I’ve recently found no J-dramas that pique my interest but somehow stumbled upon an old one. Takane no Hana or the English title ‘Born to be a Flower’ bears meaning of the unreachable flower on a cliff. Lead by Satomi Ishihara who can be repetitive or slightly screechy, I decided to give it a shot anyway. And I’m impressed.
The story begins with our protagonist, Momo Tsukishima, daughter of the notable Tsukishima school for flower arrangement. She had been left at the altar by her fiancee, who had an affair and now, on his way to become a father. Right off the bat, she tries to meet him at a park but we see that he meets his current pregnant wife instead and she is dragged off by police. Turns out, he has a restraining order on her and she has been stalking him for 6 months.
Her family comes with her driver to bail her out of the police station but she cycles off on her red bicycle to avoid naggings. On her way, she gets into an accident for being distracted and ends up in the drain with a broken bike. We are then introduced to the male protagonist, known affectionately as Pooh (Mineta Kazonobu). He runs a bicycle repair shop and spends free time playing mobile Shogi. Despite not getting much business and taking care of his elderly paraplegic mother, he seems to be living contently.
After Momo drops off her bike in his shop and gets a free change of clothes from Pooh, she heads home. In between of this, we are introduced to Nana (Yoshine Kyoko), Momo’s younger half sister who is meek but also well-versed in flower arrangement. The antagonist, Utsunomiya Ryuichi (Chiba Yudai), serves to bring threat to the Tsukishima family business and other flower arrangement schools.
We are also shown Momo and her father’s interaction (Kohinata Fumiyo), transitioning from formal attitude of a student to headmaster, to a daughter and her father. Momo’s father tells her to get herself ‘rehabilitated’ with the help of another man, or a new love. Just like people who fracture their leg, they need treatment and rehabilitation. However, her father also coldly tells her that she will come to realize that wouldn’t be true love and she should thank the person and dump him after. Momo is flabbergasted by her father’s advice and does not share his opinion.
When she comes to retrieve her bike, Pooh is in the middle of a marriage meeting with a divorcee with a 5 year old child, hilariously mentioned by his friends as Balloon due to her well-endowed boobies. It turns out that earlier, his mother had passed away peacefully. His mother’s friend was tasked by his mother to help him out with marriage prospects , leading to this omiai.
We are introduced to Shota-kun, a troubled boy who seems to be a container full of hate, especially towards his mother for unknown reasons. Momo suggests a trip around Japan on a bicycle as a joke but Pooh is enthusiastic and persuades Shota. This one is another one on a journey for healing too.
Momo somehow joins him with his friend at their local hangout and they dissect his omiai. Momo gives her two cents about worrying whether he would come to dislike Balloon’s child because according to her, it’s male instinct to kill children of others. As the conversation progresses, Pooh finds that she carries a burden with her as well and encourages her to share it. Once she turns on the faucet, there was no turning back and Momo shared her feelings with her new found friends. After hearing her story, Kazama drew his classic whiteboard explanation.
Angry people hate while sad people love.
Momo is a good person because despite being betrayed, all she could do was love. True love bears no hate, says Kazama. They karaoke all night after all the sappy stories and Momo wakes up in Kazama’s house. They share breakfast and a classic Love me Tender plays on the background. So romantic 🙂
The episode ends with Momo coming into a flower arrangement demonstration after Nana gets stage fright. We get sight of the other Momo, who is beguiling as she sings a prose about a flower. Here, she is the flower out of reach, Takane no Hana.
I am Tsukishima Momo.
Tsukishima Momo is your typical spoiled girl raised in privileged environment. However despite that, she was blessed with the talent for flower arrangement much to her father’s joy and the jealousy of her stepmother. This talent of hers made her coveted and it felt like people around her was objectifying her. Her despair over her marriage breakdown could show that her fiancee was the one person who didn’t really value her talents over her individuality. So much of her identity had to do with Tsukishima and flower arranging, Momo must have been buried in.
We often see Momo glancing into the mirror during flower arranging, a technique her father has taught her. To imagine ‘another her’ watching her every move, like an audience. I like to think that this other her is the perfect talented Momo who does not allow for error, who only lives for flower arranging. This somehow explains why Momo becomes very afraid when she sees ‘the other Momo’, who swallows the real Momo’s love and other aspirations. Marriage seemed to also become one of Momo’s escape plans as she announced that she was leaving flower arranging once she becomes a full time wife.
Along with being free-spirited, Momo holds strong moral values which was demonstrated in regards to her fiancee taking responsibility for the child he had with another woman. Another point was when her father had told her to use and dump a man to get over her heartbreak. Although she is shown to be flamboyant and a bit off the hooks, she is shown to know boundaries where morality lies.
On the other hand, Kazama lives on the complete opposite end of social strata. Described as a strange child since young, he lived peaceful days with his mother and operates a bicycle repair shop left by his father. Even though he seems socially awkward at first, he is surrounded with kind people who sees him for who he is and embraces him. He is the hidden diamond in the rough and his mother describes him to be capable of achieving anything he wanted, a smart child when younger. While all parents believe the same for their children, we get glimpses which show Kazama to be concealing his talons. Kazama certainly has layers to him as well and I can’t wait for the drama to explore it.
This drama heavily reminds me of Tatta Hitotsu no Koi. Both dramas have their female leads on a pedestal, often having more than the ordinary but still unhappy. And then comes the male leads, poor or not well-to do , who comes into the picture and changes their life. Although Tatta Hitotsu no Koi shows young 20 year olds, I would like to think Takane no Hana as the slightly more matured version, like their thirties version. It’s exploring not just the rich girl, poor man gap but also their dilemma in life. Just because their dilemma is in a different spectrum or different scale, doesn’t mean they can’t communicate to each other on the same page.
At this point, the more obvious development would be witnessed on Momo. She has quite clear cut problems and she is actively trying to solve it, by falling into a new love. Kazama is more of the dark horse but I’m hoping they heal each other on the way.
The rest of the cast namely, Utsunomiya, Momo’s stepmother seem to be pure antagonistic. Nana is the goody two shoes who would gradually deviate to the ‘evil’ as she faces her inferiority complex. Momo’s father on the other hand is some insane obsessed flower arranging master, can’t wait for Momo to prove to him that artistic pursuits do not require moral sacrifice.
I love the overall tone of the drama and J-dorama has the talent of giving us a lot of plot progression even from the get-go. Just 1 episode and we have established the chemistry between Momo and Kazama. My gripe is that these kind of romance drama turn angsty and a little idiotic towards the end and they will try whatever they can to break them apart. Then please us by gluing them back on without being faithful to the original personality of the characters.
I’m definitely continuing this drama for now and recommending it for those who prefer slice-of-life romance J-dorama that leans on to a mature side. Well, if the train crashes, it wouldn’t be the first wreck I’ve had.