Bunmei Kaika Aoiza Ibunroku Saien: Nanami’s Route

This continues from the (short) Prologue. Suwa Nanami (CV: Miki Shinichirou) is a laidback guy who would rather laze around with some alcohol, even though he’s rather nimble with his hands. He also likes to slip away to gamble and Kikaku often lectures him for setting a bad example to the younger ones. But in truth, he takes care of the members in his own way, as suggested by how Hachi relies on him and  calls him oyabun. For Aoi, Nanami also looks out for her and would treat her to a good meal each time she does something successfully. He even follows up Aoi’s (lame) puns lol.

April

Having been cooped up inside her room for some time, Aoi is thinking about her own world and recalls that Sousuke’s birthday must’ve passed already. Nanami drops by in and had overheard her conversation, questioning what a “birthday” is. This is ‘cos in this period, they still followed the lunar age of reckoning system. As Aoi explains the concept to him, he asks if the reason she’s down is ‘cos she missed her own birthday. Aoi explains otherwise – her birthday isn’t till December in fact. Nanami then sees the real reason for her bring down – that she feels obliged to be useful to Aoiza, but has no idea what to do. He tells her to take things easy instead, and to not feel obliged to respond to people’s expectations – especially people whom she hardly knows. If she doesn’t feel like doing anything, then don’t – just like him (lol). As he pats her head, Nanami decides to take her out to drink under the cherry blossoms for starters. Aoi says that she can’t drink, but he reassures her that he’ll drink her share too lol.

Aoi thought of him as weird at first, but perhaps he’s actually a nice guy. Nanami isn’t used to praise, and he isn’t that nice of a guy who goes along his own pace – unlike Kensuke and Kikaku. Aoi agrees that he isn’t serious like them, but still thinks that he’s a good person. Nanami then tells her that she’s a good kid, but it’s okay to be lazy and selfish while she can. Once things get tight, she can’t do so anymore. Aoi doesn’t quite understand his words, and Nanami says that she’ll understand when the time comes. After all, some things are better leave not understood. Sanyuutei Housen spots them but Nanami acts coldly towards him. Housen introduces himself, and as an old friend of Nanami’s. But Nanami says it’s merely cursed fate and to be careful of him, Housen’s real job is an informer. Housen eventually leaves them, and Nanami tells Aoi that a man’s true nature shouldn’t be easily trusted – both him and Housen.

Both of them then go to Kaneiji Temple for the cherry blossoms. But over there, Aoi spots a priest who appears strangely tired. Nanami apologises that they’ll have to cancel their plans and quickly takes her back to Miyoshino and calls the rest of the Aoiza members. As he explains what happened to the rest of the team, Aoi is obviously confused and they explain to her about kamonjingiuramon and jyaki. The rest are hesitant about involving Aoi, but Nanami believes that she’s Futaba Aoi, she even sensed uramon before him. Aoi says that she’ll do whatever she can, though Kikaku and Rin are doubtful since it’s a matter of life and death. Aoi says that she can defend herself properly with Aikidou (not that anyone knows of this since it hasn’t existed yet in Meiji). Nanami even does a surprise attack on her, to which she manages to counter – and this impresses and convinces the rest.

So Aoiza heads to Kaneiji Temple as the priest from earlier on belonged there. Along the way, Aoiza asks what happens to someone with uramon and Nanami says that they lose control eventually but refuses to provide further details if it isn’t necessary – as some people feel really down when they know of the truth, including Aoi. They find the origin – Fujikasa Shiki – attacking the temple. Nanami turns into his jingi, a bow. However, no one else but touch the ornament except Aoi. So with Nanami, she purifies the guy whom then faints. The team is impressed and Aoi is happy to be of help, though Nanami laments at how she’s getting involved in some troublesome matters now lol. On the way back, Nanami decides that viewing the cherry blossoms at night would be good too, and promises not to drink.

May

Aoiza comes to Ginza to perform and they’re out in the streets. The rest of the members inform her that fire incidents occur frequently which explains why none of the buildings are too old. Aoiza also wants to include Aoi in their next play, which is Shiranami Gonin Otoko, 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 protests to this idea at first, but they don’t change their decision anyway. Nanami believes that she can pull it off.

Later in Aoi’s room where she’s trying to learn her lines, Nanami drops by and asks for her help to make some confetti for the stage play. Meanwhile, he makes a hair ornament from scratch for her role as the previous one (worn by Rin) wouldn’t really suit her. Aoi is amazed by his skill, and he explains that he had to find a way to make some money so that he could gamble, and did a side job. Aoi remarks that at this rate, he’ll lose everything off him, and he casually answers that he experienced that before already much to her surprise.

