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

nozomu-10

The individual route for Haruna Nozomu (CV: Naruse Makoto). This follows from the Common Route. Nozomu appears to be a tourist in Koukashi, and also regularly frequents Megumi’s store. He woos her but he hardly talks about himself, and is filled with mystery. A few of the earlier scenes overlaps with Wataru’s route.

Notice me……

It soon starts to rain and the customers leave. Megumi checks how it is outside and then notices Nozomu is a distance, soaked in the rain. He remarks that she finally noticed him, and is brought into her store. He’d wanted to call out to her, but then upon seeing her decided not to and instead, observe when she’ll finally notice him. It’s hard to tell if he’s joking or not. Megumi takes a hand towel for Nozomu to wipe off, but he shows no signs of accepting it and only smiles in return.

Always be by my side

So Megumi lightly wipes him off instead, waiting for Nozomu to take the towel himself. It isn’t uncommon for her to offer a towel to customers caught in the rain, but Nozomu merely removes his glasses and unties his hair. He soon stops and thanks her – for he’d rather remain wet as a reason to remain by her side. Slightly confused, Megumi decides to oblige and asks if he didn’t carry a handkerchief today. Nozomu replies that he usually doesn’t carry one, for he has no need for it, unlike Megumi who often uses it on days such as this. In response, he remarks that as long as she’s by his side to wipe for him then everything’s solved. Megumi’s unsure of how to reply, as unlike her other customers Nozomu always gives unexpected answers. He’s happy to see her pondering face, and adds that if she isn’t by his side then he’ll just catch a cold and have her look after him. When Nozomu asks if she’ll do so, Megumi replies that only if he wishes for it which surprises him. He wouldn’t want to pass on his cold to her anyway, and he reveals that he actually does carry a handkerchief on him.

Reassured by a visible price

Nozomu soon returns to his usual self and places his order at the counter. He requests Megumi to put on a record to listen to, preferably one lovers would listen to. As she searches for a suitable track, she asks if he likes such tunes. But it turns out that it dislikes them the most, it’s just that he wanted to create the atmosphere between them. Megumi finds a track called Hatsukoi Sasameyuki and puts it on, though Nozomu commends on her great tastes for this is a song about unrequited love – not that he minds it. He then asks if she’s going for the upcoming festival, and Megumi replies that she will go with her brother if possible. As for Nozomu, it appears as if he’s forced to and he doesn’t see what’s so fun about a festival, especially when the participants are this town’s empty-headed people. Megumi begs to differ, as she tries to highlight what she enjoys about the festival. Nozomu eventually asks her to recall her past experiences of going to the festival (with Hotaru and Mamoru). He sees how she’s having fun recalling, and asks if she would be his guide for the upcoming festival then, so that he can experience the same thing. To his surprise, Megumi agrees to do so after her store closes. Well he did phrase his words such that she would agree more easily, as opposed to asking her out directly. Still, Nozomu wasn’t expecting a straight answer like that. He feels that they’re the same deep-down inside, that’s why he feels comfortable being with her and visits her frequently. Megumi just thanks him in return without delving further, and Nozomu appears relieved.

But he also mentions that he was thinking of settling things with money, like a contract to pay her for accompanying him for half a day. He feels more relieved when there’s a visible price which can’t be erased. Megumi’s surprised when he lists out the numbers, as it’s almost the same price as what you would pay for an oiran at Karyuugai. Nozomu finds it strange that she would reject this, especially since one would need the money from now on. Megumi says that she’ll just accept his feelings, so Nozomu agrees to come meet her on the actual day. He leaves the store shortly after.

Delighted by the sister’s talk of love

That night, Mamoru tells Megumi that he finished his work but still has one more article to work on so he can’t go for the festival. He’s surprised to hear that she got invited out by someone else, and gets excited when he hears that it’s a guy lol. Megumi only reveals that he’s a regular customer. Mamoru tells her to enjoy herself, and passes her some money for his souvenir, and to use the balance on herself. Though Megumi refuses the money at first, he tells her to accept her brother’s love.

A girl who exercises restraint

nozomu-3

On the festival day, Nozomu is briefly taken aback by Megumi’s look for it’s different from her usual style. He praises how she looks, and for some reason Megumi feels embarrassed. She hopes that how she appears won’t affect how others look at him. While Nozomu remarks that it’s just like her to always place others before herself, there’s no need to worry for he only bothers about how she look at him. Nozomu then offers his hand so that they don’t get separated in the crowd.

An artificial festival to cover the shadow

They arrive at Karyuugai, and Megumi smiles at the sight of a mother and child. But she notices that Nozomu’s expression appears dark instead. He changes the topic by commenting on how the place doesn’t look like it was affected by a disaster last year at all. Megumi agrees, mentioning how everything was rebuilt. In reply, Nozomu remarks on how it’s only the exterior that’s brilliant. If one wasn’t aware of the true state of affairs, as a tourist site it is brilliant. Megumi recalls him saying something similar before, but tells herself that she brought him here to enjoy himself. She tries her best by pointing out how the decoration is slightly different today, such as the lantern colours. Nozomu is impressed by her detailed knowledge, and asks her to bring him to the candy apple shop she mentioned. As Megumi tries to search for it in the crowd, Nozomu quickly warns her to watch her feet and she thanks him in return. While he’s happy, the extra service doesn’t suit her – for example bumping into someone and falling into his arms. But then again, being in this sort of place it feels as though everything is artificial so he’s glad to have warned her instead and receive her sincere gratitude. Megumi is confused by his words, and he dismisses his words. Nozomu offers to search for the store instead as he’s taller. Megumi insists otherwise for she’s the guide, but he remarks that he’s having fun – it’s not often that he gets to see the usually perfect Megumi slip up.

To feel relieved in “it can’t be helped”

They soon find the candy apple store and Nozomu insists on treating her. They then go to a less crowded place to eat, though Megumi notices that Nozomu isn’t eating but sternly staring elsewhere instead. She realises that he’s looking at two people talking: one asking if Fukami will come since he apparently passed by the other day, and the other doubts so especially since the Koukaseinendan is patrolling so everything should be alright. The first one apologises for spoiling the mood and goes to treat the other to something sweet, like candy apple. Megumi looks back at her own candy apple, and notices Nozomu’s gaze back on her. He’s happy that she’s enjoying it, and as he bites into his own he remarks on how he can somewhat understand her feelings. He then comments on how the Koukaseinendan is busy even today. Nozomu doesn’t understand why Hibiki works so hard for the island, being an ‘outsider’. (The Koukaseinendan was originally a volunteer group, and reformed last year with Hibiki being the head.) To be honest, Nozomu himself wouldn’t care for being relied on and liked by this town’s people – but Megumi is an exception. Well if Hibiki quits then the town can only accept the garrison proposal and everything would be solved. Megumi advises him not to say such things here, and he admits that he tends to reveal his true thoughts around her. Nozomu ends the topic here, especially since it’s a rare date he has with her.

Both of them then head to another store and Megumi tries to find something to buy in return for Nozomu’s treat. She ends up choosing a perfume satchel with the smell of daphne, thinking that it would help to relax Nozomu since he’s busy with work. (The flower language for daphne: immortal, pleasure, eternity.) Megumi also gets a fan for Mamoru, and soon gives the satchel to Nozomu. To his surprise, he bought the exact same thing for her. They end up exchanging their gifts with each other, and Megumi can’t deny that she feels both embarrassed and happy especially since they picked the same thing. It’s the first time she’s received a gift from a guy besides her family. Megumi tells herself that there’s “no helping it” to calm herself down, before she takes Nozomu’s hand again.

A cold memory

Megumi goes to take the lantern, before explaining to Nozomu the real purpose of the festival. They head to a less crowded area and she lights hers before letting it float in the river. As she looks on, she’s recalls the past. When Nozomu asks who she’s thinking of, Megumi replies that it’s the previous proprietress who took great care of her. He notes that she’s speaking as if they’re not related at all, even though she looked at the mother and child with such tenderness before. It’s as if she’s abasing herself yet praising others. Nozomu asks if she was really happy back then with her family. Personally, he doesn’t think much when he sees such scenes. Megumi observes that his expression is dark again, and it hurts when he abruptly grabs her shoulders, asking if she was really happy – to act selfish and be accommodated, laugh, cry, act nostalgic and want to return to those times. Was she happy everyday with her blood-related family? Megumi merely remarks that it’s painful, and Nozomu quickly removes his grip as he apologises and dismisses his words. She doesn’t pursue, as it looked as though Nozomu touched on something he really didn’t want others to know. Her chest hurts as she recalls his last question – she was just thinking that the place she was happy in isn’t the place she really belongs to. Her hearts feels as though it’s sunk to the bottom in dark waters. She was “rejected” by her mother, and was happy with Hotaru and Mamoru. It wasn’t all happy memories, but with time her memories are slowly painted over though she still vividly remembers the past. This painful, sad feeling is still deeply rooted somewhere inside of her heart – “loneliness”. If only she could forget it all by locking it in a box. But in the corner of her mind she truly wishes to recall the memory of her loving mother. On a day when you’re supposed to pray for your ancestors, she’s thinking of this instead. Unlike the bright lanterns, she’s like the dark waters surrounding it – surely she’s a much darker person than how others see her.

nozomu-4

Nozomu notices that she keeps looking at the waters instead of the lanterns, and asks what exactly she’s seeing there. He’s returned to his usual self, but Megumi hasn’t yet so she apologises. Nozomu tells her not to for she’s merely praying as she should. It’s evidence that her heart is beautiful. Megumi replies that he’s overestimating her and while he agrees, he still thinks that it’s pretty. He expects that she’s lamenting on how she can’t grief for the dead without any evil thoughts, that come rolling in like dark clouds into her heart. She’s surprised at his correct words, and he remarks that it’s ‘cos he’s only been looking at her. She can’t kill off the feelings sleeping inside as much as she wants to, and ends up lamenting over this and her feelings. This becomes an ongoing cycle. The deep-rooted feeling she can’t easily erase is “loneliness”. But he finds that dark heart of hers beautiful, especially in this town. Seeing how Nozomu understands her wound, Megumi wonders if he had experienced something similar. She finds it a bit scary that what she sees as dark, he sees as pretty. She averts his gaze and Nozomu asks if she wants to leave this island, just like the lanterns. He doesn’t think that she can be happy on an island where she has to suppress herself, and wants to take her away. It’s a matter of time before the garrison proposal will be implemented, and the water service taxes will be implemented soon. But the people will make noise again for they only want the easy way out but don’t take the initiative – he hates such people the most. They want all their desires to be accepted, but still will accept the garrison case since it’s the only remaining solution.

Nozomu doesn’t think she can be happy here, but she probably can’t easily throw away everything she has here. If that was the case she wouldn’t be this bothered. He understands that the lesser things one has, the scarier it is to let them go. Megumi asks if he has such a person too, and he replies that he has an important friend. He won’t force anything on her, but if she says that she wants to be free he’ll do everything he can. Megumi can’t help but find his straight gaze a bit dark, and scary. Later, Nozomu offers to see her back. Megumi has no reason to reject but it’s a bit scary as she feels as though the distance between them has decreased.

What’s that in your hand?

They part in front of her store, and Nozomu tells her that he’ll treat her gift importantly. 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 accidentally gives him the satchel at first, before giving him the folding fan she bought for him. 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.

wataru-7

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 Shoutengaican 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.

I like glass which looks like it’s about to break

Wataru takes both Megumi and Nozomu’s hands, and says that if they don’t mind he hopes to be her friend too. 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. In fact, she’s even feel to reject. She isn’t obliged to help him if he’s in trouble, or to answer him seriously if he consults her. 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”. Wataru soon leaves with his subordinate, while Nozomu wants to remain behind for just a little while longer. Feeling self-conscious, Megumi starts to wipe the dishes. Nozomu remarks that the moon outside is pretty, and was reminded of her when he was looking at it before entering her store. She replies that it’s better for a love to be fulfilled after all, and he agrees that it’s the happiest outcome. Nozomu reaches out to touch her hand, and when she doesn’t remove her hand he tells her that she can’t give him too much service. It’ll only give the other person expectations. Nozomu releases her hand, and says that it’s alright for her to forget the talk of “friends”. That kind of formality is bothersome and clingy. Nozomu mutters something else to himself though, before leaving the store.

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.

A close sense of distance

Nozomu spots Megumi and offers to help her out, just like the previous time she was out shopping. Megumi refuses at first as it’s her job, and Nozomu remarks that when it comes to her the longer the interval there is in a conversation it means that the distance between them has shortened (meaning that Megumi thinks over her words longer). Nozomu walks closely to her and so in the end, she lets him help her. Megumi also realises that he’s carrying the satchel she gave him which makes her happy. He notices that she’s bought a lot, and Megumi explains that it’s just in case anything happens. Nozomu remarks that it is the normal to think of what may happen in the future. Unlike others, she properly reflects on what she’s heard. He then softly touches her face, as he would a broken object, and tells her that this is why he likes her. He jokingly adds that he really wants to bring her away from the island. As Nozomu helps her pull the cart back, he remarks that he’s always hoping for a reason to be with her, plus they’re friends after all.

The immutability which is welcoming its end

That night as Megumi finishes her chores, she hears people talking outside. They’re always not taking any action and leaving Hibiki to do something about the situation. The next morning at Shoutengai, Megumi goes to return the cart 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. When she returns the cart, the owner remarks that it’s rare for her to buy so much groceries. The customer looks at Megumi and when she goes to buy the newspaper, he starts asking the store owner about the details.

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.

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.

