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"You know, my engagement was a marriage of convenience that was determined a long time ago. So I wasn't expecting any love to come out of it. I thought he was gonna be some old-fashioned wimp. But when I met him, I felt like my life wasn't gonna go to waste after all."
Shigeru talks about her feelings for Tsukasa

"The strongest rival" (最強のライバル () Saikyō no Raibaru) is the second episode of the Japanese drama, Hana Yori Dango Returns. The episode aired on January 12, 2007 on TBS. It was followed by the third episode on January 19.

Tsukasa's mother announces her son's engagement to Shigeru Okawahara. Shigeru starts to develop feelings for Tsukasa and befriends Tsukushi Makino. The situation for Tsukushi is awkward since she still loves Tsukasa.

Plot

At Tsukasa Domyoji's birthday party, his mother announces his engagement to Shigeru Okawahara. Shigeru is brought onto the stage and performs a song for the crowd. An emcee then invites Tsukushi Makino to play the piano. Tsukushi does not know how and bangs on it loudly in defiance, before leaving. Tsukasa chases after her, followed closely by the F4, his mother, and Shigeru. Tsukasa becomes mad and storms off, grabbing Shigeru's hand by accident. He realizes his mistake several minutes later. Tsukasa and Shigeru begin arguing and she ends up biting his ear. His embarrassed reaction charms Shigeru, who says "I think I'm in love" after he leaves.

Tsukushi angrily walks home and later finds herself unable to concentrate on her studies. The next day, Shigeru shows up at Eitoku Academy, looking for Tsukasa. She recognizes Tsukushi from the party. Shigeru then eats in the new "F4 Lounge", though Tsukushi feebly protests. Tsukasa arrives while Shigeru is in the bathroom. Tsukushi congratulates Tsukasa, assuming that he and Shigeru began dating in New York. Before Tsukasa can explain, Shigeru interrupts. Tsukasa tells her that the engagement is a "joke". However, she does not listen to him and declares her intentions to make him fall in love with her.

Later, Tsukushi recounts her interaction with Shigeru to Yuki Matsuoka. She goes on to say that Shigeru visited her home that night to talk about Tsukasa. Tsukushi told her that she and Tsukasa "have no relationship" and agreed to help her win his heart. To their amazement, Shigeru arrives at the shop seconds later. Shigeru takes Tsukushi and Yuki shopping at Bulgari after work. She spots the girls looking at an expensive bracelet and later gifts two to them. Meanwhile, Kaede informs Tsukasa about Domyoji Group's grave situation. Tsukasa's marriage to Shigeru will change everything due to family's connection to an oil magnate.

Tsukasa talks with Rui Hanazawa, Sojiro Nishikado, and Akira Mimasaka about Shigeru. He conveys that he feels responsible for the employees at Domyoji Group. Tsukasa refuses to marry Shigeru, even knowing that it would be beneficial. Akira advises him to "settle" the situation if he feels that way. At home, Tsukasa looks at the present Tsukushi gave him a year ago. He then remembers his friend Ken Uchida, whose fate continues to haunt him. The next day, Tsukushi finds Rui in the F4 Lounge. He tells her about Tsukasa's decision regarding Shigeru. Rui steps too close, startling Tsukushi and causing them to fall. She quickly gets up and leaves.

Tsukushi later meets with Yuki, Sojiro and Akira. The guys were exhausted from spending the day with Shigeru, whom they were trying to seduce. Shigeru realized what they were doing and had them take her to several places. They were rescued when they ran into Yuki. Akira and Sojiro voice their concerns about Tsukushi and Tsukasa. Both of them are attempting to bury their feelings for one another. That night, Tsukushi calls Tsukasa and asks him to meet her at Yebisu Garden Place. When she arrives, she is relieved to see Tsukasa. Seconds later, Shigeru suddenly shows up and plants a kiss on Tsukasa.

Cast and characters

Character Actor Notes
Akira Mimasaka Tsuyoshi Abe
Chieko Makino Mako Ishino
Erika Ayuhara Aki Fukada
Haruo Makino Susumu Kobayashi
Kaede Domyoji Mariko Kaga
Minako Yamano Emiko Matsuoka
Nishida David Ito
Rui Hanazawa Shun Oguri
Shigeru Okawahara Natsuki Kato
Shizuka Todo Mayumi Sada (Voice only)
Sojiro Nishikado Shota Matsuda
Susumu Makino Satoshi Tomiura
Tsukasa Domyoji Jun Matsumoto
Tsukushi Makino Mao Inoue
Yuki Matsuoka Aki Nishihara
Yuriko Asai Saki Seto

Other

Ratings

Video Research Ltd.
Kanto Kansai
20.1% 19.6%

Notes

References

See also