Episode 24 - Ano Hi Ni Kaerenai/I Can't Return to that Day
- [Cut to the exterior of the north side of Shinjuku station. The
whiteness of the thick falling snow gives the scenery the look of
a black-and-white picture. A train on the Chuo line approaches.]
- Kasuga Narration:
- It was the last days of the winter break between
fall and spring semesters. We were on our way back to our university,
having spent Shogatsu* back in our home town.
*New Years (vacation week).
- [As the train slows to a halt inside Shinjuku terminal, its doors open,
and passengers disembark. Kasuga and Ayukawa are among the many people
transferring to their next train.]
- Shinjuku ... this is Shinjuku. You may transfer to the Yamanote
and Odakyu train, and Marunouchi and Toei Shinjuku subway lines here.
- Kasuga Narration:
- It was the first time we had returned since
leaving for college. The first time ... we tried to face ... whom
we had left behind ....
- Say, are you all right?
- I think so. It was just .... [Trails off.]
- I know. It wasn't easy ... for me either. But we did our
best, didn't we?
- [Nods.] Un. I think we did.
- [People stand about, waiting for their next connections. Lost in
the crowd, Ayukawa and Kasuga seem to be absorbed in their thoughts.
The orange scarf around Kasuga's neck stands out in contrast with
the otherwise stark environment, and with Kasuga's brooding
expression. In the station, disembarking passengers from newly
arriving trains are greeted by friends and associates.]
- Man 1:
- Kaachan*! [Goes forward to greet an awaiting lady.]
- Woman 1:
- [Comes forward to greet another pair of disembarking
girls.] How was your trip girls?
- Girl1 & Girl2:
- [As they gather their belongings.] Pretty good.
- Woman 2:
- [Hugs a younger disembarking boy.] Ken-chan!
- Boy 1:
- [Resistant.] Kaachan, you're embarrassing me!
- Girl 3:
- [Waving to one of the other disembarking passengers.]
Oniichan*! Koochi**! Koochi!
- [Freezes as the phrase triggers a recent memory.] ....
- [Fade to a week ago. The sun reluctantly peeks out from behind the
clouds in the overcast sky. The scenery changes and fades into a
color picture of another train, pulling into the Nishi-Ogikubo
train station. Standing on the disembarkation ramp are a large
number of people waiting for the train. Outside, the snow falls
lightly as people's breaths visibly fill the air.]
- [Pointing.] There they are! [Waves.] Oniichan!
- [Kyosuke and Ayukawa get out of the train.]
- Ahh! [Carries bags over towards the family.] It's good
to see everyone again.
- [Bows.] Thank you for coming to meet us.
- [In an easy-going manner.] It's quite all right. We've
been looking forward to seeing how the two of you have been doing
away at college.
- [The station doors open in front of them, and they proceed inside.
Fade to the ground floor lobby of the Green Castle apartment
building. The sliding glass doors open. As everyone crosses the
lobby toward the elevator, Kyosuke glances toward the sign on the
wall which says only "Kasuga Takashi, Kurumi, Manami" and sighs.
Everyone else is already in the elevator and the doors start to
close; Kyosuke is late, so the doors almost close on him.]
- Hey, Kasuga-kun -- don't stay behind! You have to let the
- Che ....
- [The elevator opens on the fourth floor as everyone gets out and
goes to the door to the Kasuga residence. As they enter, Kyosuke
and Ayukawa take note of the many decorations around the
apartment. Shimenawa*1 adorned with shide*2 hangs over the front
door, marking the apartment as the temporary abode of the
toshigami*3. A kadomatsu*4 rests by the entrance hallway. After
removing their shoes, everyone has a seat in the family room where
kagamimochi*5, sake*6 and persimmons are carefully placed on the
*1 A sacred rope of straw.
*2 Dangling white paper strips.
*4 Arrangement of tree sprigs.
*5 Flat, round rice cakes.
*6 Rice wine.
*7 Literally "year shelf"; a special altar where foods are placed in honor of the toshigami.
- ... So I've heard that you're using my room now?
- Well, since we knew you weren't going to be visiting
every weekend, it seemed like too much of a waste to just let it
- Besides, we had a lot of fun making it into a girl's
- Girl's room? [Smiles.] I'll bet it looks very pretty
- [A little suspiciously.] So what have you done to it?!
- Oh, nothing! It's just like you left it!
- [Cut to Kyosuke's shocked expression as he looks around his room.
What was once a spartan room is now decorated with pink curtains
and stuffed animals.]
- [Stunned surprise.] EHH ...? Wh-what's all this stuff?
- [Pulls out a box from the closet.] Daijoubu* oniichan.
