This continues from the (short) Prologue. Kotobuki Kikaku (CV: Suzumura Kenichi) has an extremely serious personality, so he takes everything word for word. This leads to him often lecturing the others even if it’s clearly meant as a joke…and others also teasing him (lol). Even though he doesn’t accept Aoi’s existence at first, he is soon convinced and ends up protecting his “princess” very faithfully and carefully.
Aoi decides to exercise a bit, in an attempt to cheer herself up after being stuck in her room all along. She goes out to ask if there’s any place good to do so, but ends up stumbling upon the rest talking about her. Kikaku is still in disbelief, though Kensuke teases him by saying that he should be happy that Futaba Aoi turned into a cute girl which makes him blush. Kikaku feels disappointed since his ancestors had been protecting Futaba Aoi all along yet this happened under him, and he can’t accept Aoi as Futaba Aoi. They then realise that Aoi was listening in, and she quickly dashes back into her room. Kikaku soon comes after her though, since everyone was worried and he apologises for his words. After all, Aoi would be feeling more unsettled since she came to this unfamiliar world etc. So he wants to atone for his crime, and of course Aoi says that he’s stretching things – which makes him sincerely remark that she’s so forgiving (lol).
Since Kikaku appears insistent on doing something for her, Aoi asks him to show her around town. He gets embarrassed when she keeps staring at him though, ‘cos Aoi now has a slightly different impression of him. She also starts calling him “Kaku”, saying that it’s part of his atonement lol. Outside Miyoshino, Aoi also sees Moni for the first time and it takes an instant liking to her. Aoi is excited as she explores the streets, since it’s completely different from the Ueno she knows. Kikaku then brings her to a shop (which he heard was popular from Kensuke) and even buys a comb for her since she looked happy and he wants her to keep smiling – saying all this with a serious face~ He even unconsciously combs her hair with it later with a soft smile on his first. This changes Aoi’s impression of him even more.
Housen soon interrupts them and Kikaku ignores him (lol) so Housen has to do the introductions himself. Kikaku doesn’t want him around Aoi though, ‘cos he heard certain rumours about him from Nanami. Housen casually brushes it aside though, as he excuses himself from their date. Just then, Aoi notices a tired-looking priest and goes to ask after him. She also senses an aura and so does Kikaku – which confirms that she’s indeed Futaba Aoi. As such, Kikaku immediately corrects his attitude towards her, addressing her as “Hime” and using keigo now. He even goes down on his knees to apologise for his previous attitude and of course this shocks Aoi.
Kikaku soon brings her back to Miyoshino as he calls for everyone else to gather. There, he explains about the situation, and Aoi learns of their other job involving jingi and uramon. The rest also notice Kikaku’s huge change in attitude lol. Kikaku wants to involve Aoi since she is Futaba Aoi, and he promises to protect her. They then split up to look for leads, and all of them eventually find their way to the temple where a possessed Fujikasa is. No one else except Aoi can touch Kikaku’s transformed self, so she ends up purifying Fujikasa with Kikaku. Aoi feels a bit faint after the first battle, and Kensuke swiftly steps in to support her. Kikaku immediately warns the leader to not do anything lewd (助平; sukebe) and it’s from here that Aoi gets Kensuke’s nickname, Suke-san lmao. Kikaku then tells her to return soon ‘cos it’s getting cold. Aoi can see that though he’s serious, he’s also very kind towards her.
Aoiza is in Ginza for Aoi’s debut performance, and she feels nervous – especially with Kikaku’s high expectations of her lol. During the practice session with Kensuke, Kikaku keeps coming to watch them from a distance. Kensuke knows that he’s worried about Aoi since Kikaku is easy to read. But Aoi feels that there’s a weird distance between them, as if he still hasn’t fully accepted her. Hisoka, who later comes to give them some snacks, remarks that it’s ‘cos he has always faithfully protected Futaba Aoi, regarding it with the highest of respect – so naturally she’s special. Kensuke thinks that since he willingly fought with Aoi it should be okay too. He even purposely draws himself closer to Aoi to help her bring out the sensuality of her character, and Kikaku immediately jumps out to stop him pfft.
