Valentinusu no Okurimono (Valentine’s Gift Part 1)
1) The second part of the novel, which takes place entirely on Valentine’s Day, begins with Yumi’s thoughts, “If anyone had red eyes that day, it wasn’t from crying. If so, a great calamity had had befallen up to a third of the entire class.”
Obviously, most of the girls had, like Yumi, stayed up late making chocolates and finishing hand-made gifts.
2) The day begins with Yumi overhearing all her classmates talking about their chocolates, about giving it to onee-sama in front of Maria-sama, or not being able to give it until after school, etc.
3) Yumi thinks, after being told by one of Sachiko’s classmates that they were all rooting for her in the treasure hunt, that for the 2nd-years the treasure hunt is much less urgent or desirable. After all, who wants to go out on a date with a friend whose desk you push against yours every day for lunch? Yumi thinks that she feels pretty much the same way about winning the ticket for a date with Shimako.
4) AGAIN we find Shimako’s behaving strangely, as Yumi find her coming out of the first-floor storeroom, with her face all red. Yumi assumes she was hiding her card.
This was in anime and manga, but I want to make the point that, Shimako isn’t so much acting unusually , but that Yumi *thinks* that she is. I point this out, because in every single novel so far, at least once, usually twice, we’ve seen Shimako doing something unusual, “mezurashii”. I’ve become convinced that this is the author’s way of pointing out that Yumi hasn’t a *clue* what kind of person Shimako is (much the same way she really didn’t know Yoshino at first), but more that no one – not even we the readers know the real Shimako yet. We know that we will, later, learn more about her and find that she really is hiding a secret, etc, etc, but right now, it’s just a thing here and there that makes her enigmatic.
Which makes me wonder how mortifying all this card hunt for a date must be to Shimako. All she ever wanted was to be a normal, unexceptional student, and here she is, an en bouton as a first-year, Rosa as a second year, super-famous star of the school, with people vying for a date with her. Poor Shimako!
5) Yumi asks Sachiko to meet her in the greenhouse after everything is over that day. Sachiko agrees, but has a “complicated” expression. (We will learn that the reason for it is, of course, that she buried the red card there, but neither we nor Yumi know that yet.)
6) When the time comes for the searching for the cards to begin, both Yumi and Yoshino are held back in the Rose Mansion to help clean up (and search the premises, subtlely).
When Yumi gets away, she finds herself being followed by a group of students and ends up climbing through a window to escape them. All of which was in the anime. What wasn’t in the anime was that she was caught by her classmate, of all people, Kagura the busybody, who immediately wanted to know what was up. Yumi lied and said that the
door to the bathroom (the window led to a bathroom) was locked. To ensure verisimilitude, Yumi goes back into the bathroom, locks the door, then climbs back out the window. lol
7) In the case of a tie, i.e., several people finding a card at the same time, the rules provided for a Janken Taikai – that is, a rock-scissors-paper tournament – as tie breaker. This is needed for Rei’scard, as it happens. Three students found it at the same time.
They found it because the newspaper had reported Rei and Yoshino’s interests reversed. Rei had hid the card in books that Yoshino liked (while Yoshino looked in books that Rei liked.) But because the newspaper had switched their interests, the other students thought Rei liked samurai novels and found the card. lol
8) When Sachiko and Minako head to the greenhouse to show where the red card was buried, they are accompanied not only buy Yumi, but about 10 disappointed Sachiko fans.
9) It is Tsutako who proves that the card was reburied. Sachiko has no clue how deep she buried it, but Tsutako had (for photographic record) measured the hole with a school notebook. The notebook had not been completely buried when she took the photo. Now, as they find the card, the notebook is completely underground.
10) Sachiko smiles at Yumi when she tells her that she believes her story of the other girl in the greenhouse, and Yumi wishes that time would stop, so she can just look at that smile forever.
11) It’s not stated in the anime (although there is a short manga by Hibiki Reine for Cobalt Shuiesha that tells of Yumi making “surprise chocolates” for Sei), but Yumi puts things like umeboshi (pickled plum, which is really salted apricots…don’t ask) and tuna in the centers of Rosa Gigantea’s chocolates. lol
The remainder of the book is the resolution of the Yellow Rose family’s chocolate issues, as seen through the eyes of all three girls. This is totally, completely different than the anime. And a lot funnier.
