Episode #7 "The End of the Line"

Aired: January 24, 1999

Note: This episode is easily the most emotionally powerful yet. It's also very shocking, although I hesitate to say that it is the most shocking in the whole series. I think the remainder of this series contains a suprise or two up its sleeves. The one lengthy, tumultuous scene towards the end is especially riveting. In short, this episode is about the three runaways' attempts at new lives in Hokkaido, which proves to be all-too short-lived, as Hiromu finally catches up with them. This episode proves to be, as the title suggests, the end of the three runaways adventures together.

Synopsis The episode begins happily enough with the three runaways coming ashore in Hokkaido. They have seemingly escaped from Hiromu. It's a sunny day and the skies are blue. Kahori had come to Hokkaido once when she was a child. She and Yoshimori are examining a map, and Kahori wonders which lakeside resort she went to long ago. "If we went there, nobody would find us," she says. Shiori, who had been staring out in the water, turns around and apologizes for calling Hiromu. Yoshimori tells her not to apologize, because he and her mother didn't realize how lonely Shiori was not being in school. He tells her that what's important is that the three of them are together. Kahori says "Let's all go to the place I visited when I was young." A smile forms on Shiori's face.

Hiromu is at the noodle shop where Kahori briefly worked. His cronies question Kahori's boss as to her whereabouts. Hiromu then asks her if Kahori ever talked about having friends nearby or about going to a place where she could relax. The lady mentions that Kahori mentioned taking the ferry over to Hokkaido. "People running seem to always want to run north," Hiromu remarks. The three of them head off.

Once again, the three runaways are on a train. A concerned Yoshimori places a blanket over Kahori and Shiori, who are both sleeping. The credits roll.

It is a late moonlit night, and a bus rambles down the road. The three runaways are get off the bus. They arrive at a lakeside hotel, but it is closed. They enter it anyways. Shiori is scared, since the place is empty, it's cold, stormy, and there are no lights. Yoshimori brings her a blanket, and Kahori tells of the time she came here with her parents. They did things like riding on boats and fishing. "They were always fighting, except on trips," she says of her parents. Shiori tells her mom that she wants to do the same thing, since the three of them were on a family trip of sorts. She falls asleep in Kahori's lap, while Yoshimori takes watch for the night.

The next day reveals the beauty of the lake which was unseen the night before. A curved green mountain rises in the distance. The three are asleep, and an older man walks in, asking who they are. The local taxi driver had told him that he dropped three people off there the night before. Thus the old man came to investigate. Yoshimori apologizes and offers to pay, but the man refuses. The man is the innkeeper, and had closed up the hotel after the summer tourist season.

As the three walk out and begin to leave, Shiori sees the lakeside and boats and runs to them. Kahori relates the story of coming here when she was little. She remembers taking a boat ride, and being lifted into a boat by a man. The old man thinks that perhaps it was him. Shiori yells out that she wants to take a boat out on the lake. Kahori tells her "no." The old man remembers that he had forgotten to put the boats away for the winter. "Even after the lodge is closed, there's lots to do," he says. Yoshimori takes the chance to offer their services to him. He tells the old man that because he was raised in the mountains near Nagano, he is good at shoveling snow. Yoshimori adds that it would be good to air out the rooms in the winter. Shiori joins Yoshimori and Kahori, and the three look at the old man. He is a little suspicious, thinking they are running away from something. Yoshimori denies it, saying that times are hard and he is just looking for work. Even Shiori pipes in by saying she's good at cleaning. The man accepts.

The old man and Yoshimori are sitting on some tree stumps, discussing the details of taking care of the house. The old man looks out at the pier, where Kahori and Shiori are. "Isn't the little girl in school?" he asks. "We're trying to arrange something, " Yoshimori answers. The old man tells Yoshimori that he'd try to arrange a school for Shiori. Later, the three runaways take a boat ride on the lake. Kahori and Shiori smile broadly, while Yoshimori rows. A tall mountain rises just beyond the lake.

The three go to see the school principal the next morning. She answers a few of his questions. He warns them that the school will close down come springtime, but that they'd take her until then. They are all happy. Later, in math class, Shiori answers a question, while Yoshimori and Kahori smile by the window outside the room. Still later, the old man takes pictures of them outside the school.

At the hotel, the old man shows Yoshimori how to chop wood. Kahori is cleaning the inside of the hotel. Shiori is at school playing dodgeball. Later, the four of them have a picnic, and the old man teaches Shiori a game. Finally, the old man leaves, telling Yoshimori that they'll be on their own from there on. That night, the three of them have dinner, with a nice big fireplace in the background. Shiori tells Yoshimori Kahori's big secret: she hates winter. It turns out that she spent time in Kagoshima when she was younger. It was warm all-year long. Shiori says that since Kagoshima is the southernmost part of Japan, then the constellation Southern Cross is visible. "Then in the spring, shall we all go to Kagoshima?" Yoshimori asks. In tandem, Kahori and Shiori say "Honto?" To which Yoshimori replies "Honto." He and Shiori make a pinky promise.

