Yagate Kimi ni Naru: Saeki Sayaka ni Tsuite 2 (やがて君になる佐伯沙弥香について (2), Bloom Into You: Regarding Saeki Sayaka 2)
Author: Iruma Hitoma, based on original manga by Nakatani Nio
First Published: 2019
Imprint: Dengeki Bunko (Kadokawa)
EDIT: Yes, I am going to attempt to translate the 2nd novel. Chapter 1 is already done.
Barely 6 months since the first novel and the second one is upon us already. And we have, on top of that, confirmation that a third volume is in the works! The thirst for Sayaka is indeed, real. Jokes aside, it is incredibly satisfying to see a popular side character get the love she deserves after being thoroughly shafted in the series proper, and these side novels aren’t just an afterthought – they’re a whole new world, providing insight to the character and fleshing her out where the source material didn’t/wouldn’t.
Again, this volume is split into 2 major parts with a short epilogue at the end. The tone is lighter than in Vol.1, is less plot-driven and more like a series of vignettes from the life of Sayaka, high school student. The entire book is written from a first-person perspective, so it reads like a stream of consciousness narrative where you’re getting inside Sayaka’s head. Needless to say, Sayaka is not your most objective of narrators – she’s at turns caustic, vulnerable and self-critical, but also endlessly obsessed with Touko.
Note: Anything between ‘apostrophes’ is speech, italics are Sayaka’s inner voice. Gonna be a bit of a tough read (just like trying to tell who’s saying what in light novels), so bear with me!
Chapter 1: Love, and Koito
[Japanese title is a play on Yuu’s surname – Koi to, Koito (恋と、小糸)]
The one thing that surprised me about this 2nd volume is that the first chapter, which is fairly short at 30 pages, runs parallel to the events of the manga/anime. There are retellings of, and expansions upon scenes that will be familiar to readers and viewers but this time, from the viewpoint of Sayaka. The chapter basically covers Sayaka’s thoughts on Yuu in relation to Touko, and how Yuu’s presence changes Sayaka’s views on her own relationship with Touko.
Yuu joins the student council (temporarily)
We open up with a short exchange between Sayaka and President Kuze, the student council president before Touko one of her seniors from the Student Council. They’re in the student council room, and Touko hasn’t arrived yet. The senior asks Sayaka where she is – Sayaka feigns ignorance, but she’s also secretly pleased at being asked to confirm Touko’s schedule. No one else is closer to Touko than me!
Sayaka knows Touko is likely receiving another confession from another boy, and she knows the outcome as well – outright rejection. What Sayaka doesn’t know is that somebody else happens to watch those events unfold, and she doesn’t know said person will arrive together at the student council room with Touko (we see this from Chapter 1 of the manga!). It’s a girl, whose face is obscured by the sunlight streaming into the room, making it seem as if her face is dazzling. This is the first time Sayaka meets Yuu.
The girl I met in primary school who I haven’t forgotten.
The senior I met in junior high who I can’t seem to forget.
Nanami Touko who I met in high school; I’m certain I’ll never forget her in my lifetime.
And one more person.
Koito Yuu, the first-year junior girl whom I’m most aware of.
Sayaka is curious how this girl has caught Touko’s attention – sure, she seems reliable & capable enough in discharging her student council duties. Is there anything more to her? She soon finds out the answer from a pretty lengthy exchange between herself and Yuu when they’re alone in the student council room.
After brewing some coffee for Sayaka, Yuu starts asking her a string of questions, mostly regarding Touko.
‘Nanami-senpai isn’t the president, right? Will she be running for president? Will you (Sayaka) be running for president too? What kind of person is Nanami-senpai?’
Sayaka ponders the last question and decides to lie ‘What you see is what you get’. Smart, attractive, a girl gifted with both brains and beauty. And a coward.
Sayaka asks Yuu how she sees Touko – a mean question. ‘Cool, capable, beautiful, kind’, comes the answer, and Sayaka says that’s exactly what she is. Kind? I wonder. Sayaka, knowing full well how futile her suggestion is, tells Yuu that she should ask Touko herself if she wants to find out.
Yuu is not dumb. ‘Most people don’t seem to know themselves that well’. A statement that Sayaka scoffs at – no one knows me better than myself.
‘Is Nanami-senpai busy?’ Back to the questions. ‘She said she is, but it’s probably just another confession isn’t it?’
Yuu: Saeki-senpai, have you ever been confessed to?
Sayaka: I can’t say that I haven’t
Yuu: I see.
Sayaka: You see?
Yuu: Well, you’re as cool and capable and beautiful as Nanami-senpai after all.
Sayaka: You didn’t say that I’m kind.
Ah, I’m being mean again.
Yuu: I’m sorry.
Sayaka: I’m joking.
I’m not kind anyway.
Yuu: What did it feel like to be confessed to?
Sayaka: It was troubling, ‘cos you have to think of a way of rejecting them without hurting their feelings.
Yuu: (laughing) So you are kind after all, senpai.
Sayaka: It’s just being respectful.
Yuu: Senpai, is there anyone you’re in love with?
Sayaka: It’s a secret. How about you?
The exchange pique Sayaka’s interest. This kid is indeed intriguing.
Much to Sayaka’s shock, Touko picks Yuu as her campaign manager for the student council elections. What does this girl have that I lack? Is Touko starting to change, and is Sayaka going to lose her place at Touko’s side?
