- "Love me tender,
love me sweet,
never let me go.
You have made my life complete,
and I love you so.
Love me tender,
love me true,
all my dreams fulfilled.
For my darlin' I love you,
and I always will."
— Elvis Presley, "Love Me Tender"
Born to Be a Flower (高嶺の花) note is a Japanese romantic drama series that aired in 2018.
Momo Tsukishima (Satomi Ishihara) is a skilled flower arranger at the Tsukishima school of ikebana (the art of arranging flowers), as well as the school headmaster's own daughter. On the day that she was about to be wed, her fiancé revealed that he had gotten another woman pregnant, and so her marriage was canceled. Half a year later, she still keeps wanting to see him, to the point that he had to get a restraining order on her. Coming off of her latest run-in with the police, she crashes her bike into a lake, which leads her to the bicycle shop of Naoto "Pooh" Kazama (Kazunobu Mineta), a humble shop owner taking care of his bedridden mother.
Seeing the sorry state his daughter is in, and wanting to set up his successor, the Tsukishima school headmaster hatches a plan to "rehabilitate" Momo's broken heart. He encourages her to start a new relationship and stay together just long enough to regain her confidence, then break up immediately afterward. After meeting Pooh and his friends, in spite of their vastly different social standings, Momo decides to use him as a rebound... but Pooh isn't falling for her so easily.
Meanwhile, the Tsukishima school is facing competition from a new, modern ikebana school led by Ryuichi Utsunomiya (Yudai Chiba). The Tsukishima headmaster later comes to an agreement with Ryuichi for him to support the Tsukishima school, in exchange for a marriage with one of his two daughters, Momo or Nana (Kyoko Yoshine). Though he claims to prefer Momo, Ryuichi repeatedly interacts with Nana — while sleeping with her mother Ruriko behind her back.
The series contains examples of the following tropes:
- Abusive Parents: Ichimatsu can be considered emotionally abusive due to how often he manipulates Momo, Nana, and the people around them. Chiaki is also the daughter of an abusive mother, and is worried that she might turn out to become one herself.
- The Ace: Momo is considered the best student of the Tsukishima school, and is expected to become the next headmaster.
- Broken Ace: After her marriage was canceled, she lost her senses of smell and taste, and her flower-arranging talents (or at least her confidence in them) were affected as well. She repeatedly insists that she lost her ability to see her "other self," a skill that her father taught her to improve her flower arranging.
- Arc Words: "The other self," supposedly a tenet of the Tsukishima school that teaches them to arrange as though another version of themselves were watching in front of them. Momo believes her talent hinges on this ability, and she spends most of the series looking for a way to regain it. Hyoma, a teacher of another ikebana school, refers to this as "the cast-off self."
- "Flickering light and shadow," another phrase describing the Tsukishima ikebana style. It's never elaborated on, but apparently it means that having darkness in one's heart is necessary in order to truly capture the essence of the style. Another aspect of Momo's problems throughout the series is her attempting to reconcile this side of her art and her love for Pooh.
- "Fate" for Nana and Ryuichi.
- Badass Bookworm: Pooh is an avid reader, and frequently visits his local library to find new books.
- Beware the Quiet Ones: At one point, Nana angrily rants at her sister Momo, convinced that the people around her were making fun of and looking down on her. It turns out the headmaster convinced her to do this to bring out her "flickering light and shadow" and improve her flower-arranging ability.
- Bilingual Bonus/Foreshadowing: When Hyoma discusses "the other self" with Momo, he refers to it as "the cast-off self." Knowing Japanese actually hints as to the true nature of the phrase, if you look at its more literal meaning. Momo calls it もう一人の自分 (mou hitori no jibun — literally "another self"), whereas Hyoma names it 空蝉の自分 (utsusemi no jibun — "the temporal self"). The word 空蝉 (utsusemi) in particular literally refers to the skin a cicada sheds when it molts. When Pooh later discovers the truth behind the phrase, he describes it as a person's childlike nature, akin to a child giving names to their toys — a passing phase that one naturally grows out of (and never reverts to) as they mature.