Kensuke gives her the lead by asking Kikaku to help too, and so Aoi asks for advice to help with her nervousness. So Kikaku teaches her to close her eyes and to chant “the audience are vegetables” three times. When Aoi does so and opens her eyes, she finds inches away from her and she flushes – Kikaku doesn’t seem to understand why but Kensuke does lol. The realisation that Aoi is also a human has finally settled into Kikaku, and Aoi is happy that he finally sees her as herself. Aoi then remarks that it was even more unbelievable for her – since she had been living a normal life all along, has a birthday etc. This leads to her having to explain the concept of a birthday to both of them. Kikaku then gasps at how it was her birthday last month, and Aoi says that it’s the day Futaba Aoi became her – not her real birthday, which is actually in December lol.
Aoi’s practice goes well later as even Rin praises her (not that he would admit it’s praise). And just moments before her debut, Aoi uses the method Kikaku taught her to calm her nerves. However, Shou comes to interrupt the performance later. Kikaku manages to chase him away, though he’s still angry at how he tried to attack Aoi when Aoi stopped him from hurting a kid. Aoi thanks him for getting angry even on her behalf and this embarrasses him~ Later that night, Shou comes attacking again. Both Kikaku and Aoi purify him, and Kikaku threatens to give him a sakayaki hairstyle if he approached them again. Aoi then wonders why Shou came after her despite other beautiful women around. Kikaku then smile at Aoi, saying that she’s beautiful. This renders Aoi speechless, and she’s constantly reminded of those words that night.
They’re in Yokohama now, and the couple is searching for a good spot to hold their next outdoor performance. Midway, when Kikaku leaves Aoi briefly to check up on a spot – an elderly man approaches Aoi before leaving her as he remarks that she’s too defenseless. When Kikaku returns, Aoi thinks that he’s being too protective of her and tells him to not push himself. Kikaku decides that this is a good time to open himself up to her as he says that he thinks of her as important. Though he couldn’t accept her at first, he thinks that it’s good to see her living brightly now. He thinks of her now as an important member of Aoiza. Touched, Aoi thanks him which makes him embarrassed. When Aoi realises that they still don’t know much about each other and tells him to ask her, he starts throwing all sorts of questions at her – how her world is like, what she thinks of Aoiza, her favourite food etc.
After they’ve found a good spot, they decide to look around for a bit before returning to the rest. Kikaku goes red when Aoi takes his hand, not that he lets go of it~ They spot a possessed Chouko though, and want to go after her – but they’re interrupted by Seiji. Seiji immediately recognises Aoi as the one from Housen’s recently popular story (and he goes “my heart is still not ready” omg~). Seiji quickly introduces himself though Kikaku gives him the prickly treatment and even calls him 悪代官 (lit. evil governor; Kensuke’s nickname for Seiji). If you let Aoi make a lame pun of the word 悪代官, Seiji reacts in the most precious way and Kikaku doesn’t get the joke pffft. Conversation is recorded below ‘cos I’m bias:
Seiji: あだ名なんだ。大菅という苗字をダイカンと呼んでつけたあだ名。趣味が悪いとしか言えないけどね(adana da. Oosuga to iu myouji wo daikan to yondetsuketa adana. shumi ga warui to shika ienai kedo ne) [It’s a nickname. A nickname from calling the word “Oosuga” as “daikan”. You can only say that it’s in poor taste.]
Aoi: それは……悪だ、いかん！！(sore wa……aku da, ikan!!) [That is……bad, no good!!]
Seiji: ！！そ、そうだね……っ！！神鳴君てば、他人に変なあだ名つけて！全く悪だ、いかん、よね……っ！(!! so, sou da ne……!! Kaminari-kun teba, tanin ni hen na adana tsukete! mattaku aku da, ikan, yo ne……!) [!! Th, that’s right……!! Kaminari-kun, giving other people weird nicknames! He’s seriously bad, no good, right……!]
Kikaku: ……悪代官、は大菅。お前のほうだろう……？(……akudaikan, wa Oosuga. omae no hou darou……?) [……The evil governor is Oosuga. Shouldn’t it be you……?]
