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At 35,000 feet above sea level, with the cabin pressure, crying babies, uncomfortable seat (no matter how small one’s body frame is) and traveling through different time zones, I’m able to watch episode 3 of Roy Fun Tawan Deurd at long last, which, I have come to find, puts me in equal parts blissful happiness and foreboding dread.

Before we get into the opposing spectrum, I wanted to speak to the setting of this drama, which has been a frequent inquiry among RFTD fans. For those of us who has not read the novel, we may find that at first, this lakorn feels like it takes place in the present. Styles do come back, right? Or maybe we thought that’s how they’re dressed in Japan. Whatever the case may be, we start to question the time period of the lakorn when things start to appear outdated: such as the politics, yakuza and mannerisms.

I will admit that I was ignorant of it all until I started digging around and discovered that the novel itself takes place during the era in which Yakuza clans dominate the scene. Even though present time, police and the public may consider them as violent groups (or organized crime syndicates), they (and the people they protect) consider themselves as chivalrous groups, living with strict codes of conduct. So for all intense and purposes, let’s date this lakorn in 1970s timeframe. The show does not point out to the exact period itself – probably for creative integrity reasons – so we are left to surmise that the setting is a little over 40 years ago, which could be considered as a period drama (depending on who you ask) but coincides well with the costumes, mannerisms and plot of this lakorn.

The scenes between Ryu and Mayumi in this episode have to be my most favorite scenes in this drama thus far. A lot of scriptwriters forget that one of the most important aspects of courting or how the viewer’s fall in love with the characters and root for them are through their conversations and rebuttals. We get this from R&M amid the cherry blossoms.

Mayumi confronts Ryu after noticing that he has stopped by her house to discuss their pending nuptials with her father. The straw that broke the camel’s back is hearing that he wants to forego the engagement and get right to the wedding.

The duo stands beneath cherry blossoms – the trees in full bloom – and Mayumi tells Ryu that although she’s thankful that he has returned to abide by the elder’s promise, she’s still adamant that the wedding will not happen. Ryu plays the devil’s advocate by implying that SHE’s refusing to hold her father’s end of the bargain. But Mayumi tells him matter-of-factly that she will divulge to her father that in the past 7 years, they’ve grown apart, too far apart to share a life together. Which makes sense from her point of view, or from the point of view of someone who’s been neglected.

Clever Ryu (or shall we say argumentative Ryu) counters that because she didn’t see him in all of 7 years’ time, she’s assuming that he has someone else and that he doesn’t care. A great problem solver goes to the root of the problem, and I think he hit the nail on the head there. And finally, Ryu confesses what he’s been doing the last 7 years, painting a picture of a man who has to take over Onituska’s business holding, ensuring that his enemies won’t meddle with his future fiancée by staying away from her, allowing her to lead her life, yet watching from afar and witnessing every trials and tribulations that she goes through. Mayumi reels from this confession, but maybe what matters to her more than anything is the fact that he simply was NOT there. She relents that he may have his reasons, but they don’t appease her.

I’m still reeling with the fact that he confessed, thinking that he’s going to withhold this little gem of information until the end. But I’m equally surprised (not to mention glad) that Mayumi doesn’t walk right into his hand or fall at his feet. Because seriously, the girl has been neglected by the man whom she thought had zero interest in her, and now he’s resurfaced and expects her to marry him? Nice try.

So Ryu asks her the one thing that he could: what does he need to do to marry her? I love her answer: make me fall in love with you. She laments that she refuses to marry a man whom she does not love.

Ah, but love. It’s scary and seen as a weakness in Ryu’s eyes. He confesses that he has seen firsthand what love does, his cousin is a prime example, but deep down, Ryu also knows that life is short and he’s going to do everything – pull out all of the stops – in order to win her over. Because really, that’s what it’ll take (even though he argues that love has no winners or losers.) Ryu declares that he will make her fall in love with him, but she must be careful, because she may not realize that the heart that she safeguards may have already fallen for him. Aw. Good stuff. Who will win in this game of love?

What resonates specifically for me is the symbolism of the moment beneath the cherry blossom trees. Cherry blossoms represent the fragility and beauty of life. It’s a turning point in their romantic story where our hero determines that he cannot waste another minute. It’s a reminder that life is overwhelmingly beautiful but that it is also tragically short. When the cherry blossom trees bloom for a short time each year in brilliant force, they serve as a visual reminder of how precious and how precarious life is. And R&M discuss about this very thing when he carries her over to lay beneath the cherry blossom trees. A flower falls on her hand and he leans down ever closely to her palm, where he intakes the fragrance of the flower and her hand. They are struck by this spellbinding moment, where he proceeds to recant poetry and show her his genuine side, not realizing that he’s already melting her heart.

But all that hard work will only be disseminated by the third hand meddler – Aikiko. Every time Mayumi starts to feel that maybe Ryu is the man she had fallen for 7 years ago, and that maybe they can give this marriage a go, she is then proven that all of her insecurities are true – and that Aikiko is his lover and yet he’s still trying to romance her.

Aikiko’s attempts and the villains screen time for the rest of this episode gave me a combination of heartburn and dreaded foreboding. The chief scares me (because he’s truly a dirty old man), Taka-on terrifies me because he’s twice as scary as his father and brother combined, the Big Bad makes me sweat with his nasty alligator (I wonder if he feeds humans to his alligators for dinner) AND I don’t know whether I should be happy that Joey Boy is friend and not foe, or anticipate this friend to turn foe. Needless to say, Ryu has enough on his hand to overcome our heroine’s stubborn heart, but now he has these unpredictable variables messing up his game, and as a viewer, I am left with giddy and happy one moment, and biting my nails the next. What gives, Show?

After this turning point in their romantic story, I’m excited to see where it takes off from here: how will Ryu make Mayumi fall in love with him? How will Mayumi learn to trust Ryu? And finally, will the Big Bad just feed Taka-on and the sheriff to his friendly alligator already? Whatever lays on the horizon, I am totally craving more R&M screen time, and mostly, their conversations. Always their conversations.

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