Getsuei no Kusari -Sakuran Paranoia-: Wataru’s Route

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Here’s the individual route for Inoguchi Wataru (CV: Asanuma Shintarou). This follows from the Common Route. Wataru is one of the soldiers dispatched from the mainland to this island, though his family is actually a prestigious family of the island. He has a foreign mother and younger brother, who aren’t blood-related to him, and has always wanted to do something about the discrimination by the island residents.

The shape of siblings

It starts to pour and seeing that there are no more customers, Megumi considers closing the store early. Just then, Wataru and Noah show up, as Wataru explains that Noah wanted to see her. Noah says that he’s happy to see her, and Megumi soon remarks on how they’re on such good terms. Noah happily agrees, but his expression soon turns to a lonely one as he insists that they are really brothers. Even though everyone says that they’re not alike and it’s weird for them to live apart, even though his brother is a soldier who protects everyone. He asks Megumi to believe in him, and Wataru quickly tells Noah to stop bothering her. Megumi reassures Wataru that it’s alright, and he explains that a lot has happened so Noah is insecure. Seeing the little boy implore like that, Megumi can’t help but feel a pang of pain in her chest. She then says that her and Mamoru are not blood-related siblings, and are outside of what would usually be considered siblings. However, this family took her in like a real sister, so she sees that they are still siblings. Wataru widens his eyes at her words, and sees that she doesn’t know about them except that Noah is a foreigner. Whether she’s pretending not to know, or really just has no interest it doesn’t matter – that feeling of hers alone is precious to them. Wataru explains that his own mother passed away, and his father took a foreign wife after that who is also Noah’s mother. So they’re half-brothers and while he was unsure of how to make of things at first, they are now his important family. He gently pats Noah’s head, and Megumi thinks that Wataru’s a strong person to be able to say such a statement upfront despite the complicated situation. Wataru mutters that it wasn’t a coincidence at all, but dismisses his words when Megumi is confused by them.

The town in which “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”

Wataru then asks if she’s going to the festival. As for himself, he has to think about it carefully as he sees that Noah has fallen asleep. Noah is usually perplexed when surrounded by people, so for him to sleep now means that he must feel secure. Megumi more or less understands his hesitation to go to the festival. Wataru continues on to say that Noah wants to go. He usually avoids potentially causing a commotion, and so only brings Noah out now at times when not many people are out on the streets. But it’s not as if Noah did anything wrong, so he really wishes he could bring Noah out in the daytime and without fear. Regrettably, that’ll only give Noah bad memories as the island people aren’t kind to foreigners.  However, the town is not made by just them, but many people. So what he sees as “fair”, others would say that he’s being demanding. This town has its own ways, and an outsider trying to overturn it would be seen as committing an act of aggression. Megumi more or less gets what he’s referring to, in that he’s suppressing his own desires so as not to disrupt the town’s order. Finding it pitiful, Megumi wants to try doing something for them and asks Wataru if it’s okay if everyone goes together – her, him, Noah, Mamoru, and Nozomu if possible. They can avoid the crowd and enjoy themselves near the mountain side, while she buys some food and toys from the festival stalls. The only thing they can’t do is participate in the lantern event, but at least they attempt to enjoy the festival atmosphere.

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As he hears her words, Wataru stares at her in shock before he recovers himself. He doesn’t know if Nozomu will agree since it’s all based on how he’s feeling at that moment. He wants to accept her invitation, but is still worried about everyone else’s convenience since it’ll probably be hard for her if others see her together with a foreigner. For a moment, Megumi considers the effects it may have on her store and how it’ll affect the family. But right now, she wants to show Noah the festival. She tells Wataru that it’s fine as long as she’s useful. Wataru is silent for a brief moment, before replying that he’ll do his best to watch out for her and Noah. He pats Megumi on her head and while she’s embarrassed, she doesn’t dislike it. After that, both of them agree to ask the rest about this appointment and bring them along if they can. The rain eventually stops and Wataru brings Noah back. Before she realises it, Megumi is looking forward to the festival just a bit now.

As long as there’s love, what is age! 

After dinner, Megumi asks Mamoru about the festival. However, he misunderstands that the person she’s going with is the one she likes and he starts going into his own world, feeling like a father marrying off his young daughter lol. When Megumi tries to explain that the person is a kid and so they want to bring the kid away from the crowd as it may be dangerous, Mamoru misunderstands that it’s a love with a huge age gap though he supports her lmao. This time, Megumi manages to clear up the misunderstanding and so Mamoru agrees to go, if he can finish his work – though at the moment it doesn’t look like he can. Megumi hopes that he can, and Mamoru promptly gets up to do some rare overtime work. He heads out to collect some materials and tells her not to wait for him to return.

Unexpectedly just the two of them 

On the day of the festival, Megumi waits for Wataru and co. alone as Mamoru is still tied down by work. However when Wataru arrives, Noah is nowhere to be seen as she learns that he’s down with a cold. Nozomu also had no interest in coming along. Silence proceeds before Wataru apologises and leaves.

END: Monochrome

>> If Megumi doesn’t choose to hold Wataru back, unsure of what else to say she sees him off like she would to a customer. Wataru briefly glances over, before leaving and the outside world shuts before her. Some days after that, Megumi’s days return to as they were before. It’s been raining heavily since morning and she’s alone in the store. The rest of the end is the same as The world which doesn’t start.

>> If Megumi recalls Noah’s smile, she feels like wanting to at least do something for him. She calls out to Wataru and suggests going to the festival together, and at least buying something for Noah. He appears surprised, but soon replies that he was thinking of doing that too. He’s thankful, as he’s the type which would feel awkward in a lively place and Megumi can understand that sentiment. Seeing her finally smile, Wataru smiles in return as he would usually do so when talking to Noah. She feels embarrassed and quickly looks away.

The heart which melts away 

As they look for what to give Noah, they eventually decide on chitose ame (lit. thousand year candy) as well as a mask. Megumi suggested the mask as something which Noah can keep, as she was reminded of her mother buying a comb for her when she was young. Wataru soon tells her that there’s no need to choose her words carefully around him. While he is a soldier, today he’s merely a man. Just like how she may be a proprietress on her usual days but today she’s just a woman. He hopes that she can act naturally around him. As if reading her nervousness, he adds that she doesn’t need to force herself either. Megumi later observes that Wataru is a kind person, who thinks for others over himself. After buying their stuff, they go to where everyone is releasing the lanterns. She gets pushed by the wave of people though, and Wataru quickly catches her. As she says that she’s alright, he apologises and helps her up but still appears worried. He changes the topic as he sees that she’s still nervous, and asks if she wants to go see a certain store. Megumi quickly heads there to hide her embarrassment, and wonders what would be a good present to buy for a guy.

A surprise gift 

Instead, Wataru joins her and picks out a pair of earrings in the shape of cherry blossoms which he thinks suits her. While Megumi is too surprised for words, Wataru buys it and gives it to her. She finally accepts it and thanks him as he insists that he wants to give it to her. She wants to get something for him in return and so she gets him a simple hand mirror which he points out. Wataru thanks her, and says that he’ll treat it importantly just like she would too.

The light goes off 

Later, Megumi takes two lanterns and matches, before they go to the riverside where no one else is. Though Megumi reassures Wataru that she’s alright with handling fire as she always does it, he takes the matches and lights both lanterns anyway. He sees that Megumi has finally relaxed and they go release the lanterns at the river. As Megumi watches the glowing lanterns float away, she can’t but feel as though her cheeks are glowing the same colour. Just then, the light goes out for one lantern – a dark lantern standing out among the rest. Seeing this, Wataru remarks that the lantern is just like Noah, someone different from the rest. Megumi observes that he has a lonely expression, as if he can only resign himself to the situation. She recalls a previous conversation they had, that the town has its own way and an outsider can overturn that. But she wonders if that’s really the only answer. After taking a deep breath, Megumi remarks that even if the light is gone, the other floating lanterns would guide it forward. It will still be given light in the dark. Noah’s current situation now may be hard, but hopefully everyone will gradually come to understand and Noah can move forward calmly like that lantern. Her words make Wataru speechless as he stares at her, before he breaks into a smile and comments that she’s different indeed.

He gazes back at the lanterns, and says that a population is difficult (to figure out). They aren’t one if it’s simply a bunch of different people in the same place. They’ll only function like one if there are rules to maintain it, and those people follow the rules. If not, cracks start to form and it’ll eventually collapse. Everyone knows that, and that’s why Noah is alone. The only place Noah can feel belonged to is his own home. He thought that Noah would’ve had to spend his whole life there. When Wataru was still in middle school, Noah still remained a bright and cheerful kid. But with each year Wataru returned home, Noah’s smile started to become a forced one. Wataru wants his brother to smile and not be forced to live in a restrained world but to live freely. That’s why he tried thinking of a way to not break the population, but let Noah’s smile return, but he couldn’t find an answer. All he can do now is to be together with Noah. It was only a month ago that he managed to persuade his step-mother to let him bring Noah out, on nights where no one is around. And then some days ago, Megumi helped Noah out when he was bullied, instead of pretending not to see anything. Seeing that, Wataru felt as though he wanted to try searching for an answer again.

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Wataru takes Megumi’s hands, and remarks that by the time Noah grows up he’d like to create a world where there is no discrimination and everyone can live equally. It need not be the whole world, and can start from this island. A future where everyone can find their own light. He’ll do his utmost to create that future. He wonders if his way of thinking is too naive, and Megumi replies that while it may be so since it wouldn’t be possible without any sacrifices or implementations of law – she thinks that it’s a wonderful thing to have everyone share a future where there’s light. She tries to smile, and Wataru thanks her in a heavy tone. As Megumi looks at the glowing lanterns, she wonders what she can do for the future (generation), and how to make Wataru’s dream into reality.

Scattering fragments of true feelings 

Afterwards, Wataru asks to walk around a bit more and they go to the empty harbour. Megumi is unable to hold the conversation, and feels as though she’s shown a lot of her embarrassing sides today. Just then, Wataru offers to help her put on the earrings till she finally accepts. Seeing that she’s finally being honest, Wataru remarks that she may not notice it but she pays too much attention to her own actions. He hopes that she can at least act as she wants in front of him, though he knows that it’s easier said than done so it’s alright if she just remembers his words. After he’s done helping her, Wataru takes out the hand mirror to show her how it looks. He comments that it suits her, and Megumi feels a piercing feeling in her chest. As they gaze at the harbour, her heart calms down. She remarks on how strange it is that they’re here at this quiet place, and a lively festival is going on a distance away. Wataru agrees that it’s as if they’ve woken up from a dream. Megumi adds that she prefers this quietness, and she wonders if this is what it means to be honest as she’s starting to talk more naturally. Wataru notes that it’s indeed different from the troubling silence before which embarrasses Megumi. He recalls bringing Noah here before and he got excited at the idea of riding a boat. Wataru offers to do the same for Megumi, and he helps her on a nearby boat. However, it’s pretty shaky and one of Megumi’s earrings drop.

Both of them start searching for it, and soon Megumi realises that it’s at the narrow tip of the boat. She gets flustered when both of their bodies touch in the narrow space though, and loses her balance. Wataru catches her in time and she’s surprised to find herself on top of him. She quickly apologises but Wataru points out that if she’s this flustered she’ll just fall down again. Megumi can’t reply as it’s all true, but insists on retrieving this earring back when he offers to buy her a new pair instead. It’s his first gift to her so it makes it special, and she’d promised to treat it importantly. Her words make Wataru feel happy and so he has her get off the boat while he retrieves it. After he does so, he puts it on for her again. Megumi feels her heartbeat quickening on this night filled with kindness. It’s probably a memory which she won’t forget for life.

What’s that in your hand?

Wataru sees Megumi home and he thanks her again. Megumi invites him to visit her store again, and he agrees to do so if he isn’t a bother. At home, Mamoru wakes up and to her surprise Megumi sees him carrying a toy gun. He explains that a colleague dropped by to give him the toy gun he bought at the festival. Megumi gives him the folding fan she bought for him, and he notices that she’s wearing a new pair of earrings. However, he doesn’t pursue further despite learning that she received it from someone else. She’s somewhat relieved, and Mamoru informs her that an errand request came for her when she was out. He gives her a piece of paper, which just asks for Megumi to go to the written address the next morning to take some potatoes. Both of them then retire for the night.

Figurehead mayor

The next morning, Megumi finishes her errand early and goes to report to the customer immediately after. Afterwards on the way home, she passes by the harbour and sees the Mayor, Fukami and some Koukaseinendan members including Hibiki and Satoya. Hibiki is questioning about the water service taxes forced on them, and also has a petition in hand with everyone’s signatures. However, Fukami reasons back that they don’t have the time to grope and explore for a new solution which everyone agrees with. They already explained their reasoning and he questions instead why everyone is only reacting now – doesn’t that mean that they approved of this? Hibiki points to the petition again, and adds that it’s despicable of them to announce right before the traditional festival. He says that the mayor is part of this town and hopes he can rethink the issue. Megumi feels uneasy witnessing this. In response, Fukami merely says that life would get harder as they say, and they won’t be able to have their own way. The mayor merely agrees to his words, before making their exit. Hibiki stops Satoya from chasing them, as do the guys who look like Fukami’s bodyguards. The Koukaseinendan members take their leave and Megumi returns home with a heavy heart as she’s filled with uneasiness.

A shining figure

It’s about time to close the store but then Wataru and his subordinate appear in a distance, as they ask if the store is still open. She lets them in and as the subordinate starts to get drunk, he keeps on praising Wataru till he falls asleep. Wataru then mentions on how the tax has started, but according to the notice families of soldiers and government officials are exempted. He doesn’t really like how they’re treated specially though, and thinks that the ones creating the law want to gain some benefits after all. He appears apologetic to her, but Megumi thinks that while he may be a subject of envy it was the mayor the one who enforced the law, not him. Wataru appears taken aback, and thanks her as he feels somewhat better now. Megumi sees that he’s a serious and sincere person, and can see why his colleagues like him.