Yukichi soon joins them though, and Seiji has to do the introductions. They both soon leave after, and Kikaku and Aoi decide to return to tell everyone else since they lost sight of the woman. Back at the inn, the others have heard rumours about a woman in a kimono destroying a Western goods store. Kikaku and Aoi guess that it’s the woman they saw. But they’ve to leave that aside first for their item tomorrow, where they do some sword play with Kensuke as Aoi’s sword. The performances goes well the next day, with Seiji watching from the shadows as he enjoys it too, but he still has to fulfill his work. After it ends, they spot Chouko fleeing from the crowd and they chase after her. Midway, they bump into Housen and Kikaku gets some information out of him. Hachi comes along with information about Chouko’s location though so they hurry up – with Housen tagging along.
They find Chouko in her house with Sora, whom they ask Housen to take away first while they purify her successfully. Housen gets excited at seeing the real thing though, and promises to keep quiet in return for an explanation later. Sora asks them to take him to Hirata though, as he’s worried about his father. It’s here that Kensuke, Rin and Nanami enter as they got lost lol. Hearing the situation, they decide to escort Sora back to Hirata, taking it as a chance to visit Shirogane too. Though everyone is harsh on Housen since his information wasn’t that helpful in the end lol, they let tag along, and let Aoi explain their other job to him as he threatens to spread strange stories about them.
Aoiza is on their way to Hirata and Aoi isn’t used to the mountainous roads. Kikaku swiftly offers to support her, and even carry her upon Kensuke’s playful suggestion. Nanami wouldn’t mind that service, but he backs off when Hachi willingly offers to carry him lol. The narration comes in and we’re told that Aoiza successfully handled Inomata’s uramon case and they head to Shirogane, Rin and Hisoka’s birth village. Aoi feels a bit sad as she recalls Sora’s case, and gets embarrassed when Kikaku tells her to smile since it suits her more. Rin and Hisoka go to pay their respects to Yui, Rin’s older sister. Meanwhile, Kikaku guides Aoi to the river as she wanted to go somewhere cooler. Seeing her sweat, he even went to wipe it it off. Yet when Aoi pulls back her clothes to step into the river, Kikaku goes red pfft.
Kikaku then recalls watching his younger sister play in the river too, but he didn’t spend long with her. In fact, Yui was like a motherly existence to him, since he was practically raised in Aoiza since the age of 5. Unfortunately, she was murdered by people after her magatama jingi and its whereabouts and the culprit remain unknown. He doesn’t wish to lose someone like that again and that’s why he protects Aoi so much. Seeing him look down, Aoi invites him to the river. She accidentally slips though, and Kikaku quickly catches her, and even wipes the water off her face. He then escorts her back to the inn with his hand around her waist. Aoi notices that this skinship of his seems to be increasing lately, but decides to dismiss as her over-imagining things. The next morning, Kikaku keeps lecturing Hachi and Nanami. But Kensuke feels that with Kikaku being so noisy, it makes one want to tease him more and he proceeds to draw himself close to Aoi – and of course that sets Kikaku off lol.
Aoiza return to Ueno, where Aoi feels a sense of nostalgia since it has become a place to return to in this world. Kikaku blushes when he hears this, ‘cos it’s an important place to him too. Kikaku starts telling Hachi and Nanami off again, and Rin comments that he’s been like this since Nanami brought Hachi over. Kensuke remarks that Kikaku has grown to show more expressions ever since. That night, Aoiza celebrate with a banquet. Since Aoi can’t drink (being under legal age in her world), Kikaku gives her all sorts of food dishes to try instead. She soon gets sleepy though, and eventually falls asleep on his shoulder. Kikaku decides to not disturb her, and the rest start teasing him as he goes red. He eventually tells them to quieten down since Aoi’s sleeping. This makes Hachi remark that it’s impossible since it’s a banquet and it’s Aoi’s fault for sleeping here. In return, Rin tells Hachi that’s he’s always noisy anyway lmao.
The next morning, Aoi wakes up in her room. Kikaku comes in to apologise for carrying her when she was unconscious, but of course Aoi thanks him instead. He then informs her that they’re heading to his birth village, Kamimori, next. None of Kikaku’s family members are in the village now, as he recalls that he has a mother, younger sister and a younger sibling. He doesn’t know where they are now but hopes that they’re living well. Aoiza head off to Nikko a few days later, with Housen and Hisoka joining them again. Once more Kikaku offers his help to Aoi seeing “pearls of swear rolling down” her face lmao. So Aoi quickly redirects the topic to Kamimori. Kikaku explains that it’s one of the villages which worships jingi, and has many old literature which may contain clues as to how Aoi can return home. Everyone starts feeling lonely at that thought though, and Kikaku merely goes quiet.
