It’s time for the final installment of the series on Yume wo Kanaeru Zou. As we reach the end, it’s time to see whether Asuka has found happiness as Ganesha promised her she would. If you haven’t read the other posts to this series, start with part 1 here!
In the previous three episodes, the tasks focused mainly on supporting others with a heart of service. Through this, Asuka is starting to develop a friendship with her co-worker Amida, a handsome but arrogant man that seems to get a rise out of bickering with Asuka. She admits to Ganesha that although she’s been learning more about how to care for people, men are becoming even more confusing in her eyes. The final tasks that Ganesha assigns are intended therefore to allow Asuka to look even deeper into people’s cores, but will it ultimately lead her to the love and happiness she’s been seeking? Let’s find out!
The Tasks – Episodes 10-13
- Become a man– Ganesha once again works his magic to make Asuka have the brain of a man for a day. Her perspective really changes through this experience, both toward men and women. In particular, she learns of the pressure that men face while enduring for the sake of their pride. Asuka tries very hard to be cool, thinking through every action that she takes toward a cute girl, and praising herself for her suaveness. Being a try-hard in and of itself is not so bad,in fact a try-hard may crash and burn faster, but they’ll also learn from mistakes faster in order to become better.
- Listen to men’s dreams– Even after a day spent as a man, Asuka still doesn’t understand what exists at the core of men’s hearts and minds, so Ganesha gives her the task of listening to men’s dreams and desires. To make this easier, she once again gets the mind of a man, and more or less bullies the men at work into telling her their wishes. At the end of the day, she shares a drink with Amida-san, who tells her that his dream is to build a castle as a tourist attraction in his hometown. Asuka finds this childish, if not endearing. Then Kondo-san, who actually hasn’t disappeared as I originally thought, also appears. He apologizes to Asuka, and confesses to understanding how he failed to consider her feelings by proposing to her before either of them have really truly gotten to know each other. When she asks him about his dreams, he admits to not knowing what his dream is, but vows to find it. By listening to men’s dreams, Asuka has discovered that people carry a certain kind of color within them. Amida-san, whose dream is flashy is gold at his core, while Kondo-san who is currently a clean slate without a dream is represented by white. Ganesha seems to realize at this point that Asuka now has two men held in her interest, and she’s right at the edge of falling in love with one.
- Play an instrument– Ganesha tells Asuka that this is the task that is going to bring her love. In this episode, Kondo-san declares that his dream is to keep Asuka by his side, and commences his passionate courtship. Asuka is struggling to decide what instrument to take up, until Ganesha suggests guitar, and reveals that he has already signed her up for an upcoming competition. She throws herself into practice, but figures out that she’s hopeless without a teacher. Amida-san earlier bragged about his guitar-playing skills, so reluctantly agrees to help Asuka out.Her progress is slow and painful, and at one point she seems ready to give it up. Ganesha tells her that everyone hits this point, a wall, where if they push forward they may be able to break past, but many quit. Quitting might be okay though, because sometimes it is truly impossible to breach the wall, and Kondo-san is one such example of someone striving so hard to win Asuka’s heart, but it simply won’t happen. It’s at this point that the audience understands that Asuka has truly changed. The Asuka at the beginning of the series would have jumped with joy at the thought of someone like Kondo-san pursuing her so wholeheartedly, but the new Asuka knows herself better now, and knows what love truly is, and knows that she’s falling in love with Amida. The task of learning to play an instrument was not only a means to put her into Amida’s path, but Ganesha tells her that music is used as a way of communicating something (even poorly) that we can’t communicate merely with words, so that as long as love remains, so too will music. Asuka meets with Kondo-san in order to put him out of his misery and allow him to focus his energy somewhere where it will be rewarded. If you ever want a good example of how to reject someone gracefully, I’d definitely recommend this scene. Although she couldn’t love Kondo-san, he became a precious presence in her recent chaotic days, and helped her to see that she is certainly someone worth loving. “Thank you for liking a person like me.”
- Play tricks on the person you like– After a night of practicing the guitar with Amida, Asuka wakes up late on the day of the competition and must rush to the venue. Only, she finds out that she’s been tricked by Ganesha and there really was no competition at all. She begs the owner to let her still play though, if only to settle something within herself. And so, with Amida’s encouragement, she clumsily plays her song. She’s not even angry at Ganesha for tricking her, because she truly had fun, and she’s fallen in love in the process. Unfortunately though, we find out that Amida has a girlfriend and Asuka is crushed, nearly ready to give up. However, Ganesha gives her the task of playing tricks on him in order to catch his attention. The first day involves the kind of tricks that kids play, like slapping signs on his back, but Ganesha clarifies that there’s a kind of trick that involves love, which is what a “surprise” is. Asuka finds out that the next day is Amida’s birthday, and they set up a meeting to discuss one of his work projects. Using this opportunity, she plans a surprise party for him. Sadly, he cancels on her, despite her night spent happily preparing, since he’s going out with his girlfriend for the night. For the first time in her life, Asuka is suffering from true heartbreak, but Ganesha tells her to never think that love is foolish or miserable. The warm happiness that comes with love, even if just for a moment, is well worth the pain, and means that you are living a dense, full life.
- Make me say I’m happy– This task actually comes from Asuka to Ganesha. It seems that Ganesha’s time with Asuka is coming to a close, but Asuka is not ready to be abandoned in her heartbreak. She’s desperate to keep him around, desperate to learn even more. She begs for another task, but Ganesha tells her he’s already taught her all he can, and that she should reflect on all the tasks she’s worked on in the past few months. She notices how differently people treat her, especially at work, and most certainly in a good way. Asuka has learned to live each day with purpose and intention, while clearly knowing who she is and how to support others around her.
- Live as if it’s the last day on earth– Ganesha’s final task is to go through the day with the mindset that it’s the last day on earth. Asuka realizes the preciousness of everyone in her life, and how dear they are to her. On her last day on earth, Asuka chooses to be thankful, which means, according to Ganesha, that she’s living her every day with awareness. Her only regret was that she didn’t get to confess her feelings to Amida, but she promises to do it at the next opportunity- which happens to be the end-of-the-year party for her department at work that Asuka had volunteered to coordinate. She gives a wonderful speech, in which she confesses her feelings to Amida, but also tells everyone that she’s learned how she can love everyone more, while simultaneously learning to love herself. She returns home, to find that Ganesha has turned invisible and is about to leave her. She thanks him for all that he has done for her, and declares her new-found happiness. Ganesha’s final words to Asuka are to enjoy the world to her heart’s content.
What then does it mean to be happy? According to this drama, it means knowing and loving yourself. It means knowing other people to their core and supporting them with love. It means living each day without regret. It means living every day with awareness and purpose. It means laughing, and crying, and giving all your energy to each moment.