A young boy clutches a picture of his dead mother as she is borne away in the funeral procession. As he cries his heart out, a man appears in front of him and says in a cheerful, kind voice, "Hey, be a man! You can come stay with me. Here, take this and play it whenever you feel sad." He hands him a guitar with the words Love and Peace engraved in the bottom corner.
Eight years later.
That young boy has grown up into a mega star in the Japanese entertainment scene. Still playing that treasured guitar, he now performs his signature tune, Hitoribochi no Haburashi, in front of hundreds of screaming fans as Sakuraba Yuichiro.
At a press conference at Tower records, the ultra cool Sakuraba is questioned by the reporter on his inspiration for his hit song, and his feelings on being voted the 'Guy whom women most want to embrace' in a magazine poll. He answers, "I'm really happy," with an enigmatic smile.
His expression suddenly goes blank when the reporter fires the question, "Are you seeing anyone right now?" and his eyes dart to the side, where his manager, Mr Hakozaki (*Hako for short) is standing watchfully. Hako immediately steps up and grabs the mike from the reporter, much to her dismay and reassures the fans firmly:
"Yuichiro was born to be alone and ever since the loss of his parents at a young age, that is how he has always wanted to live his life. Loneliness is the only lover in his life and he will never betray his fans."
Scene cuts to Office Guts, Yuichiro's management company
Sakuraba Yuichiro's cool demeanour is just a mask for the real Yuichiro, a nerdy, slightly goofy individual with a deep passion for life. With his hair in disarray, propped up by a big sweatband, and baggy sweatpants and sweater, Yuichiro is unrecognisable from his onscreen persona.
As he struggles
to pull his pants on, Hako despairs at him, "Before you journey to find
yourself (as the song says), you better take care of the way you look first!
Yuichiro just grins at him and says in a Kansai dialect, "Oh, who cares! Sweats are comfy!" Hako admonishes him to speak proper Japanese to which Yuichiro protests, "But Tak-chan speaks Kansai ben all the time!"
Takuro, or Tak-chan, the owner of Office Guts, just shakes his head and tells Yuichiro that he is way too different from his stage personality. He then breaks some good news to the other two. Yuichiro has gotten an offer to act in his first big movie. Hako gets all excited as he assumes that it will be a big romance story, but it is actually a gangster picture. Hako accuses Tak-chan of picking a film that he himself wanted to act in, and said that Yuichiro's movie should be a romance epic like 'Titanic'.
Takuro also breaks the news that Office Guts will have to invest 2 billion into the movie, which is more than their capital. So if the movie were to fail, they would be in deep trouble, but Takuro shrugs the risk off decisively.
"My dream is to fight! GUTS!"
While they argue, Yuichiro is paying no attention to them at all, and is rushing off somewhere. Takuro reminds him that this is a very important period in his career and he can't afford to create any scandals. Yuichiro nods obediently, before getting on his bike and zooms off.
"I'm going to fulfil a dream today. A dream I've had since I was a kid."
He pulls up to a walkway and his eyes light up at a girl walking towards him. He cautiously looks around before taking off his helmet, and putting on his glasses he declares:
" This is the day I create the world's warmest family! This is it! I am going to propose. I just can't resist that face, that smile SAKURA!"
Flashback 6 months earlier
Yuichiro is lying in his hospital bed after having an operation for piles (*I think ). Even the truth of his operation is not declared in the news reports, which say he is only have a minor operation.
Suddenly his door opens and a girl walks in. It's Sakura. Yuichiro, fearing discovery from his fans, tried to hide under the covers in dismay. Sakura thinks she has come to visit her father. She teases her 'dad' and asks him how he's doing, and if he's awake. Yuichiro starts to panic. When Sakura gets no response from her 'dad', she smacks him on the rump playfully, eliciting a shout of pain from Yuichiro.
Sakura is stunned speechless. Yuichiro finally tells her she has the wrong room. Sakura's father is in 201 but she went to 301, which happened to be Yuichiro's room. An embarrassed Sakura hurriedly apologises. As she is leaving the room, Yuichiro cautions her not to tell anyone he is in this hospital, which is famous for its treatment for piles. Sakura asks him why she would tell anyone she went into the wrong room, and Yuichiro realises that Sakura has no idea who he is.