In Kamimori itself, they go to give their greetings. The room also holds the other jingi of Kamimori village, a dagger. Like in other routes, it ends up getting absorbed into Hachi’s body though, which surprises everyone. It is eventually known that Kikaku and Hachi are brothers. Kikaku’s mother left with his younger sister, and at that time his mother was pregnant – with Hachi. Kikaku then observes that Hachi has the same habit as his mother, putting his hand to his head when he’s troubled. Hachi comments that Kikaku actually does the same and Aoi can’t help but see the similarities! So Kikaku brings Hachi around to inform the villagers.
Later, he also takes Hachi to their father’s grave. They both let Aoi tag along since it’s still awkward between them. Kikaku tells Hachi that their father wasn’t someone to be respected, but he promised his mother to report to him if they met. Now, the both of them can protect Futaba Aoi. When they’re done, all their focus is on the next performance, which means that there isn’t much time to check on the old literature. Kikaku doesn’t seem too happy when it’s announced that Rin will be starring next to Aoi in the next performance, Yaoya Oshichi. Meanwhile, an elderly lady is seen being approached by Seiji, who gives her an obidome.
The performance itself goes smoothly though Kikaku seems out of sorts. Though he suddenly praises Aoi, he also runs off after that. Aoi decides to chase after him, but notices the possessed elderly woman. Kikaku joins her since he felt the aura too, and so does the other members later. They purify her successfully, though Aoi still feels bothered by Kikaku’s odd behaviour. The next day after their performance, Seiji comes to find them as he bids them farewell. Both of them find something amiss. But Aoi is more troubled by Kikaku as she finds herself wanting to be praised by him, and wonders about her feelings for him.
Aoi decides to approach Kensuke for some help, and apparently he also noticed something amiss. Kensuke decides to talk to her, while dragging Hachi along too as he was actually listening in. Outside, he tells them that Kikaku actually has been holding an old wound all along. His father loved his mother a lot, but the tragedy started when Kikaku was born. He could only be concerned for his wife, not his son. That’s why Kikaku’s existence irked him, as he saw him as stealing away his wife’s attention. So his love for her became obsession, and by the time the next child was born, he turned violent and even shut his wife away. It was then she was pregnant with a third child, Hachi. Kikaku feared that his mother would lose it if this continues, so he let her and his sister escape.
He was only 5 then, and yet he already had people he wanted to protect. But his father found out and wanted to chase after them so he and Kikaku ended up in a tussle – which led to his father slipping and falling down the cliff to his death. Even though it was an accident, Kikaku kept blaming himself. As such, he joined Aoiza when he was 5 years old as the youngest member. 5 years later, Kensuke joined Aoiza and they’ve been together ever since. Hachi gets a bit jealous as they appear more like brothers. But Kensuke tells Hachi that he’s an irreplaceable existence which Kikaku protected with all he had. So Hachi living on is proof of their sibling relationship.
They soon see Kikaku appearing in a distance, so Kensuke takes Hachi away to eat some dango, since he’s the brother of all Aoiza members. But Hachi decides to follow the couple instead lol. So Aoi and Kikaku end up walking together, as he suggests heading in the direction where there are many noble residences. Kikaku informs her that Kamimori villagers have brought over the old literature, so they’ll do their best to read through and find out information about Futaba Aoi. They wonder for what reason the stone became a human form, and Kikaku goes red when he mutters if it’s for his sake lol. Since there’s an unusual rise in uramon cases, Aoi decides to do what she can – though inside she’s actually uneasy and can’t imagine the thought of Kikaku not being by her side anymore when she goes back home. To hold back her tears, she quickly directs their attention back to the noble residences. Seeing all this, Hachi remarks that her becoming human clearly not for Kikaku’s sake lol. But Kensuke says that people tend to imagine things when they’re in love.
Back at the couple’s side, they spot Seiji and Aoi can’t help but want to follow him. They leave soon after though, as they see Seiji enter a mansion belonging to Sakazuki. Back at the inn, Aoi tells Hachi about this and he decides that they should go check it out since it seems fishy. Kikaku interrupts them though since he opposes this. But Hachi manages to be persuasive enough and they all end up back at the mansion, with Moni seeing them leave. Kikaku nags him more though, and this triggers Hachi to say that he’s just jealous (of Aoi worrying over Seiji) and this makes Kikaku stutter lol. But a possessed Sakazuki soon sees them and gets his men to lock them up. Unfortunately, they can’t convey this to anyone and no one knows that they came here – except Moni.