A love story which should be far out-of-the-way

Nozomu enters the store and is surprised to see Wataru. Usually the store would be closed by now so he was wondering who was inside. As Megumi leads him in, Nozomu points out on how Wataru is monopolising her since his subordinate is sleeping and wants to switch places now. Recalling that Megumi likes the moon, he offers to talk about it. There was once an author who would translate “Tonight’s moon is beautiful” as “I love you”. He didn’t read up much on the context but he can imagine what it’s about. The person probably couldn’t express the feelings directly for reasons such as status difference etc. or maybe simply did not want to destroy the current relationship. In any case, they couldn’t confess straight out and it’s a vexing love which can’t come true. But at the same time, as time goes by it’ll be beautified as an unforgettable memory of the past. Megumi is impressed by how much he managed to infer, and asks if he really sees if as a love which won’t come true. Nozomu replies that it’s precisely so, that you become a beautiful memory which won’t be forgotten by the person. Even if it bears no fruit, you’ve planted yourself in the other person’s heart. Nozomu remarks that he’d rather choose a love which doesn’t bear fruit if the woman will always remember him for life, over her accepting him and forgetting him later. Wataru comments on how he always has a negative way of thinking, but Nozomu replies that it’s better for a love story to be sad and draw out the tears. While Wataru doesn’t know much, he thinks that it’s better for it to be a happy one. Nozomu can’t relate to that, and asks Megumi for her opinion. In reply, Megumi says that both are nice to have as both elements captivate the women. Though to be honest, she doesn’t know much about love. Wataru sees her point, and adds that it’s not good to be imbalanced after all.

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Afterwards, Nozomu mentions another rumour going on – that the town doesn’t have much funds left so the government is planning to reduce the amount of imported goods brought in via the market (Beniichi). That would mean that restrictions would also be put on each store on what they can buy. Since they have to make sure the necessities are distributed to everyone in town, restrictions would also be put on what the people on Shoutengai can sell. These restrictions mean lower earnings since they’ll have less ingredients to make their products. And so the taxes the government gains from them would be lower, and they would have lesser money to import goods. With the declining economy and water service taxes now, he wonders what this town will become. While it’s just a rumour, if it really comes true Megumi can only see the town decline. Wataru is surprised by the sudden serious topic, but Nozomu answers that he’s merely giving Megumi what she wants – both the sweet and bitter stories. Seeing the subordinate asleep, Nozomu asks if Wataru is planning to pay for everything again and asks if he’s being taken advantage of. Wataru insists that his subordinate isn’t like that, and Megumi sees that they’re close enough to know each other this much. She’s somewhat envious of this.

When asked about their relationship, they explain that they first met each other 5 years ago on the mainland, and only met again after 2 years on this island. Wataru was first assigned to the city after graduating from military school, before getting transferred to the island for reasons such as that this was his hometown. During a summer vacation, everyone else had returned home but Wataru. One night he was walking outside and he found Nozomu lying in the bushes. Wataru told him to return home, but got bitten instead. Nozomu explains that he hated his home and reacted instinctively. In the end, Nozomu’s stomach growled and Wataru brought food for him before listening to his story. They somehow got to know each other from then on. Seeing how nostalgic they look, Megumi feels a pain in her chest. Pressing it with both hands, she wonders why and Wataru seems to understand this.

The relationship called “friendship”

Wataru takes both Megumi and Nozomu’s hands, and says that if they don’t mind he hopes to continue being friends. Since they met like this there must be some kind of fate. Megumi is speechless as she never once wished for such a relationship. Nozomu tells her not to think so deeply about this, and can think about it in a more carefree manner. Wataru agrees, adding that she isn’t obliged to help him if he’s in trouble, or to involve herself in troublesome matters. It’s alright not to be tied to the conventional idea of “friendship” and to remain herself. It’s as if he saw through Megumi and is not pushing her, but only giving her the key to access a door she hasn’t known before. In response, Megumi agrees quietly and at that same moment the pain in her chest disappears. The pair which she looked at with envy is now closer to her. Megumi thanks both of them and is at ease to have received a “reason”. Nozomu leaves after paying her, as while he didn’t eat anything he reminds her that water is no longer free. Wataru then conveys to her that Noah is feeling better now and also thanks her for the mask. He notes that Megumi looks brighter now. While a proprietress has to treat all her customers equally, he hopes that she can treat him as a “friend” when they’re alone though he doesn’t want to force her. A warm feeling spreads inside of Megumi at his words, and she asks him to bring Noah again next time. As much as he’d like to, Wataru worries that it’ll bother her if other people see them. She asks him to bring Noah when the store’s closed then, just like today. She still hasn’t become friends with Noah yet and that’s her first small step. It’s nothing big like Wataru’s dream but she wants to do what she can. Wataru looks on quietly, before gently thanking her and leaving with his subordinate.

A disturbing rumour

It’s the day the market is opened at the harbour. There, Megumi hears people talking the new tax implemented and how it still feels unreal. But surely they’ll make do with it somehow. Megumi recalls Nozomu’s words and her uneasiness increases. After she’s finished shopping, she returns home before going to Shoutengai for more shopping. She ended up buying more than usual at both sides due to her uneasiness, and ends up borrowing a cart from a store owner to carry her groceries back home.

The unease in the heart

On her way back, Wataru spots her and helps her out as he mentions that it’s part of his job to help out troubled people too. When Megumi remains stubborn, he remarks on how she acts like that at odd moments and tells her to be honest at least before him. She eventually gives in and they make it to her house. Seeing the amount she bought, Wataru guesses that she’s bothered by Nozomu’s words and sees that she’s thinking ahead. And if it’s really just her paranoia, she can still use them efficiently. Megumi hopes for the better. The rest of the people probably think that all problems will be solved as long as tourists return so they’re not alarmed, but Megumi just can’t rid of this uneasiness. As if sensing her thoughts, Wataru remarks that he’s been sent here by the country to protect this town. And right now rumours are fanning everyone’s uneasiness and some of those rumours may come true. He asks her her opinion of the current situation, and if she recalls any recent discomfort. Megumi isn’t sure, and can only answer that her anxiety increases as bad things seem to accumulate one after another. There were also a lot of rumours in the past, but recently it’s as if the rumours come with the assumption that it’ll become reality. Megumi apologises as she doesn’t know what she’s saying now, and Wataru apologises for asking something weird instead. He’s supposed to protect them, so he wanted to know the cause for the uneasiness. It’s good if there’s nothing to worry about though. Wataru then asks if he can bring Noah to the store tonight, and Megumi replies that any time is good since today is a rest day.

Read the newspapers

Megumi is doing her usual chores and past noon, she goes out to sprinkle some water outside the store. She overhears a conversation as the people are not caring much about the usage of water as Hibiki would surely do something. Mamoru returns for food and just as she’s about to inform him about tonight, Mamoru says that he needs to go to the office for work tonight to confirm about the tax details. When Megumi expresses interest, he tells her to read the papers tomorrow. He can’t tell her since it’ll spread like wildfire and no one would buy the papers then and he’d receive no pay. Megumi then tells him that she’s opening the store tonight and he tells her not to overwork in any case. As he returns to work, Megumi sighs and she thinks of the implications tomorrow’s newspapers will bring.

In the gentle light

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That night, Wataru and Noah show up at the store. As they eat, Megumi can’t help but smile at this family-like atmosphere. She’ll have to wait for Mamoru to return before she can eat and upon learning about her brother’s job, Wataru remarks that it must be tough with the odd hours. Still, Megumi thinks that it’s a good job and she’s doing her best not to burden Mamoru. Wataru commends on how remarkable she is and pats her head, but quickly apologises as he realises that he’s treating her like he would treat Noah. Embarrassed, Megumi switches the topic as she asks Noah if he’s feeling better. The kid happily confirms so, and asks her to tell him all about the festival. It’s not a tale from another country or a tale from a storybook, but something happening close to life. Seeing how Noah doesn’t know anything but the light in his eyes continue to shine, Megumi can’t help but feel a flicker of pain in her chest. Before she realises it, Megumi suggests bringing Noah outside next time. Naturally, Wataru is shocked as he asks if it’s really alright. Megumi agrees, as places like the bamboo forest or the harbour would probably be okay at night. She manages to persuade Wataru to agree and so she asks Noah where he’d like to go. Noah replies that anywhere is fine, and understands that he can only go out with Wataru at night. He’ll study lots during the day, and look forward to going out at night. Wataru tells him to do so, so that he can be free to go anywhere and do what he wants. Megumi thinks that she wants to continue watching over them, just like the gentle light of a moon.

A sign of change

The next morning at Shoutengai, Megumi buys the newspapers and notices a different atmosphere from usual. Everyone is complaining about the difference in prices today, and a store owner remarks that there’s no choice with the water service tax now. A customer gets turned off from the store when the store owner refuses to give in. Seeing that the new tax is the reason, Megumi wonders what’s written in the newspapers.

A person overflowing with a sense of justice

Hibiki and Satoya appear at Megumi’s store that afternoon to eat. Since morning, they’ve been going around to calm the disturbance everyone is in. Satoya appears apologetic to Megumi even though it’s not his fault. Apparently the people on Shoutengai didn’t discuss anything beforehand, and just grasped through daily gossip and happened to all raise their prices today. Megumi tells Satoya not to be sorry and Hibiki asks if she read the papers too. Megumi recalls that in the papers, the mayor asked for everyone’s cooperation and also gave his explanation. The tax would be imposed on every household as according to the volume of water they use. The details have only been released now and so the reality hurts now. Hibiki points out that on the flipside, it shows how pressed the government are for funds. Satoya asks if she has thought about what to do with the store, since she hasn’t changed her prices at all. Megumi replies that she plans to do so after work today. While she doesn’t mind a harder life, she just doesn’t want to burden Mamoru. Also, this was the store Hotaru protected with her ideals so Megumi feels some resistance in changing that too. She also doesn’t want to disappoint the customers.

Hearing her words, Hibiki mentions that the couple owning the dango store he’s staying at also said the same thing. (Apparently Hibiki is currently staying at a dango store on Shoutengai.) Satoya feels vexed that he can’t do anything, and Megumi can clearly sense his overflowing sense of justice. Hibiki pats Satoya’s shoulder, and says that if it’s incompetence then it’s the whole Koukaseinendan’s problem. When Satoya tries to deny this, the leader tells him not to beat himself down for they’re a team. Even though it’s a time to be hasty, they can’t be too impatient either and need to act with caution. It’s better think constructively before acting. Hibiki pays for the meal before Satoya can pay his his share, and so the latter quietly thanks for the food before they return to work.

The boy who releases his heart and a limited space

At night, Megumi, Wataru and Noah go to the harbour where no one else is. When Noah wonders why the moon changes shape each night, Wataru attempts to explain that it’s due to the illumination of the sunlight. Noah remains puzzled though, and so Wataru asks Megumi if she can explain instead. Recalling what her mother told her when she was young, Megumi tells Noah that a rabbit lives on the moon. And so the shape of the moon changes depending on whether it’s busy attaching mochi or whether it’s resting with a covered blanket. Noah corrects her by saying that his grandmother is on the moon, as his mother told him so. In the end though, Noah manages to get it and Wataru thanks Megumi. It’ll be nice if she can explain the truth to him when he’s older too, as she’s better at explaining. She remarks that she merely knows the small world that’s inside her store and Wataru looks at her with a serious expression. For some reason it appears even alluring to Megumi as Wataru approaches her but Noah interrupts them. The boy feels as though the moon looks bigger than usual, and Megumi suggests trying to reach out for it. So Wataru carries Noah on his shoulders and the boy excitedly stretches his hands out. Though he can’t reach the moon, it does appear closer than usual. Seeing the brothers in a background of stars, Megumi thinks that the scene looks like a picture.

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Later, Wataru carries the sleeping boy as he sees Megumi back. He thanks her as ever since Noah met her, the boy’s been looking more cheerful. Megumi remains humble, as there’s only so little she can do. But if she’s alright, she’d like to help them with whatever she can. Wataru whispers her words, before bidding her goodbye.

Accumulated fatigue and an attack of impatience

Megumi’s been losing sleep these few days trying to work out the new pricing of the store but hasn’t found much time in between work and chores. She tries to wakes herself up as she’s at work now. There’s still some excess groceries left behind from before, so she needs to figure out something before it’s all out. As she goes to prepare the store that morning, there’s already a customer waiting since hers is the only store which hasn’t changed its prices. He believes that the weird rumours like the recent one about the decrease in imported market goods will disappear, and those who only think negatively only drive away the customers. There’s still shops like her which are doing alright. Surely the issue with the taxes will only last momentarily. It’s a bright voice despite the dark mood. The customer’s laughter makes Megumi anxious and despite his words, the store is actually already having a hard time. That day turns out to be an extremely busy day.

The known reason for the congestion

Wataru’s subordinate shows up near closing time that day, but Wataru soon appears to drag him back as there’s no need for him to purposely bother Megumi when she’s busy when he can eat at the lodging house. Nozomu, who’s been at the counter, remarks that it’s even more of a bother to not order anything. He adds that while he’s been here for a while, he’s been contributing to Megumi’s sales by ordering stuff which doesn’t use up a lot of ingredients. Wataru is confused by his words, and Nozomu tells him to look at the menu. In other words, the reason why it’s been so crowded is ‘cos there isn’t any price change. Wataru remarks that at this rate she’ll soon make a loss. Megumi is aware that this is the case for certain dishes, but likes seeing the customers return satisfied and that’s the most important thing for this store. She doesn’t think that one should easily increase the prices just ‘cos the ingredient cost has gone up. Wataru remains worried and she mentions how she bought a lot of groceries the other day. She’ll decide on something once that’s been used up. However, no matter how she tries to calculate Megumi thinks that she’ll still end up relying on Mamoru. Hearing this, Wataru tells her to do as she likes but to think through things carefully too. Whether she raises the prices or not, it’s not only for the customers’ sake but also for her own. Megumi feels better hearing his words. Wataru drags his subordinate back and Nozomu asks for the bill.

