In the musical Into the Woods, one of the interchangeable Prince Charming says that he was “raised to be charming, not sincere.” That may be true of a few characters in My Happy Marriage, but Kiyoka is not one of them. His surly exterior hides a warmth that Miyo can’t even begin to imagine, mostly because she can’t imagine that anyone would act warmly toward her. She’s beginning to get used to Yurie being her ally, but she’s still very timid around Kiyoka, fearing that one wrong move will bring an end to her Cinderella life – and as far as she’s concerned, they’re all wrong moves.
Even though we know that Kiyoka isn’t the monster she fears him to be, it’s still heartening to realize that he’s not only put two and two together, but he’s also gone to confront the man who claimed it added up to five. Although he likely does go to work afterward, Kiyoka’s appointment in this episode is to go and visit Miyo’s father and stepmother. They’re convinced (as we can see from the slimy looks on their faces) that Kiyoka’s there to return Miyo, regifting them their unpaid servant. But that’s when Kiyoka drops the most delightful bomb of all: not only is he not sending Miyo back, he’s going to marry her and will only give them her bride price if they apologize to her in person. From a cynical point of view, we could say that this is just him trying to get out of giving the Saimori family any money because there’s no way in hell they’ll be apologizing to the girl they tortured. But what Kiyoka’s doing is giving them enough rope and waiting to see them hang themselves. He still won’t have to give them money, but more importantly, he’ll have the satisfaction of watching them cut off their nose to spite their faces.
The sheer, unmitigated gall of the Saimori family is astonishing. Just as the parents “need to think about” apologizing to the daughter they tormented, Kaya continues to be as spiteful as possible when she and Koji bump into Miyo in town. Last week’s episode showed the two couples passing without a meeting, which was in service of this week when Kaya essentially corners Miyo while she’s waiting for Yurie. Kaya takes the mere glimpse of her half-sister that she saw previously and combines it with Miyo standing on the corner in her old kimono, immediately jumping to the conclusion that Miyo is in town because she’s been thrown out on the street. She’s only too happy to return to savaging her favorite chew toy, and easily the most painful part of this episode is how Miyo shrinks in on herself the minute she sees Kaya. Her budding confidence is destroyed instantly, and even the return of Yurie to set the record straight can’t help bring it back. Kaya is pure poison, and Miyo’s been exposed for so long that she can’t help but retreat into herself in a futile attempt to mitigate the damage.
Kiyoka, of course, notices, and he tries to help Miyo in the best way possible: by showing her that she is loved. He doesn’t declare his feelings – he may not be Prince Surly anymore, but he’s still at least Prince Prickly – but what he does is better: he finds Hana, the maid who took care of Miyo after her life fell apart. It’s the closest thing he can do to returning her mother to her, and more than the hug or the visit to the Saimori estate, this shows Miyo that she’s worth something.
The question of supernatural powers is still lurking about. We see Koji’s older brother demonstrate some, and certainly their father is using his shikigami to spy on Miyo and Kiyoka to what can’t possibly be a good end. But more interesting is Miyo’s dream: she sees her mother and father interacting with such clarity that we ought to question whether she remembers an event or if something else is happening. Everyone keeps saying that Miyo is powerless because she doesn’t have Spirit Sight, but is that necessary to have all types of supernatural powers? Koji’s dad doesn’t seem to think so, and neither does Miyo’s mom. It’s worth paying attention to, even if it doesn’t play any role in Kiyoka’s feelings for her, because it could become the measure of love for her versus a desire to use her – if there’s anything there in the first place.
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