Sorry we didn't have time to get everything out, but as usual, you
only gave us a couple of days notice on what day you'd arrive.
- [Manami pulls out a stack of neatly folded older shirts, along with
some old school notebooks. Kyosuke looks them over with fond
remembrance. Next, Manami pulls out a cool-looking pair of
sunglasses. She looks them over before handing them over to
Kyosuke, who smiles with the recollection of that afternoon. As
she reaches the bottom of the box, Manami pulls out a Wada
- I didn't know you had this. Can we get a copy?
- [While still looking over the sunglasses.] Sure. I'll dub
you ... [Freezes up uncomfortably.] a copy .... [Tries to change the
subject.] Anything else in there?
- It's all there. We've put everything in the boxes.
- [Quietly, almost to himself.] Boxed-away memories ....
- [Manami pulls out a familiar-looking wind chime next. The bell
rings softly in her hand. Kyosuke stares at the chime, thinking
back to the last time he remembered hearing it ring, and his
expression becomes sadder.]
- [Confused.] Oniichan?
- [Cut to ABCB. Kyosuke and Madoka open the door, ringing the bell
above it as they enter. Despite the long absence, much of the
kissaten* is unchanged from the days of junior high. However, an
unfamiliar face works behind the counter and the Master is nowhere
to be seen.]
- [After the waitress leaves.] So how many nengajo* did
you send out?
*New Year's cards.
- [A little hesitant.] Ah, about sixty or so.
- What's wrong? [Smiles.] Are you still thinking about
the new wallpaper?
- [Smiles as he brushes off the comment.] Heiki, heiki*,
it's just a room. How it's laid out is trivial. They're just old
memories, packed away in those boxes .... [Trails off and looks
out the window.]
- [The next several minutes are quiet as Kyosuke and Ayukawa sit at
one of the tables near the rear of the kissaten. Outside, the snow
has stopped and the large front window is illuminated by daylight.
There are no other customers in the kissaten. Suddenly, their
attention is drawn towards the door by the ringing of the door
chime. They both freeze as they see Hikaru and Yusaku enter the
kissaten. There is a long moment of silence. Hikaru stiffens when
she sees who else is in the room, but then calmly goes to the table
next to the door and sits. Yusaku looks flushed and agitated, but
nevertheless follows Hikaru. Kyosuke looks as if he wants to
bolt and run, but is stopped when Ayukawa touches his hand
- [Approaching the new arrivals.] What would you like today?
- [Calmly.] I would like some hot chocolate.
- I'm so sorry; we're out of it today. How about some
- [Emotionless.] OK.
- And how about you, sir?
- [Who was evidently thinking about Kyosuke.] What? ... Oh,
- [The waitress leaves and soon returns with two cups of coffee. As
Hikaru drinks her coffee, Yusaku glances in turns at Hikaru and
Kyosuke. Hikaru seems oblivious to everything. Outside, the snow
starts to fall again as it becomes darker. The waitress
goes to the light switch and turns on the exterior lights. The two
couples sit silently at the tables at the opposite ends of the
room. Ayukawa and Kyosuke blush and look down, unsure of what to
do. When Hikaru is done with her coffee, she stands up and calmly
leaves the kissaten. Yusaku leaves payment on the table and, after
looking at Kyosuke with hate, runs out after her. The door behind
them closes and the chime rings.]
- [Cut to the evening of the next day. Kyosuke is listening
to the radio.]
- ... And you're listening to "Kawai Yoko Midnight Talk!"
Let's look at another letter! This one's from a troubled 17-year
old girl. Kawai-san, please listen. My boyfriend, whom I'll call
'K' for now, was my sempai* until he went off to college. While he
was there, 'K' fell for another girl and recently told me he wanted
to break off our relationship. He was my boyfriend and I'm not
ready to give him up. What do I do? Signed 'H.' Ah, kawaisou**!
What kind of horrible man does that to his steady girlfri--<click!>
- [Kyosuke just stands by the radio, hand still on the switch,
staring at it.]
- [From the living room.] Hey, oniichan, are you coming?
- [To himself.] Well, I hope I can relax during the omisoka*
*The night before New Year's.
- [He goes into the living room, where his family and Ayukawa are
sitting behind the festively decorated table with the large bowl of
toshikoshi soba*. Jingoro is prowling around the room.]
- First I'd like to say I'm happy to have you two visiting
us for this Shogatsu. Finally we can relax and have a quiet
evening all to ourselves, since --
- [The phone rings. Takashi sighs and goes to the other room to
answer the phone. Kurumi immediately starts to work on the
- Itadakimasu*. [Slurping the noodle.] It'f funeda-fun.