Driven to a decision

That morning, Megumi receives a mail from the government which announces that restrictions will be implicated on the buying of goods from Beniichi. Nozomu’s words from before has come true. The groceries she bought from before can only last for 2, 3 more days. Moreover with this, it’s clear that she won’t be able to deal with customers for long. If the store continues at this rate, it won’t last. When Mamoru appears, she quickly hides the mail. He’s off to work without breakfast and after he leaves, Megumi looks at the mail again. For now, she’ll just have to buy whatever isn’t enough and within her means

Inoguchi’s standpoint

Later at Shoutengai, Megumi sees that there’s clearly less people. With this new restriction, prices have gone up even more. In the end, she just buys a bit of rice and meat. She asks the store owner if live is really difficult if they don’t raise the prices, and he confirms this immediately. The first round of water service taxes hasn’t been collected yet but it’ll surely affect them. Everyone is afraid that if they sell too cheaply, they won’t be able to restock over the weekend and then the business would be doomed. He asks if Megumi’s store is doing alright and upon hearing that she doesn’t want to raise the prices if possible, he asks if there’s any trade secret to it. There isn’t any so he leaves it at that, adding that if it weren’t for customers like her anyway he can’t do his business. As Megumi leaves with a heavy heart, she wonders if she was wrong since it’s only natural for the other stores to react that way.

On her way back she passes by the central plaza and sees some soldiers caught up in a heated conversation with the people. She recognises one of the soldiers as Wataru’s subordinate. When the soldiers say that they can’t do anything to solve their problems since they’re only responsible for the security and order, the people start scolding them and want to find Koukaseinendan instead. Wataru intervenes as he calms his men down and say that they’ll scare the people like this, however the people don’t appreciate this. Wataru then says that he saw Koukaseinendan heading to the town hall with bundles of paper, probably to appeal to the mayor. As for them, it’s their job to see to any ruckus so if this situation gets more heated they’ll have to call for the police. The people start directing their ugly words to Wataru, since he’s the grandson of Iwao who was the main person in-charge of Koukaishin – the plan which saw many entertainment buildings done up and selling the town as an onsen sightseeing place to the mainland, and met with a lot of profit. After Wataru order his men to retreat, the crowd continues to scold them and soon disperses. Megumi witnessed another side to Wataru which she hasn’t seen before. But the scene also has her return home with a heavier heart.

A creeping shadow

The next day, Megumi has just finished her errand report and is on her way home. Though it’s only a little, her side job is earning as it isn’t affected by the rising prices. However, it isn’t steady enough to be a main job and if it does become her main job that means the store would close down – but that’s not a choice open to Megumi. As she ponders over what to do, Wataru suddenly calls out to her from behind. When she wonders why Noah isn’t with him, Wataru explains that he’s been busy recently so he hasn’t been able to meet Noah. He offers to see her home and as they pass by the central plaza, Megumi recalls seeing him there yesterday. He remarks that everyone is tense as of late so there’s been an increase in collision with the people. Megumi guesses that that’s the reason why he hasn’t been able to bring Noah out and Wataru admits that is partly true. To be honest, he wish he could say his piece but just like he has his own standpoint, so do the people of this town. No matter how much he tries to protect Noah it’ll hurt him so Wataru can only act with caution now. While Megumi feels similarly, she wants to do something too and asks if it isn’t possible to at least bring Noah to her place. Wataru replies that it’s difficult and a silence falls upon them.

Wataru first breaks the silence, as he asks if she’s thought about her store. Megumi honestly answers that she hasn’t yet, but soon it’ll be the day for Beniichi so she’ll think of something by then. He tells her that as long as she can come up with an answer she’s satisfied with it’s okay since it’s her store. She’s caught by his words, as she never once thought of abandoning Hotaru’s ideals but she’s afraid of failing either way and hence she’s stuck in a loop. As if noticing this, Wataru changes the topic as he tries to cheer her up with an amusing story from last night. Though Megumi doesn’t get the joke at first, after he explains it to her she can’t stop laughing on her way back. It’s been a while since she’s laughed this much. Upon reaching her home, Wataru says that he’ll bring Noah over when it’s convenient. Just like how he wants Noah to smile, he wants her to remain smiling too and he’ll do whatever he can for that. Megumi thanks him and just as he’s able to thank her too, he laughs as they tend to keep thanking each other. After they part ways, Megumi thinks that she wants to do her best for them, and the store. She isn’t getting anywhere by just worrying and should rethink things from zero. As Megumi goes inside, someone appears to have witnessed everything from the shadows.

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The moment calm times are crushed

It’s been raining since that afternoon and that night, Wataru brings Noah over – since he could hide Noah under his raincoat, plus not many people would be on the streets in the rain. After a light meal, Megumi plays a drawing and guessing game with Noah. Though after that he wants to play some more and suggests hide-and-seek. Megumi counts to ten while Noah and Wataru (lol) hide though they can’t go outside and into Mamoru’s room. As she’s counting, she recalls playing with Mamoru when they were young too and wonders when they stopped playing. When she starts searching, she pretends to ignore Wataru hiding in the storeroom lol and looks for Noah. But after searching everywhere, the only place left is the store. Just then, she hears a loud, angry voice coming from the store entrance and quickly rushes over.

The strong pelting rain

Megumi freezes at the sight of a woman grabbing Noah by the collar, who claims that she caught him peeking in and calls Noah a thief. She accuses Noah of wanting to bring misfortune to other households too, despite already ruining the Inoguchi family. Megumi tries to tell the woman to stop but her words don’t reach the angry woman at all. When Noah starts crying, the woman tells him off further and remarks that that’s what you get from a foreign child. Upon seeing the woman raising her hand, Megumi raises her voice to tell her to stop. The woman stops and Megumi tries to explain that Noah did nothing wrong. In response, the woman sighs with a regrettable expression as she says that the rumours were true – people have witnessed Megumi being on good terms with Inoguchi on numerous occasions. At first she thought that it was just Wataru so she didn’t say much, but seeing Noah too she once again advises Megumi. It’s not just Megumi’s problem, but it’ll smear the name of the Ooigawa family too. After saying her piece, the woman appears to have calmed down and gives her last advice to Megumi – to cut off all ties with Inoguchi. If not, her and the Ooigawa family will meet the same fate as the Inoguchi family.

Just then, Wataru enters the scene and quickly asks Noah to be let go. The woman refuses as she wants to take Noah to the police for his crime, but Wataru reasons otherwise and she eventually lets Noah go. The child clings onto Megumi, still crying. Wataru doesn’t understand why they’ll bring Megumi trouble since they’re not bothering anyone, but the woman says that they’re already breaking the order. It has nothing to do with the discrimination, but it’s concerning the ostracism. She’s surprised that neither Wataru or Megumi know of this, but adds that it’s possible that Wataru didn’t hear anything since he left and then came back as a soldier. After Iwao died, the foreigners still didn’t leave so the Inoguchi family was ostracised in the village – basically restraint imposed on those who break the rules or order. Wataru should’ve received the same treatment too but he’d already left the Inoguchi family then and was sent back to work here by the country’s orders, so he’s seen as an exception. But if he continues to involve himself with the family, he’ll soon no longer be an exception too. She hopes that Megumi can cut off all ties and report to her that she did so tomorrow morning – she can still make it in time.

Brother’s kindness, the feelings of two people

After the woman leaves, Wataru apologises as he was too naive and dragged her in. Megumi says that they can talk about it later, as she pats Noah’s head. Noah has fallen asleep and so Wataru brings him back in the house before returning to Megumi. He apologises again, as he didn’t listen to his step-mother’s advice and kept bringing Noah out and indulging in Megumi’s kindness. He only kept moving forward on the path he believed in and didn’t look at his surroundings. He’s made too many mistakes and there’s no excuse for him to not know about the ostracism of the Inoguchi family. Megumi replies that it’s precisely ‘cos they didn’t know that they met each other, and Noah came in contact with the outside world and their interactions deepened. Not everything was bad so she doesn’t want Wataru to deny all of his actions, and to say that their meeting was a mistake. Wataru says that he isn’t as even if it was just a brief period, those were pleasant days. But there’s no question that a predicament will occur soon. People whispering in the shadows, scolding, maybe even throwing stones, not being allowed to walk outside and no outside visitors – these are all the discrimination foreigners face and has nothing to do with Megumi. But with the ostracism in question, Megumi will certainly face the same treatment as Noah and his step-mother face. As the rain pours, the conversation goes quiet and Wataru says the final words – it’s better for them to not to meet anymore.

END: The glass pupils will forever――

>> If Megumi agrees to this, she vows in her heart once more to only live for this household. She won’t meet Wataru and Noah anymore, this is what’s “best” for her. Wataru agrees that this is what’s “best” for him too. After they promise each other not to meet again, Wataru leaves with Noah and Megumi sees him off as she would a customer. Wataru thanks her for everything and the door shuts. Their relationship has come to an end and Megumi remains motionless for a while. Days later, Megumi is busy with the shop on one afternoon. The grocery prices went up again and the water service taxes has been collected once. After much calculation, in the end Megumi just raised her store prices a bit while doing her best to work hard so that customers return. The customers praise Megumi on her doll-like beauty and say that it must be youth. While not forgetting Hotaru’s ideals, Megumi is enjoying fulfilling days. A customer enters the store and Megumi hurries to greet him.

>> If Megumi chooses to hold on, she asks if that’s really the only way out. After a long silence, Megumi is still unable to bring herself to agree. Not meeting each other anymore won’t solve anything. Wataru mentioned before that he wanted to create a world where there is no discrimination and everyone can live equally for when Noah grows up. After hearing that, she started to think about what she could do for others just like Wataru – even though she never thought like that before. She always kept her distance from others and shut herself up in her own shell, living for this family. Megumi thought that that’s all there is to her future but thank to Wataru she realised otherwise. It’s not just the store, she can become someone else’s support too and Wataru gave her that light. So she decided to start with the people close to her – Noah – and doesn’t want to end things halfway like this. Wataru answers that he’s happy that he and Noah became her strength, and her kindness brought back Noah’s smile. He’s grateful for those gentle times but this is a different problem. There’ll be another chance to solve Noah’s problem. But once Megumi is involved, there’s no backing out for her and it’ll bother her brother too. Is she really alright with bringing misfortune to her brother in exchange for them searching for their future? Megumi is at a loss of words. She’s alright if it’s just her, but that’s not really the case. They’re not even allowed to struggle. On the verge of tears, Megumi questions if there’s really nothing they can do.

To both their surprise, Mamoru suddenly remarks that he doesn’t mind at all and in fact he doesn’t like everyone colluding to condemn the weak. Apparently he’d heard the ruckus going on but couldn’t find the timing to enter. He’s surprised that they never heard what happened to Inoguchi’s family, but even if Megumi knew he’s sure she wouldn’t treat them coldly like the rest do. When both Megumi and Wataru repeatedly ask him if it’s really okay, Mamoru reasons that he’ll merely be ignored. He has work on the mainland too and if he doesn’t have any job, he’ll just search for one. Rather than worry about mud getting spread on the family name, he’s proud of Megumi’s sense of justice. They’re not a well-known family anyway. And if the store goes into a slump, they’ll just reopen when they get a chance. A candidate for Megumi has finally appeared so as her brother, he wants to pitch in and help. This isn’t the end for him. On the other hand, if they part ways they will no longer meet each other and that’s really the end for them. If they hate the idea of being ostracised, then they should part ways. But that’s it. After that, it depends on their own effort. Wataru has no other words but that of gratitude to both him and Megumi. It looks like he’ll be depending on them again, and he hopes they can forgive him for his naive dream. He’ll do his best to make it come true and for that, he’ll have to ask for Megumi’s support. Megumi promptly agrees but Mamoru is at a loss as to what Wataru’s dream is lol. After Wataru explains, Mamoru is impressed and Wataru replies that he knows it can’t possibly come true. So he’s starting from the people close by, and then the people on this island. Upon hearing this, Mamoru pats Megumi’s shoulder, and tells her to support Wataru. Afterwards, Wataru goes to get Noah and Megumi asks him to come again. Before Wataru leaves, Mamoru is seen talking briefly to him at one side.

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What do you think of him?

After they leave, Megumi asks Mamoru why he went to such an extent for Wataru. Instead, her brother asks if she likes Wataru. Megumi isn’t sure, but she wants to be Wataru’s strength. Rather than like, she’s more of grateful to Wataru. Hearing this, Mamoru tells her to not mind him then and do as she likes to express her gratitude. He supports the both of them. When she thanks him, he remarks that they’re siblings after all. His stomach growls at a timely manner, and Mamoru asks for dinner. As Megumi goes to prepare it, the rain stops.

The beginning of a thorn-filled path

The next morning, Megumi goes to report to the woman about her decision. The woman merely looks back hatefully as she remarks that she can’t do anything anymore then. The changes following her decision are almost immediate, as the customers decrease and finally no one appears when evening approaches. She prepares to close the store early and outside, she overhears people talking about the restrictions on Beniichi and its effects. They hope Hibiki can do something about this quickly. Just then they see Megumi and start whispering behind her back – of how she bought a lot of groceries just before the prices increased, and how she’s been seen bringing Wataru and Noah to her place. After that, Megumi received the same treatment each time people walked past.

Towards the future

Later that day, Wataru enters Megumi’s place. He’s late as he was suddenly asked to be in-charge of the training of recruits. They are no facilities for them, so they have to start building temporary ones so it’ll be tiring these few days. He then asks after Megumi, and she replies that the customers went down drastically. The news must’ve spread quickly. As Wataru feels apologetic, Megumi tells him that they shouldn’t apologise to each other from now on. Of course those feelings won’t be erased, but this was a decision they felt was right and she knew this would happen. Apologising for that would overshadow the path they want to move on. Wataru agrees in return, adding that while the feelings remain they have to move forward. Afterwards, Wataru shares with her what he heard last night from a servant working for his family concerning the ostracism as well as his basic family history.