Once they’re done, Nanami offers to treat her to beef hot pot, something which is recently the fad in Japan. Nanami is slightly surprised when he hears that Aoi eats meat, since she lives at a temple. But then he recalls that just last year, monks are now allowed to eat meat. At the restaurant, Aoi warns Nanami not to drink too much – to which he agrees since it won’t be cool to get drunk before a girl. If the other person was Hachi he wouldn’t though, ‘cos he can carry him back lol. They converse more and when the food comes, Aoi does one of her (lame) puns – adding this as an example to show how Nanami follows her up:

Aoi: このお味噌、お見それしました!(kono omiso, omisoreshimashita!) [I underestimated this miso!]
Nanami : 今まで食ったことのない未曾有の旨さだろ?(ima made kutta koto no nai mizou no umasa daro?) [It’s an unprecedented tastiness which you’ve never tasted till now right?]

Every time this happens, Aoi would only realise later that Nanami nicely answered to her puns lol. Afterwards, Aoi thanks Nanami for the meal and he says that he got to drink while seeing a cute girl’s face too. Suddenly, he approaches her and leads her back to the inn through another path. Aoi later notices someone (Shou) looking at her from a corner and realises that Nanami was protecting her. Meanwhile, a mysterious person approaches Yatsuhashi Shou and offers him a wine cup to drink from.

On the day of the performance, the play is a success but later interrupted by Shou and his men, who later seems to have set his eyes on Aoi. Shou recognises Hachi and Nanami. Nanami threatens him away but later that night, Shou is back again to claim Aoi. Nanami apologises since he probably aggravated Shou, but Aoi tells him not to mind. If he still feels bad, then he can always treat her to a good meal again. Nanami commends on how forward-looking she is, and says to himself about not wanting to be too late to save someone anymore. They successfully purify him and his men are terrified seeing what they did to Shou, and quickly take him away. On the way back, Hachi remarks that how scary Nanami was today, referring to his sharpness when Shou interrupted them earlier. Aoi thinks the same, and feels as though Nanami deliberately shows his lazy side and wants to know more about him.

June

The troop are in Yokohama and Aoi is impressed by the port town. The rest grow interested in how Yokohama appears in her time and Aoi finds it difficult to put it into words. Nanami sees her thinking too deeply into things, and remarks that humans don’t really change. No matter what the surroundings, they still have fun, pain, worry, and act stupidly. In the end they’re merely going with the flow. Apparently, as Hachi spills, Nanami suggested bringing Aoi to Yokohama as a change in mood after the Ginza incident. Nanami hits Hachi midway though lol. Aoi later learns about their next performance, enbu – they would often use real weapons to perform and it’s Kikaku’s specialty. Aoi panics since she has no experience but Kensuke tells her that it’ll definitely be okay – she’ll be performing with him transformed as a sword (his jingi). Aoi is worried and Nanami promises to treat her to something if she does well. Aoi wonders why everyone is looking at them. Nanami remarks that as a port town which opened to the West for almost 15 years, many unique and new things get imported here. So living here, people naturally grow curious about everything that appears new, but soon switch their attention elsewhere. Aoi can’t help but think how it’s similar to her information age.

Back in the inn, Aoi grows bored as everyone else went out to look for a good place to perform outdoors. She decides to head outside too but when it starts to rain, she takes shelter. There, an old man dressed in a suit takes shelter beside her. When the rain clears, he comments that she’s too defenseless towards strangers and leaves. Aoi is left clueless as to what he means and she soon bumps into Nanami. Nanami had just gotten some winnings from gambling. When he was younger, he did gamble till he lost everything. But now he does’t play to that extent and only does it for fun. They both then spot a crying kid (Sora) who is looking for his mother (Chouko). Aoi offers to bring him back home and Nanami suddenly says “……Sora. This onee-chan……is mine. So you can’t touch her.” much to Aoi’s shock. Nanami quietly reminds her that normal people will feel pain if they touch her so she can’t hold Sora’s hand. Instead, Nanami tells Sora to hold onto his sleeve. Aoi also manages to throw in the lamest of puns I’ve seen so far…Nanami you’re so kind:

Aoi: 迷子になったら、オーマイ、ゴッド!!(maigo ni nattara, o-mai, goddo!!) [If you become a lost kid, oh my, god!!]
Sora : ……なに?ねえちゃん?[……What? Nee-chan?]
Nanami:  ……迷える坊主にならないように、って話じゃないか?[……It’s probably something about not becoming a lost boy?]

They find Sora’s mother before his house but she seems to get possessed as they walk away. They didn’t notice it as she was muttering weird things. Nanami remarks that there are a lot of people who can’t seem to keep up with the flood of new stuff coming into Japan. When they are back at the inn, Aoi realises that in fact she has much to do. Kensuke wants her to go for some fitting of clothes since there isn’t anyone else of similar build to her in Aoiza as of yet. Kikaku wants to discuss the swordplay sequence with her. On the day of the performance, they pull it off successfully. Oosuga Seiji, just missed it though, and introduces himself as a regular customer of Aoiza’s performances, though he’s been busy lately. Recently, Aoiza has become a hot topic with Housen using them as his latest story-telling material. Seiji is later called to by Fukuzawa Yukichi for work-related affairs, and even Aoi recognises the guy. Both of them soon leave and Nanami comments that Seiji is too serious. On the way back to the inn, they hear people talking about a foreign goods shop getting destroyed by a woman dressed in a kimono. Aoi can’t help but have a bad feeling about this.