Meanwhile, Kensuke, Nanami and Housen are looking through the old literature from Kamimori. They’ve figured out the part about a sword calling upon lightning and the mirror opening up the path. They soon do notice that three people are missing, and Moni has been acting oddly. At the other side, the brothers decide to pretend to start a fight so as to attract the guards’ attention. However, things get really heated as Hachi points out how Kikaku has been hurting Aoi recently. Aoi isn’t Futaba Aoi, and didn’t become human for his sake, Aoi has always been a normal girl. He also shouldn’t lose himself ‘cos of jealously. This does attract attention, but Sakazuki makes security even tighter instead! Thankfully, Moni lead the rest over and Rin gets them out. They quickly go to find the source of the uramon, Sakazuki, but it’s too late even when they try to purify him. He ends up disappearing and this naturally shocks Aoi. Kikaku keeps hugging her as she cries, as the rest leave first.
Kensuke is lecturing the three of them for the last incident, and soon lets them off when they show remorse. He then informs them that Aoiza is not doing well financially and they may soon starve…not – he just wanted to tease Aoi lol. But it’s true that they need to perform again and he asks Aoi to suggest an item. She mentions The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter and everyone takes a liking to it – except Kikaku, who seems occupied by the thought of Kaguya-hime coming from and then returning to the moon. He even doesn’t tell Nanami off when he makes another lazy comment, and Aoi notices this. Later on, Kensuke asks Aoi (when they’re alone) if she wants to know the way back home asap. But before she can answer, Housen interrupts them ‘cos he heard that a new batch of old literature (from Nanami’s birth village) just came and he’s excited to read them lmao. Kensuke drags him away though to first write the script for their play. And so Housen prepares it at the speed of lightning and Aoi is soon reading through her lines. Kikaku helps out by practising with her, but he soon gets distracted upon the mention of separation in the play.
The next day, Housen informs them that Sanjou is in Nikko. There’s still no news of Seiji though, and Kikaku looks upset seeing Aoi worry over him. Hachi says that Aoi is just kind, and to not make such an awful face – which sets them off in an argument. The rest then come in, and Rin eventually drags Hachi off for some training lol. Aoi decides to go practise onstage alone, but Kikaku soon shows up when she feels faint. Seeing his concern over her, Aoi can’t help but compare him to a big loyal dog which follows its owner around and finds it cute pffft. They both notice that Futaba Aoi has cracks on it, and Kikaku realises that it’s losing its power. This naturally scares Aoi since it is unknown what happens when its power is completely lost. But Kensuke is even more alarmed as he dashes to find answers from the literature. Kensuke calms him down and tells him to leave it to the rest of them, and he should stay by Aoi’s side to support her.
On the day of the performance, Kikaku lets his emotions get the better of him as he grabs Aoi and asks her to not return home. He apologises to her later that night, and it’s ‘cos she overlapped with Kaguya-hime in his eyes that he accidentally said his true feelings. He had been protecting Futaba Aoi all along, and both he and Aoi know that what Hachi said was right. Even though he hates the thought of her thinking of another man, yet he troubles her by thinking of her as Futaba Aoi. His contradicting feelings are like locking Aoi in a cage. After he leaves, Aoi says to herself that he got one thing wrong – she not Kaguya-hime, nor a princess as he calls her, but just Mito Aoi.
Aoiza soon hears news of Sanjou acting strange so they go to check it out. As expected, he’s possessed and they manage to purify him in time and get back Yui’s magatama. But on their way back, Aoi notices that Kikaku isn’t holding her hand. Even though she’s relieved to have saved Sanjou in time, and both Rin and Hisoka look at ease, she’s still bothered by Futaba Aoi’s fading powers and how that is affecting Kikaku. She can’t imagine Kikaku away from her side anymore and wonders why Kaguya-hime returned to the moon.