- Brick Joke: Pooh says that people can be convinced of anything if they hear it from their left side. At the end of the same episode, he reassures Momo that her heart can be easily renewed. She replies that she can believe it... because he said so from her left side. Much later, at the end of the series, Souta reassures his mother that things will be alright. Pooh and Momo note that he said it to her left.
- In the ninth episode, after it's revealed that Chiaki and Momo are best friends and accomplices to a test of Pooh's loyalty, Momo secretly listens in on a conversation among Pooh and his friends. At the end of the episode, she does the same when Chiaki seduces Pooh. Later during the final episode, after Pooh learns what they've been doing, he becomes paranoid that he's being spied on again when Momo comes back to finally reciprocate his feelings. After they reconcile, Momo gleefully reveals that she was indeed hiding her phone the whole time.
- Call-Back: The high-perched flower that Souta initially fails to pick is revisited in the final episode by Pooh, after Momo breaks up with him. He succeeds in picking it, even though he gets injured in the process. The arrangement he makes out of it finally encourages Momo to create her own style of flower arranging.
- Career Versus Man: Momo actually falls in love with Pooh, but is conflicted between her relationship with him and her loyalty to her father. She decides to ditch Pooh at their wedding almost exactly like what was done to her, in an attempt to harness her guilt in service to flower arranging. However, she is unable to get over her feelings for him.
- Character Development: Momo learns true sincerity and love as her relationship with Pooh develops. Ryuichi also begins to see the good in himself because of Nana's influence, though that doesn't stop him from setting her up to "stumble into" him and Ruriko sleeping together. The most obvious example, of course, is Souta, who changes from an angry misanthrope into a kind and respectful teenager throughout the course of the entire series.
- The Chessmaster: Ichimatsu, the Tsukishima headmaster. He is capable of manipulating people to do his bidding. Pooh himself also counts, being able to see through Momo and her ideas of how their relationship was going to develop.
- Clark Kenting: Chiaki, the girl that Pooh meets after Momo escapes their wedding. By wearing glasses and plain-looking clothes, nobody realizes that she's actually a beautiful neurosurgeon who also happens to be Momo's best (read: only) friend.
- Cosplay Otaku Girl: Akiho, the girl who always hangs out at Pooh's shop, who's also the daughter of one of his friends. Not once in the whole series do we ever see her wearing normal clothes, even at a funeral or a wedding.
- Cry Cute: Pooh cries after telling Momo the story of how he lost his father when he was just a teenager. She kisses him afterward.
- Despair Event Horizon: Nana crosses this after seeing Ryuichi and her mother Ruriko in bed together. Surprisingly, though, after the flower-arranging duel with Momo, she is able to recover.
- Disappeared Dad: Pooh lost his father when he was a teenager, and is still deeply hurt by this. Later in the series, it's revealed that Momo is not a true daughter of the headmaster, and that her real father is Takai, her driver.
- Dope Slap: Pooh is frequently on the receiving end of this from his two friends Taro and Kohei.
- Dramatic Irony: It's revealed midway through the series that Takai is Momo's real father. It takes until the ninth episode for Momo to learn this, after she asks Takai to give her away at her wedding to Pooh, and she loses the Tsukishima succession duel to Nana.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: In order to reconcile both her love for Pooh and her desire to continue arranging flowers, she decides to create her own ikebana school independent of the Tsukishima style. Nana emancipates herself from the Tsukishima family to start a new life with Ryuichi.
- Female Gaze: Various scenes show Ryuichi without a shirt on, particularly whenever he's taking a swim.
- Flat Character: Pooh basically stays the same throughout the whole series.
- Gag Boobs: Pooh has a marriage interview set up for him after his mother's death, with a woman that his friends nickname "Balloons" because of her most... prominent trait. He tells Momo that he was turned down, but she later learns that he was the one who refused.
- Girls Love Stuffed Animals: A discussed plot point in the third episode. Akiho and her friend Mao find one of their old teddy bears, to which Pooh remarks that girls are so cruel to throw such things away so easily, deciding to keep it for them and wash it. At the end of the episode, Momo tells Pooh why teddy bears get so dirty: "Because we girls drool all over them." She kisses him right after.