Back in the inn, they also see Housen much to Nanami’s displeasure. The events about Chouko and Aoiza purifying her get quickly skipped through with narration. Chouko is weak though and Sora pleads Aoiza to bring him to look for his father in Hirata. Kensuke suggests everyone going, taking this chance to visit Shirogane, Rin and Hisoka’s birth village. Housen also tags along, hoping to get an explanation for what he saw about their other “job”.

July

On the way to Hirata, Aoi’s legs are killing her though Sora seems just fine, as he lets slip that he and his mother came through her before with their people. He’s actually a young master and his life is under threat. It’s been two years since the abolition of feudal domains (廃藩置県; haihan chiken) so it’s not weird for there to still be unrest. It’s unknown why Chouko wanted her son to keep up with the Western influences, though it’s probably ‘cos she wanted him to be happy. Nanami asks Sora if he really wants to head back, even if it means going against his mother’s initial wishes. Despite Nanami’s heavy words, Sora firmly answers that he wants to return to support his father and people, and to not regret it. Nanami pats his head, as he recalls that he went through a similar phase – but he chose to stay safe by himself and knows the regret that came it with very well, till today.

To Aoi though, she can’t really understand their feelings. Nanami tells her that it’s fine, since it’s proof of how she came from times of peace and he envies her for that. Aoi enjoys her time here with everyone though, and in her own world the people have their own set of problems anyway. Nanami though, does understand Chouko’s feelings of wanting to keep Sora safe. Similarly, he doesn’t want Aoi to go through any painful experiences here. But he doesn’t want Sora to turn his eyes away from reality either. Aoi wonders if Nanami acted like that till now but Nanami diverges the question. It’s not a story he can saw in the middle of the day, and asks Aoi to prepare two pillows and he’ll come find her at night lol. Kikaku naturally tells Nanami off.

Housen also 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 as they purified Inomata, who was at opposing ends with Sora’s father. Sora stays behind and wants to do what he can to help the people. Aoiza continue their journey into mountainous terrain, and finally reach Shirogane. Rin and Hisoka go to visit Rin’s sister’s grave while Kensuke says that the rest can relax for the day.

After Aoi has a bath, she bumps into Nanami outside – going for more rounds of alcohol. She offers to be his conversation partner and since Nanami gives the “okay” for any questions, she asks about what he meant about going through a similar phrase to Sora. Nanami isn’t that resistant to telling her, but says that many things happened in the past – such as everyone else dying except him. Nanami tells Aoi not to feel sad since in this era, many people die without even realising their fate, and everyone has their own burdens. He then starts to drift to sleep and falls asleep while hugging her. Aoi starts to feel sleepy herself and ends up sleeping too.

August

Aoiza is back in Ueno though not long after they return, it’s decided that they’ll set off for Kamimori village soon, Kikaku’s birthplace. It’s like their HQ, though Ueno is the place they’re most active in. Aoiza will always return there once every few months. It’s in Nikko and that area is bustling with prosperous activity. Kamimori village is the biggest village which worships jingi, and there are many old literature and such. Perhaps they’ll find something about Futaba Aoi and how Aoi came here. Nanami offers to help her read the old literature, even though he would usually find it troublesome.

That night, a banquet is planned to be held at Miyoshino. While the Hime sisters are preparing, they learn that all was peaceful in Ueno during the period they were away. Hachi remarks that it’s like the uramon cases are following them, and Nanami suggests that someone is leading them to Aoiza. The uneasy atmosphere is broken when the food comes and everyone soon enjoys the banquet. But Aoi is still bothered and when she goes out for some fresh air later, Nanami comes to find her.

Aoi reveals to Nanami her uneasiness, especially since Sora mentioned that Chouko received the item from a stranger. Nanami says that Aoiza’s ultimate motive is to purify the corrupted jingi, and they don’t really bother about whether there’s someone doing it behind-the-scenes etc. Besides her though, Hachi also said something similar when he first joined Aoiza. They’re both considered “outside” of the circle (not raised in a village that worships jingi) so that’s why they probably see things differently. Aoi wonders if it’s a weird train of though but Nanami thinks that it’s good to have different ways of thinking. Nanami then pats her head, commenting that there’s all sorts of thoughts in her head which he has never thought of before. And when he sees her, somehow he feels “drunk”. Aoi gets embarrassed and starts complaining of how he’s drunk and smells of alcohol. When he asks her to come closer, she escapes and says that she doesn’t care if he gets bitten by bugs by sleeping in the open. In response, all Nanami mutters is how his pillow ran away lol.

A few days later, Aoiza leaves for Kamimori. Once they reach there, they first go to visit the room holding the other jingi of Kikaku’s family. Jingi don’t last forever and there will come a time when they can no longer be used. Just before this, it can get extremely unstable and become an uramon easily. In the room, to everyone’s surprise though, the jingi ends up getting absorbed into Hachi’s body. Eventually it is revealed that Hachi is the younger brother of Kikaku. In a flurry of events, there also isn’t much time for them to search through the literature but Aoi is okay with this. 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. Aoi wonders if Nanami feels a bit lonely due to what happened with Hachi, and Nanami sees her expression, remarking that she must not be thinking of anything good lol.

