Calling Oshaka-sama mo Miteru: School Festivals (お釈迦様もみてる スクール フェスティバルズ) a “Light Novel” is really starting to stretch the point. There are two illustrations and of them, neither really had any need to be there.
School Festivals covers the Hanadera and Lillian school festivals from Yuuki’s (and therefore Yumi’s) first-year of high school. We learn during Yumi’s second year that, during her first year, the Rosas had attended Hanadera to judge the “Miss Hanadera” contest. Konno-sensei did not inflict the actual Miss Hanadera contest on us, for which I am extremely grateful. However, it served to set up the single hilarious (if obvious,) gag of the book. And, one of the two pictures was of Sei, Youko and Eriko. ^_^
Yuuki does not interact with the Rosas much, beyond greeting them and saying goodbye, as he is working security of sorts and, as all of you who have ever worked at a event know, you’re too busy to enjoy the event when you’re working it. There are some scenes here and there which cement in our head that Kashiwagi definitely does have strong feelings of affection for Yuuki. Whether he is in fact gay for Yuuki remains ambiguous, no doubt on purpose. Nonetheless, Yuuki is seen having a mental conversation with himself about whether Kashiwagi is gay, or whether or not he needs to keep Kashiwagi away from Yumi. (On the presumption that he likes Yuuki lots but if Yuuki were a girl, he’d like like her.) Yuuki isn’t sure.
After the festival is over it is Kashiwagi’s turn to head over to Lillian to assist with their school festival. This section of the book was very interesting as it revisits the very first novel. 45 novels later and, Konno-sensei comments, the snake has caught its own tail.
From Yumi’s first-year perspective, Kashiwagi was cool, competent and arrogant. How she perceived him colored our perceptions of him for more than a decade. Now we see the whole scene from Kashiwagi’s perspective.
Leaving Hanadera after the Miss Hanadera contest, Kashiwagi is amusing himself by imagining Yuuki in girl’s clothes. A maid costume, miko costume and…suddenly, as he finds himself in front of Lillian, he imagines Yuuki in the Lillian uniform. He laughs to himself and we laugh, because we can see this gag coming a mile away. Of course…he finds himself greeted at the Lillian gates by a girl who looks exactly like Yuuki in the Lillian uniform! He’s *so* discombobulated by this that he refers to her as “Yukichi-ko” in his head for much of the rest of the book.
From his side, Kashiwagi feels very out of sorts in the girl’s school. The rules are just different enough, the religion is different, the whole feel is different from his boy’s-only world that every time he steps into Lillian, he is made to feel uncomfortable. And, he is very on edge about Sachiko. When she won’t come to the Rose Mansion the first day he arrives, he feels awkward. He doesn’t want to see her, but he does want to get it over with. And when she does see him the first time, she introduces herself as a stranger, which completely throws him for a loop. He’s been visiting for days for practice and she hasn’t said a word to him not regarding the play. He finds Lillian…exhausting. He’s taken to coming back to Hanadera after practice, rather than going home, just to relax in his own space for a bit.
Then, the big scene. He finally catches up to Sachiko who says that she plans on telling her parents – and especially their grandfather – that she’s breaking the engagement. He points out that grandfather will demand to know why. She says she will tell him what Kashiwagi told her – that he’s gay and cannot love her. Kashiwagi freaks out at this. He asks her to let him, at least, figure out how to break it to everyone and she says, no, she’s decided. She starts to walk away and he grabs her, asking her to consider his feelings in this…and Sei and Yumi come running up. The scene plays out as we remember, with Kashiwagi slipping on gingkos (which he, like Sachiko, dislikes) and becoming the “Gingko Prince.”
Leaving that evening from the gates of Lillian, Kashiwagi is miserable. He goes back to Hanadera, to the Student Council room, just to regain himself. As he enters the building, he can see a light at the end of the tunnel – literally. Yuuki is in the Council Room waiting for him, to make him tea and help him clean the Prince’s costume. Kashiwagi is undone. He is so grateful, he just practically falls apart. He asks Yuuki for a favor, and the two of them end up dancing the waltz together in the Council Room, alone at Hanadera.
The day of Lillian’s Festival comes and the Hanadera first-years have been given tickets to it in thanks for all their efforts to help the Rosas. So they all go and, by popular demand, walk a round a bit before the play. Yuuki is trying to not run into Yumi, but he has no idea where she’ll be. She’s not in her class’s room, but he is surprised to see her on the winning panel at the photography exhibition. They all go to the play and he is absolutely mortified to suddenly learn that Yumi is in the play with Kashiwagi. He’s annoyed that neither of them told him, but of course, why should they? And what is he worried about anyway? Full of unidentifiable feelings of….something, he watches the Lillian play.
This book was, like the other Hanadera books, not *quite* as fun as the Lillian stories, but again, the weakness was that there was too little Yuuki interacting with Koboayashi, Takada and Arisu (who, I know some of you will want to know, wore a lovely pink dress with a flower-patterned collar to Lillian.) I had some trepidation about being alone in Kashiwagi’s head, but it was interesting, even if we still really don’t know who or what he really is.
Overall – 8
The beginning was a little slow, but the payoffs were worth it.