Sayaka visits Yuu’s family’s bookstore
Sayaka stops by the bookstore after school, only to find a familiar face sitting at the counter – it’s Yuu, who’s just officially joined the student council. Touko has explained her reasons for choosing Yuu as her campaign manager, but Sayaka isn’t fully convinced – if Touko’s making so much effort at being considerate of my feelings, that must mean that she’s hiding something…could it be…that…? Sayaka stares at Yuu but she still can’t put her finger on what Touko finds so special about the girl.
Setting her thoughts to one side, Sayaka starts looking for the book she wants. She thinks back to her attempt to read a Hayashi Renma book on the recommendation of Yuzuki, her first love. Sayaka purchased that book in this very same store, and in retrospect, Yuu must’ve been the young junior high school student manning the cash register that day.
Sayaka’s purchase this time, is a literary criticism* tome; she’s never been into fiction. At the counter, she asks Yuu what books a bookshop girl reads and ‘mystery, sci-fi’ is the answer she gets. Sayaka casually asks if Touko stops by the store and when Yuu replies in the affirmative, continues to ask what type of books Touko reads – despite already knowing the answer (reference books & whatever’s on the bestseller lists). I’m being mean again.
[[[*scanlations of vol.2 extras say that Sayaka ‘likes to read new releases and critique them’ but the second part appears to be a mistranslation of 評論系 (hyōron-kei). Hyōron means literary criticism, a genre of publications where writers critique (study, analyse, theorise, evaluate, interpret) other authors’ works. So it should be ‘Sayaka likes to read new publications and works about literary criticism’. If that sounds awfully dull then you should know that your girl Sayaka really is that bookish!]]]
Back home, Sayaka reflects on how she tried to change herself – even her taste in books – to match the person she was in love with. She’s not into fiction, and to think that she’s now willing to help Touko out with the play…perhaps she really hasn’t changed at all. She’d do anything for the one she loved; even if it meant turning into dust – grinding up her ‘self’ and erasing who she is. But Sayaka can’t think of what else she could do for Touko or rather, she doesn’t want to think about it. She’s feeling so restless lately, and she knows why.
Koito Yuu. There’s something about her – something that could be significant for Touko. And it’s threatening to shake the ground below my feet.
Sayaka has always been watching Touko, so she would notice any change in her. She’s been with Touko for a year, a year where she remained unmoved yet now, Sayaka can see the tiny hints of a change – and the catalyst is Koito Yuu. What does she see in Koito-san?
She doesn’t think that it’s good for Touko to remain as she is. Yet, the thought of losing her place beside a changed Touko scares her. Even though she willingly made the choice not to persuade Touko to change.
Touko calls her ‘Yuu’
This is another scene re-enacted from the manga and we see how Sayaka is shaken to her core when Touko casually tosses out Yuu’s first name. She actually breaks out in a cold sweat when she hears Touko say ‘Yuu’. This makes even more sense when you read chapter 2 & see how laborious the thought process was for Sayaka to come to call Touko ‘Touko’.
‘Should I call you by your first name too?’ I’m being mean again. Yuu tells her to go ahead, but she refrains from doing so. Thus, Yuu chalks up another strike in the process of changing Touko and the only thing Sayaka can do is watch on with anxiety.
Sayaka and Yuu’s ‘heart-to-heart’
This one takes up a sizable chunk of the chapter and is probably the one where Sayaka and Yuu address their feelings for Touko most directly…in a very indirect manner. Even though they both know the identity of the subject of their conversation, neither of them mentions her name and they talk almost in riddles and metaphors.
Once again, they’re in the student council room alone. Yuu brews tea while Sayaka does paperwork and when Sayaka muses that it’s tough being a junior lackey, Yuu retorts that Sayaka was a junior lackey too up until recently. True enough.
Somehow, it’s only been a short period into her 2nd year but it feels so much longer, and so much more fulfilling than her 1st year had been. Though she still feels like she’s on the verge of losing something…especially ever since Yuu appeared in her life.
Sayaka senses something is up with Yuu and asks her outright. Yuu remains silent, and Sayaka makes a stab in the (not so very) dark. ‘Is it regarding Touko?’ That’s the only thing that would worry her.
Yuu still doesn’t answer. So Sayaka presses on, cryptically.
Sayaka: It’s okay to fall in love with someone, but the distance always seems to be a problem..right?
Yuu: The distance?
Sayaka: When you keep a bit of distance from someone, they sometimes appear so very attractive.
Sayaka: You might try to bridge the gap between the two of you, and so you make your move…but now you get to see your partner from an angle that hadn’t been possible before. The scenery changes and you might even get to see what the other person has been hiding. And the things that you loved about them may start to look different.
The other party would surely notice that something had changed between them. And they would change in response – their position, their views of you. They might fall in love with you or lose their interest. Sayaka had been too preoccupied with her own thoughts that she had failed to recognise the changes in Touko early enough.
Sayaka had sought to be the one who stood at Touko’s side but Touko had not sought Sayaka to be the one standing at her side. She only discovered too late that someone else has bypassed and surpassed her in the bid to win Touko’s affection. And yet, Sayaka bears Yuu no ill-will – she even thinks of her as a ‘friend’. She knows it is her own fault – she has been afraid of losing Touko if she confesses her feelings, and she now knows that regardless of whether she confesses or not, she will still ‘lose’ Touko to Yuu.
Sayaka: Let’s change [her], together.
Yuu: (in a small voice) Okay.
Sayaka: I never thought you were such an obedient junior.
Yuu: That’s rude of you….
Yuu: Saeki-senpai, I think your responses are direct.
Sayaka: So they are. To be honest, I really can’t be bothered.
I’m crude because I don’t have to show the best version of me to you.
