This book took me a lot longer to read than usual, mostly because of preparations for Onna! and getting Yuri Monogatari 3 to print, but also because of a number of other things which killed my free time completely.
It actually took me almost a week to just get these notes typed up…
There were less notes than usual, only about 10 pages this time. The anime did an exceptionally good job I think of these two episodes. I’m assuming,as a always, that you have seen the anime, and I’m just commenting on things left out, of interest or I forgot that it was there in the first place. ^_^
The prologue begins with a discussion of the inevitability of time. Time moves on, no one can stop it. At the end of February, when the 3rd-years’ pictures are taken for the yearbook, no one cries. It’s still in the future. But one day, traditionally, a countdown appears in front of the office “Two days until graduation.”
1) Yumi is positively *shocked* when she realizes that it’s Rosa Chinensis who has grabbed her. She’s sweeping the tree-lined path and is sure some classmate will see them. She thinks Youko may be possessed by a spirit, she muses, when Youko pouts at her(!) and kicks a pebble(!) cutely in protest.
Yumi wonders at all the Rosas using each other’s given names w/out honorifics. (This will come back as a theme over and over in this novel.)
Youko takes Yumi to the milk hall for warm milk. She explains that her parents gave it to her as a child – it’s become a comfort thing. As they walk, Yumi thinks about the school Youko has chosen and comes to the conclusion that she herself would not be comfortable at a co-ed school.
2) Eriko took several exams – she didn’t really care what course of study she took – she’s probably going to a fine arts school. Youko chose the school she tested for on her “greatest day”. She figured that passing that exam that day was a sign.
While she’s talking to Yumi, Youko begins to cry, even though she’s smiling. She’s going to law school because, although she wants to go to a fine arts school, she can’t really help people doing that.
Yumi thinks about Youko’s desire to do something meaningful – that she likes people, and wants to help them. She comments that it’s a good thing Youko doesn’t want to be a surgeon, because that would mean she likes to cut people up.
3) Yumi’s late. Shimako tries to defend her from Sachiko’s wrath “Shimako’s here, where is Yumi?” “We had different areas to clean.” Sachiko stands in front of them and demands an explanation – which sections did they have and how far away were they from each other. She says she wants to see whether Yumi’s excuse holds any water. Yumi is blown away – Wow, what magnificent sarcasm. She compares Sachiko to a stereotypical TV drama mother-in-law.
After she stops being annoyed at Yumi (who stops her cold with a mention of Rosa Chinensis,) Rei whispers that Sachiko was worried – Sachiko throws a fit and lifts a hand as if to strike Rei. But on second thought decides that striking a nidan (second-degree black belt) in kendo is a bad idea, puts her hand down and kicks a chair, instead. Rei teases her, saying that she shouldn’t keep her anger inside, stress poisons you.
4) Yoshino likens Rosa Chinensis’ last request to a confession of love, because some of her feeling is left behind with it.
5) This was in the anime, but slightly changed:
Yumi asks Shimako if Sei had any last requests for her, Shimako says that she gave none to her, but Yumi can go ahead and ask her. Yumi apologizes for being the one Sei hugs, but Shimako says she’s happy about it. Yumi gets suddenly anxious about Shimako and begs her to not go away anywhere. All of a sudden, Shimako seems to disappear and reappear, but have no real substance.
As Yumi holds Shimako’s hands, the teacher comes up behind them and takes their hands in hers. She apologizes for throwing cold water on this beautiful expression of friendship, but homeroom is starting…
Yumi is so embarrassed, that she wishes she had a backspace button with which she could erase the last three minutes – her head is buzzing and she feels like a teapot steaming. When Shimako mouths a-ri-ga-to-u to her, Yumi knows she doesn’t have to backspace after all.
6) Cut scene:
After cleaning that day, Yumi sees Katsura. She’s about to call out, when Katsura squats down and begins to cry. Yumi sees some girl holding a tennis racket, talking to Katsura as she, Yumi, was about to call out. (We are told that, during the Yellow Rose Revolution, Katsura and her onee-sama broke up, but were reconciled when it ended.) As Yumi watches the girl with the tennis racket, Tsutako arrives and tells Yumi that the girl wit the racket is the Vice-President of the Tennis Club. As the VP helps Katsura to her feet, Tsutako takes a picture of them. Yumi is about to complain, when Tsu says that that picture was taken at Katsura’s request.
The VP hands Katsura her racket. Katsura looks surprised, but takes it, hugging it to her. Tsutako narrates as all this is going on:
When Katsura split from her onee-sama during the Revolution, she fell for the VP of the Tennis Club.
Yumi immediately grasps the picture – Katsura akogare/admires the VP, but has an onee-sama who is feeling a bit uneasy right now in their relationship.
7) Yumi enters Sei homeroom and even though Sei is smiling, somehow Yumi senses that she’s not her usual self.
(At this point, I note in my notes that Konno Oyuki is genuinely a master of mood – in a sentence or two, we can really *feel* Sei’s melancholy.) Because Yumi thinks Sei’s melancholy is contagious, she takes Sei’s hand in sympathy. This surprises Sei so much that she springs to her feet in shock and Yumi sees an expression on Sei’s face that she’s never seen before.
8) As Sei tries to kiss Yumi, she tells her “Close your eyes like a good girl.” Yumi zooms in on the parts of Sei’s face that look Japanese and thinks that Sei is really lovely. In her head, the scene plays out like a movie shoot, hence the “Cut!” she cries out when she pushes herself away.