*Standard phrase said before starting a meal.
- [Blushing.] No, it can't be him.
- [From the other room.] Manami, it's Kaneda-kun for you.
- [Manami blushes even more and goes away to talk on the phone.]
- [Coming back and sitting down.] Anyway, as I was saying,
we can finally rela--
- [Interrupting.] *Who* is Kaneda-kun?
- Oh, just the guy Manami is dating now.
- Now wait a minute, she met him only two weeks ago!
- [Pawing at Kurumi's bowl.] Meowr!
- No, Jingoro, you can't have any. So what if she just met
him? He seems like a nice guy. He probably won't treat her like ....
- [Glares at Kyosuke.]
- Now wait a minute, what do you mean by --
- As I was saying, we can relax and --
- [Interrupting.] What do you mean, what do I mean?! You
don't even know how hurt Hikaru-chan was! You didn't have to see
her every day in your classroom! You haven't seen her with
- As a matter of fact, I *have* seen her with him.
- [Coming back and sitting down.] Seen who with whom? Here
you go, Jingoro.
- You shouldn't feed him, Manami. So, as I was saying --
- Ever since Yusaku and his family moved back, he's been
her "official" boyfriend. And when they are together they seem
so ... so ....
- [With hope.] Happy?
- [Long quiet pause.]
- [Softly.] Yeah, I've seen them. They spend a lot of time
together, but she doesn't seem to notice him. He holds her hand,
and sometimes even puts his arm around her, but she never responds.
It's just --
- [Phone rings.]
- [Takashi goes to answer the phone.]
- Him again.
- [Blushing.] No, it can't --
- [From the other room.] Manami ... Kaneda-kun for you!
- [Manami goes into other room to talk. Takashi comes back.]
- Well, as I was --
- [Interrupting.] What's with that look, Kurumi?!
- I wonder whose fault all this is.
- Now wait a minute here! Do you think there was any other
way I could have ... I could have ....
- Kasuga-kun, maybe this isn't the best time to discuss ....
- Meowr! Meowr!
- Well, how should *I* know if there was any other way?!
After all, oniichan, you were never the caring type! You didn't
even say anything about these noodles! You didn't even ask who
- [Blushing slightly.] Oh, these are delicious! Was it
*you* who ....
- Thank you! Yes, it was! Jingoro, get down!
- [Manami comes back from the other room and sits down again.]
- [Blushing] He said he thinks --
- Oh, by the way, I was just curious ... when are the two of
you ever going to get married?
- [Ayukawa and Kyosuke blush.]
- [With his usual eloquence.] Uhnmph ....
- Because, Madoka-san, you know what? He always has his
dirty socks lying around and also --
- Now can I ....
- Kurumi and Kyosuke:
- [The phone rings. Manami jumps from the table, dropping her chair
onto Jingoro, who yelps in pain. Takashi opens the newspaper and
starts reading it.]
- [To Kyosuke.] Oh yes, oniichan, I wanted to ask you -- how
often are you and Madoka-san doing C*?
*A = kissing. B = petting/touching. C = all the way. D = pregnant.
- [Kyosuke and Ayukawa turn crimson.]
- [Fade to the next morning at the Kasugas' apartment. The clock
shows 8:40am as Kyosuke picks up the ringing phone.]
- Moshi-moshi*? Oh, good morning, Ayukawa .... Yes, I'm done
with my breakfast .... Yeah, sure .... I can be at your place by
nine .... Ok, see you there! [Hangs up and heads out of the
*Hello (phone greeting).
- [Kyosuke hurries down the stairs, and out the front door of the
complex. He is absorbed in his thoughts, and so he doesn't notice
the figure sitting on the complex steps, waiting. He passes right
by the figure.]
- Haven't we been through this already?
- [Kyosuke grinds to a halt and spins to face the figure.]
- Hi ... Hikaru ... [Softly.] chan ....
- [Hikaru stares intently at Kyosuke, who alternately looks at
and looks away from the seated figure. Her steely expression
betrays no emotion, save perhaps grim determination.]
- Hi ... Hikaru-chan, what are you doing here?
- Waiting for you, obviously. [Rises to her feet and
brushes off her skirt.] I've got a couple of questions for you.
- Umm, questions?
- Oh, nothing much. Mainly just "Why?"
- [*Very* nervous.] "Why?"
- [Moves in close to him. There is not a trace of emotion
in her movements, or her voice.] Why did you do it all? Why did
you lead me on like that for so long? Why did you even date me at
all? Was it all a lie?
- [Babbling a little....] I'm not sure ... I mean ... I
can't just ....