Sayaka: That’s just me putting it in layman’s terms…
Koito-san seems to have given up on embellishing her words.
Yuu: Saeki-senpai, you don’t choose your words carefully, do you…
Sayaka: I don’t, not for you anyway.
There are plenty of people for whom I’d have to do that – my family, my teachers, Touko. But with Koito-san I can skip the cumbersome process. I guess we do mirror each other that way.
Sayaka: You need someone like that. Or you’d get tired of having to maintain an upright posture all of the time.
My junior laughs. She looks young when she does, with a natural air of cuteness to her. She seems to accept me as someone she needs for a similar purpose. It’s not as if I had not noticed it before, but I realised that I had made a friend.
Touko has changed, as Yuu wished for. Through the play, she seems to have re-examined ‘herself’. Sayaka doesn’t know what transpired between Touko and Yuu, but she has certainly softened. She has stopped hiding her weaknesses from people. Instead, her behavior hints that she has lost something. And Sayaka has a fair idea of what that that is.
Touko and Koito-san. I’ve known all along, and I don’t want this to end without me having taken any action at all. She once said to me that my presence pushed her to feel that she was getting closer to her own ideals. That she could do her best because Saeki Sayaka was beside her, or chasing her from behind. I was happy to hear that. I thought that I would be fine as long as those words remained true. But Touko’s ideals have changed, so I must change too.
And now, Sayaka’s time has come.
Sayaka confesses to Touko
Sayaka finally takes a step forward to confront the ‘true’ Touko, a Touko who has changed because of Yuu. Yuu might be the catalyst for the emergence of a Touko to whom Sayaka feels she is able to confess her love to, but from now on it’s her turn in the spotlight.
‘Sayaka, don’t. I’m not the person that you think I am’. Touko’s weak denial.
I’ve known that since forever. But right now, there’s no need for you to be the person that I expect you to be. You’re magnificent, and you’re beautiful.
‘I love you’.
Chapter 2: Parallel Lines
Parallel Lines, (平行線, heikōsen) – lines that run side by side and have the same continuous distance between them without ever meeting. [OED]
No prizes for guessing who the parallel lines are referring to…! This chapter clocks in at a lengthy 144 pages but honestly there isn’t much in terms of actual plot progress and instead, you have the pleasure of reading Sayaka’s mind going around in circles while trying to answer a very simple question: Why do I love Nanami Touko and what am I going to do about it?
And so, we return to Sayaka and Touko in their first year. At the end of Vol.1, we saw that Sayaka had fallen for Touko at first sight. We start off Chapter 2 of Vol.2 with Sayaka contemplating the flawless being that is Nanami Touko. Is it true that it’s impossible for a person to not make mistakes? I’ve been watching Nanami Touko up close and I can’t spot a single flaw in her.
The school year has just begun, and Touko, who Sayaka refers to as Nanami Touko or Nanami-san at this point, is already the object of many a student’s affection, Sayaka herself included. The one who owns such beautiful black hair and eyes, she makes my heart soar.
Touko makes no secret of her desire to join the student council and the infatuated Sayaka is keen to tag along – she’ll do anything as long as it means getting to be with Touko. The pair set off to find the student council room to state their intent, and they’re greeted by a group of seniors – 2 boys and 1 girl. The girl, a 2nd year named Kuze, is surprised to learn that they want to skip the trial period and join immediately. The seniors are pleased to have such proactive juniors around, so they accept.
After exiting the council room, Sayaka and Touko make their way through the vast grounds in the area that Sayaka had described as resembling the garden in her house: ‘You could get lost in here’. Touko, who’s fascinated by the thought of Sayaka being a rich ojou-sama, replies that if she ever did, she should call her and she’d come to Sayaka’s rescue. Sayaka quips: ‘I don’t pick up calls from unknown numbers’ and Touko realises that they haven’t exchanged numbers yet. And so they do. At the school gates, Touko asks Sayaka which direction her house is in. They point their fingers simultaneously…and they’re in opposing directions.
It’s been a week and cliques have already been formed within the classrooms. Sayaka finds herself in the company of Yoshida Manaka and Igarashi Midori, two girls who get on like a house on fire despite their differing characters. Manaka is extremely gregarious and a little tactless, saying whatever is on her mind without bothering what other people think. Midori is a little more reserved and though she won’t admit it, she and Manaka are a perfectly matched-up pair – almost like a comedy duo.
The trio spend their lunch periods eating their bento in the classroom, chatting idly. One day, Touko’s gone off to run school errands and on her return to the classroom, Manaka hollers at her ‘Touko, come eat with us’. Touko is reluctant, as there are no spare chairs, but Manaka easily solves the problem by vacating hers & shoving half of Midori’s ass off her seat so she can park half of her butt on it.
Touko’s keen to see what’s in Sayaka’s bento box but is disappointed to find that it’s just regular stuff – What were you expecting? Even rich girls want egg rolls in their lunchboxes. But Sayaka’s brooding over something else – the fact that Manaka called Touko by her first name. Much to Sayaka’s chagrin, she’s still stuck addressing her friends as Nanami-san, Yoshida-san and Igarashi-san. She doesn’t want to get left behind so she tries forming the name on her lips…’To-’. She gets no further.
Manaka’s antennae are sharp and she picks up on the issue right away: ‘You have trouble calling people by their first name’. And so, Manaka and Midori help her to practise. ‘Manaka. Midori.’ The two of them seem overly exuberant to hear Sayaka calling them by their first names.
