in trying to court Tezuka now that Suzu has technically broken up with him. Could they make Taiji any sleazier, by the way? It’s sort of annoying that they didn’t bother to give him any redeeming qualities at all – he’s just a one-dimensional character. His sole purpose is to be unfaithful to Suzu (Sakuraba Nanami) and then to try to make a move on Tezuka. Good thing Tezuka doesn’t seem the least bit interested, but if that’s the case, isn’t this already-failed romantic subplot annoying?

Speaking of already-failed romantic subplots, maybe Yamada (Fujii Ryusei) can console himself after his simulator run by dreaming that Rinko (Nanao) actually likes him.

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Tezuka is up next, taking the co-pilot seat next to Moroboshi (Shounozaki Ken). She is the one handling the take-off, though.

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Unfortunately, she’s not used to the stiffness of the controls, nor the fact that an airliner shouldn’t be pitched the way a smaller plane can be, so she ends up pulling up too hard. Odd that she would take too long to pull up, though – small planes have far shorter takeoff runs, so you’d expect that she’d actually try to do it too soon rather than too late.

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The way the simulator tilts when she does this makes other trainees watching shout “whoa!”, so you know that’s not good.

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After giving her a little warning about flying like that in the future, Kunikida (Saito Takumi) tells Tezuka that since Chisato (Aibu Saki) isn’t her partner anymore, the others will rotate as her buddy during the training.

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Since Tezuka is having trouble finding the time to return home, her father calls to give her the news. Turns out it’s not him – it’s her mother who has cancer. Credit to the writers on this – it’s a minor surprise, but also makes perfect sense that her mother would put on a brave face and her father would be the one anxious in this case.

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The cancer seems to be in an advanced state – the doctors have already said that Tezuka’s mother doesn’t have long to live. It was discovered while Tezuka was in America.

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After the opening title sequence, we turn to Chisato, who is hard at work as a dispatcher.

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Kunikida checks with her superior and finds out that she’s doing excellently, as expected.

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Kunikida didn’t talk to Chisato directly, though, much to her evident disappointment.

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Tezuka isn’t at dinner, and we see her sitting in the dark in her room. The next day, she is completely distracted while trying to operate the simulator.

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Kotori (Koyanagi Yu), who was her partner this time, can tell that she’s suddenly not into the work.

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Suzu talks to Rinko about dumping Taiji. I . . . don’t care.

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And why don’t we throw in the other hopeless romance into the mix while we’re at it?

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But wait a minute . . . it looks like Yamada is too tired to fawn over Rinko, and is in fact surprisingly coarse to her. Doesn’t last long, though – as soon as he gets the sense that she’s concerned about him, he goes back to normal.

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Now here’s a relationship that might work out:

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At least Kunikida and Chisato are unified in the fact that they’re worried about Tezuka. Kunikida also senses that there’s been a sudden change in Tezuka’s attitude, and asks Chisato to look into it.

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He also gives Chisato some advice in her own situation, showing that he’s been thinking about her, too. But is he still just thinking like an instructor? Well, it doesn’t sound like it – he asks her to hear his worries, too, and offers to buy her dinner in exchange. Sounds like . . . a date?

Tezuka continues to be completely out-of-it, and Kunikida eventually has to tell her to take a day off, specifically citing her state of mind.

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Well, it’s pretty obvious she has to do what she’s been avoiding – she has to go back home and face the reality of her mother’s illness.

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Her mother continues to put on a brave face even though she knows Tezuka now knows about the cancer.

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There’s other news – her father plans to close their restaurant down, since it was something he and his wife ran together, and he wants to be available to take care of her, anyway.

After clearing her head overnight, Tezuka decides to help out at the restaurant in her mother’s place. This . . . can’t be good, right?

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Her father is concerned that she’s straining herself, and it’s almost certain that she is, spending her nights studying her flight skills in the hope that she can catch up. Of course, real pilots are tremendously strained thanks to crazy schedules, so . . . maybe it’s good practice? At least she isn’t outright giving up on piloting or anything drastic like that.

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Tezuka’s decision to divide her time isn’t helping her results – she’s still falling behind.

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Finally, Chisato manages to see her while she’s practicing, but doesn’t say anything to her. I’m surprised that Chisato doesn’t seem to be talking to Tezuka at all or trying to figure out what’s really going on.

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They do talk at breakfast, at least, but it’s with the other trainees present, and she doesn’t take the right approach at all.

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So, how are the others going to straighten Tezuka out? It’s pretty clear she can’t keep going on like this.

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I’ll leave the rest of the synopsis out to leave what happens for your enjoyment.

Even though the plot was a very standard one and you can pretty much see what’s coming, Horikita Maki-san in particular did a great job of pulling it off, but Saito-san also had a huge supporting role – much more so than Aibu-san this time.

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Of course, I was just thrilled to see them as pilots and training again instead of just running around being dramatic. When I reviewed Beginners, which is a drama very similar to this one, I pointed out that it did virtually nothing with its premise – we rarely got to see those characters in their roles as police trainees, and they could have been training for anything. Here, at least, this drama makes full use of its premise, and because that aspect of it is compelling, it adds tension to the episodic plots.

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This was certainly one of the better episodes of the series. It was less contrived and more heartfelt in the dialogue and construction. Though the story was very predictable, the pacing was okay, and we got some good Kunikida-Chisato moments out of it as well.

Looks like the next one should be a good one, too, based on the preview, so I’ll see you there!