In the depths of that delicate body……

nozomu-5

Nozomu drops by Megumi’s store and doesn’t order his usual drink, but a dessert. He remarks he considered it thoroughly and unlike the rest of the people crowding her store, he’s ordering stuff which doesn’t use up a lot of ingredients and hurt her sales. As Nozomu sighs, he asks Megumi the reason for this store’s existence. In response, Megumi replies that it’s for the previous owner who left this store to her – so she needs to keep it running. Nozomu points out that if that’s the case, she’d need to consider the sales since if she continues at this rate the store will collapse. Personally, he thinks that she needs to make a livelihood and that’s why there’s this store. Megumi eventually agrees to his words, and so Nozomu advises her to change the pricing as it’s clear that she’s being pressured. When she remarks the the most important thing is the customers, he says that he doesn’t want to burden her the more he orders from her. Megumi wonders if he’s worried for her. Nozomu adds that profit is still more important – it’s to her benefit to in fact exploit as many people as she can. After all, perhaps the people feel happier to be deceived. Megumi merely smiles and thanks Nozomu, but she’s not planning to deceive anyone. She was bothered by the same issue but she wants to protect Hotaru’s ideals and not disappoint the customers. She tells him that she still has groceries left over from that day, and will make a decision by then. She’d like to not change the prices if possible, but she doesn’t want to burden Mamoru either.

He observes that she often makes this expression – a smile that she forces when she’s always thinking for others and suppressing herself. Nozomu wonders where is her real smile. She can be selfish if it’s tough on her, to just do favours for the people who help her sales. It’s good to protect what’s important to her, but it’s also okay to throw away the unreasonable but compulsive idea that she always needs to do so. Megumi is unable to give any answer, for all of Nozomu’s words pierce through her. But that pain is almost a comfortable one, breaking the shell in her to reach out to something deeper that wants to be released, yet not released at the same time. It’s a bittersweet feeling, and to think that he pried out that complex feeling in her. Nozomu adds that he earns a lot of money, but of course Megumi can’t accept this. She’s flustered when he points out that her hands have stopped working and she quickly apologises. But Nozomu prefers this expression of hers, as compared to her smile. Embarrassed, Megumi looks up at the clock and sees that it’s almost closing hours.

Separated from the world

When Megumi goes to close the door, she spots Wataru outside. Nozomu comes out too and sees through Wataru’s lie that he was just passing by. He was probably worried if Megumi was overworking herself or not. Soon, a loud voice erupts inside and they all rush in. Wataru’s surprised to see how frantic Nozomu is though, and wonders just how much he likes Megumi. Inside, a Shoutengai person is arguing with a government official. Megumi reassures Nozomu and Wataru that she’ll settle the dispute as the store owner, but it backfires instead as the Shoutengai person is clearly drunk. He sees Wataru and remarks that the rumours were true – she must’ve known that the prices would rise in advance and hence bought a lot and now she has all the customers. The official points out that everyone was informed about the water service tax, so he could’ve prepared beforehand just like Megumi. But the man remains unreasonable and adds that now Beniichi has restrictions too, but only Megumi is having a relaxed time. That’s not the case at all though but the man accuses her of selling herself to the official and calls her a betrayer. Megumi is surprised to hear about the restrictions, as she’s been too busy lately to check her mail. The man throws the plates and glass off the table, and tells her to get out for he’ll be telling the president. The plate was something Megumi bought with Hotaru, and is sad to see her important item broken.

Reason and desire, right and wrong

Megumi sees everything as her fault, and apologises to all the customers while telling them to be careful as she picks up the broken pieces. The man laughs as he remarks that no one needs her, as expected of an adopted child. As Megumi continues blaming herself, Nozomu bangs the table and he stands before her.

Nozomu: Hey, what was that I’ve been hearing since just now? You’ll tell the Shoutengai president that she’s a betrayer? How stupid is that? (……) You said the same thing just now didn’t you? Should I call this is poor vocabulary, this is why I hate people who don’t know what’s outside. They make me sick and disgusted.

As she watches on, Megumi knows that she has to do something but her words are stuck in her throat. Nozomu continues to elaborate on what the government official reasoned. There were already rumours of the Beniichi restrictions too. Megumi was just worried and anticipated this. Moreover, they themselves were the ones who raised the prices, only thinking of themselves. In the first place, he came here to eat as it’s cheap. Being a regular customer, Nozomu can tell who hasn’t been here before. He’s being both stupid and absurb. Provoked, the man grabs Nozomu but the latter glares back. Can he only resort to violence since he has nothing else to say? Megumi sees all of this as her fault and finally shouts for them to stop. The man splashes his alcohol onto Nozomu instead, and Megumi is at a loss for words. He laughs and asks Nozomu if he’s cooled his head, and says that he’s never coming back again. He’ll definitely tell the president, who he’s known for a long time so he’s sure he’ll believe his words. After he leaves, Megumi’s head is blank for a moment before she starts to apologise to the remaning customers as they gradually leave. The government official merely pays and leaves, embarrassed. Megumi continues to blame herself for not acting more proper.

Wataru asks if she’s okay, and apologises for not being able to do anything. But Megumi thanks him instead, and goes to get a towel for Nozomu. But Nozomu stops her and he’s more worried about her instead. He doesn’t want to see her in pain anymore. Wataru offers to clean up the mess together and asks for some cotton gloves. As Megumi goes to get them, Nozomu sees that Wataru purposely did so for his sake. He feels terrible for not being able to control his own feelings, especially when he hates those type of people the most. Nozomu knows that Megumi’s future will now be closed off by a mere customer. In such a town, these small disturbances will spread like wildfire – Megumi was on the side of the government official, she’s a betrayer and should be driven out. At least the Shoutengai people will think so. Even if she was getting hurt in front of him, he should’ve never interfered for the better in the long-run and then comfort her afterwards. If so then things wouldn’t have worsened. Rather than have a brief moment of happiness in exchange for a lifetime of pain, it’s better to overcome a brief moment of pain – at least time will slowly heal it. But now this problem is no longer just Megumi’s and it has swelled up.

nozomu-6

That’s why Nozomu made sure he didn’t cross a certain line, but now he’s destroyed everything. While Wataru sees his point, he says that Megumi’s feelings are her own so Nozomu can’t assume on her behalf. And perhaps the misunderstanding will clear up with time. But Nozomu insists otherwise, and Wataru should know this best himself. He’s always found Wataru naive for there’s no way they can build an ideal world. Even if they have proof to clear up the misunderstanding, they’ll just refuse it unreasonably. This town won’t be affected by just the two of them. Still, Wataru believes that Megumi was saved a little by Nozomu and doesn’t think he did wrong. Megumi returns with the gloves and they finish cleaning up. Wataru then leaves, and to her own surprise Megumi holds Nozomu back. She tells him to at least dry his hair, and obliges when he asks her to help him. The smell of alcohol remains in the air, and Megumi feels lonely for some reason. She was happy that Nozomu stood up for her, but apologises as she blames herself for not handling things properly. He doesn’t understand why she would say that though, as she’ll certainly see difficult days ahead thanks to him. The news will spread and everyone will point at him and treat her as an outsider. No one will come to her store, they may even ransack her storage. It may be the Shoutengai people at first, and later everyone in tow. It’s his fault that her life will grow difficult.

Megumi thinks that he’s thinking too much, but Nozomu denies so. Her days ahead will be proof of this. Even if people are favourable towards her, they can’t help her as they don’t want to be in the same position as her. Nozomu apologises, but Megumi can’t bring herself to blame him. Even if she’s unsettled about what will happen to the store, she was still happy that he helped her. She apologises for dragging him in instead, as he looks in great pain himself. Megumi can’t help but think of others before herself. So Nozomu can blame her too, for causing him pain. She only wanted to accept his kindness but things turned out like this. Life will grow difficult for him too, so he can scold her too. Of course Nozomu can’t do that, and Megumi says that he’s kind. She tells him not to worry for she’ll rebuild the store. Nozomu remarks that he’ll naturally worry. He may not be able to do anything, but at least he’d like to help erase her uneasiness. It’s contradictory but he’s happy with her words, even though it’ll be tough from now on. Megumi agrees and as his hair is dried, there’s no longer the smell of alcohol but the perfume satchel.

Even the slightest dependency isn’t forgivable

Megumi checked the mail that night to confirm the notice. It’s been days since then and she hasn’t changed the price. Once again, she hears people outside talking and wanting Hibiki to do something quickly. Everything appears to be the same except for one thing – just as Nozomu said, people are now talking behind her back and she has no customers. They gossip about how Nozomu helped Megumi, and how she’s on good terms with Wataru. She’s with people from the mainland so she’s considered an outsider now. They remark that ‘cos Hotaru took in someone else’s kid the store is now in this state. The news spread among the government officials too and it’s awkward for people to enter her store now. Megumi doesn’t mind what they say about her. But with the rumours spreading it’s affecting those who care about her too. It’s ‘cos she didn’t mediate properly, and only depended on others. Before she realised, she’s driven them to a corner too.

Even the slightest feelings are hidden and killed off

It’s finally dark, and quiet. Now she doesn’t need to see or listen to anything. Though she’s sad that there are no customers, but more than that it hurts her to have put Nozomu and Wataru’s positions at risk ‘cos of her. Even though Mamoru should be aware of the situation, his attitude remains the same around her and Megumi is thankful for his consideration. He sits beside her that night, and says that unlike him Megumi is kind and always pays attention to others first. But it’s no good to overdo it. She may think that it’s to “not cause trouble” to others, but to others she would appear cold. Megumi can rely on him too. Just like how she’s worry about him, the people who think of her as important would worry about her now. After hearing his words, Megumi thanks him and Mamoru adds that as long as it’s a reliable person and she’s interested, the person can be someone else other than him too. While someone does come to Megumi’s mind, she can’t do that. She doesn’t want to force the “contradiction” in her onto him – to want to rely on him even though she shouldn’t. Megumi feels better now and thanks Mamoru again. Her chest feels warm now, thanks to the existence of a “family” member who worries over her.

The reality which moves forward, and the self who is left behind

A flashback shows Mamoru telling Megumi that he’ll be temporarily going to the office at the mainland, so he can’t go to Beniichi on her behalf. Megumi reassures him, and says that she’ll go anyway. She doesn’t know what will happen but it’s still her job so she can’t trouble Mamoru or Nozomu. It hurts to just recall the “contradictory” smile Nozomu was wearing that day – the contradiction to fulfill one’s own desires over responsibility and your important things. But in the first place, she should hide her true feelings. Since young the common knowledge she’s been standing by has started to loosen, and so she hurt him. Megumi can’t have this anymore, she needs to lock it up for both of their sake. They need to remain as customer and proprietress. Back in present time, Megumi heads to the harbour.  Upon reaching there, 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 and they should’ve just accepted the garrison case. Hibiki replies that everyone is worried about the decrease in customers, the increase in noise and so on. The mayor continually seeks everyone’s understanding and cooperation and adds that those in government service are exempted from this new rule. This stirs the crowd which causes Fukami to raise his voice. The officials work in order to protect the people’s lives, and so those who are protected should respect and give way to those protecting them. Satoya replies that everyone is dissatisfied with the difficult lifestyle now. Fukami agrees, but they’re always thinking of themselves first so naturally they’ll be dissatisfied. Everyone soon goes back to lining up.

Don’t  l e t  g o, don’t  l e a v e  m e

In the end, no changes were made – most of the goods you would buy are now reduced to 2/3 quantities per person, and the daily necessities are reduced to 1/3 quantities. In other words, you now suddenly have to make ends meet with half the amount of goods. As the people complain to Hibiki and Satoya, the officials tell 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. At that moment, Nozomu appears and observes how they’re bullying a single person again. He quickly grabs Megumi’s hand and tells her that they’re leaving. The people recognise him as the one who shielded Megumi, and says that they can’t trust an outsider. As they tell the betrayers to get out, Megumi feels said that ‘cos of her Nozomu is being talked badly of. Nozomu’s grip tightens, and a contradiction forms inside her again. Even though she should let go of his hand if she’s thinking for him, she can’t. As the scoldings continue, Megumi asks if he’s okay. He tells her that this isn’t any time to worry about others and runs off with her.

All alone……

After running away, they return to hide in a small warehouse near the harbour and keep watch. As they talk over what to do now, it starts to rain – as if reflecting their hearts right now. They both apologise to each other as Nozomu closes the door. He then takes out his handkerchief to wipe Megumi’s face. Just like she said previously, it’s useful to carry it around. For some reason, these little things make Megumi happy. But at the same time it hurts too. She still feels sad over how the people spoke badly of him, but Nozomu replies that it’s the same for him too. After a while, the rain appears to let up but Nozomu observes that there’s still a lot of people outside. He doesn’t think that they can return to Beniichi, and offers to bring her to a safe place he knows of though this means only being able to go to the market one week later. Megumi accepts as she still has leftovers from the week before, and Mamoru isn’t around so it should be enough for just her.

Wavering heart, the path to loneliness

Nozomu brings Megumi to a town hall near the harbour, as he explains that this room is rented by a certain person who should be outside at the moment. It would be bad if people knew this place belonged to that person, since he’s the enemy of them. Megumi can somewhat guess who he’s referring to but she can’t comprehend how Nozomu knows the person. Nozomu can sense her curious gaze, which makes her feel bad for it’s as if she’s suspecting him even though he helped her out. He doesn’t mind though, as he’d rather have her be interested in him so that he can remain in her heart. Megumi recalls the conversion about love they had the other day, but she sees these two things as different – surely it can’t feel good to be suspected. As she’s thinking of what to say, Fukami suddenly enters the room to both of their surprise. Nozomu didn’t expect him to return so soon, and Fukami replies that he heard about the rumours already. But no matter how pressurised they were, he didn’t expect Nozomu to act this hasty. Nozomu still thinks that he made the best decision though, as he couldn’t just leave Megumi in danger. Megumi can only look on, as she realises that this is why Nozomu hardly talked about his work.

nozomu-8

He takes her hand as if to reassure her, and whispers to her that it’s alright. As Fukami introduces himself to Megumi, he explains that he heard of how she’s been in the middle of an upheaval in town – treated rudely for unjustified reasons, isolated just ‘cos of rumours and no one listens. It’s an accumulation of bad luck. As if pitying her, Fukami invites her to work at his company but Nozomu asks him to stop, for Megumi already has an important place to her and he doesn’t want to make her throw that away. His words hit Megumi, for he always appears to think for himself but she’s happy to hear him accepted her way of thinking. Fukami remarks on how strong their feelings are, but Nozomu corrects him and says that it’s one-sided. While Fukami drops the subject for now, he adds that he’ll welcome Megumi if she does choose to join him. She has a similar quality to Nozomu, unlike the rest of the people in this town. So it would be a waste for her life to be destroyed by this unreasonableness.