- [Anger beginning to show in her voice.] Or maybe you
could just answer a more basic one. What did I mean to you?
- [Kyosuke opens and closes his mouth a couple of times, but can't
even begin to answer. Just then, a nearby bell tower begins to
ring off 9:00.]
- [Realizes the time.] I'm sorry. I'm late. I'm ... just
- [He turns and hurries off down the street. Hikaru just stands
still on the steps. We see a single tear start to make its way
down her cheek, but it is quickly wiped away by her hand. She
looks in the direction Kyosuke went off.]
- [Emotionless.] OK.
- [She leaves in the opposite direction from Kyosuke. Cut to
Ayukawa's sister's place, with Kyosuke just arriving. A
touch of the doorbell quickly brings Ayukawa to the door.]
- Ohayo*. Sorry I'm late.
- Ohayo, Kasuga-kun. How are you holding up?
- Not that good. [They leave the house and start walking
down the road.] I ran into Hikaru-chan again a little bit ago.
- Bad scene?
- [Nods.] I didn't handle things particularly well.
[Quietly.] Like always.
- I wish she'd let me talk to her. But she hung up both
times I tried to call her.
- What a way to start a day. Pretty rotten vacation this
is turning into.
- [From behind them.] And it's my job to make it worse.
- [Kyosuke and Ayukawa turn to see Yusaku standing behind them.]
- Kasuga Kyosuke. For your transgressions against
Hikaru-chan, I do hereby exact vengeance.
- [Yusaku charges at Kyosuke. Kyosuke tries to dodge, but Yusaku is
faster and easily hits Kyosuke across the nose. Kyosuke barely
manages to stay on his feet. His nose has been bloodied.]
- [With contempt.] Hmph. Just as slow as always.
- Don't interfere!
- [Shocked.] ....
- [Wiping the blood from his nose.] I know what I did to
Hikaru-chan can't be forgiven. I can't change the mistakes I made
in the past. [Sits cross-legged on the ground.] Therefore, all I
can do is accept whatever punishment you see fit.
- Even now you continue to mock me?!? GET UP!
- [Calmly] No.
- [Yusaku cocks his fist back and prepares to let Kyosuke have it.
Kyosuke just sits there. Yusaku surges forward, fist flying. There
is a sharp crack, as Yusaku actually hits and fractures the pavement
right in front of Kyosuke. Kyosuke continues to sit, with his eyes
closed; a drop of sweat is rolling down his temple.]
- [Throwing his head back.] Chikusho*!! I'm *still* a
weakling, feeling sorry for this .... [Turns away, rubbing the
knuckles on the hand that cracked the pavement. In the process,
he spreads blood across both hands.]
- [Still a little shocked.] Yu-kun?
- [Kyosuke has opened his eyes, and has gotten back to his feet. He
notices the blood almost at the same time Ayukawa does.]
- You cut your hand. [Takes out a handkerchief.] Here.
[Gives it to Yusaku.]
- [Taking the profferred handkerchief.] .... Thanks.
- [The three of them stand together in awkward silence. Yusaku has
wrapped his hand in the handkerchief and is staring venomously at
Kyosuke when he deigns to look in his direction. Kyosuke and
Ayukawa stare nervously at each other, and Yusaku.]
- [To Kyosuke.] So?! Don't you want to know how she is?!
- [Awkwardly.] Uh, so how ... how is Hikaru doing?
- [Still towards Kyosuke.] Lousy. And it's all your fault.
[Pauses, as if wanting to continue, but can't.] .... [Turns to
Ayukawa.] Ayukawa-san, I need to talk to you. *Alone.*
- Kasuga-kun. [Gives Kyosuke a meaningful look.] I'll
call you later.
- [Kyosuke makes as if to say something, but sees Ayukawa's earnest
- Okay. I'll be at home. I'll see you. [Turns and leaves.]
- [Ayukawa and Yusaku watch Kasuga walk away. There is silence, then,
for a few moments.]
- [Turning to Yusaku.] Okay, so ....
- [Cut to the playground near the Green Castle Apartments. Kyosuke and
Ayukawa are sitting on swings. Kyosuke is rocking back and forth
- ... And it seems pretty bad. Last week, Yu-kun invited
Hikaru to a rock concert, and Hikaru just said, "Okay." Nothing else.
It's like she's turned off her emotions completely.
- Wow. [Lowers his head into his hands.] Poor Hikaru-chan.
- Poor Yu-kun, too. He tells me that no matter what he does,
she doesn't say anything or react at all. It's like she's accepted
him as a boyfriend like she'd accept exhaust fumes coming out of a
passing truck. It's incredibly frustrating for him.
- "No matter what he does ...?" Wait, you don't mean he's
gone and ....
