The individual route for Kagurazaka Hibiki (CV: Shingaki Tarusuke). This follows from the Common Route. A well-knowledgeable and eloquent man, Hibiki wasn’t one of the island residents but has been admired and relied upon by them ever since he helped in the disaster one year ago. A few of the earlier scenes overlaps with Satoya’s route.
Making one person’s share and making 32 people’s share
It starts to rain and just then both Hibiki and Satoya enter the store. Megumi gives them a cloth to wipe themselves dry before serving them. As they converse, they learn that Megumi is not going for the festival, except to release the lanterns. She feels bad to enjoy it by herself when Mamoru is working. Hibiki advises her to at least look around though. As for them, the Koukaseinendan will be patrolling during the festival. Other customers overhear this and praise them, unlike the police who only do the work given to them. They explain that they’re working in shifts though, and will have to find time to eat along the way. It turns out that the shop owner of the place they asked to make their meals fell ill a few days ago, and they have a hard time finding someone else. Megumi offers to do it, though Satoya is hesitant since it’s for 32 people after all. Hibiki remarks that since she offered they should accept, and Megumi agrees that it’s for Koukaseinendan‘s sake after all. Satoya goes red at her answer, before realising the time and quickly chases Hibiki as he settles the bill. Hibiki notes that the rain has stopped and the two of them leave. A customer points out that Megumi didn’t get any details of the delivery point etc., so Megumi decides to check with them again tomorrow.
Restaurant “Tsuki no Hotori“
That night, Megumi has a nostalgic dream of her past. A young Megumi and Mamoru ask Hotaru the reason why she opened this store. She replies that she was good at cooking, and she enjoyed seeing her customer’s happy faces as they eat her food. But to be honest, perhaps it doesn’t need to be in the shape of a store either. ‘Cos it’s a store, it’s expected that the customers pay for the food as a form of gratitude. So she doesn’t mind serving those poor and hungry people for free too. She’ll be happy to just see them well and in that case there’s no need for a store. But of course that would be troubling as she needs to feed them too, and one has to run a store inShoutengai. But she tells them to remember that what’s important is the smiles of the people who visit this place. Neither of them really understand her though, and so Hotaru merely laughs. If they no longer have a store, she’ll just build a field in their garden to grow their own food. Her remark surprises both Mamoru and Megumi.
The next morning, Megumi tells Mamoru about her dream. She didn’t understand Hotaru’s words back then, but she did when Hotaru served a customer for free, as he had lost his job in an accident. Moreover that customer returned later to return the favour. Megumi thinks that what’s great about Hotaru is that she puts her words into action. So she wants to protect this store’s ideal in the same manner. Mamoru thinks that Hotaru would be happy to hear that.
The tireless Kagurazaka
Megumi heads to the central plaza and spots Hibiki reading the noticeboard. He remarks that there’s nothing new, and the government has only been releasing difficult information to confuse the people. Their morning meeting is over and after this any free Koukaseinendan members would be patrolling the town. All of them hold another job so not everyone can participate everyday. Hibiki himself has never thought of himself being tired though. While Megumi has met many people by helping out and running the store, she’s never met someone like Hibiki before and so she’s unsure of how to answer. Hibiki observes that she’s seriously thinking over his words, unlike other people who would just let them pass. He asks if she’s having a stroll, and Megumi recalls her intention.
Megumi returns home and Mamoru asks if she got to meet them. He can’t comment on how she decided on her own that he wouldn’t be able to finish his work though. When she goes quiet, he quickly dismisses this as a joke and adds that he’s at fault in the first place. Megumi replies that once she finishes preparing the food though she’s free so they can go together if he finishes that day. Mamoru immediately answers that he definitely won’t though. He then asks for breakfast and she hurries to prepare it, and Mamoru is seen sighing to himself.
Bentou for 32 people and drinks and
On the day of the festival, Megumi finishes preparing the meals (chirashizushi) by evening time. Satoya comes by to pick them up, as he easily carries the food. When he asks about the contents, she tells him that it’s a secret and to find it later. Megumi then recalls that she prepared them drinks too, as she brings out a large kettle full of barley tea. Satoya can’t carry it without messing up the contents though.
The officious Mochizuki and the free spirit
In the end, Megumi helps Satoya to bring the drinks to where the other members are in Karyuugai. As Megumi looks around, she notes that one can’t tell the financial difficulties and uneasiness from the brilliance of the festival decorations. Satoya observes this and asks if she’s planning to enjoy it later. While Megumi didn’t have that intention, she feels bad rejecting and so she replies that she’ll consider it. Upon arriving at the main station, they pass the food and drinks to the other members. Satoya thanks her as he feels apologetic. He also sees that Hibiki isn’t around even though it’s supposed to be his break time. The member cheerily invite Megumi in till Satoya stops them from forcing her. He thanks her once again, and tells her to enjoy the festival while being wary of any pick-pocketing. Just then, Hibiki appears and apparently he’s been patrolling all this time alone. Satoya is bothered for he’s breaking the rule they decided upon, which is to patrol in groups. After some reasoning back and forth, Satoya tells him to take a break and to trust them. It’s only then does Hibiki realise that Megumi is present too. He asks for the reason why she’s here, suggesting that Satoya is wooing her. Naturally Satoya is flustered, till the real reason is explained. Before Megumi excuses herself, Satoya brings her to one side and asks if she can accompany Hibiki for the festival and thanks for her help – though in truth he wants to use this as an excuse to force Hibiki to take a break. Megumi is willing to do so, much to Satoya’s relief. He then tells Hibiki this and forces him away.
It’s only to be expected, but everywhere Hibiki goes people call out to him. Megumi can’t help but feel that she stands out too, walking alongside the “hero” of this town. Hibiki seems to pick up on this and apologises, but Megumi feels that she can see just how much everyone respects him. He replies that she’s just as respected, but Megumi thinks that it’s thanks to Hotaru’s glory and not her own effort. Hearing this, Hibiki sighs heavily and remarks that she tends to think rather humbly of herself. In any case, he knows that she was asked by Satoya to accompany him. Just as much as Megumi is moved by Hibiki’s sharp observation, she feels sympathy towards Satoya too. Hibiki adds that this was actually a set-up to have her enjoy the festival. When he heard that she wasn’t participating in the festival, he couldn’t help but want her to enjoy the full thing – not just the lantern event. He thought that she would reject if he were to ask normally. It’s just as he said, and Megumi thanks him to hide her embarrassment at being deceived. But Hibiki replies that what Satoya said is true too. To her surprise, Hibiki takes her hand as he observes that it’s rather rough considering her tender age. Megumi pulls it away, for it’s as if Hibiki keeps breaking through her frontal self. Hibiki remarks that it’s nothing to be mindful of though, and in fact likes her hand. He’ll introduce a doctor he knows next time, who actually helped see to his burn wound he has underneath his bandage. Megumi had always been curious about his wound, but could never bring herself to ask. As if seeing through this, Hibiki remarks that it’s weirder for people not to be curious about it but for some reason they never ask. Despite his words, Megumi observes that a shadow doesn’t fall upon his expression – he’s different from her in this aspect. Hibiki then apologises for his inappropriate words, and closes the topic.
As they look around, Hibiki stops at a stall selling hair ornaments. He persuades Megumi to choose one despite her initial protests especially when she notes the prices. But Hibiki says that he merely wants to give her one, and questions if she wants to turn down his good intentions before the stall owner himself. Megumi gives in and though it isn’t an issue of winning or losing – she feels as though she can never win over Hibiki. Megumi chooses a piece with jade, and Hibiki helps to wear it on her after he pays for it. He praises her taste, as in fact he was just thinking that this piece suited her the best. The stall owner gives Megumi a mirror to look for herself, but she quickly gives it back as she gets embarrassed by the close distance between her and Hibiki. Hibiki gives back her original butterfly hairpiece, which is more fancy but personally he prefers this simpler jade piece. He asks her to wear it whenever she wants to. Afterwards, they both go to get a lantern each. There’s a similar event at the mainland, but it’s the first time Hibiki is seeing it for himself. As Megumi releases her lit-up lantern into the river, she prays for Hotaru and her parents. In the first place, this was the main event and there weren’t any stalls set up. Megumi didn’t think much of it back then but when she saw how lively the festival was when it should originally be a quiet one, she started to feel guilty. Thinking about it, her current situation is a contradiction to her own words. Hibiki remarks that people seek pleasure, just like how they’re enjoying the festival now. And change occurs as time passes by, including the traditions. But the essence doesn’t – the respect towards the ancestors.
Megumi remarks that he really must think of the island, as she observes his warm gaze. Hibiki smiles in return, saying that he only thinks of himself though. Megumi begs to differ as he’s working even today, but Hibiki thinks that he was merely there at the right time. Still, she doesn’t think that it changes what he did and thinks that he’s suited to be called a hero. He decides to accept her praise but for some reason, his smile looks a bit different. It’s about time for Hibiki to return, and so they part ways as she thanks him. It was really an eventful day, different from when she went with Hotaru and Mamoru. But for some reason after Hibiki is gone, it feels as though it’s gotten darker.
Back at home, Megumis looks at herself in the mirror. Though she can’t judge if it suits her or not, it feels as though the beautiful hair ornament makes her petty existence stand out. She can imagine the sense of superiority she’d feel if others see her wearing it, but instead of doing so Megumi keeps it away. She does like it and doesn’t feel embarrassed wearing it. In fact she wants to show it to everyone like a child does upon receiving a new toy. But this ornament contains many memories and it feels as though those memories will thin out each time she shows it. Somehow, it’s ‘cos she finds it important that she feels hesitant.
Envious of the upper class
Megumi goes to buy the required groceries before opening her store. Though they can buy at Beniichi, those are mostly to stuff to sell at their stores and does not guarantee their own meals – especially food which require extra processing. Megumi goes to buy at a tofu store she always patronises. Next door, someone from Onsengai buys all of the meat from the meat store. The tofu store owner wonders if he’s planning a banquet or something. On the way back, Megumi checks the mail and receives the notice on the water service tax. It writes that if there’s no reply it’s considered that they’ve understood. But if there is, they’ll cut off the water supply. Other than that, it also describes what the tax is about, as well as how it’s calculated. Basically whatever amount if used will be charged as accordingly each month. Water is indispensable, so it’ll certainly be difficult to continue life as it was before, especially for a business. It’s without a doubt that dark clouds have begun to loom over the town’s future.
At the store, the customers discuss about the water service tax. The tax won’t affect the onsen supply, but nonetheless it’s chaotic at a customer’s onsen inn. Another customer asks to switch on the radio. Soon after, Satoya enters as he returns the containers to Megumi. As he sits down at the counter, he apologises for pushing Hibiki onto her yesterday. Megumi doesn’t pay mind though, and says that she heard from Hibiki that they did it for her sake too. Satoya’s surprised to hear this and appears apologetic, but Megumi assures him that she had fun. A drunk customer approaches Satoya, and Satoya tells him to return home early as his wife has been worried recently. Megumi observes that Satoya will continue to get dragged into the drunk customer’s pace, and offers to pour some tea. The customer thanks her and soon returns to his seat, and Satoya places his order. As he thanks Megumi, the customer remarks that Satoya must be aiming for Megumi. Though Satoya denies this, the customer continues teasing him till another shouts for him to quieten down as he’s listening to the radio. As everyone falls silent, they naturally lean their ears to the radio as an appeal is called for everyone to understand the government’s situation and hence the water service taxes. The customers remark that it’s all the government’s fault, and that they shouldn’t let an outsider like Fukami decide the future of this town.
Satoya remarks that Fukami does make his words sound correct, but this time his actions are too forceful. The garrison proposal is also conspicuous as they only recite the benefits, but don’t address the problems which Hibiki have pointed out before. No matter how much grant they receive, the tourism will surely be affected by the garrison. It’s as if to Fukami, what’s important is merely the improvement of the government funds, so he’s almost chasing everyone away. A customer points out that those working for the government are exempted from the tax, and only common people like them lose out. Megumi thinks to herself that it’s true, but it’s not only the government who is responsible for the poor situation of the government funds – it’s all of their responsibility as they’re making a living here too. In that case, they shouldn’t push the blame but work together to do what they can do now. Megumi shakes that thought away though, as it sounds as though she’s supporting the implementation of water service taxes. Satoya notices this as asks after her, but Megumi merely smiles and says that it’s nothing. He abruptly stands and takes her hand though, telling her not to force herself and even placing his hand against her forehead. Megumi’s taken aback and reassures him that she’s fine. Hearing this, Satoya removes his hand. Despite Satoya’s stern tone, she can tell that he’s truly worried from his sincere gaze and so she thanks him. He apologises instead for his actions. Megumi notes how his expression keeps changing. He possesses a straight and strong light, and so sometimes she can’t help but avert her gaze. Just then, Hibiki enters the store and tells Satoya not to trouble her.
Sticky mitarashi dango
The customers cheerily welcome Hibiki, as they ask him what he plans to do about the situation now. In response, Hibiki tells them that it’s natural to be uneasy and he himself can’t accept this sudden tax implementation either. However, this is a place to enjoy one’s meals and not to debate about policies. He promises to address this another time, and to forget about it for now and to enjoy a moment of easiness here. Everyone agrees, and Hibiki sits next to Satoya, who comments that they’re even together during break times. As Megumi greets Hibiki, she recalls the previous night and feels embarrassed. Both of them place their order, and Megumi serves them mitarashi dango and lemonade respectively. Satoya notes that Hibiki really loves dango, and wonders if that’s the reason why he’s staying at a dango shop. Satoya gets taken aback when Hibiki agrees, only for Hibiki to later say that it’s a lie for he merely enjoys teasing Satoya for his reactions. Hibiki explains to Megumi that the shop owner took him in after the disaster seeing that he had no place to go. He’s grateful to the owner for giving him a place to belong to. Hibiki notices Megumi’s change in expression at his words, and tells her that he’ll do what he can if she approaches him so there’s no need to make such a lonely face. Megumi thanks him in a small voice. Satoya deliberately clears his throat loudly, which makes Megumi wonder if the lemonade didn’t suit him. This makes him flustered, as he denies this and remarks that it was delicious enough to make his heart stop lol. That’s troubling in another way though.
Megumi notices that Hibiki is merely staring at the dango, and he remarks that it would be better if the sauce was thicker and stickier. He quickly apologises though, as he explains that eating this made him recall his childhood. Satoya points out that he can return to his home to eat it, to which Hibiki agrees. He asks for some tea and another plate of dango though as it’s the most delicious one he’s had. Megumi goes to prepare it, and recalls Hibiki’s comment. She decides not to remake it, since this must have been good enough for him to order another plate. Seeing Hibiki eat them, Satoya ends up ordering a plate for himself too.
Appearances and sounding each other out
After making another plate, Megumi returns to the counter and Nozomu calls out to her. He notes that it’s especially crowded today, especially the counter area. So she leads him to a private room. After she serves Satoya, she notes something different but Satoya merely avers his gaze. She decides not to pursue further even though she’s curious and returns to take Nozomu’s order, who asks for his usual as he deliberately touches her hand. Knowing that it’s his usual jest, Megumi politely takes a step back as she smiles. Nozomu notes this, though that’s also what makes him like her. Satoya stands up at this, only to be interrupted by Hibiki who invites himself to Nozomu’s table. Hibiki asks Satoya to come over too, adding that it’s good to talk with other customers too. As Megumi returns to her work, they introduce each other and Hibiki confirms with Nozomu that he’s friends with Wataru. Nozomu also takes this chance to clear his queries with Hibiki, such as the reason why he remains in this town even after helping them to recover from the disaster. Hibiki replies that it’s a bit early to judge that he has no duty or obligation to this town, which makes Nozomu ask if he has an obligation to return anything to this town. Hibiki observes that their definitions appear to be slightly different – Nozomu’s is about returning the gratitude you receive from other people. In that case, he has no obligation to this town. But Hibiki’s definition is about fulfilling his own obligations (as according to Confucianism). He simply thinks that there’s something he can still do for this town.
Nozomu feels as though he avoided the question but shrugs at it. Hibiki asks if he’s interested in Koukaseinendan, to which Nozomu agrees, in a way. He then asks about the costs of their activities. Hibiki replies that it’s basically free for they don’t ask for contributions. But thanks to the people’s generousity, they are able to use facilities for free. In the case they need any expenses, the members themselves earn the money from their core job and they collect what they can to use. Nozomu asks what Hibiki does, and Hibiki replies that he doesn’t do anything. He has but little savings, but he can’t feed everyone with just that. Nozomu remarks that in other words, he’s merely depending on other people’s kindness to live. When Hibiki admits this, Nozomu merely laughs. Satoya can’t help but interrupt at this point, as even though Hibiki might not mind this he thinks that Nozomu’s attitude is a problem. Like how he touched Megumi’s hand earlier on. He doesn’t think that it’s appropriate for a man to casually touch a woman who can’t resist. Nozomu casually apologises and observes that Satoya’s the type to side with women. But to him, Satoya’s words seem to stem from hypocrisy and arrogance as he couldn’t touch Megumi. When Satoya remains silent, Nozomu sees that his words were right.
Just then, Hibiki laughs which surprises the two of them. Hibiki remarks that they’re getting along and asks if Nozomu is interested in joining them. Nozomu doesn’t like the idea of working under him though. Hibiki finds that regrettable, though he thinks that it’s better than Nozomu’s current situation. Hibiki decides to stop here as causing a ruckus here will only trouble Megumi. He orders another plate of dango for Nozomu. Later, Satoya offers to get the tea kettle for Hibiki – but just then it slips from Hibiki’s hand. Alarmed, Megumi quickly gets a cloth to wipe off Satoya, and Hibiki. She lightly refuses any compensation from Hibiki, and Satoya goes to clear up the mess. At the same time, Megumi notices that Nozomu appears different from usual as he’s looking elsewhere. Satoya asks if Nozomu’s hurt, which surprises him. Hibiki also apologises for interrupting his time. Nozomu notes that it’s to be expected of the town’s hero, to worry about everyone. Satoya observes that he’s a rather twisted person, and adds that it’s natural for them to worry. For a moment, Nozomu’s cold gaze turns into a weak one. After paying, both Hibiki and Satoya take their leave. Megumi hears Nozomu muttering that one can say anything as a front. She thinks that perhaps Nozomu find them too bright.