Before returning to his work, Fukami explains that Nozomu’s job involves manipulating the information this town receives (restraining it, feeding falsehood, manipulating it, taking action to influence how the people react to and judge the information) – taking photos, checking the people’s sentiments, spreading rumours etc. Nozomu is alarmed by this abrupt explanation, but Fukami doesn’t see any problem as it’s better not to hide. It’s painful to do so as you’d want the person you love to know everything about you. Megumi begs to differ though, as there will be one or two things you’d want to hide from the person you love. Nozomu looks a bit troubled and Megumi wonders if she said something wrong. While she’s shocked by what Nozomu’s job really is, she did expect it somewhat. Fukami smiles briefly, before remarking that they’re planning to build the garrison. Nozomu’s reports provide information on how they’ll act in response. It’s dangerous outside and people may attack her. They’ll be leaving for a meeting now and he tells Megumi to remain in this room till the sun goes down, and Nozomu will see her back then. After this conversation, Megumi is unsure of what to think of Fukami now.

The darkness which desired a value for its existence

They leave the room, but Nozomu regularly returns to see to her and even gives her a book to read. But Megumi’s head is filled with what just happened. Thinking back, Nozomu did say that she was different and wanted to take her away. The town’s people and them, from “outside”, are in opposite standpoints. The former hate and exclude her, while the latter welcome and accept her. Looking at this rationally, the answer is simple but it’s a different one from what her heart tells her. Later Nozomu sees her home and she lets him in to serve him tea. He asks if it’s really okay to let him in here, as opposed to the store. To be honest Megumi doesn’t matter what the reason is, she just didn’t want to let him in as a customer. She’s relieved that he’s acting as per normal. But for some reason whenever she looks at his eyes, the rough waves in her heart calm down. Nozomu knows that she’s bothered, and is willing to answer her questions. His smile is a forced one, and almost self-mocking. It’s not as if Megumi wants to know about his work, but right now she feels that she wants to know more about him after all – even though she’ll become his shackles again, just like what happened in the store. Nozomu then directly asks what she thinks of Fukami. Megumi replies that she isn’t sure – it’s hard to tell as he’s forcing a hard life on the people, yet he was kind to her. Nozomu tells her not to force an answer, and shares with her how he met Fukami.

After Wataru graduated from the prep course of military school and sent to the army, they naturally stopped seeing each other. Before Nozomu met him, he couldn’t see any value in himself. But after becoming friends with Wataru, he started to see some value in himself and became forward-looking, even if it’s just a bit. And so after he graduated from middle school, he wanted to get a job which “helps other people”. Nozomu isn’t suited for physical jobs, and he hardly has any friends so he wanted to do a work which used knowledge. He ended up getting accepted at Fukami’s. At first, he worked in the city as a newcomer. But some time later Fukami suddenly called him over and invited him to come together on a long-term business trip. Thinking that this would be a good chance to learn more, Nozomu accepted and came to the island. But Fukami also added that Nozomu’s important friend is getting hurt on the island, and said that it would be good to help him out. Apparently, he saw Nozomu talking to Wataru on the phone once and so Nozomu told him about Wataru. When he started working here, he saw that the discrimination Wataru and his family faced was worse than he’d imagined. Even though Wataru was the one who let him find a meaning to his existence, this was the situation Wataru was in. Nozomu wanted to do something for him. Just like Hibiki said, it’s not all positive for the garrison to be implemented here but to be honest Nozomu couldn’t bother with those who treated Wataru’s family harshly. That’s why he told Wataru to accept it and move to the mainland with his family. But Wataru rejected it, saying that as someone who protects others he wants to avoid sacrifices. When questioned why he said that, Nozomu couldn’t say anything in return. It hurts to see Wataru like this yet he can’t do anything. But then he saw Megumi, whose existence stands out here.

Megumi can somewhat understand now why Nozomu told her not to be tied to the convention of “friends”. It’s painful when you can’t get what you want out of this relationship. In that case, it’s better to not hope for anything in the first place. After meeting her and getting to know her, Nozomu came to realise that even he can influence her existence – he found the value for his own existence. For example, if she is the moonlight then he’s the darkness around it. He was somewhat relieved to realise that he still had that value, the darkness which makes the moonlight stand out. Recently, Nozomu can’t sleep as he keeps thinking about her. When Megumi asks about the perfume satchel, Nozomu explains that he doesn’t want to overuse it lest its effects wears off quickly. He now leaves it in his room, and only takes it out when he’s at his limits. Megumi feels like doing something for Nozomu. But that would mean siding with the “enemy” and in this situation that would only make Nozomu worry about her more. Nozomu then apologises for saying something weird, and drains the tea before standing up. He thinks that it’s better for them to not meet anymore – she’ll only be unhappy at this rate as she’s being isolated. In the end, she also couldn’t go to Beniichi ‘cos he wanted to take her away. He hurt her ‘cos of his own decision and prejudice. Nozomu thinks of her as important, so he doesn’t want to trouble her any further. He’s happy to see Megumi this troubled by his words. Megumi tries to say that it’s her fault too for dragging him in, but Nozomu begs her not to say anymore – if not his resolution will falter. Megumi tries to grab his hand, but she can’t at all when he takes his leave. But maybe that’s for the better. Like Nozomu said, memories will weather just like how she finds the memories of her mother nostalgic now. She though that she can put a lid on these feelings but for some reason her chest hurts.

nozomu-9

Awakened attachment

That night, Megumi went to sleep with the perfume satchel in her hand and dreams of her first encounter with Nozomu. That day, she went to see her parent’s graves with Mamoru. While Mamoru was praying sincerely even though he isn’t related, Megumi was only doing it with an empty heart. It’s as if she was hiding something, and she felt terribly guilty. Afraid of letting him see this side of her, she went to the harbour alone, hoping that these dark feelings will be hidden again the next day. Looking at the dark waters, Megumi wondered if her dark heart would be cleansed a bit if she touched it. Out of the blue, Nozomu appears and remarks on how pretty the water is. He held her back from leaving, and asked if her attitude and tone is the real her – in order to not let the other person feel unpleasant, she places a distance between them. He grew interested in her thanks to that, and asked to talk to her for a while more. Nozomu’s surprised to hear that she isn’t a tourist, and wondered if she’s alone now. He remarked that it’s boring to always be alone, as you wonder at times why you exist. For example, you hold feelings for someone but it isn’t conveyed in the end. In the end, you’re only played around with these meaningless feelings. You try to find your own purpose and meaning, but you only feel more despair as your worthless self. You come face to face with reality that you’re not needed by anyone again, and that you’re alone. It’s a meaningless, vicious circle. You know it but can’t stop it. If that’s the case, it’s better to throw away all feelings, and you slowly lose the important things to a human being. You lie to yourself, the memories weather, and wear a mask before people.

It was as if Nozomu saw through Megumi’s heart. He apologised later, since he talked about such a dark topic even though he didn’t intend to. He just wanted someone to listen, but he was surprised that she listened so seriously since people are usually turned off. But so was Megumi, since he poured out all of his hidden feelings to a stranger. She then replied that everyone has feelings they want pour out which you don’t want others close to you to know. So perhaps it was fate that they met here, and she doesn’t mind listening to him. Nozomu was shocked by her words, before smiling as he offered to listen to her this time – there must be a reason for her to come this late at night after all. Nozomu reached out his hand to her, and remarked that he sensed that they were similar. He offered to comfort both her heart and body, an excitement which will make her forget everything. After she listened to his words seriously and answered him, Nozomu felt like catching her and removing the heavy chains off her now. It took Megumi a while before she realised the implications of his words, and she calmly asked him to let her go. Nozomu did so, and apologised for going overboard. He then asked for her name as he’d like to meet her again.

Megumi wakes up from her dream, and realises why she told him her name back then. Surely she was interested in the feelings sleeping inside of Nozomu, just like the feelings sleeping inside of herself. And then she met him again, and fell in love.

Narrow world

Megumi goes outside to buy some vegetables, as she’s running low on them. The people keep gossiping and pointing at her, saying that she seduced a guy to get information beforehand from Fukami and the mayor – and that no wonder she’s on good terms with the child of the Inoguchi family, after all they’re both hopeless. While Megumi doesn’t mind what people say of her, it hurts to hear them badmouthing the others. Unable to withstand it, her feelings get the better of Megumi as she tells them to leave the rest out of the picture. After all they know nothing in the first place. But the people merely glare at her and walk away. Megumi soon feels embarrassed of herself, for if she covers for them things will only worsen. She realises that this was what Nozomu must have been feeling back at the store when he saw her being insulted. Yet one must control this painful, sad, helpless and vacant feeling.

When she goes to buy her groceries, the owner refuses to sell any to her. As she watches him sell them to another customer, he tells her to buy at Beniichi since she can. Or does she want to take away other people’s share by buying from him? He doesn’t have that luxury now with the restrictions, moreover she bought excess the last time. It’s hard but his words almost sound correct to Megumi. Just then, Satoya appears and tells the owner that he’s acting like Fukami by bullying Megumi. Everyone should be treated importantly, plus Megumi is part of this town too. Though it is difficult with the restrictions now, he shouldn’t use personal reasons to decide who he should or shouldn’t sell to. The store owner gives in and sells her vegetables to Megumi. The volume is hardly enough for the store menu and just enough for her for a few days, but it’s no use thinking about this. Megumi thanks Satoya, and he replies that it’s his duty to help out the people. Apparently, he’s helping out to earn money for the Koukaseinendan. Hibiki’s busy so each of the members would earn money for their organisation’s activities like this. As they’re talking, she realises everyone’s cold gazes – since she’s talking to an important Koukaseinendan member. Not wanting to aggravate his own position like she did to Wataru and Nozomu, Megumi quickly excuses herself and also rejects Satoya’s offer to help carry her goods. After thanking him again, she hurries back home.

Getting involved with others = hurting them

As always, the times in the store is still, quiet and lonely. Megumi was lucky to have met Satoya earlier today, but she wonders what she should do from now on. She then realises that it’s way past closing hours, and goes to close the store. She sees Wataru and Noah outside, and invites them in. As Megumi serves them, she feels a sense of nostalgia – it just goes to show how long it has been since she’s served a customer. Seeing Noah’s smile, she recalls how he’s actually been isolated by people for way longer than she has. She feels somewhat sad, despite having just experienced a bit of this. Noah asks why she looks sad, and Megumi quickly reassures him. He offers to do anything he can and she gently pats his head. She sees Noah as strong, having tolerated this situation much longer than her. In comparison, she’s still weak. Wataru remarks that it was right to have dropped by to see her after all. A lot has happened since that day and while Megumi apologises for worrying him, he replies that it’s more worrying if it’s otherwise. She says that she’s still managing somehow, and Wataru decides not to pursue further, but tells her not to push herself. He then asks if she’s seen Nozomu since then, for he hasn’t. Wataru shares with Megumi the conversation he had with Nozomu when he asked her to take the cotton gloves – that Nozomu blamed himself for not controlling himself and making the situation worse instead.

nozomu-11

Those words hit Megumi yet again, as she sees herself at fault instead for prioritising her happy feelings instead. Wataru sees that she blames herself too. He can understand her regret, but everyone has that. In fact, there isn’t anyone who can keep making the right decisions. If you involve yourself with other people, there is bound to be one or two times you give trouble to him/her. He asks how Megumi felt towards Nozomu, besides blaming herself. In response, Megumi admits that she was happy that Nozomu stood up for her – but she hurt him. Wataru tells her that that’s what it means to be involved with people. If you only make the other person happy, that’s more like service between a proprietress and customer rather than a relationship. If they’re friends who want to understand each other, it’s not possible to always show each other their good sides. Though they can’t change the past, they can change the future. So rather than blaming herself, perhaps it’s better for Megumi to think about what she can do now. Megumi thanks him. She knows that his words may be true, but she’s scared of hurting others, as well as losing her place of belonging. Wataru knows that it’s hard to switch feelings, plus he may be wrong. But he is worried about the both of them, so he’d be happy if she could keep his words in mind. He doesn’t say anything more than that, and just smiles at Megumi. He then wakes up Noah, and pays the bill. Before leaving, Wataru tells her that he’s their friend, and hopes that they can rely on him if anything happens. No matter what it is, he’s prepared to accept it full-on.

An outlet for suppressed dissatisfaction 

Mamoru returns home and gives Megumi a souvenir – even though he must have heard what others are saying, he still acts as per normal.  Instead, when the others voice their sympathy towards him he remarks that he’s happy with his sister. He knows that there’s no motivation for her to do such a disadvantageous thing – moreover she doesn’t have such a proactive personality. Mamoru feels awkward when she doesn’t respond at all, and tells her not to pay mind to it when she apologises. Usually people always suppress their every little thought with their rationality, and so these accumulated feelings can explode in a passing moment. It’s worse when there’s no outlet for these feelings to be channelled into. In this case, a quarrel just happened to take place in Megumi’s store. The accumulated dissatisfaction and anger had no place to go, so they just pinned any reason and blamed it all on Megumi. Once one person starts to do so, the rest who think the same will follow. And there are those who don’t want to be victims either, so they join the side of the one who blames. Mamoru suggests closing the store temporarily. Even if there are no customers, it would be rude to those who did come as Megumi doesn’t seem to be in the mood. When she points out how Hotaru never closed the store due to personal reasons, Mamoru tells her that they are separate cases – her body is an important asset, but so is her heart. The one responsible for the store is only Megumi so he’d like her to think about its future. Megumi knows what he’s driving at, but she’s scared at the thought: if she closes the store – what’s the meaning of her remaining here?

