Episode #11 "An Eternal Love" (Eien no koi)
Aired: February 21, 1999
Note: The final episode brings to a close the bittersweet ending of this series. The police are on the lookout for the two runaways, Yoshimori and Shiori. Miki is also hot on their tails as the two try to find the island where Kahori went to as a child. Will they get to see the constellation called the Southern Cross? What will happen between Yoshimori and Miki? What about Shiori and her father Hiromu? And of course, what about Yoshimori and Shiori? The answers lie within.
Synopsis The episode begins with Shiori continuing to hug Yoshimori on the beach. "I guess you can't forget mama," Shiori says, when Yoshimori doesn't do respond to her affection. She lets go of Yoshimori and begins to walk into the ocean. "I guess nobody loves me...maybe I ought to die," Shiori says in a distraught voice. Yoshimori runs to save her. He hugs her, as the waves lap around the both of them. "I love you. I do." Shiori begins to cry when. Continuing to hold her, Yoshimori says "I can't lose any more people I love." We hear the bird chime. Yoshimori then looks at Shiori and tells her "Let's go see the Southern Cross, just as we promised your mama," referring to the constellation they had promised to see in Kagoshima one day. Once again the two of them hug each other. "Let's stay like this a little longer," Shiori says. Briefly, the title credits roll by.
The two head off in the van. They see more roadblocks. Yoshimori decides that they can't travel by car anymore. They end up at another beachside. They ditch the car and begin walking. It's a cloudy day, but rays of sunshine break through the cover. "How long will it take to walk to the island?" Shiori asks. "Two hours," Yoshimori says. A policecar passes by, and the two quickly turn their backs on it. Miki is in her car, trying to find the two runaways. They are on yet another beachside. Yoshimori stops, looks ahead, and asks "Is that it?" They look at an island about half a mile out in the water. Apparently there is nowhere to cross. Yoshimori asks some fishermen when the tide next goes out. They tell him that it won't be until 3 p.m. the next day.
Miki stops near a waterfront and asks some fishermen when the tide goes out. She is hot on the trail of the two runaways. The two fishermen happen to be the same ones Yoshimori had spoken to earlier. Miki asks where they went to.
In the shadow of a mountain, Yoshimori and Shiori stop by a shack as it begins to rain. Meanwhile, Hiromu is back in Kiyosumi, celebrating with his election staff for a job well done on his campaign for mayor. The election is to be held the next day. He receives a call on his cell phone. It is Miki. She tells him to call off the police search, as she will see Yoshimori the next day. Hiromu of course refuses. "So you're going to charge him with kidnapping," Miki confirms. "Of course...you can kidnap someone without using violence," replies Hiromu. Miki asks him rhetorically what is the most important thing to him--becoming mayor, Kahori, Shiori, or gaining revenge against Yoshimori. She continues by saying that she now knows what is most important to Yoshimori. She then hangs up, leaving Hiromu to ask himself "The most important thing to me?"
In a cold, dark room, the two runaways settle in for the night. Yoshimori hands Shiori a fruit he took from an orchard. "Thief!" Shiori jokes. With raindrops in the background, Shiori examines a large wallmap, and traces their long travels of the past. "We went here, then north, to Akita, Iwate, Aomori, the ferry to Hakodate, then we changed to the train and went where?" Yoshimori gets up from his seat, takes Shiori's hand, and places it to where the fateful events took place. Calling him "ekichou san" once again, Shiori asks him when was his first love. He can't remember. "Your first kiss?" she continues. "Why?" he asks. "Never mind. Just tell me," says Shiori. "My last year in high school," he answers. "What was she like?" Shiori asks. "Is it true you never forget your first kiss?" "You'll know when you find him," says Yoshimori. "I'm sure I'll never forget my first kiss," Shiori says. Shiori, of course, is referring to the time she kissed Yoshimori while he was sleeping. Yoshimori turns away, with a slightly uncomfortable look on his face. "Let's turn in," he says.
The next day, a policecar, with sirens blaring, rushes over to the shack where the two runaways stayed the night before. But they are too late--Yoshimori and Shiori are gone. They are on the beach, waiting for the tide to move out. The two throw the ball back and forth--a reminder of the time the two played dodgeball a long time ago. Afterwards, they lie on the beach. "Will we be able to see the Southern Cross?" Shiori asks herself, as Yoshimori smokes a cigarette.
