This continues from the (short) Prologue. Kaminari Kensuke (CV: Morikubo Shoutarou) is the reliable leader of Aoiza, so he takes most of the responsibility of giving out instructions for the team’s front and back jobs. He looks out a lot for Aoi, but also enjoys teasing her and flirts openly. Kensuke also has an uncanny resemblance to Aoi’s childhood friend, Sousuke, in terms of appearance and even some personality traits. (This post will have the most game background explanation.)
It’s been a week since Aoi came. She looks at her family photo on her phone, and it’s the only thing that comforts her. She recalls an episode of her practising Aikidou and her grandmother’s words of rather than thinking about it, act on it. So she decides to practise it (to clear her thoughts) but Kensuke happens to enter the room and she falls on him. Kensuke refuses to let go of her later though, since she feels nice to hold lol. Despite his teasing words, Aoi notices that he’s merely glad to see her looking energetic and all – which reminds her of Sousuke. Aoi is still accidentally calling him Sousuke. As she apologises, Kensuke asks about Sousuke and she recalls that he should’ve turned 18 years old already. Kensuke has no inkling about the idea of a “birthday” though. This is ‘cos in this period, they still followed the lunar age of reckoning system. Kensuke says that he’ll help to celebrate Aoi’s birthday, which is not till December. But Aoi gets sad as she thinks that it may be impossible for her to return home. Kensuke quickly assures her otherwise, and tells her with a serious expression that he’ll definitely find a way for her to return. Aoi thanks him but he notes her way of addressing him as too formal. Aoi decides to call him “Suke-san” then, so as to also not call him by the wrong name anymore. Kensuke remarks how it’s not sexy at all, but goes along with her.
Kensuke offers to bring her outside, much to Aoi’s delight. It’s completely different from the Ueno she knows, as she notes how there are a few olden Western buildings. To Kensuke though, these Western buildings have only recently come into trend. They also meet Sanyuutei Housen, an acquaintance of Kensuke’s who works as a hanashika (basically a storyteller). But unlike a regular hanashika, he can do rakugo, roukyoku, and almost any other forms of engei. Kensuke tells him to not get too cosy with Aoi, and introduces her as the newcomer of Aoiza. His occupation excites Aoi though, who would like to hear his performance one day, but they leave it for another day as Housen excuses himself from their date.
Later, Aoi spots a priest who appears strangely tired. Kensuke doesn’t seem surprise though, and takes her back to Miyoshino first and calls the rest of the Aoiza members. As he explains what happened to the rest of the team, Aoi is obviously confused so they take the time to explain the following: Since the Heian period, kamon (literally a family crest) have existed to protect a family, and they can wield that power in the form of magic weapons or accessories called jingi. Only someone with the power of the gods can wield them, anyone else who touches them will only feel pain – everyone in Aoiza wields one except for Hachi. But if a normal person does happen to wield it, they’ll lose control anyway. Though hardly anyone wields them now, in Meiji period. Uramon is the opposite power, the power to destroy. If for some reason the jingi is corrupted, the owner will also be corrupted and basically go on a wild reign. The priest Aoi saw just now isn’t the origin of the uramon though, he merely came into contact with that origin and they term this evil aura as jyaki. The stronger a jyaki, the easier it is for it to affect other people and cause them to feel bad. Aoiza’s other practice is to save these people corrupted by uramon.
Kensuke wants to involve Aoi, and is prepared to take responsibility if anything happens. Aoi says that she’ll do her best to help, after all she can defend herself properly with Aikidou (not that anyone knows of this since it hasn’t existed yet in Meiji). Kensuke happily notes that she managed to push him down earlier on too causing a misunderstanding among the rest pfft. Kensuke figures that they should head to Kaneiji Temple as the priest from earlier on belonged there. True enough, the origin – Fujikasa Shiki – is there attacking the temple. Fujikasa is a sundries shop owner (which Hisoka patronises) and seems to really like haori and kesa which may explain why he asks them to pass him theirs when attacks them…lol. (It’s also here when the team is surprised to hear Aoi call Kensuke “Suke-san”, so Kensuke tells her to call Kikaku “Kaku-san” too lol.)