- [Smiles slightly.] I reacted the same way, Kasuga-kun.
No, as he said, "I may be a bit hot-headed, but I'm no hentai*. I
couldn't bear to do that to her, even though she would probably just
look at me and say, 'OK,' if I asked it of her." It's so sad: he
loves her, truly and purely from the bottom of his heart, but ....
- [Kyosuke looks at Ayukawa, who has gotten up from her swing. He stands
up and walks over, putting his hand on her left shoulder.]
- What is it?
- I'm really worried about Hikaru. It's like she's living so
completely in the past that she's visiting all the places we used to go
together. Weren't you a little surprised that we met the two of
them at ABCB? Apparently, Hikaru, with Yu-kun following her, has been
going back there every day since she's been a junior. I would have
thought that'd be the last place she'd go since our ... last talk.
- [Ayukawa lowers her head slightly, and looks as if she were about to
cry, but does not. Nonetheless, Kyosuke embraces her from behind.]
- [Understanding.] I know ....
- [Ayukawa reaches up and places her right hand across Kyosuke's left.
The two of them stand that way for a long moment.]
- We need to talk to her at some point.
- Yeah. When does your sister and her family return?
- It's almost too bad you couldn't go with them to her in-laws.
Then at least you could have been spared some of this.
- Thanks. But this is something we *both* need to deal with,
and the sooner the better.
- Okay. Maybe the day after tomorrow?
- Un .... Let's go home ....
- [Ayukawa starts to walk towards one of the exits. Kyosuke starts
- ... What?
- I said, "I wonder if she'll decide that there's a hundred
steps or ninety-nine-and-a-half ...."
- [Cut to two days later, early afternoon. Kyosuke and Ayukawa are
walking towards a circular fountain in the middle of another park.]
- ... And she's still hanging up on me.
- I thought about calling her, myself, but I still have no
idea what to say. In any case, I haven't seen her either, although I
guess I haven't gone out a lot. I've been poking around the old books,
the clothes, that Manami and Kurumi packed away. I get this weird
feeling of nostalgia for high school every time I look at it ....
- [They fall silent for several steps.]
- [Changing the subject.] Remember the first time we were
- [Almost laughs.] "Lover's Park"? I remember how
embarrassed I was when the policeman ordered us to leave because he
thought we were too young.
- [As they leave the park and walk on the sidewalk along
the street.] Is it true that the Master's not working at ABCB
- He's still around, but he said he was only going to be
there once in a while. [Subdued.] I think he was also sad by what
- [They come to a stop in front of ABCB.]
- A lot of good times happened here. It's too bad it ended
the way it did ....
- [Kyosuke starts to say something, but then stops, remembering how
Ayukawa had broken down when she last talked about the end of
her friendship with Hikaru.]
- Kasuga-kun, I need to go home -- my sister's waiting for
me. And ... I also need to think. I didn't get much time yesterday.
I'll call you later.
- ... Okay. But ... remember, we both need to talk to her.
- Okay. See you.
- See you.
- [Cut to a little later, as Kyosuke walks quietly through a park. After
a few moments, he sits at the same bench he remembered from the previous
summer. He sighs as the events from eighteen months ago flash through
his memory. As he reminisces, he fails to hear the sounds of footsteps
- I wondered if I would find you here. Finally. Alone.
- [Turning in surprise.] Hi ... Hikaru-chan.
- Are you going to run away again? You've gotten pretty good
at doing that.
- [Turns and is now looking down at his feet.] No. I'm
not running this time. I .... We .... I think we ought to talk.
- [Emotionless.] Ok. [She sits on the bench.] I promise
I'll be calm this time, and not scare you off.
- [Grimaces.] I guess I deserve that.
- [Looks her in the eyes for the first time.] I ... [Looks
back down.] I don't know where to begin.
- How about answering my question? Why did you date me?
- Because I cared for you. Because you were a friend.
- [Interrupting.] But not because you loved me.
- Love. Such a small word for such a powerful thing.
- You're running away again, Kasuga-san.
- [Pauses, then quietly.] No, I didn't love you.
- Then why? Why did you date me? What did I mean to you?
You toss around words like "friend", but that doesn't even begin to
explain what you did to me. Why?
- [Not meeting Hikaru's eyes.] Because we cared about you
too much to hurt you!
- We? [Looks startled.] You and Madoka-san?
- [Nods.] I loved her from when I first met her. At first
I didn't know if she felt the same; after a while I learned that
she did. But we both felt that if you found out it would devastate
you, so we agreed to stay apart. We decided to let things stay as
they were until we could figure out a way to solve things
peacefully. [Pauses.] Obviously that never happened.