The next morning, Megumi goes shopping at Shoutengai but sees that the prices have increased everywhere – even for craftwork which doesn’t appear to have any relation with water. She sees the people from Onsengai andKaryuugai complaining about the prices, but the store owner merely tells them not to buy if they’re unhappy. They get madder instead as if it weren’t for the Dokusenkounyuuken (policy) they wouldn’t be able to survive in the first place. Satoya shows up to calm everyone down as everyone is facing the same tight situation with the tax implementation now. The store owner agrees, and tells them to raise their prices too. But it’s not so simple for them as raising prices will only drive more tourists away. Hibiki soon appears to tells everyone to quieten down. If they fight here there won’t be any solution and only more chaos. What everyone needs to do is to come and discuss together. There’s no choice but to endure with the situation for now, as they seek for a solution. As of now, most of their goods are imported. Hibiki is thinking of revising the Dokusenkounyuuken. It only worked best when the economy and tourist industry was doing well but that’s not the case anymore. Personally, he’s also concerned about the extremely low self-sufficiency rate of this town. Seeing that this involves everyone, he plans to hold a meeting at a more appropriate another time.
Satoya repeats Hibiki’s words, and tells everyone to solve this together. It’s dangerous now to be too uneasy, so they should try to act without panicking. Thanks to them, the tension eases up. Just then, both of them spot Megumi. and note that it must be hard on her. Megumi wonders to herself as to why they can worry about other people. Satoya asks if she’ll raise her store prices too, and truth be told she hasn’t thought about this before. That’s most probably the case though. Hibiki tells her to come to them if she ever has any troubles – adding that this was what Satoya wanted to say to her. Satoya gets embarrassed, but Hibiki soon makes his leave before the former can say anything else. Satoya bids farewell to Megumi, before leaving too.
Swaying in the threshold
Megumi returns to the store. She bought her usual groceries, and it cost her way more than expected. She certainly can’t continue this way. For a food business like hers, the water services taxes and increased store prices now are a matter of life and death for her. She can buy at Beniichi, but not fresh produces as they can’t keep for long. Megumi is also unwilling to increase her prices, as that means changing Hotaru’s ideal. At a loss, Megumi stops cleaning and sits down and buries her head on the table. Hibiki and co. are working hard to gain back their daily lives. And she wishes for those unchanging days. But unlike her, they’re walking in the sun, heading forward and actively interacting with others. Right now, she’s struggling with the wave called “change”, and swaying in a small boat. She has no clue as to where the boat is heading for – will it go with the flow to an unknown destination, or will she take out the oars to row against the tide.
Dissolve in the ointment
During the evening, Hibiki drops by the store and sits nears the kitchen, as he can see her well from this seat. He observes that he’s the only customer, as Megumi explains that there weren’t many customers today. Silence follows and Megumi asks after Satoya to break it. Apparently he’s out running an errand. Hibiki orders mitarashi dango, and notices that the prices are the same as before. Megumi explains that she decided to do so after much thought. Everyone is in a difficult situation, so when thinking about what she could do she recalled Hotaru, and how she’d probably not change the prices as the customers come first. Hibiki smiles at her words, remarking how she’s pretty brave for a young woman. Megumi likes this slight smile of his, for some reason it makes her feel at ease. Realising her own thoughts, Megumi quickly goes to prepare his order. Feeling his gaze from behind, she works more cautiously than usual. She serves him cold tea alongside his order, saying that it’s a favour for his patronage – though he’s only visited a few times. As Hibiki eats, the sun sets and dyes the store in red – including Hibiki’s bandage. Megumi can’t help but wonder about the true figure behind it. Hibiki feels her gaze, and knows that it’s only natural for people to be curious.
He then asks for her hand, as he takes out a small can of ointment and runs it on her hand. He got this from the doctor he mentioned before, and apparently this ointment is effective for rough hands. Hibiki can somewhat understand her feelings, not that he should compare a young woman to a man like himself. Megumi wonders if he’s referring to the hidden side of his face. After he’s done, he gives her the can and tells her to use it regularly. He refuses to have her repay him, and says that it’s thanks for the cold tea. As usual, Megumi tends to be stubborn till she offers to treat him for the dango in return. She asks if he came to give this, but Hibiki replies that it was to eat dango. Silence falls upon them, till Hibiki reaches out for her hair and asks about the hair ornament. Megumi catches a whiff of the smell of herbs from his hands. People feel differently about this unique smell but for her now, she quite likes it. She naturally closes her eyes and remains still, before opening them when Hibiki gasps and retracts his hand. He dismisses it as he drains the rest of his tea and gets up to leave. Megumi sees him out, and they both observe that the moon hasn’t risen yet. It appears as though they both understand each other well.
Out of the blue, Hibiki foresees that this town will fall into further confusion as the financial difficulties worsen. Personally, he thinks that just as Fukami said the water service taxes are necessary. But that alone won’t solve the problem, and they should refer to other system improvements and reductions. If they refuse to do so, they can only endure the poverty as they did in the past, and aim for self-sufficiency. They have to do one or the other, but the residents refuse to choose either one. They’re being selfish. That’s how he thinks while standing before them. It’s difficult to change a way of living. Once they’ve learnt the convenience and luxury of the current one, laziness grows too. The people here are not looking at reality. They’re birds with clipped wings trapped in a narrow cage, knowing nothing of the outside world. His way of thinking is not much different from Fukami’s, but even so would she still believe in him? Megumi replies that she does, and after a brief silence Hibiki excuses himself and leaves.
That night, Megumi applies the ointment on her hands. She feels as though she’s come into contact with Hibiki’s past, ever so slightly – hiding his burdens and troubles. She has to live with sparse feelings, that’s why all along she doesn’t involve herself with other people. She’s decided that, yet she can’t help but be interested in Hibiki. And his previous words to her sound as though he knows the future. Megumi takes out the hair ornament, and it shines under the moonlight. As she touches her own hair, she thinks to herself that he probably doesn’t know that she keeps it carefully like this – taking it out to wear it when she’s alone. She’s filled with anxiety, but upon seeing the ornament she feels a bit calmer. Megumi shuts her eyes and thinks about what’s at hand. She still has to open the store tomorrow. Though she doesn’t know what will happen from now on, she can only do what she can do now.
It’s been some days since the implementation of the water service tax. As always, its effects are significant and the prices of the goods remain high. There’s less people patronising Shoutengai, but in comparison Megumi’s store is the busiest it’s ever been. Everyone probably heard that her prices haven’t changed – apparently the dango store Hibiki resides in hasn’t either. Megumi’s been so busy that she hardly goes out so she can’t observe the town’s situation, though she can easily hear about it through the customers’ conversations. When asked about her situation, Megumi admits that it’s hard but she’s like to keep the prices the same if it can give them some form of peace. She thinks that Hotaru would’ve done the same. That night, Megumi calculates today’s profits but as expected things won’t go as smoothly as she’s clearly making a loss. No matter what, the more she sells the bigger the loss. She closes her eyes and lies down to rest for a short while. In the end, she chose to protect the store’s ideal but each time she’s faced with the reality she hesitates. Megumi shakes her head to rid those thoughts. Just then, Mamoru enters asking if she saw his fountain pen and she sits up.
Megumi: Brother, you’re a reporter right?
Mamoru: ……has dementia finally hit you? That’s right! My job is a newspaper reporter, do you know my name!? It’s Ooigawa Mamoru? Ma. Mo. Ru!!
Megumi quickly clears up the misunderstanding, as she merely wanted to know the situation now since he’s a reporter. He sits down beside her and tells her to read the newspaper if she wants to know. As a reporter they’ve a duty to confidentiality so he can’t leak out anything, even to Megumi. He knows that she’s uneasy and smiles at her. It just so happens to be the issue day tomorrow so he asks her to buy a copy and contribute to the sales. Megumi nods and Mamoru returns to the topic of his fountain pen.
The moonlight which gives rise to tranquility
The next morning, Megumi goes to buy the newspaper but it’s all sold out – even those on rent are all out at the moment. Just then, Ayame approaches her and reads out the headlines to her: An unprecedented economic crisis has suddenly attacked Koukashi. Tossed by the rapids what will happen to Koukashi now? Due to the water service taxes, the increased price of goods and related facilities, some people aren’t making any profit and are considering folding up. Well, one can guess as much by observing the town. Ayame gives Megumi the newspapers to read, and asks about her store. Megumi explains that she wants to stick to the store’s ideal. Previously, Koukaseinendan also said that everyone needs to come together and not fight – being stirred unnecessarily by the uneasiness is the most dangerous. Megumi agrees, for if Shoutengai panics and prioritises its own profit, then everyone else will panic too. They have the Dokusenkounyuuken so all those imported goods shouldn’t have any effect from the water service taxes. By right, the prices shouldn’t change that much. Everyone is connected and dependent on each other. There’s no helping it with the new tax, it’s their punishment for being so extravagant till now. But if they panic, then they wouldn’t know what’s the right solution anymore.
Ayame sees that she’s not just thinking about herself. She’s sure that Hibiki and Satoya would be saved by that her. Recently, Shoutengai has been complaining more to Koukaseinendan despite the latter explaining things to them simply. Yet they refuse to listen. She’s sure that they’d be encouraged to see the likes of Megumi working hard instead of raising her prices despite the tough situation. Megumi remarks that she’s merely going with Hotaru’s ideal, but Ayame point out that the current owner is still her – she choose to continue Hotaru’s ideal. She won’t ask Megumi to become the sun. The sun shines on everything strongly and everyone admires it for they can’t live without it. Not everyone can become the sun, only people like Hibiki and Satoya who can release that strong light. So Megumi can become the moon instead. It’s not as bright, but it’s a gentle light. People can gaze at it without squinting, and it lights up the pathway at night. There are unexpectedly many existences which need such a moon.
After parting ways with Ayame, Megumi somehow ends up before the dango store where Hibiki stays at. She wonders why she came here – to see who? The store owner recognises her, and comments on how it’s rare for her to come by – unlike Mamoru who regularly visits. He asks if she’s here to run an errand for Mamoru, and Megumi replies that she is even though that’s not the case. The store owner’s wife appears with freshly-made dango, and praises Megumi’s pretty looks. As Megumi pays for them, she notices that their prices remain unchanged as the rumours said. The store owner admits that the more they sell, the greater their loss. He knows that she must be facing the same situation with her sales. Despite his words, Megumi observes that he’s still smiling. Being in the same situation, she feels that she doesn’t have enough resolution. The store owner gives her some freshly-made mochi with anko for free, and Megumi feels a sense of nostalgia as she eats them. She recalls that Hotaru would often buy this for her and Mamoru when they were young, and wonders why she forgot all about it. It’s a taste which hasn’t changed since then. Just then, she recalls Hibiki’s similar words about her dango, and tells the store owner this. The store owner heard this from Hibiki too, and Megumi adds that it reminded Hibiki of his home village. At the mention of this, the store owner’s face darkens as he remarks that HIbiki hardly says anything about himself. Megumi decides not to pursue this question, and they ask her if she’s here to see Hibiki. Flustered, Megumi answers that she merely came here by chance, which contradicts her earlier words and she gets embarrassed.
She hears that Hibiki has been out since this morning, and how he’s been working everyday without much rest. They’ve been appealing to the mayor with the signatures they collected, but the mayor refuses to accept this case and in the end overturns it. The store owner remarks that everyone should be cooperating here. He’s aware that everyone is troubled by the situation, but increasing the prices without any advance notice just creates more chaos among the customers. Hibiki and the rest have been asking around and giving out flyers, but no one is really listening to their words. Everyone has their own livelihood, and no one is willing to sacrifice himself/herself in order to save others. The store owner’s wife interrupts him and he realises his own words, and apologises for running his mouth off. Megumi takes her leave.
After the last customer leaves, Megumi goes to close the store. As she sees the moon hanging in the sky, and recalls Ayame telling her to become one. She doesn’t know the true meaning of those words. She likes the moon, but doesn’t think that she has the capabilities to do as Ayame said. Outside, she hears a familiar voice – it’s Satoya, going around asking people for their cooperation. Megumi calls out to him, and It’s not long before he passes her a piece of paper. Koukaseinendan will be holding a meeting for Shoutengai this weekend on the day of Beniichi to talk about the current situation and gather their opinions. To overcome this crisis, they need everyone. Megumi agrees to come, and Satoya thanks her as he feels somewhat relieved to see her. Recently he’s been feeling tired but he has to continue working hard. Seeing that he’s still carrying a bundle of papers, Megumi recalls Ayame’s words and thinks that he must be having a hard time. Satoya takes his leave as he returns to work. At night, Megumi reads the paper: the meeting is to be held the day after tomorrow at the central plaza in the evening, to discuss the situation now and to request to revise Dokusenkounyuuken. Mamoru enters and apparently he received the notice too. When he hears that Megumi’s planning to go, he remarks that it’s rare for her. Recently, she’s more interested in her surroundings and more proactive. Megumi replies that it concerns their lives after all. She recalls Satoya’s words to him too. That’s why she isn’t increasing her prices. She’s sure other stores have their own situation too, that’s why they need to talk it out. Though this meeting may not dramatically change the situation, but she believes that it’s a trigger.
A transient and fragile thing
It’s the day of Beniichi. Megumi heads to the harbour and there’s a lot more people than usual – people fromKaryuugai and Onsengai have come to observe too. As Megumi goes to line up, it’s observed that there are more police than usual. A government official whispers something to the police, before they disperse and the official addresses the people. He announces that Beniichi won’t open today. But that doesn’t mean the wholesale itself won’t be held. From today, a restriction will be implicated on the buying of goods. The government funds are at its limit, so they need to decrease the amount of imports. As a result, they need to systematically sell the goods so as to adjust the supply and demand as accordingly. It was decided in a hurry and they were only informed of this by the mayor yesterday, who is currently away. Naturally this creates a stir as the people start to blame the government. When things get worse, the police step in to protect the official who remarks that the people only use them when it’s convenient only to blame them later. Megumi’s knocked by the crowd and Hibiki supports her. He and the rest of Koukaseinendan go to ask the official about the situation. After understanding how it is, Hibiki points out that it’s almost impossible to predict and adjust the supply and demand. If they don’t handle it well, not everyone may have food to eat. And by right, they should seek everyone’s understanding first and hold a briefing session before passing it. With little explanation and no figures, naturally the people will disapprove. He’s aware that the government is in a dire situation, and that if they don’t deal with it quickly it won’t improve. But it’s ‘cos the people exist, the town does too – not the other way around. In order to rebuild the town, everyone is needed and doing this will only lose their trust which makes things worse. But Hibiki also apologises for seemingly blaming him, for the official is a citizen too, before he is an official. His strength is needed too, and so Hibiki asks for another representative to talk to if the mayor isn’t present.
A silence proceeds, as everyone waits for the official’s answer. But Fukami interrupts the scene. As he and Hibiki debate, Fukami eventually brings up the garrison proposal as the easiest and speediest solution. He remarks that if they accept it, everything will be back to as it were before. Hibiki doesn’t buy it though for no tourist will want to visit a place which can become a battlefield anytime. Plus a garrison will require lots of land. This island itself is mostly made up of mountains, and all other land is already taken up. Fukami agrees and shrugs at this, for the world isn’t always that kind. He then asks how many approved of the garrison proposal at first, as he implies that many of them did before they sought Hibiki’s opinion – which was disapproval. But did they wonder why Hibiki knew so much? They never suspected anything for he saved them before and he remained behind for selfless reasons. However, wasn’t Hibiki indirectly leading the people to oppose it by only mentioning the cons and nothing of the merits of the grant? He was once a soldier, and there were rumours that he held a grudge against the army, so Hibiki was instigating the people to oppose for personal reasons. Hibiki calmly tries to deny this, but Fukami cuts him and says that Hibiki caused this whole situation. As expected, the crowd stirs and Megumi can’t tell what Hibiki is thinking from his expression. The uneasiness and suspicion spreads everywhere, including Megumi herself. It’s a detestable atmosphere. But she’s merely a proprietress and can’t do anything but watch on. She can’t help but feel irritated at herself.
Tired, Megumi collapses upon reaching home. It’s just as Hibiki previously said. Amidst all the chaos, there’s no telling what will happen, or what they should do. It’s like walking down a path with no lights along the way. She didn’t think that Hibiki was once a soldier, thinking about it she knows nothing about him. Just then, she hears a voice outside. It turns out to be the wife of the owner who runs the milk store. She informs Megumi that Shoutengai is holding an urgent meeting this evening. Megumi realises that this clashes with Koukaseinendan‘s meeting, but the woman says that there’s no way they’ll go for that. There’s rumours thatKoukaseinendan conspired with Fukami to have the mayor pass the restriction, as Shoutengai weren’t cooperating. To be honest, perhaps Fukami is better as if Shoutengai is going to be destroyed at least it’s better to have the garrison. After she leaves, Megumi is left to think about what to do. In the meeting, the Shoutengai people will probably blame Koukaseinendan. It’s cruel to think that, when they’ve done so much for them till today. Yet they don’t see how hard they’re working now. Concerning the Dokusenkounyuuken, it’s not as if they want to endanger Shoutengai. It’s ‘cos they don’t want to drag Karyuugai and Onsengai deeper in the chaos. This isn’t just Shoutengai‘s problem, but Koukashi‘s problem.
The town swirling in negativity
In the end, Megumi heads to the central plaza where she sees Hibiki and Satoya onstage. But there’s no one else besides her, it’s the first time such a thing has happened. Megumi informs them that Shoutengai is having a meeting now, explaining what they’re planning to discuss – including the fact that they may very well further increase the prices. After hearing this, Hibiki advises her to go there instead. If they see her here, they’ll likely to focus their complaints onto her instead. But Megumi came here well-aware of this. She’s been watching the situation as a store owner all this time, and has come to know a lot from this incident. It’s embarrassing for her to admit but Megumi didn’t understand much of the town’s situation before. Every time she heard about the financial difficulties, she would take it as a third person’s matter and never thought that it’ll occur to her. Many other residents probably thought the same too – till now. But they weren’t able to successfully address it and the whole town is in a tense atmosphere now. As Satoya said before, everyone needs to get a hold of what he/she should do in order to overcome this problem. So Megumi thought that coming to this meeting would be the trigger to deal with this situation. She has a duty to fulfill, to protect the store. So she needs to know all these things, it won’t help just to watch everything from the sidelines. Though she doesn’t have much power, she wants to do whatever is within her limits. Hibiki recognises that Megumi has come to a resolution.
While he understands the situation now, it doesn’t mean that they can intercept the Shoutengai meeting either to reach a resolution. They’re in greater confusion than before, and won’t lend a listening ear at all. Like she said, it’s highly likely that they’ll just raise the prices further tomorrow. But that’s not the right solution, for money won’t flow in just like that. In this situation, it’ll only lead to some people buying up all the goods, and also others being reluctant to sell (especially the necessities such as rice etc.). To be honest, it’s eventually due to the prioritisation of the tourist industry and the lack of nurturing of other industries. Hibiki asks what Megumi will do, as it doesn’t look like she can avoid not increasing her prices. Just then, other Koukaseinendan members come rushing here as the Shoutengai people are behind them, storming towards Hibiki. Hibiki has Satoya take Megumi away, and they hide behind the stage. Satoya apologises as he covers her mouth, while they hear the people demanding for an explanation. Hibiki didn’t mean to deceive anyone, but still he apologises. Once again, he tries to explain that there’s no figures or quotations regarding the grant in return for the garrison. There’s a lot of unclear details so it’s not too late to at least wait for those figures. But the people refuse to believe him, accusing him of opposing for he has a grudge with the army – returning their favour with ill intention. Megumi feels a mixture of disappointment and sadness. Just a while ago they were full of praise and admiration for Hibiki, yet all that has changed now.