The first performance goes smoothly and an elderly lady, Obana En, approaches Aoi and praises her. Unfortunately, she gets possessed later, though Aoiza manage to save her in time. Nanami praises Hachi on his first time using the jingi, much to his delight. Seeing their close relationship, Aoi feels a bit envious. The next day, Seiji comes to find Aoi. As he mentions that he happened to see their play, he also states that he has comes to say goodbye as he won’t be able to see their performances anytime soon as his work is getting busier. Nanami sees them and he and Seiji end up talking about Seiji’s situation – not that Aoi can catch on anything. Nanami tells him to stop now, though it’s his own path to choose and he doesn’t have much of a right to speak. Seiji replies that he’ll do his best to change his path and leaves them.

Nanami comments that he may have been the one who destroyed Seiji’s future, yet he can’t do anything. He then hugs Aoi tightly and while Aoi doesn’t know what to say in return, she hugs him back.

September

Ever since Seiji came, Aoi observes that Nanami seemed to be avoiding her. But she can’t take just looking at his sad face, even though he may not realise it himself. She confronts him and Nanami apologises, and takes her out for a walk. Since Aoi hasn’t really walked around the town yet, he offers to bring her to an outskirt side with many noble residences. Aoi remarks how she has seen such Western buildings only in movies and photos – and has to explain to Nanami a concept of a movie. Nanami then remarks that he would’ve liked her to see more nice sides of this world, but she keeps stumbling upon moments he would like for her to forget – such as his conversation with Seiji. Aoi says that he must be at a lost, since if he really didn’t want to talk about it, he could’ve just kept quiet. But here he is walking alongside her and hesitating.

Just then, they spot Seiji riding a carriage towards one and decide to follow behind upon Aoi’s insistence. Seiji is talking to the mansion owner, Sakazuki Kikusuke. They discuss over how Sakazuki has been sleeping everyday with the item Seiji gave him, and Seiji having to handle some work on Sanjou. Nanami immediately brings Aoi away after Seiji leaves. While Aoi thinks it’s good to convey this to everyone else, Nanami doesn’t want her to get further involved with Seiji. He shouts at her, but quickly apologises. This just worries Aoi more and she asks him again to share with her what happened.

Finally, Nanami relents and reveals that there was a period of time he was away from Aoiza. He was on the way back to his village due to inheritance issues, but met a “bad person” along the way. He was 13 then and ended up losing everything while gambling. With no means of returning, that person offered to pay off all of Nanami’s debts. If it weren’t for that person, Nanami wouldn’t be alive today. Still, he didn’t realise that there must’ve been another side to the generous gesture. So in order to thank the person, Nanami would accept jobs from him, and also as a means of earning money for the journey back home.

But one day, the person’s subordinate caught Nanami using his kamon‘s power, ignorant of the dangers of a common person seeing this. In the end, when Nanami finally earned enough and returned home – his village was gone. The subordinate had wiped out his people and threatened Nanami to work for his superior with his power. Nanami couldn’t go against him at first, but eventually he couldn’t take it anymore and ran away. They were actually collecting jingi, and to think he had been working for the people spreading uramon all along. He hid himself in Edo ‘cos it would’ve been too dangerous to return to Aoiza.

After about two years, they came to Nanami with a young Seiji, wanting him to guide the younger boy since he can handle jingi too. So while Nanami didn’t have to work under them again, he continued his life of drinking and gambling. It was around this time that he saved Hachi from getting beaten up. ‘Cos of this Hachi has been following him ever since, and calls him ‘oyabun‘. Nanami does feel guilty towards Seiji but he feels that Aoi shouldn’t interfere and instead find a way to return home asap, which would put her out of danger from all the recent attacks.

Aoi can’t bear to do this though, as she would blame herself even if no one else does. In response, Nanami says that she’ll hurt herself by trusting others so easily and kisses her all of a sudden, as if to prove his point. She slaps him in return, but insists that she can’t leave this world behind. Seeing her resolution, Nanami gives in, though remarks how she reminds him of himself when he was young and believed blindly in others. All he wants is for her to be happy in a peaceful world.

Later, they return and even though Nanami told Aoi to not tell the rest about Seiji, he instead tells everyone about it first. Coincidentally, Housen went to the mansion for a party earlier on too, and recalls how Sakazuki acted oddly. Aoiza is now pretty sure that he’s caught up with uramonand they quickly head over. As predicted, the jyaki is worse than ever and Sakazuki has completely lost it. Aoi hears the rest say that it may be too late and gets confused. They explain that Sakazuki may “disappear” as a person will disappear completely with the jingi if it has been too many days already. And before they can purify Sakazuki, he disappears into thin air.

Aoi is shaken by this even when they return, and starts to have difficulty breathing. Nanami says that he can hit her later, as he kisses her to help her regain herself. He tells her that in this era, Aoiza is used to this. He won’t tell her that she has to get used to it but would like her to bear with it, at least till she returns home. Nanami wants her to smile, since they gain the strength to protect upon seeing it. He promises Aoi that he’ll do whatever it takes to return her home.

