Valentinusu no Okurimono (Valentine’s Gift) – Part 2
“The Red Card”
Mifuyu is one seriously, unpleasantly obsessed person. In the anime, she seemed harmless and a little sad – in the novel, she’s creepy.
1) Mifuyu’s grandmother was a “old girl” of Lillian and her mother only ever wanted to go as a child. But they lived too far away and she couldn’t, so she focused her obsession on little Mifuyu. When Mifuyu was accepted for kindergarten, mom did a dance.
When Mifuyu’s father was transferred for work, mom complained that it was grounds for divorce (not that she meant it. Mifuyu tells us that they are very close – a little *too* lovey-dovey for her taste…)
When they returned to the area, Mifuyu was able to take the exam for Lillian students (since she was once, technically, a student) and got in to the high school.
2) Even though Sachiko and Mifuyu are the same age, Sachiko always acted like an onee-sama, even when they were little. (The anime did an incredibly adorable rendition of their story, so nothing new to add there.)
3) Because Sachiko had given her her handkerchief and had accepted chocolates in thanks, Mifuyu has, all these years, thought of Sachiko as someone with whom she could become friends. When she returned to Lillian, of course, Sachiko had no idea who she was. And this has scarred her.
4) She attempted to give Sachiko chocolates their first year, but found Sachiko confronted with a LONG line of first-, second- and even third-years, who Sachiko summarily dismissed with “What reason do you have for giving me these? What reason do I have to accept?”
This year Mifuyu gets to school super early to give her the chocolates, but when Sachiko comes through the gate, just can’t do it, because being near Sachiko is too much for her.
5) Mifuyu actually creeps herself out as she “stalks” Sachiko that morning. She remembers the treasure hunt and follows Sachiko as she heads to the greenhouse. The description of super-earnest Sachiko looking this way, then that, and taking a deep breath before entering to hide the card is really *cute.*
6) Mifuyu watches Sachiko refuse chocolates that day – she’s much more gentle and mature this year. The card, like Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart, weighs on her soul. She realizes that Sachiko’s card is meant for an angel – but that she herself is a devil.
The anime is almost identical to the novel with the exception of making Mifuyu less creepy. At the very end, when Mifuyu later sees Yumi once again, she greets Yumi who gives her a perplexed look. Mifuyu smiles, because she realizes that with the new hairdo, Yumi doesn’t recognize her at all. As Sachiko and Yumi walk away, Mifuyu thinks that they make nice soeur couple.
“The Greatest Day of Rosa Chinensis’ Life”
This part wins, hands down, for being my favorite of all the V-Day stories. LOL Guys will probably want to avoid this section, because 2/3 of it is menstruation-related.
1) Rosa Chinensis, Mizuno Youko is sitting alone on a bus. Which is good, because the section starts with her saying, “This sucks.” ^_^
She’s suffering miserable cramps. She’s annoyed that only women must suffer this feeling – it’s completely unreasonable. This month came with particularly bad cramps AND 5 days early. AND she’s coming down with a cold. AND today is the day of her university entrance exam.
(Oh, a quick digression – I’ve mentioned how the different characters “speak” differently in text. Sei jumps from really complex thoughts to simple language, Yumi is pretty straightforward, and Yoshino’s sentences are nigh on impenetrable. Well, Youko thinks in very adult sentences with a fair amount of kanji and combined kanji phrases.)
She launches on a long internal monologue about while she knows it’s evolution and all, having your period sucks rocks. ^_^
Not only is she miserable, but she really can’t take anything for the pain or fever, because it would make her dopey – and she had that entrance exam. She had no appetite for breakfast and only managed a 1/2 cup of hot milk, so now she feels anemic.
Now that the exam was over, she had taken two pills and was feeling pretty “duh” and she couldn’t remember why she was on the bus going to school at all. She knew there was some reason she wanted to go to school – but just can’t figure it out.
While lost in thought, Youko misses the bus stop for Lillian.
2) When she reaches the school, there is a line of students in front of the statue of Mary. Youko walks to the front where the student at the head of the line offers to back away so she can pray. Youko realizes that it is a line of students about to exchange chocolates and she remembers why she came back to school – it’s Valentines Day!
3) Once Youko gets to the school, she’s hemorrhaging (Not my choice of word – hers) and really needs to get to a bathroom. She’s looking for a western style bathroom, because its way less awkward – and anyway, she wants to sit. “Stomach hurts, stomach hurts, stomach hurts…” all the way to the buildings.