Without further hesitation, Kensuke turns into his jingi, a sword. The plan was for Hachi to distract the guy and for Kikaku to wield him, but for some reason no one can touch the sword, including Rin and Nanami. They decide to let Aoi do the job as they’re left with no choice. Indeed, she can touch the sword and with Kensuke’s lead, she purifies the guy whom then faints. They makes the arrangements to clear up and Kensuke commends Aoi as he pats her head. The rest of the team are impressed and the stubborn ones like Kikaku recognise her as apart of them now. But when Hachi happily approaches her to congratulate her, he gets rebounded as pain runs through him. This is ‘cos, as Kensuke explains, Aoi is an embodiment of a jingi (Futaba Aoi) after all. So a normal person like him touching her will cause that reaction.
On the way back, Aoi can’t help but observe how similar Kensuke is to Sousuke. Kensuke doesn’t like the comparison, but he doesn’t mind being stared at like that and proceeds to move closer to her to let her observe more closely – this surprises Aoi and her phone accidentally drops. Aoi tells him to not approach to closely, and he happily remarks that only Kensuke does that. Aoi recalls that she has photos of Sousuke in her phone, but finds that it has spoiled thanks to the fall just now. Seeing her look down, Kensuke comforts her and says that he’ll protect her.
Aoiza comes to Ginza to perform and Aoi is once again, amazed at the architecture etc. Kensuke and Kikaku inform her that fire incidents occur frequently which explains why none of the buildings are too old. Their next play is Shiranami Gonin Otoko, which is a tale about a group of thieves. Kensuke would like Aoi to play the role of Benten Kozou, who is one of the thieves that often disguises as a girl (before, Rin would usually play this role). Aoi tries to reject this decision since she has no talent onstage, and even when she learnt dance as a child her teacher practically threw her out. But Kensuke is firm and says that there’s no dancing required and everyone will help her. Her stage debut in Ginza will also act as a good story to tell Sousuke back home.
After her training, Kensuke goes to get some tea. Aoi is then glomped by a dog who turns out to be Moni, a dog Rin has had since young. Moni turns hostile when Kensuke returns though and so he spills the tea. Rin quickly takes Moni back. Apparently, even though Kensuke loves all sorts of animals, they don’t seem to take to him too nicely. As a change of mood, they decide to head out to the streets and Aoi spots bicycles. Kensuke has never tried riding one before so Aoi offers to have them borrow and ride together. It’s a fun experience, but Kensuke also takes this chance to stick to Aoi closely and says that he’s a beginner only. Meanwhile, a mysterious person approaches Yatsuhashi Shou, a small-time yankee whom Nanami and Hachi have met a few times before, and offers him a wine cup to drink from.
Aoiza takes to the stage for their performance but are interrupted by Shou and his men, who later seems to have set his eyes on Aoi. Aoiza manages to shoo them away but later that night, Shou is back again to claim Aoi. They successfully purify him though apparently, he still seems to take interest in Aoi. Kensuke chases him away and Aoi remarks that he seems to go for any woman that appears in his view. Kensuke pities Shou just a bit.
The troop are in Yokohama and Aoi is impressed by the mix of different cultures in the port town. To Aoi, she’s excited about all of this and Kensuke notes that she’ll probably fit in. Aoi realises that he appears rather down, but Kensuke quickly changes the topic. They’ll be performing in the streets this time and Kensuke has already found a good spot for this. So they decide to take a rest and head into a shop filled with foreign goods. Kensuke offers to buy something for her, but Aoi quickly changes her mind when she sees him pick out something over-the-top. They then sense jyaki off a woman (whom we later learn is Wakamigusa Chouko, a woman rejecting the change of times). But they soon lose sight of her as they bump into Oosuga Seiji, who happily introduces himself to Aoi as a regular customer of Aoiza’s performances. Kensuke tells him to not get too cosy and even calls Seiji 悪代官 (lit. evil governor), a nickname he made based off another way of reading “Oosuga”. Seiji tells Aoi to call him properly by his first name though, and he had actually heard of them via Housen’s “Aoiza Manyuuki” – a story which he made based off Aoiza about a princess and her subordinates fighting evil. Their first tale in Ueno is currently very popular.
Seiji is later called to by Fukuzawa Yukichi for work-related affairs, and even Aoi recognises the guy – though her image of him is somewhat destroyed when he asks her to just call him informally by his name upon their first meeting. Kensuke and Aoi return to the rest to discuss their next performance, enbu – they would often use real weapons to perform and it’s Kikaku’s specialty. Thing is, Kensuke deliberately didn’t tell Aoi that she’s to do it with Kikaku this time, till she was later informed by Kikaku. Aoi panics since she has no experience but Kensuke tells her that it’ll definitely be okay.