Eroding reasons for existence, the heart that wants to tear away

Megumi put up the notice that the shop’s on rest last night, and since the next morning people passing by have been throwing cold words. It’s expected but she can’t help but feel sad. Since the store is closed, Megumi can only do the household chores but she still has free time – and the more free time there is, the more worthless she feels. Mamoru is outside working and she can only see herself as hopeless. Anything is fine, she just wants to do something. Being engrossed in something feels good as she doesn’t need to think of anything else. It’s a form of escapism. Even so, Nozomu will come to mind at times. She wonders if this is love.

Late at night, Hibiki comes to find Megumi as he heard from Satoya about her situation. He apologises as it’s their responsibility for letting things escalate to this stage, but Megumi doesn’t blame him at all. Hibiki heard that only the Shoutengai people can buy at Beniichi, but if there’s a need too they can buy at Shoutengai too. He remarks that group psychology is strange, as if the more people support you the more you think you’re right, especially if you’ve a plausible reason. On the flipside, even if you think that you’re right, you’re uneasy if you’re alone. If others feel uneasy, so do you. They try to erase that uneasiness but it isn’t easy to do so and they panic. They try to escape by throwing that fear against something else – Megumi is the result of that. They can’t rationally judge the situation and blaming it on Megumi makes them feel at ease. That’s why they interpret everything to their convenience, it’s an outburst of anger. Of course there may be those who find this odd, but they don’t dare come out.

Megumi sees that in other words, nothing goes right. From the start, the people only recognise things as they like. In short, in order to escape from this situation you have to revise this way of thinking. And for that to occur, you need their trust. Once more, Hibiki apologises for dragging the problem this long, but Megumi knows fully well what he does for this town. If this could’ve been easily solved, there wouldn’t be a need for Hibiki to be this worried. After hearing her words, he remarks that he might just become a fan of hers. It’s hard on her but he advises to not leave the house for the time being. They’d only take it out on her and it’ll aggravate the situation. In the end there’s only the solution of not provoking them by not doing anything – to just wait for time to move on. Before Hibiki leaves, he tells her that he likes the dango she makes and will patronise her lots when her store reopens. Megumi wonders if she can only remain a burden to them, and how long must she remain so. There’s only darkness ahead, and she can’t even seek out her own value. Even so she wants to meet him.

Decaying light

The next day, Megumi sits around and read. She did all that she could, including cleaning the house and handling the goods Mamoru managed to buy at Beniichi. The times she doesn’t do anything start to stretch. Mamoru is out at work and so the silent house sadly feels much wider. She wonders how many days has passed since then. The likes of Hibiki, Satoya, Noah and Wataru have come by to see her. But for some reason a gaping hole still resides in her heart. Like a robot, she keeps reassuring them that she’s alright that she even starts to find herself scary. Before she realises it, all Megumi thinks about is him, and each time she does so that feeling swells and hurts.

I want you to kill the despicable me

It’s already late at night but Megumi can’t sleep. She knows that it can’t be helped, but she laments at how there’s no meaning in her existence now – a repetitive cycle. She recalls Nozomu’s words to her the first time they met, and wonders if she could see him if she went to the harbour alone again. But then again, that’ll only be hurting him. If she can’t leave the house, then at least she can be forgiven for just opening the door and gazing at the sky – it’s an unfortunate dark and cloudy stagnant nightsky but it’s one which Nozomu exists under too. But when Megumi opens the door, she freezes at the sight of Nozomu himself. It’s as if time has stopped as the both of them stare at each other, speechless. Then in the next moment, Nozomu grabs her arm and dashes off with her towards the harbour. Upon reaching there, he tells her that it’s all his fault for bringing her out against her will. He knows that she didn’t want to but he couldn’t suppress his feelings. Even though he doesn’t mind getting hurt and doesn’t want to hurt her, here he is hurting her by forcing his way through. He’s become the type of person he despises the most.

nozomu-12

But Megumi remarks that it’s the same for her. She hates herself for making Nozomu feel this way, but she came with him on her own will. She recalls that he offered to listen to her the first time they met, and asks if she could do so now. Nozomu obliges in a gentle tone, as if spoiling a kitten. As Megumi removes the chains off the past she buried deep inside, she draws out the feelings deep inside her and recalls her past to him: when her father passed away, her mother failed to recognise Megumi and clearly rejected her own daughter. After that, she was scared to approach her mother – afraid of building a relationship again only to be rejected again. Her mother passed away and the day she first met Nozomu was when she went to visit her grave with Mamoru. She was scared of her own emotionless self, seeing how Mamoru prayed sincerely while she was only doing the act of it. Scared of letting others know this side of her, Megumi desperately tried to hide it and that’s why she went to the harbour alone – to be her real self where no one else can see her. As Nozomu said, she was wearing a mask so she was shocked at his words at first. She’s happy with her home now but she can’t help but feel indebted to them for taking her in. That’s why she constantly tries not to trouble them, and to be useful. She feels at ease with a reason to be able to remain in that house, to be needed there.

Nozomu easily guesses that she’s referring to her work, for he’s been watching her all this while. He often says these lines with a casual tone, but this time Megumi feels the depth in his words. She adds that she doesn’t have her work now, and she knows that she shouldn’t go out. But she followed him as she wanted to choose Nozomu. She’s the type of person he hates the most, forcing her way onto others. She doesn’t care what the rest think. She’s a despicable person but even so would he choose her? Nozomu replies that he would, in fact he would only choose her. Megumi happily smiles in return, and this is the first time Nozomu finds her smile cute. Like that night, Nozomu raises her chin and offers to comfort her body and heart. Or rather, if it’s with her he doesn’t mind dying together as it’s painful to live now. The place he indicates are the dark sea waters. But strangely Megumi feels no fear. She does have regrets but if the person she loves is in pain due to her own existence, then she’d rather disappear.

A lonely dancer

Megumi lets go of Nozomu’s hand – she’s happy to go together but she thinks that only she should disappear after all. She heads to the waters fearlessly, and is happy to still feel the warmth of his hand on hers. As she gradually sinks, her head gets clearer. And as if the chains on her are removed, her body gets lighter. Her memories of Nozomu flash past like a revolving lantern, the darkness feels warm. Megumi would like to stay like this forever, yet the burning sensation on her hand stops her – like a chain. She starts to question herself if this is what she really wants – no, she wants to hold onto this warmth and continue carving memories with him. Nozomu pulls Megumi out of the waters, as the rain pours on them. He’s taken aback by her actions, for he never asked for her to kill only herself. His voice draws Megumi back to “reality”, as she sees that Nozomu is on the verge of crying. Nozomu hugs her, begging her not to go alone. He doesn’t think that he can live on without her. The him now is made up of her, he can’t think of anything else besides her. Strangely, Megumi should’ve emptied her head out when she was dying, but instead she was happy to recall all the memories with Nozomu. And she feels happy that she’s alive now.

Nozomu confesses that he loves her, but his feelings for her are beyond twisted. It’s full of impure thoughts meshed together, there’s nothing pure left. If it was just a pure and straight romantic feeling, he could back out for her happiness. But it’s beyond twisted so he only forces his desires on her. It’s weird that he’d want to kill her after all. But he loves her, and the longer they’re away from each other the more he hopelessly thinks of her. It hurts. Megumi understands his feelings all too well, for she also has the same feelings. She replies that if he’s with her, they’ll draw unnecessary rumours. He could’ve pushed everything onto her but he didn’t, and helped her out back then. She wants him to think of her regardless of how others see them, she’s happy to hear his true feelings. She wants to continue soaking in his feelings, he who thinks of her more than anyone else. This is proof that she’s given into her own desires. Before she was afraid of accepting Nozomu’s feelings, and killed off her own honest feelings. The “contradiction” he mentioned back then, was what she was feeling. Her feelings for him are beyond twisted too. Megumi loves him too and wants him to accept these feelings. She’s forcing her way onto Nozomu, and the real her thirsts for love to the point of being despicable.

He asks if she won’t regret this, and she denies so for they’ve finally reciprocated each other’s feelings. Nozomu remarks on how her feelings feel heavy now, and she admits that upon realising her feelings everything gradually rushed out. Even if what she thought was dried up was nurtured, Megumi thought that it’ll backfire later so she tried to kill it off. She was afraid of rejection. Nozomu reassures her that he won’t reject her, but if she’s scared she can reject him right now. It hurts less that way. While Megumi is happy to hear this, she’s sad too – she can’t possible say that. But she’s attracted to that kindness of him too. Nozomu recalls that when they first met, it probably wasn’t love he felt but envy. It looked as though she needed someone, but the atmosphere around her rejected everyone else. She can’t stand being alone, yet it looked as though she faced the reality that she was alone. So upon impulse, he got annoyed as he was jealous of how they appeared the same yet she was strong enough to reject everything. But he knows now that she put a distance in between so as not to hurt herself.

nozomu-13

It’s scary to accept a love that asks nothing in return. It’s sweet temptation but you’d refuse it if what lies ahead is painful. That’s why he felt at ease by Megumi’s side. If he pays, she’ll definitely display that same hospitality – he was reassured by a visible price. Plus he enjoyed seeing her troubled face when he cut off her “escape” paths. He felt a strange sense of superiority. To be honest, he didn’t plan on breaking the proprietress and customer relationship between them. But unknowingly, he got attached to her. Megumi is relieved to hear that all of those words are in past tense now, and she asks him to stay by her side. Even if she’ll face harsh times ahead, she’ll accept his selfless love and she’ll give him the same in return. Hearing her words, Nozomu says that he’ll have to take responsibility then. He teases her by asking if they should remove their clothes lest they catch a cold. Nozomu notes how thin she is, and worries about her. In response, Megumi tells him to remain by her side then. It’s just a brief moment of happiness, but she’s happy.

I wanted to make the beloved you happy

Back at home, both of them have finished drying their clothes and changing back into them. As Nozomu recalls what she told him about her family, he remarks that he can understand too. He shares with Megumi that he was always alone since young. His family is pretty dysfunctional. His parents were hardly at home, and when his mother/father did return home they always brought home a man/woman with them. They wouldn’t care about him and would go straight to the bedroom, and Nozomu would hear voices he didn’t want to hear. At first it didn’t understand the meaning of the act itself but once he did, he couldn’t help but feel disgusted. But over time, he got used to it. He would stay away from home too. Nozomu would just need to create his own memories to plant in place, and forget the bad ones. Though it doesn’t change the fact that they happened. As expected, it’s been ingrained in him somewhere so he’d recall time to time. The first time he met Megumi he was captured by her, probably ‘cos the feelings from his childhood still remain in his heart. Megumi feels sad to see Nozomu smiling, as if he was looking back on everything with nostalgia. She agrees with him, for just like him the past memories created the her now – they remain like scars do. Due to her past, there was a period of time she was afraid of opening up to Hotaru and Mamoru. But Hotaru knew this and raised her like her own child, so she gradually opened up. But there was one time when Hotaru was told off by a customer ‘cos of her. So Megumi felt that if she wasn’t there, her important people wouldn’t be sad. But she had nowhere else to go, so at least she wanted to be useful and that’s why she feels indebted. If she even lost that, Megumi wouldn’t have anything else left to her and she’d really become someone “who shouldn’t be there” at all.

Nozomu apologises for saying that he’d wanted to take her away, without knowing anything. Megumi says that she was happy to hear that though. He merely smiles in return and pats her head, saying that they shouldn’t meet after all and should forget each other. Megumi insists that she doesn’t want to though, that she won’t regret it. She doesn’t mind if others say as long as she’s with Nozomu, for to her that’s her happiness. Megumi knows that she’s being selfish and troubling Nozomu, but she only wants to be selfish towards him. But Nozomu reminds her that she’ll get hurt. He can’t forgive himself if she gets in a bad shape ‘cos of him – he wants to make the person he love happy after all. Megumi replies that even so, without him she’s nothing but a mere shell. She doesn’t want to hurt him either but she is. But does a love without any pain exist? Her chest hurting surely is a sign of just how must she feels for Nozomu. If he wants to make her happy then he should remain by her side. Nozomu is taken aback by her words and can only painfully question why.

Megumi: Pain and all that is the crystallisation of love. Is it absurd of me to think that I want to marry you? Is it wrong of me……to think that I want us to be in love with each other?

nozomu-15

In response, Nozomu hastily tells her to turn around as he covers her eyes and kisses her. It was a bittersweet kiss –  Nozomu’s kindness was painful, and the feelings that pour in felt sad.

Soak your passion……

That night, Nozomu told Megumi that they should think about their future then. He left after that as it was late, and Megumi believed that he would come to see and talk to her again. But day after day, her uneasiness keeps increasing. Will he really fulfill his promise? At the same time, the people get more restless. The Karyuugai and Onsengai people slowly grow dissatisfied with the Shoutengai people due to the costly prices, and the Shoutengai people take it out on Megumi as they start to bang on her walls. Things have come to a stage where their irritation won’t stop unless they see her. That night, a worried Mamoru comes in to check on Megumi, as he pretends to sleep in her room. Megumi feels like meeting Nozomu. If she can’t wait, then she should go and meet him just like how he came over. She doesn’t know what path lies ahead, but she’s decided to walk down it with him. That’s just how much she’s fallen in love.

my resolution

The next day, Megumi tells Mamoru her plans after breakfast: she wants to close the store for a while, not ‘cos of what Mamoru told her but due to her own decision. When he wonders why she’s asking for his permission, she explains that it’s ‘cos it’ll give the family trouble. As if he’s seen through her, Mamoru asks what she wants to do instead then. She replies that she wants to work at Fukami’s company for the sake of the one she cherishes. To her surprise, he asks if she’s doing it in order to exact revenge against the people – a lot has happened so it isn’t odd to think that. But the reason why she earned money and they could have food on their table, is also ‘cos they were her customers. Megumi understands his words, for just like her in a way they’re being suppressed too. She clarifies that she’s only doing it for the one she loves – to understand him, and hopefully find a way to make peace with the people. Hearing this, Mamoru smiles brightly and agrees to her decision. In fact, he’s happy that she’s found what she wants to do. Megumi thanks him, and he starts to ask who exactly the person is – though to be honest he already knows that it’s Nozomu. He’s delighted that someone finally knows Megumi’s good points.