Still bothered by Kikaku, Aoi finds herself going red when she sees him. Thinking that she’s sick, he reaches to feel her forehead but she brushes his hand away before dashing back to her room. Kensuke teases him by saying that he’s hated now, but of course they all know that she’s been acting weird lately so Kikaku goes to find her. The rest can only make comments at how innocent they are, or as Rin puts it “slow and tedious”. But Kensuke does make an apt observation: even though Kikaku invests a heavy amount of emotions, he doesn’t seek for anything in return so he doesn’t know what it’s like to have mutual love.
In Aoi’s room, Kikaku feels for her temperature – though he ends up asking if he can stay like this for a while longer. It makes him feel at ease to be able to feel her presence like this. Aoi then takes this opportunity to say that he’s become the closest person to her here, just like how a moon is in the night sky. She would feel lonely without him if she returns home. This finally prompts Kikaku to say the same, and that he loves her. As much as he understands that she and Futaba Aoi are separate entities, both of them saved him. Aoi’s smiling face reminds him of the sun shining on him, while Futaba Aoi is like the moon which healed his heart with its glow.
Aoiza is getting ready to return to Ueno before the snow accumulates. Kensuke sees that the brothers seem to be getting along pretty well ever since Sakazuki’s case…and if Kikaku and Aoi become a married couple, Aoi will be the one calling the shots lol. Just then, they receive a letter from Yukichi asking to meet them about Seiji. He soon arrives before them, and reveals that Seiji is working under him and is involved with the uramon cases. While he’s aware that it can consume people, if it’s controlled with it’s useful as it can dramatically increase one’s strength and sharpen one’s senses. He sees Seiji as a valuable tool, and this enrages Kikaku since he can’t imagine his important Aoiza members as tools. Not that Yukichi understands these feelings. In fact, he wants Aoiza to work for him – or even just Aoi herself. Of course they reject his offer. Though Yukichi may see these feelings towards love, friendship, family as needless, they’re what motivate Kikaku as he fights to protect them. Yukichi can only leave them with disappointment, while praying that Kikaku’s emotions won’t make him hated by Aoi.
Kikaku then apologises for losing control of his emotions before leaving the room. Aoi quickly goes after him but he suddenly hugs and kisses her deeply. Though Aoi is surprised, she doesn’t hate it. But Kensuke feels that Yukichi’s words were true, and he keeps pushing his feelings onto Aoi – similar to his father binding his mother down. Aoi insists otherwise, he’s always kind to her and thinks for her sake. It’s just that she’s always affected by him ‘cos she loves him, and Kikaku admits the same. She has captured his heart and he has never been happier. The next day, Kensuke guesses what happened afterwards based off Aoi’s blushing face. He decides to give them some time alone and tells them to go take a walk together outside. Kikaku apologises for yesterday, and next time he’ll properly ask for permission first lol.
He later recalls the past, and that he didn’t get along with Kensuke at first, ‘cos he couldn’t accept him as the replacement of the previous leader, Kaminari Kousuke. Kousuke took the young Kikaku back with him when he had no other family to rely on, so he also saw Kousuke as a father figure. Over time, he came to see Aoiza as the place where he belongs. In fact, Yui may have spent more time looking after him and Kensuke then over Rin. But one day, Kousuke suddenly disappeared and a year after that, Kensuke came. They fought a lot, and Kikaku eventually started using his naginata so that he could attack from afar lol. Perhaps ‘cos of this, he eventually got over Kousuke’s sudden disappearance. And now he respects Kensuke a lot, and sees him as a brother. He recalls a conversation with a young Kensuke from the past, and how the leader remarked that Aoiza is like on a long and endless journey and wonders what the end is like.
Meanwhile, Seiji is on order by Toki to attack Aoiza that night. He’s clearly at a loss though, even when Kikaku starts fighting him. Kikaku tells him to not do things he doesn’t want to, and it hurts not just him but everyone else too. Kensuke also tells Seiji to not destroy his own wish, since it’s a guide to your own life, before dragging Seiji away. The other members are left behind in shock, especially Kikaku as he recalls Kousuke leaving Aoiza behind too. But Aoi tells him to believe Kensuke as he’s not such a person.
Aoiza decides to return to Ueno as scheduled, as their leader should be well aware of this too. On the way back, Nanami decides to tell them a story of the past. The young Nanami couldn’t understand why the young Kikaku would do unnecessary things that would only hurt himself. Kousuke told him that he still hasn’t learnt how to handle getting hurt by trying to protect others or how to rely on others to be protected. They also have a bet, as to whether Kikaku will grow up to be a proper man – if he does Kousuke wins, if not Nanami wins. If Kousuke wins, Nanami shall listen to one request of Kikaku’s. So Nanami would like Aoi to be the decider of this bet.