The performance goes smoothly as Kensuke changed into a sword for Aoi to use, though it’s hard on him too since he has to control her movements. The next morning, Aoi wakes up to find Kensuke huddled up with her inner kimono (from yesterday’s performance) drapped over him. It’s not a welcoming sight for Aoi but Kensuke says that he would obviously choose hers to wear over Kikaku’s – the other option is not sexy in his opinion lol. He then asks if she would like to see him change, and this successfully makes Aoi leave the room.
Aoiza later learns of news of a foreign goods shop getting destroyed and they guess that it was the woman from before – possessed people tend to have greater-than-normal strength. Kensuke and Aoi bump into Housen, who has a kid, Sora, with him. The kid tells them that his mother has been behaving weirdly since she received a comb and disappeared last night. They guess the woman is his mother and Aoiza split up to search for her. Housen also tags along. Finally, they find Chouko in her own house, and Aoi and Kensuke manage to purify her using his special skill. Chouko is weak though and Sora pleads Aoiza to bring him to look for his father in Hirata. Aoiza agree and also decide to takes this chance to visit Shirogane, Rin and Hisoka’s birth village.
They’re back in Ueno but packing up for their long journey. Hisoka and Housen tag along – if not Housen will spread weird rumours about them through his stories. During their journey, he probes for information about their special skills and so the group lets Aoi tell him about Aoiza’s other side-work and jingi. In Hirata, the narration comes in telling us that Sora’s matter is settled and there was exorcism- which flew over my head. \o/ I assume that other routes will delve into more detail on this.
Aoiza continue their journey into mountainous terrain, and finally reach Shirogane. Rin and Hisoka go to visit Rin’s sister’s grave. Aoi learns from Kikaku that he has visited this village before, but not the other members including Kensuke. Strangely, Kensuke seems very familiar with the place. Aoi also asks about his hometown, something even Kikaku doesn’t know. But Kensuke playfully tells her to become his wife first. After a relaxing bath, Aoi chances into Kensuke and they both go for a walk to see the gardenia blooming. She recalls that they would be blooming back home around this time too. Kensuke remarks that she really is a girl, with a birthplace, a warm family and had a life before coming here – unlike Futaba Aoi. Kensuke wonders, with the fall of Tokugawa and the opening to Japan to the foreign world in the Meiji era, whether the current world now is more beautiful. He thought that kamon would no longer be necessary but there are still cases for them to handle – people still get hurt, and die, so he doesn’t see how different this new era is.
Kensuke then recalls about Rin’s sister, Yui, to Aoi. She was part of Aoiza even when he was a leader back then, and saw her as an older sister. Her jingi was a magatama but unfortunately, she was attacked by people who sought for it and she died as a result. No one knows who attacked her or where they are now, her jingi still remains missing to this day. Kensuke feels as though Aoiza was responsible for Yui’s unfortunate end, but Aoi thinks otherwise and that she did her best to live her own way of life. Kensuke is comforted by her words and thinks that it would’ve been nice if she was there then – but Aoi thinks that Kensuke’s presence also helps everyone. Before they return, Kensuke moves in really close as Aoi smells of gardenia too. Aoi finds herself more nervous than usual, even after she returns to her own room. She can’t help but feel that Kensuke is hiding something though. That night, Kensuke has a nightmare of the night Yui died.
It’s time for Aoiza to return to Ueno though not long after they return, it’s decided that they’ll set off for Kamimori village soon, Kikaku’s birthplace. It’s in Nikko and the biggest village which worships jingi. It’s in the mountains though they say that it’s the easiest of such villages to access, which is why there are lots of human traffic in its long history and there are many old literature and such. Perhaps they’ll find something about Futaba Aoi and how Aoi came here. The twin Hime sisters tease Kikaku for not understanding a woman’s heart and how tired Aoi is though – till Kensuke tells Kikaku to not get played around by them lol.
Back in her room, Aoi can’t help but feel sorry for the corrupted jingi since they were cursed by others for some reason and couldn’t control themselves. Kensuke says that jingi are merely tools with no feelings but Aoi thinks otherwise – especially when she’s considered one. Kensuke tells her if that’s the answer she came up with then she should stick with it. As he pats her head, he asks if she still sees him as Sousuke. He would like to be her lover in place of him, even though Aoi denies such a relationship with Sousuke. Kensuke thought that he was a jingi without a heart or feelings, but ever since she came he’s started to feel human feelings. Kensuke wants Aoi for himself and for her to share her heart with him during her stay here.