It’s time for the first tests, which the students complain about since they’re barely into the school term. Unsurprisingly, Touko comes out on top with Sayaka second. Surprisingly, Manaka scores higher than Midori, much to the latter’s shock. Guess you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Sayaka isn’t pleased to have finished behind Touko and vows to work harder to surpass her but at the same time she doesn’t want Touko to lose to her. The contradicting feelings play about in her mind: If Touko was to finish last in class, would she still appear as alluring in my eyes? Sayaka reassesses why she’s attracted to Touko – the beauty of a Touko who’s standing proudly at the top. Would she still love a Touko who was weak? She’s not sure.
The current student council is an unmotivated group. Kuze-senpai’s never around since he’s spending most of his time at the kendo club, the 2 boys whom Sayaka and Touko met during their first time in the council room are mostly absent, another senior (gender unknown) rarely turns up, and it’s only another senior who does most of the work. Touko had something to do so right now, only Sayaka and this senior are in the council room. ‘It’s gonna be a tough year for you, Sayaka-chan’, she grins.
When Touko turns up, Sayaka asks her if she’s done whatever she had to do. Touko gives an evasive answer. There’s not much to do, so the senior drains her teacup and departs the room, leaving Sayaka and Touko alone. The mood in the room is awkwardly tense. Sayaka finally says to Touko that she has something to tell her, and they go to the bench behind the council room.
Touko: Are you going to confess to me?
I know she’s joking but I feel my strength draining away from me.
Touko: Okay so it’s something serious.
Sayaka: Serious…huh. Yeah I guess…you could say that it’s serious.
Touko: Okay. I’ll take you seriously.
Sayaka: Nanami-san….can I call you Touko?
Touko: Sure, but….is that all?
Sayaka: ….That’s all.
Touko: You’re so serious.
Sayaka: Did it sound strange?
Touko: Nah…I wasn’t referring to what you said. Saeki-san, you’re serious.
Sayaka: That’s just my nature.
Touko: So, can I call you Sayaka too?
Sayaka: Of course.
It really is amusing to read how rigid Sayaka is. Their conversation goes on, and Sayaka tries to probe Touko about why she was so adamant about joining the student council. Does she have a goal? Touko says she does, and when Sayaka asks if she can elaborate….Touko says ‘Not now. I’ll talk to you about it once we become official members’.
Sayaka and Touko are heading to the student council room when they hear sounds coming from among the trees. It’s a quiet, hidden spot that seems to be popular for students wanting to confess their love, and they’ve stumbled upon what looks like that very situation. Touko recognises the girl – it’s their schoolmate Serizawa. The two of them hide in the shadows and watch the scene unfold, and discuss it afterwards – looks like Serizawa was the one to confess to Oogaki-kun, another classmate of theirs, and he appears to have said yes.
Sayaka wonders if you can really fall in love with someone so quickly – it hasn’t even been a month since they entered high school. ‘It’s not a must for one’s feelings to become more solid just because time has passed by’. Touko asks Sayaka if she’s experienced that kind of thing before and Sayaka’s reply is vague: ‘In a way’. She doesn’t want Touko to find out that she’s been confessed to by a female senior before and gone on to date her. The resistance she feels towards opening up to Touko makes her realise that the distance between them might never change.
They debate whether to inform Serizawa of their knowledge but conclude no. Suddenly, Touko saya ‘Someone confessed to me yesterday’ and those words send Sayaka into a tailspin. She immediately seeks details: Who? Did you accept? When Touko says ‘No’, Sayaka can breath again.
Sayaka: How did it feel being confessed to?
Touko: I thought, ‘this person doesn’t have a good eye [to fall for someone like me]’
Sayaka: Touko, you’re beautiful.
Touko: So are you, Sayaka.
Touko: Is that surprising?
Sayaka: Nobody ever really says that to me.
I’m used to people saying that I excel at this and that though.
Touko: Then they don’t have a good eye for people either.
Sayaka’s starting to see chinks in Touko’s armour, in the way she views herself. Would I still love Touko if I learned of her weaknesses, foulness, underhandedness, feelings of inferiority, jealousy, trauma, true intentions and/or superficial reasons for her actions, disgust and hatred towards certain things, obsequiousness, self-denial, prejudices and inclinations, hostility and malice?
Sayaka doesn’t know if she wants to know all about Touko – she’s afraid of finding out.
Kuze-senpai is the new student council President. Nobody else was suitable, and he had the benefit of a beautiful junior being his campaign manager. It was all down to Touko. Sayaka reasons that Kuze-senpai only desired the title to enhance his CV.
In the end, Sayaka and Touko are the only new additions to the student council. Kuze-senpai says he knows a junior who he’d be able to bring into the council next year…provided he passes the entrance exams and gets into Toomi East. Sayaka is aghast at the thought of having to deal with a younger, carbon-copy version of Kuze-senpai. He tells the girls they should do the same if they have any other junior friends coming to Toomi East, but Touko says she never really spoke to anyone younger than her while Sayaka reveals that she’s the only student from Tomosumi Junior High who entered Toomi East.
Touko wonders why Sayaka is at Toomi East since Tomosumi has its own combined, escalator system and Sayaka tells her the same lie that she told her parents – that she was tired of commuting. Sayaka realises that she and Touko are like two people who live in burrows and only stick their heads out so often to speak to each other – otherwise they just remain hidden inside.
The group hangs around in the room chatting, and Sayaka pipes up with a suggestion that they play a game of Rock Paper Scissors to decide who has to be the lackey – it’s something close friends do. Touko balks at this, insisting that she sucks at the game but eventually relents.
I observe her hands and shoulders and I cannot tell what she’s going to throw. Neither Paper nor Rock are written in her eyes. I realise then, that I don’t understand Nanami Touko.