When the Inoguchi family was still a prosperous one, his grandfather, Iwao, was the head of the family and also the former town mayor. At that time, Koukashi was just a lonely island with gushing hot springs. Iwao and other influential people reformed the town by proposing the building of a pleasure district with the building of playhouses and show houses, alongside developing the hot spring area. They also gathered and nurtured geigi. And so they fiercely advertised the town as a hot spring sightseeing spot to the mainland with the two features: Onsengai and the pleasure district. They were successful and a lot of profit and development was seen. As a result, the Inoguchi family came to hold the biggest right to speak on the island. But suddenly, Iwao’s son who’d been in England brought back a foreign woman to remarry. Of course Iwao and the other influential people opposed and in the end Iwao disinherited his son. For some reason, Wataru’s father suddenly disappeared and left his step-mother behind. She was already pregnant with Noah then and had nowhere to go so Iwao couldn’t chase her away. That was 10 years ago and from then on, the Inoguchi family started to decline. At that time, Wataru was studying in middle school at the mainland. Noah was soon born and slowly, the relatives distanced themselves from them – eventually the Inoguchi family was isolated. Still, those years were peaceful.

Time passed and a few months after Wataru entered military school, Iwao passed away. At that time, only his step-mother and Noah were still under the name “Inoguchi”. So the family would either collapse just like that or a successor was to be taken in – but instead Iwao made his step-mother the new head of the family in his will. Everyone else was against this, especially the influential people. Even though the family has declined, they still had the strongest right to speak on the island. So around this time, baseless rumours spread: that the witch had deceived the family and so Wataru’s father who was supposed to be the successor disappeared, Iwao died and the family went into ruins. Everyone involved with the witch or demon’s child would meet the same fate. It’s just Wataru’s theory, but he believes that they purposely spread the rumour to make the Inoguchi family lose its standing so that no one talks about them, or approaches them anymore. Megumi can understand if this is the case – they look down on foreigners yet a foreigner held more power than them. Unless his step-mother does so, Wataru wouldn’t be the successor since he’s the son of his disinherited father. After a long silence, Mamoru who’d been there all along coughs to announce his presence.

Impact on the family and salvation

Mamoru stands at the entrance with his luggage, as he informs Megumi that he’s going to the mainland now for some days. The boat has already left so he asks Wataru if he can ride his family’s boat. He quit his job and in secret, he was told that he can return anytime once the ostracism has cleared up. Not everyone on the island is ostracising them ‘cos they want to, but they have no choice. After checking his luggage, Mamoru goes to his room to double-check leaving the couple alone again. Wataru remarks that her brother is purposely acting cheerful and Megumi replies that half of it is probably his personality – but she has been saved by Mamoru’s cheerfulness before. When Wataru says that he be like that and is envious, Megumi tells him that he has what only he can do so he should remain the way he is. Soon after, Mamoru leaves with Wataru as Megumi sees them off.

Heightening turmoil, the destination ahead

The next morning, Beniichi is opened and so Megumi heads there quietly. While she has had no customers, she still needs to buy the minimal stuff. Moreover, she’s concerned over the buying restrictions now. Upon reaching there though, she sees the Shoutengai people, Koukaseinendan (including Hibiki and Satoya), Fukami, the mayor and other government officials. Megumi remains in the shadows and she observes the scene. When Hibiki asks for an explanation for the restrictions, the mayor timidly replies that it’s the prevent the buying up of goods. Fukami steps in and explains that with the economy now, there’s a limit on what they can import. However, what if one person buys up a lot of goods for his/her own sake? That means there will be those left out with nothing to buy. To avoid that, this was the solution. Hibiki sees his point but this forms yet another problem: the people are only left with the choice of increasing their prices further and this would impact the people from Karyuugai and Onsengai who are already on a tight budget. In that case, the Shoutengai people make less profit and the taxes the government collects would be less too. This only drives the government further in a corner. He hopes that this can be reconsidered since it isn’t a good plan in the long-run. Both sides have their reasons and no one backs down.

Fukami then remarks that the law has been passed already which provokes Satoya who says that the government should represent the people. But Fukami rebuts him by saying that the city council members, whom the people elected in, decided on the law already. The mayor continually seeks everyone’s understanding and cooperation and the crowd goes silent. That is, till Fukami adds that those in government service are exempted from this new rule. This stirs the crowd which causes Fukami to raise his voice. Should they rewrite everything then? Is that the best for them? If they don’t accept the current plans then they need another useful one which everyone can accept. Yes, there’s water service tax now but no one told them to raise their store prices. They could bear with it till the government finances recover, instead they prioritised their own profits and everyone recklessly raised the prices to create a vicious circle. This maddens the crowd further and so Fukami proposes two plans for them.

One, to raise their food self-sufficiency. They’ll turn most of Karyuugai‘s district into agricultural land, and revitalise the old fishing harbours which were inevitably shrunk due to Karyuugai‘s development. Onsengai will continue to cater to the tourists, but the industry will be a smaller one. He’s willing to support the agricultural side financially for 2 years at most, so that they can focus on their fishing industry to the point where they are productive enough to export to the mainland. But it’s only 2 years and the rest depend on their own efforts. Megumi overhears the crowd sentiment, with most reluctant to return to doing labourious work. Two, to accept the garrison case. This is the fastest solution – they’ll receive funds, the garrison will be built on the other side of the island so tourists won’t be affected, and with more people it means more cash flow. There’s no need to increase their store prices and the government should be able to recover with the funds and taxes. It should guarantee stability for many years. Megumi sees that the first solution hopes for a more stable way of living, while the second anticipates money from outside and to continue living the relaxed life. Or, they can choose neither solution. Fukami leaves and the people are left discussing this – with no change to the market buying restrictions.

Gutter

The officials tell the people to line up, and for those in government service to first enter and buy their goods. Megumi takes a deep breath and goes to line up too, but she’s clearly treated coldly by the rest. Time moves slowly and when it’s her turn, she’s told by the official that she can’t enter as she’s been already eliminated from the association. Megumi freezes as she hears people whispering that she got what she deserved. She only trembles and is unable to say anything. At that moment, Nozomu suddenly appears at Megumi’s side.

Nozomu: This town’s people really, loves ganging up and bullying the weak.

(Sorry, I needed to quote that.) The crowd surrounds them as they question if Nozomu really understands what he’s saying and the situation he’s getting himself into. But Nozomu continues to remark on how they’re bullying Megumi while acting high and mighty. Despite the fact that they can’t do anything by themselves, they just gang up ‘cos they feel like it and bully a woman. He’s disgusted by that and wants them pest to disappear. It’s the first time Megumi’s seen Nozomu this angry and the crowd is provoked by him as this close in on them. Megumi tells him to escape by himself, but he tells her that it’s no time to be worrying about others. Just then, Wataru arrives and tries to break up the crowd but no one listens. He questions why the police nearby aren’t doing anything, but they reply that they’re only in-charge of the security inside the market and not outside. Wataru is left with no choice but to mobilise his own men to help Megumi and Nozomu escape.

The name of this feeling born

Megumi and Nozomu reach her store and it starts to rain. As they catch their breath, Megumi apologises for dragging him in but he says that it’s nothing compared to her. Moreover, he’s happy to be able to experience the same pain as her as her friend. Megumi’s at a loss for words, for before they told her that she need not help them out yet they’re always helping her. Nozomu tells her to remain the way she is, and he’ll remain the way he is – there’s no need for her to feel bad. It’s as if he read her mind, and Megumi thanks him in return while saying that she’ll try to do something for them in return as friends. Nozomu falls silent, before asking if she has thought of running away. There’s no law or reason for them to bully her, it’s only based on their feelings. So if she leaves the island that won’t happen anymore. She can open her store elsewhere, and her family can live elsewhere. Leaving this island is the closest path to gaining happiness. She sees his reasoning, but she can’t bring herself to choose that. Mamoru has already sacrificed for her, Wataru and Noah are in a worse position, and this is the important store she took over from Hotaru – her one and only “home”. If she leaves the island, she’ll be abandoning all the important people here. No matter what the town becomes, it’s where her important people live. Thanks to them, she’s even come to like this place even more than before.

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Nozomu sighs, as he remarks that both her and Wataru are really serious. He’s been dumped, but he tells Megumi not to pay mind to a man who fell out of love. He only wants her to be happy. He’s suggested this several times to Wataru before but he always replies the same answer as her. He couldn’t understand at all, but after hearing her he felt moved. He won’t say anything more to them but there’s also no need to apologise. Rather, he’d like to hear what Megumi thinks of Wataru – aside the fact that he’s a good friend. Megumi reflects back on her feelings, as Nozomu prompts her to face them and to not avoid them. In the end, Megumi replies that she loves Wataru and despite this being her first time feeling this way, it feels natural. While Nozomu is envious, it’s best for people who love each other to be together. He tells her that just like her, Wataru only thinks for others so he hopes she can support Wataru. It’ll be pressurising but he asks if she can become Wataru’s support. Megumi answers that she would and he adds that he’ll help them whenever he can too.

Before leaving, Nozomu asks about her brother and upon hearing that he’s left for the mainland, he advises Megumi to remain at home if possible as it’s dangerous outside. There’s no need to worry about him though, for he isn’t a local anyway. Megumi questions if that means he’s going off somewhere, and he reassures her that he won’t do anything to make her sad. As Nozomu leaves, Megumi prays for both his and Wataru’s safety.

Chocolate

That night, Wataru arrives at the store and sees if Megumi’s alright. As for himself, it’s inappropriate to cause a ruckus in public too so he managed to calm the crowd somehow. However, he heard that Megumi can no longer purchase goods at the market and worries how it’ll affect her daily life. She reassures him, as she shows him that she still has a lot of stock left. Later, Wataru takes out a small bar of chocolate which he got from today’s import and shares it with Megumi, who has never seen it before. After taking a bite, she starts pondering over how she could possibly add it to her menu if she could get it next time. He notices that there’s chocolate around her mouth and wipes it with his handkerchief, embarrassing Megumi. After calming her feelings down, now that she’s realised that she’s in love, she then asks about Wataru’s family. He replies that despite their situation they’re still wealthy – they have their own plantations and if there’s anything they can get supplies from the mainland. Also, they still have water and electricity supplied to them. Despite being ostracised, it’s only group conventions from the past and it’s neither the official law or system. So Megumi wouldn’t have her water or electricity cut off either.

Wataru apologises for dragging her in and says that he’ll do all he can help her. Megumi reminds him that they’re no longer apologising to each other, plus she doesn’t like only accepting favours. Though to be honest, she’s hardly accepted any favours so she doesn’t know what she should do either. Wataru tells her to just accept it, but she replies that she’d rather try and do something together with him rather than receive things one-sidedly. He smiles in return at her words, before leaning in to kiss her. What they can do now is limited, one can even say that they’re in the worst possible situation now. But if they just accept things as they are, the things they can do will get less and eventually they won’t even be able to move an inch. They can’t lose, or give in. No matter what they’ll support and move forward together – surely a new path will open up.

Think about your tomorrow

The next day, as expected there are no customers at Megumi’s store. But during the evening, Hibiki and Satoya enter and eat something light. Hibiki then asks Megumi about her life recently, especially in terms of prices and logistics. Megumi thought that he’d be asking about what happened yesterday or the ostracism, but still it’s an important question. She honestly answers that life is getting harder, and Satoya remarks that it appears the same for everyone. Hibiki adds that at this rate everyone’s finances will soon dry up. He then asks her which of the two plans she prefers. In response, Megumi picks the self-sufficient plan for it’s more stable. Hibiki sees her points, though another questions arises – who will do the agriculture and fishing work? And they’ll also need to destroy most of Karyuugai in order to make way for the agricultural land. He still wonders why Fukami purposely proposed it such that the Karyuugai people would certainly oppose. Both plans have their pros and cons, but it’s for certain than the current status quo won’t make anyone happy. He adds that the general opinion is split depending on where the people are working. Only those who used to be in the agricultural and fishing industry support the first plan. Part of the Karyuugai people and most of the Shoutengai people approve of the second plan. And most of the Onsengai people don’t support either plan. The Koukaseinendan are going around collecting everyone’s opinions, so that they can appeal to the mayor with prudence.

Megumi tells them to hang in there, and Hibiki replies the same to her, for she is in a tight situation too. Satoya tells her not give into groundless slander, and Hibiki adds that they’d like to do something for her too. But first they need to solve the town’s problem and so they’d like for her to bear with things till then. After they leave, Megumi realises that they knew about her situation and still came to encourage her. She recalls Mamoru’s words, that there are people who don’t want to ostracise but can’t help it either. A warm feeling spreads through Megumi.

Trivial messages

Days after that, Megumi hasn’t seen Wataru once since that day. There’s still no customers but she continues to keep the store open – and it’s like an eternal moment when she’s alone. Before she would’ve wished for this, but now she doesn’t enjoy this idle moment at all. She recalls Fukami’s two proposals, and Hibiki and Satoya collecting everyone’s opinions. An answer should be out soon and she wonders how it’ll affect her and if everyone can gain that bright future. The uneasiness only increases but she can’t be discouraged now. It’s soon nighttime and Megumi prepares to close the store. Just then, she hears something hitting the walls of the back of the house. She peeks outside and falls down from surprise as she spots a shadow in the bushes. But it turns out to be Nozomu who quietly asks her to let him in. Once inside, Nozomu orders a lot of desserts as he briefly complains about the people – if they still have the time to complain about things like being unpopular then they shouldn’t hold dissatisfaction with a small company and hold big ambitions like Wataru does. He’s glad to see Megumi fine and she’s thankful that he came too. Wataru’s been busy lately, just as Megumi heard. Later, he abruptly confirms with her if she likes Wataru for he wants to confirm her resolution since things won’t be easy on this island.

Nozomu remarks that soldiers are trained for times of emergencies, but they’re only being tired out by this labourious work.. In any case, it would be good if Wataru was freed from this work soon and Megumi can meet him. After he’s done eating, Nozomu pays her with a sack of groceries since he believes that she needs this more than money. As Megumi thanks him, Nozomu says that he believes the two of them can support each other.