Hiromu arrives back at his house. It is the day of the elections, but he is still worried about Yoshimori and Shiori. His supporters greet him with applause, as he has just come back from casting his ballot. Meanwhile, Miki is sitting on a nearby beach to where Yoshimori and Shiori are at. She too is waiting for the tide to go out. She spots the two of them walking along the beach. Yoshimori and Miki stare at one another for a moment. The two have a private talk together, although at a distance. "You idiot!" are the first words out of Miki's mouth. "I've come all this way! How much will you make me worry?" she asks. She then tells Yoshimori it's not too late, and that he should go to the police and explain what happened. Yoshimori tells her that he made a promise to Shiori a long time ago, to show her the Southern Cross. Miki can't believe him, and she thinks that maybe he did all of this to repay Shiori for taking Kahori away from Hiromu. But Yoshimori disagrees, saying that he wanted to do it, that's all. He apologizes to Miki, but Miki smiles and tells him not to say he's sorry, since it was his own decision. "You're the only one who can decide how you'll live your life, right?" she says. Miki proceeds to tell Yoshimori that she won't be chasing or waiting for him anymore. "I'll decide to live my own life...that's all I can do," she finishes. Yoshimori asks her to do one more favor for him--take Shiori back to Kiyosumi the next day. He says he'll bring Shiori to the nearest train station. Miki agrees. They both look up into the sky, which has a hazy blue tint to it, and hope that they'll be able to see the Southern Cross. Miki walks off, with Shiori giving her a slightly disjointed look. Miki holds back some tears. Shiori continues to look at Miki walk off, until Yoshimori calls for her. He picks up the bags, and they are once again on their way. They both look out into the water, and we see the two of them with their backs facing the camera, and their frontsides facing their destination island. The camera slowly rises, revealing the twisty path of dirt which leads to the island. "Let's go," says Yoshimori. He takes his hand in hers, as they walk along the path. A distant camera shot shows the two small figures walking along the path, surrounded on two sides by water. This camera pans back to show the island and the path connecting it to the mainland. Angelic music plays in the background.
The two cross to the island, and they come upon a lighthouse. Shiori places the bottle filled with her mom's ashes on a ledge. "Mama, we've arrived," she proclaims. Yoshimori points to the south, and Shiori announces that right before dawn, along the horizon, they should be able to see one of the four stars which make up the Southern Cross. Shiori wants to bury her mother's ashes before the sun goes down. "Don't you want to see the Southern Cross?" Yoshimori asks. "Who cares about the Southern Cross...nothing matters as long as I can be with you," Shiori emotes. She takes a few steps towards him, and asks him to go further south. "Where?" Yoshimori replies. But Shiori turns from him and says she doesn't know, just farther south. "To a place where no one knows us...there, the two of us can live together, always...I've just found you again. Now I'm not alone anymore. Why do I have to give you up? It's not fair." Yoshimori reminds her of the story "Aoi Tori," and what one character named Old Man Time said about the lovers destined never to see each other.
It is now nightfall. Miki waits by the beach, as a policecar drives by. The sound of a harmonica begins to play. Back at the Hiromu household, a decision on who won the election is underway. The camera cuts to a dark room-perhaps Shiori's bedroom-and Hiromu is in there by himself, playing the harmonica. He has apprarently lost. Back at the lighthouse, the two runaways are dozing. Yoshimori wakes Shiori up, as it is almost time to see the star. It is a clear night, and as the two look out into the nightsky by a cliff, they both wonder if they'll be able to see the constellation. "Look for the bent square of Corvus, the Crow," Shiori advises. "Then directly below, find a first-order star." Yoshimori first spots it, and Shiori confirms that they are indeed looking at one of the stars of the Southern Cross. The camera pans to where the star is. It truly is right above the horizon. Shiori takes out the bottle, holds it in her hands and says "Mama, we carried through with our promise." She then turns the bottle to face it towards the star. Yoshimori looks solemly on, while a look of relief crosses Shiori's face. The sky begins to brighten, and the star dips below the horizon. "It's gone," Shiori says. "Say goodbye," Yoshimori says, then takes the bottle from Shiori. He sprinkles some into the palm of Shiori, then some into his palm. They both outstretch their arms over the water, and release the ashes. "Sayonara!" Shiori cries out four times.