Despite winning the faceoff against Sayaka, Touko proceeds to brew the tea for her seniors and Sayaka is puzzled by whether there was any point to their exchange. Watching Touko as she robotically goes about the job, Sayaka wonders whether Touko has any hang ups over the simple game of Rock Paper Scissors. Her behaviour certainly seemed a little off. All these little flaws in Touko’s character are starting to nag at Sayaka’s conscience. She wants Touko to share her thoughts with her, and considers what it would take for Touko to open up Trust? Friendship? Love?
All of a sudden, Touko says that she has something to say to Sayaka. They proceed to their favourite bench and start chatting idly about maybe going to have tea at a café outside the school grounds if they have a chance.
Sayaka: So, what did you want to talk to me about?
In my mind, there are only 3 possible options
Touko: I’ve been wondering….Sayaka, have you ever eaten fast food before?
Sayaka: ……………………………………………someone asked me the same question before.
Sayaka: Do I really look like that much of a princess?
Touko: Yeah you do.
But that’s not what Touko really wants to talk to Sayaka about. The conversation drifts off to unrelated things – Sayaka’s calligraphy skills, Rock Paper Scissors strategies, Sayaka’s house and her cats. Sayaka finally presses: ‘Is it something that’s hard for you to talk about?’ and Touko responds that it’s something ‘strange’.
Sayaka: I promise I’ll take you seriously. I’m good at that.
Touko: You’re always frank, and I like you that way.
Touko: But it’s not something that’s very deep. You asked me before why I joined the Student Council. I joined because there’s something I want to do – a play.
And so Touko elaborates on her reasons without revealing her true motives. Sayaka really doesn’t get it – why does Touko want to revive something that used to be a tradition of the club and how did she know all these details when she only just entered this school? Touko asks Sayaka to help her out in pursuit of realising her dream and she agrees. But of course Sayaka knows that Touko’s reasons can’t be this shallow.
Another day, another delay for Touko.
Touko: Go on ahead; there’s something I need to take care of.
Sayaka: Another confession? At this rate, every single student in this school is going to end up confessing to you.
Touko: I always turn them down in the same way…I hope rumours don’t start to spread about that…
Sayaka: Wow, that’s a novel problem to have.
Touko: But I guess it’d be weird if I were to turn them down with a different reason every time.
Touko: When you say every single student in this school, does that mean you’ll confess to me too, Sayaka?
Sayaka: I wonder if I should…after all, it’s certain that you’ll turn me down.
Touko: You never know! Sayaka’s confession might be so charming [that I can’t say no]
Sayaka: Hmm, if I can’t find anyone else…maybe I’ll consider it.
They’re interrupted by Manaka and Midori, who have overhead the exchange. Manaka proceeds to mock-confess to both Touko and Sayaka (and gets rejected) before Midori successfully drags her away. Touko remembers that she has something to attend to and asks Sayaka to wait for her in the council room.
Waiting for Touko makes me feel a bit happy…I realise, that I’ve completely entrusted my heart to Touko. My heart is connected to Touko. Every little reaction from Touko makes my heart soar; every word of Touko’s, no matter how trivial, is like a raging storm to me.
Sayaka heads on to the student council room, but stops in her tracks when she hears voices coming from somewhere through the trees – it’s Touko and a boy, and it’s a confession ..as she expected. What she does not expect to hear is Sayaka’s firm reason for rejecting him: ‘I have no intention of falling in love with anyone’.
Touko’s voice echoes in Sayaka’s head: ‘no intention, with anyone’
Touko is desperate to realise her dream of having the Student Council put on a play, and alongside Sayaka, she seeks permission from the ever-absent President Kuze, who’s training hard for the kendo summer tournament. Kuze immediately dismisses the idea and despite his apathy towards his duties as President, the opposition he shows to Touko’s plan is rooted in rationality and logic. A lack of manpower, trouble with props and most importantly – no script. Kuze waves Touko and Sayaka off and returns to his kendo.
The pair trudge back to the student council room in silence, but the wheels in Touko’s head are turning. She reasons that the play might be an easier feat to pull off if she herself were president which means she could only fulfil her dream in her 2nd year. Touko is convinced she can do it in a years’ time, and asks Sayaka to devote the next year to her. Naturally, Sayaka consents.
What Touko needs now is an ally whom she can trust in.
As long as I can meet those requirements, I will remain by her side.
I have the belief that I can do it.
I believe I can do it.
Touko starts working harder at her student council duties and goes around visiting clubs, drumming up interest in and garnering support for the play. This extends to trying to find a scriptwriter from the school’s Literary Club – to her dismay, the members are only interested in reading and not writin. Sayaka accompanies Touko to these meets and something catches her ear during their visit to the Literary Club: as they leave, she overhears one of the girls say ‘Was that Nanami-san? I almost couldn’t recognise her’.
Sayaka is curious and senses and opportunity to dig – she tells Touko to go ahead & she returns to the clubroom, where she probes the girl in question and learns the truth. The girl was Touko’s classmate in primary school and remarks that Touko has completely changed from what she knew of her – meek, quiet, not particularly good in her studies and bad at sports. The Touko she sees now resembles her older sister instead…and this of course is a shock to Sayaka, who knows nothing of Touko’s family. She’s even more shocked to learn that Touko’s older sister died in an accident.
Despite knowing that it’s in bad taste to probe so deeply into someone’s past, Sayaka can’t help her curiosity. She gleans the info she needs from loose-lipped teachers and soon her picture of Touko gets clearer – she now knows her sister’s name (Mio) and why the student council play means so much to Touko. She knows that Touko is putting on an act to the world, and that she herself is one of the people being fooled. She’s convinced that Touko is trying to become her sister.