Changing feelings, resolves

Uneventful days pass by again, Megumi still isn’t able to buy anything and there are no customers. She goes out once in a while, and everyone only whispers behind her back. She continues to tell herself not to give in or lose, but she can’t do anything to break out from this situation and can only live each day doing nothing. One night, she worries Mamoru and wonders if he’s doing well. More days pass, there’s a rumour that more soldiers are present on this island. Megumi recalls what Wataru told her, and wonders if he’s still as busy. She wants to do something together with Wataru but she can’t even meet him. She starts to ponder over how much time has passed, she’s not so sure in this still silence. To think it would hurt so much to not be able to meet the person you love.

Megumi starts to see dreams: of when she could still smile innocently beside her parents, when she was learning cooking while Hotaru watched over her, when she was eating together with Mamoru, when she was the only one in the store. She starts to question if this is a dream or reality, and if the one here is really her. She starts to dream of her memories with Wataru, and he’s the only chain that’s tying her to reality to prevent her from falling into her dreams. The chain rusted with the bittersweet feelings of love – she’d rather not have realised her feelings if this were the case…not. She wants to convey her feelings to Wataru now that she’s finally realised them. Megumi starts to think about what she should do, for she can’t change anything by just staying at home. She sets her mind on first going to see the mayor to explain her situation and appeal for betterment. She will say goodbye to the unchanging today and move forward to a different tomorrow.

The town’s intensifying quarrels

That night, Megumi wonders if she’s dreaming again as she hears the sound of gunpowder going off and loud voices – is it a festival? The next day, she hears a ruckus outside and overhears the people saying that the people from Onsengai came here yesterday to put up notices to oppose to the garrison idea. The people are annoyed by the provoking words and go to complain about this to Koukaseinendan. She sees Hibiki being crowded around and he says that their actions can’t be forgiven but this is a different matter from the course of action they should choose for the future. Both proposals have their pros and cons and once they choose one, they cannot back out from it. He appeals for everyone to think through things calmly and solve this together as a whole town for their future. However, the people are too angry to listen to him and Megumi even sees someone throwing stones from afar. The police and soldiers soon come to suppress the situation. There’s no longer any signs of the people who once only though of leaving this to Hibiki to solve and just thinking about happy things.

Falling in love with someone

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Once night falls, Megumi heads to the town hall but her efforts are interrupted as a man (the same one at the harbour) demands to know what she’s up to. Megumi can’t reveal her motives so he starts accusing her of stirring up trouble at the town hall too so as to mess up this whole town. He glares at her, saying that the whole Shoutengai has been jinxed now. It’s all her fault that there’s misgovernment, the decrease in import, buying restrictions and even this morning’s ruckus and the warning notices. Megumi tries to reason otherwise and Wataru, who happened to be passing by, quickly comes to her aid. Standing before her, he defends Megumi since it’s all baseless accusations. Despite being told to come to his senses, the man points Wataru out as the source of all the trouble instead and this draws a crowd. It hurts Megumi to see the person she likes spoken badly of. Wataru whispers to her that they should escape now, since there’s no telling if the people will attack them. After she nods in return, he swiftly carries her and runs off. Though they manage to escape, the people’s scoldings continue to ring in her head and Megumi can’t stop trembling. She questions if she was in the way and he replies that she saved him instead. He’s happy to have someone he wants to protect. Hearing this, Megumi stops trembling as his words melt in her heart like a chitose ame. They reach her house late at night and she brings him in for some tea. As mentioned, Wataru’s been busy recently but he senses something strange. They were told to build temporary facilities but the large scale doesn’t suggest so. Moreover the new soldiers are supposed to be recruits, but they look like career soldiers like him. Seeing Megumi grow worried, he pats her head to reassure her. He then leaves to return to work. They’re short of men so they’ve to take shifts even at night. He apologises for not being able to come visit her, and promises to see her again.

Those who protect the house

The next day, there’s a ruckus early in the morning again. This time it’s even louder and nearer Megumi’s place as she can hear loud thuds against the wall. People are scolding each other over supporting the garrison proposal. Feeling scared, Megumi can only hide under her blanket till everything calms down and she wasn’t able to fall back asleep again. Later that morning, there’s a knock on her door and Megumi freezes – till she recognises the familiar voice as Wataru’s subordinate, Funasaka. Once let in, he asks her if there was any damage to her place due to the attack earlier on. From what he inspected, there are dents in the outside wall but no holes. Megumi is surprised to hear this, but answers that there’s no damage indoors. Funasaka informs her that this has been ongoing for 2 days straight and it’s likely to happen again – they may even invade her place. If possible, he suggests evacuating elsewhere. She’s aware that he’s worried for her but if she leaves, there’s no one else left to protect this house. It’s her only home which accepted her and took her in since young. The place Hotaru and Mamoru protected. Now that Mamoru isn’t here, she needs to protect this house for him to return to. She shakes her head and as if predicting this, Funasaka says that though they’re busy they’ll send someone over at night to guard her. She shouldn’t go outside alone till then. Megumi feels slightly relieved but she continues to feel uneasy over the future of this island.

Actually……

Late at night, Wataru arrives at Megumi’s place carrying a sleeping Noah. Apparently Funasaka and co. had arranged for him to come over. After settling Noah down, he asks her further about the damage to her house. Megumi reassures him that she’s alright, but he tells her not to force herself – everyone has their tough times so there’s no need to endure. As Wataru hugs her, he remarks that even though she’s a proprietress she’s still a young girl who’s not yet 20 years old. So there’s no way she can be alright when her place was attacked. There’s no one looking now, except maybe the moon. It’s good to remain strong at heart, but it’s alright to let out her weaker side at night too. He adds that he won’t do such a thing to Noah, but only to her. Megumi buries her head in his shoulders, as she admits that she was a bit afraid. Actually, she really wanted for someone to come and save her so she was happy that Wataru came. Wataru continues to hug her till she calms down.

Wataru tells her that his family’s house is being attacked too, accusing his family of instigating everything. The Shoutengai people can retaliate the Onsengai people, his family can’t at all. Due to that, the house has been attacked quite badly. And if he went there to help, it’ll just make things worse. To be on the safe side, he brought Noah out and her place was the only option he had. Megumi welcomes him as she’s glad to be helpful to them. She asks about Noah’s mother and he explains that she refused, saying that she had a responsibility to protect the house. Megumi can relate to this – protecting the house for your important one to return to.

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Resisting the flow of time

Wataru then mentions to her again on how he finds the army’s situation strange – it’s as if the garrison proposal is already underway. He found it weird that rather than recruits, the new people were more like career soldiers or labour workers. They’re only building the facilities but not training at all. It’s different from what he heard, moreover Fukami proposed this to the people again. And Nozomu also said something curious to him recently: “Do you really have the confidence to protect the people as a soldier now?” Back when both of them were at the mainland, Wataru once told him that his dream was to protect people so he became a soldier. When he asked Nozomu why he suddenly brought it up, the latter merely said that he wishes for Wataru to be able to fulfill his dream. He couldn’t understand Nozomu’s words then but now he sees that Nozomu was hinting that he isn’t protecting the people in the current situation. Wataru thinks that if it’s to protect the country and people, then there’s no choice but to accept the garrison settlement. But this is ignoring the people’s opinion and forcing their way through – moreover the people are fighting among themselves. He doesn’t want things to remain this way, but without any solid proof it’s hard to stop this. Wataru is unsure of what he should do.

Your conviction, the miniature garden that was made

Out of the blue, Mamoru returns home to both of their surprise. Apparently he overheard part of their conversation and so he immediately catches on when Megumi asks him about the garrison case. In fact, he investigated on it too so they switch to another room to avoid waking Noah up. There, Mamoru first talks about Fukami who’s the president of a consulting firm hired to solve their financial problems. Recently, he took drastic measures and Mamoru finds it too rushed, as if it’s to stir up the people and guide them to see the garrison proposal as the better option. In other words, the garrison proposal has been in place since the start. Moreover, his newspaper company has been investigating some dark rumours concerning Fukami. Behind the scenes, he’s involved with the buying and selling of weapons – basically he’s a weapon merchant. This is almost confirmed, and this also means that Fukami’s strongly tied to the army which would explain why he’s often seen moving around with them. This case is merely a financial problem of a small island but is it normal to suggest a garrison settlement? In other words, Fukami’s real goal is changing the island for his own profit. The garrison proposal is just a front for him to set up his own weapon warehouse. The island location is good too as it’s away from public eye. And if there’s war, they’d rather have this island as the frontline base rather than the mainland. So there’s a lot of benefit for both Fukami and the army. Wataru finds this unforgivable, and if it’s all true then what exactly had he been doing all this time.

Mamoru proceeds to show them articles, which describe the closure of entertainment districts like Karyuugai‘s. It’s not written but he believes Fukami’s involved in all of them. Not necessarily all of them had financial problems. But Fukami would stay in them with the pretext of work, and for some reason the district would be driven to closure. After that Fukami would move to another place. He isn’t sure of the reason, but it’s fishy for this to happen on numerous occasions. So it’s very possible that this island’s Karyuugai will face the same fate. Wataru wants to stop all of this, but doesn’t know what he can do. Mamoru replies that there is and he asks Megumi to open the sliding door.

The world, and truth which couldn’t be seen

When she does so, Nozomu enters and is amused to see both Megumi and Wataru’s shocked expressions lol. Apparently he came here with Mamoru, to prove all that Mamoru said as a witness. As he closes the door, Nozomu explains that he’s actually working under Fukami which surprises Megumi and Wataru again. Wataru worries that his whistle-blowing will affect him. But Nozomu remarks that there’s no to consider as to whether he should side with his important friends or someone who’s just an employer. He’s happy to be able to help out as a friend, but he can’t do this alone with just what he knows for Fukami will only feign ignorance. He needs everyone’s help in order to find concrete evidence. Upon everyone’s agreement, Nozomu starts off by stating that their claim that they’ll receive a grant from the country in return for building the garrison – is a lie. It’s complicated but simply put, it’s a sole decision by a certain someone in the army. The reason being that the country which wants to disarm and the army which wants military expansion couldn’t come to a consensus. With this indecisiveness, a section of the army ran wild and Fukami happened to show up then. They cooperated with each other as their goals matched – expanding the army by establishing a new base, and a location and sales network for his weapon business.

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Nozomu searched Fukami’s study and was surprised to see documents relating to the army. Megumi points out that if it’s a sole decision surely the country would find out sooner or later. He agrees, but without any concrete proof they can easily make excuses. And with the people and army constantly criticising the country for its policies, the country has its hands full in dealing with the current unstable economy. Moreover, this island is away from the mainland so it’s harder to keep watch. On the surface it appears to just be army training. Now what’s important is this certain someone’s sole decision – he is using people’s taxes to do something no one wants. If exposed this will be a huge deal. That’s why Fukami took a lot of measures to make his actions appear suitable, in helping the town recover. But things weren’t going as planned. He thought that they’d accept if there’s money involved, but the likes of Hibiki and co. interfered and the people disapproved. Even so, Fukami remained cautious but the certain someone could no longer wait. That’s why recently they forcefully implemented the new policies. The impatience was probably due to the fact that the longer it takes for this to be completed, the more likely they’ll be exposed. It’ll draw suspicion after all if their pretense of helping the town recover from the disaster stretches for too long. The quicker they finish the better.

However, Fukami is a cautious man so it’s almost impossible to find proof against him. It may even backfire on them. What they need to do is to target the other concerned party from the army. And if there’s no proof, then they need to create it, such as a scandal. And so Nozomu asks Wataru if he has any idea as to who the person may be.

A past to accept

In an attempt to answer, Wataru first recalls everything to any clues. First, he was sent here to help with the island recovery. But by the time they arrived, most of the necessary work was underway. So they helped in the mountainous regions and the old fishing harbours. After that, they remained here to maintain security and continued training here, which he did find odd. Moreover, they were located as close as possible to the people, and also told to proactively approach the respective distinguished families – that was a reason why Wataru was selected, since he was born here. But due to his family problems he couldn’t do this well and upon reporting this, his superior spat the remark that he was useless. Everyone agrees that this is weird. Wataru continues to recall anything unnatural about his superior. He was ordered by his superior to receive onsite orders from the mayor, as he already corresponded with the mayor. Everyone points out how it’s strange that the superior can’t give direct orders to Wataru, moreover for the mayor to handle the army onsite orders. And a few months later, the mayor told them that they should now receive orders from Fukami with no proper reason. Wataru found this curious, but he kept quiet since he couldn’t disobey orders and also thought about his own role. Everyone finds Wataru’s superior suspicious. Firstly, he probably thought that it was better for Fukami, who was onsite, to handle the orders. But passing this power directly to Fukami would be too suspicious, so it was passed to the mayor first. In addition, Wataru thinks that the mayor’s indecisive personality is a main concern for both his superior and Fukami for he could carelessly reveal everything. In any case, there’s a lot of doubtful points so now they need to create the scandal.

Nozomu tells Wataru to first call out his superior from the mainland to here. Wataru is in-charge of reporting on the progress here so he can use that as an excuse to go to the mainland, as well as to discuss about future plans. Since the scale of things have upped, he can request his superior to come down and check personally. Wataru also just needs to mention of how fine the entertainment district is here, and his superior will surely come down. Upon doing so, he and Fukami will surely make plans to meet. Megumi points out that if they say the “garrison settlement is going well” their cover will be blown since people are fighting over it. Mamoru suggests seeking Hibiki’s cooperation – to tell him everything and help guide the people into approving. Megumi offers to take up this role, and in doing so surely both the Shoutengai and Karyuugai people will show their support. Nozomu will do what he can to change the Onsengai people’s opinion. Next, they’ll have a banquet at the highest grade place at Karyuugai. The people there will be just Fukami, Nozomu, Wataru and his superior for it’s better to keep the numbers to the minimum. It’ll be all work talk at first, but Nozomu’s sure that his superior will sweep that aside quickly for his main motive for coming down is to enjoy himself. This is where he’d like for Megumi to come in and serve Wataru’s superior as a customer. He believes that they’ll have a higher chance of success with Megumi due to her conversational skills plus she knows the situation. While Wataru displays his hesitation, Megumi agrees to this for she wants to help out. She looks away from Wataru to avoid wavering.