He recalls that Hotaru mentioned before that Yuki’s love for Megumi’s father was very direct and sometimes even brilliant. Megumi is similar to her after all, seeing how straight she is too now that she’s in love. Megumi recalls how her mother was always longing for her father, and somehow she can understand that feeling now. Mamoru tells her to go ahead on her chosen path so that she won’t regret anything, and that the family can come second. She replies that she’ll think of both with equal importance, and become Nozomu’s strength. She’s giving trouble to her family, but she’s both happy and thankful that she’s been given their blessings.

Stained by the dim darkness

The next day, Megumi heads to the town hall while avoiding the public eye. At Fukami’s study, she quickly gets to the point but Fukami apologises seeing that she took his words for real. In response, Megumi asks him to judge her as he normally would then. He agrees and upon learning that Nozomu doesn’t know that she’s here, he wonders why since Nozomu clearly doesn’t want to involve her so as to protect her. Megumi knows that at this rate, their paths will never cross, but she wants to support Nozomu even if he doesn’t wish for it. Nothing will change if he remains alone. Fukami then questions if she likes hurting him, for she’s refusing Nozomu’s way of love and choosing to hurt him instead. She firmly replies that it’s not the case. She knows that it’s Nozomu’s form of kindness, but by placing her first he’s crushing his true feelings. It’s ‘cos she wants to help and support him by his side, she refuses his kindness and is here. Pain is the crystallisation of love. So hurting Nozomu isn’t her motive, but just a “method” so gain happiness for their future. To her surprise, Fukami laughs before telling her that she’s passed the test and he welcomes her. He was actually testing her and what he said before was true – she’s different from the rest of the people on this island. She’s smart, has much promise and courage too. As they shake hands, he tells her to start work tomorrow. His hand feels cold, and Megumi somehow is fearful of him but gets a hold of herself. Fukami knows the both of them very well, as well as what her fear is.

Self-contradiction, blurring love

Megumi cheerfully welcomes Nozomu inside her place that night. She can guess that Fukami probably already told him everything. But she’s made her decision already so she won’t back down. Nozomu observes how she’s much more talkative today, and as he grabs her by the shoulder she loses her balance and falls to the ground. He raises her chin and runs his thumb along her lips, while Megumi is frozen on-the-spot as she looks back at his cold gaze. He asks if she knows what he wants to say, and Megumi confirms this. But Nozomu doesn’t know why she’d do this, asking if she wishes to trample all over his feelings. Just when she’s apologising, Nozomu’s voice breaks down as he thanks her with a smile which surprises Megumi. He’s happy that she came, but he thinks that she’s stupid for doing so – though the same can be said for him. They can’t separate from each other now, and they both agree that this must be fate. Nozomu then takes out a small box, tsuyabeni (similar to lipstick) which he bought on the day of the festival. He asks Megumi to close her eyes and she obliges.

nozomu-17

The vow on tsuyabeni

As Nozomu dabs it onto Megumi’s lips, he mentions that tsuyabeni is a priceless treasure which men would give to women as a decisive blow to capture their hearts. She’s taken aback by his words, and he adds that he bought this with her in mind but he had no intention of opening it or letting anyone else see it. When he’s done, he kisses her and so as Megumi opens her eyes later, she sees his lips dyed red too. They confess their feelings for each other.

The moment you escape from regret

Caught up in the heat of the moment, they continue kissing till they knock into the small tsuyabeni box and snap out of it. Embarrassment proceeds to eat at both of them, and Megumi goes out to get Nozomu a drink in an attempt to cool their heads. But when she returns, Nozomu asks to go to the veranda or anyone else besides her room for he’s still excited. Megumi drops the tray out of surprise. Later on the veranda, Nozomu remarks that they’ll need to think seriously about their future now that fate has brought them together. He learns that Hibiki advised Megumi not to go outside. While he understands the reasoning behind it, he still thinks it’s wrong after all and they need to solve the root of the misunderstanding. It’s true that the people won’t take anything Megumi says now well though, as they’re filled with dissatisfaction and annoyance with the current lifestyle. A long silence proceeds, before Nozomu remarks on how Fukami’s only goal is the build the garrison. Only the benefits of it are highlighted, and the water services taxes and restrictions on the market were implemented to make it seem that it was a result of the people opposing the garrison proposal. Water is a necessary part of everyone’s lives, so Nozomu thinks that it’s really mere harassment. Taxing on that would put a burden on every household, especially when it was free all along. By doing so, the people would start to long for their previous lifestyle and they would waver when Fukami proposes the garrison again. Compared to a future you can’t see, you’d be tempted to accept the sweet drop of juice in front of your eyes. And so Fukami wouldn’t be forcing it onto them, but obliging to their wishes. It’s only Nozomu’s theory, but he believes it’s about correct.

Megumi questions why Fukami’s insistent on a garrison, and Nozomu recalls Fukami saying that he supports military expansion. Right now, the whole country is leaning towards disarmament due to the poor economy. But Fukami said that you don’t know which direction the state of the world will change, so it would be disadvantageous if an enemy attacks when you’re in a disarmament state. Considering the island’s situation too, from an economical perspective the garrison proposal is ideal. But thinking about it, Fukami’s been rather forceful. Up till now, Nozomu couldn’t be bothered since these were the people which wanted to chase Wataru and Noah away. But as Hibiki said, there are numerous cons but even so Fukami persists. National defense is important, but Nozomu questions if it’s really the case when you’re supposed to protect the people yet you’re doing something they hate and manipulating them. Megumi nods, before wondering why Fukami insists on this island. Nozomu replies that it was the mayor’s request in the first place, plus it may be a good location to counterattack enemies. But to be honest he’s not sure. For now they can only observe Fukami for a while more. He apologises for not coming up with any solution, but they haven’t seen the full picture yet. Personally, he doesn’t want to think too badly of the person who hired him too. Megumi is just happy to have him think and act for her though. Nozomu breaks into a smile, noting how she’s great at making him happy. He kisses her, and they head back to her room and they do it??.

To understand, desires

The next day, Nozomu asks Fukami to let him look over Megumi’s work. Fukami agrees, and asks him to teach her how to clean the place, while he works inside too. Right now they’re rather “famous” so he’ll arrange for someone else to do the outside work. Megumi apologises but Fukami doesn’t blame her, and in fact sympathises with her. Later on, Megumi is cleaning the study while Nozomu is doing some studying. Megumi observes how he looks like he’s having fun as he explains to her the details of a consulting firm. But she also observes how he’s speaking as if the work isn’t related to him. Nozomu explains that his work is just as Fukami said previously, and the practice work is done by the others. Besides him, two other people (Ueda, Miyoshi) were brought to the island too. That being said, they’re mainly doing what they’re told by Fukami. It’s really a one-man company by Fukami.

Mr. Talkative

There’s a sudden knock on the door. It’s not Fukami but Ueda, who’s looking for Fukami as a call from the main office came for him. Fukami though is in a meeting with the mayor now. Ueda notices Megumi and they introduce themselves (though he already recognises her as the centre of the ruckus in Shoutengai). It’s a harsh thing to say, but he also suggests for Megumi to not hold too much hope upon entering the company if she’s aiming to be a consultant. Nozomu quickly explains that she’s hired to do office work.  Ueda nods at this, as he elaborates that basically everything is Fukami’s way. At first he was dissatisfied but the pay and rest days are stable so he soon got used to it. The work he does is basically the implementations of Fukami’s plans, for example he wrote the contents of the letter everyone got about the water service tax. But the menial work is getting troublesome lately so he wishes the garrison proposal can be quickly accepted since that’s Fukami’s final goal. Megumi takes this chance to probe further and asks for his opinion on the reason for this. Ueda guesses that it’s for profit reasons, there were rumours at the main office that Fukami runs a weapon-selling business too. It’s the first time Nozomu has heard this, but he hides his surprise. Before they can ask further, Ueda quickly takes his leave to return to work. After leaving, the two of them look at each other. If the rumour is true, then it may mean that Fukami’s main motive for the garrison is to do his weapon business here.

Come here, Prince

Afterwards, Nozomu passed the message from Ueda to Fukami when he returned. As expected, they can’t talk about what else they heard. At the end of work, Nozomu sees Megumi back home but stays behind to discuss what they heard. Mamoru, who’d been working in his room all this time to earn more, abruptly opens the door though to look for Megumi. While Megumi is flustered at how to explain, Mamoru casually greets Nozomu though the atmosphere grows tense all of a sudden. Nozomu bows and formally introduces himself, knowing that he probably comes off as suspicious since he works under Fukami. A long silence proceeds, till Mamoru happily remarks that he trusts Nozomu though which surprises the both of them. He tells Nozomu to treat him like an older brother, and adds that he won’t say anything if he makes Megumi happy. There’s no need to abase himself like that. Megumi chose him and with that alone Mamoru can trust him. Since young, Megumi has always suppressed her own desires and acted like a top model student would. So he’s happy that she’s finally met someone who can pull out that desire from her. It takes Nozomu a few seconds, before he thanks Mamoru in return.

nozomu-21

Nozomu then proceeds to ask Mamoru if he heard anything about Fukami being a weapon merchant. Mamoru is clueless, and wonders why he’s asking. Nozomu explains that he wants to know the truth for Megumi’s sake. He thought that Mamoru might know something being a reporter, but perhaps it’s just a mere rumour after all. Mamoru points out that if he wants to know the truth, then he should start exploring himself. He’ll try investigating too, not just around the rumour, and talk to him again if there’s anything. One should act first, and also possess the strength to accept any answer there is and to not fear the truth. Mamoru then lightly recalls that Nozomu must be staying at a lodging area near the town hall if he’s working for Fukami, and tells him to stay the night since it’s late already. He then exits the room, leaving Nozomu to ponder over his words. As expected, he can only investigate for more since he wants to expose the truth and save Megumi in the end. Even if it’s true, he trusts that Fukami must have his own reasons too. If there’s nothing, he’ll just have to find another lead. Megumi is willing to support him, but is worried about him pushing himself. But he tells her that he’s willing to do so for her sake. Megumi knows that she’s chosen to hurt Nozomu. She takes his hand to at least comfort him a bit.

Let the sleeping dogs lie

The next day, they’re doing their work as usual. Fukami has gone out with the mayor to explain the reasoning behind the market restrictions, as requested by Koukaseinendan. Things have gotten more chaotic and Megumi can almost hear the people scolding her. She’s brought back to reality by Nozomu. She’s pretty much done and decides to clean the desk drawers again, in case she missed out any corners. Megumi pulls out the drawer and a letter drops at the back. They see that it’s addressed to Fukami but before they can confirm what it is, there’s a knock on the door. Thinking that it’s Fukami, Megumi hurriedly tucks the letter into her kimono. But it turns out to be Miyoshi who wants to get a replacement light bulb. Seeing Megumi, they introduce themselves and Miyoshi sees that they’ve taken the drawer out. He advises them not to do so if Fukami didn’t specifically ask for it, as he was once warned by Fukami before. He doesn’t seem to like others touching his desk. So they quickly place the drawer back in, and Nozomu also takes this chance to ask Miyoshi if he knows anything about the rumour. But Miyoshi’s face turns dark as he doesn’t think they should snoop around without a clear reason. Moreover it’s of no relation to them. If anything comes to light, things will just become troublesome for them. After his warning, Miyoshi takes his leave.

Disappointment and loneliness, joy in discovering

Megumi forgot to return the letter and brought it home with her that day. The following day, she’s contemplating whether to return it to where it dropped, or back inside the drawer. Nozomu sees that it probably should be placed with the rest of the documents and so she does so. It’s the first time Nozomu’s seen the other documents, as he notes how many are information about weapons. Moreover they’re all collated by hand with what looks like market prices and a company. They match the company name with the one written on the letter’s envelope. To Megumi’s surprise, Nozomu decides to open up the envelope to confirm something. Inside, the contents describe the plan to construct a garrison on this island, and there’s also a weapon purchase order form from a subcontractor (the matched company name). The details go down to what weapons can be sold, how they’d expand the business etc. Perhaps things weren’t going as smoothly as planned with the people’s opposition, so this document which was prepared in advanced hasn’t been sent out yet. In other words, the rumour must be true. However, only the client section is blank – Fukami’s details are (deliberately) missing.

All of a sudden, the door opens and Fukami enters. He knows that they took out the drawers yesterday too, and was surprised to see that the letter disappeared. He wonders why they’re holding it. If looks could kill, his cold smile would’ve surely already killed them by now. Before Megumi can say anything, Nozomu apologises and bears all the responsibility. He failed to tell Megumi to not touch the drawers and when he realised it, he quickly stopped her and by the time he realised it, he’d brought the letter home by mistake. They’re putting it back now, but weren’t sure where to return it to so he took the initiative to check the contents. Nozomu also takes Megumi’s hand, to reassure her that everything’s alright. After hearing Nozomu’s words, Fukami has him return the letter immediately. If they don’t snoop around anymore and just obey him, he can forgive them at this stage. Moreover, his name isn’t written inside, and they have no one else to turn to but him so they can’t do anything. Megumi sees that Nozomu trusted Fukami, yet he’s being easily betrayed now. She holds Nozomu’s trembling hand in return.