Sayaka finds a letter in her desk. Shock, some poor sod is planning to confess to Sayaka! Typically, she doesn’t even recognise the guy’s name nor has any clue if he’s in her class. She never thought it would happen to her (she even wonders if the guy has mistakenly put the letter in her desk instead of Touko’s). But Sayaka knows she has to respond and she turns up at the designated spot and rejects him. The poor boy asks the typical ‘Do you have someone you’re in love with?’ question.
If you asked me the same question a few days ago, my answer would’ve been clear.
‘I don’t know’
Sayaka’s wavering, aware that she may have fallen in love with an illusion, a person who doesn’t truly exist. The boy then goes on to ask her if there’s just someone she has an interest in, to which Sayaka says yes. Sayaka then decides to ask the boy questions of her own: ‘Why do you like me?’. Of course, the reply is ‘Your face’. Sayaka laughs inwardly. Same reason she fell for Touko. Same reason Yuzuki, and the Swimming Girl gave her. She puts a tougher question to him: ‘What if this face was fake, would you still love me?’. And the boy gives a thoughtful reply that surprises Sayaka – he has no intention of denying what she might’ve been in the past, but he’s in love with what he sees before him now. All he knows is what is in the now, not in the past – ‘you’re beautiful now, so I like you. That’s all there is to it’.
After school one day, Touko brings up the subject of Sayaka’s cats. ‘You’ve got three of them?’ Wow we suddenly got more cats without me knowing. ‘Just the two,’ Sayaka corrects her. For whatever reason, Touko seems determined to see the cats ASAP and Sayaka agrees to have her come visit the house the very next day.
So Touko spends the following day playing with..or rather, being teased by Sayaka’s tortoiseshell cat that has her running around in circles. Watching Touko’s futile attempts brings a smile to Sayaka’s face and at that moment she thinks.
How beautiful Touko is. Touko is Touko. The Touko in front of my eyes is everything to me. Whether she’s wearing a mask or whether she’s a coward at heart, she’s still Nanami Touko. Even if all of her is a lie, the Touko that I see through these eyes has stolen my heart away. Right now, I can say with certainty that I love her.
Touko comments that Sayaka looks different now – a lot more relaxed. She normally looks orderly with not a single hair out of place…a face that effortlessly screams diligence. ‘I like you when you’re like that’, Touko says. Sayaka vows to maintain that effort to make her dream come true. Her dream to remain by Touko’s side forever.
The summer holidays are almost here. Sayaka has things to tell Touko, and starts off by saying that she got confessed to. ‘Wow I never thought your turn would arrive!’ Touko then says she also received a confession the previous week. ‘….Again?? Really, you’ll have the entire school professing their love for you soon’.
Sayaka confirms that Touko turned the boy down with the same reasons again, and starts thinking about what she really wanted to say to Touko. That she knows all about her sister, and how Touko wants to become like Mio. It’s at the tip of her tongue.
‘Touko….’ The possible options are running through her mind like a bullet train.
- I know about your sister and why you’re trying to do this school play so you’re trying to take your sister’s place so there’s something starting to grow inside of you.
- It’s important to remember those who have died before you but to be shackled by their memories isn’t good why not try to be positive after all I am by your side and will happily support you so let’s do our best together
Everything sounds wrong. And so, Sayaka abandons her plan of revealing what she knows.
‘Touko….this is kinda jumping the gun since it’s still far off but…will you go around the Cultural Festival with me?’
Sayaka and Touko spend the Cultural Festival together, passing by the food stalls where the basketball club’s Serizawa is selling takoyaki with her boyfriend. They eventually get stopped by Manaka, who’s helping to promote Midori’s English Conversational Club café – the concept is, rather oddly, tea and ABC biscuits. Touko rather cutely arranges the biscuits to form SAYAKA but Sayaka can’t reciprocate as Midori’s screwed up some of the decorations and there are no Ks left (they had to substitute a こ in for a K by joining two ‘I’s together) so the best she can manage is a TOUIO.
After walking around some more they seek somewhere to rest and end up at the bench behind the student council where they briefly chat about their hopes for the following year. ‘I hope we get some good juniors coming in’. Their next port of call is the gym, where the clubs are putting on performances. ‘We’ll be on that stage next year’, Touko says.
Sayaka is only half listening to the music and half pondering Touko’s devotion to the play, noting that she’s slightly jealous of Touko’s sister. She doubts Touko will ever feel that strongly about her. She knows Touko’s disposition towards love is shackled by the memory of her sister; that she’s trying hard to be someone she’s not all for the sake of the one she cherishes. But Sayaka knows it’s not possible to become someone else. She reflects on her time in middle school, where she tried so hard to become the perfect lover for Yuzuki’s sake and ended up becoming someone she herself did not recognise. Despite the mistakes made and the anger and despair that she went through, Sayaka does not regret what happened – they made her what she is. Who she is. The person she has chosen and wished to become. Having been through such experiences, Sayaka is certain that Touko’s wish will never come true.
You are born as yourself and you can only be yourself. The only person you can act as is the one self you were born as. You can never take the place of someone else no matter how hard you try to imitate them, and that failure might cause you to despair. Touko will probably never be satisfied with the part of her that is trying to become her older sister.
