This continues from the (short) Prologue. Sarutobi Hisoka (CV: Nakai Kazuya) runs Miyoshino and often helps Aoiza out with their work such as the finances. He also has excellent skills in cooking, and comes from the same birth village as Rin. Though he doesn’t speak much, he’s extremely observant and looks out for Aoi in his own way. This is unlocked after finishing your first route in the game, so it’s best to read someone else’s route prior to this.
Aoi decides to stop being depressed and goes out to ask if she can help out with any work as a change of mood. So Hisoka asks her to peel the giant butterbur he had just received. However, Aoi eventually ends up tearing up and Hisoka tries to help wipe her tears with a clean cloth – only to get a static shock. He confirms that she’s the real thing through this. Hisoka then asks her to talk things out, if it makes her feel better. Aoi says that it’s just home-sickness, but Hisoka says that it’s only natural for everyone to experience it. Whenever they leave their hometown they feel it, not to mention her being in a different world. Aoi recalls that it’s close to her father’s birthday, when the cherry blossoms start blooming. He used to say that it’s as if they’re blooming for him, and that it’s cheesy. But Hisoka answers that if that’s the case, perhaps they’re blooming now in Ueno ‘cos she arrived here. Of course he somewhat forced himself to say such an awkward statement and he’s not used to talking much. Aoi laughs at this – and then starts crying, and Hisoka tells her to let it out.
Aoi feels a lot better after crying and calms down. She’s also done with helping out so Hisoka suggests taking her out around town. The Hime sisters also return to the inn at the same time so he leaves it to them. Outside, Aoi is excited to see how different Ueno is from the one she knows. But there are things that exist in both worlds – like Kaneiji Temple. Since it’s nearby, Hisoka takes her to see it. They bump into Housen on the way and Hisoka introduces them to each other. But he doesn’t want them to get too close though since Housen has another job which makes Housen upset lol. He still invites Aoi to come listen to his storytelling one day though, before excusing himself. Later, both of them see a man who appears tired and Hisoka recognises him as Fujikasa. However, when they approach him he reacts harshly before leaving them. Aoi describes that the air around him feels weird and Hisoka also observes that his behaviour is odd.
Just then, he spots Seiji in a distance, who seems to be looking in the direction where Fujikasa was. He calls out to Seiji and the introductions are done between him and Aoi. Seiji apparently already knew about Aoi ‘cos Kensuke has been going around bragging about their new member lol. Seiji soon excuses himself and Hisoka also decides to return to Miyshino to inform the rest about Fujikasa’s case. There, the rest explain to Aoi about jingi and uramon, and also decide to investigate the case further, telling Aoi to stay behind with Hisoka. It’s here that Aoi also gives her nicknames to the other members. Kensuke was hoping for a sexy-sounding one, but she decides to call him “Suke-san” and Kikaku “Kaku-san” – and Hachi compliments Aoi for making them both go quiet at the same time lmao.
After the rest leave to investigate, Aoi asks Hisoka to let her go out too as she doesn’t want to just be a burden to the rest, and wants to be helpful. He gives in and takes her out to Fujikasa’s store, but she feels a bad aura coming from the direction of the temple and they head there instead – even reaching ahead of the other Aoiza members. They find a possessed Fujikasa there and Kensuke transform into his sword but no one else can touch him – except Aoi. She and Kensuke manage to purify him successfully. When Aoi feels faint after her first fight, Hisoka supports her but the same static shock passes through. The rest inform Aoi that a normal person like Hisoka can’t touch people with jingi, but Hisoka insists that it’s alright and he will just lend her a hand when necessary. He praises Aoi on her first fight and promises to cook something for her when they return to Miyoshino.