From what they’ve heard, Wataru’s superior appears to be rather careless. Being in a good mood and with the aid of alcohol, he’ll soon converse with Megumi and start to talk. In doing so, Megumi just needs to ask whatever she heard from them. Mamoru will be in the shadows writing down everything as a reporter. Then, she should ask if they’ll be receiving the grant and once that happens Wataru can enter and drive the superior to a corner so as to expose the scandal – considering Wataru’s position, he’s the only one who can confront the superior about this. Once things have been confirmed, Mamoru goes to compile all the current information. Nozomu says that he’ll go to Onsengai now to do something and also asks Hibiki to visit Megumi tomorrow. It’s better to act fast since they’ll need time to persuade the people. After Nozomu leaves, Wataru goes to check on Noah too. Mamoru stops Megumi from following Wataru, as he thinks that Wataru merely wants some time to think alone. He probably doesn’t want to reveal his weak side in front of Megumi. He also asks Megumi to not hesitate to rely on them, since this time everyone’s cooperation is necessary. Megumi agrees to do so, and they retire for the night. Just before she was only interested in her house and store. Though she doesn’t quite understand everything now, things are already in motion and she’ll have to do what she needs to do – and rely on everyone if anything.

>> AIJOU (LOVE) ROUTE

Being relied on, and relying on others

The next day, Hibiki drops by and Megumi explains everything to him. After she’s done, he remains silent for a while before answering that he’ll believe in her. He does find Fukami suspicious and they are aware of Wataru and Nozomu’s background to some extent – but what made him choose to believe was Megumi’s attitude. Her desperate appearance doesn’t appear to be a lie. Hibiki agrees to work on persuading the people asap and asks if there’s anything they can do on the actual day. Megumi replies that they want to avoid drawing suspicion so no. Hearing this, he tells her to be careful and adds that the Koukaseinendan will police Karyuugai that day. For if what she said is true, Fukami will definitely try to at least shut down Karyuugai no matter how forceful the method is. Before he leaves, Hibiki swears that he won’t do anything to betray Megumi’s trust.

The people united as one

A few days later, Hibik is giving a speech to everyone. Probably thanks to Nozomu spreading rumours, even the Onsengai people have gathered at the plaza. Satoya and Megumi watch quietly in the shadows, for that’s all they can do now. Hibiki says that after they went around gathering opinions the Koukaseinendan have reached their final answer – to approve of the garrison proposal. While the other option is more stable, what will happen if a natural disaster occurs and wipes out all their harvest? Moreover destroying Karyuugai also means risking their tourist industry. What they need now is to rebuild their livelihood now and for this they need money. The Shoutengai and Karyuugai people show their support while the Onsengai people discuss about this. They come to the conclusion that this is the only option after all. They can rebuild their livelihood once the money comes in, such as using a portion of it to advertise themselves. With everyone’s support, Hibiki leads the way to the town hall to appeal to the mayor.

Behind the uproar of the people

Some days later, Megumi and the Koukaseinendan watch from behind as the mayor and Fukami stand before the people at the central plaza. The mayor thanks everyone and promises them the funds. Fukami says that it isn’t immediate though, for the garrison needs to proceed first. So they’ll need to bear with things for a few more months. However, they need not worry for their will consider easing the water service taxes and market restrictions till the funds come in. The garrison settlement will proceed immediately too. Everyone cheers in return and Megumi’s resolution to succeed the real plan grows stronger.

It’s better for the person beside me to be the one I love

The next day, Wataru leaves for the mainland. A few days later, Funasaka informs Megumi that Wataru has returned. That evening, Wataru visits Megumi and together with Noah, Mamoru and Nozomu, they eat dinner and enjoy their time together. After Noah falls asleep, each of them report on their progress and confirm their plans. Nozomu then leaves and Mamoru returns to his work. As Megumi serves Wataru tea, she starts to grow self-conscious as she wonders how Wataru feels after all (about her serving his superior). When asked about this, Wataru replies that he does want her to do her best – but at the same time there’s another feeling as he knows that it means his superior will take an interest in her. Seeing Megumi freeze at his words, Wataru gently pats her back and apologises. He doesn’t think that he can hold himself back if he continues talking so he can’t answer her now. Megumi thanks him, for saying that he “can’t answer now” is enough of an answer. She realises that rather than an answer, she merely wanted him to have think about it seriously. She’ll do her best and be useful to Wataru, so she hopes he can come and save her then. Though truth be told, she’d rather not be by the side of someone she doesn’t like at all. Wataru strokes her hair and Megumi soon gets sleepy. He tells her to go ahead and sleep, for he’ll remain by her side till then. She finds it a waste to do so since they’re finally together, but she soon falls asleep.

The sun sets, the night begins

A few days later, Nozomu comes to visit as he informs Megumi that Wataru’s superior has arrived and Fukami has already set the appointment. Everything is going as planned. And on the actual day, Megumi asks someone from Koukarou to look after Noah at her place, while she heads to Karyuugai with the rest. An oirandouchuu is going on and many people gather to watch this. Thanks to this, they easily slip into Koukarou.

The reception seat

Inside, Ayame and co. are already aware of the situation and lead them in to the respective rooms. Wataru and Nozomu head to the hall, while Megumi and Mamoru go inside another room. When Fukami and Wataru’s superior arrive, Nozomu starts their work meeting but he’s soon interrupted by the superior – who wants to leave that for later and enjoy the banquet first. Nozomu obliges and goes to prepare another room first, while Fukami leaves for now. Wataru retreats too and so his superior is left drinking alone for now. It’s now Megumi’s turn to enter.

Sweet poison

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As Megumi serves the superior food and alcohol, she maintains her usual smile to hide her nervousness and uneasiness. The superior is clearly in a good mood, and doesn’t even seem to notice Megumi freezing momentarily when he grabbed her shoulder. Soon, Megumi sees her chance to probe and manages to bring in the topic of the garrison and asks where the money grant for it is coming from. The superior explains that with more soldiers it means more men and hence more visitors to Karyuugai. Megumi appears surprised as she confirms if no money is really coming in from the country itself. Having fulfilled her task, she acts disappointed which draws the superior’s invitation. At that moment, Wataru bursts in to demand to know more about what his superior said. Megumi is relieved while the superior is outraged at this interruption. But Wataru doesn’t back down since a soldier is supposed to protect the country and its people, but here he is deceiving everyone for selfish reasons. Provoked, the superior draws his sword and Wataru does so too while telling Megumi to retreat.

Dance of swords

Both of them exchange blades, till Wataru gets the upper hand and has his sword against the superior’s neck. He has forgotten what it’s like to really be a soldier, and has spread mud all over the pride of soldiers. His superior can only grit his teeth at Wataru’s words, and hold his injured arm. Wataru reassures Megumi that he’s alright, as he admits that he had a hard time holding himself back when he thought of Megumi’s position.

Victory and hope

Mamoru and Nozomu enter the room, with some of the Koukarou people. The superior’s surprised to see Nozomu, as well as a reporter (Mamoru) there too. However, he soon remarks that no one will believe a 3rd-rate report plus they have no proof. However, he soon learns that Nozomu will be acting as a witness. Here, Mamoru offers him a deal – if he backs out from this island then they won’t expose him but if he still has any funny ideas, then he’ll know what they’ll do in return. Wataru adds that he’s forgotten what’s the pride of soldiers, and what’s important to them. After all, he had a remarkable past which made him what he was today. His superior merely remains silent as he quietly leaves the room. When Megumi questions if it’s really okay to let him go, Nozomu replies that they can’t do anything if Wataru chooses to do so. In any case, he shouldn’t be able to do anything now and using force to get his way would just be foolish. Wataru believes that his words reached his superior, and that he’ll reflect on them and choose the right path. Megumi nods in return, and she sees that Wataru must really respect his superior.

Peaceful place, the recovered moon

After that they cleared up the room and Ayame invites everyone to eat at the hall. Before that, Satoya came over to inform them that the Koukaseinendan caught some people about to set fire on Karyuugai. This was probably Fukami’s drastic measure which Hibiki referred to. As expected, no matter the circumstances he always comes up with a measure for it. Even though they let him go, now that his plan has come to light he probably can’t do anything now. Moreover, he has lost his backing from the army. It’s difficult for him to even operate elsewhere. Ayame thanks everyone for helping to protect this island, and at least they (from Karyuugai) will cooperate with them at all costs.

Wrapping around gently

On the way back, Mamoru and Nozomu part ways as they’ve elsewhere to drop by. So Wataru sees Megumi home, and the woman who looked after Noah heads back. Megumi tends to Wataru’s injury and once she’s done, she notices that he’s still wearing a difficult expression. He points out that though they’ve dealt with Fukami and his superior, the root problem of the island still hasn’t been solved. So he’s thinking about what he can do. They don’t know exactly how much money the government still has. Fukami claimed that they’ll go bankrupt at this rate but maybe he’s being optimistic, Wataru doesn’t think the situation is that bad. Fukami only said that to agitate the people so that they’ll come to approve of the garrison proposal. But if the government is really low on funds, as expected they’ll need to rebuild their main tourist industry. Unexpectedly, Megumi’s stomach growls and Wataru laughs at this. He recalls that she didn’t eat much earlier on. When Wataru offers to cook something for her, she holds him back as she knows that he must be tired himself. He gives in as he settles down next to her.

Megumi recalls that before he told her to it’s good to be strong at heart but at least show her weaker side at night, and she’d like to say the same thing to him now. She’d like to be able to support him and help heal his weariness too as she loves him. Wataru is surprised at her words, as she confessed before him. Moreover, if he didn’t want to already be with her, he would’ve already returned to his lodging area. Megumi gets embarrassed as she realises it herself. He takes this chance to confess his feelings in return, and thanks her for loving him too.

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Kagurazaka’s words, the mayor’s apology

Megumi is woken up by Wataru the next morning much to her surprise and embarrassment. Later, they head to the central plaza and remain in the shadows. Earlier on, the Koukaseinendan said they had an important speech to make. Hibiki soon appears on stage and explains everything about Fukami’s plot, including his attempt to set fire on Karyuugai last night. He then says that the people who saved the town from this case is Wataru, Megumi, Mamoru and Nozomu. Thanks to them, the island was saved from their plot. After Hibiki finishes, the crowd starts discussing. A man (who Megumi recognises as the one who scolded them) spots Megumi, but just looks away disinterested – he didn’t even glare. Everyone starts questioning about the future, since their problem hasn’t been solved. Sensing Megumi’s uneasiness, Wataru takes her hand and says that once they overcome this problem, it’s the starting point of their dream. Just then, the mayor appears and he bows while apologising to everyone. The crowd goes silent at this sight.

The mayor proceeds to explain that they’re heavily reliant on the tourist industry but things weren’t going well and the funds kept dipping, especially with the recent disaster. Thinking that the town couldn’t maintain itself anymore, he went to the mainland to seek Fukami’s consulting. However, Fukami didn’t pleasantly respond at first. It was only till a few months later did he suddenly accept. The mayor was relieved at first, but then he didn’t find any of Fukami’s proposals agreeable and asked for a more peaceful solution. But Fukami didn’t listen. If they can’t find any solution, he wouldn’t be even able to raise money to pay Fukami so in the end the mayor accepted as he just wanted to raise money. But when he did so, before he realised it there was no way back out. As the mayor apologises again, Megumi sees no traces of the mayor who was always afraid and troubled – but his true sincerity. But everyone else looks on coldly and start to blame the mayor, demanding for a solution. Even though the mayor tries to answer politely, it’s meaningless for it’s all too chaotic.

At this moment, Hibiki raises his voice as he remarks that this won’t do. They can’t just push the blame to someone else and remain as bystanders. If they do, they’ll just keep going in circles. The current problem is not just the mayor’s, and not just the Koukaseinendan‘s but everyone’s. The people appear hesitant as they claim that they don’t know much and can’t change anything. In response, the mayor firmly denies this. With this many people, surely they’ll find a way out if everyone contributes his/her own knowledge even if it’s just a bit. Some of the Karyuugai people express their support, saying that they need to think for themselves too and not just rely on others. This is their own town after all. This stirs the crowd and Megumi sees that it’s proof that the people are slowly starting to think about their own lives. With the mayor’s firm attitude, Hibiki supporting at the side, voices of support, and the town already thinking seriously for its own future – there’s a new air present in this island.

A surprising invitation

The government funds are still low, the tourist industry is still not thriving, the water service taxes are still in place and there’s still the ostracism case. Lots of problems still remain and Koukashi is still in a predicament. After the gathering, the mayor approached Megumi and Wataru and now they’re at his office. The mayor reveals that he’s thinking of resigning, as he needs to take responsibility for his many failures. It’s his way of settling things. He would like Wataru to take over from him, though one can only announce candidacy from 25 years old on so until then he’d have to be an assistant. By right, one of the government officials should take over but he doesn’t think any of them have the capabilities to take over. He knows that Wataru is a soldier, and that it means quitting that position to work for the town. He apologises for saying something like this but he thinks that only Wataru can pave the way for Koukashi‘s future. When Wataru questions why he did not ask Hibiki then, the mayor replies that he did – but Hibiki rejected him, saying that he does not have that capability. Wataru is unable to give an immediate answer and asks for some time first.

Something you want to protect

After they leave, Wataru sees Megumi home and also asks if he could speak to her for a bit. Inside, Wataru says that he’s thinking of accepting the mayor’s invitation. Since young, he always wanted to “protect people” so he worked hard to become a soldier. But he realised that even if he’s not a soldier, there’s still things he wants to protect – the smiles of his important people. As a soldier, he protects the country and people from various threats. But this is different – to watch over his beloved people and watch them live healthily. He wants to support this small town. Megumi can see the strong resolution in his eyes. While he apologises for not discussing with her first, Megumi knows that he won’t change his mind even if she opposed. That being the case, she wants him to confidently walk down the path he believes in even if it’s a rocky one. She respects and supports him, and will be by his side no matter what. Wataru thanks her in return, as he hugs her and leans in to kiss her. Though a lot will happen, they’ll continue to stay together. Megumi thinks to herself that she wants to continue giving Wataru a peace of mind – just like how the gentle moonlight shines in the night sky.