Once again, Sayaka runs through the possibilities and outcome in her mind – what if she tells/does not tell Touko? What if Touko changes? Will she still love Touko…? And so on, and on. And once again, Sayaka decides to keep her mouth shut – that is the extent of her relationship with Touko at this moment in time; all Touko wants from her is friendship, and all she wants to do is stay by Touko’s side. She won’t rock the boat – now is not the time.
And so, Sayaka decides that she won’t change herself or Touko. They’ll remain like parallel lines, travelling on the same path together for as long as possible. And as long as long as they’re together… someday. Someday. When Sayaka feels Touko has changed, she’ll act. It’s cowardly, but she’ll continue waiting for that day. That is her choice – to swallow the truth and select the ‘wrong’ path of remaining by Touko’s side silently.
It is spring 2 years later, and Sayaka is now in her 3rd year. She’s been in the same class as Touko for 2 years running and now, she and Touko are stood in front of the bulletin board to check which class they’re in. Sayaka’s in 3-3 and Touko’s in 3-1 – they’ve been separated. Touko has a troubled smile on her face: ‘I guess we can’t be together forever’, but Sayaka reassures her ‘Touko – we’re only a short distance apart’.
The relationship we’ve built up will never change. Even if it’s not in the ideal form that I wished it to be.
Sayaka calls out to Touko again – behind Touko, she sees a familiar face. Touko’s eyes follow Sayaka’s gaze, and she sees her standing there. ‘I’ll be going now’, Touko says as she starts heading over to the girl. Sayaka swallows an urge to say itterasshai, mentally noting that the phrase is something that you’d only say to someone whom you expect will return.
Sayaka wonders when she had begun staring at (Touko’s) back – she had always wanted to chase her and line up side-by-side, but no more. She’s decided to put a little bit of distance between them and she watches Touko go.
Would I have remained by Touko’s side forever if the parallel lines went on endlessly? No – by meeting Koito-san, Touko was able to arrive at the crossroads. And she was able to accept the person who tried to change her.
Sayaka knew Touko was changing, but she had hoped that they could still continue to walk down the same path. But it was not meant to be. Sayaka ended up repeating the mistakes that she promised herself she wouldn’t.
But I only truly learned the meaning of (love) when I met ‘her’.
This part is even shorter, coming in at a mere 10 pages so I hesitate to refer to it as a chapter. Think of it as an epilogue to this book, and a prologue to Volume 3.
Springtime has come around again, another 2 years later. It’s Sayaka’s 2nd year in university. She’s in between lectures and having parted with her friends, is sitting on a bench on school grounds and staring at the sky distractedly. The place reminds her of that bench behind the student council when she was in high school, and she reflects on those days – what she had then, is no longer there by her side. Now that she’s in uni, she’s reminiscing about her high school days; just like she reminisced about junior high when she was in high school. A cycle that keeps repeating.
This time, no regrets…but of course they do exist. Still, I’m satisfied.
The sun’s appearing and disappearing from behind the clouds, and Sayaka closes her eyes for a moment. When she opens them, she notices a pair of feet. Looking up, she sees it’s a girl – she’s surprised; she had not sensed the presence of anyone else in the vicinity.
Sayaka sees that the girl is crying – they’re tears of sorrow, not tears from hay fever. The girl doesn’t seem to have noticed Sayaka either, but eventually does and wipes her eyes. The awkwardness continues and recognising this, the girl apologises. Sayaka accepts, picks up her bag and leaves without waiting to hear what the girl has to say.
She heads to the hall for her next lecture, where she reads a message from her friends saying that they’re skipping class. Sayaka hasn’t missed a single lecture in uni so far. And so the lecture is about to begin..when Sayaka hears a sudden ‘Ah’. She looks at the entrance to the hall, where Crying Girl is frozen, having spotted her. Other students who’ve just arrived try to push their way past her but she remains rooted to the spot and looking lost, as if searching for something.
Sayaka continues staring at the girl. Lively hair to match a lively person, striking movement of her hands and feet, sprightly, petite body full of energy. Like a dog.
The girl finally heads over to where Sayaka and asks to sit next to her. Crying Girl then thanks Sayaka for what happened earlier. Sayaka thinks there is nothing to thank her for and ponders how people don’t like showing their weaknesses to others in fear of being disliked…and Touko suddenly comes to mind. Touko never allowed her weaknesses to be apparent to Sayaka and she’s enveloped by a sudden sense of loneliness.
The girl seems to be in a dilemma over whether to stay or go, but she remains seated there for the rest of the lecture. She takes out her writing tools and from time to time, steals a glance at Sayaka. Sayaka knows this because she too, is looking at the girl. And wondering why she was crying.
Sayaka’s reminded of Manaka and Midori – the type of people who’d immediately tell others why they were crying. The girl says that she never expected to have someone see her cry in her first few days in uni – from that, Sayaka learns that she’s a junior freshman. The girl is surprised to learn that Sayaka’s her senior; the mood immediately turns awkward and in response, Sayaka tells her to loosen up a bit.
After the lecture, they both hesitate to get up to leave and when Sayaka stands, so does the girl. She starts reeling off the reason for her words of gratitude earlier – her tears had immediately stopped when she realised that Sayaka had seen her crying.
Sayaka nods and she thinks that’s the final exchange that they’ll ever have, but stops when the girl calls out to her and invites her to lunch. She doesn’t think that this girl has any idea of how she should deal with someone senior, but eventually accepts the invitation anyway. The girl calls her senpai and Sayaka lets out a laugh…’Senpai, huh’. A certain junior comes to her mind right away – they still see each other once in a while, more often than Sayaka sees Touko.
We’re not that far apart after all – not just in terms of physical distance, but our hearts as well.