October

Ever since the Sakazuki incident last month, Aoi observes that Nanami has been acting weirdly and though she tries to ask him about it, he avoids answering her. Later, Hisoka brings over some old records to Nanami as per requested, and adds that he should talk more to Aoi and Hachi as they’re worried sick. Meanwhile, Hachi asks to talk with Aoi concerning Nanami as they take a walk around town. Aoi tries to explain about Nanami and Seiji, though Hachi doesn’t get at first why Nanami should feel responsible for Seiji. To Hachi, he’s grateful to Nanami for saving him. But if Nanami had chosen to not save him, he shouldn’t feel guilty either since in this world, you can never tell when you’re going to get in trouble or even die as a result of the slightest mistake – it’s basically the survival of the fittest. But for Aoi, she’s probably been raised with the fortune of thinking that it’s expected to save others in need. Aoi says that kind people will want to save others – if not they’ll feel painful – just like how Hachi wants to help Nanami right now. Hachi begins to understand her view a bit, as Aoi thinks to herself that Nanami probably felt a huge sense of helplessness back when his whole village was killed.

Just then, an old man approaches them as he mentions Seiji and Nanami’s names to them and leaves them with his name – Toki Yatarou. When he leaves, Aoi quickly stops Hachi from chasing him since it’s dangerous without knowing his motives. When they return, they report to Nanami about this and he assess that he probably wanted to confuse them, and says that they were right in not chasing after him since they could’ve died. He advises them to not let the rest know as he mutters to himself that the past will always catch up with you. And after that, Nanami holes up in the room again, presumably to sleep some more. But Hachi says that he just doesn’t want to show his weak side to Aoi. Hisoka and Kensuke are also seen going in and out of Nanami’s room, as it is revealed that Nanami is going through the old literature to search for a way to send Aoi back home.

Kensuke says that they’d better start earning some money too, as they still reside in Nikko. Aoi suggests The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter and naturally, she’ll have to play Kaguya-hime while the five guys play her suitors. Even though Aoi struggles to reject the role at first, the likes of Kikaku goes “There’s no question in it, Hime is the treasure of Aoiza! It’s no a question of whether you’re popular or not, you’re God!” lmao. Hisoka will play the bamboo cutter while Housen will write the script. As it’ll take Housen a while to write it, Nanami wants to visit Higakure, his birth village. Aoi is worried and wants to tag along too, gaining the approval of everyone else, with Kensuke teasing her about not wanting to be separated for one minute at all since this is a good chance for a date lol.

Soon, both Nanami and Aoi head off and he starts to talk to her about Seiji. Even though Seiji would usually have a dark look in his eyes, whenever he completed a job he would smile happily. Their work is mainly to collect jingi and basically work in the shadows, even though they did not always do dirty jobs. Still, Seiji could smile ‘cos he’s happy to be useful. As being in-charge of teaching Seiji the ropes of the job, Nanami soon couldn’t stand continue doing a job which would make a child say such a thing. So Nanami left after teaching the basics and advised Seiji to stop too, but Seiji merely bowed and thanked him. Aoi says that everyone is worried for him, ‘cos what’s most important to you would support you. Similarly, perhaps for Seiji at that time, feeling needed and useful was the only joy he knew then. So surely he was thankful to Nanami back then too, and Nanami shouldn’t continue to feel guilty. He’s a kind person who also saved Hachi and herself. Upon hearing her words, Nanami wonders if she’s really Bodhisattva.

When they reach Higakure, Nanami heads off quickly on his own to find some old literature before joining Aoi again. He brings her to the grave he made for the villagers in this abandoned village. He’s glad that she came along if not he probably couldn’t bring himself to stand before them. He was raised with expectations and he gained from all the things they gave him. Even though he lost what he should’ve protected back then, now he has gained something new to protect and is thankful. Aoi introduces herself and goes to pick flowers. Nanami then vows before his family that he won’t bring her unhappiness, and to watch over him. He’ll use the Suwa literature passed down in their family for her sake.

Both of them then return to Aoiza and as Aoi is practising her role, Nanami comes to find her. Relating Nanami to his role in the play, she asks if he would give up like the prince did. In reply, Nanami answers that he probably can’t do so this time. Aoi can’t help but feel that he’s going to do something dangerous and makes him promise her so. The due performance goes smoothly and also later, they manage to purify Sanjou and save him in time. Also, the magatama which belonged to Rin’s sister is finally back in their hands. There’s no question that Seiji is involved in this but since Nanami remains silent about it, so does Aoi.

November

Aoiza plans to return to Ueno before the snow settles in and makes the travelling difficult. Hachi goes to confront Nanami, who is still holing himself up in his room. Hachi wants Nanami to rely on him, as he suspects that he’s up to something with Hisoka and Kensuke in the know too. It appears that Housen was listening in to them too, and wants to help out too. In the end, Nanami tells Hachi to get Housen’s help when the time comes. Aoi continues to be worried though as Nanami avoids the topic – till he finally learns of an answer from the literature.