Narration helps us recalls through the events of May and June, where Aoiza travelled to Ginza and Yokohama. ‘Cos of Sora’s request, they’re now headed for Hirata. Besides Hisoka, Housen also tags along, as he threatens that he would start spinning his own tales of Aoiza if they don’t allow him. Along the way, Aoi is happy to have Hisoka along this time as she admits that she missed his food. He promises to cook some dishes later on, and she promises to help him out this time. Aoi’s not used to the mountain roads, but it’s almost nothing when she looks at the amount of luggage Hisoka has to carry. Nanami wants Hisoka to help him out though, and when Kikaku tells Hisoka not to pay any mind, Nanami asks Housen to help him pfft. When the topic switches to what local treats there are, katayaki is mentioned. But Hisoka doesn’t recommend having them now since it’s hard and in fact, old folks would dip it in tea (茶; cha) to eat and people even had teeth broken by it. As expected, Aoi goes to make a lame pun. Rin tells her off instead, but Hisoka apparently got the joke.
Aoi: 浸して食べるのは面倒だな……。私、お茶は横着に飲みたいから！(hitashite taberu no ha mendou da na…… watashi, ocha wa ouchaku ni nomitai kara!) [Dipping it in to eat is troublesome…… ‘Cos I want to drink my tea lazily!]
Rin: はぁ？茶もまともに飲めないのか？横着しないでちゃんと飲め！(haa? cha mo matomo ni nomenai no ka? ouchaku shinaide chanto nome!) [Haa? You can’t even drink tea decently? Don’t be lazy and drink it properly!]
Hisoka: 淋、野暮な茶々をいれるな (Rin, yabo na chacha wo ireru na) [Rin, don’t make fun of her in such an uncouth manner]
Aoiza decides to rest midway, and with Housen’s help, they find a village to stay the night. Hisoka goes to prepare dinner and though he tells Aoi to rest, she ends up helping in the end when she passes him a lot of vegetables Hachi got from the villagers. In Kensuke’s words, Hachi isn’t popular with young ladies, but he sure is with old folks and kids lol. Kensuke also observes how they keep looking at each other, but none seem to notice their feelings yet. While Aoi is helping out Hisoka, a sleepy Sora comes in for a drink. While Aoi goes to fetch water, it is apparent that Hisoka sees Sora as overlapping with the young Rin he knew in the past. He has trouble talking about the past with Aoi though, but Aoi tells him that she would like to be his talking partner when the time comes, just as he was when she first came here.
The next day, they are attacked by assassins after Sora’s life. Hisoka immediately protects Aoi when she’s in danger, even as the static shock hurts him. Though Hisoka mutters something like he would protect her this time, Rin immediately stops him by saying that Aoi isn’t his sister. A ninja should act in the most useful manner, and that was what Hisoka taught him when he was little. Aoi can’t help but be bothered by Rin’s words, but she never got the chance to probe further as they came across another uramon case in Hirata itself. After purifying Inomata, they bid farewell to Sora, who says that he’ll do his best to make everyone happy. Aoi praises him for being forward-looking, as she quotes how her grandma used to tell her that if you don’t move ahead, no one will be happy. These words seem to strike a chord in Hisoka. As Aoiza are on the road again to Shirogane, Rin tells Hisoka that Aoi should know the truth about Yui.
Upon reaching Shirogane, Aoi goes to wind down in the onsen. But she does notice that both Rin and Hisoka seem to be quieter. When she’s out of the bath and walking outside, Hisoka comes to find her and he finally comes clean with her about the past. He has always felt guilty for being unable to protect Yui when she came under attack, and the people eventually killed everyone else except him, and took off with her magatama. He has always existed to protect her, in a way similar to how Kikaku protects Futaba Aoi. That’s why, Hisoka feels as though that he has to atone for himself his whole life now, though in the end he can’t really do anything nor save anyone. Aoi tells him that he saved her though, and she gets angry when Hisoka denies so. He supported her too when she was down, and after all it’s up to the person to decide whether she/he was saved. She thinks that Rin also hates how Hisoka thinks of himself.
Despite what Hisoka thinks, she believes that among the people he protected there are definitely people who are grateful to him. She would like him to understand that. Hisoka thanks her, and says that she probably was raised in a very happy family. After Aoi retires to sleep, Hisoka calls Rin (who apparently had been listening in for some time). Rin observes that Hisoka’s change in attitude now is probably thanks to Aoi. The next morning, both of them go to visit Yui’s grave, and they also bring Aoi along. Kensuke and Nanami observe that they’re finally able to visit her grave together. As they pay their respects, Hisoka thanks Aoi as it was thanks to her words that he feels that he’s finally able to move forward. Rin also whispers to himself that Hisoka’s not the only one. When Hisoka says that he’s happy to have met Aoi, Aoi says that he’s exaggerating and she only didn’t want to see him looking sad. But she later wonders to herself why that is the case.