- So I was just an obstacle in your way. An obstacle you
were trying to find a way around.
- No. That's not it. It wasn't like that ....
- Then what *was* it like? You date me for years, and the
whole time you were running around behind my back with my best
friend, plotting with her on how to get rid of me, and who knows
what else you were doing with her all that time.
- If we were plotting to get rid of you, Hikaru ...
- [Ayukawa steps into view from behind a tree.]
- ... I don't think we would have taken four years to do
- [Evenly.] Madoka-san.
- Ayukawa. How ...?
- [To Kyosuke.] Yu-kun had left a message for me at my
sister's. He was worried about Hikaru, saying, "She left, saying
she had something important to take care of -- and that I should
stay out of it." [Turns to Hikaru.] I ... I thought I'd find
- [Hikaru stares at Ayukawa and takes a deep breath; then she steadies
- We weren't plotting at all. We discovered one day, four
years ago now, that we had similar feelings for each other, but
because we both cared deeply for you, and we both knew how this
would hurt you, we decided that day to ignore them. So for three
more years after that I had to go on, seeing the man I loved, and
who I knew loved me, dating someone else.
- What was I, an object of your pity? And I'm supposed to
feel sorry for what *you* went through?
- [Looking up sharply] Then I've got a question for you.
How do you feel about Yusaku?
- [Startled.] Yusaku? What does he have ....
- And how is what you're doing to him, ignoring his
feelings for you, any better than what we did?
- Yusaku is ....
- We ... we did our best to keep you from being hurt. But
you, you're torturing Yusaku day in and day out! He loves you,
Hikaru-chan, and he *is* your boyfriend now. But you don't even
- Yusaku is not the issue here, you and Madoka-san are!
- Maybe not, but what I'm trying to say is that I don't
think any of us are lily-white in the matter of love. We've all
- So I'm a mistake to you.
- Hikaru-chan, don't twist my words! You know what I
meant. I didn't plan to fall in love with Ayukawa, it just
happened. And I don't think she planned it either. [Calms down a
bit.] I think that if I had met only you, I would have fallen for
you instead. But it happened as it did, and now we have to live
with the results.
- I know you probably can't forgive us, but maybe you can
accept that this is how things are. You're still living in the
past, Hikaru. You ... [Pauses; looks at Kyosuke.] have to let
the doors close ....
- [Silence for a few moments as Ayukawa thinks of how to go on.
Hikaru blows gently upward, banishing a stray lock of hair that was
trying to get in her eyes.]
- You have a man out there who loves you desperately. If
you care for him at all, go to him, and try to see if you have any
room for him in your heart. If so, then try to love him with all
the passion you've expended on Kasuga-san over the years. If not,
then let him go, because he is truly miserable with how things are
now. There's a lot of love within you, Hikaru, and it tears me up
to see you expending it all on so much bitterness and hatred.
- Hatred, huh? What did you expect? [Stops for a moment.]
No, actually, in spite of all you two have done, I don't hate you.
At least I don't think so. But it's hard not to have bad feelings
when the man you love has been lying to you, and your best friend
in the whole world does the same as she betrays you. [Stops and
takes another deep breath.] Honestly, I don't really know what I feel
anymore. [Looks at Kyosuke.] Thank you for being honest, sem ...
Kasuga-san ... [She tentatively looks at Ayukawa.] Madoka-san. I
... I have to do some thinking. Sayonara. [She turns and walks
- [Sitting down beside Kyosuke.] I'd like to say that went
well, but I really don't know. [Notices that Kyosuke is staring at
his feet again.] Kasuga-kun? [She looks closer, and sees that he's
fighting back a few tears. She puts her arm around his shoulder
and leans in close.]
- She wanted to know why. Why did I put her through that.
And the problem is that I know that all my talk of friendship and
caring doesn't even begin to justify it. I sidetracked the issue
with that talk of Yusaku, but I never answered her question. I ran
away again. Why did I do it? Why string her along for years like
that? It seemed the right thing to do at the time but .... [He lets
out a quiet sob, and embraces Ayukawa back.]
- [Quietly.] I know why.
- [Looking up.] Huh?
- You did it because you loved her.
- Loved her ...? No. It's you I love, Ayukawa.
- Silly ... where in the world is it written that when one
falls in love, their heart is shut to all others? We both cared
for her as a friend, and still do, or this wouldn't be tearing us
both apart so much. But I can't believe that you were her
boyfriend for four years without even a little bit of romantic love
- I ... I don't know.
- You obviously haven't thought about it, but I have. A
lot. I was the "other woman" for those years, remember? I had
plenty of time to watch the two of you together, so I know that
there was more than just friendship there. And I thought I
could live with that, until you two kissed, and then ... then I
realized that I might lose you.
