The path splits before you. On the right it goes straight up a steep hill, right through the forest in a direct route. On the left, the path is less steep, but it makes a wide detour. A young man stands in front of the split in the road, with a student notebook with a black cover visible in his pocket.
Kashiwagi Suguru is graduating from Hanadera Academy. Annoying as he is (and he is certainly that) Fukuzawa Yuuki has to admit that “Hikaru no Kimi” as his fans in the school style him, is leaving and Yuuki hasn’t had a chance to say “thank you.” Arisu is knitting goodbye sweaters, and everyone else seems content to let him leave the Student Council without any special event – in fact, Andre-sempai has arranged a rock-scissor-papers tournament to give Kashiwagi’s stuff away – but he has nothing to give his important and influential sempai. This is the plot of Oshaka-sama mo Miteru: Hotaru no Hikaru. (お釈様もみてる 蛍のヒカル)
As incoming Student Council President, Yuuki is responsible for the farewell message on behalf of the student body at graduation. He’s warned that the Genji (athletic clubs) and the Heishi (culture clubs) are planning to prank him. As he writes the farewell message, a pressure builds within him to say goodbye to Kashiwagi. He runs around the school, looking for his mentor, at last finding him where they first met. He finally has his chance to say thank you. And to ask Kashiwagi who, exactly, gave him his nickname? Kashiwagi’s response is surprising – he had 4 eboshi oya – the Hanadera version of a sempai. (Just as Arisu has two – both the Yakushiji twins.) It was a former Vice President of the student council who gave him his nickname. As they part, Kashiwagi almost kisses Yuuki, but Yuuki stops him.
The graduation ceremony begins. As it progresses, Yuuki begins to get nervous. When he finally stands up on the dais, he notices that the room has become darker. And, suddenly, the nature of the “joke” the clubs were playing on him is made plain. Everyone has removed the red or white cover of their student notebooks that denote whether they are Heishi or Genji, so they, like him, are bearing a black notebook. Yuuki is moved deeply by this show of support for him. He realizes that this was the student body’s way of letting them know they are 100% behind him. He finishes his farewell and sit, dazed.
As he leaves the school that day, he runs into Kashiwagi once again. Standing just where the road splits, not thinking that he’s be seen by other students, Yuuki gives Kashiwagi the one farewell gift he has to give him – he kisses Kashiwagi. And immediately thinks that was his first and last kiss with a guy. ^_^
A chapter of his life is over, but as the book closes, Yuuki feels like something new has begun.
48 books – novels, short story collections, guides to the series, 8 volumes of manga, 4 seasons of anime and a live-action movie – later, the Maria-sama ga Miteru/Oshaku-sama mo Miteru has finally come to an end. Or has it? In the afterword, Konno-sensei says she’s not sayin’. The story as we know it is over. As Yumi’s story ended with Sachiko’s graduation, it fits that Yuuki’s ended with Kashiwagi’s. But she made no promise that she wouldn’t revisit Lillian or Hanadera in the future.
I had been reading this final chunk of the series a bit out of obligation, a bit because I wanted some connection, no matter how tenuous, but at the very end, Konno-sensei was still able to surprise and move me. In the end, it was worth every minute spent reading this book.
Thank you Konno-sensei, it was a blast. I look forward to your next series. ^_^