Hakumei to Mikochi – Episode 5
Today’s two shorts cover another one of Hakumei’s work days, although in the latter half there’s a bit of a twist.
The episode begins with Iwashi taking Hakumei to the Iwanuki Association to meet the Chairman and Vice Chairman for the first time. The Vice Chairman is a big badger, and the Chairman is a middle-aged man who is not at all impressed with Hakumei. Hakumei wants to be a part of the project Iwashi is about to begin: repairing part of a stone wall that has crumbled due to the elements. However the Chairman, Narai, refuses Hakumei’s request, even after she tries to persuade him by describing her skills. Hakumei is slightly defeated, but on the way home she gets Iwashi to allow her to clean his tools and repair any that break. Hey, a win is a win no matter how small.
Iwashi and Hakumei both go to the job site together the next day, and Hakumei takes notes while Iwashi works. Hakumei repairs and cleans her master’s tools as needed, and even gets some helpful pointers from the Vice Chairman, Katen.
Hakumei is late getting home, and she spends most of the night putting together a work plan instead of sleeping. So it’s natural that when she gets to work the next day she’s exhausted. And being the sharp-eyed leader that he is, Narai notices. Hakumei tries to show him the idea she came up with, but Narai says that she should go home and sleep instead of coming to work sleep-deprived. Hakumei agrees and goes home to crash.
The next day goes much better for everyone. Hakumei’s more efficient at sharpening blades, so much so that Narai asks her to sharpen his chisel. However she refuses, and when he presses her on why, she explains that it’s his chisel. She doesn’t know him that well yet and their work relationship has gotten off to a bumpy start, so sharpening one of his tools is something that still scares her a little. This seems to calm Narai a little, and he tells her to report to work the next day with some proper work clothes. It turns out he “doesn’t trust anyone who isn’t afraid of something.” Which makes sense, I guess.
The twist is that the next day, Mikochi actually comes to work with Hakumei! Except instead of working on the wall’s repairs, she’s helping Narai’s wife Hakuyo prepare meals for all the workers. Hakuyo is very pleasant but in a subtle, scary way – like holding up a knife when Katen asks for a snack. One definitely doesn’t want to cross her. >>;
Narai asks Hakumei to go behind the large face stone in the wall and lock in a small joint stone. She does so, but notices after a few hits of her hammer that the rock is making a funny noise. Hakumei quickly gets Katen to carry her and Iwashi to safety, and in just the nick of time too. For as the three move away from the wall, the face stone crumbles into smaller pieces. It had been weakened over the years by the weather it’d had to endure, and the hits from Hakumei’s chisel were too much for it to bear. Narai is very shaken, and apologizes to Hakumei for not noticing the rock’s weakness. Everyone’s a little shaken so they take a break for some yummy watermelon.
When work resumes, Hakumei has an idea on how to replace the broken face stone: they can use solid fuel to split a very large rock nearby into a smaller piece, and then fit that piece into the wall and secure it with another joint stone. Narai also asks Hakumei to sharpen his chisel again, and this time she agrees.
After the large rock is successfully split, Hakuyo suggests that Hakumei and Narai work together to put it in its correct place. Both of them agree – after all, Hakuyo can be scary remember. xD So Katen picks up the rock piece and secures it in the hole in the wall, while Hakumei sneaks in behind the rock to wedge in a joint stone. As she works, Narai recounts for her the story of how the previous face stone had been inserted into the wall. He slips and reveals that the name of the first face stone was Narai Rock, as his wife and Katen called it, and Hakumei says that it’s a good name.
With the work completed, everyone is free to eat together and have a drink (or two… or three going by the inebriated state of some of the workers). This episode was pretty serious, but some of the more lighthearted moments like the group celebration at the end of the episode help hold it together. Too much work and no play is no fun, right? I also liked seeing how excited Hakumei got when she scored herself a victory with Iwashi or Narai. I have a work ethic (and sometimes a personality) very similar to Hakumei’s, so it’s episodes like this where I feel like I can relate to her a little and that makes me connect with her character a bit more.
If I had to name something in the episode I didn’t like, it was the brief exchange at the end of the episode where it’s revealed that Narai thought Hakumei was a man and Mikochi was “his” wife. When Hakumei corrects Narai by saying she’s female, he apologizes. One could interpret the comments as the show not allowing two women to be married, or maybe I’m reading into it too much and Narai was just apologizing for incorrectly assuming Hakumei’s gender.
Anyways, for not having an overall plot (that I can see), this is a really cute little show and I’m enjoying it a lot more than I thought I was going to at the beginning of the season.