Aoiza return to Ueno and ‘cos they’re holding a banquet, Hisoka and the Hime sisters are extremely busy. Aoi decides to help them out and when they’re in the kitchen, Hisoka remarks that she’ll make a good wife which makes her flustered. They continue talking about both their little “brothers” and the Hime sisters can only observe them from outside. It’s the first time they’ve seen Hisoka smile so much and it’s kinda embarrassing to interrupt the pair. Kensuke later comes by and wonders why they’re hanging outside, and the noise outside eventually attracts Hisoka and Aoi’s attention. When the Hime sisters make the remark that they were like a couple, both of them deny this since it’s bad for the other’s image. However, Aoi seems to feel a bit sad at the same time. Before the banquet, she accompanies Hisoka as he’s making a delivery to Sakazuki’s mansion. When waiting for him though, an elderly man passes by and Hisoka quickly appears before her, feeling an aura of killing intent – the old man has already disappeared though.
Back at Miyoshino, everyone enjoys the banquet – even Housen. The others also observe that the pair are a bit slow and wonder if they should give them a push behind the back. Later that night, Hisoka comes to Aoi’s room with some food. Even though she enjoyed herself, he did observe that she hardly ate anything. She thanks him, and asks him to accompany her ‘cos it’s quite lonely to eat by yourself. A few days later, Aoiza are on the road again to Kamimori. There, Hachi gets his dagger jingi and it is revealed that he and Kikaku are brothers. ‘Cos of this, there’s hardly any time to check on the old literature in Kamimori with concerns to how Aoi might return home. This leads to Kikaku apologising to Aoi, and forcing Hachi in the apology too. Kensuke calms him down since he did ask the villagers to help anyway, and he should focus on mending his brotherly bonds instead.
Kensuke then announces that Aoiza’s next performance is Yaoya Oshichi, with Rin and Aoi playing the leads and the brothers only doing backstage work. Rin seems rather worked up as he doesn’t trust Aoi with the lead role, so Hisoka steps in as he promises to help Aoi with her practice. He fulfills his promise later, and when they take a break, an old lady passes by asking for directions. They guide her and later invite her to come watch the performance later. Eventually, Aoi improves to Rin’s satisfaction, though he’ll still need to train her further to work out the details! The day of the performance goes well and the old lady even praises Aoi. They also meet Seiji and Yukichi, whom managed to catch the performance too. Seiji apologises that he won’t be able to come watch them in a while though, due to work.
As they leave, both Hisoka and Aoi find something amiss, but there’s no time to probe as Moni attracts their attention to a new uramon case – the old lady from before. They manage to save her, and Hisoka supports Aoi again when she feels faint after the fight, despite the pain. When they’re back in the inn, Aoi finally realises that she’s in love with Hisoka. She feels hurt at the thought of Hisoka overlapping her with Yui, and wonders who is the one he doesn’t want to lose.
Once again, the narration recalls the events in September – Sakazuki’s uramon case. They failed to save him in the end and the one who’s there to comfort Aoi is Hisoka. They’ve to be concerned with Sanjou though, as Sakazuki repeatedly mentioned his name. There’s news of him coming to Nikko, so Housen decides to help Aoiza find out more. Meanwhile, it’s about time for Aoiza to prepare another performance. Hisoka asks Aoi if she has anything in mind, something which would preferably suit the autumn season. As Housen muses over what fits autumn the most, Hachi answers that it’s its delicious food, triggering Rin to ask him to shut up pffft. Aoi eventually gets the idea of The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter and everyone is in agreement with it. Housen will write the script, and Nanami says that he has a lot of experience getting jilted so he should be able to write something interesting lmao. The 5 guys in Aoiza will play the suitors of Kaguya-hime (Aoi), while Hisoka will play the man who raised Kaguya-hime as his own daughter.
