This novel is split into three sections, each following one of the three second-years of the Yamayurikai. All three stories happen simultaneously, something that was not, I think, communicated well in the anime. The weather is not only symbolic, it’s how you know *when* you are in the stories. Several of the scenes are seen through various eyes: the scene where the 2nd-years are all walking to the Rose Mansion and sigh, we see from Shimako’s and Yoshino’s viewpoint; the scene where Yumi and Yoshino share a moment at the shoe lockers are also in each of their sections. These are also indications that the stories are happening simultaneously and give you a frame of reference for “when” we are in any given story.
The anime did a fair job of each of the stories; the best of the three was Shimako’s. None of the key scenes were cut, but you did lose all of the characters’ thought processes, which make everyone – especially Yoshino and Sachiko – seem more heartless and/or capricious than they do in the novel. I also have to fault the animators for this – they did an abysmal job on the facial expressions. In one case in the novel, Sachiko is quite serious when talking to Touko and in the anime they have her smiling. It makes the essential meaning of the scene change completely. And puts more of the blame for the whole blowup on Sachiko, when it’s at least 40% Yumi’s fault. (45% Sachiko, %5 Touko.)
Touko isn’t evil.
She *is* a brat, but again, the animators made her seem more like she was an active participant in Yumi’s misery – and they gave her evil eyebrows, which make her seem suspicious. In fact, she’s quite boring, and utterly oblivious of any damage she causes, like most drama queens. She does have one very awkward habit of not being audible when she walks, so she suddenly *appears* on the scene with no warning, usually when someone has mentioned her, which also makes her seem scheming when she really isn’t.
These three stories can be summarized thusly: Shimako feels too much; Yoshino talks too much; Yumi doesn’t *do* enough.
11 pages of notes, but I have a new notebook, so whether that would have been more or less in the old system, I don’t know. And by the way…I didn’t mention this, but I posted 203 times in 2005, for an average of just about 17 times a month. Worrisome, if you think about it…. ;-)
Part 1 – Drops of the Rosary
The season is early summer. Shimako wonders why, during the season in which they change winter for summer uniforms doesn’t she feel lighter? We get an internal discussion of the fact that the winter and summer uniforms are functionally the same – not heavier/lighter material, just shorter sleeves.
Even though it’s not raining, Shimako feels in her heart as if it will never be clear again.
From the Rose Mansion they can hear the folk song club singing. (One day, I’m going to list all the clubs we’ve heard about…)
Sachiko, trying to convince Shimako to take Noriko as a soeur already, says “please take your time choosing a soeur, but do it before summer vacation.” (Shimako thinks that Sachiko is becoming more Youko-like, which isn’t surprising as she admired her onee-sama so much.)
Rei comments, but you didn’t choose until the school festival (She’s *nothing* like her predecessor…) Rei uses “nobinobi” – rattling around unattached, to which Sachiko takes issue.
Sachiko insists that she didn’t know of Yumi’s existence until the second term, and since *someone* had just rejected her offer, it was a bitter experience. At this point in the novel, Sachiko points at her cup, which is empty and Shimako (obviously the “someone” in question) fills it without comment.
Rei then calmly points out that it took Sei a long time to decide, so maybe it’s a White Rose tradition.
This scene was truncated slightly in the anime which lost several things – most notably Shimako’s feelings and Touko’s creepy ability to appear suddenly:
Noriko is described in the novels as looking like an Ichimatsu doll. You’ve seen them. They have dark hair medium length cut bluntly across the bangs and back…look it up on Google image search.
Shimako asks Noriko to go home with her and Noriko gets all happy (So cute!) She says she has nothing to do other than running around avoiding Touko. Shimako envies Noriko’s spontaneity – she was a little worried about Noriko adapting to Lillian student life, but she seems to be doing fine. Shimako feels thankful that Noriko is so capable of relating to everyone normally – but in a corner of her own heart, she still feels lonely.
As she’s standing there thinking about Noriko (waiting for Noriko to get her bag from the classroom) Shimako says out loud “Touko, she said” and Touko is suddenly *there* with no noise or warning. Shimako thinks that she doesn’t dislike Touko – which even she finds strange. ^_^
Touko complains that Noriko won’t join a club (if you remember, we learned that in middle school, joining a club is mandatory. It stands to reason that some girls would internalize that through high school, as well. I imagine that that’s why the administration make it mandatory. Touko says that it’s horrid that Noriko won’t, if not join theater club, then at least *some* club! Noriko whirls on her and says “which one of us is being horrid? Don’t involve Rosa Gigantea in this.” And she calls Touko – “Touko”, which is obviously against the rules. Noriko follows this up with a poke to Touko’s forehead. Watching Noriko throughout this, Shimako feels her chest tighten a little, in a good way. (Mine too – I am now officially a Noriko fan. ^_^)
Noriko tells Shimako that’s she’s just not interested in a club – she tells Shimako about being recruited by the bible club and Shimako has to smile at the idea.
Shimako thinks how similar they are, like polar opposites. She says, quoting her own onee-sama, that Noriko should consider a club, because high school life is so short and should be more than just studying.
Touko insists that Noriko should join anything: koto, tennis, ping-pong, handicrafts,. She becomes very impassioned, raising her fist in the air.
Shimako tells Noriko that she can wait and see. She and Noriko start to walk off. They walk in silence for a while. Noriko jokes that she was considering starting a club for Buddha statue viewing, but then says that she doesn’t want to join any clubs, in case she ends up assisting the Yamayurikai.
Three days after this conversation, Noriko visits the Rose Mansion for the first time. For Noriko’s benefit, Rei takes off the day from kendo club and during the lunch break Yumi and Yoshino drop by the Rose Mansion and clean really well.