Kahori tucks Shiori into bed, then joins Yoshimori out on the small dock by the lake. The two of them cuddle close together. "Thank you...thank you for giving Shiori and me this happiness," Kahori tells Yoshimori. "What's this about?" Yoshimori asks. "Because you left behind a lot of things," Kahori answers. "What you two have given me is worth more than I left," Yoshimori says. "I'm prepared," Yoshimori continues, "I think he'll find us here someday...You don't have to worry. I'll protect you." They kiss.

It is daytime, and Hiromu and his cronies are at the lakeside. So far they've had no luck finding the three runaways. While biting into a piece of corn, Hiromu hears the distant sound of a harmonica. Luck has found them, in the form of Shiori. She is walking along the lakeside with her friends, playing "Oh Give Me a Home" on her harmonica. Hiromu follows her home.

Yoshimori is outside chopping wood. Shiori arrives home and calls out "Otousan!...Tadaima" to Yoshimori. "Okaeri," Yoshimori replies. Kahori is in the hotel, cleaning, Shiori runs to the lakeside to gather some flowers. Hiromu arrives and goes by himself up to the hotel. When he walks in, Kahori has her back turned towards him. She thinks it Shiori, returning with some flowers. When she looks up and sees a reflection of Hiromu off of cabinet glass, she freezes for a moment. Then she turns and takes a step backwards. Hiromu says a few things to her, but she doesn't say anything. "How did you find us?" she then asks. Hiromu doesn't answer. Instead, he holds out his hand and says "Let's go home, Kahori." He takes a step forward, but Kahori takes a step back and shakes her head no. He then hears that Yoshimori has finished chopping wood, and once again tells Kahori to come back with him. "If not, I might kill him," he says. She refuses, even after he offers to forgive Yoshimori. Then he remembers that there's also the matter of Shiori. He sits down on the stairs. Kahori walks up to him and says "I'm very grateful you picked me up in Tokyo, but I won't go back to you. While I lived with you, my soul was dead. Now I'm alive again...I'm not your toy." Tears form in her eyes. Hiromu becomes angered. "Toy??? You're the one who made me your toy. You just threw away a toy you were tired of and got yourself a new toy. That guy is just your toy." Just then, Yoshimori walks in, carrying his axe. Perhaps he heard Hiromu? Hiromu approaches Yoshimori, saying a few words, but Yoshimori doesn't say anything. He takes a few steps towards Hiromu, stops, and says "I felt I should have talked to you sooner about this. I'm sorry for the trouble we caused you, but we've started a new life. Shiori is in school and has made friends. I know it's selfish, but please forgive us." He then gets on his hands and knees, bows, and says "Onegaishimasu." Hiromu turns from Yoshimori and looks at Kahori, who now begins to look distraught. Then he turns back to Yoshimori and says "I finally find my missing wife and you want me to leave without her?" He steps on Yoshimori's neck and pushes him to the ground, telling him to say so then. "Kaeru, kaeru," he repeats. Then he kicks Yoshimori in the head, sending the prostrated man flying. Kahori, her eyes now full of tears, implores Hiromu to stop. Hiromu kicks Yoshimori again and again. Kahori tries to intervene, but Hiromu slaps her and she falls to the ground. Yoshimori quickly recovers and stands over her, looking up at Hiromu. "Well, have you finished groveling?" he asks Yoshimori. "Kahori won't go back to you. Even if you drag her back, her heart won't go," a breathless Yoshimori says. An increasingly angry Hiromu responds "You think I don't know that? But I'll never let you have her. Not you! Never! Rather than give her to you, I'd kill her first!" "I won't let you! I'll never let you do that," Yoshimori says. "Then kill me. I'll die for the woman I love," Hiromu dares. He picks up the axe and points it at Yoshimori. He then proceeds to push Yoshimori with the axe. By now, Kahori has recovered and is holding onto Yoshimori. Hiromu threatens to strike Yoshimori with the axe, then drops it instead and attacks him. Once again, Kahori tries to intervene, but Hiromu throws her to the ground. Yoshimori grabs Hiromu and pushes him to the ground, then rushes over to Kahori. But Hiromu quickly gets up and attacks Yoshimori again. He punches him a few times. The two wrestle on the ground. Hiromu picks up a poker from the fireplace and swings viciously at Yoshimori but misses. Yoshimori retaliates, steals away the poker and knocks Hiromu to the ground. He is about to deliver a great blow when Kahori screams "YAMETE!" Yoshimori drops the poker, backs up, then sits on the ground near Hiromu, exhausted from the fight. A dazed Hiromu looks up to see that Kahori is gone. Both of them get up and stumble to find Kahori. Hiromu grabs Yoshimori from behind, but Yoshimori throws him to the ground. Hiromu slowly gets up, and he crawls towards the axe. Yoshimori runs out into the woods, looking for Kahori. A thoroughly disheveled, bloody, and crazed Hiromu bursts through the front door of the hotel, grasping the axe (giving a good impression of Jack Nicholson in 'The Shining'). His two cronies come up to him, but he just swings the axe at them. He too goes off into the woods, looking for Kahori. Kahori, it turns out, has slowly made her way to a cliff by the ocean. Whatever lake they where at must have been close to the ocean. While stumbling through the woods, Yoshimori hears the screams of Hiromu, who is not far behind. Yoshimori finds himself out the woods and into the open. He spots Kahori in the distance, a silhouette against a backdrop of the sea. He reaches her and calls out "Kahori!" just as she takes a step closer to the edge. She slowly turns towards him, the wind whipping her hair about, and tears streaming from her eyes. The two stand about 15 feet apart. For some reason she continues to step backwards towards the edge. Yoshimori slowly walks to her, getting to within 5 feet, and reaches out his hand. He edges closer to her, and she begins to sob. He finally grabs her, and the two hug, standing on an outcropping of rock, and in the background a green sea and white clouds. "It's all right. I'll protect you. It's Okay," he says in her ears. Kahori reaches her hands from her waist and clasps them around Yoshimori. Hiromu shows up, surveying what is occuring. Kahori opens her eyes and sees Hiromu standing about 20 yards away. He begins to walk closer, slowly lifting the axe and wielding it with two hands. Kahori removes her hands from Yoshimori. Yoshimori is a bit puzzled, as he doesn't realize that Hiromu is behind him. Kahori faces Yoshimori and says firmly "Arigatou." Then, in slow motion, and with a pained look in her face, Kahori turns freefalls off the edge of the cliff. A motionless Yoshimori looks onward. A surprised Hiromu rushes up. The motion returns to normal as Shiori, who had been by the lakeside, turns and senses that something has happened. She drops her flowers. Hiromu cries out "KAHORI!!!" He lays himself down at the edge of the cliff, calling out her name in vain, while Yoshimori still stands there, motionless, in shock.