Back at Miyoshino, they all settle down before gathering for a meeting again. But in her room, Aoi notices that the cracks in Futaba Aoi have gotten bigger and she soon faints. The rest eventually notice something amiss and go check on her. Kikaku manages to get a grip this time and says that even without Kensuke around and with Aoi like this, all the more they should prepare what they can for their next move. Both Nanami and Housen decide to come clean with the rest, as Nanami admits that he worked for Yukichi in the past before. Housen knew of this but kept quiet too. Kikaku thanks them for revealing the truth, and they warn the rest that they should be careful of Toki, someone who will do anything for Yukichi. They all decide to rest first, while Kikaku stays behind with Aoi.
As he strokes her hair, Kikaku says that he only thought of himself and never noticed the burden she was carrying, even though he said he would protect her. He’ll do anything for her safety, and eventually Aoi wakes up. Later, Nanami enters the room and Aoi also lets him know the outcome of the bet – Kousuke won in the end. So Nanami gives Aoi a small kamon crystal, something he had gotten from Kousuke back when they made the bet. It gets absorbed into Aoi’s body as it heals her and she feels better, so Nanami has also fulfilled Kikaku’s request with that. After Nanami leaves, Kikaku kisses Aoi (with her agreement of course) as he says that he doesn’t want to be apart from her – and her name.
The next morning, a letter from Yukichi arrives, asking to meet them next week at Zoujouji temple. He wants to negotiate about the uramon, and about Kensuke and Seiji’s whereabouts. Of course it’s very likely that it’s a trap, but Aoi wants to try talking to him since they don’t have much time left. They all know that she’s referring to Futaba Aoi’s condition, and Kikaku leaves the room abruptly. Aoi catches up with him, and apparently Kikaku feels as though he hasn’t grown up at all yet. Just like when Kousuke left, he’s running away from reality. Aoi tells him that Kousuke probably believed in him, Yui and the rest – that’s why he left it to them. And now, he has the other Aoiza members to depend on. Later that night, Hachi also comes to find Kikaku: even though he may only see Aoi, the rest of them are here for him too, including his only brother! Lol.
A few days later, Kikaku suddenly brings Aoi out. Apparently he remembered that it’s her birthday so he promises to stay by her side the whole day. Aoi thanks him, while saying his actual name “Kikaku”. This makes him happy, as he recalls that it’s the second time – the first one was when he kissed her the other day lol.
On the day of the meeting, they notice that there’s the smell of oil in the air. And Toki soon appears before them, and he has used uramon on himself. Both Kikaku and Aoi manage to purify him in the end, though Futaba Aoi also shatters with this. This does shock Kikaku, but at this moment Kensuke and Seiji also appear. Kensuke tells Kikaku to pull himself together, after all he did say that he’s going to be relied upon – the same words which Kousuke said back then and Kikaku realises that they’re the same person. But the temple is set on fire just then so they split up as one group goes to evacuate people while the rest go to see Yukichi. Yukichi wants to borrow Futaba Aoi’s powers, since it should act well to make up for certain areas the West can’t do. But it’s broken already, and we learn from Kensuke that it was Futaba Aoi’s own wish for that. He guesses that it called upon its future reincarnation to use up its powers, since it shouldn’t continue existing in a new era which doesn’t need to be supported by kamon.
Kikaku is upset that Kensuke didn’t tell him this, since his clan should’ve been protecting Futaba Aoi all along. Yukichi makes the observation that Kikaku is the type who is bound by his duties, almost similar to Toki. Aoi is quick to object to this as even though Futaba Aoi is gone, she’s still here ‘cos Kikaku protected her. (Seiji makes the remark that Aoi always know how to pull out surprises, which makes Kensuke tease him – she is indeed amazing, at controlling men’s hearts too pfft.) Yukichi still has other methods to reach his goal though and leaves them. Kensuke calls upon the rain to put out the fire and they meet up with the rest at Miyoshino where he promises to explain everything. There, he explains that Seiji has the jingi mirror, and his village (which is now gone) used to also protect Futaba Aoi. With his sword and Seiji’s mirror, Aoi can return home now that Futaba Aoi has lost its powers. She doesn’t have much time left though, as his sword is also losing its powers.