When Noriko arrives, Sachiko has her smile on the highest setting, inviting Noriko to sit for tea. When Noriko refuses Sachiko’s offer, Shimako is dizzied by her bluntness.
Rei takes control of the conversation by insisting that Noriko be a guest for the day, thus avoiding Sachiko having a fit. Rei seats herself between Noriko and Sachiko. Shimako notes how skillful she is in handling the situation.
Noriko drinks her tea black, Yumi w/ cream and sugar, Yoshino with 2 dollops of cream until its beige. lol
Shimako sits there, her mouth totally dry, but drinking tea doesn’t help, she’s so nervous.
When Noriko is asked about her family, (Noriko has a little sister, btw) Shimako thinks she looks a little dubious (like, “why are they asking that?” when it’s kind of normal at Lillian to ask such things) so she answers for Noriko. Shimako is completely overwrought by now, worrying that “the Inquisition” will upset Noriko, but when Noriko seems at ease when she answers, she relaxes a little. Shimako catches herself thinking, “this is part of the process” then wonders “the process” of what?
Shimako thinks of her smile like papier mache – it never moves, and is very fragile.
Our Tsutako scene was truncated in the anime:
Tsutako calls Noriko Shimako’s “reflecting board” – she makes Shimako glitter. Tsu says that today Shimako doesn’t shine and says that she (Shimako) can confide in her (Tsutako).
Shimako tells Tsu that she really can’t explain why she’s down – she doesn’t have words for it. She doesn’t feel that she can ask Yumi or Yoshino about it. She notes that Noriko was in the council room with her, but that she, Shimako, didn’t glitter.
Shimako confides that she feels clumsy. Tsutako tells Shimako that the others don’t quite understand her, so they seem like they are trying too hard with Noriko. Tsutako goes on to say that as a cameraman, she sees into people’s hearts – then she admits that she doesn’t like having pictures taken of herself. She wants to take pictures of Yoshino, Yumi and Shimako, not to be in them.
Shimako asks Tsutako why she told her that, and Tsutako admits that it just slipped out – and asks her not to tell Yumi or Yoshino. As Tsutako turns away, Shimako, in her mind, snaps a picture of her and thinks that she makes a great photographic subject.
Shimako is walking with Yoshino and Yumi to the Rose Mansion. The first-years are greeting them as they walk – it’s a pleasant scene, Shimako thinks. But she’s not satisfied, because Noriko is not with her. But, then, she also doesn’t want Noriko to have to be part of this.
The first-years surround them, because they are popular, of course. Shimako finds a little pleasure in the whole situation, especially watching Yumi and Yoshino greet the younger students. Even though none of them has the poise Rei and Sachiko have, they all handle it well. As they part from the first-years, Shimako can hear them mention that all three of them look upset.
Shimako asks Yumi and Yoshino what the matter is – they seem extra quiet today. Yumi turns to Yoshino and agrees, saying that Yoshino has hardly said a word. Yoshino shoots back that the same applies to Yumi, and her face is gloomy. They all deny being unhappy and fall quiet again.
As they get outside into the school grounds, they simultaneously heave a sigh. Yumi asks, “What?”
Yoshino replies, “What what? You did it too.”
Shimako asks what’s worrying them and Yoshino responds that it’s not worth consulting a person who was just sighing themselves. To which Shimako replies that there are different kinds of heavy sighs.
Everyone falls silent, no one budges.
Shimako thinks, Yoshino’s sigh was about Rei, Yumi’s was about Sachiko. One can’t help but think about those who are important to one.
They get the Rose Mansion and stand in a line, looking up the stairs.
“Guess we ought to go up.”
Yumi and Yoshino do start up, but Shimako sees Goronta run by and breaks. She feels as if her feet are moving by their own will as she runs off.
In the scene where Shimako sees the university, she doesn’t cry, but she does desperately wish to see Sei. She sums up her problem thusly: Sei graduated, Noriko arrived. Noriko can fill the emptiness in her heart, but she hasn’t really discussed it with Noriko – or the others in the Yamayurikai.
(It’s fairly obvious to anyone that the Yamayurikai members would love to have Noriko join them, but we have to allow Shimako her moment of irrational angst.)
Classes have started already, but she stays there, in the far corner of the school property, wishing she could be with someone. Not be called “Rosa Gigantea”, but just stay by someone’s side. She starts walking and comes to a cross-road. Go back to the Rose Mansion or to Noriko’s classroom? Wishing she had a more relaxed personality, but noting that it’s not easy to change, Shimako chooses to head back to her own classroom.
When Sachiko scolds Noriko about calling Shimako “Shimako-san” Shimako immediately feels guilty because she knows Sachiko’s right – she was totally laissez-faire about the issue.
Noriko completely realizes that Sachiko is scolding her because she cares. She instantly realizes that Sachiko is the kind of person to ignore everyone unless she actually gives a damn about them. When she catches up to Shimako she says this, and Shimako confirms it. She’s surprised that Noriko noticed so quickly that it’s just Sachiko’s way.
I absolutely *loved* the bit where Noriko offers to “borrow” the rosary, to take the burden from Shimako, because it weighs heavily on her but to Noriko, it means nothing and will be light to carry.
Shimako thinks of Noriko as a guide with a candelabrum leading her through the maze of her feelings.
When she holds out the rosary, Shimako can see the water dripping off the beads – they look like drops of water themselves, hence the title of the section, “Drops of the Rosary”. The sun breaks through the clouds, even as it rains, shining light on them in a particularly cheesy s/fx. ^_^
“Although the rain fell, inside Shimako’s heart was clear weather.”