For your own dream

The next day, Wataru went to the mainland to resign from his position. He returns a few days later, and tells Megumi that it took longer than expected since everyone kept holding him back for an explanation including a teary Funasaka. But he’s happy too since it shows that he was needed by them too. As for the superior, he nonchalantly continued working as if nothing had happened in the first place. But he probably won’t do anything now. Wataru also told his step-mother about his resignation, and she said that she had something to tell him and everyone else. He’s sure that it’s something important and hopes for Megumi to come to the central plaza tomorrow too.

The Inoguchi family

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The next day, Megumi and Wataru watch from backstage. They’re both worried about how the crowd will react but can only watch over. It appears as though no one is aware of  what today’s talk is about. Just then, the mayor appears and explains that a woman wants to talk to everyone – and Wataru’s step-mother appears. Everyone starts scolding her and the mayor firmly requests everyone to listen to Ellen. They continue to blame her till Ellen speaks and they all freeze in silence. She announces that from today she’s stepping down as the head of Inoguchi family and passing it onto Wataru. This was Iwao’s request and she recites from his will: when Wataru has become an adult and decides to remain on this island on his own will, he will become the head of the family. He is free to use all of Iwao’s assets.  As such, she hopes for the ostracism to cease. As Wataru remains shocked, eventually someone in the crowd remarks that it’s okay to accede to her request – but she and Noah have to leave the island. Everyone else agrees as they continue to scold Ellen, and Megumi wonders just how deep is their discrimination towards foreigners. Just then, the crowd brings up Megumi and recalls how she ignored their warnings and broke the rules. They all agree that she can’t remain either and decide that she, Ellen and Noah have to leave in return.

The welcomed family

In the middle of all that, Megumi notices a small figure going to the front of the stage – it’s Noah. While his mother is surprised to see him here, Noah remarks that he’s a man too and refuses to back away as he stands before her. He says that unlike them, Megumi is the same as everyone else so he doesn’t understand why she has to leave too. In response, the crowd just makes fun of Noah and Wataru grits his teeth as he watches on. Noah holds back his tears as he’s told that if they all leave there would be no more fighting anyway. Just then, Ayame’s sharp voice breaks through the crowd. She appears with some other people from Karyuugai, as she tells them that they all owe it to the Inoguchi family yet they’re treating his descendant rudely. Everyone else insists that they’re jinxes, and the ostracism is part of the rule so they have to punish those who break those rules. An old man appears next to Ayame then, and everyone recognises him as one of the influential people.

The old man questions if they have the power to exercise that punishment. When they reply that they don’t have as much power as someone like him, he then questions what they use to measure who has authority. The answers are how prestigious they are, how long they’ve lived here, and their assets. The old man remarks that in that case, the Inoguchi family possess all of those yet it’s contradictory of them to treat them like this. Recently, he’s come to think that position, wealth and reputation aren’t as important as they really are. If they only place importance on these things, disparities will form and so will those who only suffer. In that case, he wonders just how much value these things have. And in the first place, while the Inoguchi family bringing in a foreigner was a trigger – strictly speaking it was not the real reason for the ostracism. After Iwao died, Ellen held the most power among all of the influential people. They were all scared of this and conspired to come up with any reason to ostracise the family. In doing so, an outsider wouldn’t be able to display authority over them. After explaining, the old man apologises to both Ellen and Noah for all this time – everything was due to the selfishness of a handful of influential people.

Still, the people remain stubborn as they blame foreigners for being here in the first place and it’s not their fault. Annoyed, Ayame sharply points out that they just keep saying selfish things when things don’t go their way. They only think about their own profit and nothing of the future of this island. They’d rather die elsewhere then die together on this island with people who only bully the weak. This silences everyone, and Ayame proceeds to bow to Ellen as she apologises. A lot has happened but this is how the island is. If possible, they’d like to get along with her since all of them live on this island. Ellen thanks them in return while Noah happily agrees. Everyone looks on Ayame shaking Ellen’s hand and patting Noah’s head, disinterested. But no one says a word. It’s proof that everyone has allowed them to remain on this island, and proof that they can once more walk under the clear skies.

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Smile

After that, Wataru starts to learn the ropes of his job. Megumi reopens her store and just like Mamoru said, not everyone necessarily wants to ostracise for the sake of it, and customers start to return. Though profit is slight and life is still hard, Megumi feels a sense of nostalgia as to how she once lived and she works hard each day. After some days, Megumi, Wataru and Noah go out to retrace the route they took during the festival – though there’s no festival going on today they’re doing the day over again. When Noah asks what the buildings in Karyuugai are, Wataru hesitates in his answer and Megumi answers in his place – it’s where they perform for the tourists. While it isn’t wrong, Megumi’s answer is merely what they do as a side show. Noah starts questioning Wataru’s words and it reminds Megumi of the time they talked about the moon. Sighing, Wataru thinks it’s better for her to explain after all. She remarks that is if they’re still together and while Wataru can’t say for certain – if she does leave him he’ll just have to make her turn back to him again. Noah notices that they’ve been having a lot of secret talks recently. He’s happy though since Nozomu told him that it’s proof that they’re getting along. Nozomu even told him not to interrupt their sweet talking, though Noah wonders what the “sweet talk” is. The couple go quiet at his words, till Megumi attempts to explain that they’re talking about sweets. Noah happily accepts this explanation, and Wataru sighs as he remarks that Nozomu is more childish than his brother. Later, they go to the bamboo forest and play in the river. It’s soon evening and Wataru carries the sleeping Noah as he sees Megumi back home.

Along the way, Wataru remarks that each day is fulfilling and he can’t wait to put his studying into work. While they don’t have relaxing days like this often, Megumi isn’t bothered as she knows that Wataru is doing his best for the island. He then suggests that they should stop the promise to no longer apologise to each other. They no longer have the unnecessary restraints back then so he doesn’t think they no longer have anything to apologise for. Thanks to everyone’s cooperation, the future he wished for is slowly becoming reality. So he hopes that they can be natural around each other now. Megumi agrees with him, for they are all now free. Megumi jokes that she won’t apologise if he sees her other side then, and this surprises Wataru. But then she remarks that she may surprise her own self too and he laughs in response. From today on, he’ll be busier with rebuilding the government but once that phase ends he thinks he should be able to relax more with her. When that does happen, he may get to discover a new side to her – a side only he knows of. Megumi remarks that she’d like to discover a new side to him too. As the sun sets and the gentle moonlight hangs in the sky, their own secret times starts too.

Underneath the clear skies

One autumn day, Megumi heads to the central plaza where Wataru will be talking to everyone. He’s now the assistant mayor, and he hopes everyone can lend him their strength as he vows to do his best for this island. He hopes to build a Koukashi where everyone is one and lives fruitfully, with no fighting, no jealously, and no hate. Afterwards, he announces his plan for the next 3 years in which they’ll focus on making the agriculture and fishing industries as their primary one. While the people were reluctant at first, upon seeing the government take the initiative they started to work too. And after a year, thanks to Nozomu’s knowledge and ideas more tourists have returned too. While they’re not doing as well as in the past, no one is fighting but helping each other out in times of need and living each day to the fullest. Perhaps it goes to show that they’ve stabilised the groundworks. The standard of living is lower and life is still hard, but the town has become one.

END: I’ll be by your side from now on too

A year has passed and it’s Rinkasai again. It’s the second time Megumi and Wataru are going for it, though this time Noah and Mamoru are with them too. They’re getting along really well, and Mamoru suggests buying a windmill for Noah to give them some alone time. After he disappears with Noah, the couple end up touring around like they did last year. As they go release the lanterns down the river, Megumi thanks her parents and Hotaru for giving birth to her, and raising her. Thanks to them, she got to meet Wataru and she’s happy now. When Wataru learns what was on her mind, he remarks that he’s happy but would be troubled if she was satisfied with just that. He notices that she isn’t wearing the earrings he gave her last year, and she replies that she wanted to wear them when they were alone but forgot. He offers to help her wear them again this year. After he’s done, Wataru takes out a ring and slips it on Megumi’s finger. He wishes for her to continue to be by his side. Megumi thanks him, and she feels happier than she was before. He gave her earrings last year, and this year a ring – she playfully wonders what he’ll give her next year. In response, Wataru remarks that it’ll be a new family with her and wonders if she’ll accept. Megumi’s answer is already decided, and she closes her eyes as Wataru leans in to kiss her. She’s filled with happiness, and hopes that they can continue to spend brilliant days just like the ring she was given. Megumi is more than willing to form a new family with him, and to spend the rest of their lives together.

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>> IZON (DEPENDENT) ROUTE

Wanting to cherish

Megumi can see Wataru’s hesitation in confronting his superior. She knows that doing so can risk Wataru losing his position as a “soldier”, and he became one ‘cos he wanted to fulfill his dream. Megumi wants to protect his dream if possible, so she suggests going after Fukami after all. Wataru knows that she’s concerned about him, but their choices are limited and they have to go with the best one. However, Nozomu agrees to go with Megumi’s opinion and will first investigate Fukami again. And everything is screwed. When Wataru protests, Nozomu replies that he just doesn’t want to see either of his friends sad. Megumi apologises for her selfishness, but Nozomu tells her not to do so as he chose this himself. He wouldn’t have agreed if he really didn’t want to do it. While Megumi feels bad to everyone, a part of her also feels relieved. Both Nozomu and Wataru go to check once more for anymore information with regards to Fukami and the army. They’ll be back tomorrow to discuss again. Wataru asks Megumi to look after Noah in the meantime. After they leave, Mamoru tells her that he’ll support her decision. But he just wants her to remember that, in order to protect something important to you, it doesn’t only mean stowing away carefully in a box. They retire for the night but an uneasy feeling disturbs Megumi. Though she tries to reassure herself otherwise, in the end she hardly slept that night.

Increasing uneasiness, attack

They meet up again but there’s no new discoveries. Instead, even though it’s dangerous Nozomu messed up Fukami’s study as proof that someone’s aware of his schemes. He also left a note asking Fukami to meet them at the harbour alone tomorrow morning if he doesn’t want his scheme to be exposed. He doesn’t know how Fukami will respond but that’s all they can bet on. He doesn’t think that Fukami will ask the police for help though as it’s risky at this stage. Wataru asks Megumi to stay at home with Noah, while he, Nozomu and Mamoru go to meet Fukami. But Megumi asks to come along with them, and she thinks that Noah should be okay alone at home since it’s the early morning. In the end, Wataru agrees to her request and promises to protect her. Since he said this, Nozomu doesn’t object further. Just then, the Onsengai people start attacking and throwing stones outside. Nozomu goes to the entrance to chase them away, while Mamoru goes to check the store. Soon, the Shoutengai people retaliate and so the Onsengai people escape. But Noah was woken up by the disturbance, and both Wataru and Megumi do their best to calm him down. For a moment, Megumi thinks that if she didn’t suggest going after Fukami instead this wouldn’t have happened. But she only wanted to protect Wataru’s dream. As if sensing this, Wataru pats Megumi. It’s as if he’s telling her not to worry, and Megumi almost feels like crying at his kind gesture.

Wavering heart

After Noah falls asleep again, all of them discuss their plans once more before dispersing. Megumi can hardly sleep though and when she goes to get some water she sees Wataru. He knows that she’s probably blaming herself for what happened. Even if they accepted Nozomu’s initial suggestion, the attack would still have occurred. And once they catch Fukami and make him leave the island, the attacks would probably stop too so he hopes that she can stop beating herself down. While Megumi might have created the trigger, all of them chose this on their own accord. So there’s no need for her to feel solely responsible, it is everyone’s. They’ll continue to be by her side from now on too. Megumi thanks Wataru for his words, and he tells her to go back to sleep. Once everything is over, he’d like to talk to her again.

In the dim darkness

All of them arrive at the harbour and tensely wait for Fukami’s arrival. But instead, a few men appear with knives in their hands. They remark that the rumours are true after all, and accuse them of coming here to make a deal with Fukami. They refuse to believe the denials, and insist that they’ll protect the island from them. The men charge in to attack, and Wataru tries to persuade them to stop for they can’t possibly win over a trained soldier. But they don’t back down and so Wataru has no choice but to fend for himself and the rest. He doesn’t give them any serious injuries and knocks all of them unconscious.

Trap

But Fukami appears just then and remarks that a soldier raised his sword against the common people – it’s a great scandal on its own. He feigns ignorance on his coincidental appearance, and recalls how his study was made a huge mess by a rat. Seeing Nozomu’s expression, Fukami expresses his disappointment and adds that he called the police already. He didn’t think that his plan would go this smoothly, and when the police arrive surely they can pinpoint that the injuries were made by Wataru’s sword. Fukami notes how Megumi’s gaze remains fierce and guesses that Wataru is an important person to her – but there’s nothing she can do. Instead of setting a trap, they fell into one. Wataru’s dream is about to be crushed, and Megumi is provoked by how Fukami ridicules a person’s dream. Wataru quickly stops her from grabbing Fukami by the collar, for he doesn’t want to see her act violently.

Wataru questions if Fukami wants to earn money that badly, to the point of manipulating others and stepping on them to build the garrison. In response, Fukami replies that it is fun. He doesn’t know about trampling on others, but he likes create his own world with his own capabilities. If they don’t like it, they just need to topple over the stronger one – but they can’t and only demand their own desires to be fulfilled and to be protected. If they can’t do anything by themselves, they should just continue crawling on the ground. It’s as if Fukami sees everyone else as fools. Wataru would rather suppress his own desires for the rest to be happy though, then to stamp on others to fulfill his own desires – especially the ones who are important to him. He wants them to always smile but in a narrow world without any freedom, that smile is gradually disappearing. In order to prevent that, it’s important to be harmony and to intermingle with the surroundings. He just wants everyone to be able to gain happiness equally.