Aoiza then receives a letter from Yukichi, he wishes to speak to them about Seiji – with just an hour to go till the written time, time to make them flustered as according to Nanami. When he arrives, Yukichi claims that he’s worried about Seiji too, as they are. But Nanami soon angrily confronts him, saying that there’s no way he’s worried since Seiji is working for him. Nanami also comes clean about how Yukichi was the one that saved him in the past and had Toki wipe out his village. Yukichi says that he didn’t intend for that and it was unfortunate. And perhaps he shouldn’t have let go for Nanami back then. Still, Nanami knows that Yukichi hasn’t come here to worry over Seiji. But he knows that Aoiza may choose to not believe the words of a traitor. Kensuke steps in and says that they see him as their friend and won’t return Nanami to Yukichi, nor will they merely let him walk away.

Yukichi is clearly amused, and says that they won’t hurt him since they’re too righteous to attack someone who can’t defend himself. Nanami though, says that he won’t hold himself back – he’ll do anything to protect the ones important to him. Yukichi remarks how he’s similar to Toki in that aspect. Eventually, Yukichi raises his offer to work together to Aoiza. Seiji is not enough and if they cooperate, he wouldn’t need to take the trouble of using uramon anymore. Of course they also refuse his offer but Aoi wonders what his motive is then – is it really to work together? Surely he’s not that much of a romantist to think so, he’s probably way more realistic. Yukichi confirms this, but obviously won’t give the answer away so simply. Nanami snaps about how he doesn’t regard people’s feelings, and probably doesn’t even understand them. In return, Yukichi merely says getting attached to people unnecessarily will cause the flow of the world to go stagnant. If it will cause the new world to go bad, then there’s no need to consider people’s feelings at all, and with that he leaves them.

Nanami apologises to Aoiza, but they know that it must’ve been hard for him. He then excuses himself to go out for more cigarettes and Aoi follows him. Seeing her concern, he thanks and reassures her. Nanami remarks that humans really can’t do things they aren’t used to, and how he’s tired. But he was glad to have seen her face and then parts ways from her – and that night he didn’t return. Hachi is the first one to inform Aoi of this the next day, and Housen soon joins them. Hachi recalls what Nanami told him and immediately they both beg Housen to tell them of any leads. Housen gives in, with the condition that it’s kept a secret that he told them about it, since it would be bad if Toki knew. Also, it’s another story if Toki is there in person.

The scene switches to show Seiji and a tied-up Nanami- while he or Toki can take his attacks, he would probably knock out the other guards straight-out. Seiji tells him to bear with him till he returns. Nanami asks if he really wants to cooperate to fulfill Yukichi’s ambitions, and to throw away everything for his beliefs just like Toki. Seiji answers that if he had been saved by Aoiza first, the world would probably have been different, but it’s too late now. After Seiji leaves, Nanami remarks that if that’s the case, why didn’t he kill him. Soon after, Aoi and Hachi come to save Nanami with Housen’s tip-off. Aoi tells Nanami off, despite him promising her. In return, he says that he’ll no longer do so with them around – in a rather ambiguous manner. So Hachi helps to translate for Aoi, including the fact that he loves Aoi, earning a smack from Nanami for translating too much. When Aoi tries to pursue, Nanami promises her that he’ll let her know everything when the time comes.

They return to Aoiza, but everyone is up as Housen had already informed them of Seiji. Nanami also informs them that for some reason, Seiji is suddenly a lot stronger and that’s why he got captured so easily. At the same time, Aoi feels unwell and they all realise the cracks in Futaba Aoi. Kensuke says that its powers are weakening, and that he’ll do something about it as he reserves the explanations. They’re interrupted by Seiji, who apologises to them and if he had a choice, he would’ve wanted to be with them as he envies how they travel around to perform – though he should be happy enough right now as he has become a useful being after being saved by Yukichi. Nanami knows how unwilling Seiji is to really do this, and they start to sense jyaki off Seiji. Kensuke cuts him and says that his true wish isn’t this and suddenly grabs Seiji and disappears with him. Shocked, everyone else can only stare in silence.

December

Kensuke clearly knows many things they don’t, but they decide to trust their leader and head back to Ueno as planned. Aoi eventually reveals everything to the Hime sisters, who were worried over them. They comment over how odd it is for Yukichi to use his own men like this, since it’s basically harming Seiji. Aoi agrees how it doesn’t seem to click with Yukichi’s personality. As a realist, even if he may take the supernatural powers of kamon and uramon somewhat lightly, he won’t hesitate to use them for his advantage. So it’s weird that he would do something to threaten Seiji – someone who can use those powers for his advantage.

Later, Aoi meets Shou in the streets and asks after her since she looks sad. She explains about their leader gone missing and Shou promises to let her know if he sees him around. Aoi recalls that he knows Nanami and Hachi, though Shou says that he merely fought with Hachi before and hasn’t even exchanged words with Nanami. He’s surprised by how Aoi calls Nanami’s first name so casually since he’s feared by them all, and only has two people under him – Hachi and Seiji. Shou then recalls seeing Seiji the day before in Ginza looking rather sick, and someone helping him walk – it’s probably none other than Kensuke.