Satoya tells Megumi to dash for it once he lets her go. Right now everyone is focused on Hibiki so she should escape now. If they spot her there’s no telling what will happen. Megumi nods, knowing that she’ll only be dragging them back if she remains here. Satoya is relieved that she understands and after letting her go, he apologises for treating her this way. Megumi quickly dashes off.
Megumi escapes to the quiet roads, but stumbles and falls to her feet. She remains there, as she feels the shame of escaping more so than the pain of her fall. Even if she couldn’t do anything, she should’ve remained there to at least watch over them, and help if she can. In the end, she neither sided with Shoutengai, or Koukaseinendan. And she keeps escaping from all that’s unfavourable. How different is she from her mother who forgot about her then? As Megumi tries to calm herself down, Wataru and Nozomu spot her. Wataru helps her up, and Nozomu sees that her hand is hurt. But Nozomu grips her wrist tightly, as he coldly questions if it hurts. Megumi tears up, but rather than the physical pain it’s her heart which hurts more – and they must be in much more pain than her. Nozomu guesses that she’s crying for his sake, as he’s aware that she went to the central plaza and saw that scene. Megumi confirms this, as she explains everything. Wataru thought that they were admired by the people, but Nozomu remarks that that’s how it is. When it’s all good, they cheer and flatter you. When it’s all bad, they turn their back on you. But of course, they are part of those people too, vulgar and diminutive existences. It’s the first time Megumi has heard Nozomu speak so strongly, it’s almost overwhelming.
Nozomu notes that Megumi is no longer the same as before, and no longer to his liking which is disappointing. She was once a more fleeting existence but is now completely influenced by them. She probably didn’t increase her store prices ‘cos of them. Megumi denies this immediately, saying that she did so as she respected Hotaru’s ideal. Nozomu remains unconvinced. Though she calls them bright existences, in the end she needs them the most. In that case, she should hurry over to their side instead of being here. Wataru tells Nozomu not to hurt Megumi anymore, though it takes a stronger reminder to get Nozomu to stop. Wataru apologises, for as a soldier he feels bad that the Koukaseinendan is doing what they should be doing. But Megumi doesn’t think that of Wataru.
END: Covered by dark clouds……
>> If she decides to not return to the central plaza, she rejects Wataru’s offer to see her home so as to not trouble them. It’s a clear expression of rejection and may come off as rude, but Megumi wants to be alone for now. As if noting her intentions, Wataru doesn’t insist and so they part ways. She tells herself that it’s fine this way. She chose not to involve deeply with anyone after all. If she does so, she’ll just get hurt and hurt others. She’s made a mistake recently. Megumi stops and sees the moon hidden by the clouds. After that, that person, Koukaseinendan, Wataru and Nozomu never appeared in her store. She never met them again. She couldn’t see through the store’s ideal due to the pressure from others, and had no choice but to change her prices. Thanks to that, there’s been a decrease of customers. As always, dark clouds gather in Koukashi, and before her. She wonders when the clouds will clear, and laments on how she only watches from the sidelines.
>> If she decides to return to the central plaza. Nozomu’s words made her recall many things, so she wants to return to their side. She doesn’t know what she can do but if she returns like this she’ll regret for sure. Seeing her resolution, Wataru decides not to stop her but Nozomu remains silent. Megumi realises that Nozomu must have seen through her hidden feelings which she has been keeping a lid on. She’s been pretending not to notice them. They part ways and as she dashes back, her feet no longer hurt for some reason. She notices that it’s bright thanks to the moon shining down.
The hero drenched in blood
Megumi returns and sees that only Koukaseinendan remains, as well as a hurt Hibiki, who’s bleeding from his head. Alarmed, Megumi quickly offers to treat him at her place, but Hibiki refuses. Instead, he’s worried about Megumi for the people won’t let her off if they see her with them. Seeing the blood running down his face, his concern makes her heart ache. Megumi replies that she doesn’t mind. Observing from the side, Satoya abruptly tells Megumi to look after Hibiki. She notices that Satoya is wearing a lonely smile. Hibiki protests at first, but Satoya talks him down, saying that he can’t do anything more today anyway. They’re no longer being trusted so no one will listen. Hibiki answers that he plans to come up with a plan against that and that his injury isn’t anything serious, wiping the blood with his sleeve. Both of them are taken aback, with Satoya complaining how much it takes to wash away blood. Moreover, he’s a figure who stands before people and so he wished Hibiki would pay more attention to how he acts. As Satoya gets irritated, a member interrupts and Satoya snaps back to himself as he glances over to Megumi. Clearing his throat, Satoya pushes Hibiki away to get treated, adding how Megumi risked herself coming here. The other members agree, and Satoya remarks that they no longer just rely on Hibiki alone and he should trust them. Left with nothing else to say, Hibiki agrees and they watch out for them as they head to Megumi’s place.
A story of a small village
There, Megumi treats Hibiki’s injuries but he also asks about her injured foot. She reassures him that she’s fine, and as she cleans him up she offers to change his bandages. Hibiki refuses, as he adds that he’s always being taken care of by her. He learns from her that Mamoru isn’t around, and asks if she’s alright being all alone at such late hours – what happens if Mamoru happens to leave the island for a while? Megumi replies that it’s fine, as she gets along with everyone else. Hibiki leaves it at that, but knows that if Satoya knew he wouldn’t leave things be. He’s a feminist overflowing with feminism spirit. Megumi isn’t familiar with these terms, and so Hibiki explains that in this case it’s someone who praises and admires females – but it’s actually a misinterpretation. Originally, it referred to those who advocated for women’s rights and liberation. If we take the meaning of recognising women as independent and self-reliant, perhaps it’s Mamoru who has the feminism spirit seeing how he believes in Megumi and leaves it all up to her. But of course seeing how the red-light district still remains in Koukashi, equal rights for both genders is still a distant future here. In comparison, movements such as the liberation of women, against sexual discrimination etc. is at its heat in the city. Megumi is once again impressed by how learned he is, but Hibiki remarks that only she would say such a thing. Others would just be dissatisfied that he’s talking too much and not getting to the point. When asked how he learned all this, Hibiki replies that most of it was from books. Though he was once a soldier, that didn’t mean that he didn’t like reading.
Megumi though, doesn’t read much, and he remarks that it does appear hard to get a hold of books here. But upon hearing that she hardly reads the newspapers too, he remarks that it’s a waste for her brother writes really brilliant articles, such as commentary in a humorous manner. Megumi invites him to stay on a bit, thinking that he could talk to Mamoru when he returns. Hibiki is interested, but has to reject for he doesn’t have the luxury of time for it. Megumi feels ashamed of herself, and Hibiki tells her not to look so down. The future is in uncertainty, but he’s sure that she can overcome it. He smiles, but she observes that it’s not his usual smile, but a fake one made to show concern. Still, he didn’t think that she would return, and Megumi replies that she didn’t expect his state either. Her vision starts to blur with tears, and tries to hold them. Hibiki tells her not to cry, for he can’t wipe her tears and apologises. Before realising, Megumi is holding onto him but she can’t jump into his arms. Hibiki removes her hands, and remarks that he feels a sense of nostalgia when he sees her. He asks if she’ll listen to a story, hoping to provide some comfort to her.
There was once a young woman in a small village in the south. Her parents passed away early, and she lived frugally with her older brother. The village had nothing that the city had – no entertainment, or educational facilities. No matter how much one wanted to learn, there was no time to have dreams. One could only work at the fields and live day to day – that was the fate. One summer, a young man came to the village. He was the son of a narikin, and came to beat the summer heat in a vacation house nearby. Bored of the village which had nothing, the man fell in love at first sight with the woman. He would visit her, and she was happy to receive rare things one could only get in the city. The man loved seeing her delighted smile each time. They became close, and enjoyed their short summer together. Upon having to return when summer ended, they promised each other to exchange letters. In autumn, the woman received his letter along with a hair ornament. She kept it well, and made pressed seasonal flower bookmarks for him in return. When next summer came, she wore the hair ornament he got her, and saw the man holding a book with her bookmark. This continued as they matured through the years. Their feelings for each other was clear as day but with their status difference, their relationship didn’t only receive blessings.
Hibiki ends the story here for now, and promises to continue it next time. Megumi feels happy that she can meet him again. Hibiki notes that her tears have dried up, as he remarks that he doesn’t like to see a woman cry. Megumi then recalls something, and returns with her father’s clothes for Hibiki to change into since his current one is dirty. Hibiki eventually changes into them, and in the meantime Megumi takes out a head-cloth for him. Outside, she sees a Koukaseinendan member waiting and signals for him to go to the garden. Back inside, she gives Hibiki the cloth and he leaves with the member from the garden. The moon was shining brightly just now, but now it’s hidden by the clouds. For the first time, she hopes for it to remain behind the clouds for a while longer. Afterwards, she patrols the nearby area but there’s no one in sight. She stops and eases herself, and sees that the moon is out again. She wonders if Hibiki is safe. She’s embarrassed that she troubled him, and tries to calm herself down. But there’s no time for this now, there’s still tomorrow to come. Yet the thought of Hibiki won’t leave her mind.
Megumi returns home and is shocked when Mamoru welcomes her back. He informs her that he went for the meeting in her place, as on his way home he met the woman who was looking for Megumi. Megumi feels apologetic, but he tells her not to for they’re family. In the meeting, the Shoutengai president decided to have everyone raise their prices by 20%. This is to prevent customers from only patronising stores which didn’t raise their prices, especially food stores. He asks Megumi what she plans to do, but to be honest she’s unsure. It’s her store though, so he tells her to decide for herself. But Megumi sees that he was originally supposed to inherit the store, yet he left it up to her and she did as she wanted. She feels uneasy about her choice though she knows that she has to take responsibility. She has a duty to fulfill Hotaru’s ideal. She shakes away the mix of feelings, and tells herself that she can only do what she can do for now. Megumi asks if he went to the central plaza too then, and Mamoru confirms so but wonders why she knows of this. When she looks down, he appears to understand everything. Mamoru then informs her that he’ll be going to the mainland for work the day after tomorrow for about a week. It’s not rare for him to stay out for work, but it is for him to go to the mainland, and for such a long period. Megumi then realises that she has yet to prepare dinner, but Mamoru says that he isn’t hungry so she decides to prepare something light instead later. After a brief silence, Megumi asks him what was it like at the central plaza. Mamoru’s surprised, for Megumi never involved herself with others before. He recalls that at first they tried to discuss about what to do, but they came to no conclusion. A ruckus grew when they started to blame Hibiki, even when people reasoned otherwise at first. Everyone got swept away by this wave of emotions, and in the end they went to confront Hibiki – as an outsider he was an unrelated existence from the start. They threw a lot of insults and some even threw stones at him. It was a cruel sight. Megumi holds back her next words, and so Mamoru disappears to continue his work. She doesn’t know why Mamoru didn’t ask why she was there, but she’s relieved and secretly thanks him.
The one who inherits the store
The next morning, Megumi wonders how Hibiki is and heads outside. At Shoutengai, she sees how some stores are closed while others are opened but are hardly selling anything – and with an additional 20% price tag. People from Karyuugai and Onsengai are also arguing with them. It’s just as Hibiki said. Megumi heads to the dango store, but is surprised to see that it’s closed. The store owner appears from the back, checking that no one is around before approaching her. When asked about Hibiki, the store owner gets carried away as he expresses his frustration and disbelief at how they treated Hibiki last night. But to be honest, Hibiki didn’t return yesterday and he has no idea where he is now. This morning, he did send a letter saying that he won’t return for a while and telling them not to worry. He probably didn’t want to trouble them, but the store owner doesn’t think that the residents would go so far as to harass his store. He’s relieved to hear that Megumi’s place is alright too. As she can see, they closed the store due to the situation, and his aging body. At first there was some resistance since the store has to end in his generation, but recently he’s come to think that it’s alright to close it. In the first place, there was no one to carry it on. His only daughter married off to someone at the mainland. This island has changed quite a bit from the past, it’s probably the change of times as things got quieter and it just so happens that the store ends in his hands. Even if he made his son-in-law inherit it, if his grandchild don’t want to it’ll just be the same problem again. He doesn’t want to continue it to the point of burdening the next generation. He praises Megumi hearing that she still hasn’t altered her prices. His words pierce Megumi’s heart deeply.
Breakdown and collapse, isolation
The next day, Megumi prepares the store. She couldn’t sleep last night as a lot of thoughts kept running through her head. Fukami planted a seed of uneasiness, and in a flash that has created a deep gutter between the people andKoukaseinendan. Now, they probably can’t show up as easily in Shoutengai if not the tragedy from yesterday will repeat. All she can do is wait for now, and to face her own situation. She stares at her store’s menu. The store will collapse at this rate, and what the meeting decides is absolute. After making her decision, Megumi goes to find the president as she tells him that she’d like to leave her store prices as they are. Hearing this, the president goes to talk about this in a quieter location. Megumi explains about the store’s ideal, but the president misunderstands this as her being selfish (to get all the customers). But Megumi thinks that while they can’t live as luxurious as before, if they increase the prices it’ll only cause more chaos. The president remarks that a certain man said the same thing, and tells Megumi to do what she wants. However, this doesn’t mean that she’s being forgiven. From now on no matter what happens to her, Shoutengai won’t help her for she betrayed them. Megumi was well-aware of this happening. So he bitterly tells her to not appear before him again, and there’s no need for her to show up in future meetings. Megumi thanks him for all this time, before leaving.
Fumbling for your way of living
In the end, Megumi chose the store’s ideal over its survival. Her store is busier as ever. When she told Mamoru of her choice, he saw no problem. He doesn’t understand why she’s apologetic. Megumi knows that she’s the one to decide, but her decision may cause the store to collapse. Mamoru remarks that even though they’re not blood-related, originally he was supposed to inherit the store. If it weren’t for her, the store would’ve long closed down. To be honest, he feels thankful to her. He could choose to pursue his dream and do what he likes, so there’s no way he’ll complain about her choice. This store is hers so what she decides is correct, at least that’s how he thinks. After receiving those words and resolving herself, Megumi opened the store with a new constraint. In order to minimise spending, she’ll make use of what’s in stock and avoid going out to shop. What she bought at the previous Beniichi, is the last she has. While she’s prepared for the store to make a loss, she also wants to continue this store for as long as possible. As such, she had to removed a section of the menu she could offer. In other end, the customers’ response was better than expected though it’s probably ‘cos her prices are the same. Still, Megumi remains uneasy for what’s left in stock won’t last forever. And while the Shoutengai people hasn’t said anything, the quietness is intimidating too. But she feels fulfilled to be able to satisfy the customers who still patronise her store.
She wonders how Hibiki and Satoya are, for she hasn’t met them since that day and none of the customers talk about them. At the counter, Nozomu remarks that he liked her listlessness look when she’s thinking . But she’s different now which is regrettable. That night, Nozomu was disappointed in her and told her off, yet he still continues to visit the store. He says that she’s different, but Megumi doesn’t think so. In fact, she feels that she hasn’t changed at all. When asked for the reason, Nozomu averts her gaze and replies that it’s merely ‘cos he likes the hiyashi ame. There’s no other reason so she can be rest assured.
The person who is refused
A few days later, Megumi wakes up one morning and is unable to fall asleep. So she gets up to prepare the store earlier than usual. Just then, she hears noises outside, something knocking continuously against the walls. Megumi calls for Mamoru, only to realise that he’s away now – she’s alone now. She calms herself down, and traces the origin. But upon arriving at the store, the sound stops. As she checks outside, she hears footsteps getting further. Megumi sees pieces of paper stuck all over, with the words “betrayer” written on them.
The moment the heart breaks down
Days pass, and even till today the harassment continues. Sometimes it’s not just pieces of paper stuck, they even write on her walls with ink. Megumi can guess who the culprit is, but she has no right to blame as she knew from the start that this would happen and chose this path. She just needs to endure this expected punishment, but it’s taking a toll on her mentally and physically. Once she’s conscious of the noises, she can’t fall asleep and she needs to clean up the mess after they’re gone. Coupled with the busy work days and sleepless nights, it’s getting to her. It’s painful. But Megumi tells herself that she can’t disappoint the customers who patronise her store. After all, what was the reason she continued the store? It’s all to protect it, and Hotaru’s ideal. She would feel better if she could talk to somebody – but as much as she’d like to rely on Hibiki she can’t trouble him. She decided this herself, she can’t be relying on others now. The stock is almost finished, so it won’t be long before the store closes. There’s still a lot left for her to think over, and to face up to. Just then, a customer calls to her and she has to attend to him. But for some reason her feet is heavy and her vision blurs. She needs to hang in there, it’s ‘cos she’s like this that she’s being denied and not needed by anyone. In her heart, Megumi apologises to Hotaru for not being able to protect her important store, and apologises to Mamoru for being selfish and troubling him. If she meets that person, surely her feelings will overflow. Megumi then blacks out.
Megumi wakes up at home, to find herself lying down on Hibiki’s lap. Hibiki closes the book he’s reading, while she remains disorientated. He advises her not to move, for she actually collapsed due to exhaustion. He goes to fetch the porridge Ayame made, seeing that it’s past noon. Megumi suddenly realises the situation, and Hibiki helps her to sit up. He persuades her to eat, asking if she’s been eating properly as of late. Megumi recalls that since Mamoru isn’t here, she’s been only eating simply. She slowly eats, as Hibiki explains that he heard that she collapsed and came to visit her. Only a day has passed since she collapsed, and her store is closed for now. Megumi thanks him, but Hibiki replies that he didn’t do much. In fact Ayame came and did all the chores, so she should thank her later. Silence falls upon them, and seeing that she’s no longer eating, Hibiki keeps the porridge away. She probably already knows that he’s left the dango store, and so Hibiki reveals that he’s staying at Koukarou now. If he remained in Shoutengai, there’s no telling what conflicts will happen so that night he decided to go to Koukarou. Thankfully, Satoya works there so they could do so. Megumi realises that in other words, he risked danger to visit her. She feels happy, apologetic and embarrassed at the same time, and doesn’t know what expression to make. Instead, she looks down and his next words betray her ever so slight expectations. Hibiki remarks that it’s ‘cos he’s also in her care too. Megumi looks up, and questions if he means that he’s only fulfilling a duty. He appears taken aback. By duty, it means that Hibiki owes her a favour and so he’s visiting her. Thinking about it it’s to be expected, for him to risk such danger. Megumi feels sad, for this was unexpected.