Unfortunately, they are interrupted by the twin Hime sisters (Otohime, Kinohime) who call for Kensuke to move in on Aoi. They actually came here to call them to the banquet which they prepared, so Aoi takes this chance to slip out – but Kensuke says that they’ll continue this another time. Aoi falls asleep midway the banquet though and Kensuke strokes her hair as he pleases – Kikaku remarks that it looks wrong no matter how you look at it lol. Kensuke also takes the initiative to move Aoi back to her room, so that he can keep looking at her sleeping face.
When it’s time for Aoiza to leave, Hisoka also tags along, leaving the shop in the hands of the sisters. Kensuke also plans to perform them that’s why they’ll need Hisoka’s help. When they finally reach Kamimori, they first go to visit the room holding the jingi of Kikaku’s family. To everyone’s surprise though, in a turn of events this jingi ends up getting absorbed into Hachi’s body. Only a descendant of Kikaku’s family can accept this though, and eventually it is revealed that Hachi is the younger brother of Kikaku. Hachi’s mother actually ran away with Kikaku’s older sister, unable to take the abuse of Kikaku’s father any longer. She then remarried and hence gave birth to Hachi. Kikaku’s father died soon and since he couldn’t contact his mother or sister, he came to Aoiza at a very young age. Due to this unexpected reunion, they decide to not let the two brothers participate too heavily in their next performance, Yaoya Oshichi. It’s a tale of a woman who sets the town on fire, in hopes of meeting the one she loves. Aoi will play her, and Rin the man she loves. There also isn’t much time for them to search through the literature but Aoi is okay with this.
The first performance goes smoothly and Kensuke visits Aoi later in her room. As they recall the play, Kensuke wonders if Oshichi’s actions for Kichizou were considered as bothersome, since she was so full of feelings that she didn’t think of what trouble it’ll bring to others – she only brought pain to the one she loved. Kensuke questions what Aoi would do if he was the same, and would do anything to make her stay. Aoi answers that it may be painful, but she won’t see his feelings as bothersome but would instead be grateful since he thinks of her that much. Upon hearing this, Kensuke says that she can no longer turn back after those words and when she asks for the meaning of that – he kisses her, and tells her that it’s a secret. But then Kensuke kisses Aoi again and says that there’s no reason required for lovers to kiss. Aoi is obviously surprised and Kensuke says that he told her previously that he wanted her and it’s already too late for her to reject him. Especially after hearing those words from her just now, he can’t take it as though nothing has happened anymore even if it may bring her pain.
Kensuke soon changes the topic and they decide to go see the sights of Nikko. Meanwhile at a temple, Seiji approaches an elderly lady, Obana En, who came to visit her husband’s grave and also happened to see Aoiza’s play. He passes her an obidome before leaving. When Kensuke and Aoi later visit the same temple and chance upon the possessed En – though her body seems to be rejecting the uramon. Seeing this, Aoi decides to use Kensuke’s special skill despite it giving her more burden. They perform Yaoya Oshichi again and this time, even tsundere Rin compliments Aoi’s acting. Seiji comes over and compliments Aoi more honestly. However, he also comes to say goodbye as he won’t be able to see their performances anytime soon as his work is getting busier.
As Seiji leaves, Kensukes comes over and learns of what he told Aoi. He’s suspicious but switches the topic, asking if Aoi still thinks of going back home. Aoi can’t answer him easily as many things have happened since she first came. She herself changes the topic as she worries over Seiji and how it seemed as though he was reluctantly taking up some work. Kensuke provides a vague answer before leaving Aoi to herself too. She senses something’s up with Kensuke as well, but wonders why he won’t confide in her even though they’re supposed to be “lovers”.
Aoi decides to do some sightseeing in Nikko and Kensuke accompanies her, since he feels that he should guard her. Unlike the Futaba Aoi from before, she has her own will – people can threaten or even kill her. He notes that the number of uramon cases have increased drastically since she came. Previously, it would just be once every few years. Moreover, only she, among the Aoiza members, can use jingi now. When she’s gone, it’s unsure whether that capability will be returned to them or not etc. basically it’s all unclear. Kensuke would also like to protect her from danger, as a lover. However, Aoi sees his last line as another one of his jokes and thinks that it’s ‘cos she’s Futaba Aoi and all the previous uncertainties he mentioned. In any case, she is to take care to not move by herself.