- [Kyosuke looks at her gratefully. The two lean in to kiss. Behind
them, Hikaru watches from behind the same tree that Ayukawa was
behind earlier. She has obviously been listening in, and smiles
wistfully before she slips away.]
- [Cut to a snow-covered platform at Nishi-Ogikubo train station,
three days later. Ayukawa, her sister and her family, Kyosuke,
and his family are walking towards a train labeled,
"Tokyo-bound." Kyosuke and Ayukawa are a little bit ahead
of the rest of the party.]
- How are you doing?
- Fine, I guess. I suppose this wasn't the best
winter vacation we've had ....
- [Sighs.] True .... Well, we knew we might have to deal
with her if we came back.
- I know, but .... I didn't expect to be received by
Hikaru-chan with open arms, but seeing her still lost in a past
long gone .... It really shocked me.
- Me too, Kasuga-kun. Me too. You know, I almost called
her again. To try and see if there was some way to clear things
up between us. I don't want to leave her thinking ... that way
about me. And us.
- You also, eh? Yeah, I don't like it either. But
I guess we've also had more than enough confrontation for
one week. In a way, I'm glad these last few days were boring
- [With mock disappointment.] Kasuga-kun! I didn't
know I was so unexciting a woman to you ....
- Wait, no, no, I didn't mean .... [Realizes he's
been tricked and smiles.] Ayukawa ....
- [Ayukawa smiles back.]
- [Kyosuke and Ayukawa turn and see Hikaru breathlessly running
toward them across the snow-covered platform. Her gloves are
bright orange, and she is carrying a wrapped package. Yusaku is
following her with a reluctant expression on his face. Hikaru
slows down, and we can see she has a small black puppy in one of
her coat pockets.]
- [Surprised.] Hi ... Hikaru-chan.
- [Walking up to Kyosuke and Ayukawa.] I ... probably
shouldn't have come, but I wanted to give this to you in person.
[She holds up a wrapped package.] Call it a late Christmas
present. [She holds the package out to Kyosuke, who hesitates a
few moments before taking it from her.]
- Hikaru-chan. I'm not sure that I should ....
- Don't worry. It's something that should have been yours
quite a while back. I started it ... that summer.
- [Kyosuke takes the package as he and Hikaru pause before speaking
- Kyosuke and Hikaru:
- [Simultaneously.] So ....
- [They both hesitate again as the sound of the bell and the PA voice
interrupt whatever thoughts they might have had.]
- This is a last boarding call for the Shinjuku train, departing
from track two with stops at Ogikubo, Kouenji, and Higashi-Nakano.
- [Ayukawa opens her mouth as if to say something, but then changes
her mind and instead just smiles sadly and waves. She then turns
to say goodbye to the others who have been standing a bit away
from the scene. Kyosuke stays behind.]
- [Softly.] I should also say, "Goodbye." [Glances into
her eyes momentarily.] Thank you, Hikaru-san.
- [Kyosuke joins Ayukawa in their farewells, then go to enter the
train. They both look at Hikaru momentarily, and then board.
As the train pulls away, Hikaru still stands where Kyosuke left
her. Her expression is sad as she watches the train fade into
- [As a tear rolls down her cheek.] Sayonara ... darling ....
- [Hikaru wipes away the tear, and spins on her heels to face
Yusaku. She is smiling now, with only a trace of the tear still in
the corner of her eye. Putting the fingers on her right hand into
the gun-like shape, she points at Yusaku.]
- [A little surprised at her liveliness.] Hikaru-chan -- are
you all right?
- [Nods.] The two of us are going to have a long talk, very
soon, but for now, I just want to have fun. I need to let loose
for a while.
- [Nods, still looking a little bewildered at her shift in
mood.] Sure! Hmm ... how about a movie? I think I've got enough on
me to cover us both.
- [Happily.] OK!
- [Yusaku puts his arm around her in a practiced maneuver, and begins
to lead her away. He stops for a moment in shock as he realizes
that she is actually leaning against him within his hold. He
smiles as they leave the boarding ramps and disappear into the
crowd. Inside the train, Kyosuke opens the package Hikaru gave
him, revealing an orange scarf. He pauses for a second, then puts
it around his neck. Ayukawa looks at him and smiles sadly. Then
she looks out of the window and starts humming softly to herself.]
- "On the platform, where the snow dances, running toward
me, out of breath, on a day long ago, at the railway station ....
Your smile is like a photo in my memory -- it was changed by all the
days of separation. And I just dance in the sweet ...."