In the end, she remarks that she’s happy that she got to see him, and to see him safe. She tells herself that this alone is fine, for there’s no need to expect anymore. Before realising, Megumi tears up and struggles to hold back her tears. She sees that Hibiki’s eyes narrow, as he replies that that’s his line. He was shocked to hear that she collapsed, and was relieved when he saw her sleeping figure. It’s true that he’s returning a favour, but that doesn’t mean that without it won’t worry about her. Megumi apologises in a shaky voice, but her tears have stopped. Hibiki remarks that he still managed to do a lot, and in fact appreciated the quietness here. Both of them work too much in fact. Hibiki observes that she’s at an age to play around the most yet she’s sacrificing it without complaints and taken it all upon herself as Mamoru isn’t around. She should be tired, and it must’ve been painful to not be able to confide in anyone. Megumi realises that he must know about the harassment. He tells her that rumours are spreading about her, that she didn’t increase her prices so as to get all the customers and out all the rivals. In doing so, she’ll increase the prices slowly and monopolise. Of course he knows that isn’t true, but no one understands Megumi’s ideal and thoughts. He finds it commendable, but to other store owners they are troubled by it. Megumi can’t reply, as she recalls the Shoutengai president’s words – in the end she was only selfishly thinking about herself and couldn’t see her surroundings. She didn’t think through thoroughly. Still she doesn’t think that they should just increase the prices. In that case what’s the right thing to do? Hibiki remarks that it’s still important to be sincere to your customers though, and believes that there are also people saved by her actions. If she believes that this is right, then she should see it all the way through.
He stands up, as he tells her that it’s about time he leaves. Ayame should be returning soon. Megumi thinks that they seem close, for he never once called her by her name as he did to Ayame (Hibiki calls Megumi 女将 aka proprietress). She doesn’t say anything though, and puts a lid on her own feelings. Just then, Ayame enters and tells Hibiki to stay on for a bit longer since Megumi’s finally awake. Hibiki thinks that she’d prefer talking to a fellow woman rather than a middle-aged man like him though. After he leaves, Ayame sighs and Megumi asks if they’re close. Ayame teases her a bit, before explaining that a year ago he helped Karyuugai a lot so he’s well-respected there. In fact, everyone including herself used to call him sensei. But they’re not close enough for Megumi to worry. Megumi clarifies the misunderstanding, saying that she only respects Hibiki. Ayame doesn’t pursue this, and Megumi thanks her for her help. But Ayame replies that it was Hibiki who was looking after her the whole of last night, and she merely helped to change her clothes and make the porridge. Megumi is surprised, and wonders why Hibiki said otherwise. The older woman hugs her, knowing that she must’ve been through a lot. The warmth reminds Megumi of her deceased mother, and a tear falls as she shuts her eyes.
The guiding moon
It’s nighttime and just as Ayame is about to return, Megumi recalls that she forgot to give Hibiki back his clothes from before. She decides to return it to Hibiki personally the next time she meets him, and Ayame widens her eyes in surprise before chuckling. It appears as though Megumi has changed quite a bit since the last time they met. Megumi recalls Nozomu’s similar words, and replies that she isn’t so sure herself. But thinking about it carefully, she probably came this far thanks to her deep impression of Koukaseinendan. If she didn’t get to know them, she probably would’ve gone with the flow and accepted everything. If that’s the change, then she’s probably changed. Ayame brings up her words from before, telling Megumi to become everyone’s moon. After that she saw how Megumi worked hard and didn’t increase her store prices. She doesn’t know about Shoutengai, but everyone in Karyuugai and Onsegai are thankful to her. Hearing this, Megumi is happy. She was busy and didn’t notice her surroundings so she was uneasy, moreover Hibiki’s words made her realise that she was wrong too. But as expected, she’s happy to hear that the customers are delighted. Just that alone makes her feel saved. Ayame knows that things aren’t easy for her either, but she’s like the moon gently shining the way for those lost in the dark. Now that Hibiki, who was everyone’s sun, is gone, they are all in the dark and she was the one shining on them. Megumi understands that everyone is uneasy now, but so is she – she needs that moon just as much. And so Megumi replies that she isn’t that great, for she was merely seeing through her store’s ideal. It was Hibiki and Koukaseinendan who showed her the way. She’s sure that there are other people in more difficult conditions, and others working harder than her. She doesn’t think of herself as the moon but if she can, she’d like to. Ayame smiles in return, and pats Megumi’s head.
The family full of love
It’s been 2 days since Megumi collapsed, and she reopens her store. She’s feeling all better now, but the customers continue to worry over her. In order to thank their encouragement and concern, Megumi works hard. That may in turn trouble the rest of Shoutengai, but it’s the path she chose. Even if others point out that she’s wrong, there’s no other choice but to continue on. As more time passes by, her stock eventually runs out. It can probably only last her till tomorrow, or worse till this evening. Beniichi opens the day after tomorrow, so she can purchase new ingredients but there will be the restrictions. As such she may come back to the same situation in no time. She has probably reached the limit. After closing up the store, Megumi prepares dinner while thinking over this. Mamoru returns home tired, as even after returning from the main island he had to go to work today. Megumi tells him about the situation, and promises to do what she can to earn her keep. In a serious tone, Mamoru tells her not to worry for he’ll handle it somehow. She doesn’t need to be tied down, and should do as she likes. That’s his and Hotaru’s wish for her. His words give her courage, and she wipes away her tears. Smiling in return, Megumi thanks him.
The night when everything ends
After dinner, Megumi leaves with the money she earned during this period. She’s decided to apologise to all the Shoutengai residents. She first heads to the president’s place, apologising and passing money over to a helper there, asking for the message to be conveyed. She continues to do so for each household, and almost everyone is shocked and speechless. To be honest, she prepared herself for scoldings but they probably have a mix of feelings seeing her. She finally realised that everyone is scared to have their livelihoods threatened, and to lose their place of belonging – they’re no different from her. It’s already dark when she’s done. Megumi returns and recognises that Tsuki no Hotori will finally close tomorrow – she’s done all that she can.
A new start
It’s the day of closure. The day passes by as per usual, and after seeing the last customer out Megumi takes down the store’s noren. After this, she’ll clean up and calculate the profits as per usual – it’s as if nothing has changed. But in reality, it’s different from now on. Megumi closes her eyes and recalls all that’s happened. She feels extremely well, and has no regrets closing the store. She’s filled with a sense of fulfillment that she has done all that she could. Mamoru appears from behind, and the two of them look around in silence, soaking in sentimentality. As Megumi turns around to face him, Mamoru apologises much to her surprise. He averts her gaze, and remarks that it was he who tied her down to this store all along. In that moment, Megumi realises that Mamoru may have secretly been mindful of the fact that he didn’t take over the store all this time. That in chasing after his own dream and her taking over the store, she was a sacrifice in his place. Megumi closes her eyes and looks back on all that’s happened. It’s been a year, a lot has happened in this short span of time. He apologises but she herself also wants to apologises for all the regret left in her. Perhaps if she handled things better, the store wouldn’t have had to close down. She opens her eyes, and smiles at him. Megumi didn’t feel tied down at all, and was in fact thankful. As they look around again, Megumi thanks Tsuki no Hotori. It feels as though she’s been given courage and a new determination. After that, Megumi appears to discuss something with Mamoru.
Whether you’re sleeping or awake, it’s work
At Koukarou, Hibiki is going through documents but he drops the brush he’s holding as a dull pain hits his right arm. As he endures the pain, he switches to his left hand for there’s no time to waste. Recently, he’s been working a lot at his desk. Naturally, one reason is that he doesn’t want to agitate Shoutengai by acting openly. But it’s also ‘cos the education level of this island is low, and so it’s more efficient for Hibiki to do all the documentation work, especially writing letters. Hibiki reminisces the past, when someone passed him yet another letter from that woman. Seeing Hibiki’s curt response then, the man questioned if he’s replying at all. Upon hearing that Hibiki only replies once a month, the man replied that it’s rather little seeing how the woman writes every week. Hibiki thought that it’s fine though, except in the cases of emergency – for if there’s the time to write letters he should be doing other things. The man sighed in return, saying that it’s Hibiki’s opinion but at this rate he’ll lose what’s important to him someday. Hibiki remained silent, and read the woman’s letter: she asked if he’s still chasing his dream, and described how her place got a new harvest. She wrote that it’s alright for Hibiki to not force a reply, and that she’d always support his dream.
Hibiki snaps back to reality, as Satoya enters the room and informs Hibiki that all the members are gathered. Hibiki heads to where they are, and starts the Koukaseinendan meeting. The main topic is about the circulation of goods in the town’s market, but first he addresses the issue of handing their protests and requests documents to the mayor, who had returned the other day. Simply put, he rejected them. Seeing how he’s Fukami’s puppet now, he hardly has a will of his own. Hibiki shares what happened that day, and basically the mayor ignored them and refused to accept the documents. The members complain about the mayor, and ask if they can remove him. But Hibiki replies that it’s impossible, for they can only do so a year from when he was elected in, or a year from the day they vote him out. The mayor has been in position for 11 months and 5 days, so basically no matter how much support there is he can’t resign immediately. In any case, his resignation is only a matter of time. The real problem is what happens after that – is there a replacement candidate anywhere? Silence proceeds, till the members start to suggest Hibiki. He points out that he isn’t one of the residents though, and Satoya steps in – which is rare. Satoya knows that he’s in a vague position and now that he’s being criticised his glory as a hero is now a thing of the past. So he suggests for Hibiki to become an island resident, looking down and away from Hibiki’s gaze. Hibiki understands their opinions, but he remarks that even if he does become a resident he has no intentions of running for mayor. To be frank, he thinks that they are better candidates for unlike him, they were born and raised on this very island. The island’s future depend on them, and they can now act upon their own decisions. Koukaseinendan isn’t solely run by him. In any case, Hibiki ends this topic and returns to their main one.
It’s been reported that due to the further increased prices, there’s dissatisfaction with Shoutengai from the Karyuugai and Onsengai sides. Also, Shoutengai isn’t in union at all so the increased price % are different, some hardly sell any goods, others closed down and so on. A year ago after the disaster, this chaos in the market also occurred. The earthquake occurred on the mainland too, so they couldn’t ship any goods to the island. Hibiki had to seek the help of a certain corporation, and somehow got the goods. Ironically, what happened a year ago was the reason for Hibiki remaining on this island. If not, he would’ve long continued his vagrant travels like he did in the past. But upon seeing the after effects of the disaster, he felt a strange sort of fate. The report continues, that Shoutengai is slowly starting to show support for the garrison proposal, but Hibiki doesn’t think it’ll affect too much since Karyuugai and Onsengai oppose. Still, everything is going in Fukami’s way. The meeting continues till the evening, and he ends it then. As they disperse, Hibiki and Satoya remain behind. He can see that Satoya is worried about Megumi, and is relieved to later hear that she’s fine. But he gets annoyed when he guesses correctly that Hibiki must’ve been working when Megumi was asleep. At this rate Hibiki will be the one to collapse. Still, Hibiki doesn’t want to waste any time and Satoya remarks that he really works at any time. Such a conversation between them has come to be expected. Hibiki met Satoya a year ago (and thought Satoya was 13-14 years old lol) and at first due to his admiration, sense of inferiority etc. Satoya appeared bothered. But now he’s a fine comrade to Hibiki. That day, there was a fire-like glow in Satoya’s eyes and Hibiki felt that he would mature. Hibiki apologises, as he remarks that he’s been taken care of by them all. Now even without his guidance, they can take action and so it lifts some burden off him. Satoya sighs as he replies that they’re way more in his debt, and struggle to return whatever favour they can. Hibiki remarks that he’ll rely on them then, and Satoya smiles reassuringly in return. His eyes still contain the same passionate glow as back then.
The girl pictured on one’s mind
After work, Hibiki goes to take a breather as he walks around Koukarou. An oiran sees him and starts to flirt with him, asking to spend the night together. Hibiki gently rejects her, and eventually adds that it wouldn’t be fair to just treat her nicely. He realised that they were placing bets as to whether he would accept them or not. The okami appears, and quickly chases the girl away to work despite her complaint that there are no customers. After she’s gone, the okami apologises to Hibiki, who feels in debt to her instead. But she denies this, as she relates to how much he’d helped them last year. After they part ways, Hibiki heads to the garden. He’s seen other red-light districts, but the atmosphere here is totally different. It retains the Edo flavour, but also mixes in the current culture. If this was the mainland, it would probably be trending due to its uniqueness. But this is an inconvenient island to get to, plus the mainland’s economy isn’t doing well too. Koukashi‘s main industry is the tourist one, and so it’s easily affected by the economy of the mainland. But before the mainland’s economy can recover, Koukashi may be no more, and so this creates an opening for Fukami. Even so, Hibiki thinks that the red-light district culture will eventually be abandoned. At the mainland, movements referring to prostitution (Geishogi Kaiho Rei) and women’s suffrage are already increasing. He’s heard that some prostitute houses have already been closed down. So it won’t be a surprise that laws are passed out concerning the regulations of trafficking of prostitutes. It’ll only be a matter of time that this island needs to churn out a new industry, if not it’ll go to waste. But for that to happen, large amounts of land is needed, as it the need to change the mentality of the residents, who fear change itself. For that, someone needs to create the trigger.
Hibiki looks up at the cloudless sky, where a bright moon hangs. He recalls a certain girl, and wonders what she’s doing now. He closes his eyes. He was touched by her wanting to protect her ideals, but at the same time taken aback. It’s worth applauding, but at the same time he could see how she didn’t think things through and was still immature. Still, she made her own decision and carried it out. It may be weak, but the core is there – almost like the moon. Hibiki smiles, and is in disbelief the next moment when he hears Megumi calling out to him. Standing before him was the girl he was just thinking of.
First, Megumi gives Hibiki back his clothes and tells him that it’s fine to keep the current clothes he’s wearing. Personally she’s happy that way, and also to see that he’s taken a liking to it. Hibiki confirms if it’s fine, since there won’t be any memento of her father left. Megumi replies that even if that’s the case, the memories will remain in her heart. Hibiki accepts them, and Megumi also informs him that she’s closed her store. Hibiki’s surprised that she’d come all this way to say this, and suggests having a member see her home quickly since her presence here can be misunderstood. But Megumi expresses her wish to enter Koukaseinendan. Previously, she said that in order to protect the store she can’t just watch from the sidelines. Their words about each of them having to do what they can struck her, and that’s why she went to their meeting. After that, she chose not to increase her prices as she interpreted Hotaru’s ideal in her own way. But that didn’t protect the store, and only troubled Shoutengai. In the end she closed the store. It’s due to her lack of education and so she made a mistake. She was only concerned with protecting the ideal, that she failed to see anything else. She’s ashamed of her own ignorance and imprudence. She’s thankful that Hibiki taught her otherwise. Thinking about it, she could’ve just talked things out. If things don’t work out at first, she should keep at it till they understand each other. Koukashi now is just like her, everyone only thinks of themselves and doesn’t see what it’s like for others. So she realises why Hibiki keeps telling them to see what they can do now. She’s learnt that ignorance is a sin. She has a lack of knowledge of the situation, the economy etc. so she’d like to join Koukaseinendan and learn from Hibiki.
Seeing her intentions, Hibiki questions what she can do in return for Koukaseinendan isn’t a learning centre. Megumi answers that she’s willing to do anything to change this situation. She’s ignorant and so that means she’ll grow and mature. She doesn’t want to run away from reality like before. This was the island she was born on, with memories of Mamoru, Hotaru and her parents – so she’ll do anything to protect it. Not wanting to back away, Megumi looks intently at Hibiki. He laughs in return, as he remarks that he wouldn’t have thought she could say this from his initial impression of her. He asks if she can come tomorrow morning at 5am to their meeting here. Megumi readily agrees, but also asks if it’s really okay. He reassures her, since he, the head of Koukaseinendan, has already accepted her. There’s no need to look down on herself – it may be okay with her, but not for those who believe in her. Megumi agrees, and also promises him that she won’t tell anyone that she’s part of Koukaseinendan, not even Mamoru. If anyone asks, she’s to deny it. Just then, Hibiki realises that he can no longer call her “proprietress” and calls her name instead. Looking up, he realises that it’s a full moon tonight, just like the night they first met. He then reaches out towards her, observing that she’s wearing the hair ornament he gave her. Just as Megumi’s about to return, Hibiki suddenly collapses to his knees. He gasps in pain and vomits. Megumi calls for someone to come.
In the room, Megumi and Satoya assist the doctor as he treats Hibiki. The doctor cuts away Hibiki’s bandage and his true figure is revealed to Megumi for the first time – a terrible scar on Hibiki’s back. But the most the doctor can do is to apply the ointment. The doctor can’t prescribe anything to lessen the pain for there’s no need, the pain isn’t from the injuries. The burns Hibiki received were really bad and even reached past the skin – his face, neck, chest, back, arm etc. Even the nerves which feel pain are pretty much dead so by right he shouldn’t feel any pain. But according to Hibiki, it’s the after effects of the burns. At times he would feel nauseous, and dizzy. It’s the first time the doctor has seen such bad burns so he doesn’t know if these are really after effects to be honest. Satoya saw the scars before via coincidence since Hibiki would always change the bandages himself, but wasn’t aware of this. The doctor adds that due to cramping, Hibiki’s right arm also has dyskinesia and so he can hardly raise it. Satoya is shocked for he never heard of this at all, and Hibiki would always be doing everything himself. The doctor understands his frustration, but reasons that Hibiki is necessary to this town so he has no choice but to push himself to a certain extent. Megumi sees Satoya lose his cool for the first time, as he exclaims that Hibiki claims that he’ll rely on them yet he doesn’t. He glimpses at Megumi, and apologises. He knows that Hibiki’s character is such and to be honest he dislikes that part of him. The doctor understands that due to Hibiki’s capabilities everyone relies on him. Hibiki is always listening to their troubles, requests and complaints – but does anyone know what troubles, requests and complaints Hibiki has? Despite how much the island’s residents relies on him, they don’t know anything about him. Well, even if they ask it’s unlikely that Hibiki will answer.
After the doctor has finished, he asks them to just change the washcloth regularly. He later learns that Megumi is the one Hibiki got the ointment for, and observes that she’s been using it regularly. They explain this to Satoya, who nods and looks away. As if running away from his gaze, Megumi quickly thanks the doctor and the doctor asks her to come to his centre if she needs more. He asks the to look after Hibiki, knowing that he won’t listen but at this rate he’s just shortening his own life. Truth be told, the doctor doesn’t think that Hibiki has much longer to live. This news shocks them, as the doctor explains that the burns coupled with any infections raise the danger levels a lot. In addition to exhaustion, his immunity levels would dip. He wants to do all that he can but, they can only see how technological innovation is, and believe in Hibiki. Like he said before, Koukashi needs Hibiki in order to change itself so they’ve no choice but to rely on him. Hibiki knows this too so that’s why he continues to push himself, but the doctor thinks that he needs someone to understand him.