Further away from the town, it’s the district where many there are noble residencies. They spot Seiji riding a carriage towards one and decide to follow behind. Seiji is talking to the mansion owner, Sakazuki Kikusuke, a prejudiced man who thinks that he’s more suited for the Chancellor of the Realm role over Sanjou Sanetomi. They discuss over how Sakazuki has been sleeping everyday with the item Seiji gave him, and Seiji having to handle some work on Sanjou. When Seiji leaves, both Aoi and Kensuke seem to sense jyaki off Sakazuki. They head back first to convey this to everyone. They learn from Hisoka, who used to deliver wine to that mansion, that rumours say Sakazuki has been strangely active recently. Later, Aoiza split up to investigate this matter just in case. Aoi is with Kensuke and notes that he’s been acting strange himself lately, but he brushes it off and says that they should focus on the matter at hand first.
They check on the mansion and notice it’s eerily silent. When everyone gathers later, they learn that Sakazuki fired all his servants and has been cooped up in the house for a few days. Aoi also recalls the conversation and the name “Sanjou” being mentioned. Unlike Sakazuki, Sanjou was born into the imperial court and currently is the top gun in government. Aoiza decides to break into the mansion the next day, but the jyaki is worse than ever and Sakazuki has completely lost it – they even spot black smoke being emitted from him. They can’t use Kensuke’s special skill if not Sakazuki will disappear completely with the jingi as it has been too many days already. They can only attempt to “cut away” at the corrupted parts while hoping to purify and save Sakazuki. But it’s too late in the end as Sakazuki disappears even after purification.
Kensuke leaves with Aoi first and as she starts tearing up, he hugs her from behind. He’s sorry that she had to see that, even though he knows she treats each and it hurts him just as much to see her hurt too. Aoi sees that he got a mild injury from before and he assures her that it’s nothing. But Aoi says that it hurts her to see him hurt too as his lover. This surprises Kensuke but he’s happy too.
Kensuke says that they’d better start earning some money too, as they still reside in Nikko. Kensuke asks for Aoi’s opinion and she suggests The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. Naturally, she’ll have to play Kaguya-hime while the five guys play her suitors. Hisoka will play the bamboo cutter while Housen will write the script. Back in her room, Kensuke comes to see her and Aoi remarks that he’s rather mysterious. Kensuke denies this and says that he merely made a one-sided promise to someone. He’s an old man who doesn’t have long to live so he thinks that it’s all that he can do now. Aoi says that he should only say that 50 years later and Kensuke laughs in return. He asks if she’ll stay with him as that’s his happiness now, even though he knows that like Kaguya-hime she may disappear anytime. Aoi can’t answer him as what he says is the truth.
The next day, they learn from Housen that Sanjou is in Nikko but they decide to focus on their performance first. During practice, Aoi feels faint and then sees that there are cracks on Futaba Aoi. Kensuke comes to find her, and when he learns of this he tells her that Futaba Aoi’s power is reaching its limit – that’s why there are cracks and she’s feeling unwell. He says that she should take care from now on and avoid fighting as there’s no telling what will happen if it reaches the limit – they probably can’t use their kamon or jingi anymore. Kensuke promises to protect her and collapses as he transfer half of his power to Aoi. Aoi realises that when he appears to be joking, he’s hiding something from her – but it’s for her sake as he doesn’t want to involve her. When he wakes up on her lap later, Aoi tells him to not do such things anymore as it pains her. But to him, he fears the day when he can no longer protect her when Futaba Aoi’s power is all gone.
Their performance is a success and later, Housen passes a message from the Kamimori village members. It’s something they found from the old literature which may help them: when the sword calls for thunder, the mirror will open the return path for the god. While they try to figure out what the sword or mirror refer to, Kensuke merely watches them silently, as if he has something else on his mind. Later, we are told that Sakazuki was indeed plotting something against Sanjou and they found Sanjou possessed. Thankfully, they saved him in time but Seiji is still missing.
Aoiza prepares to return to Ueno but they receive a letter from Yukichi, he wishes to speak to them about Seiji. It’s suspicious but they receive him anyway. They learn from him that Seiji is behind all the uramon incidents, though on his orders. He purposely did so, in order to test their capabilities – but not weakening them too much. Yukichi wants them to work for him to build the country. He wouldn’t mind if only Aoi, Futaba Aoi which supported the Tokugawa era, comes with him. Of course they refuse him. Towards Kensuke’s refusal though, Yukichi says that it’s difficult for him to want to be accepted in the truest sense. He also thinks that it’s best if they continue not knowing about Seiji’s whereabouts. Yukichi then leaves and everyone is confused as to how he knows so much.