After that chance meeting, Sakura and Yuichiro start dating. However, Yuichiro is always on his guard, using ridiculous means of disguise to hide his real identity. The only safe place they can meet and relax is his apartment.
Back to Present
Yuichiro and Sakura are in Yuichiro's apartment, playing a game of Japanese chess.
Yuichiro: I'm sorry we have to keep meeting in my apartment these past six months we've been together.
Sakura: Don't worry about it. I got to learn chess and now I can beat my dad five times in a row! Although he was surprised I even knew how to play chess
Yuichiro: I'm sorry you have to hide our relationship from your family as well
Sakura: It doesn't bother me at all. After all, you're famous. I'm perfectly
Yuichiro: This has got to end!
Sakura: What? You don't want to play anymore?
Yuichiro: No! All this sneaking around and secrecy. A man's got to come to a decision! So please let's
Sakura: You're horrible! I didn't fall in love with you because you're a star!
Yuichiro: What? I know that.
Sakura: If you want to break up, just say so!
Yuichiro: Break up? No! That's not
Sakura: Let me go! That's what you're getting at isn't it?
Yuichiro: You've got it all wrong!
Sakura: You said you wanted to end it!
Yuichiro: I meant all the sneaking around!
Yuichiro sits Sakura down on the couch and gets on his knees before her.
Yuichiro: Please marry me!
He takes out a ring and places it on the chessboard, and says checkmate.
Yuichiro: We won't have to hide anymore once we are married. Please, won't you create the world's warmest family together with me?
Sakura simply looks at him, tears gathering in her eyes. Yuichiro looks crestfallen and asks her 'No?' in a small voice. Suddenly Sakura smiles.
Sakura: You won't be able to regret your words now! You'll have to come meet my dad.
Yuichiro jumps for joy and shouts his happiness to the world. Suddenly, Sakura stops short and looks at Yuichiro.
Sakura: Oh! But if I marry you, I will become Sakuraba Sakura!
Yuichiro: Don't worry! Then it'll be just like Yamamoto Yama! (*Chip's note: am assuming this is some famous Japanese personality)
Sakura: That's mean! Well, at least it will be easy to remember.
Yuichiro: It's going to be great, right Sakura?
He bends to kiss her as the sun sets behind them, infusing the room with a warm orange glow.
A couple of days later, at Sakura's house
The Arai house is in an uproar as Sakura rushes around, trying to hurry her family members to get all spruced up because today is the day Yuichiro is coming for a visit.
Sakura's father, Mr Arai (*Otousan from now on), grumbles about Sakura's sudden revelation that she is attached, and the short notice she gave of Yuichiro's visit. Sakura's older sister, Kaede is in her exercise clothes, swinging a dangerous body blade (*those strange elastic looking things you shake with both hands?) that almost beheads Sakura's second sister, Azusa.
Azusa, an avid gardener is holding a watering can, and as she ducks Kaede's 'attack', she spills water all over her father. When asked what she is doing, Azusa explains that she is growing a hybrid of tomatoes and eggplant, as she thinks purple tomatoes are pretty. Azusa's young son, Tsutomu is sitting in front of the TV playing Nintendo.
Otousan keeps asking Sakura what sort of person Yuichiro was, that he would just pop by announced at the last minute. He asks Sakura what Yuichiro does for a living, but Sakura purposely avoids telling him the truth. She is saved from answering by Kaede's son, Ryo, who is off to kendo practice. Sakura begs him to stay because she wants her whole family to meet Yuichiro. While she is arguing with Ryo, she hears her third sister, Satsuki enter the house.
Satsuki announces that she just saw Sakuraba Yuichiro wandering around outside their home, and thinks he's lost. Kaede, a big Yuichiro fan, comes running, still swinging her body blade which almost takes out Satsuki's eye. Azusa joins them, still holding her watering can. While they debate on why Yuichiro is in their neighbourhood, the doorbell rings.