Aoi quickly goes to inform the rest in Miyoshino and they agree on investigating further. Nanami warns them of Toki though, since he probably ordered Seiji to attack them as they rejected Yukichi’s offer. And now, he’s probably out for Seiji thinking that he betrayed him. Aoi then suggests approaching Yukichi, since he would want a new pawn with Seiji gone. She’s thinking of bargaining with him to no longer use uramon, since he did mention something like that before. Hopefully they’ll find Kensuke and Seiji soon too. They’re pressed for time – by both Toki’s presence and Futaba Aoi weakening. The rest agree with her suggestion and Hisoka sends a letter to Yukichi.

That night, Aoi happens to recall that today is her birthday. At the same time, Nanami comes to find her as he remembered. He had made a peony hair accessory as her present and Aoi tears up due to happiness. She thanks him and Nanami kisses her, as he can’t help but wish that she didn’t come from the future.

Soon, a reply from Yukichi arrives, asking to meet Aoiza at Zoujouji next Wednesday, 8pm. But Aoi also sees that Futaba Aoi has more cracks and decides to consult Nanami about this. Meanwhile, Hachi is talking with Nanami, as he joins the dots of what happened in Nikko such as Nanami getting captured and Kensuke taking Seiji away. We then get to see Nanami’s recollection of a conversation with Kensuke: Futaba Aoi is a power meant to protect the Tokugawa era, and not others. By right, its kamon‘s power should be destroyed by the next era’s. However, the Meiji era isn’t collectively supported by any family so there is no such kamon for the Meiji era. In a way, Futaba Aoi managed to avoid its destruction, since it can only be destroyed by another – if not then it should gradually decay into nothingness. However, someone had its eye on Futaba Aoi as it was decaying. So in order to destroy itself, it called upon its reincarnation, Aoi.

Seeing Kensuke’s casual reaction, Nanami hits him, thinking that Kensuke purposely let Seiji do what he did so as to use up Futaba Aoi’s powers and eventually let it be destroyed. Kensuke denies that he knew anything about Yukichi, as he wouldn’t allow such dangerous things to take place since his role is to protect jingi. Kensuke then explains that he heard Futaba Aoi’s last words, that it can only destroy itself – and true enough Aoi appeared before them. He didn’t think that it would also call upon uramon. Kensuke thinks that Futaba Aoi only has enough power for one last purification, so in the worst case scenario, one of them (Aoiza) may need to sacrifice himself by getting corrupted to have uramon. Nanami immediately volunteers himself, as he knows that Kensuke is the only one that can call upon thunder while Seiji is the mirror and that opens the path back home for Aoi. Kensuke is surprised that he knows so much, and it’s ‘cos Nanami went back to get the literature from his birth village. The leader then says that he’ll do something about Seiji, who has touched too much corrupted power and needs to recuperate his powers in order become the mirror. At this, Nanami seems to have guessed Kensuke’s true identity.

Back with Hachi, Nanami thanks him for being concerned. But Hachi thinks that he should open up to Aoi as she’s really worried. Nanami gives in and calls Aoi in, knowing that she had been standing outside all along. Hachi takes this as a cue to leave them alone, as Nanami says that he’ll warm Aoi up lol. The day of the meeting arrives, with no signs of Kensuke or Seiji still. On their way there, Toki stands in their way. Meanwhile, both Kensuke and Seiji hurry to meet the rest knowing that they’re in potential danger. Back with the rest, Toki says that Nanami should’ve actually died with the rest of his people. The day it was planned for Nanami to return home, was the day he attacked. But ‘cos of Yukichi instructed task, Nanami returned later and hence didn’t die then. Though he’s angered, Nanami keeps his cool and asks the rest to let him (and Aoi) settle this alone, but promising that if things get too much they can support. Turns out that Toki is using uramon to fight them so Nanami doesn’t need to sacrifice himself, and it’s likely that this will be the last battle for Aoi. Kensuke and Seiji also join them at this point, but believe in Nanami and Aoi to settle this alone – they purify him successfully in the end and quickly go to find Yukichi.

Yukichi congratulates them since that meant they defeated Toki, not that he wanted to have them killed – he merely wanted to see who would win. To him, if there are conflicting desires then there’s bound to be physical conflict. Aoi asks if Toki’s life is worthless to him, and Yukichi replies that everyone’s lives are equally valued, and their desires. So he thought of listening to theirs, but it’s too late as the temple is set on fire thanks to Toki’s arrangements. Yukichi swiftly makes his leave and Kensuke calls for the rain and puts the fire out. He promises to explain to everyone when they return. At the same time, Futaba Aoi shatters completely, so it’s soon time for her to return home. Back at Miyoshino, Kensuke explains that Seiji holds the mirror jingi. When Futaba Aoi has lost its powers, the powers from his sword and Seiji’s mirror can cross time and have Aoi return home.