At a nearby train station, sunlight shines down on Miki, who is waiting on a bench. The two runaways, who are now runaways-no-more, arrive. Yoshimori gives Shiori her bag, saying nothing. He then takes his hands and lifts her face to look directly at him. "Can you go home now?" he asks. "I'm sorry. If you'd never met Mama and me, you would still be the station master," Shiori says. "This is better. This is what I chose," he replies. "It's great that I met you," he finishes. Just then, the train pulls up. Yoshimori signals to Miki to board the train. "Jaa," Yoshimori says to Shiori, then begins to walk away, his eyes filled with tears. Shiori calls to him. "I won't call you 'ekichou san' anymore...I'm going to become strong. I'll work hard by myself and find happiness...you too have to try your best and find happiness...we'll use that as the sign to find each other again!" The two nod at each other. As the train leaves, they both salute each other. The policemen arrive to arrest Yoshimori. On the train, a sobbing Shiori hugs Miki. The train passes through the countryside, while on the road Yoshimori rides away in a policecar.
Hiromu is playing the piano in his house. Shiori comes into the room and apologizes for his loss in the mayoral campaign. He asks her if she's going back to Tokyo. She just shakes her head and says "I don't know." She turns to Hiromu and says "I'm going to try living all by myself...I've become strong." As she leaves, she thanks Hiromu for taking care of her. "I'm sorry I wasn't a good daughter." Hiromu turns to her apologizes for not being a good father. He gives Shiori the harmonica. Shiori smiles, then leaves.
Hiromu visits Yoshimori in jail. "She left, never saying where she was going," Hiromu tells him. After a brief conversation about Shiori's possible whereabouts, Hiromu regretfully says how he missed out on being a father to Shiori. Yoshimori, behind a glass window, bows, and apologizes. Hiromu then asks him why he went back to prison. "I told the police what really happened...that Shiori just left home and you accompanied her," he starts, but Yoshimori cuts him off, saying "I forced Shiori to come with me." He then asks Hiromu to let him do this as he wants to. Hiromu reminds Yoshimori how he hasn't changed ever since he was a little kid. "I just haven't grown at all," Yoshimori says. "What does it mean to find happines?" Hiromu then asks Yoshimori. "I wonder..." Yoshimori says. With their time up, Yoshimori thanks Hiromu for visiting. Hiromu tells him it's okay, since he himself has not many friends. Yoshimori is led back to his cell.
It is now four years later. It is wintertime. Yoshimori is riding a train and looking at a postcard which was obviously sent to him from Shiori. On it is a picture of the Southern Cross. The train conductor announces the next station to be Kiiyosumi. Yoshimori steps off the train. A light snow is falling. Dressed all in black, he walks down the platform. He looks for a moment at the birdcage, then looks at two new train station workers. He wanders the streets of the city, and as he walks by, he hears the familiar sound of Miki. She is pregnant, and her husband arrives. Yoshimori looks for a moment, smiles, then walks away. He walks by a political billboard and sees a flyer for Hiromu. On it, he is holding a bluebird in his hand, with the slogan "Utsukushii machi de, aoi tori wo mitsuketa yo." Yoshimori visits his father's gravesite. His mother happens to arrive there, dressed in a kimono. Yoshimori shows her the postcard he received, hoping that maybe Shiori spent some time with his mother. But Yoshimori's mother hasn't heard from her. She asks him what he'll be doing from now. Yoshimori reveals that someone has promised him work. He promises to visit her at the ranch.
Back at the train station, Yoshimori waits for the train. He looks across at the other side and sees a young school girl run up to the birdcage and look at the birds, much like Shiori would do when she was younger. A train approaches. Out of the front train steps a girl dressed all in white. A few train cars down, Yoshimori is about to enter. But suddenly he turns and steps off after hearing the sounds of a harmonica. It is Shiori, and apparently she knew he was there, as she is facing him and playing her harmonica. The train leaves. Shiori is revealed to have a somewhat wild hairdo, and some bright red lipstick. The two look at each other. "Can you see it?" Shiori cries out. "My sign! Can you see it?...I can see yours!" The two walk, and then run to each other and embrace. "Okaeri...okaeri nasai," Shiori whispers. "Tadaima," Yoshimori answers. They hug each other. A bird from the birdcage takes flight. An aerial view of the train station leads to the ending credits. The final shot is of an empty birdcage.