On April 25, the second episode of “M Ai Subeki Hito ga Ite”, the drama based on the rise to fame of Ayumi Hamasaki, starring Kalen Anzai as Ayu, aired.
This episode starts off where the first left off, with Ayu trying to leave her old management for A Victory, the stand in for Avex in this drama. Masa, the stand in for Avex head / Ayu lover Max Matsuura, again goes to extremes with his speaking, having a tone that is almost like a shout, which is especially odd since nobody else has taken it to that level. This is a recurring element with him.
A Tetsuya Komuro reference! But first, backstory: TK, who in this drama is portrayed via a character named Tenmei Kira, was the power behind Avex’s top acts in the 90s. But he wasn’t producing only for Avex. Pioneer LDC gave TK his own label in 1995, ORUMOK RECORDS (“ORUMOK” is “Komuro” backwards). The first artist on ORUMOK RECORDS was Tomomi Kahara, who TK eventually ended up in a relationship with (as he often did).
In 1997, Tomomi released her second album, “storytelling.” The CM for the album and the music video for the 1998 re-cut single “I WANNA GO” both feature TK and Tomomi arriving at a club in a red Ferrari. After Masa successfully acquires Ayu, they leave Velfine in a red sportscar, a reference to this.
I’m still seeing Tomomi more than Ayu in Kalen, but I am starting to see Ayu a bit more.
Tenma Mayumi… This would be the kind of character that would be in this drama. Mayumi is the New York-based trainer that Masa sent Ayu to study under. She’s an eccentric character, an agitated hippie with a fondness for mixing Japanese and English. One of her training techniques involves singing into a candle flame without disturbing it, something that she makes Ayu practice for hours. When she quits, Mayumi throws a bucket on water on her.
But Masa appears to make her time in New York better! He makes his entrance by jumping 10 feet into the air to rescue a balloon that Ayu had let go of. How he knew where she was is a mystery.
Masa’s visit, along with the Coach trench coat he gave her, lifts Ayu’s spirits. She is determined to reach her goal in New York. After doing crunches and ignoring white people while running, she is finally able to sing without disturbing the candle flame.
Meanwhile in Tokyo, Masa’s secretary Reika alludes that he had something to do with the loss of her eye, after jealously asking if he is in love with Ayu, even though he is still married.
Ayu arrives in back in Tokyo, in a new wig. She’s sent to a training camp for a girl group that A Victory’s Sho is producing. Mayumi appears as the teacher at the training camp. Reika also appears with the intent of destroying Ayu, with Ayu’s former friends / fellow trainees as her henchmen. They trip her, put tacks in her shoes, and push her during dance practice. In a final act, one of them deceptively makes amends. Ayu falls into her plot to take a bath together, slipping on the floor the evil trainee made slippery, nude, dislocating her shoulder.
Sho had his suspicions that Ayu was being bullied, and brought it up to Masa, who said he expected it, and that overcoming it would make her stronger.
Masa has a bit of a sadistic nature with Ayu. He makes her run a marathon against the other girls in order to debut, with only the top five debuting. To make matters worse, each girl has to carry a backpack with a different number of water bottles in it on the run. Ayu picks the backpack with ten bottles, the one with the most.
When Sho questions his logic, he says it’s to train her, to make her better. She’ll be able to be on stage even if she’s ill or a loved one has died recently.
Then it rains.
Ayu is dead last, running with a backpack full of water bottles, with a dislocated shoulder, in the rain. She falls. Masa sees this and yells at her, telling her not to give up and not to cry, like the asshole that he is.
And like the love-sick girl that she’s become over the course of this episode, she listens. Magically, her shoulder is healed! She wins the race in the end, defeating the girl who soaped the floor.
Masa congratulates Ayu on her win, and this being the end of the episode, another rainbow appears, as Ayu’s “Boys & Girls” begins. The rainbow transports us from 1996 to an Ayu stadium concert in 2001. We are then treated to some D-list level lip syncing by Kalen to the real Ayu’s vocals.
For those of you that want to watch it as well, the subbed verison is available here. Again, special thanks to Blitz Fansub for subbing the drama!