Since there’s so many girls at the school today, the bathrooms on the first floor all have lines, so Youko has to wait for a stall to be free. While she waits, she whines about how she has never before felt any kind of dissatisfaction with being a woman. She’s never felt that there, objectively, was any difference between the sexes, and she’s always been pleased with her life. She’s very grateful to her parents and her teachers. But this *really* sucks.
While waiting on line, she hears a bunch of girls running outside. She’s amused at the sounds and is glad that the school is so bustling.
4) Once in the stall, Youko hears a series of strange noises, then a girl’s voice shouting “She went in the window!” and more footsteps.
When Katsura asks Yumi what she’s doing climbing through the window of the bathroom, Youko is sitting there, listening. (You’ll remember that Yumi was running from pursuers during the treasure hunt.) When she realizes it’s Sachiko’s Yumi, we get a glimpse of how she feels about Yumi – which is very fondly. Sachiko’s cute little sister is someone that she likes to spoil, like an indulgent aunt. ^_^
Youko takes some more meds, washes her hands, and comes out into the hall in time to meet up with Yumi’s pursuers. She scolds them for running in the hall, which stops them from following Yumi. (They all speak to her in unison, which she finds amusing.)
5) Walking out onto the school grounds, the medicine has begun to kick in and Youko is feeling a bit shaky and odd – like she’s walking through water and all the other students are like fish swimming around. (Which leads one to wonder what *exactly* she took for the pain….)
6) As she walks, she finds herself collecting a retinue of underclassmen, who ask if they can walk with her. She feels like Momotarou, with her army, but they all comment how she has no “kibidango” (a dumpling that gave Momotarou special strength). The girls tell her that they are very happy to be able to accompany her and spend some time talking with her. She’s always been hard to approach because she’s so beautiful and smart etc, etc, but today she seems more laid back, a little bonyari., i.e., doofus-y. Youko laughs as she says that was rude.
This conversation makes Youko realize that she had taken the idea of the dignity of being Rosa Chinensis too much to heart. She never meant to be an unattainable honor student. In fact, she had always wanted to shrink the distance between the Rose Mansion and the rest of the students. At which point, she realizes that she has never once simply wandered the halls of the school and stopped to chat with the students – she’s always had somewhere to go, something she was busy with.
When they reach the Rose Mansion, she looks up at it and sees it completely differently today.
7) Sei is standing inside the Rose Mansion, with some crumbs or something on her face. Youko asks her what she’s eating. Sei wipes her face and smiles, “nothing.” She then goes on to say that Youko looks like Momotarou with his retinue, as done by a female impersonator. lol She greets all the underclassmen, with “welcome, cute guests.”
8) Eriko comes in, hairband slipping, tie in disarray and starts to run (!) up the stairs, exclaiming/asking if they’d heard that Rei’s card had been found.
9) Sei escorts Youko up the stairs, letting the underclassmen follow. When they get upstairs, they can all hear noise from behind the “biscuit-like” door. They all look at each other, then open the door. Inside the council room are 14 people in the room, laughing, smiling, chatting, having tea.
10) Eriko takes Youko’s hand and squeezes it, “Wonderful, isn’t it?”
Sei opens up the window and points out all the students wandering in and out of the mansion, and the school buildings. “At Youko’s request.”
Eriko agrees that they can all retire comfortably now.
11) When the signal is given that the contest is over, the students who were sitting at the table rise, and push their chairs back under the table and turn to the Rosas to thank them for inviting them, tears spring to Youko’s eyes.
Sei asks her is it’s her best day and Youko says no, it’s her “ideal” day – the most ideal day of her entire life.
Konno Oyuki begins the Afterword with the usual greeting passage in the beginning of each novel. She mentions that, as this novel was a continuation of the last, it didn’t have the greeting, so it felt an little lonely. ^_^
He then goes on to comment that these two novels are a sandwich: the greeting is the bread, the first section is ham, the next egg, etc.
There are so many food things in these two novels, I can only assume that she was writing hungry. ^_^
Conclusion? Youko’s more fun when stoned, and I worship the author.
Oh, and the “biscuit” door. The door to the Yamayurikai’s meeting room is *always*, without fail, described as “looking like a biscuit.”
Just so you know. ^_^