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But Fukami points out that doing so is much harder than trampling on others to fulfill your own desire. After all we’re talking about everyone’s happiness here. Moreover, people often compare themselves to others – they feel superior and accomplished standing above others. Wataru says that this might be the case, but surely people can give and take – they can gain even when doing away with the hatred, fighting, and discrimination. However, Fukami highlights how the people on this island are alright with hurting others as long as they can fulfill their own desires. Wataru himself has experienced this. Fukami thinks that they’re too naive. In the end, they couldn’t fulfill their pretty ideals and were crushed by its weight. Their only hope is for someone else to pity them and save them. As Fukami laughs, Megumi sees him as more pitiful since he can only gain happiness for himself. And she can’t forgive him for ridiculing Wataru’s ideal. She remarks that Fukami probably doesn’t have anything he wants to protect, since he can only see dreams which look possible to fulfill. Fukami only appears amused, and Megumi is furious by his mocking attitude. Though Wataru tries to hold her back, Megumi secretly apologises to him while grabbing Fukami by the collar. Yes, the dream is a difficult one to fulfill. Wataru himself knows this, but he fights hard for it everyday. Fukami has no right to comment further when he himself can’t make that same future into reality.

Megumi herself was happy to share the same dream, and to work hard for it together with Wataru. She’s happy to have met Wataru who taught her all these new feelings. Feeling somewhat refreshed, she then notices Fukami carrying a gun and tries to slip it out. But as expected he notices and grabs her hand. Alarmed, Wataru tells her to get away but Megumi has set her resolution already. Just then, Fukami remarks that in a battle the one who is in the right is the winner. No matter what the loser says, the winner is in the right. Holding her hand, he positions the gun against Megumi’s forehead. But Fukami won’t shoot, as he’d become a criminal and the police who arrive will see this. His ambitions won’t be satisfied with just this small island, and he doesn’t want his future to end here. Megumi asks if he’s afraid for his future to end here. She’s holding the gun after all, so it’s possible for her to shoot him instead. Despite Wataru’s protests, Megumi remarks that she’s prepared to do anything to make Wataru’s ideal a reality. She’s happy just to see how worried Wataru is, and tells everyone to run away when she shoots. She’s prepared to carry the blame for everything, including the injuries on the people. As Megumi apologises to Mamoru for possibly causing him trouble, Fukami tells her to go ahead if she dares. Megumi slowly turns the gun to face him – she’s prepared to kill without hesitation for the people she loves.

END: Bearing (the burden of) the sin

As Megumi pulls the trigger, her mind goes blank. Fukami falls and the blood splatters onto her, before she collapses to her knees. Wataru catches her and as she’s pulled back to reality, Megumi reassures him that even if she’s in prison his heroism will resound throughout the world. But Wataru doesn’t smile back at her and Megumi is overwhelmed with sadness. Nozomu interrupts them as they can no longer remain on this island. The police Fukami called will be here soon, especially with that gunshot just now. Would they really want to be captured just as Fukami planned? Nozomu offers to gather their belongings with Mamoru, while the two of them (stained with blood) should hurry to Inoguchi’s place to escape by boat. Mamoru agrees that though she might’ve been prepared to accept any result, he doesn’t want to see his sister behind bars after all. Upon seeing Mamoru’s painful expression, Megumi finally realises that she didn’t listen to Wataru and became a criminal. She brought him here and made him out to be a criminal. Wataru doesn’t want to see her in prison either, and he’ll be bringing his family and everyone away from the island. Megumi can only nod in return.

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In the end, Megumi feels that she triggered all of this and all that was left was the result of her naive conviction. After that, they all moved to a forgotten, lonely village where no one knows their past, and where no one will visit. While carrying the burden of their heavy sins, they hide it with awkward smiles each day. At times, Megumi wonders if this is really alright but they can no longer backtrack their actions. From now on, they’ve to live with a true resolution.

END: The time which cannot be turned back

In The name of this feeling born, Nozomu tells Megumi to be careful for both her and Wataru pay attention to other people’s needs more than necessary. While it may be important to do so, if they overdo it and focus on that too much their outlook gets narrow as a result. Once that happens, he can’t do anything about it either. So he asks her not to never forget the most important thing. The rest of the events are the same as above except that they bring Noah along with them to the harbour, for Wataru doesn’t feel at ease leaving Noah alone. So when Megumi is about to shoot Fukami, Noah intercepts as he tells her that she can’t kill someone. You shouldn’t do what you wouldn’t want done to yourself – doing so will only leave you with painful feelings. Megumi is shaken by Noah’s words and drops the gun. Both Fukami and Wataru scramble for the gun and the next thing Megumi knows, Noah’s body goes limp as a gunshot is heard. Enraged, Wataru tries to chase after Fukami but Noah calls for him. He managed to protect Megumi, and so he asks his older brother to protect her from now on. Soon, Noah passes away and no longer moves or speaks – just like a doll. A light has gone out, just like the lantern back then. One that was younger, and filled with more hope, dreams and future. Everyone can only stare as they gather around Noah.

The police soon arrive and with Fukami gone, they suspect them from the situation – especially Wataru for injuring the men. They tried to cover for Wataru but he merely shook his head and took on all the responsibility for the crime. He was taken in by the police and sent to the mainland. After that, from what she heard from other people, Wataru was expelled from the army and locked up. As for them, the news spread all over the island while they were called in for questioning. The people couldn’t forgive them for being accomplices, moreover there was still the ostracism. And so, everyone involved in this moved to a quiet, lonely village – to wait for the day when Wataru will be released, and the day when they can return “home”. In the end, the dream was crushed while it was still a dream. Megumi wonders why and where she went wrong. But thinking about it just brings in endless regret – so she bounded her heart up like a chain would.

Overall

Welcome to the longest post so far. And I have more to add. Firstly, once again Takuyo seems to be pushing the boundaries. The thing is, this is an otome game. So a lot of times you have the whole “it’s okay we love each other, our love will see us through” kind of flow in most otome games. Some are very obvious, others are less so. But usually, for a happy end you do choose the choices which emit that feeling. Getsuei? Well ‘cos they included a Dependency parameter alongside the Favourability one – THINGS DON’T GO AS EXPECTED. This is especially evident in the choice difference between the Aijou and Izon ends. Picking the ones where Megumi becomes very wrapped up around Wataru leads to an up in Dependency. A clear example is when Megumi leaves Noah’s side to rush up to Fukami – Noah is VERY important to Wataru, he’s the prime reason why Wataru even has his dream. And this leads to the end I really wanted to cry over. Wataru completely lost the reason for his dream, and I can just imagine how no one else on the island cared about the real culprit due to the discrimination.

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That dreaded blue(?) parameter, makes you scream “OH SH***T” every time it goes up.

Why did Takuyo do this? My guess is that it works for Getsuei ‘cos love will NOT solve the problem – the crisis the island is facing. Yes, it brings Megumi and Wataru together and makes them stronger. But just like both Nozomu and Mamoru’s advice went: Megumi was too engrossed with her feelings for Wataru, she lost sight of the bigger picture. Megumi thinking “I can do anything for the one I love” was a sign of this. Her actions do affect everyone else too, and other people’s actions affect her and Wataru too. The Megumi before was more rational I think. It goes along with Wataru and Nozomu’s earlier words, telling Megumi to remain the way she is – and that she doesn’t need to stick with the common convention of “friendship”. In this case it’s the common convention of “love” (in otoge). But of course, if she remains how she usually is, cut off from the world, the route also ends there. It’s almost in-line with how cut off the island is. It’s ironic when you think of Fukami vs. Hibiki – they’re both from the outside aka they don’t ‘belong’ to the island. I guess one can say that the good end needed a balance of both. All that said, Megumi is not solely to blame. They all chose her decision too and thus are responsible too. Anyway, thanks to this route I really grew to like Nozomu and Mamoru.

Fukami’s rebuttals to Wataru were all pretty convincing. I think I’m quite a cynical person myself so I could agree to most of his words – but the thing is Fukami appears to only see the bad in people. He almost seems like a supporter of the “people are born with a bad nature” if you get what I mean. I don’t know what he went through, but I hope to see an explanation elsewhere as to why he targets the entertainment districts. I think that perhaps he has a history with Ayame? Also, his way of thinking can’t change the island’s status quota. Wataru’s can. Wataru appears to be in the “people are born with a good nature” camp. There are people like Ayame (who eventually voice their opinions in support of Ellen). This is why he remains hopeful and the town does change slowly but steadily in the good end. So yeah all of this was interesting to see…in an otome game.

From a single taste of this game, I think it’s safe to say that Getsuei really isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s a pretty grim look at reality, and how these characters struggle to live (and love) according to their ideals. I emphasis “reality” for the issues brought up in Getsuei are ones you can find in real life too. It’s…scary in that sense. But it’s an interesting set-up and the characters are well-developed. The writing is beautiful, and so is the music though I can’t say that it’s drawing me in as much as StS did. With Getsuei I had to take short breaks in between due to the nature of the game, it’s not something I can bulldoze through – with StS though, I was stuck on my PSP for hours. As you can see, I’m comparing with StS a lot as most people I know interested in this game have played StS. But yes, the two titles are very different. (And yes, I totally see the Izon ends as bad ends.)

I will take a short break (few days) before continuing onto Nozomu’s route. Hopefully it wouldn’t take me as long to complete, for I’ve finished Wataru/Nozomu’s common scenes. Still, you can never tell since Nozomu is one of those few characters who talks a lot. It may be a little early to say this, but I’m playing Getsuei alongside a more light-hearted title and I recommend the same for other people.

8 thoughts on “Getsuei no Kusari -Sakuran Paranoia-: Wataru’s Route

  1. lenaleemelodee says:

    … I think there’s something wrong with the length of this post. Why, Takuyo, WHY?… I spent hours and nights literally playing StS and this game is gonna take weeks if not months to continue. But in my opinion it’s worth every penny. Especially if you compare this to light-hearted forgettable games by Otomate like Glass Heart Princess, and the like (not that they are all bad).
    I like it how Takuyo releases one light-hearted game and a heavy plot one one after another. I really respect how much effort hey put into their games. I’ve never thought of Takuyo being a strong company in terms of games but I love it more than Otomate now.

    Thank you for this post. It’s gonna take ages for me to even get to this route >.<

    • Yume says:

      Unfortunately there isn’t lol. On the positive side, when I play I’m taking notes at the same time and also updating my drafts so I’m sure you won’t take as long as I do. But I think that light-hearted games have their own pros too and GHP is one of Otomate’s better recent releases imo. I believe a lot of people’s expectations were betrayed with that game, plus I think more people can enjoy it as opposed to Getsuei…due to its nature. Personally I believe a lot has to do with your preference and the mood you’re in. People may prefer a modern setting etc. Or if you’re in a depressed mood, playing Getsuei would just make you feel worse as much as it’s a lovely game.

      I think Takuyo was producing otome games earlier than Otomate so they’ve surely come a long way. It’s just that Otomate produces so many titles now they overshadow other companies sometimes. Oh well.:\

      You’re welcome! Once you reach a certain “climax” point I’m sure you’ll be encouraged to finish the route at one go. At least I experienced that. ^^

  2. kurorisa says:

    almost 25k words for one guy I don’t even orz
    I’m only reading your last part aka overall
    by now I am thanking my past self for not picking up this games or I’m really gonna turn into a masochist. kudos to you for playing this game and reviewing it!

    • Yume says:

      I know…right. (/ *゚д゚)/
      You’re welcome! I mean it’s an interesting game so feel free to just read on it but…yeah~ It’s not a light-hearted game. Idk if you’ve played other Takuyo games before but I recommend trying Shinigami to Shoujo for starters instead. \o/

      • kurorisa says:

        yeah maybe I’ll play that for tasting takuyo game first Σ(´∀`;) good luck with the rest of the routes! trust me, you need some fresh air and suport to finish that game lol

        • Yume says:

          Yup yup! StS is yet another enchanting title to immerse in. Haha, thank you! I probably will need them won’t I /o\ (I have yet to return to Nozomu’s route lol.)

  3. Usagi says:

    Hello! Spot your post through Tumblr and here I am on your blog! I couldn’t resist to comment because not only is this one of my favourite otome games, I agree with everything you said – the writing and how Takuyo makes the characters deal with the issues. I’m pretty amazed you actually included all the details in your post omg. I was left feeling SO miserable after playing the Independent End lol. I didn’t do the Separation Ends, but from your post it sounds pretty depressing. Honestly, sometimes I just want these characters to migrate because everyone on the island is a bunch of assholes.

    Have fun playing Nozomu’s route (that might be a wrong word to use though…8D;)! He’s my favourite so I’m looking forward to know what you think of him and his route! I also agree with you how things don’t go as expected. Like…Mochizuki’s route. I won’t spoil, but I was a bit caught off-guard by his Independent End. O_O; P.S. prepare some tissues for Hibiki’s route, especially his Independent End. I was like ゥヮ━━。゚(゚⊃Д;゚)゚。━━ン!!!!!! all over the place. This game is really depressing as they’ve said it. OTL; But the execution for each ending is just lovely. Glad to see another otome gamer playing this game!

    • Yume says:

      Hi, thanks for your comment! ^^/ Lol writing the posts now will be a test of patience between me and Getsuei. But yes, the writing and all is really nice~ I played Takuyo’s Shinigami to Shoujo before so I somewhat expected that quality (plus that otoge is still the one which made me cry the most). But uhh, everyone’s responses to Getsuei’s ends makes me dkdk in a different sense ahaha…you’re scaring me for Mochizuki’s now, especially since I’m looking forward to his route the most. ∑(=゚ω゚=;) I guess I’ll have to wait and see (and complete Nozomu’s route first)! So far I’ve played the part up till where Nozomu loses his cool (talking to Wataru when they’re alone) and I like it – for some reason I usually like scenes where the usually composed characters lose their cool. www

      If I understand you correctly, the Separation (?) end for Wataru’s is actually just an alternate version of the Izon end – a worse version if you don’t mind me saying lol. I’ll…prepare myself for the other depressing ends. (oTωT)o Thank you again, it’s nice to hear from someone else who has played this already!

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