As Yuichiro enters the house, he is assaulted by a falling body blade before being double whammied by a falling watering can. He falls to his knees, clutching his aching head. The three sisters just stand there shocked, repeating 'Sakuraba Yuichiro! Really?" Sakura hears the commotion and runs over. When she sees poor Yuichiro on the floor, she falls to her knees and goes "Yuu-chan! Are you ok?" Her sisters immediately turn incredulous eyes on her. "Yuu-chan!?"
Cut to living room.
The whole family is present, and Yuichiro and Sakura are kneeling side by side in front of her father. There is a heavy silence and you can feel the tension in the air.
Yuichiro finally smiles widely and says, "I'm Sakuraba Yuichiro. It's a pleasure to meet you." Sakura explains that she met Yuichiro when she went to visit Otousan in hospital. Kaede gives a gasp and says "Oh right. Sakuraba was in hospital but that hospital is famous for it's piles treatments!" Suddenly she stands up and rushes to the phone. Just as her hand reaches for the receiver, Sakura tells her sternly," You can't tell a soul what you've just heard." Kaede turns to her and with a pout, calls Sakura stingy.
Sakura introduces Yuichiro to her family.
Her father, Arai Masumi (64) is a retired primary school principal who now teaches Japanese calligraphy in his home.
Takeyama Kaede (40), Sakura's oldest sister, has been separated from her husband in Atsumi for the past three years. A big Sakuraba fan, she tries to get Yuichiro to sign a hundred copies of his signature for her to sell.
Arai Azusa (33), Sakura's second sister, is a food research assistant who spends her time in the lab researching cells. She has a deep phobia of men, and she is unable to looks them in the eye without her voice raising an octave and cracking.
Arai Satsuki (29), is Sakura's third sister. A producer with radio station, LFR, Satsuki is independent and sees Yuichiro as a possible business asset. She starts to give him her card, but when Sakura tells her not to talk business, she takes the card back.
Sakura then introduces her youngest nephew, Arai Tsutomu (7). Azusa's baby born from in-vitro fertilization, Tsutomu doesn't have a father.
Lastly, Yuichiro is introduced to Takeyama Ryo (17), Kaede's son. Smart and athletic, Ryo is a top-notch kendo champion.
Yuichiro innocently asks Sakura where her elder brother is. Suddenly the room is thrown into an uncomfortable silence. Sakura gives a little laugh and tells Yuichiro that she'd told him before that their eldest brother doesn't live with them.
Otousan finally comes out and asks Yuichiro just what it is he wants to do. Flustered, Yuichiro blurts out, "I want to take your daughter." Sakura chokes and frantically says "Yuu-chan!". Yuichiro tries again and finally manages to convey his intention to marry Sakura. Otousan doesn't recognise Yuichiro and asks him what he does for a living, much to the incredulous glances from his family members. Otousan mistakes Yuichiro for a piles surgeon, much to everyone's amusement. When they bring out the magazine with Yuichiro's sexy pose on the cover, wrapped in fur, Otousan mistakes him for a gigolo. Yuichiro chokes on his tea, before spluttering, "I'm a singer-songwriter."
In typical Arai family style, a quarrel breaks out among the Arai siblings. Satsuki should get married. Azusa needs a man to get over her allergy to men. Kaede should return to her husband in Atsumi Yuichiro looks on with a happy smile on his face, as he is experiencing a family squabble for the first time. He finally raises his hand in excitement to get everyone's attention and asks if it was always this lively. Otousan thinks he's being sarcastic.
Otousan has reservations about Yuichiro and thinks that he has a frivolous job with low income. He asks Yuichiro how much he makes a month, despite admonishments from the others, and how Yuichiro intends to provide for Sakura. When Yuichiro mentions his hefty salary of 350,0000 yen per year, they all look stunned. Mistaking their silence, Yuichiro asks if it was too little. Kaede laughs and remarks that what Yuichiro makes in a year is equivalent to what Otousan made in ten years of being a principal.
Back at Office Guts
Yuichiro breaks the news about his wish to marry Sakura to Takuro and Hako. Takuro thinks about the money he has invested in the movie and is concerned that even the barest hint of a scandal will be detrimental to Yuichiro's career.