Fukami remarks that he’s relieved that he didn’t lose them, for it would be a huge pity to let go of someone with chains on them. People trapped by these chains are pitiful. By chains, he refers to “common sense” and ideas. But he doesn’t mean the law or worldly common sense everyone knows. It’s common sense which was nurtured inside you only. You have to abide by it, but no one else understands this so you’re out of place. Due to this, you easily take to and open up to someone who sympathises and understands you – so you become obedient. The person recognises your weaknesses. But everything is to protect yourself, and your fragile heart – like they are now. They’re licking each other’s wounds, and need each other. Nozomu’s holding her hand right now, for he needs Megumi to heal himself. Megumi is shaken by this, but Nozomu grips her hand and remarks that the trigger was just as Fukami said. He felt that Megumi recognised his existence, that’s why he fell for her. He felt saved and happy each time she listened to him. And so Fukami tells him not to do anything unnecessary if he doesn’t want anything to happen to Megumi – they just need to pretend that they saw nothing. Fukami leaves the room to return to work. It hurts Megumi to see Nozomu getting hurt for her sake before her eyes. But Nozomu forces a smile before her, so she tells him that if it’s to remain by his side she’d be more than glad to get her.

nozomu-22

A new path opened up

After they finished work, the sun has set already and so they were a bit careless as they left the town hall with heavy feet. They didn’t expect the residents to ambush them. Though they tried to escape, there were too many of them and so they were soon captured and sent to the Koukaseinendan. Right now, they’re at Koukarou with Hibiki and Satoya. When Hibiki tries to question them, Nozomu an apathetic attitude as he doesn’t think that they’ll trust an “outsider” over their beloved residents. And so Hibiki directs his questions to Megumi instead. He confirms that they came out of the town hall, and are working under Fukami. Nozomu soon remarks that everyone always suspects him from the start anyway. Though he should’ve prepared himself when he started investigating. No matter how many times it occurs, it feels terrible to not be wanted. Megumi is worried about him since he believed in Fukami yet Fukami said all those words earlier on. Nozomu notices her gaze, and reassures her that he’s changed after meeting her. She needs him, and so he’ll definitely protect her and for that he’ll gladly get hurt. Still, he’s annoyed by how he’s treated like a dog, and also angry at himself for being deceived. If Fukami’s only doing this for his own personal gains, he’ll definitely bite him back. Nozomu’s glad that things didn’t blow up. Fukami will definitely remain suspicious and be more cautious though.

Nozomu then turns to Hibiki, and offers to share useful information with them. He has no solid evidence though, so everything depends on whether they believe him or not. Megumi speaks up for Nozomu, supporting his words. Bearing her words in mind, Hibiki is willing to listen. And so Nozomu tells them everything he knows concerning Fukami. After listening, Hibiki wonders why he’s sharing this, and Nozomu replies that he needs to expose the truth and do something about the root problem if he’s to save Megumi. They can’t change anything if the status quota remains. So from the information he got, Fukami appears to be the enemy. But there’s too little to bring Fukami down, so he’s asking them for a deal. The enemy of your enemy is your friend. Hibiki understands Nozomu’s intentions straight away and goes into deep thought. Satoya and Nozomu soon start bickering though, but Hibiki reassures Megumi otherwise. They’re getting along pretty well in his eyes. And if Nozomu didn’t already trust the Koukaseinendan, he wouldn’t have shared the information first. Moreover, it would be better to cooperate then act alone for Megumi’s sake. Though Nozomu denies this and Satoya continues to spite him, Megumi sees that he looks like he’s having fun. She’s glad to see Nozomu say what he likes before someone else.

Hibiki decides to respond to Nozomu’s request, and takes out a bundle of documents. Actually, Mamoru already sought him out for a deal, and this is the information both Mamoru and the Koukaseinendan collated. It’s a detailed record of all of Fukami’s activities and dealings as a weapon merchant. As Nozomu and Megumi look through it, they recognise the company name as the one found in Fukami’s documents. After this, Nozomu feels sad for always showing his poor side before Megumi, but he bows to them and asks to forget his deal. This time, he’s seeking for their cooperation. If it’s for Megumi’s sake, he willing to do anything, and to throw anything away. Hibiki replies that they’ll respond to his trust as accordingly. Right now, they have the proof that Fukami is indeed a weapon merchant, they just need the proof Nozomu saw now. Nozomu doesn’t know if Fukami has already destroyed those documents, but he’ll try searching first. Fukami suspects him, but he probably doesn’t think he’ll revolt since he sees him as someone bound firmly with chains. Nozomu will just make use of this and appear obedient. The Koukaseinendan should to appear antagonistic so that they don’t draw suspicion. He’ll ask Wataru to relay the messages between them too, since it’s better for them not to be seen together. It’s already late so they decide to end this talk here. Megumi and Nozomu leave the place first, and before she leaves Megumi apologises to Hibiki for not abiding to his advice. But Hibiki tells her not to pay mind. Tomorrow they’ll contact Wataru. Everything’s for the sake of opening up each other’s paths.

Don’t be bounded by that kindness

They return home and tell Mamoru everything. He’s delighted and hugs them and praises them both, telling them that they’ll all work hard now. The next morning, they go to find Wataru first to tell him to come to Megumi’s store that night. After that, they head to work as usual and appear apologetic to Fukami. For now, he doesn’t seem to suspect anything. After a change of clothes, they return to Megumi’s place and explain everything to Wataru when he arrives. Wataru agrees to help them, and wonders why they’re both so shocked. After all, he’s merely helping out an important friend in trouble. Plus he can’t forgive Fukami for deceiving the people for his own profit. Nozomu is thankful to him, and also apologises for saying some terrible things to him after what happened in Megumi’s store for he was rather confused. Wataru remarks that he appears to analyse things rationally, but unexpectedly that isn’t the case. So he’s relieved that Megumi is here to support him. Megumi denies this, and says that Nozomu is the one supporting her so she wants to do the same in return. Hearing this, Wataru tells them to support each other then, so that neither is down. Megumi observes that both Wataru and Nozomu appear at ease, and decides to leave them alone to talk. She excuses herself to check on Mamoru.

After she leaves, Nozomu says that she must’ve done so deliberately. She places others before her, and is able to observe people’s feelings and create a place for them to naturally relax in. Perhaps it’s a skill she gained from being a proprietress. But by overdoing it, at times she unconsciously hurts herself instead. That’s why he can’t leave Megumi alone. Wataru comments that she’s a good girlfriend, and Nozomu agrees – she’s almost too good for him. Unexpectedly, he has no regrets even if he’s hated. He’s going to be the worst boyfriend from now on. He doesn’t mind dying for her, that’s how much he loves her – his mind has gotten so twisted, it’s pretty much a mental disorder. Wataru is at a loss as to what he means, and Nozomu asks another troublesome favour of Wataru.

The poison that will save me

After they finish, Wataru greets Mamoru before leaving. He tells Megumi that he’ll bring some groceries for her next time. Nozomu stays over again and without saying anything in advance, he hugs and kisses Megumi. Somehow he just felt like doing so seeing her remain bravely by his side. Megumi isn’t sure what happened between him and Wataru, but she won’t probe if he doesn’t want to talk about it. After all, she’s happy that the only one who can accept Nozomu’s feelings like this is her. She loves him, so she’s willing to understand anything he does, and support him. She won’t force him to reveal any sides he doesn’t want her to see though. But Nozomu believes in her feelings, and that she’ll still love him even if she does see them. He’s also realised the reason why Fukami brought him to this island, after talking to Koukaseinendan and Wataru. He’s friends with Wataru and Wataru’s family is still rather powerful despite the discrimination. Fukami probably wanted to make use of that indirectly through Nozomu. As his friend, Nozomu would naturally persuade Wataru to leave first and accept the garrison proposal. If Wataru’s family approves, then perhaps the people would follow too. But the ostracism and discrimination was way worse than Fukami had imagined, so things didn’t go according to plan. It’s just Nozomu’s speculation, but it was weird that Fukami suddenly picked him out. Fukami praised him so Nozomu believed in him but once he realised the truth it’s a different story. Seeing him mock himself, Megumi realises that she’s hurt him yet again.

Nozomu picks up on this, and remarks that he’s always saved by how she sympathises and relates to him, he’s thankful that she’s with him. As expected, he prefers this expression of hers to her smile. As they converse, Megumi remarks that he’s suitable to be a consultant seeing how adept he is talking to people. Nozomu doesn’t think he’s capable enough to rebuild the town but they wouldn’t know if they don’t at least try. Megumi thinks that he enjoys consulting after all, and hopes that he can gradually be accepted by others to find his own place of belonging. Nozomu recalls giving her the perfume satchel during the festival, saying that the daphne fitted her. The flower looks pretty and is popular as a plant to grow in gardens. But if you approach it too closely, the smell can be rather strong. Moreover, even though the petals can be boiled to make into medicine, it’s actually poisonous as it is. You understand that yet you want to get closer and touch it. Nozomu feels that this aspect really fits Megumi. He thought that he wouldn’t be able to restraint himself if he gets too close to her, but he’s glad that he did now. He’s soaking in that poison, while being treated by the medicine after that. It’s ‘cos Megumi is like that, that he feels saved. On the surface she appears just as pretty, but he’s seen a lot of things he couldn’t imagine behind that too. Though actually, on their first meeting he already saw past her surface. And he likes all these sides of her.

Believe in me, till the end

The following day, Nozomu stops Megumi from going with him. He’s planning to search for the documents which means that he’ll have to snoop around quite a bit. Fukami will definitely remain suspicious and he doesn’t want to endanger Megumi. He’ll just give the excuse that Megumi isn’t feeling well. He has a plan and hopes that Megumi can believe in him and wait at home for now and find something else only she can do. Megumi sees that it isn’t just an excuse to distance her from danger, and so agrees. It switches to Nozomu’s perspective, as he tells himself that he’s doing it to release Megumi, and the people from Fukami. To not betray Megumi, who helped him to discover his own capabilities. He heads out as he carries the documents he got from Mamoru.

Doubt, wavering trust

nozomu-24

The next morning, Megumi sees Nozomu off and proceeds to do the household chores. It’s soon nighttime and after helping to sort Mamoru’s materials, she returns to her room. Suddenly, the scoldings and banging of her walls start. As usual they’re criticising her but it’s not just that – they claim that Koukaseinendan said that she colluded with Fukami to betray them. Megumi’s at a loss for words. Later, a worried Wataru visits but Megumi can’t bring herself to tell him what she heard, and only shares about the disturbances. She’s sure that Koukaseinendan have their own reasons. Wataru feels bad for not coming earlier, but Megumi replies that she’s become used to it. In response, he remarks that she can’t numb herself like that. If she does so, she’ll end up crushing herself. He whispers something to himself before sighing, and adds that considering all of this it’s probably better to act fast. Mamoru is already creating the article with the current information and hopefully Nozomu can get his hands on the last of the evidence till then. Megumi agrees to convey this to Nozomu. It’ll probably be tough, but they’ll believe in Nozomu. Megumi says that if Mamoru puts his mind to it, he can probably finish within two days. So Wataru decides to hold their decisive plan three days later.

Wataruu explains that they’ll gather the people in the central plaza and read out Mamoru’s article. It’ll naturally cause a stir and the officials, police, soldiers will have to be mobilised. When Fukami comes too, then Hibiki will show all the evidence to everyone. In the case that Fukami senses something and remains indoors, Nozomu will lead him out so that they can expose him before everyone. According to Koukaseinendan, once the misunderstanding is resolved the people will accept them too. So on the day itself, Nozomu will head to the town hall and Megumi to the central plaza to help them. He hopes she can convey this to Nozomu too. Megumi tells herself to believe in Nozomu and Koukaseinendan, since they already agreed to cooperate. Megumi then sees Wataru off.

Flickering shadows, the moon that’s lost its light

Megumi conveys everything to Mamoru, and finishes off the household chores. Nozomu only returns late at night and Megumi hurries to welcome him. She sees that he looks tired, and appears to be limping. Megumi insists on treating the wound on his leg. When she does so, Nozomu tells her not to worry. As she said, pain is the crystallisation of love and so this is proof of that too. He hopes that she won’t ask any further. It hurts Megumi, but upon thinking that the pain and wound is due to Nozomu’s feelings for her, it appears tender to her too. She doesn’t ask what happened and Nozomu can tell that she’s doing so for his sake. He only shares that he overheard Fukami talking on the phone. He was probably talking to the subcontractor to get another order form. He’s probably planning to destroy the one they saw, but until Fukami receives the new one he can’t destroy it. In other words, they need to get their hands on the old one by then. Nozomu reassures Megumi that everything’s going well, and so Megumi tells him to keep going at it. If she keeps asking instead, she’s sure that it’ll only pressurise Nozomu more. She then conveys to him what Wataru told her, and observes that Nozomu doesn’t look good after all.

But instead, Nozomu observes that she looks like she wants to say something else. Like she told him on their first meeting, anyone has something they want to vent out and he’ll listen if it can help ease her. Her words then really resounded in him, and so he wanted to try saying it too. In the end, Megumi shares with him what happened but adds that she does believe in Koukaseinendan. Nozomu confirms with her on this since it was only a verbal promise, and Megumi answers that she wants to believe in them. He tells her to release it onto him if she ever feels like she can’t take it anymore. No matter what others say about her, he finds everything about her beautiful and will accept all of her. She agrees to do so if such a time comes. Seeing Nozomu’s smile, the uneasiness in her has faded. She asks if he’ll stay the night, and Nozomu replies he would if she allows him to.