Of course Sayaka is still good friends with Touko and they can easily slip into old habits when they’re together…yet. It takes time for wounds to heal, and footsteps can never be easily erased. But, no regrets. She will always remember the strong emotions she felt at the time, which is far better than having these memories fade away and be forgotten.
The girl jars Sayaka from her mental musings by asking for her name. Sayaka thinks of her name, a name she now knows how to write in kanji perfectly well. A name she cherishes.
In university, and beyond. I might keep on making mistakes. Still, I wish to learn more about what it means to love someone. I want to meet someone. I am able to think that way, because of all the girls I’ve known.
Vol.3 announcement page
And here’s the final page, an announcement of Vol.3 that’s currently in the works! No release date as yet, but I’m beside myself with joy at the prospect of Sayaka finally finding love!
1. Author Iruma Hitoma’s notes state that he merely writes the novels based on what he’s read in the source manga so if the characters don’t live up to your expectations, he’s sorry. Also tells people to read the manga before reading his novels but “you’re not likely to be holding this novel – and a Vol.2 at that, if you weren’t already a fan of the series anyway”.
2. Nakatani’s notes for this volume talk about how she adores stories written from a first person perspective, and how that is not really possible in the manga format which is mostly 3rd person view. She’s enjoying getting to read about Sayaka’s perspective and thoughts, from the pen of someone as illustrious as Iruma.
3. The 2nd novel opens up with the exact same line as the first novel – This might come off as arrogant, but…
….and Chapters 1 and 2 of this volume end with the same paragraph.
I won’t make any more mistakes when I’m in high school. If I knew the reason behind those mistakes, they would not be repeated – or so I thought. I believed that I knew everything there was to know about love.
But I only truly learned the meaning of love when I met ‘her’.
In chapter 1, this ‘her’ refers to Touko. In chapter 2, the ‘her’ very likely refers to [unnamed] Crying Girl.
4. So Sayaka’s next love interest will finally be a junior. She’s already fallen for a senior and a classmate of her age, so it’s time for someone younger who will treat Sayaka like a queen – our girl deserves some real, solid love! The epilogue reminds me a lot of Hakozaki-sensei and Miyako’s first encounter in uni so here’s hoping that Sayaka-Crying Girl will have a similarly happy ending…minus the cigarettes and drunken kiss. Oh and of course, I’m also hoping Miyako/Hakozaki-sensei will get a mention in Vol.3…!
5. The novels are an Easter Egg hunt for fans of the series – you’ll recognise names instantly if you’re familiar with the manga; from the likes of Serizawa & Oogaki (Akari’s crush), and Midori & Manaka, to Hayashi Renma (Koyomi’s favourite author). Even that reference to Doujima, the unreliable Kuze’s similarly unreliable junior! And of course places, like the bench behind the student council building, and that hidden spot where everyone confesses their love…while the student council members hide in the bushes and watch.
6. If you feel exhausted reading my repetitive summary of chapter 2, do know that it’s even more exhausting reading Sayaka’s see-saw inner thoughts regarding whether she wants Touko to change and how she should try to bring about those changes. She thinks about it every few paragraphs and always comes back to the same answer ‘No I’m afraid of losing my place at Touko’s side’. Though I did like that crazy list of possible weaknesses that Touko might have. Try reading it in Japanese! 見えてない、見せようとしない弱さ汚さ卑劣等感嫉妬トラウマ本音建前嫌悪憎悪卑屈自己否定偏愛性癖敵意悪意その他多数の後ろくらいものの数々。PS. The list shows up twice throughout the novel.
7. So yes, Sayaka’s love for Touko seems pretty superficial (haven’t we all been there before ourselves…) She repeatedly asks herself what it is she loves about Touko apart from her being an ‘ideal, perfect being’ and whether she would still love her if she knew her weaknesses. She’s confident that she will, but we never get an answer to that because Sayaka never truly allows herself to learn about Touko’s weaknesses. She has had many chances to tackle Touko head on with all the truths that she holds inside but chooses not to out of fear of losing her place by Touko’s side and is certain that all Touko wants from her is friendship.
Regardless, Sayaka just knows she loves Touko – a girl who can send her heart soaring with a single word. Both girls appear determined not to overstep the unseen boundaries that they have set for each other: ‘Don’t poke your nose into my affairs and I won’t poke mine into yours’ – a fact that makes Sayaka’s and Touko’s friendship seem just as superficial as Sayaka’s love for Touko. But love makes us afraid of losing. And makes us do crazy things.
8. All you Sayaka-Yuu shippers will be pleased with this novel! Their bickering was amusing to read and they really bring out the worst in each other (in a good way), just like friends do. I love that Sayaka’s mature and rational enough to recognise that Yuu is not the enemy, even if she is her rival in love, and that she likes her enough (even if she won’t admit it) to let her guard down around her. I’d always thought that Sayaka and Yuu’s friendship would go the distance, and we see evidence of that in the epilogue/chapter 3. They’re genuinely compatible…as friends.
9. I laughed a lot reading this, more so than I remember doing in Vol.1. Sayaka’s struggle to call other people by their first names, the comparison of Crying Girl to a dog, Touko’s fascination with Sayaka’s status as the daughter of a rich family.
10. Does this volume change my indifference regarding Touko? Errrr….no ;;;; (She can have Yuu, Sayaka deserves better w)
Edit: I’m rereading parts of the novel (might translate some of it), so any strikethroughs means I’ve corrected parts that I screwed up in my first read through w
And that’s it. I apologise that this is so long-winded but Sayaka just evokes all sorts of feelings in me and I needed to get it off my chest ;;;;