The time when the sun falls asleep
After the doctor is gone, both Megumi and Satoya sink into silence. Everyone else is probably sleeping, as it’s quiet outside too. Hibiki’s condition seems to have calmed down, as he’s now sleeping peacefully. Megumi tells Satoya to rest, knowing that he has work tomorrow as she explains that her store is already closed. Hearing this, Satoya thanks her on behalf of Karyuugai and Onsengai, as he knows that they’re thankful to her plus he’s part of Karyuugai. He leaves Hibiki to her, and asks her to call for him in case of anything. Megumi is left alone and the doctor’s words continue to ring in her head – that Hibiki doesn’t have long left. She tears up and takes Hibiki’s hand, praying for him not go away.
A creeping dream
Hibiki’s dreaming. A fire has broken out. Some have already died, while others are crying and calling for help but the fire eventually consumes them. It feels as though the sound of flames have reached his ears. This isn’t a dream, but reality. Coming to his senses, Hibiki sees the flames at his hands and it’s hard to breathe. His vision is completely red. Looking around, he doesn’t see that person. He needs to save that person, but the flames wrap around his body and he can hardly get up. Fear and pain overwhelm him and he starts to lose consciousness. Hibiki hears a faint voice calling out to him. That person is safe, and Hibiki struggles to head in that direction. He arrives at a familiar-looking house, and over there is……
Even if my life is shortened
Hibiki soon wakes up, and Megumi goes to call the rest but he doesn’t let go of her hand. Seeing that he still isn’t clear-minded, she sits down again and with vacant eyes, he tells her that he saw a dream. Before she can ask further, Hibiki becomes clear-minded and asks if he’d collapsed. He apologises for worrying all of them, and Megumi holds his hand in return. She remarks that after learning how it feels, she’ll do her best not to worry others now too. She was really relieved to see that he’s awake. As she holds back her tears, Hibiki pats her hand in return. He then hears that it’s already 7-8 am and though he’s missed the meeting he can still make it in time for Beniichi. Megumi tries to stop him from getting up but Hibiki remains insistent. Just then, the clerk enters and tells Hibiki that a ruckus has occurred in Beniichi. Hibiki immediately gets up and starts getting ready. He tells Megumi to go home and rest instead of coming with him, and Megumi decides to accept. But in exchange, she tells him that she’ll wait here much to his surprise. But Megumi feels as if he’ll never return if not. He sighs and whispers in her ear, telling her to listen to him since he’s the head of Koukaseinendan. Megumi bites her lip, and finally agrees. He pats her head and soon leaves.
The quiet feeling held inside
To be honest as he just woke up, he still feels pain just by running. As Hibiki heads to Beniichi, he recalls his dream – one where everything was consumed by flames. He’s seen it before, it’s almost like a warning from god to not forget that. But it’s a bit different from usual as he heard a voice which seemed to guide him. When he opened his eyes, he saw Megumi with her tearful eyes and wanted to wipe those tears away. Even though he’s almost twice her age, he never thought that he would come to think this. Hibiki laughs at himself. It was clear that Megumi stayed awake to look after him, from her bloodshot eyes to the black circles. His bandage and clothes were changed, which means that she probably saw his ugly figure underneath the bandages. Yet she could still talk to him in the eye. Hibiki is once again touched by her reassurance. He nears the harbour and hears the ruckus, it was just as he’d predicted. For that, he told Koukaseinendan to make the preparations in advance and they should be acting as accordingly now. He hurries towards his destination.
It’s a mess at the harbour, with everyone blaming each other. As Koukaseinendan notices Hibiki’s arrival, everyone turns their attention towards him. Shoutengai people start to scold him, but Hibiki doesn’t reply them and quietly heads to the entrance of Beniichi. People naturally part the way for him, and Hibiki mutters to himself that they’ve really been swelled with hatred. Just those few police and government officials can’t suppress the situation, and no one will listen. Hibiki sighs heavily, before breathing deeply a few times. He then shouts at everyone, and everyone freezes on the spot even Koukaseinendan. Hibiki questions when they’re going to continue like this – do they think their lives will get better if they continue hating each other? As long as they don’t act for the sake of this town, it won’t change. Do they really think that everything will be okay as long as only their own life is fine? Is that how stupid they are? No one has seen Hibiki shout angrily like this before, and so everyone is speechless.
After he takes another breath, Hibiki starts to speak calmly as he describes how the other day a girl collapse. He describes Megumi’s situation, how she worked hard for her ideal and the customers but unfortunately not everyone was thankful – there was harassment. Unable to discuss with anyone, she cleaned up the mess each morning before opening the store as per normal. He has already investigated in this but doesn’t plan to reveal who the culprits are, nor blame them here. To them it wasn’t harassment, but passing judgement. While the path Megumi chose wasn’t completely correct, it doesn’t mean that harassing her is. Is this something a proper adult would do? In the end, she collapsed as she was both at her physical and mental limit. It is not hard to imagine just how much burden she had to carry, yet she reopened her store two days later and continued till her stock ran out. She saw through her decision, and then reflected on her own naivety and closed the store. Such a young girl could do this much, but what have they been doing? They haven’t been thinking through things at all, leaving the problem to others and merely complaining. They don’t care about other people’s pain, are alright with scolding others like nothing and even driving them to a corner. He questions if they’ve any shame. There’s no reply, and Hibiki slowly scans them. Lastly, he tells them to look at reality instead of turning away from it. It’s better to face up to it, as the town can only get better if everyone works for it together. But if they think it’ll solve the problem to continue fighting till only one industry remains, then by all means go ahead. He just prays that the future they envision won’t involve knocking down anyone for the sake of it.
Hibiki leaves and no one holds him back. Some of the Koukaseinendan members follow Hibiki, including Satoya. When no one else is in sight, they praise Hibiki’s speech as he apologises for missing out on the meeting. Satoya softly asks if Hibiki’s feeling alright, though he doesn’t seem convinced when Hibiki says he is. No one else knows that he collapsed and thought that he was doing another work task, as it would lower the morale. Still, Satoya is relieved that Hibiki came as he doesn’t think that he could’ve pulled off such a speech. Actually, everything was prepared including Hibiki’s outburst. The residents are easily swayed by the atmosphere, and so Hibiki made use of that. By talking about a girl’s fragile existence who did everything for Koukashi, it would draw out the most sympathy. And now even if Shoutengai continues to harass her, Onsengai and Karyuugai would help her knowing the situation now. Everyone is relieved that the plan was a success. Just then, Mamoru appears as he praises Hibiki’s speech and is here to do a report. Hibiki answers his questions, before leaving as Mamoru thanks him.
The mayor’s impatience, Fukami’s speculation
Looking through the reports, the mayor questions if they should’ve explained to the people beforehand but Fukami instead questions why he’s being so uneasy. After all, it was he who accepted his proposals. The mayor answers weakly that the market is now in a mess, without people fighting for expensive goods especially since most residents can only buy from Shoutengai. Everyday people gather outside the town hall to criticise them and support for him is dipping. He wonders if what he did is really right. Fukami smiles reassuringly, saying that they simply don’t understand. The priority is to secure the government funds. They already knew there would be objection, and sometimes you need to force things to make progress. The mayor remarks that once his year is up though, he’d probably need to resign. If so then the garrison proposal would be washed away and his actions would’ve been meaningless. Fukami turns his back to suppress his laughter, before replying that he won’t resign that easily. Even if they collect signatures, vote against him etc. there needs to be a majority for that to happen. They still have time till then, and can just work to gain their support. He persuades the mayor that while the people will blame them now, they’ll be thankful later. As of now, Shoutengai is starting to support their proposal.
Of course in reality, the mayor’s actions are all meaningless and only add to the government debt. By doing so he’d listen to Fukami. Still, the mayor is relieved and doesn’t suspect Fukami’s words. Fukami adds that if he’s still worried, he can just do what he did in the previous election – buy votes. The mayor’s family is actually an influential, wealthy family. While Fukami thinks to himself that the mayor wouldn’t have been elected if it weren’t for that, he remarks that he’ll go down in history as a rare mayor who’s willing to invest his own money to rebuild the town. He says all the words the mayor wants to hear, such people are easy to manipulate – what’s important to Fukami is whether they’re useful to him or not. There’s a knock on the door and Nozomu enters, looking rather flustered. He whispers to Fukami that Hibiki appeared in today’s Beniichi. Fukami excuses himself and they head outside. By right the mayor or his subordinate should respond to this, but the mayor left everything to Fukami. Outside, Fukami hears everything from Nozomu. When he first heard about Hibiki’s doings for this island, he naturally thought that people would be suspicious since they knew nothing about him. But Fukami couldn’t gain any information about him. After personally coming down to this island half a month ago and seeing Hibiki in person, he realised that Hibiki is really similar to him. If they had common interests, they’d probably become comrades. But now Hibiki is the biggest hindrance to him. He immediately had his men check up on Hibiki’s background. It would’ve been easier to manipulate others to take down Hibiki, but Fukami couldn’t help but sense something familiar about him. After gaining the information, he then used his trump card the other day. It appears that Hibiki won’t back down easily.
Even if he’s a person hard to grasp……
After Hibiki left for Beniichi, Megumi leaves Koukarou to return home. The streets are quiet with no one in sight, as everyone is probably at Beniichi. Back at home, Megumi can’t only worry about Hibiki and pray for his safety. In the end, she only troubled him. The house is quiet, with Mamoru still outside. Megumi finds that she has nothing much to do now, and tries to find something to work at – just like how she should have a role in Koukaseinendan. In the end, she did some cleaning and then contemplates sleeping as she recalled that she didn’t sleep last night. Just then, Mamoru returns and is shocked to see her. He asks her how things went, as he thought that she would’ve asked Hibiki to join Koukaseinendan. At times like this, Megumi finds that Mamoru’s intuition is really sharp and a reporter job is really suited for him. But she was told to keep it a secret, and so she replies that she only went to return the clothes. Mamoru is confused as she didn’t need to stay the night for it, but Megumi observes how Hibiki’s condition was kept a secret so she can’t explain that either. To her surprise, Mamoru doesn’t pursue and she changes the topic to his work. He answers vaguely, before asking if she believes in Hibiki and why. Megumi replies that she does, for she really respects him. She doesn’t know if she understands him truly, but even if he’s lying she’d believe in him. She wonders why Mamoru’s suddenly asking this, but he looks away and dismisses it before heading to his room.
The first job as a Koukaseinendan member
The next morning, Megumi joins the Koukaseinendan meeting and prepares tea for them. From afar they appear to be people working hard for the town, but up close they’re normal people who think for their town. The meeting soon starts, and Hibiki announces that a radio operator cooperating with them contacted them yesterday. It appears that Fukami unofficially contacted the army on something, but they deliberately spoke in code so they’re unsure what the contents are for now. If it’s about the garrison and they had to talk in secret, then that means that the grant in return must be a lie. For if they’re doing this secretly, the country wouldn’t dish out any money. Satoya soon comes running in, as he says that they’ve uncovered what the code was. He catches his breath as he downs a cup of water, before saying that either Fukami is acting as a middleman for a weapon merchant to sell firearm to the army, or he’s a weapon merchant himself. He plans to build a warehouse here too. This means that his consulting firm is just a front, and now they know the reason why Nozomu was deliberately spreading rumours. Megumi is shocked to hear Nozomu’s name, and they explain that he’s actually working in Fukami’s company. Hibiki says that they still don’t have enough proof. If they chase Fukami just like this, he’ll only escape and hide – this won’t solve the root problem at all. They need to let all the residents know of Fukami’s doings and for this, they first need a connection to the army. Hibiki is thinking of asking Wataru, who probably doesn’t know anything. But he’d be on his guard against Koukaseinendan and so, Wataru would like Megumi to call him out tomorrow night. It’s her first job in Koukaseinendan, and Megumi readily agrees.
The person you decide to chase after
After the meeting, Megumi cleans up and later serves Hibiki tea in his room. Megumi decides not to disturb him further, but he asks her to write a letter in his place. He apologises when she’s done, but Megumi doesn’t think of it as a burden, and in fact worries about him instead. The doctor’s words still linger in her head. Hibiki then tells her that he misunderstood her at first. Nozomu patronised her store and Mamoru is a reporter, so at first he suspected that she had links to Fukami and she was a target to watch on in the past. Megumi isn’t particularly shaken by this news though, and in fact understands now why he noticed her back then. But she wonders why he accepted her then. Hibiki replies that he knew once he interacted with her in person, for her feelings are all shown on her face – like just now. He can guess that she heard about his condition from the doctor, if “she’s a being a bother by staying by his side”. Hibiki decides to continue his story from before.
Though their feelings for each other are clear, not everyone gave their blessings. The man’s parents were not comfortable with this. Of course they sympathised with her situation and gave her education etc. but marriage was another thing. Their son’s future wife was already decided since he was young – a girl from a rich and influential family. The man fully understood this too, and so never once confessed his feelings to the woman. Wondering if “she’s a being a bother by staying by his side”, the woman also naturally placed a distance between them even though she never knew of the above. She always called him by his first name, but started calling his surname instead and using keigo. It’s impossible for the man not to notice this. Their relationship grew distant, but no one could stop them from meeting at least in summer. The woman would always prepare the man’s favourite dango. And though they’re not even lovers the only things which connected them were the letters and summer. Other than that, the woman was always alone and would reject marriage offers. She was prepared to be alone. The man studied hard so as to inherit the family’s business, and to forget her. Is it the right choice to choose her despite everyone’s objections? The man blamed himself for being weak and unable to escape from these chains. The woman also went through a lot too, but she never gave in.
Megumi remarks that she can’t help but think that this isn’t fiction. But Hibiki merely gazes at her strongly, asking if she’ll still believe in him even if he’s hiding things from her. Megumi says that she will, but just as she’s about to ask the reason for his question a Koukaseinendan member enters. He shows the newspapers to Hibiki, who then passes it onto Megumi. On the front page, it writes “The island’s hero. The hidden truth about Kagurazaka Hibiki”.
The hero’s past
Outside, the same newspapers are being distributed to the residents.
His real identity
It writes about Hibiki’s personal history, one which was slightly different from what Megumi imagined. His real name is actually Otowa Michinari. He was born in a southern village, was accommodated and admitted to the naval academy. After that, he was enlisted into the navy and there were numerous counts of his cruel acts. He got promoted quickly and as a superior, there were young soldiers who died a noble death due to his ruthless orders. After that, he met with an unforeseen accident and got burns on his whole body. As such he received a large amount of money from the army, and left. The article writes about other shocking events too. Megumi looks up, and Hibiki remarks that it’s just as written though not everything is true. It’s just like Fukami to mix truth and reality, for he wants to pull the residents away from their side again. Megumi worries whether the newspaper company has been taken over by Fukami, as she recalls that Mamoru has been acting weirdly these few days. She calms herself down, and Hibiki kindly tells her not to worry. For now, Wataru’s case comes first. He signals for the Koukaseinendan member to leave the room, and tells Megumi that he’s going for a meeting now. He’d like for her to prepare a meal for the members in the meantime.
Accomplish the job
Outside, Megumi reads the letter she was given which lists Wataru’s usual practices after work – to go drinking with his subordinates (though Wataru himself usually doesn’t drink). From this alone, she can tell that he takes cares of others well. She waits in an alley, and soon Wataru appears with two subordinates. They greet each other, and he worries about her being out this late at night. The subordinates tell him to see her home first before joining them, and so Wataru does so. Before they part, Megumi asks to discuss something with him and he accepts in the end, going inside the store with her. There appears to be someone watching from outside. Inside, Hibiki is already seated. Wataru realises what’s going on, and feeling awkward Megumi goes to get drinks for them. Hibiki initiates the conversation, as it’s clear that he knows all about Wataru’s background. But he actually has a favour to ask, and so Hibiki first asks if Wataru knows that Fukami is a weapon merchant. Just then, Megumi returns with tea but shifts away so as to not interrupt them. Wataru replies that he first knew about it from this morning’s newspapers, if it’s true. Hibiki asks what he thinks of it, not as a soldier but his personal opinion. Wataru replies that if the garrison proposal can protect this island (physically, and financially) then he’ll approve of it. Hibiki points out that there’s the chance of this island becoming the frontline in that case, though he probably already knows it.
Hibiki returns to the topic of Fukami, saying that his consulting firm is just a front. The grant in return for building the garrison is a lie, and Fukami’s true motive is to expand his working grounds as a weapon merchant. In other words, the mayor and Wataru’s superior is merely being dragged into Fukami’s plan. At this rate, the people will only suffer and surely this isn’t what Wataru wants. Being once a soldier, Hibiki can understand his position. But at times one needs to push forward, and not be bounded by the old systems. Hibiki requests Wataru to help them, which means going against his superior. But Hibiki tells him not to think of it like that, but rather to take the right action as a soldier. After a brief silence, Wataru asks for some time to consider.
The surprise trick revealed
Wataru leaves, and Hibiki goes after him outside. Megumi waits for Hibiki to return later, as he thanks her since it wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for her. But despite being praised, Megumi is bothered by other things such as Mamoru. Hibiki asks if she’s worried about him, and Megumi replies that she is – and also for the future. She worries that he’ll be criticised like before now that his past is exposed. But Hibiki tells her not to pay too much mind, for he has already prepared for that. Just then, Mamoru returns and rather than being joyful at his return, Megumi is somewhat surprised at his appearance – especially when he and Hibiki start to converse as if they were on familiar terms. Mamoru explains that it was good that they made it in time. After that Fukami’s men came to the newspaper company and so it was rather chaotic. They let Megumi first read the second page of the newspaper: “The grant is complete nonsense”. The article has an expert, Hibiki’s friend from the army, substantiate this too. Hibiki explains that he’d asked Mamoru to check up on Fukami, which explains why Mamoru left the island that week. He apologises for not telling her anything, as he didn’t want her to be a target for Fukami. Megumi finally understands why he told her to keep it a secret, and why Mamoru couldn’t tell her anything. Hibiki probably feared that if Fukami knew she was part of Koukaseinendan, she wouldn’t be able to leak any important information anyway. And if they knew Mamoru was secretly working for Hibiki, they won’t be able to make a connection to her too. Mamoru reassures her that they’ve spread the news to an extent where it’s too late for Fukami to act anyway.