6:50 PM – It begins with Eriko, staring at the box she had just received from Rei, who had bicycled through the snow to give it to her. Eriko has not opened the box, but is sure that she has received the wrong box based on the size. It was much too large. Last year Rei had made bittersweet chocolate truffles and Eriko had adored them and asked for the same this year. But this box was the size of a shoebox
and couldn’t possibly have truffles.
After about 30 minutes of staring at the box, waiting for Rei to call and explain that she had given Eriko the wrong box, she hides the box (to keep it safe from her brothers and “tanuki father”) and goes to dinner.
7:18 PM – Yoshino stares at the box she had received from Rei, sure that she has received the wrong box. Surely this giant shoe-box sized thing was destined for Eriko? Yoshino’s thoughts are consistently the most convoluted and difficult for me to read, but in this case, her thoughts are meant to echo Eriko’s almost exactly.
Yoshino feels that her deductive abilities must be failing, because she can’t figure out what is in the box, and she wasn’t able to guess where the yellow card was hidden. She decides that her biorhythms are low. She also thinks that she wants to open the box, because her father is running late and they hadn’t eaten dinner yet. But what if the box isn’t hers?
7:30 – God, poor Rei! Not only does she have school and kendo club and her duties for the Yamayurikai, but when she gets home, her father expects her to train at his dojo, as well.
We learn that several years ago, unbeknownst to her father, Rei started giving his youngest students sweets on Valentine’s Day. Eventually, as the years passed, he learned about it and by this time it was just a tradition. He’d say to his students that his daughter made too much and so save face. (Dad’s a really traditional guy.)
Dad compliments Rei on her chocolate chip pound cake for this year’s handout, but when she offers to make it again, he says that if she has time to make more cake, she should spend it practicing. Lol
(We get this massive fanservice scene of Rei taking a bath while she does her thinking. I make this point, because I’m reading these novels as electronic text files, with no pictures. So, when I opened the actual book, I was not at *all* surprised to find a “naked Rei in the bath, looking impossibly bishounen” picture. LOL I’m telling ya – this scene was TOTALLY fanservice.)
Rei thinks that, as she’s used to midwinter practice, bicycling to Eriko’s in the snow was no biggie – but it was a tad lonely. She ponders how annoying it is that they don’t have a shower, and we learn that she sneaks over to Yoshino’s house to use the shower, especially in the summer, when she doesn’t want a hot bath.
We learn that Yoshino did give Rei chocolates. Not *quite* handmade. She bought commercial chocolate, melted it into molds and gave Rei those. Rei is totally happy at this because, despite the fact that it’s not really home-made chocolate, it’s a step towards them and it shows that Yoshino cared enough to try. So she’s terribly pleased with them. Yoshino, for her part, handed the chocolates over with the
romantic line, “Baka.” LOL
At which point, Rei’s brain “melts into miso” from the heat of the bath and “an intoxicating sense of accomplishment.”
11:00PM – Eriko
She stares at the box a little more and caves, since shortly it won’t be Valentine’s Day anymore, so she’d better eat it now. And she’s hungry from studying for exams anyway. Inside is a chocolate chip pound cake, which Eriko decides must be something Yoshino likes. She considers asking Yoshino what she got, in the morning, to see if there really was a mix-up, but then what? So she just eats a piece of cake. The flavor is sweet, (Yoshino’s favorite?) but really delicious. All she says about it is, “Hunh.”
11:PM – Yoshino
The first few sentences of this section are word for word the same as Eriko’s. lol
Once she starts to eat the cake, she’s annoyed as hell that she can’t stop. She finds the fact that it’s so delicious extremely vexing. She snaps the box with her fingers – exactly as Eriko does at the same time. She eats another piece and says, “Hunh.”
11:10 – Rei
And here we get the punch line to all this. As she’s lying down to go to sleep, she vaguely remembers that Eriko wanted truffles again. The truth was – she had *completely* forgotten to make anything for anyone, until that morning when she arrived at school and saw girls exchanging presents in front of Maria-sama. She called home and asked her mother to pick up chocolate chips and flour, ostensibly for Dad’s students, and after the treasure hunt RAN home, made six pound cakes, bicycled over to Eriko’s, gave Yoshino her cake and finally got home to go practice at the dojo and give the kids there their cakes.
As she falls asleep, she thinks that Eriko probably forgot anyway, and collapses into unconsciousness.
The last few lines of the novel extol the soeur relationship and how well soeur understand each other. LOL
Conclusion? I worship Konno Oyuki, she’s a hoot. I’m 3/4 through Valentine’s Day Gift, Part 2 – join the Yuricon Mailing List for the next installment of notes!