Hisoka and Aoi later discuss the story, and Hisoka asks if she wants to return home. Aoi hesitantly agrees, and Hisoka says that he would like to return her asap too since she can live happily in her own world. When Aoi relates to the story, Hisoka agrees that the old man will probably feel even more lonely than the suitors, since he raised her. But one has to return to where they belong. Aoi gets choked up as she tries to answer him back, and ends up escaping to her room. Housen later enters with the script ready. After he leaves, Hisoka also comes to find her. He helps her to practise her lines for the last scene, which is the parting scene between Kaguya-hime and the old man. Aoi stops midway as it’s very similar to her own situation, with a great emphasis on “return home”. She wants to enjoy her time with Aoiza a bit more and Hisoka comforts her, as he agrees that she doesn’t have to return immediately and they can create more memories here.
Unknown to them, Hisoka was listening in on them, and he later comes to Aoi with an edited script. He had changed some of her lines at the end. When Hisoka and Aoi practice their lines again later, Hisoka is surprised at her new lines. But she says that they express her true feelings: even if she returns to the moon, she’ll never forget him and hopes that he will always remember her too. The day of the performance goes smoothly, though they soon have to hurry over to Sanjou’s place as they hear rumours that he’s been locking himself up. As expected, it’s an uramon case and he even has Yui’s magatama. Seeing this has Rin and Hisoka confront with their past again. This time, Rin thinks that it’s about time to move on and can talk of the past normally. So he turns into his jingi, and Aoi and him purify Sanjou.
Later that night, Hisoka comes to find Aoi. It turns out that even though they’ve retrieved Yui’s magatama, Hisoka still hasn’t forgiven himself for losing Yui and hurting Rin as a result. This prompts Aoi to question about Hisoka’s own wound then, and why can’t she wish for everyone be happy. Seeing her tear up, Hisoka says that he’s happy enough since she’s crying for his sake. But it hurts him to see her cry too, and Aoi says that she actually really wants to smile for him instead. She asks herself why she has to return just like Kaguya-hime did, even though that means leaving behind Hisoka, who is full of wounds.
Aoiza is preparing to return to Ueno, but a letter from Yukichi arrives just then. He wants to talk about Seiji, but obviously they smell something fishy. When the man himself arrives later, the first thing he does is to throw suspicion at his relationship with Nanami and Housen, as well as Seiji being involved with the uramon cases. Though he soon does get to his real motive: for Aoiza to work for him, that way they’ll also be helping to lessen Seiji’s burden. Uramon has its usefulness, but also a lot of demerits and is merely a changeable object. Of course Aoiza reject him. Hisoka also says that their values clash against each other. But Yukichi doesn’t give up easily, and is okay with just Aoi coming with him, since she’s the only one who can touch jingi at the moment. He eventually leaves anyway, since they’re not going to cooperate anyway. Nanami and Housen also decide to reveal their relationship with Yukichi. Nanami doesn’t have a pleasant past with him, while Housen works for him as an informant. This infuriates Rin, as he thinks of how he had been selling information all along. Hisoka calms him down, saying that they’ve confessed the truth for a reason. Aoiza is made up of members with all sorts of pasts and backgrounds, for the sake of protecting Aoi now. Nanami and Housen also warn them of Toki, a powerful man who will do anything for Yukichi.
For now, they decide that no one should move alone. That night, Hisoka stays by Aoi’s side as her bodyguard. She tries to finally confess her feelings to him, saying clearly that she loves him. But Hisoka tells her that she’s misunderstanding her feelings, and her time here is like a dream only. But even if what he says might be true, her feelings now are real. He doesn’t need to force himself to guard her if he hates her. Hisoka denies this, and hugs her tightly despite the pain. He merely wants to fulfill his role, and that is to protect her and to return her safely back to her own world. They are interrupted though, as they hear Moni barking away. They rush outside to meet the rest, and Seiji soon appears before them. He’s here to kill them but he’s obviously hesitant, even when Hisoka steps forth to fend him off. Seiji’s bullet scraps his arm, but Hisoka continues to attack.