The scene changes to the Kiyosumi train station office. Tadashi answers the phone. "How did that happen? Is Yoshimori safe?" he asks. Miki arrives in time to hear that Yoshimori is now at the Donan police station in Hokkaido. Tadashi hangs up the phone, saying "I'll be right there." Miki demands to know what happened. "Kahori's dead," Tadashi simply says.

Hiromu is at what appears to be the hospital, and is being questioned by the inspector. He tells him that Yoshimori killed his wife. Next, Yoshimori is shown being questioned. His hands cover his face. The detective yells at Yoshimori, telling him to admit that the whole event was a botched attempt at a dual suicide. As some church bells ring in the background, Yoshimori uncovers his face and quietly admits that he killed Kahori. He then covers his face again.

Shiori is back at the house in Kiyosumi. She is looking at some of her star maps. Downstairs, Hiromu and his father are discussing what to do with Kahori's remains. Hiromu wishes to place them within their crypt, but Junichiro doesn't want to taint their burial grounds with her remains. Junichiro leaves Hiromu, who sits in a chair, crying. Back in her room, Shiori looks at the pictures of the three of them when they were in Hokkaido. Some tears fall down from her eyes.

Miki visits Yoshimori in jail. From behind the protective glass, Miki tries to cheer him up. Seeing that doesn't work, she tries to find out why Yoshimori chose not to have a lawyer for his upcoming trial. He doesn't answer. She asks Yoshimori to tell her what really happened. She has a feeling that Kahori killed herself, and is wondering why Yoshimori would take the blame for something he didn't do. She trembles as she relates this to him. But Yoshimori doesn't answer. Instead he tearfully says "I have regrets...that I fell in love with Kahori. If I hadn't fallen in love with her, she'd be alive. If I hadn't taken her away, her life would be the same." He then asks her what happened to Shiori. Miki tells him that she went back to the Watanuki household. At Kahori's funeral, Shiori held Kahori's remains in her lap, and she didn't cry. This brings tears of joyful sadness to Yoshimori's eyes. Later, Miki relates to Tadashi what happened. Yoshimori's father says it's just like him to be like that, since he feels he ruined Kahori's life.

It's a windy day in Kiyosumi. Shiori stands by the birdcage at the train station. She opens the cage, then stares out into the sky as snow begins to fall. A deep voice in doing a voice-over, announcing Yoshimori's sentence of eight years in prison. Somewhere, Yoshimori is being dropped off at the jail, ready to begin his sentence. Snow begins to fall more heavily, as Yoshimori, in handcuffs, is lead to the cell blocks. He turns back at the gates to the prison as they close.