Nanami admits that back when he was in a bad state due to gambling, he got offered a job by Yukichi concerning uramon. That’s why he got questioned about it and he told him. Though Nanami regrets it, he thinks now that he was probably forced in such a situation by Yukichi. Also, he first met Seiji via that job offer. Nanami knows that Seiji is a pitiful guy with his reasons, and would like to help him. But since he’s still working for Yukichi he’s still their enemy. Nanami apologises to everyone but Kensuke knows that he must’ve had it difficult too.
Later in Aoi’s room, she ponders over Yukichi’s statement and Kensuke explains that he’s probably referring to the fact that he’s not human and can’t stay with a human like her. Of course Aoi is shocked by this but Kensuke asks that even if he isn’t human, if she would still love him. Aoi immediately says that she would and Kensuke hugs her out of relief. To Aoi, he’s himself and in return, Kensuke tells her that no matter what happens, to always remember that he loves her. Aoi asks if he’s planning to do something and he teases her by replying that he wants to do a lot of things when he sees her pfft. Kensuke kisses her before leaving an embarrassed Aoi behind.
Outside, Seiji is seen meeting an old man, who asks Seiji to be prepared to sacrifice everything since he owes Yukichi a huge favour. Later that night, Aoi is woken up by screams and it’s chaotic outside. They find Seiji, who apologises to Aoi as he loved both Aoiza and Aoi. But he has to act on his orders to kill them and jyaki seems to be emitting from him. Seiji raises his gun but Kensuke jumps in, and says that his true wish isn’t this and to not destroy it. Seiji pulls the trigger but it barely brushes past Kensuke’s hair. Kensuke suddenly grabs Seiji and disappears with him. Shocked, everyone else can only stare in silence. But they decide to trust their leader, including Aoi.
The remaining members decide to return to Ueno, as Housen guesses that they’ll probably head to Tokyo since they have to go in hiding and it’s harder to chase them if they’re in a busy area. Back in Miyoshino, they all search for Kensuke and Seiji. It’s fruitless though they all come down to Toki Yatarou, a man who has been supporting Yukichi in the shadows since young. Aoi then suggests asking Yukichi directly to everyone’s surprise. She even hand-picks Housen to deliver the letter and message. He’s reluctant at first, but Nanami says that one reason Housen’s been sticking to them is ‘cos he was asked to leak information to Yukichi. Housen immediately agrees to do the task while the rest wait for a reply. As stated by Hisoka, the worst event is that Toki comes in place so they’ll need lots of rest if that happens.
A reply from Yukichi does come the next day, asking to meet Aoiza at Zoujouji next Wednesday, 8pm. Three days later, Aoi is worrying over Kensuke and Seiji as she seeks some comfort from Moni. Suddenly, Moni dashes off and Aoi chases her to an abandoned building – where she finds Kensuke. They have a lovey-dovey reunion, till Moni starts barking at Kensuke. Seiji is resting in the next room and Aoi learns that he isn’t infected with an uramon, so Kensuke shared his power with him and waiting for his recuperation. Kensuke thanks Moni for leading Aoi here even though she dislikes him. Aoi wonders the reason for this and Kensuke explains that it’s ‘cos he isn’t human – he merely takes a human form and that’s why animals fear him.
Kensuke was born in a hidden village known for producing leaders – but actually all those different leaders are all him. That’s why he is familiar with all the villages, jingi etc. Every 20 years, he’ll change back into a younger figure, erase his past and start a new life. He’s a jingi meant to protect Futaba Aoi which is meant to support the Tokugawa era. He maintained a human figure so as to protect Futaba Aoi, and to prevent corruption of it. Aoiza was also formed to support the Tokugawa era alongside Futaba Aoi. However, with the Meiji era now, both he and Futaba Aoi probably won’t live for much longer. It’s been over 200 years which is a long time, and he has come to appreciate humans – they are all doing their utmost to live to the fullest for such a fleeting moment. He fell in love with Aoi ‘cos she came to see jingi not as a mere tool. Kensuke also knows that the Aoiza members are similar in that aspect. As he pats Aoi’s head, he says to her: “You can think of everything that happened in this world as a dream. So please forgive me. I want you. More than anyone else, I want to stay with your soul.”
And I think they did it.