Yumi is torn. She’s not hating the idea of kissing Sei, but senses that it’s not really a joke – Sei’s quite serious about the kiss. Yumi’s feeling really torn, and feels genuinely bad for running away. As she stands there, thinking over her own reaction, Sei asks her what she’s thinking Yumi thinks, but does not say, “About the kiss. What else?” She’s thinking about it being a first kiss and the fact that the problem she was having with it is that it was on the lips. In her head, she hears Yoshino calling her fickle.
9) Sei picks on Yumi by telling her that she’s not going on to college at all. Having seen Yumi made her want to stay here as a student.
Sei also says, that although she was never very ordinary, after having met Yumi, she wishes she had been. She tells Yumi that she doesn’t want Yumi knowing where she is going to school, because she fears Yumi might coming running after her “beloved Rosa Gigantea.” Yumi laughs, but thinks that Sei actually hit the bull’s-eye with that.
Sei really did think it would be funny not to tell Yumi that she’d be at Lillian University, and see how long it took Yumi to notice her there. She’s going on to study English and American Literature.
(This seems unlikely, if you remember that she hates reading novels, but this is not true – she only learned to hate *romance* novels. Think about the scene in Ibara no Mori. where Sei reads the entire novel in about an hour. This is *not* the way a non-reader reads. Only hardcore readers read that fast. It was fairly obvious from other comments in her arc that Sei was always a serious reader – she mentions that she read alot by herself quite often. She’s the perfect Comp. Lit. major…says the former Comp. Lit. major. lol)
10) Youko watches the girls handing out flowers to the graduating seniors. She remembers that the year before, her classmates played janken to see who would do the honors, but she doesn’t remember playing janken. Then she remember that they all sort of voted her to do it unanimously.
11) Sei thinks the graduation program guide looks like a menu.
12) A classmate asks Sei if she’s nervous. Sei asks if she looks nervous. As she’s talking with the classmate, she thinks to herself that in all these years, she’s never really chatted nonsensically with a classmate before. Suddenly Sei blurts that she’s sorry that she didn’t ever contribute more to the class. The classmate says it couldn’t be helped. She adds that Sei was onee-sama to the entire school.
13) Sei fell asleep at her onee-sama’s graduation…
14) As a child, Eriko was not bored all the time – she was very class leader-y and “let’s go!” all the time.
Sei preferred to be by herself. When Eriko asked “Are you American?” all of a sudden, so impolitely, Sei just sort of snapped.
Because of the fight they had, Eriko and Sei remembered each other from kindergarten. In middle school, they were seated next to each other and Sei remembered her – which was unusual, because she didn’t remember anyone else from that time. At which point the classmate who Sei has been talking to is taken aback to find that Sei does not remember that they have been in classes together for more than one-third of their school years.
15) In her first year, Eriko was in Go club, in her second year, Calligraphy club. Third year was Table Tennis. Eriko was the one who pointed out Sachiko to Youko. She saw that Sachiko’s level of calligraphy was significantly higher than everyone else’s.
Upon meeting Youko, Eriko realized that the other girl was one of those “can-do” type people and immediately decided to not try and compete with her – even though Eriko had initially decided that she’d be class rep and honor student. (Eriko, Sei and Youko were all in the same class their 1st year in middle school.) Because Youko had gained the position of class representative, when Youko came over the first time, Eriko assumed it was to gloat. (Remember, Youko had transferred in to the school just that year.) Youko asked Eriko about her tie, instead, offering an awfully adult kind of reconciliation.
16) Youko is feeling terribly impatient with the graduation ceremony and only wants it to be over. She thinks that she just has to get past the formal farewell address and the reply and it’s over.
She’s sure that Sachiko will do well, but she wonders if her own reserve will hold, or will tears collapse the dam of her emotions. She also wonders if address and reply being done by soeur is accidental or on purpose…and whether it’s happened before.
As soon as Sachiko begins her formal reply, Youko thinks, “This is bad. Very, very bad.” Her eyes fill with tears almost instantly. But the dam that breaks first is Sachiko. As she stands there on the podium crying, Youko looks at Sachiko as if seeing her for the very first time.
17) When Rei joins Sachiko and continues the address, Youko is glad, but also a little jealous.
Youko doesn’t remember the last two graduation ceremonies she attended being this eventful. Last year the mic was broken and no one could hear anything.
18) In the anime, Youko wonders if, had it been she that cracked, would Eriko and Sei save her like Rei did Sachiko. She thinks they’d just laugh. In the novel, she thinks they’d *point* and laugh.
19) In middle school being in a club was mandatory, so Sei joined Reading Club, Youko was in Literature Club. Because of good grades in gym class, Sei was always getting invitations to join from the volleyball and softball teams.
20) Ultimately, Eriko doesn’t really know why she didn’t choose Lillian University.
21) Sei changes the words to the traditional song to fit Yumi – changing the word “beloved” to “adorable”.
22) Eriko is *really* harsh to Yamanobe. When he says he didn’t think he had the right to be there, she replies that because she wished it, he was worthy and so, should have come to the ceremony.
23) As Eriko and Sei think back on their original argument in kindergarten, Sei mentions that she eventually figured out why Eriko thought that she was American. She says that in the past, one of her relatives on her father’s side didn’t have Mongoloid genes. Apparently, she favors that ancestor.
Eriko responds, “Atavism, huh?” Then she asks if that ancestor was American, Sei says she doesn’t know – probably of mixed blood.
Eriko and Sei reconcile after 14 years of antagonism, but afterward, Eriko thinks to herself that Sei’s making it up, probably.
The end of the anime was pretty much word-for-word from the novel. ^_^