Have I mentioned that Sei is gay? ‘Cause she is. Really, obviously gay. I just want to make the point. I was ambivalent after reading Ibara No Mori. I am no longer ambivalent.
In case you feel like arguing that falling in love with a woman once doesn’t make you gay, with which I agree, let me remind you that, after Shizuka and she have their conversation, Sei comments that Shizuka is quite charming, and that she would have liked to get to know her sooner – they could have been good friends. Then Sei kisses Shizuka as close to the lips as she can. Still not convinced? Read on…
1) The New Year’s arc is written in first person, from Yumi’s point of view. It gives us some serious insight into her thoughts. The rest of the Yamayurikai do not show up for this arc, something that is done correctly in the manga, but not in the anime.
2) The entire first part is Yumi at home with her family on New Year’s Eve and Day – all very normal family interaction and establishes her relationship with Yuuki much better than the anime does. It turns out that Yuuki was conceived right after her birth then born prematurely, so that he’s a little small for a boy. It mortifies Yumi that they look like twins, but she’s glad he’s a boy, so not in the same school as her. She’s also very older sister-y to him, despite the fact that they are pretty much the same age.
3) Sachiko’s New Year card was drawn with calligraphy pen and ink – Yumi did hers on the word processor with clip art, last minute, because she forgot. :-)
4) Yumi hears the phone ring and her mother answer it, and based on the responses, she thinks it must be her grandmother, because her mother is speaking so formally. So she’s quite shocked to find out that it’s Sei.
5) Yumi’s first thought at Sei’s invitation to hatsumode (first shrine
visit of the new year) is that she might get to see Sachiko praying at the shrine in kimono.
6) Sei goes from speaking like an old man, wanting to see Yumi’s pajamas in her bag, to speaking like a child – probably just to drive Yumi crazy. When Yumi asks how Sei got there, Sei responds, “bun bun” – like a baby calling a car a “vroom vroom.”
Sei shoves a bag of sweets in Yumi’s coat pocket, then spends the rest of the scene reaching into Yumi’s pocket to pull out candy. (Yumi does, as well, so the scenes are accented with flavors as she puts pieces in her mouth.)
7) When they get to the shrine, Sei makes them get fortunes first. Yumi finds it hard to believe that Sei is even normally religious (and, in fact, Sei never prays while at the shrine), but when she sees that pretty young miko seem to be handing out the omikuji, Yumi becomes suspicious of Sei’s motives.
Sei comments that in Yumi’s family, she can tell that Maria-sama and Buddha live side by side, because of the smell of incense and sacred wine that comes from Yumi. Yumi starts to protest, but Sei just looks at her seriously and says that it was just a metaphor. Yumi think that she’s right though – although her family isn’t religious, they have ofuda hanging, and Yuuki has Buddhist objects from Hanadera Academy, while she, obviously, has Christian things from Lillian.
8) When they finally get up to the front of the line Sei does, in fact, flirt with the miko, giving them openly “eroppoi” looks – let’s call it somewhere between a leer and bedroom eyes, shall we? When the miko hands over the omikuji, Sei takes her hand and holds it.
On the way to the car, Sei keeps handing Yumi all the bags of food to carry – at some point Yumi feels as if she’s running away from home.
9) It turns out that *Sachiko * was the one who coined the “Gingko Prince” nickname for Kashiwagi. (And, btw, neither Sei nor Yumi can remember his name initially.)
10) There is no butler at the door of Sachiko’s house, like in the anime – really, all the servants are gone. Yuuki answers the door, to Yumi’s shock. Which brings me to this point – Yuuki did not lose a bet at the game center – he WAS the bet. His friend Kobayashi lost to Kashiwagi, so Kashiwagi got Yuuki for the night. ^_^
11) When Sachiko comes to the door, we get a *detailed* description of her clothes, her hair – even how her make-up is romantic. Yumi is overcome by the desire to turn around and shout, “This lovely woman is my onee-sama!” to everyone and anyone around.
12) Sachiko’s mother, Sayoko, is very relaxed and delightful. She tells Yumi right off to call her Sayoko, and that she will call Yumi Yumi-chan. (Yumi notes that when Kashiwagi called her Yumi-chan, Sei got pissed, but when Sayoko does, Sei doesn’t protest.)
I think that Kashiwagi is gayer in the novel than he is in the anime. Remember – Sei pegged him immediately in the first novel. Here he serves tea…traditionally a woman’s job.
13) Sayoko plays cards with everyone and Yumi begins to really like her. But when Yumi catches Sayoko-obasama pouting at Sachiko she wants to run up and hug the older woman, because she’s so cute! (I’m SO sorry we didn’t have time in the anime to get to know Sayoko better – she’s really adorable.) Oh, and Yumi recognizes the pout – she’s seen Sachiko use it on Rosa Chinensis.
14) Yumi catches Kashiwagi stealing sushi out of Sachiko’s box and gets indignant…even when she realizes that he’s probably just taking the things she doesn’t like, it still annoys her. In her head she calls him, “You bastard Kashiwagi” – in the same tone of voice that Rosa Gigantea uses when she talks to him.
Oh – when the sushi is opened, both Yuuki and Yumi hesitate to eat it, knowing that if they do, they will never be able to eat sushi again. ^_^ (I’ve had that problem myself, so I sympathize. Once you’ve had good sushi, you can never order it again at a place that’s mediocre.)
14) Unlike in the anime, (where Sachiko and Yumi never had this talk) Yumi *does* know about Kashiwagi’s sexual preference and she worries through the whole story about Yuuki. (Acting older sister-y again – and she’s very conscious of the fact.)
15) Kashiwagi and Sei get into an argument just before Sayoko comes by with the Nakakiyono paper and brushes. Kashiwagi complains that no one likes him because he’s too cool. Yumi think of Yoshino’s line – “your brain is turning into miso.”
Sei just clears her throat derisively.
Sayoko and the boys all do the Nakakiyono charm with the girls. Yumi complains that her writing is terrible – she’s not used to writing vertically, or right to left, or with a brush. Then she sees Yuuki’s characters and feels better.
16) And last of all, Yumi’s first dream of the New Year is this:
Sachiko, dressed as Benten, goddess of wisdom, is staggering under many large black boxes of sushi, while Sei, as Kokuten, god of wealth, has bags of takoyaki and roasted corn in one hand and in the other from her mallet flows a wave of candy, “falling down like a never-ending rain.”
I have to say that, with every Marimite novel I read, I’m falling harder for all the main characters. They’re just so darned delightful.
I’ve just finished the fifth novel, and am looking forward to jumping into the sixth one asap!
Once again, a fun book from Konno Oyuki, a woman for whom I have nothing but immense respect as a writer. (Except her puns kill me.)
Oh, and btw…Sei is really gay. ^_^