Takuro: Why didn't you tell us first? Marriage isn't something you rush into, you know. You need to give it a lot of thought, and you have to be willing to spend the rest of your life with each other before you take such a big step. And once you really make that decision you can't waver any longer.
When Yuichiro tries to protest that he is serious about marrying Sakura, Takuro continues with:" I know you. And I know you don't make rash decisions, especially not about something this important. Well, there's nothing I can do. Go ahead and get married with my blessings."
Both Yuichiro and Hako are speechless at hearing Takuro agree to the marriage.
Takuro: Her name's Sakura right? And no matter what I say, your mind's made up isn't it?
Yuichiro is on cloud nine and is about to thank Takuro, but when Takuro tells him the condition for getting married is that he keep it a secret from the whole world, Yuichiro's face falls in disbelief.
In the meantime, the rest of the family is getting over the shock of meeting Japan's No. 1 star.
As they walk home from a shopping trip together, Tsutomu tells Sakura that Yuichiro is a popular idol among his friends as well. He promises not to tell a soul that Yuichiro may become his uncle in law.
Otousan asks Shimamoto, one of his pupils who appears to have a sort of crush on him, if she knows who Sakuraba Yuichiro is and whether he is famous.
Ryo has a crush on his homeroom teacher, Toyama. His friend, (whose name I can't remember) asks him if he can get tickets to Sakuraba's concert since his aunty is a radio station producer. Ryo asks her what she sees in Yuichiro and when she says it's because he is cool, Ryo, who knows the truth about Yuichiro's true character, calls him 'dasai', something like uncool and messy. ^_^
Kaede has a colleague who loves Yuichiro. It is killing Kaede not to brag about Sakuraba Yuichiro being in her home the day before, and has to content herself with telling her colleague that the polyps operation Yuichiro went for was a lie.
Azusa is also doing her own 'research'. Her boss turns on her CD player and 'Hitoribochi no Haburashi' blares from the speakers. Azusa turns off the radio in alarm, and hurriedly explains that she is screening the CD for her son, who likes it.
Satsuki is discussing the next radio program with her colleagues. The discussion turns to characteristics of men and women having an affair. It usually begins with a woman buying a flat, at which Satsuki looks a trifle uncomfortable. Her eyes widen even more when they continue with the fact that these women are usually about 35 and are independent. You are given the indication that there is something fishy going on in Satsuki's life.
She gets the idea about having a man marrying into the family to continue the family name.
At a photo shoot
Yuichiro is posing for a magazine shoot. The cameraman taking his picture looks rather suspicious and seems to be on the look out for something. When Yuichiro sits down for an interview, the journalist remarks that there would be a major scandal if it were found out that Yuichiro was attached.
The family is having dinner and the topic of discussion is of course, the utter difference between Yuichiro's screen persona and true self.
Satsuki suddenly blurts out that they should invite him to dinner one day. She has something up her sleeve. Reluctant at first, Otousan finally gives in.
Sakura tells Yuichiro the good news and asks him what he wants to eat. Yuichiro is excited and tells Sakura he wants to eat a particular thing that Sakura knows about. He looks so cool and collected. Until he jumps on a chair in glee, wearing only his underpants.^_^
evening, at the Arai house
It is 7.15 pm and Yuichiro is late. The table is all set, and a scrumptious meal of sukiyaki is laid out on the table. Tsutomu tells Sakura he's hungry and she goes to get him an apple. As she is washing the apple, we get the first glimpse of the burn scar on her arm. Satsuki comes into the kitchen and asks Sakura is she had told Yuichiro about the burn. Sakura tells her that Yuichiro knows about the burn and the reason behind it and that Yuichiro wants to meet their eldest brother too.
at a Japanese restaurant
Yuichiro is stuck entertaining the big boss of his movie. His food lies untouched in front of him. He constantly looks at his watch. As he excuses himself on the pretext of going to the washroom, Hako is curious as to why Yuichiro didn't want to eat. Yuichiro tries calling Sakura to let her know he'll be late, but the line is engaged because Kaede is on the phone to her friend.
The dinner finally ends and Yuichiro speeds with Hako to the Arai house.