Afterwards, Kensuke sees Aoi back. Outside her room window, Kensuke pats Aoi’s head again and tells her to wait a while longer. He knows that she’s going to meet Yukichi and tells her to do as she thinks is right, to convey that it’s wrong to manipulate such uncontrollable power. Kensuke also wishes Aoi “happy birthday” as he actually planned to come over to see her – but she came to him first. Later, he thanks Rin and Hisoka for following Aoi in the shadows to protect her.
Meanwhile, Toki is seen to be confirming that the preparations to burn Zoujouji are done. Kensuke and Seiji overhear this. Kensuke wonders if Yukichi is still coming and Seiji confirms this, since Yukichi is interested in Aoi. In any case, there are two threats: Toki himself, and the fire Yukichi has ordered for. The day of the promised meeting arrives and Aoiza goes to the temple site but Toki interferes. He also uses uramon‘s powers on himself as he refuses for them to meet. He felt that ever since Aoi’s appearance Yukichi seemed to changed. There’s no choice but to fight Toki, and Kensuke and Seiji join them at this point. It’s difficult at first, but later Aoi does the unexpected by throwing down Kensuke (sword form) and using Aikidou instead – before purifying Toki with Kensuke. Just then, Futaba Aoi breaks as its power has reached the limit.
But first they rush over to find Yukichi as the fire has broken out already. Aoi questions why he set the fire and in return, Yukichi remarks that there’s currently the spread of westernisation (note: Bunmei Kaika = Japan’s Westernisation movement during the Meiji era; the game title has just one kanji different), not that it’s a bad thing. Actually, its spread across the people may be the fastest way for Japan to be modernised. So the greater obstruction to this is people clinging to the old, unchanging ways. This Zoujouji is a symbol of that. Haibutsu Kishaku (anti-Buddhist movement at the beginning of Meiji era) is still fresh in everyone’s minds so he believes that this fire incident will be accepted by people – the fire started by one of these movement believers is merely the burial of a decaying temple. Aoi obviously doesn’t believe in his words and feels that he’s wrong for involving so many people and trying to manipulate a power he can’t control. Yukichi sees her as innocent and narrow-minded though, pain is needed sometimes with revolutions. This will be a good act to wake up the fools who have given up on the things they personally learnt now that it’s times of peace. Seiji questions what position he is speaking from and Yukichi answers that it’s from a learned person’s perspective. Yukichi believes that he can get away with this as just like how Aoiza can’t reveal their real aim, there is a limit to people’s understandings.
Yukichi then leaves and Kensuke uses his power to call rain, which puts out the fire. Among Aoiza, only Kensuke can do this – though he can only do so once more as his power is depleting. Everyone returns and it is revealed that Seiji holds the mirror jingi, even though his village which had been protecting it all along has been destroyed already. This relates back to the message Housen passed to them “when the sword calls for thunder, the mirror will open the return path for the god”. That’s why Kensuke went to save Seiji. Kensuke was to carry out Futaba Aoi’s wish: with Tokugawa era over, its power is no longer required and should be destroyed. So then Aoi came here, and has successfully used up its remaining power. Kensuke is reluctant to let Aoi go, but he’s not human and probably only has some 10 years left. He had been hesitating all along as to whether to make her stay or not.
Aoi remembers that he said that he can only do that once more, meaning that he may use up the rest of his power and life span to send her back home. Kensuke had been planning to keep quiet about it but confirms that it’s a possibility, and with Futaba Aoi destroyed he can’t expect a boost in his kamon power anymore. Kikaku remarks that as compared to the previous leaders, Kensuke has become so unsightly for the woman he loves. In that case, he should do all he can to make Aoi stay behind. Aoi then says that her only wish is for Kensuke to live on, and she will regret it if she returns home now. She can’t live on while thinking whether he has died or not. Those decades left for him are enough for a human, to live and die together. So Aoi begs for Kensuke to make her stay. In the end, Kensuke gives in and she may regret it when he dies and she can no longer return home. But now he’ll dedicate his whole life to her until death and make her happy.
In the epilogue, the couple is happy and they both remark that they’ll give each other something else to regret over – they won’t ever let each other go.