Don’t forget to have fun no matter the circumstances
After Hibiki leaves, Mamoru apologises for keeping her in the dark. Megumi asks how he got to know Hibiki. Mamoru recalls that he was young and so he was never given any big articles to write on and could only write about the town’s happenings. Even so, he would be ordered to rewrite if he poked too much at the government. In the end, he was only writing about meaningless stuff. But then he found an old book from the mainland about encrypting codes in writing. He decided to try his hand at it. But of course it took him longer to write his articles too. And the only one who decoded them was Hibiki. Some weeks ago, Hibiki suddenly made a visit to the newspaper company and asked for Mamoru, identifying his articles. After that, they met and talked several times. He wasn’t sure if Hibiki trusted him or not, but then he asked him to handle this article. It was tedious as he had to secretly switch the articles without being found out. The reason why they didn’t touch the first page’s article was to buy time – just like how Megumi didn’t realise at first of the second page’s article’s existence. Megumi worries that Hibiki will be criticised again, but Mamoru reassures her that Hibiki won’t repeat the same mistake. She should believe in him.
The body which cries out and……
On the way back, Hibiki wonders if Wataru will help. He prepared all he could but it’s important for Wataru to set his own resolution and advance on his own will. Hibiki stops in his footsteps, and calls for the person in hiding to come out. He knew that he was being followed all this time, or rather that he was checking up on Koukashi and Koukaseinendan since 5 months ago on Fukami’s orders. Their last conversation was when they were eating dango at Tsuki no Hotori, and Hibiki wonders if Nozomu has given thought as to whether he wants to join them. Nozomu laughs in return, but Hibiki thinks that it would be much better than his current situation. He asks what can he do to make Nozomu believe in his words, but Nozomu refuses anyway – plus they’re enemies. Hibiki sees it as head-hunting, and sighs at Nozomu’s provoking words. He’s smart but he’s can’t hide his feelings which shows that he’s still a child. And so, Hibiki deliberately mentions that Nozomu was the one who spread rumours about Tsuki no Hotori which led to the harassment and the closure of her store. He questions if it didn’t hurt him, and Nozomu answers weakly that it’s work. Hibiki doesn’t understand what benefits there are to make him go so far, questioning if he’s satisfied when he knows the truth about Fukami. He told Wataru the truth too, and is sure he’ll help them. Nozomu asks if that’s a threat, and Hibiki replies that it is. Thinking about the pros and cons, it’s more beneficial to join his side. But Nozomu expresses his hatred for Hibiki.
Thinking that it’s over, Nozomu turns to leave only to be taken aback by Hibiki’s next words – that he’ll leave Koukaseinendan if Nozomu joins. He can still guide them even if he’s not leading them. Nozomu sees no difference, but Hibiki replies that they’ve matured recently. Still, a lot has happened and Hibiki isn’t omnipotent. So he needs Nozomu in order to solve things asap. He’s sure that Nozomu has learnt a thing or two under Fukami. It’s fine if Nozomu hates him, but he knows that Wataru and Megumi are important to him – in order to protect Megumi from Fukami, Nozomu deliberately didn’t report anything about her to Fukami. This includes the fact that she’s a part of Koukaseinendan. Nozomu glares at him, and remarks that he won’t join them even if he dies. As Nozomu dashes off, Hibiki sighs. From what he heard, Fukami runs a one-man show in his consulting firm and the others only do menial tasks. It would’ve been easy to turn over anyone else, but Nozomu’s defenses are stronger than expected – which is why Hibiki went to Megumi and Wataru too. Things are progressing smoothly. Hibiki suddenly feels nauseous and dizzy, as he retches and leans on the wall. He endures the pain, telling himself that he can’t black out now – even though all along he was fine with dying. He knows that he doesn’t have long left. Hibiki isn’t afraid of death, but he can’t collapse now. With a hand on the wall, Hibiki struggles to walk back.
Words for “Tsuki no Hotori“
The next morning, Megumi leaves early for the morning Koukaseinendan meeting. Outside her store, she notices that it’s been a while since the harassment stopped. She knows that she’ll need to properly talk to the Shoutengai someday. She doesn’t think they can forgive her immediately, but hopes for a day when they can have reconciliation. Just then, the Shoutengai president appears with some other store owners. They all bow and apologise to her for what they did. They won’t ask for forgiveness, but still want to apologise. Though Megumi isn’t completely sure, she guesses that they’re referring to the harassment. The president gives her an envelope, containing all the money she gave them. They can’t accept her hard-earned money, for she has nothing to apologise for. They heard from Hibiki about her, and talked to him after what happened at Beniichi too. This confuses Megumi, till he explains what happened that day. After Hibiki left, Karyuugai and Onsengai people also blamed them – she sacrificed herself for the customers yet they increased the prices for their own skin. They treated her roughly, and so they even decided to boycott Shoutengai. And the other day, Shoutengai talked with Koukaseinendan and have come to learn just how dangerous the situation is. The president says that he should’ve asked and listened to her side of the story further, instead of just branding her a betrayer. But Megumi replies that she should be the one to apologise, for she was stuck on her own ideals. Both sides were too stubborn and expressed themselves wrongly. But Megumi feels a ray of hope now. The president also knows that it’s pretentious of them, but they hope she can reopen her store not for them, but for Karyuugai and Onsengai.
The last resort
The next morning after the newspaper was distributed, people have been gathering outside the town hall – telling the mayor and Fukami to take responsibility by resigning, opposing to the garrison proposal etc. The mayor has been pacing around the room, exclaiming that everyone is demonstrating against them. Fukami sighs, and says that the newspaper was a failure due to the second article. The mayor weakly asks if there is a grant – it’s not that he believes in Fukami, but more like he doesn’t want to admit he’s being used by Fukami. Fukami suppresses the urge to laugh, and reassures the mayor. Everyone is being led by it, but they can’t hold a speech now since it’ll take time for things to calm down. The mayor says that it’s worth trying, asking him to use Nozomu to spread rumours again. Fukami replies that Nozomu has been dismissed, for he has no need for people who can’t do their work. He knew about Megumi’s situation, but to think that she would join Koukaseinendan and that her brother was a reporter. Nozomu knew all this but didn’t report it to him. The mayor panics at this, and Fukami says that there’s only one choice left – to rid of Hibiki from this world. The mayor is shaken by his words, but Fukami adds that if Hibik is gone they can take their time to seek the people’s understanding. He persuades the mayor as if it was the best plan, and whispers that there’s no backing out now – almost like a threat.
Hearts gathered together
At Koukarou, all the residents are gathered for the meeting which will decide the town’s future. Even government officials are present, as they were not satisfied with the mayor’s actions, the dark rumours concerning Fukami etc. All that Hibiki has worked for was for today, his hard work is finally bearing fruit. Hibiki appears and greets them. There are still people who are suspicious of Hibiki, but everyone remains quiet. Hibiki raises all the problems and explains them clearly. Even if Fukami left the island and the garrison proposal is gone, the root problem would not be solved. The government’s debt is still worsening. He also explains about the government issues, the changes to improve Dokusenkounyuuken, improvements to the import policies, the self-sufficiency issue, and the plan to attract tourists. All these will take time to solve, one by one. Besides these, there’s also the problem of education and some others. Till today they’ve been focused on the tourist industry, and hardly investing in the other industries. When the tourist industry flourished, everyone avoided the more labourious work such as agriculture which led to a dip in self-sufficiency and an economy reliant on imports. This is a root problem which requires everyone’s understanding and cooperation. Hibiki asks for everyone to give way and rebuild their relationships from scratch. Lastly, Hibiki mentions that they’re facing another problem too – Fukami. His motives are clearly evil, and so everyone needs to come together to face this. At the end, there are no cheers but there is applause. It won’t be long till everyone comes together as one for a single motive. That motive is not something hard to grasp such as improving the government, but a clear one of defeating the “evil”. The “enemy” is right there.
This body which accepts his life
Megumi waits in the room for Hibiki after the meeting. When he returns, he guesses that she must be hear to express a decision. It’s just as he expected, and Megumi asks to let her take care of him. After a brief hesitation, Hibiki agrees and so Megumi helps to tend to his burns just as the doctor did back then. He asks if she’s scared, and she answers that it may be a lie to say otherwise but she also feels calm for some reason. After she’s done applying the ointment, she starts wrapping fresh bandages around him. He commends on her being strong, but she denies this. If he did see her as strong though, she says that it’s thanks to him. No matter how tough it gets, she can do anything if it’ll help him. She also brings up the fact that the Shoutengai president came and apologised today, asking her to reopen her store. But even if she does reopen it, she doesn’t plan to leave Koukaseinendan. He tells her not to force herself lest she collapses again, but Megumi can return those words back at him too. She’s uneasy seeing him working so hard like it’s nothing, and she holds different feelings for him. She also heard what he did at Beniichi and is thankful to him. Hibiki says that he merely mentioned her to inspire the people, and made use of her – even if she doesn’t blame him she shouldn’t thank him. Megumi remarks that he’s sly as by putting it that way he’s distancing her. In a trembling voice, she asks if her feelings trouble him.
At first she respected him, and didn’t think that she loved him. But after he gave her the hair ornament, and praised her hands, it was as if a ray of line shone on her. That light gradually expanded, and became a fire. Megumi confesses her hidden feelings, that she now loves him. She asks to remain by his side, saying that she’ll do anything to be of use to him. In contrast to her affected self, Hibiki flatly tells her to return home. He thinks that she’s just caught up in the moment. Megumi denies this, saying that he set the fire in her, but she replies that the fire will extinguish eventually. Still, Megumi doesn’t back down as she tears up, and questions if her feelings can’t be returned. She eventually says that she doesn’t mind if he doesn’t return her feelings and is merely made use of. As long as he doesn’t stop her, she’ll continue chasing after him – that was what she came to say. In a gentle voice, Hibiki replies that he understands. Their eyes meet and he remarks that he’s always making her cry. He dresses, and turns to face her. And once again, he’ll continue the story when she’s feeling sad.
After countless summers, eventually the man stopped coming. The woman continued to wait, wearing the hair ornament he gave and making the dango he praised. But even when summer ended, he didn’t come. She thought that the day is finally here, and that it’s fine as long as he’s happy. But her tears couldn’t stop. Just then, the man came – not in summer but in autumn. He apologised for making her wait, and said that he’s come for her. He threw away everything for her – his fiancee, his parents, his luxurious lifestyle, his bright future. The two of them worked in the fields, and lived in a shabby house. It wasn’t easy or luxurious, but they were happy. Some days later, they married. There were many objections and few blessings, but the two of them were finally husband and wife. But then one night, they woke up to see fire. The man immediately escaped with the woman, but she ran back to her room to take the hair ornament and letters. Just as their hands were about to meet, the pillar collapsed on top of her. The woman in his arms was already dead – she’d no longer smile, look at him, call his name, or touch him. To the man who threw away everything, her existence was everything to him now. If she’d died, then he has nothing left. The man chose to die together with her. And so Kagurazaka Hifumi and Otowa Hibiki ended their short lives.
After hearing the end, Megumi remarks that Hibiki always told the story as if it was his own, yet it doesn’t match his own personal history. But now she knows. He said that there lived a brother and sister in a village, but midway the brother’s existence disappeared. Plus the names of the man and woman matched his fake name. This isn’t Hibiki’s story, but the story of his friend and younger sister. Hibiki confirms this, saying that his past is just as what was in the article. His dream was to enter the navy, but his environment didn’t give him the chance at all seeing how he couldn’t even read a book properly. He was about to give up, but then he met Kagurazaka Hifumi. They hit off right away, and invited to his vacation home. There, he could read any of the book Hifumi’s father collected. It was a chance in a lifetime. And Hifumi’s mother, who was once a teacher, would teach them in summer. His family sympathised with their situation, and treated them well. Due to that, he could enter navy school and there he studied hard. He’d always enjoyed learning, but now he could chase his dream and so failure wasn’t an option. During that time, he didn’t return home at all and thinking back, he got carried away. He got promoted smoothly, and buried his head in his studies and work. His sister didn’t complain at all, and sent him letters every week. By reading them, he knew that she was doing well. He also knew that Hifumi was looking after her so he didn’t worry.
Some years after being promoted to a major, he received a letter saying that they’re getting married. He was delighted, for it was his only family and his closest friend. He got permission to take time off, and returned to his village. But he saw the fire and after helping the villagers evacuate, he noticed that the couple was missing. He returned but found his sister already dead. He wanted to at least save Hifumi, but he wanted to die together with her. The roof fell, crushing the both of them. His body caught fire too, and he experienced a hellish pain and lost consciousness. He woke up in the army hospital, and was told that they were both dead, and why the village was set on fire. All he can say is that the truth wasn’t pretty. After receiving rehabilitation, he left the army for it was no place for him with his condition. He wandered about the country, since he had both the money (from the army) and time. Though he was part of the navy, he was always at sea and so these travels were refreshing. Some years later, he came to Koukashi as he heard that the onsen was effective for burns. He took an immediate liking to the town, and the rest is what she already knows. When asked why he changed his name, Hibiki replies that it isn’t the first time. In that fire he lost his position, reputation, family, friend, everything. In that moment, Otowa Michinari died.
Megumi asks why he’s telling her such an important thing, feeling a glimmer of hope. He looks down, wondering why himself. Hibiki then asks if she’d still like him, knowing that he’s a foolish man who lost his important ones as he prioritised himself. Megumi replies that she does, and as if appalled, Hibiki points out that there was many other better men around her. But Megumi says that none of them can rival against him. He remarks on how foolish she is, and gently pushes her down. Before she could even react, he kisses her and she’s filled with a mixture of happiness and embarrassment. She closes her eyes, and a single tear streams down her face.
The girl of the moon
Megumi wakes up in Hibiki’s room, realising that she must have fallen asleep as she recalls last night. She sees Hibiki writing at his desk, and feels that she’s caused him trouble. She apologises for last night, saying that it was a mistake. Hibiki pauses, and turns to face her, questioning if she’s going to brush it all aside as a mistake. She freezes, and tries to explain that she occupied his bed even when he’s tired from work. Hibiki is somewhat relieved to hear this, as he thought that she was denying last night. Megumi goes quiet, and he wonders where the her from last night went to – persisting no matter how he rejected her. He remarks that she shows many sides, just like the moon. Hibiki reaches out to her, brushing her lip with his thumb. He plans to take responsibility for making her cry, and is happy that she’s with him. Soon, Megumi gets embarrassed as last night’s events remain fresh in her mind, and changes the topic by asking if he’s working. She feels sorry that she couldn’t help him. But Hibiki replies that he couldn’t bear to wake her up, and will soon finish writing it up. He’s actually writing to the prefectural assembly member about the recent happenings here. He wants Megumi to deliver it to Nakamura Tooru, who’s at the mainland. Megumi accepts readily. Hibiki knows that he should have a Koukaseinendan member accompany her, but they’re tied to other tasks now. Instead, Wataru will accompany her midway, for he’s going to the mainland to report to his superior with the gathered evidence. Megumi gets Hibiki to promise her that he won’t push himself while she’s gone.
Head-hunting on the palm of one’s hand
Megumi meets up with Wataru at the harbour. Just as they’re about to board, Nozomu appears, claiming that he’s here to see them off. He no longer hides the fact that he heard about their activities from Fukami’s side, but he’s not here to stop them as he’s already been dismissed. Nozomu acts as though it’s nothing, but it’s clear that there’s an aura of sadness around him. Wataru stops him from leaving, asking Nozomu to come with them to the mainland since he has no reason to remain here anyway. Nozomu should know why they’re going to the mainland, and Megumi could use a guide since it’s her first time there. They can’t afford to have failure, so having Nozomu join them would be reassuring. Nozomu sighs, and glances at Megumi – his weak gaze seemed to be asking for something. Megumi isn’t sure if they can really trust him yet. But since he once worked for Fukami, it would mean that he has information on Fukami which they don’t know. Nozomu questions if she wants him to confess all that, and she confirms this. Having him as a witness would add to their cause, and reassure them. Though perhaps rather than trusting him, it’s more of making use of him. Hearing this, Nozomu remarks that she’s come to talk well too. Megumi realises that it’s true for the past her would’ve either answered vaguely, or kept quiet till someone else helped her out. But the her now is different. When Wataru made the suggestion, she realised that this was a carefully set-up trap. Nozomu replies that even if it’s her request, he won’t change his mind as he’s gotten tired of it all. He gazes at the sea with vacant eyes, and Megumi stops herself from stretching out her hand to him. Just then, Wataru shouts to warn Nozomu, as a man with a knife dashes towards him.
Towards a bright future
In Koukarou, Hibiki thinks that Megumi should’ve met up with Wataru by now. Two days ago, Wataru confirmed the truth with his own eyes by going to see the radio operator himself. Upon realising the seriousness of the situation, he decided to cooperate in reporting to truth to the higher-ups. Thankful, Hibiki told Wataru the plan and while he and Megumi are at the mainland, they will prepare what they need to drive Fukami to a corner. By having Wataru escort Megumi halfway, even if Fukami knows about Megumi it’ll be hard for him to target her. Knowing Wataru’s character, he would’ve prepared for any “what-if” situations. So even after she parts ways with Wataru, there shouldn’t be a cause for worry. Tired, Hibiki leans against the wall but sits up again as he senses a presence. Soon enough, Mamoru enters the room and he confirms if Megumi left already. He also apologises for her barging in last night, but Hibiki feels apologetic instead. Mamoru merely remarks that it’s the path she chose, she can make her own decisions now. Hibiki is thankful to both of them. He’s actually told Mamoru most of the plan, as he needed Mamoru’s help for its success. If one read the articles he wrote, it was clear to see that Mamoru did not know what to do with his own capabilities. He wanted to test them out, but he was tied down by the chains of his age and family. Hibiki understood that feeling well, and so he sought Mamoru’s help. It would be easier for a seemingly unrelated reporter to act, rather than a Koukaseinendan member. In the meantime, Koukaseinendan could initiate their other plans too. Hibiki tells Mamoru that everything is going well, and the day they confront Fukami is near. He’d like for Mamoru to use the newspapers to have all the residents have a shared awareness. By right he shouldn’t manipulate the information channels but as of now, he should use what he can. He’s only carrying out what there needs to be done. If it’s for the sake of the greater good, one should be prepared for some impropriety. Mamoru agrees readily, saying that he’ll do lots of coverage on Hibiki this week.