Stay

As much as it pains Aoi to part from Nanami, she knows that he’s thinking of her and he’ll regret it just as much as when he couldn’t save his village. To Nanami, he’s returning her to the place where he thinks she’ll be the happiest. However, he does ask her if she has come to grow to like this place to the point that it’ll be lonely if she loses it, and Aoi agrees to this. But she’ll do her best to not cry and smile when she leaves, though Nanami says that he may not be able to smile despite planning to see her off with one. Outside, both Kensuke and Seiji do their job and Aoi bids everyone farewell, telling Nanami to remember her sometimes.

Nanami suddenly grabs her though, as he can no longer hold himself back. It may be late to say this, but he wants her to stay by his side. In truth, her leaving him is just as painful as when he went back to Higakure and saw that everyone had died – since similarly, he can’t meet her anymore. Nanami kisses Aoi as he says that while he may not have the right to stop her, he’ll do anything to make up for it ‘cos he loves her. It’s the first time he said it aloud and Aoi feels herself not wanting to leave him more so. Nanami promises that he’ll always save her from any painful times as he hugs her tightly.

In the epilogue, Aoi asks Nanami when he fell in love with her, promising the answer in return. Nanami says that it was when he first kissed her, much to her surprise. He’s in love with many of her qualities, and always had her on his mind. But it was in the instant that he kissed her, did he realise that he was in love with her. He then asks Aoi to tell him how much she loves him now.

Return

Knowing how much Nanami has done for her, Aoi decides to return home even though it will be lonely. She can’t bring herself to say anything selfish knowing that he will regret not being able to return her home. Outside, Nanami sees that she’s wearing the hair accessory he gave her, and he honestly compliments her upfront. Aoi tells him that she won’t forget him, and Nanami says that he won’t either and will always pray for her happiness. As Kensuke and Seiji open up the way back home, Nanami wonders if he finally acted like an adult at the very end. He then says that it’s better for Aoi to forget about a guy like him after all, but to promise to be happy over there. This time it’s her turn to keep her promise to him. Aoi answers that she’s happy since Nanami did so much for her, so she’ll definitely continue to be so when she returns. Aoi thanks everyone before she leaves and enters the mirror to return home.

Omake 1 (unlocked when you finish any one ending)

Aoiza members just finished a performance at a party. Though in fact, they were helping Housen ‘cos he accidentally accepted two jobs which overlapped each other. He did promise a grand reward for them though and when they meet him later, he thanks them and fulfills his promise – telling a chilling ghost story on a hot summer’s day. When he gets down to business, Hachi is especially freaked out and clings onto Nanami like mad. Meanwhile, Aoi and Rin try to act cool. When Housen is done with the first one, Kensuke tells him to stop here since at this rate they may get chased out of the inn for the ruckus they’re making. On the other side, Nanami asks Kikaku to switch places with him, and Kikaku instantly rejects him lol.

Omake 2 (unlocked when you finish both endings)

Aoi comes to find Nanami for some guidance as the next performance requires her to roll the dice in the shaker (ie. what you sometimes see dealers do in gambling dens), especially when Rin told her off lol. Nanami thinks that she can take things easy but agrees to help her anyway. But first, he wants her to get changed. This confuses Aoi but Nanami sneakily convinces her that you gotta get into the role and he would like her to accompany him with some side benefits too. Aoi innocently agrees and gets changed. But when she does, she’s confused again since she thought Nanami would show her the moves first, and not be getting her to practise first. Nanami then says a bunch of stuff which further confuses Aoi and me. Aoi gets the wrong idea, thinking that he’s commenting on how unskillful she actually is. Nanami quickly denies this, and then gets her to guess what he truly meant.

In actual fact, Nanami basically enjoys looking at her more. Aoi starts getting conscious of Nanami, who starts to enjoy his role of watching her even though he isn’t gambling at all. He wonders if he should ask Kensuke to let her play the dealer and him the guy in-charge of the den. In response, Aoi breaks the news that he’s the oyabun role ‘cos Hachi said it’s only natural (Hachi calls Nanami “oyabun“) lol. Nanami laughs, since this is perhaps ‘cos he teased her too much. But if it’s Aoi, he wouldn’t mind losing everything to her either. (This talk had a few gambling references which are hard to translate. One includes Nanami’s last line about “losing everything” – the term is specific, similar to how he lost everything in his younger gambling days..)

Overall

Haha omg~ Sorry for the wait, but at least it’s longer than the rest? Nanami’s route turned out to be quite enjoyable. Even though he appears like a really lazy person (okay, he is) and a bit of the comic relief since Kikaku is always nagging at him – he’s actually a nice guy, to the point of following up Aoi’s (lame) puns. I don’t mind the suggestive invitations either pfft. Again, the return ending it is a “bad” ending in a sense. Unlike Rin’s, you don’t get to see any glimpse of him in the future, oh well.

Luckily his route is a bit different from the previous two. The same stuff happens, but it delves a lot more into Nanami’s past and eventually his dedication to Aoi. Certainly very impressive in my opinion. Anyway, next up will be Seiji (yessss)! I hope his route will be rather different since he’s a bit of an “antagonist” (and only unlocked on second play), and also has two happy endings like Kensuke! Ehh but well, we’ll see how long I’ll take this time. ;;

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