Toki then shows up as he wants to take Aoi away, and even reveals that he’s the one responsible for killing Yui. This fires up both Hisoka and Rin. Amidst the chaos, Kensuke tells them to not act the way Toki wants, and later drags Seiji off with him. Still, Toki is too powerful as even knocks out Hisoka. Seeing one down, Toki decides to retreat for now and hopes that they will act as Yukichi wants them to now.
The rest of the Aoiza members take Hisoka back to the inn to recuperate, where he recovers quickly enough thanks to some medicine delivered from Shirogane. Rin also tells Aoi to believe more in Hisoka, as from what he sees, she’s loved aplenty, especially since he got hurt for her sake. They’re soon on the road again as they decide to return to Ueno first. There’s news that Yukichi has returned too, so it’s likely that Kensuke and Seiji are headed in that direction. Hopefully being nearer to him means that Toki won’t act as freely. When they return to Miyoshino, the Hime sisters inform them that Toki is searching for Kensuke and Seiji.
While the Hime sisters and Hisoka prepare in the kitchen, Nanami gets the rest to discuss about Aoi’s condition – or rather about Futaba Aoi’s condition. There are cracks in it already, meaning that its powers are weakening – that probably also explains why Hisoka is able to somewhat bear the pain when he touches her. It’s unsure what will happen when its powers are gone, and Nanami lets Aoi decide whether to inform Hisoka or not. When Hisoka comes to inform them that dinner’s ready, Aoi decides to explain the situation to him. He’s immediately alarmed about her condition, though he calms down soon enough. It’s also unsure whether Aoiza can continue to purify uramon. But just then, Aoi’s stomach growls at a timely manner so the rest decide to follow Hachi’s suggestion – fill our stomachs first before thinking of anything else, since we need the strength first.
Once that’s done, Aoi suggests negotiating with Yukichi. They don’t have much time left either, so it’s best to act now. They eventually agree with her and send out a letter to him. The next morning, Hisoka comes to inform her that Yukichi agreed on the spot to meet them next week at Zoujouji temple. Aoi is still feeling weak though, so Hisoka tells her to rest while he prepares some porridge for her. Being treated so gently like this, it’s as if it’s her birthday – and she recalls that it really is. Hearing this, Hisoka says that they’ll celebrate for her when everything is over. Aoi would like to eat his food then, and also asks him to teach her to make something. It’s unsure when the end will be over but she would like to at least have some more memories. This causes her to feel melancholic so she asks to be alone as she goes to sleep, but starts crying when Hisoka leaves the room.
When it’s the promised day, just before they leave, Aoi tells Hisoka to make the porridge for everyone else as she recalls how delicious it was – emphasising on the fact that everyone returns to Miyoshino. This causes everyone else to make their own special order with Hisoka lol, so he asks her to help him out then and to also teach him the dish she’s best at. Meanwhile, Kensuke and Seiji see Toki giving orders to his men to set the temple on fire. They first decide to take care of those men first before joining the rest. On the other side, the other Aoiza members (joined with the Hime sisters, as they heard of how Toki was the cause of Yui’s death) are met with Toki himself. Unfortunately, he used uramon on himself and Hisoka quickly takes a blow when Aoi is almost attacked.
Thankfully, Kensuke and Seiji join them at this time and Aoi almost cries out of relief. Kensuke jokes at how she’s become such a crybaby ‘cos of Hisoka and he turns into his sword jingi so that they can purify Toki together. As much as Toki calls them a hindrance to Yukichi, Aoiza thinks that it may well be the opposite – Toki is hindering Yukichi’s goals from happening. Once they purify him successfully, they quickly go to find Yukichi as the temple is set on fire. Housen makes the remark that anything involving Yukichi is so troublesome – and Nanami answers back that that should be his line lol. Yukichi doesn’t look the least remorseful though, as burning a symbol of the old ways will show the people that they should get rid of old customs. Kensuke calls upon the rain though to put it out, and that impresses Yukichi.