Taking in an abandoned puppy
Wataru fends off the attacker successfully, who falls down and loses consciousness. Nozomu recognises the attacker as one of Fukami’s men, and guesses that Fukami wanted to get rid of him. He purposely speaks in a cheerful manner, and thanks Wataru. He points out to them that the boat is leaving soon and to be on their way. But once again, Wataru persuades Nozomu to join them. If he remains here he may be attacked again, but Nozomu replies that he doesn’t care. Megumi can’t help but pity him. On the surface he acts strong and like he can live alone, but inside he’s sad and empty. She knows that feeling all too well as she was the same before, so she can’t leave him be. As Megumi calls out to Nozomu, Wataru hits Nozomu to both of their surprise. Wataru tells him not to give up on himself. Whether he helps them or not is up to him, but Wataru will make him go on that boat with them to the mainland. Just as Nozomu has his own choice, so does he – and he doesn’t want to see his friend die. Megumi takes Nozomu’s hand, and also asks him to come with them. Like Wataru said, he’ll be in danger here. She apologises for saying that she wanted to make use of him, but Fukami is way worse for making use of Nozomu and then treating him like this. She questions if he’s really alright to remain this way. Nozomu’s face twists in pain, and after a brief silence he agrees. Even if it’s for a short while, he’ll do it for them. He’ll let her make use of him. In the end, all three of them board the boat.
The crafted script, actors
After Mamoru leaves, Hibiki checks a petition direct at a foreign engineer. As he checks the dictionary, he recalls the summer memories when his friend’s mother would teach them the basics of Mathematics, Japanese, English, German etc. Thanks to that experience, he could live till today. When he entered the navy, he wanted to return all the monetary help he received but they refused. There was a period when they weren’t on really good terms, when Hifumi and his sister married. But that dissolved after both sides lost their family. Hifumi’s parents blamed themselves heavily for their deaths. As a result of being trapped by the chains of appearances, they lost their most important one. Following that, even after Hibiki left the army and wandered around they still occasionally kept in touch. Even though they haven’t met for several years and Hibiki thought that he wouldn’t rely on them again, they responded when he sought for their help when he came upon the disaster here by sending goods.
Soon, Satoya enters and reports that both Megumi and Wataru boarded the boat safely. Though there was an attacker, Wataru handled him and Satoya himself took care of the other two behind-the-scenes. They can question them now. Hibiki tells him that he was also attacked this morning, but being a former navy man he took care of the guy. Fukami must be at his wit’s ends now to do such a thing. Satoya calms himself down, and goes on to say that Nozomu joined them. Hibiki doesn’t appear surprised at his explanation, and this only confirms Satoya’s suspicions. Satoya remarks that everything went according to Hibiki’s way like a story and questions if Hibiki planned all of this. From what he heard, the men were there as they knew that Megumi and Wataru were going to the mainland. Hibiki doesn’t seem to have any intentions of spilling the truth, so Satoya doesn’t pursue. He’s decided to follow Hibiki and will believe his own instincts and protect Hibiki. The older man laughs at this, commenting on how Satoya is a good guy. This leaves the younger man surprised. They then leave to go interrogate the men, who will certainly make good witnesses against Fukami.
At the mainland, Wataru parts ways with Megumi and Nozomu. At the office, Megumi also contacts Koukaseinendan to inform them of the situation. They don’t seem surprised, and tell her to watch over Nozomu. While they’re waiting in the room, Nozomu also notices that they’re being welcomed as if they expected two people to come over. In the end, everything went according to that person’s plans, as he made use of all of them. Megumi knows this, but says that it means she has enough value to be made use of and is happy. She thinks Nozomu understands too, since he came here knowing that he’ll be made use of by her.
At the same time, Hibiki continued to act as a mediator to put together the revisions to Dokusenkounyuuken. For the Shoutengai prices, the Shoutengai president managed to set reasonable prices. As for tax rates, instead of lumping everything together they separated it for the necessities such as food from the luxury goods such as alcohol and tobacco. Beniichi was held without much problems. With the cooperation of the government officials, they imported enough necessities for everyone as a temporary measure. If Dokusenkounyuuken is to be abandoned, they’ll need to separate the market economy completely from government control, to have a free market. It took a lot of effort to explain and seek understanding on this issue. As for now, they managed to convince the Shoutengai president, as well as other influential people and now they’ll need to explain to the people too. It won’t go smoothly at first, but there’s still time till the actual implementation. Till then, they’ll make the necessary arrangements in advance and slowly work their way towards it. While Hibiki is acting as the mediator, Satoya is leading Koukaseinendan.
Everything is going smoothly, and now they’re taking turns to guard Hibiki in case there’s a rebellion. It’s Satoya’s turn to guard that night. Just then, he hears a noises from Hibiki’s room and it turns out that Hibiki collapsed. The paper lantern fell and Satoya quickly puts out the fire. Hibiki stops Satoya from calling the doctor, saying that it’ll pass and blaming it on age. Satoya thinks otherwise, saying that he heard everything from the doctor. He asks why Hibiki is doing so much for the island. Previously, he told Nozomu that he had a duty to fulfill, but to what? Satoya thinks that he’s long fulfilled his duty for the island, or is it something he needs to do at the extent of his own life? Hibiki replies that at first it was just the flow of things. This island is similar to his own village, which he could do nothing for. That’s why when he saw the disaster’s effects here, he instinctively acted. Though he said it was a duty, it was more of making up for his sins. But now he truly wants to protect this island. Satoya asks if it’s ‘cos of Megumi, but Hibiki doesn’t give a clear answer.
After everything is over, Megumi returns to the island by boat on her own. It’s only been six days and her experiences with the outside world remain vivid in her mind. It was her first time to see cars, trains and so on. The buildings, clothes etc. and all different. Even though Hibiki says that the economy is not doing well, one can hardly tell. Still, if she were to choose she would want to remain on the island. By leaving it, she realised just how much she liked it. She was born there, raised there, and wants to continue living there. And if possible, she hopes to live with Hibiki from now on. That night, she has a dream. Karyuugai is on fire, and people panic and escape as it spreads. But Megumi merely stands at the gate watching – neither helping to put out the fire or running away. Just then she sees a familiar figure, Hibiki, smiling as he walks into the flames. But somehow Megumi can’t advance past the gate, and no matter how much she calls out to him he ignores her. He continues walking till the flames consume him. Megumi wakes up in a cold sweat, and goes on the deck. She recalls her realistic dream, and her limbs are still trembling. A brilliant moon hangs in the night sky. Megumi realises just how much she loves Hibiki.
Bathe in the moonlight
Hibiki gazes at the night sky. One of the reasons why he likes the island is due to its beautiful moon. He thought that the moon looks the same no matter where you are, but the buildings and climate here draw out its beauty. Megumi will finally return tomorrow. He experience a lot after coming to this island, especially recently. There are still other problems, but the issue with Fukami is finally reaching an end. By right, the people here should solve their own problems. It’s said that the moon influences its surroundings. It’s true that after meeting Megumi and watching over her, he came to truly work for the island. Previously when he mentioned Megumi’s situation in his speech, perhaps it’s was ‘cos he was also deeply impressed by her. He may have been unknowingly influenced by her too.
Megumi returns and dashes into Hibiki’s arms. Due to that dream, she couldn’t help but be worried and she tears up. Hibiki hugs her back, and says that he kept his promise to her. He’s also glad to see her, and reassures her that he’s feeling well. Megumi then realises Satoya and quickly lets go of Hibiki. Later, Megumi reports to Hibiki how things went and he praises her. She rejects his suggestion to rest, as she wants to see things till the end. So Hibiki tells her to come with him, to see how the future of the island will be with her own eyes.
Nowhere left to escape, and then……
They arrive at the town hall, which is surrounded by crowds of people. Megumi learns that this situation has been going on for nine days already. The residents who were once disconnected from each other are now united as one against Fukami. They’ve stopped only thinking of themselves. Fukami hasn’t shown up since the day they started crowding the town hall. But it’s doubtful that he can escape from this island with the situation now. The crowd notices Hibiki and cheer, as they part ways for them to go to the entrance. Inside, they only find Fukami and no signs of the mayor or bodyguards. Hibiki addresses Fukami with the crimes he’s been suspected of, but Fukami remains still, gazing out of the window. Hibiki adds that the police will soon be here to take him away to the mainland. After some time, Fukami sighs loudly and turns to face them. He remarks that Hibiki has really done a lot for this town, even asking for the help of the army he hated so much. He wonders what benefits Hibiki has to gain. In response, Hibiki replies that there’s much to gain from removing the person who sent this town into chaos with a dictatorship-like governance. The town is now in union to solve the problem. Fukami points out that they’ve only found a potential enemy and once he’s gone, they’ll fall apart again. Hibiki merely says that it’s a problem to face after that, and Fukami’s crimes can’t be forgiven.
Fukami though, claims that he was only working for the good of the town, which triggers Satoya to raise his voice. Fukami stands firm, citing that the main government party cabinet will soon collapse and one which includes the army will take over. If so, the government stand towards demilitarisation will weaken and stop cutting down on army funds. It’s true that there isn’t any grant in return now, but in the long-term one can say that they’ll invest a lot in this island if a garrison is built here. And even if they’re soldiers, more people here means more customers. Hibiki however, remarks that it’s all his wishful thinking. In return, Fukami says that it’s the best solution for the residents who want to return to the old days, and that they’re lucky that the timing is right as the state of the country shifts. Hibiki immediately realises that he’s talking about a coup. Fukami adds that the signs now are still small, but if the army continues to be forced to a corner the generals will surely make a move. Hibiki recognises this reasoning, but it still doesn’t excuse Fukami from his personal motives. The older man merely replies that it’s collateral, and that it’s brilliant as no one loses out. As if feeling proud, he laughs aloud.
Unable to take it anymore, Megumi bursts out saying that the majority didn’t support the garrison proposal, yet he made it out to be the only solution and forced it on them. And if a garrison is built, it means that this island will become the front line in times of war – he didn’t consider the safety of the people at all. Fukami merely says that they’re separate issues. He was only employed to solve the financial issue. They can’t have everything in life – a comfortable, luxurious lifestyle, and safety. There’s no such convenience in reality and with high rewards comes high risks. Megumi admits that they’re always thinking of themselves and not of others. But they’ve started to unite and as long as they are, they can come up with a solution to better the island, and overcome the hardships. The residents are not as stupid as he thinks they are. Fukami shrugs her words away, for he doesn’t care. Just then, the door opens and uniformed men with an arrest warrant come to take Fukami away. As he’s led away, Fukami tells them not to be trapped only by the problem in sight and to not lose sight of the bigger picture. They’ve won, but they’re left behind not feeling well at all.
A roaring speech all over the island, the future of Koukashi
Left behind in silence, Megumi recalls Fukami’s last words. She realises that the mayor is not in sight, and in that case that means there’s no proper statesman governing the town. Hibiki and Koukaseinendan can’t take over, but they would be made to take the lead. Megumi questions if what Fukami said is all wrong. Can they suggest a reform proposal which is the future the people want? Hibiki answers that what Fukami said isn’t wrong, but it is wrong to secure the government funds yet threaten the safety of people’s lives. In that case, what was the point? It’s true that they don’t have a plan to suggest in place of Fukami’s. Satoya questions if they can continue like this, and Hibiki says that they won’t know if they don’t try. Satoya agrees that what they can do is to listen to the people and come up with the best plan. Their success is for the people, by the people. The real battle only starts now, to regain their lives. They leave the room and outside people cheer. Hibiki starts addressing them, and the people decide to call everyone (those who aren’t present) and gather at the central plaza. Some hours later, everyone crowds at the said location and Megumi observes from backstage with Satoya. Hibiki explains what happened with Fukami again, and about his own past. He apologises for drawing confusion with his past. They’ve avoided Fukami’s threat, but they haven’t solved the root problem yet. In fact, they have a blank sheet for a counter plan. But if they all unite to better the island, they can definitely find a way out. To understand and respect each other, and aim for the common goal. The crowd cheers in response. Megumi sees that they’re no longer taunted by uneasiness. They know that prioritising themselves won’t gain a solution. People don’t live alone. They can’t live long by stepping on others. If they want a long and stable life, they have to be aware of everyone else and bond with them. Hibiki starts the meeting immediately, and opinions start pouring in. The meaningful time flew past and soon it’s evening time.
Happy times should’ve visited
After the meeting, everyone celebrates by holding a banquet at the harbour as they discuss about the town. One would not have imagined that just a while back, they didn’t care about each other. Megumi remarks that it was thanks to Koukaseinendan‘s hard work that they changed. Satoya thinks that they didn’t change, but they were like this from the start. It was just that they didn’t have enough time to react to the situation with their livelihoods being pressurised and Fukami instigating them. Their way of thinking may be a bit shallow, but he believes that it’s different now. Like she said, they aren’t that stupid and will definitely better the town. When asked where Hibiki is, Satoya remarks that he’s probably tired with a heavy burden off his shoulders. If he doesn’t take things easy by now, he’ll really collapse. Megumi recalls the doctor’s words, and for some reason feels uneasy. Just then, there’s a commotion as people realise that a fire has broke out in Karyuugai.
>> AIJOU (LOVE) ROUTE
The light which saves the hero
Recalling her dream, Megumi has a bad feeling and dashes towards the scene. She reaches the gate and people are running, screaming or frozen to the spot. She spots Ayame who confirms that everyone is safe since they all went to the banquet. A Koukaseinendan member gives out instructions for the men to bring out valuables from the buildings not burnt yet, and for the women to put out the nearby fires with buckets of water. Ayame calls for people to help put out the fire – everyone pitches in to help, not just Karyuugai. Meanwhile, Megumi frantically searches for Hibiki till she sees Mamoru coming out, carrying furniture. He’s relieved to see her safe. One of the two steam fire engines got burnt, so things aren’t looking too good. She asks if he saw Hibiki, and Mamoru questions the crowd. The Koukaseinendan member replies that after giving them instructions, he went to check if anyone else was left. It doesn’t look like he’s returned yet. Hearing this, Megumi immediately drenches herself in water before dashing in. It’s not long before she chokes and tears up at the smoke. But by kneeling down, she finds fresher air on lower grounds and advances with her handkerchief over her mouth. If Hibiki knew this, he’d probably call her reckless. Maybe he’s already back at the gate but it’s fine. Soon, Mamoru grabs her shoulder as he chases after her.
Hibiki hears someone crying. He doesn’t deserve to wipe those tears though, for leaving her behind. Hibiki opens his eyes and finds himself in Koukarou, collapsed beneath debris and a girl crying before him. He recalls that he was about to return, but heard someone crying and found the girl hugging a cat in a room. It appears as though she was searching for the cat and ran off by herself. He brought her down, thinking that Koukarou was still safe since the fire hadn’t reached it yet. But just then a sudden explosion was heard and he was caught in the impact and blacked out. The building next-door probably exploded. He has no fatal injuries, but he can’t get up due to the debris. Koukarou is already in flames. The girl constantly apologises, and Hibiki checks if she’s fine. He calms her down, telling her not to cry as it isn’t her fault. She protected the cat and so to it, she’s a hero and heroes shouldn’t cry when in danger. The girl wipes her tears, and he next tells her that she has to act on her own. She’s a hero so she can make it out. First, he tells her to wet her clothes with the water from the fish tank, and to escape from the back entrance. Since she appears to have grown up here, she should be familiar. He tells her to stay low, to cover her mouth her her sleeve, and to not breath too deeply is possible. Hibiki also tells her to leave the cat with him, lest it escapes while she’s leaving. He’ll wait here with it for help to come so she should hurry. The girl does as told.
Mamoru wants to bring Megumi back, but she refuses firmly. Just then, they hear a girl’s voice. Mamoru sees her and carries her, as she tells them that there’s still a man and her cat in Koukarou. Megumi confirms that it’s Hibiki, and just then the cat comes running after the girl. Megumi gives the girl her handkerchief to use. Mamoru seems to have predicted what she’s going to do, as he looks at her with a sad gaze. She reassures her brother that they’ll definitely return, and he smiles in return telling her to do so. They part ways, and Megumi soon finds Hibiki and lets him know that the girl is safe. She ignores his words, and removes the debris off him. She refuses to give up even when she collapses under his weight, when trying to shoulder him up. She soon realises that Hibiki is deliberately doing so, as he remarks that it’s probably fate that he’ll die here. But she’s still young and should live on. Megumi remarks that she’s stupid, but he’s way more stupid. He once said that he lost everything back then, even his will to live. Does that mean that all he did here was ‘cos he wished for death? Hibiki remains quiet, and Megumi struggles to get up again. It’s true that if Hibiki dies here, it’ll be a well-tailored one. Koukashi‘s root problem isn’t solved, but even without Hibiki everyone has become motivated with his will. He’s now satisfied now that he only meaning to live on is fulfilled. And then he’ll recall his past while dying in the sea of flames. He may be alright with it, but she isn’t. Even if he may die of old age, she doesn’t mind and will look after him. He will remain in her heart and she’ll think proudly of him. But right now he’s still breathing, and she can still move. They can still live on and giving up now is equal to suicide. She won’t approve of him being a hero is he chooses to give up living. So even if he wants to die, she won’t give up – she won’t choose her or Hibik’s death.
Seeing her tear up, Hibiki remarks that he made her cry again. In response, she tells him to take responsibility. He looks at her briefly, before apologises and asking her to help him. Megumi wets themselves with the water from the tank, before breaking the tanks so that the water puts out the fire nearby. She feels bad for the fishes but it can’t be helped. They escape from the back entrance, and they talk to each other so as not to lose hope in this dangerous situation. Hibiki remarks that even if he’s saved from this fire he won’t be able to live long and will leave her behind. Even so if she says that she still loves him, then he’ll devote the rest of his time to her after he’s fulfilled his duties. Megumi agrees, happy that he would go as far as to say this. They reach the back entrance but the fire has spread there already. But they can’t give up, and prepare themselves to dash through as it’s the only option. Thankfully, Mamoru and Satoya come to save them, and others start putting out the fire. Megumi looks back as she thinks that nothing will remain even if the fire is put out – an old era’s end. Karyuugai suffered heavy losses due to the fire, as the strong winds spread the fire in an instance. Several quarters were burnt down, but thankfully no one died as almost everyone was at the banquet. It was a miracle that only few were injured, but Karyuugai is no more. The damages were in millions, and it was impossible to rebuilt Karyuugai considering the drastically low government funds. And so the short history of Karyuugai came to a close.
END: ……May the moon, on this world
It’s been 3 years since the fire incident. After the fire incident, Karyuugai was in ruins and the people there lost their homes. Even using the town hall as an emergency shelter was not enough, so they also temporarily lived in the ryokans in Onsengai. There, the women did emergency feeding and the men cleared the ruins in Karyuugai. This was not instructed by the government or by Koukaseinendan, but by the people themselves. With the knowledge and training from 4 years ago after the disaster, they could naturally take the initiative. And the Karyuugai people themselves remained strong, so upon seeing them, it influenced the rest to encourage each other and work together. Still, the root problem wasn’t solved. With the government office not functioning, there was no waiting and a mayor election was held. Hibiki was suggested, but he formally refused and instead suggested the Onsengai president. He was hesitant at first due to his old age, but accepted in the end on the condition that it’ll only be till someone suitable appears. Every night they held meetings on how to revive the town with what little funds they had left, but couldn’t all agree. Then, Wataru used his family’s wealth to buy over the ruined lands of Karyuugai. He then built textile factories, as apparently he considered this from before. Immediately, a foreign engineer came along with the latest weaving machines. As of now, the women who lost their homes work there. It’s nothing fancy and pays less, but it’s stable and now they’re free. They do everything from start to finish, and export outside. And so the textile industry started to grow and right now the factories are aiming to better the quality further.