Kikaku begs for Aoi to stay, as he can’t imagine living in a world without her. He’ll do anything for her to stay by his side, and he’s close to tears. As Kikaku hugs her tightly, Aoi returns his hug as she answers that she’s not going anywhere. Kensuke asks if that’s her final answer, and Aoi confirms this, and won’t regret her decision. The rest look on at the happy couple, and Hachi is touched that Aoi has chosen to stay with them. Kikaku corrects him by saying that she’s staying by his side, lol.
In the epilogue, they’re outside walking and Kikaku has something to confess to her. He couldn’t accept her at first ‘cos if Futaba Aoi became human, that means that they had failed to protect the stone. Even though he knows that eternity doesn’t exist, Futaba Aoi seemed to be an exception. But now, he sees Aoi similar to a flower which he wants to carefully protect and says that he loves her.
Aoi asks for a bit more time to think about this and goes out for some fresh air. Kikaku soon comes after her. As much as Kikaku would like her by his side, he doesn’t feel like he should tie her to this world. She has a place to return too where she can be happy – and his thoughts will always be with her no matter what. As much as it hurts her, Aoi agrees to return and they promise to never forget each other. They return to the rest where preparations have already been made. Kikaku asks Aoi to smile, as he had been saved by it countless times and it’s like a treasure to him – so he would like her to keep smiling on. Aoi does her best to do so as she bids them goodbye and enters the mirror.
Omake 1 (unlocked when you finish any one ending)
This is similar to Nanami’s. Aoiza had just helped Housen out with a job, ‘cos he accidentally accepted two jobs which overlapped each other. He returns soon after, and he thanks them with a nice cooling reward – 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 clings to Kensuke and that obviously makes him secretly happy. Nanami asks to switch places, but Kikaku says that Aoi may be more calmed down remaining like this instead pfft. As Housen goes on, Aoi asks if it’s okay for her to continue clinging to him and of course Kikaku is okay with that~
Omake 2 (unlocked when you finish both endings)
Both Kensuke and Kikaku are in Aoi’s world, and naturally everything surprises them. Kikaku even tells the “iron pigs” to back away from Aoi – turns out that they’re just cars in the carpark lol. Aoi decides to bring them to take purikura, and Kikaku gets embarrassed at having to stand to close to her to take the photo. It’s the first time Aoi sees Kikaku so nervous. He gets alarmed at every little thing, including when its starts counting down to take the photo and Kikaku is all “omg it talked!?” pfffft. Aoi tells them to pose properly and goes to see the final printout when they’re done. While everything is new to Kensuke too, he’s enjoying all of this. Kikaku on the other hand, exclaims that their souls have been sucked away and now there are duplicates of them everywhere lmao.
Aoi divides the seals among them, but Kikaku can’t imagine sticking a seal of her duplicate so casually – he’ll protect it all the time and it’ll never leave his side! Aoi is left wondering where he’s going to stick it, and she wakes up from her dream with the answer that it’s his “naginata” lol.
Kikaku’s route was cute, albeit their romance progressed a bit too slowly for my taste. I was a bit surprised to hear about his past and how Aoi eventually filled his whole mind, but thank goodness he didn’t derail to the yandere path or anything. I prefer him to be the 堅物 with a gap moe, as Suzumura pointed out in his cast talk. Suzumura also pointed out one other thing that caught my attention: Mito Koumon, a period drama which has two characters with the same nicknames as Kensuke and Kikaku – Suke-san and Kaku-san. I can’t help but wonder if there are more such references in the game, it’s just that I don’t get all of them since I don’t know them in the first place.
The second omake was so hilarious, it really makes me wish that they all really appeared in the future! Kikaku’s responses were so amusing since he’s such a serious guy. It would be even more amazing if Kikaku and Hachi were brothers again in the future. Speaking of Hachi, he was such a sweet brother here. And I have to say this but Seiji makes his feelings really obvious here lol. ❤
Anyway, this is not the end of my Aoiza journey! I still have three side characters to do lol. Each route is slightly shorter though, with six months each so hopefully…I’ll get them all done soon. The first one will be Hisoka’s route!