Buried darkness

It’s another day. After seeing Nozomu off, Megumi does the household chores and anything else she can do for now. But once nighttime falls, the residents start their ruckus again. They claim that Koukaseinendan said that she and Nozomu are the cause of everything, and that she was seen going in and out of the town hall. Once they leave the island everything will return to as before. The scoldings won’t stop and the uneasiness revives in her again. Megumi resists from going to Mamoru’s side, as he needs to concentrate on his work. But she wonders if they can really change the people’s minds. To them, Koukaseinendan is the beautiful beacon of hope, and they are the darkness which makes them stand out.

Dyed by the darkness which accepts the light

It’s late at night and Megumi serves dinner for both herself and Nozomu. Talking to Nozomu like this, it feels like Megumi could forget what’d just happened. It’s better to remain positive. Of course she doesn’t want to worry Nozomu, but more than that she wants to believe that she possesses the strength to overcome this pain. That way both she and Nozomu can be the happiest. As Nozomu eats, he recalls that his parents only gave him money so he ate as he liked and choose the food that looked the most attractive. But eating like that, everything soon tastes dull and nothing satisfies him. In the end he’s only eating to survive and he ate like a machine. But upon meeting Megumi and eating at her store, it was as if he felt human warmth for the first time. Finding it delicious, he remembered feeling satisfied and happy. Perhaps he’ll stop eating an unbalanced diet if she’s by his side. Megumi remarks that she’ll continue to do so. As she watches him eat, she feels that there won’t be a more important person than him in her life. Nozomu learns from her that Mamoru should be working well within the deadline. When he asks how she’s doing though, Megumi averts his gaze. But after settling her feelings, she smiles back and replies that everything is alright. Just like Mamoru told them, they’ve to have the strength to accept any answer. She asks how things are for him instead, and Nozomu respond positively. He just hasn’t had a chance to steal the documents. They’ll continue to do their best. After that, they continue talking happily, but Nozomu looks uneasy.

Distorted by oppression

The next day, Megumi is alone since that morning. Nozomu returned last night as he said that if he didn’t, Fukami may suspect him. Mamoru is holed up in his room doing work, so she merely leaves breakfast outside. These few days Megumi has stayed at home. She should be used to sleeping alone, but she only feels uneasy when Nozomu isn’t by her side. The more she hides and suppresses these feelings, the more they swell. The residents have been stuffing pieces of paper underneath her door now. On them it writes that she can’t get away by hiding inside, once they catch her Fukami will be nothing. They’re united under Koukaseinendan and will do something about the financial problem. Megumi wants to continue to believe, the more she does so the more driven to a corner she feels. Her heart won’t act as accordingly. She trembles as she whispers Nozomu’s name.

As expected I don’t mind dying if it’s for your sake

After that, Megumi finished the chores and returned to her room. That morning, she tore the pieces of papers over and over till nothing can be read, before burning it all. If only the pain and uneasiness will disappear just like that. After that Megumi returned to her room and fell asleep. She wakes up only at midnight, to see Nozomu at her side. He asks if she’s alright and she hesitates at her answer. Instead, Nozomu confesses that he isn’t alright. Tomorrow is the day they’ll proceed with the plan, but Fukami doesn’t let the document leave his side at all. Of course, things aren’t going well with Ueda and co. either. In fact, the injury he had before was as a result of a dispute with them. It’s only to be expected that they don’t want to lose their jobs. He can’t keep this a secret anymore so he told this to Mamoru and Wataru, who’ll convey this to Koukaseinendan. He apologises for lying to her for in fact nothing is going as planned. Megumi reassures him, since nothing goes well for anyone. She isn’t that strong either so seeing how Nozomu isn’t that strong either makes her at ease – that she won’t be left behind. He questions if that’s the truth, and Megumi corrects herself. It’s a lie. She really wants him to continue working hard no matter how many times he’s hurt. If he’s that strong, then she’d want to become strong too. She just wanted to let out her weaker side and rest a bit, just like he would at her side. So just for now, he can take all of her complaints as lies and wash them out. Nozomu is impressed with Megumi, and remarks that he can’t win against her after all.

nozomu-25

He hugs her and for some reason Megumi tears up, even though he’s the one that’s in pain. He’s always been watching her, so Nozomu knows that she’s sensitive to other people’s feelings and hasn’t cried in a long time. As he pats her, a mix of feelings fills Megumi. Though he never planned on saying this, but seeing how honest Megumi is now he feels like doing so now – Nozomu really doesn’t mind dying for her sake. That’s how much he’s fallen for her. Nozomu then asks Megumi to call him by his first name. It takes her a while to do so, as she collects herself. She’s filled with a tender feeling – just as how he accepted her she wants to do the same for him. So Megumi tells Nozomu that they can still make it tomorrow. She’ll go together with him. She refuses to wait alone, even if she may hinder him too. Megumi thinks to herself that the real her really is greedier than she’d expected – she wants to love and be loved more than others would. Surely what she’d always wanted was for someone to love her like this. In response, Nozomu agrees. Just like her, he loves her even if it meant choosing the world over her.

An important gift, two wires

After that, the two of them discuss how to retrieve the documents. Firstly, Nozomu thinks that Fukami is mostly like to remain in the town hall. He wouldn’t want to put himself in danger, so he’ll probably lock himself in his study till everything’s over. That means they have to snatch it from him directly. But with the ruckus, the police etc. will mostly like head to the central plaza. So what’s left to handle are Fukami’s bodyguards, as well as the locked door. They’re only guessing so they’ll have to bet everything on this plan. Nozomu takes out two wires, and explains that they’ll unlock the door with this. He unlocks one of Megumi’s locked boxes as an example, as he adds that he learnt this as a kid though he only used it within his house. Megumi decides to try her hand at it too, and to both of their surprise she picks it up really fast despite Nozomu not guiding her. He lets her keep the wires as he has more, and in the case she ever needs to use them. As for the bodyguards, the only way is to have Megumi distract them while Nozomu quickly unlocks the door. He appears worried, but Megumi reassures him. She remarks that the wires alongside the perfume satchel he gave her are both important gifts from him, and her charms. He’s happy to hear that, but says that he’ll give her better things in the future.

The precious you

A flashback shows Nozomu and Fukami talking in his study that afternoon. From their conversation, it’s clear that Nozomu had a part to play in uniting the people against Megumi and under Koukaseinendan. Once they do so, they’ll make the people lose their trust in Koukaseinendan and propose the garrison again. They’ll certainly grab onto that only light of hope in the darkness – like the moonlight in the night. Nozomu didn’t think that Koukaseinendan would agree to cooperate so readily though. Fukami though, didn’t expect Nozomu to do this to Megumi. Nozomu replies that it’s ‘cos she’s important, so when she feels like wanting to leave the island he would take her away then. He believes that Megumi will continue loving him no matter how many times she’s hurt. In return, Fukami remarks that he’s really quite the trash too. Back in present time, Nozomu looks at a sleeping Megumi and apologises. He wonders what reply she’ll give him when she learns of this.

Will it be good fortune or will it be misfortune

Megumi wakes up next to Nozomu the following morning. He tells her that there’s a change to the plan. He failed to factor in the possibility that the document may not be with Fukami. After he returned it to Fukami, there’s been a bodyguard placed in front of another room. Nozomu thought that Fukami was setting up an obvious trap for him so he didn’t bother since he can’t possible fall for it. But maybe they should check it just in case too. Nozomu once entered that room before, and recalls that there was a safe. So he wants Megumi to unlock that door first to check. Megumi agrees at once, since if that’s what Nozomu says then it must be the best plan. After they prepare themselves, both of them head to the town hall after telling Mamoru so. Upon reaching, both of them split up as accordingly. Megumi heads to the said room but strangely there’s no bodyguard. She can only hope for the best.

The chain of love’s whip

She easily unlocks the door, but is shocked to see Fukami inside. He looks surprised to see her though. Megumi hides the wires behind her, and tries to calmly come up with an excuse. But Fukami sees through it. He advises her that no matter how disadvantageous a situation may be, there are times when you win by bluffing all the way through. He catches her off-guard and pushes her against the door. The wires in her hand drops to the floor. As Fukami holds her hand down, he takes out the documents she’s seeking before her. Unfortunately he can’t pass her this since it’s clearly to his disadvantage. As expected, he’s seen through everything.  Megumi can only struggle to reach for the evidence, but of course it’s impossible for her. So she asks what should she do. Fukami is impressed by her courage, but remarks that they’re only being made use of by Koukaseinendan. Fukami knows that Nozomu cooperated with them to catch him, but from Koukaseinendan‘s perspective Nozomu would appear to be setting a trap with Fukami. For example, surely Koukaseinendan would’ve noticed that it was Nozomu who first spread the rumours of the market restrictions. In the first place, they’re the hope for the people who want to chase away Megumi etc. If they weight the residents against Megumi and co. who would Koukaseinendan side? Megumi is taken aback by his words, and unable to reply. Her want to believe, has now been easily crushed as Fukami’s words sound logical. Fukami adds that at this rate the town will be in disorder and if so Koukaseinendan wouldn’t be able to function properly. By pushing all the blame onto Megumi, they can unite the people and chase Fukami, Nozomu and Megumi away instead. Megumi can’t deny any of this, as everything looks dark – they’re being made use of by both Fukami and Koukaseinendan.

At that moment, they both hear Nozomu banging on the door outside as he confirms that Megumi is inside. But the door can’t open as long as Fukami pushes her against the door, for the door opens inwards. Fukami remarks that Nozomu is getting hurt ‘cos of her and questions how she feels. As she once said, even if she gets hurt she wants to be by his side. This is the result of that. Nozomu was deserted by his parents, he no longer believes in Fukami, he’s been betrayed by Koukaseinendan, and nothing is going right. Everything around Nozomu disappears and he’s left alone in the dark loneliness. Megumi is the only hope left he has. Megumi was the one who made him fall into this situation. If Nozomu didn’t accept her, he would’ve continued his life as per normal. Though he was attracted to Megumi at first, he didn’t want to destroy that relationship and in fact enjoyed it. Megumi also satisfied her subconscious of wanting to find her value for existence. But she gradually destroyed that by crossing the line. What happened in the store was the trigger. Megumi recognises this, she was happy that Nozomu prioritised her over himself by standing up for her. ‘Cos of that, this is the result. Fukami adds that by making him hope in “love”, she made Nozomu fall for her more by refusing him yet still giving him a lingering hope. By repeating that, it was the best method to make him have hopes for her.

As she said, pain is the crystallisation of love. So does that mean Megumi is happy each time Nozomu feels pain? Megumi is unable to immediately deny this. Fukami tells her that she’s bound by a chain, that common sense that she can’t believe in love. In order to do so, she has to leave behind a trace of it (pain). Whether or not they have this evidence, their ideal is only a dream. As he said, Koukaseinendan wants to chase them out. But to the pitiful them with chains, Fukami can provide a place of belonging for them – a world just for them. Megumi hears Nozomu’s painful voice from behind, crying out her name. Fukami remarks that Nozomu will get hurt just for her, and she can continue to heal those wounds for him. If there’s no love without pain, then that means all of Nozomu’s painful cries now is the crystallisation of Nozomu’s love for Megumi.

>> AIJOU (LOVE) ROUTE

Even though things don’t progress well like a story would

nozomu-28

It’s true that Nozomu is getting hurt for Megumi’s sake. But Megumi questions if Nozomu can really create such a place for them, and if they’ll really be happy there. Is that what they truly desire? Megumi firmly denies this. She’s decided to believe in those who agreed to cooperate with them, as well as Nozomu. She tells Fukami that Nozomu is getting hurt for their future. Like she said before, it’s merely part of the process and not her aim. Fukami’s taken aback by her strong reaction, and she takes this chance to bite his arm which causes him to let go of the documents. Megumi escapes his grip, and quickly gathers the evidence. At the same time, Nozomu enters the room and Megumi falls to her knees out of relief. Nozomu reads out the article headlines to Fukami – he’s actually a weapon merchant and his purpose from the start was to build a garrison here so that he can conduct his business here. And right now, Megumi is holding that proof. They also possess the detailed records of his activities from before to prove that he’s a weapon merchant. The water service taxes etc. were all implemented for his final goal. Fukami casually admits this, as he sees that Nozomu did join hands with Koukaseinendan after all and acted in front of him. In the first place, Nozomu made it sound as if uniting the people would be in Fukami’s favour when that isn’t the case at all. Nozomu agrees, and said that he purposely said that. Still, Fukami was shocked that he instigated Koukaseinendan to have everyone blame Megumi so that he wouldn’t suspect that they were colluding against him. Nozomu replies that by uniting them it would be easier to manipulating their sentiments. Knowing how much it hurt Megumi, he made use of her. But Fukami remarks that he long saw through that, and in the end all that show only hurt themselves. Nozomu recognises that Megumi may hate him due to this. But even so he’d wanted to protect her and her world over her loving him.

Nozomu then opens the door to reveal Uedo, Miyoshi, and an elderly man who’s apparently the vice-president. Fukami clearly looks shocked to see them there. Nozomu explains that he called the vice-president over with the help of a friend (and his boat), by showing him the detailed records of Fukami’s activities. But there were missing the other key evidence so he had them come here to witness it themselves. The vice-president has already overheard their conversation plus they have solid evidence, so there’s no other choice but to believe. And with proof, no matter what the police will learn of it sooner or later. In that case, it’s better to fold the company lest Fukami commits the same error. He’s responsible for not stopping Fukami too so he’ll take responsibility for resigning, and then working to rebuild this town for free. He’ll help the remaining employees to find another job. Fukami questions if they really want this, and both Ueda and Miyoshi agree. They can’t possibly betray the vice-president’s good will. And if the police really gets a hold of this, it’ll stain their employment history too. Left with no other options, Fukami calls for his men, but Nozomu tells him that his friend brought a few soldiers here and already took care of them. He’d predicted that Fukami would try to escape if all else fails. His virtues are different – people flee from him while they flock to the vice-president’s side. Fukami soon has a resigned look, as he comments that he didn’t think a day would come when he would be done in by Nozomu.

