Last Friends screenwriter Taeko Asano [Bonus]

By Yuki Keiser June 2008

Last Friends Bonus

1.A fruitless love triangle's happy end

Profile: Taeko Asano Profile
Born in 1961, Taeko Asano became a screenwriter after earning an undergraduate degree in French literature at the Keio University School of Letters and a Master's in literary study at the Keio University Graduate School. In 1994, she won honorable mention at the 7th Annual Fuji Television Young Scenario Awards for her piece Mugon Denwa (The Silent Call) and has worked on a number of hit television screenplays including Love Generation (1997), Kami-sama, Mou Sukoshi Dake (God, Just a Little Longer) (1998), and O-Oku (The Inner Palace) (1995). Her latest work, Last Friends was received enthusiastically by audiences all across Japan.

The final episode of Last Friends (Fuji Television), broadcast in June, snagged 22% of Japan's TV viewing audience. This bonus segment is a continuation of Tokyo Wrestling's earlier interview with Taeko Asano - only now we specifically discuss the drama's much-anticipated ending.

★For Taeko Asano's main interview, follow the link here.

--Could you tell us how the drama ends?

Sure. First of all, it's Sosuke that dies...I bet you thought it would be Takeru. (Laughs)

--Yes! That's what I thought! (laughs) But many people also say it will be Ruka.

Exactly. Because the story is set up to make it look like Ruka early on (laughs). As far as how Sosuke dies, it's actually pretty fake - research shows that while most abusers threaten suicide, they never actually go through it. So just be aware that the part of the story where his death is a suicide is unrealistic. However, within his suicide there is a clear picture of Sosuke as a man who loves Michiru yet is forever frustrated at not being able to love her well. I wanted to deliver an end to these feelings of his as best as I could, for his sake. That's how I chose suicide - ultimately he does have to part with Michiru, but never is he able to let go of his obsession.

--What happens with Michiru and Ruka?

Well, earlier in the show Michiru finds out about Ruka's feelings for her and runs off, right? She does this because it feels terrible for her to not be able to return the sentiment. And while she's off on her own, she gets a call from Sosuke and the two arrange to meet. Sosuke actually lures Michiru into seeing him by telling her that he's ready to accept a break-up and he's packed all her things. However, it isn't until she's there talking with him that she realizes just how much she feels for Ruka. Right then and there a new resolve wells up in her, and she announces that she's going back to Ruka's place. However, at that moment Sosuke sees that he's lost Michiru entirely and he goes into a rage. He confines her to the apartment and, while she's trapped there, he cuts his wrists and kills himself. Michiru is then unable to return to Ruka's and she sets off on her own...which takes us to where we were at the opening of the program.

--Who is the child's father?


--I thought that it might have been Takeru's...

Things with Takeru don't work out that way. And, so, after all these events take place, we have the final episode. It starts with Michiru all alone. Sosuke has died. And Ruka and her friends are aware of this news. Ruka has hesitated to go searching for Michiru because she knows Michiru left the house precisely because she could not accept Ruka's feelings for her. However, eventually owing to Takeru's persistence, Ruka and Takeru ultimately head off to go looking for her. When the three of them all meet again, Michiru's pregnancy is very obvious, and they decide to all stay together and raise the child between the three of them.

Just as with the movie "Hush" (2001; Japan), the three of them stick together for the child and you never know whether they're lovers or friends or family. And that is the conclusive end to the story.

--In your opinion, is this a happy ending?

I think it's a happy ending. But since it ends with the three of them, it's hard to tell exactly how Michiru comes to terms with Ruka's feelings. In my mind, Michiru is entirely straight. The way she feels about things, everything. I don't think it's possible to get beyond that. That's just the way she is (laughs). But she both accepts and understands Ruka as a person and as someone valuable in her life. However, things don't go any further than that. And yet, the added presence of the child helps them to decide to live together. And it's then that the program ends with Takeru saying, "Let's just take this as far as this tricky triangular relationship will let us..."

--So does this mean that the relationship between Takeru and Ruka does not develop any further?

For Takeru, their relationship has a sexual light, but Ruka does not see it in the same way. And yet, no one can deny that they are connected (laughs), it's a very fine line. Even still, it's hard to tell whether this is a happy fact or a hard fact (laughs).
However, in the final episode I put in a scene where Ruka and Takeru come closer together in heart and body than ever before. This takes place when Takeru confesses to Ruka the sexual abuse by his sister that he suffered as a child, and Ruka reaches out and holds him. This is the mirror image of a scene that takes place in the 8th episode. Just as how Takeru had the heroic strength to be there for Ruka, even when it meant tucking away his feelings for her, Ruka wells up the strength in herself to move closer to Takeru even though she doesn't have the same feelings for him. Between the two of them, there is something that cannot be explained as just friendship and I wanted to somehow depict that fine line. Incidentally, I don't think that the cast was too clear on that though, because the scene actually plays in a very clean-cut manner, as if the conversation was just taking place between two close guy friends. The actress, Juri, thought that since Ruka is at heart a man, she could not have been any more intimate with Takeru. Despite the fact that the relationship between Ruka and Takeru - as well as of that between Ruka and Michiru - is far more complicated than what can be summarized in the word, "friendship", I don't think that point entirely came across in the final episode. Looking back now, that's probably the most regrettable point for me.

--Does Ruka later undergo surgery?

The drama does not go into it, but personally I don't think she thinks any more about it. She opens up to Takeru, who accepts her as she is, and from there the program ends with both of them being able to live with Michiru. As I spoke about earlier, Ruka exists in a grey zone and does not fit absolutely into the frame of gender dysphoria. Therefore, once she sees she is accepted for her true self by those around her, I think she gets the feeling that she can keep going as she is. I think many different stories exist among people struggling with sex and gender.

--Does Eri also find happiness?

When I wrote the script I had intended to keep Eri and Ogurin together the whole time, but some people thought it may be better to separate them, so I'm at a bit of a loss right now. I haven't decided yet.

--This is off-point, but did you know that Ogurin is popular among gay men? One man told me that Ogurin is better than the typical hot, young celebrities out there - because his slow, grungy nature makes him real! (laughs)

Really?! That's so interesting (laughs). I can't say that I know what gay guys like (laughs).

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translated by rayna rusenko