- Give Away the Bride: For her marriage to Pooh, knowing that the headmaster would never agree to it, Momo chooses Takai to give her away. She doesn't yet know that he's her real father.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: As Nana realizes what's at stake in succeeding the Tsukishima name, she begins to compete against Momo for the position. Outside of this, however, they never become full-fledged rivals.
- Heroic BSoD: Nana is completely shocked to find her mother in bed with Ryuichi. She wanders off barefoot and cuts herself in the mirror room as she breaks them in an (off-screen) outburst. Momo arrives to find her bleeding and staring aimlessly, and they cry in each other's arms.
- History Repeats: Souta's behavior throughout the series is heavily implied to be the same experience Pooh himself went through after his own father died. At one point, he admits that the messages he's sending to Souta are things he wishes somebody had told him at that age.
- Honey Trap: In an attempt to fully get over Pooh, Momo employs her best friend Chiaki to seduce him. Not only does it not work, but Pooh affirms his love for Momo, making it harder for her to break up with him.
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Momo warns Ryuichi in this way about him getting close to Nana.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: In spite of being betrayed by both Ryuichi and her own mother, Nana never loses her innate goodness. Pooh is a more straightforward example of this.
- Informed Ability: The series never actually explains the aesthetic appeal of all the flower arrangements being made. In at least one instance, though, it hides a plot twist, wherein the Tsukishima headmaster picks Nana's arrangement over Momo's, him being able to tell exactly who made what.
- The Ingenue: Nana. Much of her character arc revolves around her naïvete and lack of confidence in flower-arranging.
- Interrupted Suicide: Iruka was planning on killing himself in the woods when Souta literally stumbled into him.
- Ladies-in-Waiting: Momo's two maids, Kin and Gin (literally "Gold" and "Silver" in Japanese). Amusingly, their hair colors match their names as well.
- Leitmotif: "Love Me Tender" by Elvis Presley, which plays in the scenes involving the developing relationship between Momo and Pooh.
- Lens Flare: Used a few times throughout the series, particularly in scenes centered on Pooh.
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine/Sibling Yin-Yang: Depicted in a way by the Tsukishima sisters, Nana and Momo respectively. Nana is meek, genuinely nice and believes the best in people, while Momo is brash, assertive, and even manipulative at times.
- Literal Metaphor: The titular phrase, which translates to "flower on a high peak," is a Japanese idiom for an unattainable goal. In the middle of his bike trip around Japan, Souta finds a beautiful flower blooming on a tall boulder. He tries to reach it, but falls and injures himself. In the last episode, after Momo breaks up with him, Pooh himself tries his hand at catching the very same flower and succeeds, both literally and later metaphorically when Momo finally returns his feelings.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Aside from the Tsukishima family, there's Pooh and his friends, adding up to more than 10 named characters.
- Love-Obstructing Parents: Ichimatsu Tsukishima considers love as a hindrance to the art of ikebana. He sabotages Momo's impending marriage by using a former student of his school to entrap her fiancé Takuma.
- Love Makes You Uncreative: Even though Momo's feelings for Pooh continue to grow, she genuinely believes this, so much so that she hatches a plan to do to Pooh what her ex-fiancé did to her and run away from her own wedding. It backfires on her as she is unable to get over how she feels for Pooh as easily as she thought.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Takai, Momo's driver, is her real father. She only learns of this in the penultimate episode.
- Manipulative Bastard: Ichimatsu Tsukishima, to the point where it's easy to forget that he's a father and a husband.
- Meekness Is Weakness: One of the ways that Nana is depicted as inferior to Momo is through this.
- Meganekko: Chiaki.
- The Glasses Come Off: When she removes her glasses at one point, Pooh's friends remark that she's actually quite pretty. She's even more alluring once she drops her disguise entirely.
- The Mirror Shows Your True Self: The more desperate Momo becomes in trying to regain her "other self," the more terrified she gets of her own reflection. Nana and Ryuichi also have similar moments as they learn to employ their own flower-arranging talents.
- Missing Mom: Momo's mother Chieko died giving birth to her.