But Nozomu knew that Fukami would see through his plan, so instead he carried out two plans at once – one with Koukaseinendan, and the other with the vice-president. Fukami thinking that he’s a coward beyond hope, is the chain that Fukami has. Fukami laughs at this, as he admits that he didn’t think Nozomu would do that – to think that he himself had a chain too was his blind spot. He has enemies on all sides, so there’s no other option but to leave this island alone. But Nozomu has one query – why was Fukami in this room? Fukami replies that Nozomu was acting odd these few days. So he planned to wait here for Nozomu to say that he’s seen through everything, so Nozomu will be given a blow and listen to him this time. He asks Megumi if she still loves such a man. She does, since pain is the crystallisation of love after all. Fukami laughs at how stupid they are, but it’s a self-mocking laugh. Showing no resistance, he’s led to where Koukaseinendan are. After that, they never saw Fukami again.

I won’t back away, I want to steal you away, because I love you

After that, Wataru appears and sees the both of them sitting on the floor. He heard about everything and tells them that he’ll bring the evidence to the central plaza, so they can rest for now. He leaves with the documents. Nozomu’s sure that they’ll handle the rest, as he says that almost everything went as planned – except Megumi. He thought that by asking her to unlock this room she would be in a safer place but he was too confident. Things really don’t go that well after all, and he apologises to her. But Megumi is happy as Nozomu thought it all out for her sake, and also grew more confident of himself. She tells him that it happens often, including to herself. But over the course of time, it’s what made her who she is today. Still, Nozomu remarks that he had to deceive his own ally in order to deceive the enemy so he has no excuses for what he did to her. Even so, he wonders why she still loves him. He could lie to her and do all sorts of underhanded things, in order to make her happy rather than make sure his love was a success. Megumi doesn’t think that he’s being very convincing though when he’s offering his hand to her. Plus, she likes Nozomu’s twisted feelings. He admits that he’s probably the same, and that he actually sees both his love and her happiness as equally important after all. Rather than back away, he’d rather steal her away. Megumi is more than willing to accompany him. Thanks to Nozomu, she’s discovered many important things here, but she’s sure that she’ll do so elsewhere too.

As Nozomu helps her up, he remarks that loving someone really is hard. Your heart gets played with, you hurt and get hurt. He’s constantly bothered by whether she really should be with him, but at the end of the day he’s happy that she chooses him and can’t let go of her and is stuck in a cycle. Megumi can say the same of him though. Nozomu remarks that when he’d decided to no longer see her, he would naturally recall her each time he saw the moon. At first it was ‘cos she once said that she enjoyed gazing at it, but gradually he came to associate her with it. If you mix all sorts of colours together, at the end of the day it’ll turn black like the night sky. Similarly, all these feelings inside of him mix together but she shines over him like the moon to prevent him from sinking into the darkness. Not a bright light like that of the sun, but a gentle one of the moon. Well, now is the real hard work as Nozomu has decided to help the vice-president work for the island and Megumi is willing to support him. For starters, they decide to tidy up this room and the study since they were taken care of. Megumi also retrieves the wires, as it serves as an important memory. They’ll continue onto their future in which this town is slowly renewed. It won’t be an easy path, but surely they’ll reach it. They’ve experienced it themselves – with the courage to act accompanied with the pain, they can break through and move forward.

END: The darkness which supports the light, the light which supports the darkness

After that, the company folded and Fukami promised to stop his weapon dealings. So they didn’t pass him to the police, and had him return to the mainland. The remaining employees found a new job thanks to the ex-vice-president. And as Nozomu promised, he worked with the ex-vice-president to rebuild the town. Though they said they’re willing to work for free, of course the government can’t have them and does give them pay. They continue collecting the water service taxes for a while, and start to work to promote the island as a summer retreat. First, they offer various services people can enjoy by just walking in town. By doing so, they’ll casually guide visitors into the buildings and aim to promote the economy that way. For Onsengai, the streets give off a vice of the good old days and they’ll increase the pleasantness of the environment etc. For Karyuugai, it’s a restricted area but depending on the time they’ll have performances outside so as to increase the satisfaction of visitors. Plus, since this is an island and in order to satisfy people’s tastebuds, they’ll revitalise the fishing industry. For this, they’ll do it such that people can enjoy it as a performance too. This will also help them be more self-sufficient. They use the collected taxes to advertise themselves to the mainland, and decrease the amounts with each passing year. After 4 years, their efforts have turned into success. The town has finally somewhat stablised itself. And then, Nozomu asks Megumi to return with him to the mainland for an offer from a company there has come to him. Megumi accepts this.

nozomu-31

Today is the last work day for Megumi’s store. It was a fruitful and busy day as many came over to thank her and give her gifts. At first she didn’t accept any, but Mamoru told her that it’s courtesy to accept them so she did and eventually the gifts flooded in. Well, it goes to show how much she’ll be missed here. Truth be told, Nozomu sometimes wonders if it’s really alright to bring her over as she appears happy at the store. But Megumi tells him that she made the decision ‘cos she wanted to. Mamoru told her that if she’s happy, then surely Hotaru would be too. Her happiness is with Nozomu, and so she was happy that he asked her. He thanks her for choosing him, and promises that they’ll return back here from time to time. They drink some alcohol and I’m pretty sure they do it. As they kiss, the core of Megumi’s body feels like it’s melting – like the reflection of the moon on the waters wavering and becoming one with the darkness. To love and be love gives you a mix of feelings, and in the process it becomes happiness. At times there’s pain, but together with Nozomu it’s still happiness. There’s no longer any chains binding either of them.

>> IZON (DEPENDENT) ROUTE

END: I shouldn’t be alive

It follows from I want you to kill the despicable me. Megumi tells Nozomu that the moon tonight is beautiful. Clearly understanding her words, Nozomu agrees and says that he doesn’t mind dying. Though it’s regretful that he can no longer wo her like this, it doesn’t matter if they can be together like this. Megumi agrees that it’s happiness to be together without anyone interfering. He leaves a kissmark on her neck, and it turns blue-black like a flower. She does the same for him, as she unies his hair. They then head together to the sea – or rather to the eternal moon.

END: The temptation of the love’s decaying daphne

It follows from The chain of love’s whip. Megumi stares at the documents, the freedom that they’d always wanted looks so far away now. Why do they have to struggles in this cold loneliness? Megumi asks Fukami what she should do for a place of belonging, and so he tells her to tear up the documents. If he’s caught for this, naturally he can’t provide them that place. Without any hesitation, she tears them up when he lets her free. It’s ‘cos this exists, that both Nozomu and her are tied up this painfully. The pieces fall like paper snow, almost as if it’s giving them blessings. Pleased, Fukami says that he’ll close an eye on their betrayal. He tells Megumi that she’s the chain binding Nozomu. If she wishes for a world of their own, then she should tie him up completely. Right now, Nozomu is struggling to remove it even though he can’t, so she should make him give that up. Fukami reassures her that Nozomu will certainly give in if she loves him, and willingly be dyed in her colour. Megumi recalls the night Nozomu had the same red tsuyabeni on his lips, and the pleasure in being dyed the same colour. She hears Nozomu’s painful cries as he bangs the door outside, and thinks that he’s pitiful. He’s in such pain due to loving her blindly. But it’s alright, she’ll accept and heal the hurt Nozomu. She’ll love him and bind him with her chain, just like how his chain binds her, so that they can always be together.

Fukami removes his hand from the door, and Nozomu enters the room. Megumi’s happy to see him this worried for her, and Nozomu’s confused by her attitude and the torn documents. She tells him that she forgot about it, and there’s no need to bother with it since they won’t be free anyway. Nozomu goes to confront Fukami on what he told Megumi, but Megumi desperately holds him back and begs him to only look at her. She does’t want him to look elsewhere, if not then what’s the point of creating their own world? She removes Nozomu’s glasses, unties his hair and they fall to the floor. She wonders why he looks so sad, even though they’re together. Nozomu questions why she’s acting this way, their wish wasn’t this at all. Megumi agrees, but she doesn’t want to continue on when it’s a dream that can’t be fulfilled. She’d rather give up and die together with Nozomu. No matter how much she tries, no one in this town understands and only drives her to a corner further. Having the documents won’t change anything, and will only torture them more. She doesn’t want to see Nozomu hurt, and doesn’t want to feel hurt anymore. In the first place, she kept her distance from people to avoid being hurt. She just needs Nozomu, and only needs to believe in him. Nozomu looks away, and Megumi desperately why. She loves him and she can change for him.

In the end, Nozomu apologises for all that he did and smiles gently at her. He’ll take responsibility so she doesn’t need to feel sad. Megumi feels relieved. This way, she doesn’t need to go through the painful memory of being abandoned again. As long as he’s by her side, she won’t get hurt anymore – any longer. Megumi asks to be kissed over and over, and Nozomu obliges. In a distance, she can hear someone laughing and footsteps growing softer. Nothing of that matters, she doesn’t need to chase after those who leave her behind. She already has her lover who definitely won’t let her go. Like that night of tsuyabeni‘s vow, an instinctive passion overtakes Megumi and she gives up thinking as they kiss over and over. The world has shut them off into darkness, but she doesn’t need anything else as long as Nozomu is with her. Their own unchanging world has already been promised to them.

nozomu-33

END: The happiest ending

It follows from The chain of love’s whip. Megumi stares at the documents, the freedom that they’d always wanted looks so far away now. Why do they have to struggles in this cold loneliness? The pain that’s love is sad and heavy. She didn’t want to drive Nozomu to a corner like that, she only wanted them to be happy together. As expected, she should’ve suppressed her feelings, tie a chain on it and never let it out. She doesn’t have any value or right to love Nozomu – so she should release him. Megumi asks Fukami what she should do for a place of belonging for Nozomu. So he tells her to tear up the documents, and she does so without any hesitation. The pieces falls like paper snow and for some reason it feels as though she’s destroyed something important. But if this can save Nozomu then she doesn’t need to bother. Fukami tells her that Nozomu will be released, but it’s not enough. She’s the chain binding him so first she has to reject him, and vow that she won’t do anything stupid again. If she pays the right price, then he’ll give Nozomu his place of belonging. Megumi nods in return, as she recalls Nozomu’s words – she’s willing to even die for him. Fukami opens the door and a worried Nozomu enters. Megumi restrains herself from reaching out to him, and tells him not to approach her. She’s afraid to be hated by him, but she has to do it. Megumi tells him that she hates him, and he’s puzzled by her words.

Megumi’s feelings and actions are contradicting each other. She lowers her head and repeats that she hates him. Nozomu tells her not to be afraid of Fukami, but she refuses to listen. If she looks at him she’ll probably listen to her feelings, so she shuts her eyes and eyes and kills off her feelings. Fukami explains that with Nozomu unknowingly pushing his own desires onto her, he’s distanced the rest away from Megumi. And so Megumi has come to only want him and snap her own wings. But she no longer wants to see him hurt, and if he’ll only be unhappy with her then she’d rather be hated by him. Megumi wants to provide Nozomu his own place of belonging, while not noticing that her desperate feelings for him is beating her own self up. So Fukami promised her so. He knows that Nozomu plotted with Koukaseinendan against him, and this is the result of that. Megumi now can no longer believe in Nozomu or Koukaseinendan, and has been pushed into loneliness. Soon after, Nozomu embraces her and remarks that he never liked her from the start. Just as he once said, he was jealous of her and so he gave her a light of hope, before sending her into despair just like him. He hates her too, and he’s happy now. Upon hearing this, Megumi is relieved. She tells herself that she no longer feels anything – neither the happiness of being loved by the one you love, nor the pain of your loved one in pain too.

Overall

Omg I’m halfway through!! Okay, I think I enjoyed Nozomu’s route more but to be honest those bad ends hurt just as much. You know what Nozomu did so to see Megumi no longer trusting him (and Koukaseinendan) was really heart-breaking, and I can imagine that Nozomu blames himself for making Megumi come to this state. Rather than their future, Megumi chose the love that’s in front of her eyes. The both of them are really similar imo so I knew that it could be destructive – but I didn’t expect them to go that far in the Izon end. I mean they were like, making out right there, right? (I think Nozomu’s the reason why this is CERO-C.) If you didn’t know the context of the CG, you’d think it was a happy scene. You unlock an audio track when you’re done and basically in that end they are really in their own world – they wake up, eat, do their business (um yeah), sleep and that’s it. It’s not that Fukami literally gave them their own world, they were just so self-absorbed with each other. That being said, I think we finally get a good idea of why the game is called Getsuei no Kusari.

Other than that, it was interesting to see how they handled the same issue (Fukami) differently from Wataru’s route. I think many people (including me) get fed up over how annoying the residents can act. Sad to say, these sort of unreasonable people do exist, that’s all I’ll say. It’s just that in Getsuei, it’s all so amplified considering the situation and numbers. I’m sure like Mamoru says, not everyone is as unreasonable and some just fear speaking up lest they become a victim too. Speaking of Mamoru, I am so glad he exists in the game ‘cos seriously – 98% of the time I laugh is thanks to his lines. As mentioned in the previous route, he purposely acts cheerful and all to also support Megumi. There are only a few moments when you hear him speak seriously and that voice…

nozomu-14

「痛みは愛の結晶です」Wow this phrase, just wow.

I don’t have much to add since a lot was said in the previous post already. But yes I enjoyed Nozomu’s route more thanks to the banter and dialogue the couple has. Not to mention the interesting analogies and all. That’s probably why this post is longer omg. And characters that look composed but underneath that…yes. \o/ I also think that Nozomu and Wataru make really good friends. It’s not as obvious in the game due to the dark atmosphere, but in the bonus tracks you unlock their conversations are pretty amusing! Anyway, the remaining two routes may give us a different focus since this time it’s Koukaseinendan‘s turn? Again, I’ll start on Satoya’s route after a short break first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s