- [Fade back to the present. The same train approaches the final leg
of its journey as the silence of the passengers underscores the
stark black-and-white surroundings.]
- [Kasuga looks up from the orange scarf, to see Ayukawa staring
at him with a bit of concern. As he returns to reality, a
small smile forms on her face. Another train pulls into
the station, in front of them. Disembarking passengers stream
out of the train. Then Kasuga and Ayukawa, along with other
people, enter the train. There are no seats available, so they
stand next to a pole.]
- I ... think she'll be okay.
- Un. It's too bad we all had to go through that ....
- [A pause.] I think they'll make a good couple.
- Yes, childhood friends.
- [Kasuga pictures the two of them, walking out of the train station,
Hikaru finally exuding warmth in Yusaku's grasp, as she at last
acknowledges his love for her. It reminds him of an earlier time --
the three of them sitting around a table in Ayukawa's parents' home,
looking through an old photo album, recounting their good times.
He smiles, with not a little regret at what has been lost. The train
jerks slightly, rounding a curve, jarring Kasuga from his
reminiscences. As he stares out again over the snow-covered roads
and hills that stream by, he imagines seeing Hikaru and Yusaku,
creating their own memories in the snow, back home.]
- Kasuga Narration:
- As the train approached Butsumetsu, Ayukawa and
I prepared ourselves for the coming future. However, I can't help
but look back with regret ... at the friend I leave behind. The
mistakes I made ... and the pain they caused ... can never really be
forgotten. All I can do now is hope that sometime, somehow, she
will find it in herself to forgive us. But no matter how much
sometimes I would like to, I can't go back to those days.
- [The train decelerates to a stop at the Butsumetsu train station.
As the doors slide open, Kasuga and Ayukawa exit the train along
with the rest of the passengers. They are looking for the exit
that takes them back to the university as behind them, the train
Writers: Stephen Tsai (email@example.com)
Andy Combs (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Vladimir Zelevinsky (email@example.com)
Robert Carragher (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pre-readers: Brian Edmonds
Very special thanks to Hitoshi Doi
A tip of the hat and a deep bow to Matsumoto Izumi
for starting the whole thing
If I left anyone off, my apologies. Any mistakes/embarrassing faux
pas are entirely my own. If there is anything here you must flame,
mail them to email@example.com.
Thank you for taking the time to read this episode of my series.
I have the next episode in the works.
Hope you enjoyed it and thanks again!
- [Epilogue: Cut to Hikaru and Yusaku walking across a starkly-lit
snow covered field. Hikaru's orange gloves are a colorful contrast
to the rest of the landscape. The puppy in Hikaru's arms is moving
restlessly and looking at the snow.]
- [Almost to herself.] It's the first time Toto-chan has
seen the snow ....
- Hai ....
- [She stops and puts the puppy down. It sniffs cautiously and
starts to make its way through the snow. Hikaru and Yusaku look at
it, smiling. Hikaru accidentally drops one of her orange gloves.
Before she can pick it up, the puppy grabs it and starts to pull it
away from her. Yusaku makes a motion to retrieve the glove, but
Hikaru stops him. She kneels and for the long time looks, in the
middle of the falling snow, at this final picture: in the white
field, the black puppy playing with the orange glove.]
For the new readers: I'll be doing character profiles, major
location descriptions, and situation updates on a rotating basis
for each episode. If there is a particular character, place or
event that you would like to know more about, and it is not being
covered, don't hesitate to email me and I will send you
either a note or a copy of the episode it is introduced.
Focus on New Year - New Year observations are the most important
and most elaborate of Japan's annual events. Although local
customs differ, at this time homes are decorated and the holidays
are celebrated by family gatherings, visits to shrines or temples,
and formal calls on relatives and friends. In recent years the New
Year festivities have been officially observed from 1 January
through 3 January, during which time all government offices and
most companies are closed.
New Year's cards - Japanese send New Year's greeting cards to
virtually all of their relatives, friends, and acquaintances, while
businesses send out cards to their customers. The Japanese New
Year's card fulfills much the same function as the Western
Christmas card, but the Japanese send out New Year's cards in much
greater quantities, the average family mailing being about 100.
The customary New Year's card is a government-issued postcard
printed with lottery numbers, which may enable the recipient to win
a prize. Many families design their own postcards and have them
printed. Cards posted between 15 and around 25 December are held
by the post office and delivered together on 1 January. The
government also issues special New Year's picture postcards sold,
in 1990, at five yen above the regular price, part of the extra
money going to charity. New Year's cards delivered in Japan in
1990 numbered 3.8 billion.
JAPAN: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, Kodansha Press, Tokyo, 1994.
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