- Mood Whiplash: In one scene, Momo is drunkenly laughing at how Pooh's friends are convinced she's an escort at a girls' bar, when she receives a phone call from her ex-fiancé that instantly sobers her up.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Pooh is far from just a humble bicycle shop owner. He's actually very intelligent and well-read, and even displays some knowledge of psychology. This is depicted in how he handles Souta, as well as how he doesn't fall for Momo's attempts to take the reins in their relationship. The most prominent example of this is how he deduces the truth behind "the other self" that Momo had been talking about: a person's childlike nature, which cannot be recovered as one naturally matures out of it.
- Ojou: Momo and Nana, heiresses of a renowned ikebana school.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Pooh is sometimes called by his last name Kazama, but only twice in the series is he ever called Naoto.
- The Ophelia: Nana goes through a phase of falling into this trope after witnessing her mother and Ryuichi in bed together. She gets better.
- Posthumous Character: Pooh's mother Setsuko. Her various words of advice to Pooh regarding women prove useful in how he takes care of Momo in their relationship.
- The Power of Love: When Momo discovers her mother's inspiration for flower-arranging, and after Pooh sends her one more flower arrangement after they've broken up, she finally learns to embrace her feelings and decides to start a new ikebana school independent of the Tsukishima style.
- Runaway Bride: In an attempt to embrace her own darkness and regain her flower-arranging talent, Momo ditches Pooh at their wedding, the same way that her former fiancé left her at their altar.
- Secretly Wealthy: When Momo refers to herself as "a flower out of reach," Pooh's friends initially misinterpret it as her being an escort at a nearby girls' bar called "Club Hana" (Club Flower). It takes until the fourth episode for them to learn that she's actually from a prestigious high-class family.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: "Fake divorcée" Momo falls for genuine, soft-spoken Pooh.
- Smart People Play Chess: One of the ways Pooh's vast intelligence is exemplified is through his hobby of playing shogi (Japanese chess) on his phone. It's revealed at the end of the first episode that not only does he play at the highest available level, but he has won every single game he's ever played.
- Someone To Remember Her By: Momo's mother died giving birth to her, and she's described several times as the spitting image of her late mother. She later inherits her flower-arranging style as well.
- Stalking Is Love: Momo starts out this way, frequently visiting her ex-fiancé to the point that he had to get a restraining order on her.
- Take a Third Option: Momo is truly devoted to flower arranging. However, when she begins to fall in love with Pooh, she becomes afraid of losing her talents and no longer being able to evoke Tsukishima's "flickering light and shadow." Much of her problems throughout the series stem from her feeling like she has to choose between her lifelong passion or an opportunity to find true love. In order to reconcile both her desires, she decides to reject the Tsukishima philosophy of "flickering light and shadow" and instead fully embrace her feelings for Pooh and create a new flower-arranging school with love as the inspiration.
- Talented Princess, Regular Guy: Momo and Pooh's relationship in a nutshell.
- Those Two Guys: Pooh's childhood friends Taro and Kohei, and Momo's two handmaids Kin and Gin.
- Tough Love: Ichimatsu believes that sabotaging Momo's marriage is his way of honoring his promise to his late wife, Momo's mother, for Momo to become the Tsukishima successor.
- Understanding Boyfriend: Pooh is very patient with Momo.
- Unreliable Expositor: Given how manipulative Ichimatsu is throughout the series, it's quite difficult to trust everything he says about Momo's mother.
- Uptown Girl: Momo and Pooh.
- What Does She See in Him?: Asked a lot about Pooh. Nobody is generous enough to compliment him on his looks, in stark contrast to Momo's natural beauty.
- What You Are in the Dark: Pooh does not fall for Chiaki's seductions because he genuinely cares for Momo. Unbeknownst to him, Momo was listening in when he turned Chiaki down.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Pooh's first "whiteboard lesson" to Momo is to show her that she's still a good person. He assures her that her love for her former fiancé was genuine, because despite everything that happened to her, she couldn't bring herself to hate him.
- Your Cheating Heart: Ichimatsu's second wife Ruriko sleeps with Ryuichi. It's later revealed that Momo is the product of an affair between Ichimatsu's first wife Chieko and his general manager Takai.