Kensuke had wished he had been born a human, so that he could live and die normally as lovers with her. But he’s not, and he doesn’t want to close the future she has in her own world. He asks for her to let him see her off, and he has fulfilled his promise to find her way back home. Kensuke says that he may reincarnate as a human, just like she did as Futaba Aoi. So he’ll come to find her and tells her not to cry – but to smile for him. Both Kensuke and Seiji send Aoi back, who finds herself back where she was alongside Sousuke. Aoi can’t help but cry, and Sousuke tries to comfort her. She recalls Kensuke’s words and attempts to smile. Upon seeing this, Sousuke remarks that it’s a nice smile – and he suddenly recalls his memories as Kensuke and he calls her as he used to at the start “Futaba Aoi-chan”.
In the epilogue, Kensuke explains that the dreams he had been seeing all along were his memories. He is a reincarnation of Kensuke, and unwittingly he tears up at this revelation. Also, Sousuke gets jealous of his past self since he had been trying to confess to Aoi all along. But in the end she became lovers with Kensuke first. As he hugs and kisses her, Sousuke says that he’ll make her remember that he fell in love with her first and loves her more.
Omake 1 (unlocked when you finish any one ending)
Aoiza plans to hold a banquet back in Miyoshino after Aoi’s stage debut in Ginza. Kensuke asks for what she’d like to have and Aoi has a huge craving for okonomiyaki – except that it hasn’t existed then yet. So they do their best to gather the things necessary for Aoi to make it – Kensuke even calls Seiji to bring the cabbage and Worcestershire sauce as they are hard to get, and only got them from foreign settlement. In the end, everyone enjoys the okonomiyaki – though later Kensuke says that he enjoyed seeing Aoi’s serious face when cooking just as much. Aoi thanks Kensuke since he pitched in a lot of help too and offers to return the favour. So Kensuke asks to eat together again, but with just the two of them.
Omake 2 (unlocked when you finish both endings)
This takes place after Aoi returns home and it’s the start of a new school term. Sousuke remarks how amazing Aoi pulled up her history grades, and she admits that perhaps her experience in Meiji helped her better appreciate. It’s mysterious though since it only happened like yesterday for Aoi, but it’s been some 100 years for Sousuke. Sousuke recalls that he had to continuously take on new identities (eg. Kousuke was the leader before Kensuke) to the point he no longer remembers how many times it has been. He’s no a real human – but not before. Similar to Futaba Aoi, in the beginning everyone knew that he was a jingi and treated him as a tool. Though of course that changed with the Aoiza members. But then he met Aoi, and saw how even though she had a special power she lived life as a normal human. He felt as though he changed and is grateful to her. Now he has learnt to appreciate the little things in everyday life.
Now, Sousuke just wants her to be happy – so he asks if she has any current requests. Aoi would like to go on a date course and so they start happily talking about the different places to go and activities to do.
I think Kensuke was a good first choice, but now I’m going to think he’s the OTP haha. Both of his endings were cute and I enjoyed his personality and the romance. The heroine is a good girl too, but unfortunately there was one thing I didn’t get – her urge to make puns. I couldn’t get it at first, ‘cos it would even come out as choices and I didn’t understand the significance. Speaking of choices, I also didn’t get the difference in the choices I made for the stay/return endings. The story’s pacing is a bit odd since each character would suddenly get their own revelation in Kensuke’s route – it makes me wonder what the other routes will be like.
Which brings me to the story…which I think I kind of get? Thinking about it, it’s actually all in the game title lol: Bunmei Kaika (explained earlier), Aoiza, Ibunroku (lit. means strange tale records). I actually like how they mixed in actual historical elements with the game plot and supernatural stuff – even how Housen would narrate the start and end of each month’s story, as if retelling it to an audience. And I found the overarching themes of modernisation, a new era etc. rather interesting. Unfortunately, I probably can’t expect all games to do what StS/DMMd do – expand the themes to mind-blowing proportions. Nevertheless, it was a refreshing experience. I don’t get 100% what Yukichi’s aim is, since using Futaba Aoi’s powers for a modern era is rather contradicting. I can only hope that his route will enlighten me.
The CGs are nice and it’s interesting to see the backgrounds of the various places. They also went all out in terms of system voices for almost everything (not exaggerating), and also you could hear voice-overs where Kensuke comments as if reminiscing the times with Aoi. I found it nice that even for the common CGs they would have two characters talking together. In the voiced character profile, you also get six more sweet lines from Kensuke and a cast talk from Morikubo – who clearly enjoyed his role lol.
Ahh I want to hear Ishida’s now. Anyway, I still enjoyed this more than expected ‘cos all the characters are very distinct and fun. The Hime sisters’ dialects are very cute too. And I made it through a game set in olden times for the first time! Lol. I will be moving onto tsundere Rin next!