Recognising his achievements, there was talk of Wataru being the next mayor. Supporting him, was also Koukaseinendan led by Satoya now. There was opposition at first due to his family relationship with a foreigner, age etc. but slowly they died out and once Wataru reached the regulated age he took over as mayor. And so he became the youngest mayor in history, and he sought to further improve the import system and distribution of goods. Assisting him was Nozomu, who set up a new consulting firm. With his unique consultation techniques, he helped to improve the tourist industry which was dying out. Each of them fulfilled their own roles, and helped each other. The twisted system of Koukashi was slowly being mended. There’s still a low rate of self-sufficiency, and other problems such as the education level and tourist numbers, but surely everything will slowly improve. With everyone walking on their own paths, Megumi is working in the fields. She officially took over the house and store from Mamoru, and started growing vegetables in a field she made in her garden. At first it was difficult, but with each year the soil got better. Now all of the items sold in her store are made with her own home-grown vegetables. It’s still far from 100% self-sufficiency, but she’d like to gradually increase the amount of ingredients she’s growing.
Outside, Ayame greets Megumi as she passes her 20 eggs from a neighbour, thankful for the vegetables Megumi always sends. Ayame then asks where Sanehide, Megumi’s son, is. Megumi replies that he’s playing at a neighbour’s place and invites Ayame to come see him as she’s going to fetch him soon. However, Ayame has work at Onsengai now and excuses herself. Including Ayame, some of them work during the day at Onsengai as geigi. After finishing up, Megumi goes to fetch her son and gives the neighbour vegetables as thanks for always looking after him. Megumi no longer holes up at home or in the store, she’s now become more proactive. She now knows the importance of ties with other people, and what Hotaru’s ideal truly means. One is to think for the other person and his/her situation, understand and satisfy the person – like a family. Before she only pretended to know and placed a distance between herself and others. She reopened the store thanks to her customers. She was saved by them so now she helps in return too. The important of ties with other people was Hotaru’s ideal, and is now her ideal. Megumi brings Sanehide back and checks her mail. She receives a letter from Mamoru, who’s now working at a newspaper company in the mainland as he wanted to broaden his horizons. Till the very end he was worried about leaving her behind, but she said that she wants him to do what he wants. Now, they exchange letters every week. Her days are busy but fulfilling.
At night, Megumi sees how Michinari is, her husband who’s lying down on the futon. He didn’t eat dinner, apparently he can hardly swallow now. He was once so strong but now there isn’t any sign of that. After the fire incident, the doctor said that he only had a few months left. It was after that that Megumi realised that she was pregnant. Though previously he promised to take responsibility, she couldn’t immediately tell him not knowing when he’d die. But in the end she decided that it was better to be a widow in terms of appearances. After marrying him, she gave birth and he named their son Sanehide, hoping that he’ll become a good person. Michinari reaches for her hand, as he says that even though the doctor said he only had a few months left he made it this far. Though Megumi replies that she’ll be troubled if he doesn’t live longer, she observes his vacant eyes. She closes her eyes, as if praying for him. She didn’t cry when it was said that he’ll die soon, as she was prepared to support him as his wife till then. She opens the sliding door as she remarks that it’s a beautiful moon tonight. Michinari says that if she didn’t tell him to live he wouldn’t be here today. He’s thankful to her for always supporting him, when he’s lying down here, when he was working Koukaseinendan. And now he has a son, though it’s a pity that he won’t be able to see him grow further. Michinari recalls how he met her 3 years ago, when she was still a young girl but now she’s matured into a good mother and wife. Though he said that he’ll give her the remaining of his time, he made her wait a lot. And in the end it was only one month with her having to look after him. After the doctor said the news, Michinari kept it a secret and worked behind-the-scenes for Koukaseinendan all this time till he collapsed a month ago.
Megumi remarks that women are the ones who wait. While waiting, they think of their loved one and they’re happy like that. Hearing this, Michinari replies that his sister may have felt the same way. He’s regretful that he can hardly leave anything behind for them. Most of his wealth was used for the recovery of Koukashi, and for the Karyuugai people who lost their homes. But Megumi answers that as he promised, he gave her his time – not as a hero but as her husband, as their son’s father, as Otowa Michinari. Plus, he gave her the most important treasure, their son. Michinari remarks on how beautiful the moon is tonight, and Megumi agrees. Just then, their son cries and Megumi leaves to see to him. He asks her to leave the door open to look at the moon. After she leaves, Michinari stares out at the dark garden. He can’t see the moon, as his vision has actually been failing since the fire. He’s now living in a hazy world. But he can always recalls the moon he saw in the past. Michinari stares at the ceiling, and reflects back on his past. It wasn’t a life full of things to praise, and he walked on the darker side several times. To think that he could now have a family, when he once abandoned his only family, couldn’t save his friend, and made use of those who believed and respected him. Still there was someone who stuck by him. They say love is blind, but he does wonder what exactly is good about him. Back then, he questioned why only he miraculously lived on, and now he finally has the answer.
One may liken it to farming. You plow the field, plant the seeds, and finally it bears fruit. The harvest will become the energy of the future generation. To Koukashi his existence is like the farmer, building the fields which will connect them to the future. After coming to this island for four years, Koukashi has finally broken free of the chains of its old conventions and moved onto a new era. For that he pushed himself a lot, but now his life wasn’t for naught – there was meaning in him living on. Michinari closes his eyes, and whispers for the moon to become the light to shine on this world. 3 years after the fire incident in autumn, the people’s hero regrettably passed away. The credit he left behind contributed a lot to Koukashi‘s recovery. His name will probably not be carved into history, and his existence will gradually be forgotten after his death. But there’s proof that he lived in this world – his child and grandchildren.
>> IZON (DEPENDENT) ROUTE
END: A full new moon
Recalling her dream, Megumi has a bad feeling and dashes towards the scene. She reaches the gate and people are running, screaming or frozen to the spot. She spots Ayame who confirms that everyone is safe since they all went to the banquet. A Koukaseinendan member gives out instructions for the men to bring out valuables from the buildings not burnt yet, and for the women to put out the nearby fires with buckets of water. Ayame calls for people to help put out the fire – everyone pitches in to help, not just Karyuugai. Meanwhile, Megumi frantically searches for Hibiki till she sees Mamoru coming out, carrying furniture. He’s relieved to see her safe. One of the two steam fire engines got burnt, so things aren’t looking too good. She asks if he saw Hibiki, and Mamoru questions the crowd. The Koukaseinendan member replies that after giving them instructions, he went to check if anyone else was left. It doesn’t look like he’s returned yet. Hearing this, Megumi immediately drenches herself in water before dashing in. It’s not long before she chokes and tears up at the smoke. But by kneeling down, she finds fresher air on lower grounds and advances with her handkerchief over her mouth. If Hibiki knew this, he’d probably call her reckless. Maybe he’s already back at the gate but it’s fine. Soon, Mamoru grabs her shoulder as he chases after her.
Hibiki hears someone crying. He doesn’t deserve to wipe those tears though, for leaving her behind. Hibiki opens his eyes and finds himself in Koukarou, collapsed beneath debris and a girl crying before him. He recalls that he was about to return, but heard someone crying and found the girl hugging a cat in a room. It appears as though she was searching for the cat and ran off by herself. He brought her down, thinking that Koukarou was still safe since the fire hadn’t reached it yet. But just then a sudden explosion was heard and he was caught in the impact and blacked out. The building next-door probably exploded. He has no fatal injuries, but he can’t get up due to the debris. Koukarou is already in flames. The girl constantly apologises, and Hibiki checks if she’s fine. He calms her down, telling her not to cry as it isn’t her fault. She protected the cat and so to it, she’s a hero and heroes shouldn’t cry when in danger. The girl wipes her tears, and he next tells her that she has to act on her own. She’s a hero so she can make it out. First, he tells her to wet her clothes with the water from the fish tank, and to escape from the back entrance. Since she appears to have grown up here, she should be familiar. He tells her to stay low, to cover her mouth her her sleeve, and to not breath too deeply is possible. Hibiki also tells her to leave the cat with him, lest it escapes while she’s leaving. He’ll wait here with it for help to come so she should hurry. The girl does as told. Mamoru wants to bring Megumi back, but she refuses firmly. Just then, they hear a girl’s voice. Mamoru sees her and carries her, as she tells them that there’s still a man and her cat in Koukarou. Megumi confirms that it’s Hibiki, and just then the cat comes running after the girl. Megumi gives the girl her handkerchief to use. Mamoru seems to have predicted what she’s going to do, as he looks at her with a sad gaze and Megumi dashes off.
Hibiki wonders if the girl was saved. If he didn’t notice her, a young life would have been sacrificed. If it’s for that, he’s willing to even sacrifice his own life in exchange. He recalls the past, the time when he couldn’t save his important people. He was filled with self-blame and regret. Hibiki starts to see illusions of Hifumi and his sister – saying that it’s unlike him to feel regretful as he’s always cruel and abandoning others; always thinking of himself and leaving her behind. Hibiki knows that it’s illusions, but can’t help but reach out for them. The first thing he did back then was to evacuate the villagers. They wouldn’t be able to extinguish the fire in time, and so he saved those still alive, especially the younger ones. They escaped to the riverside, with almost half of the villagers left behind – most of them the elderly. He stopped those from wanting to go back and save them, knowing that they won’t be likely to make it. But when he himself saw that his own family wasn’t there, he immediately dived back into the flames. Looking back, Michinari’s actions as a soldier, as a person was a failure. There, Hifumi refused to budge, saying that he was afraid all along to choose his sister yet she waited all this time by herself. He can’t leave her behind now. He’s not strong like Michinari. At that moment, he pushed Michinari away as the ceiling collapsed on them. It was a split second, but Michinari vividly remembered seeing how lives were lost then. Before he realised, his right arm caught fire and despite the pain it didn’t feel like he’d die then.
The next thing he knew, he was in the hospital. The doctor said that it was a miracle. But his right arm could hardly move, and he had ugly scars all over his body. It was more like despair, rather than a miracle. He’d lost everything. And after hearing the truth, he was appalled by how he’d been betrayed by what he’d been working for all this time. It was confirmed that the reason for the army’s numerous losses and information leaks was ‘cos there was an agent of the enemy country among them. Both the (land) army and the navy searched for the agent. But they were on bad terms too, and soon it became a competition as to who could find the agent first. The army then got information that the agent infiltrated a southern village as a villager. Upon approaching the village, the villagers chased away the soldiers upon realising their identity. The army panicked and without any proof, they forcefully set fire on the village with the reasoning that it was to destroy the agent. But from the start the information was false, and they realised later it was a trap by the enemy. The enemy had aimed for them to attack Michinari’s home village, who gained a lot of credit for the navy, to make the army-navy relationship worse. But the enemy’s main aim of creating a rift within didn’t come true. The enemy also miscalculated. It’s true that there was a grudge. But they had to admit that ruthless orders Michinari gave all this time, ironically, had saved both sides before. After that, they gave him a large sum of consolation fee to seal his lips, and he left the navy. Michinari didn’t hesitate to abandon others for his dream, and in the end he was betrayed by that dream and lost his important ones.
He laughs at himself, for being a huge fool. Soon he hears Megumi’s voice, and learns that the girl is safe. She removes the debris off him, but he says that it’s useless. In a trembling voice, Megumi questions if he plans to die. In response, he says that it’s fate. Megumi doesn’t rebut him, and tells him of the dream she saw. Hearing this, he remarks that it was her voice in the dream he saw then. He wonders if it was chance or fate that they both saw the same dream. Hibiki tells her to escape by herself, but instead she rests his head on her lap as she calmly says that it’s easier to talk this way. She’d rather die with him then abandon him and live on. He was regretful that he abandoned those two, thinking that he should’ve died instead. In that case, does he plan to cruelly do the same to her? Megumi remarks that he lived on though, and saved both her and Koukashi. Like the sun, he gave her light. She’s the moon, which shines thanks to the sun. She can somewhat understand his friend’s feeling now. She’s weak and can’t continue to shine without him. Hibiki remarks that she’s foolish, but he’s even more so. He then asks her to call him by his name for the last time. He’d abandoned his real name for years, yet he’s asking this now. Megumi does so, and says that she’ll love him forever. The flames soon consume them.
A flashback shows Hifumi remarking that the girl Michinari gets together with will be happy. He has the strange ability to make the girl by his side shine prettily. Michinari doubts this, saying that the girl must be like that from the start. Hifumi points out that everyone flocks him, but it’s also Michinari’s policy not to reject anyone who comes and pursue anyone who goes – he’s much more like a city person than himself. Still, he envies Michinari since he can always be with Hibiki. He remarks that Hibiki is always getting prettier, and how he can’t forget her at all. Just then Hibiki comes with dango and tea for them, causing Hifumi to panic. Next, it shows a letter from Hibiki written to Michinari. She writes of how she plans to remain single but how she also longs for Hifumi. At the end she tells Michinari to succeed his dream, for his dream is also her dream. He should cut away the chains binding him, and fulfill what he should fulfill. Karyuugai suffered heavy losses due to the fire, as the strong winds spread the fire in an instance. Several quarters were burnt down, but thankfully no one died as almost everyone was at the banquet. Unfortunately, due to going back to save the child, Koukashi‘s hero, and the girl who went back to save him, died. The damages were in millions, and it was impossible to rebuilt Karyuugai considering the drastically low government funds. And so the short history of Karyuugai came to a close.
END: The girl’s feelings left with nowhere to go
This branches off from This body which accepts his life. Instead of Hibiki letting Megumi take care of his burns, he tells her to go home for he has no time to play along with her. He thought that she would get hurt so he didn’t say anything before, but he can’t anymore. Hibiki let it pass for she was merely a young girl, but now she’s a part of Koukaseinendan. She should know the situation now, yet she merely came here to express her decision. There should be other things waiting for her to do. Truthfully, her worrying about him is bothersome. It’s an important time for Koukashi now, so even spending time like this with her is regrettable. He decides to exclude her from Koukaseinendan‘s activities from now on as he now knows that she isn’t suited. He heard that the Shoutengai president asked her to reopen her store, so she should focus on that. He has no intentions of hearing her opinions, and tells her to head home. Unable to say anything in return, Megumi dashes off and bumps into Satoya. He probably realised something from her expression, but she quietly walks away. Satoya goes to find Hibiki and asks about Megumi. Hibiki says that she probably won’t return here anymore, for he made it that way. Satoya asks if it’s ‘cos Megumi got attached to him, and Hibiki confirms this. But she’s still young, so surely she’ll find someone else who’ll light the fire in her heart again. It’s also better for her to go back to running the store. He then returns to work, and Satoya mutters something about his personality.
Megumi reaches the front of her house, and kneels down, crying loudly. Mamoru comes out and she dashes into his arms. He hugs her back, telling her to cry as much as she wants. No matter what others say, he’ll always be on her side. There’s no need for a guy who makes her cry either. Hibiki didn’t accept her feelings, she can’t return to that place anymore. Perhaps if she had been more mature she would’ve noticed his true intentions. But right now she could only cry. After that, she reopened her store. Hibiki never came again, and she never went to see him too.
Omg it’s finally over. Now where do I start? Personally I feel that Hibiki has the best Aijou end. It’s the only one where we see the people truly feel sorry towards Megumi and take the initiative to better the town. And finally, the whole atmosphere of the town changed for the better. In the others, it felt rather half-hearted. I didn’t expect to read the narration of Hibiki ******* away though……since there was the FD news. But yeah, what we see in Wataru and Nozomu’s routes also kind of overlap here, which again makes me think that Hibiki’s is the most complete end. Which brings me to the point that Satoya’s route is kind of left standing alone? It makes me wonder whether it was deliberately done or not, since Satoya is the only one out of the four who didn’t really receive proper education. So naturally he can’t solve the problems like the rest did. But I wonder if it had to warrant all that happened to Megumi in his route…okay wait, I’m off-topic! It was a really long ride but like I said I think Hibiki has the most complete route. Megumi was great, especially when she ‘told him off’ in the fire. Though I don’t think they have the best chemistry, I think their relationship reflected his sister and friend’s relationship a lot.
As for the Izon end, it isn’t as drastic (?) as the others. But, I can see where the difference lies. In Aijou, Megumi clearly says that she won’t approve of him being a hero if he chooses to give up living. Personally, I think that in the first place, Megumi admired Hibiki’s smart, swift and heroic figure in doing his best for the town. So she also becomes influenced to become proactive and change this town too. Whereas in Izon, she doesn’t say this and you get that end. She becomes content with just being by his side as she becomes more wrapped up in her feelings for him. ……this sounded so much better in my head, I’m not sure if my words make sense now. Anyway as for the end where they separate, can I just say that I was happy to end the game on that note despite it being a bad end? ‘Cos I got to hear Mamoru say that line homg
十夜兄さん vibes yay~ I hope his route in the FD does him justice. Also, I wonder when he disappears for a week in every route it’s always ‘cos Hibiki entrusted him that task? I’m pretty sure that it’s the case for this, Satoya’s and maybe Nozomu’s route but I’m not so sure about Wataru’s…
All in all, I can’t say that it was a fun ride but it was an interesting one. Takuyo is REALLY detailed and so sometimes I would just be staring at line after line describing the policies, initiatives, debates and so on……if you don’t enjoy this then don’t touch the game. I would argue that Getsuei’s main plot is basically Koukashi‘s economic crisis and how the main characters stand up to improve it, go with the flow, or end up getting caught in the mess. The romance kinda comes in second, which is fine (for me) ‘cos hey, you need to secure your purse strings first in order to live. I felt that all the sub-characters were nicely developed too
except freakin’ Sae what a b. Takuyo’s system is great as always (I made full use of locking and colour-coding save files), and I enjoyed all the extras you got to unlock. The music is lovely, and eventually when I was playing Satoya/Hibiki’s route I would go “oh no” if certain tracks played ‘cos I know nothing good happens with them. As I said before though, I can’t quite immerse myself in the game due to how heavy it is. I really think that if Megumi was voiced though, it would done wonders like StS did. You know, to hear at the start how distant she acts vs. how emotional she can get towards the end. Anyway, this is all I have for Getsuei – till the FD comes out. Applause for anyone who read through all five posts, they’re probably way over 123k words in total.