Yukichi remarks that if it’s a power only limited to some people though, it won’t change the country. He wants to close the gap between people who “have” and those who “don’t have”. And apparently he had heard some other things concerning Aoi from Housen too. Confused by his words, Yukichi prays that she’ll find the answer within how the people of her time judge him. After he leaves, they also quickly return to Miyoshino. They realise that Futaba Aoi has completely shattered and so Kensuke explains that one requirement has been fulfilled. The rest are for his sword and for Seiji’s mirror – when used together, Aoi can return home. Kensuke doesn’t have much power left either so this is her only chance now.
Both Aoi and Hisoka are still acting hesitant, and this makes Housen lose it since he did so much to set them off (referring to the edited Tale of the Bamboo Cutter script). While it’s up to the person herself to decide whether to return or not, he thinks that Hisoka should at least convey his true feelings. As the rest quietly leave the room, Hisoka finally takes the cue as he apologises and he confesses that he loves her too. He had always thought that he didn’t deserve any happiness since he should atone for the rest of his life. But she taught him that those weren’t opposites. In fact, when he kept blaming himself he never found any atonement. He thought that he couldn’t do anything since he kept losing the ones important to him – but that’s not true now, he can give love. He asks if he can touch her, before kissing Aoi. There isn’t any more static shock now ‘cos Futaba Aoi has lost its powers. Hisoka thanks Aoi for giving him her heart and for needing him.
In the epilogue, the couple take a rest after preparing the food. Hisoka is happy to see Aoi smiling, as he promises that he’ll always protect her. The Hime sisters enter at an awkward moment, as they remark how they’re like husband and wife already and should get together soon. Aoi gets embarrassed from their teasing and they quickly escape when Hisoka tells them off. But he is thinking of getting married to her soon so he takes this chance to ask Aoi. She gladly accepts this as she hugs him. Hisoka promises to always be by her side and says that he loves her.
Hisoka apologises for always avoiding her true feelings, and admits that he thinks dearly of her. He finally says that he loves her and would like to always stay together with her – but she has a place to return to. This world and him is similar to her taking shelter from the rain, and there are people waiting for her to return. It was Futaba Aoi’s powers that brought her here, and now that it’s gone it’s time for her to naturally return – like how Kaguya-hime returned to the moon. As much as it hurts him, it’ ‘cos he’s thinking for her sake that he’s letting her go – like how the old man did for Kaguya-hime. So Aoi decides to end this and return home, as she says the same lines as in the farewell scene of Kaguya-hime – and she’ll never forget him even after she returns.
Omake (unlocked when you finish any one ending)
The Hime sisters decide to teach Aoi how to make dango, since they think that she should make some during the moon-viewing when they’re in Nikko. They’re sure she’ll thank them since she’s also making for the person she likes lol. Hisoka returns to Miyoshino then and at an untimely moment, Aoi’s stomach growls. It’s almost lunchtime so while they’re finishing up, he also cooks something for them – his speciality oyadon. Aoi eats it up with a satisfied face, and she also gives him one of the dango she made in advance, even though she plans for everyone to eat it together later.
Time skip and it shows the Aoiza members (with Housen) doing some moon-viewing while eating the dango Aoi made for them. Hisoka realises that the practice with the Hime sisters was for today, though Aoi says that it was still thanks to his help in the end. He then gives her a dango he made in the shape of a snow bunny much to her delight.
Hmm Hisoka is a nice guy and I admit that I found his voice calming, but I don’t think he and Aoi really fit as a couple. They’re more like father-daughter relationship, as their roles were in the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. Well, that’s my opinion. I expected the route’s events anyway, since Hisoka’s past is closely linked with Rin’s. I did enjoy seeing the further interaction such as between Nanami and Housen (priceless) and between Hachi and Rin. I couldn’t really hear much of Nakai’s cast talk ‘cos he was kinda soft, but I did get the point he made about Hisoka being “low-tension”, and how he fulfilled two conditions women may want – tall, able to cook…lol.
After hearing Suzumura’s cast talk, I’ve also decide to take more notice of any references. I realised that “Sarutobi” should be referring to the fictional ninja character “Sarutobi Sasuke”. I’ll mention any other references I discover in the few future posts I have. Next up is Housen’s route! And while I’m not sure what chemistry to expect between him and Aoi, I’m sure that I’ll enjoy his personality anyway.