Everyone has eaten their fill and is sitting around, about to go to bed. Suddenly, the doorbell rings. Yuichiro bursts into the living room and apologises profusely for being late. He even dogeza (gets on his knees) in front of Otousan.
Sakura: You must be hungry. Come and have something to eat. Your manager can join us too.
Yuichiro just looks guiltily at Sakura. The rest look on with disapproving faces.
Otousan: Please leave. Even if it was because of work, there is no need to feed people who can't be punctual.
He turns to go back to his room. Yuichiro desperately says, "Never mind about dinner then. Just please, listen to me for a minute."
It turns out that that was the worst thing he could have said. Otousan stops and turns back to Yuichiro, saying: What do you mean, forget about dinner? You came here with the intention to eat dinner didn't you? Sakura's been waiting for you. She didn't eat a single scrap of food. How can you expect me to welcome you with open arms when I see my daughter suffering like that? How can you expect me to give my daughter to you?
Yuichiro turns and suddenly realises what dinner for that night was. His face takes on a pained look of regret.
Otousan: Sakura insisted we have sukiyaki tonight, just for you. So I specially prepared it, but you didn't even have the decency to ring up to say you'd be late. Is that the way someone serious about marriage should behave?
Yuichiro slowly gets to his feet and looks at the leftovers spread across the dinner table. He repeats :Sukiyaki
Otousan: Stop fooling around and playing with our feelings.
Hako: Otousan, Yuichiro hasn't eaten anything since this morning. I thought it was strange that he wouldn't touch his food just now at the restaurant. (To Yuichiro) Am I right? For the sake of this dinner, you didn't eat the whole day, right?
Yuichiro just stares silently at the dinner table.
Otousan: So what?
Hako: Please try to understand our situation as well.
Yuichiro suddenly reaches out and grabs a handful of meat from the sukiyaki pot and stuffs it into his mouth, much to Sakura's amazement.
Otousan: What do you think you are doing?
Yuichiro: Since you made it especially for me, I have to eat it.
Otousan: Oh please, don't try and pretend. You're putting us in a difficult position.
Sakura: He's not putting on a show! Yuu-chan's never ever eaten sukiyaki with his family before!
Everyone is a little stunned and Kaede asks, "What family doesn't eat sukiyaki?"
Sakura: Yuu-chan's always been alone.
Satsuki: So it's true about him having no parents?
Hako: Of course!
Yuichiro: My dad ran off with some woman when I was a kid. My mum ran a café and she brought me up single-handedly. She worked so hard that she didn't take good care of herself. She finally fell ill as a result of overwork and died. I've always wanted to share a meal like this with my mum, so I didn't mind the hardships I had to face.
As he speaks, his eyes fill with tears, and he starts to lose control of his emotions, giving a heart-wrenching sob.
Sakura: A while back, I asked him what his mum's cooking was like. And do you know what he said? Pizza, pilaff things you'd find in a café menu! He thought that was what every family ate. He'd eat alone while watching his mum work so hard for him because he didn't want to bother her. I always thought everyone had dinner with their family and that it wasn't anything strange but we are actually really fortunate. I realised that after getting to know Yuichiro.
Yuichiro starts to cry in earnest, saying: "I've never had anyone I could call family. I've never fought with my family, never worried about anyone I've always dreamed of this feeling. Sakura always tells me about the fun times she has with her family and I loved hearing every bit of it. I thought maybe with her I could fulfil my dream."
Ryo: A dream?
Sakura: U-huh. To create the world's warmest and closest family together.
Yuichiro walks to the table, takes off his jacket, all the while talking animatedly: "We'd have a house like this with a table in the centre. Right here! And Sakura would sit here, and the kids 1, 2, 3 more! They'd sit here and I'd sit here and we'd have lively family dinners of sukiyaki "
Hako stops him from going on.
Yuichiro: And in the end, after you went through all that trouble to make sukiyaki for me, I didn't get a chance to come and eat it.
He starts to sob. "I'm such an idiot! An idiot!"
Everyone just sits there a little stunned. Suddenly, Tsutomu gets up and picks up an egg from the table. With the sweet innocence of a child, he gives the egg to Yuichiro, saying: "You have to dip the meat in this so it'll taste better!"
