Ainori is a popular reality show in Japan, aired on Fuji TV on Monday nights at 23:00.
In August 2005, I discovered that Ainori was not only popular in Japan, but also all over the world thanks to Bit Torrent technology. I decided to write a summary of each episode,
and do a translation of the weekly photo captions from the official site. What do I get out of this? I get to improve my Japanese, I get more traffic to my blog, but above all, I get the satisfaction of knowing many non-Japanese speakers all over the world can appreciate a truly unique reality show. Enjoy, and don’t hesitate to post any comments or questions you may have.
WARNING! THIS IS A SPOILER!
Well folks, that’s it! Gurasan prematurely rushed into a doomed kokuhaku (love declaration in Japanese), and lost. Kuu turned him down in front of a crowd of more than 500 fans, which must have put incredible pressure on both participants. But let me explain from the beginning…
What first transpired from that episode is that although it seemed Gurasan was a loner during his time on Ainori, he actually was most popular with the male participants. Indeed, all the other guys who traveled with him acknowledged the fact that Gurasan was very kind and supportive, the kind of guy who could become friends with anybody, despite his Japanese biker image.
So just before he went for his kokuhaku, he asked his good friend Moriken to give him a final haircut for the challenge (it is not uncommon for Japanese to get a haircut – or simply shave their head – when they want to change their state of mind before doing something testing). He then appropriately dressed in a white sweat suit and white shoes (the second character for kokuhaku indeed means “white”), which is also some kind of gangster fashion here in Japan (actually, since last year there’s been a lot of younger people walking around in sweat suits here in Sendai…).
So he said goodbye to Moriken, and headed to the place where Kuu was waiting for him, i.e. the banks of what is called in Chinese the “Love River”. A new man by his own account, Gurasan met with Kuu, and told her he wanted to tell her something, and that he wanted her to listen quietly. He took a few seconds before he started talking, and after swallowing nervously a few times (yep, even Japanese gangsters get nervous), he finally gathered his thoughts and began his kokuhaku. He told her that in that one country, he saw many of her good sides, like the fact she was cheerful, kind, thoughtful and cute. He then told her that there were many things about him he should change, and that he wanted to do that with her. He finished by saying that he was still a small man, but that he would hang in there, find a better job and become better, and then he gave her the fateful tickets.
“Let’s go back to Japan together”
He then left, and on his way back was saying out loud how nervous he was. Back at the hotel, a very confident Gurasan told the staff that he was pretty sure Kuu was ready to accept his proposition.
The next morning, the Love Bus arrived at a famous temple, where an amazing number of more than 500 fans had already gathered and were waiting for Gurasan and Kuu’s fate to unfold.
“Good morning” “Good Morning”
Probably under more pressure than any other participant had ever been before, Gurasan told Kuu again that in that one country he had seen many of her good sides, but that he really liked her cute face the most. He continued by saying he had many flaws, but that he was determined to change and become a better man, and that he’d like her to come with him.
“I’d like you to come with me”
Kuu replied that since she had joined the group, she had realized many of Gurasan’s qualities. She told him how she liked the thoughtfulness he had towards his friends the most, and the way she was moved by how he was straightforward with her, how he really tried to get to know her, and finally by his kokuhaku the night before. She concluded by saying she had thought it over all night, but that she couldn’t go back to Japan with him. She gave him back the plane ticket, telling him she was thankful he had fallen so much in love with her, under the disappointed screams of the crowd, and made her way back to the Love Bus.
“I can’t go back to Japan with you”
Aaaah, excuse me, but she didn’t give him a very good explanation, now did she? “ I thought about it all night and I can’t go back to Japan with you”!? What kind of a lame ass answer is that? Who knows, maybe she couldn’t see herself with an ex-gang member. But still a little white lie like: “I’ve just joined the group and I feel it’s too early for me”, or “I would have liked to get to know you better” or something would have been much more palatable. I mean, she had all night to think about it and all she could come up with was that. Granted, the pressure of the crowd watching them must have been tremendous, but still…
Anyway, a seemingly imperturbable Gurasan started moving towards the Love Bus to bid farewell to his traveling partners, with the whole crowd following him. The other participants emotionally said goodbye, and even Moriken got off the Bus to hug Gurasan, who kept telling him not to cry. He told him he had a lot of influence on the others, and that he expected him to guide them for the remaining of his trip. He then tried to tell Kuu something, but obviously unable to put into words what was on his mind, just told her: “Thanks to you… Thank you”, probably meaning she had made his trip. He finally shut the door, and the bus left, leaving Gurasan surrounded by crying fans who started cheering him (in Japanese, mind you), telling him to “hang in there!”. At last, Gurasan screamed “It’s over, I have no regrets”, and then one of the fans screamed “You’ll find happiness”, phrase which became the title of the episode. I’ve watched it over and over again, and every time it brought a tear to my eye (I’m an old sentimental, so what?). And so ended Gurasan’s Ainori…
You’ll find happiness”
I really liked Gurasan, and was hoping he could find a nice girl to go back to Japan with. I guess his apparent lack of seriousness probably prevented him to really attract any girl, but it might have been simply that cool image he was trying to project. Deep down, as the male participants admitted, he wasn’t as shallow as he seemed to be, and I still remember how supportive and philosophical he was when he had conversation with, say, Yankumi. The worst part is that I’m sure he could have won Kuu’s heart if he had given it more time. True, Gurasan proved to be a little hot-headed, falling for girls way too quickly, and not giving them time to get to know him. I’m sure he’ll do fine if only he learned to slow down a bit.
Next week, the group will move to another country (too bad, I would have loved to see a successful kokuhaku with Taiwanese fans going crazy over the new couple), which looks like some sort of tropical island. Kuu will apparently start falling for someone (no doubt Moriken), and Hiroe will continue suffering from her bad case of the blues.