Yuichiro is so touched that he cries even harder. Taking the egg from Tsutomu, he repeats: "Thank you! I'm being rather rude aren't I?"
Sakura: Thank you, Tsutomu. (grabbing Yuichiro by the arm) Come on, sit down. You too Hako-san! My dad makes the best sukiyaki in town. You'll love it.
As they start to sit down, Kaede announces suddenly that she's thirsty and goes into the kitchen. She brings out a bottle of beer and two glasses, and everyone is surprised when she holds the glass out to Yuichiro and pours him a beer.
Satsuki joins them at the table as well, saying, "You can't eat sukiyaki alone." She takes the bottle of beer and pours Hako a drink.
Yuichiro is so moved by everyone's actions he can only sit at the table, one hand clutching the egg, the other holding the beer and cry.
Sakura starts preparing the sukiyaki soup for Yuichiro. She is not quite sure how it's done and getting tentative answers from her sisters, she proceeds to add some sugar. Otousan is still sitting on the couch but he looks on anxiously and can't help but give an exclamation when Sakura adds too much sugar. Sakura hears him and says, "Uh I think I added too much sugar. Better add some sauce I guess?" She looks around at the others gathered at the table for an opinion.
As she starts to add the sauce, Otousan can't take it anymore. He rushes over and grabs the sauce bottle out of Sakura's hand and deftly pours two quick rounds of sauce in. He's been won over too.
Yuichiro starts to smile at the happy family scene and breaks down and cries again.
Later, after dinner
Yuichiro thanks Otousan for the dinner.
Otousan: Sakuraba san.
Otousan: About Sakura
Yuichiro (hanging on in anticipation): Yes?
Otousan starts to stammer a little and hem and haw.
Otousan: Please take good care of my Sakura.
Hako: Wait just a minute. Before you say any more, I must make this clear. You can marry her only on the condition that everything is kept under wraps. A total secret! If the media gets wind of this, it will spell the end of us!
Otousan (shocked): What! What about Sakura?
Sakura: I don't mind. As long as I can marry Yuu-chan!
Hako: But remember not to tell a soul.
Otousan: Which is why I cannot allow this to happen!
Satsuki: Well, if he were to marry into our family
Everyone turns to stare at her in shock.
Satsuki: Think about it. He's single so there's no problem. He moves in, Sakura won't be alone. Otousan, you can keep an eye on him and monitor his behaviour. Isn't that a perfect solution?
Kaede: No! Ryo is the heir to this family!
Ryo: Here we go again
Satsuki: Don't use Ryo as an excuse. You aren't going to get a divorce anyway.
Otousan: Please go back to your husband in Atsumi.
Kaede: Never! What, are you saying that he is better than Ryo? Hmm?
Azusa: I object! If he marries into the family, he'll be living here! Inconceivable!
Satsuki: But if he does, Sakura will be able to continue watching Tsutomu for you.
That gets Azusa shut up.^_^
Kaede: Well what about the room? There's no space.
Satsuki: Who cares? We'll figure that out later.
Hako: Impossible! He can marry if it's kept under wraps but to ask the ultra cool Sakuraba Yuichiro to marry into the family? You must be joking. Who do you think Yuichiro is?
Sakura: Right! I just want to be with Yuichiro, that's all.
Hako: If the media finds out, they'll drop him like a stone.
Satsuki: Well then don't let them find out! Do you dare to? For Sakura?
They all start arguing heatedly.
Suddenly Yuichiro shouts: " I'll do it!"
Sakura: What? What did you just say? You don't have to.
Yuichiro: For the sake of marrying Sakura and being accepted into the family, I'll do my best.
Everyone has expressions of shock and dismay on their faces but Yuichiro is obliviously happy.
At Yuichiro's live concert
Sakura is sitting in the audience watching Yuichiro sing 'Hitoribochi no Haburashi'. As she looks at him, she thinks to herself, 'We're going to be so happy, Yuu-chan'.
Yuichiro too is thinking, 'Let's make the world's warmest family together, Sakura.'
End of Episode One.