夕顔 // “Yugao” – ヒカルが地球にいたころ…… “Hikaru ga Chikyuu ni Ita Koro” 
I just got volume four and five in the series (朧月夜/Oborodzukiyo and 末摘花/Suetsumuhana, respectively; somehow I’ve managed to get first printings of every single one \o/ – in contrast to Bungaku Shoujo which ranges from ~4th to 30th) along with a classical dictionary and some other books today in the mail! I guess I’ve really commited to this series.
I’m still going to translate songs this month (got one queued up right now), but in order to meet one of my New Year’s Resolutions I need to read 3 more light novels before the end of the year, and December’s already busy as it is! To top it all off I’ve been really itching to work on my Bungo/Classical Japanese page, especially after having learned a lot since I last worked on it, and since I’ve now got my (amazing) aforementioned classical dictionary.
Well here goes – these aren’t exactly my speciality ^^;
夕顔 – ヒカルが地球にいたころ……②
”Yuugao” Hikaru ga Chikyuu ni Ita Koro…… (2)
”Yugao” When Hikaru was on the Earth…… (Official-Off-Cover-Translation)
著：野村美月 (Author: Nomura Mizuki)
画：竹岡美穂 (Illustrator: Takeoka Miho)
ファミ通文庫 (Famitsu Bunko)
I wouldn’t quite say that after reading “Aoi” I just -had- to pick up the next volume in the series. It was more that “it was very good, but my thirst for Nomura Mizuki was not yet quenched”. “Aoi” felt like an introduction novel, and rather than character development, it was character revealing, like the petals of a morning glory opening slowly before the sun rises (excuse the flower metaphors, after reading two volumes of this series… it’s not likely to stop). So more than anything else, I was just curious what would happen as the story began to open up more.
The mystery of Hikaru’s death just skirted the edges of “Aoi”, but it crawls itself out of the cracks and begins to wrap itself up in the plot more with “Yugao”. An exploration of character, rather than revelation of character starts to take the forefront in “Yugao” – I think that’s part of the reason I grasped on to this volume a lot more. I still remembered enough of the original “Yugao” chapter to realize that while there are most certainly parallel elements of plot, Nomura Mizuki’s “Yugao” is more than anything else a projection and exploration of a mysterious character that you care for, but can’t explain why.
“Just what is love, anyway?”
I’ll continue this discussion in the “evaluation” section.
^Oumi Hiina on the left, Saiga Asai on the right (I’m gradually trying to make it so you get a glimpse of all the characters at least once.)
赤城是光 Akagi Koremitsu [Protagonist / Living]
A very estudious delinquent with a kind heart. (Nomura Mizuki screams, “NOT A DELINQUENT!” in the distance). || Koremitsu (Hikaru Genji’s Assistant/Friend)
帝門ヒカル Mikado Hikaru “Hikaru no Kimi” [Protagonist-II / Deceased]
The beautiful ghost of a beautiful romancing boy loved by almost all women everywhere, who has made way too many promises and likes to use flowers as metaphors. Currently possesses Koremitsu. || Hikaru Genji
奏井夕雨 Kanai Yuu
A hikikomori ever since being subjected to bullying mid-way through her first semester in high school, she is older than Koremitsu, but still technically a first year student. She loves the sea and everything in it, hiding away from the world with a half-deaf stray cat “Koruri”. When Koremitsu says he’s come to fulfill the promise made between her and Hikaru, she has no idea what he’s talking about. (Her surname is a pun for “inside the house”.) Possibly Possessed. || Yuugao
式部帆夏 Shikibu Honoka “Nioi-Murasaki/Purple-Hime”
The girl who sits one seat across from Koremitsu. She feels an inherent duty to help Koremitsu with what he’s trying to do, and lately has found herself worrying and thinking about him so much that she doesn’t really know what to do with herself. Under the pen name “Purple-Hime/Princess Purple” she writes cellphone romance novels and manages a love consulting forum. || Murasaki Shikibu (Author of the Tale of Genji)
頭条俊吾 Toujou Shun’go
A mysterious figure that seems to be at the root of Yuu’s bullying, who is he and what was his relationship to Hikaru? || Tou no Chuujou (Hikaru Genji’s Brother-in-Law)
齋賀朝衣 Saiga Asai “Asa no Miya”
Head of the student council and full of disdain and doubt, she keeps watch over Koremitsu’s actions. || Asagao
近江 ひいな Oumi Hiina
A member of the newspaper club, she while working directly with other possibly blood-related characters in the background, does everything she can to stimulate a response and grab information from Koremitsu. Appears to be trying to find out who killed Hikaru. Plays the rape card. || ?
Someone’s started sending texts all over the school: “Hikaru didn’t die in an accident. He was killed.” – Taking this opportunity, Koremitsu confronts Hikaru about his death again.
Believing that Hikaru is guiding him to his killer, Koremitsu arrives at shabby apartment that’s barely holding up. But, what he finds inside is not a killer but a frightened and shivering girl holed up in the dark, wrapped in a blanket and hiding her face. It looks like it’s time to clear up another promise, but Hikaru’s suddenly stopped talking to Koremitsu.
Koremitsu tries to figure out with this hikikomori girl, Yuu, just what promise Hikaru might have made, but the most important promise Yuu can think of is, “He promised me he’d change out the florescent lights…” (Well, I guess it is dark in here… if there’s any place to start…)
Koremitsu starts to visit Yuu regularly, but what’s this about a vengeful ghost? Why is Yuu so afraid of the rain? What do you mean “Hikaru never once touched me.”? Wasn’t Yuu just another one of Hikaru’s lovers?
“I think you’ve misunderstood… I was never Hikaru’s girlfriend.”
“Are you sure you can be happy here?”
“Only the living should think of happiness.”
“He always said that there was just one person, that no matter how much both of them loved each other… they could never be together…”
“You know… I… I don’t actually hate you – so if you have something to say, just say it!”
“Sadness… Pain… They’re all part of a distant world… Here… I don’t need to open an umbrella…”
“Pull yourself together! Don’t get caught up in all of these illusions!”
“I’m sure you’ll be able to smile someday…”
“I promised I’d return your umbrella didn’t I?”
“There is one way you don’t have to lose her…”
“Just what is love, anyway?”
Evaluation / Rating:
The first thing I have to say is that I stayed up to three in the morning, even though I knew I had to get up early and take care of some administrative things before work, because I couldn’t put this book down near the end.
As I think I may have already mentioned, “Yugao” is more engaging (at least it was for me) than “Aoi”. I might have a little bias because I was a hikikomori, though not from bullying (I had a more similar experience to Koremitsu to be honest – and one of my first friends was a guy that had a crack in his eye so it was always bloody, that everyone else was too scared to be around.), but with varying perspectives on both reclusiveness and love – not only its definition but “how it should be”, it’s much easier to get absorbed into the story and connect with the characters.
There were a lot of moments that made me smile this time around too. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I had a friend that did exactly the same thing as Honoka but with a coat instead of an umbrella… plus Koremitsu gets much more personally and emotionally involved this time around. (Any more of Hiina’s antics and my eyebrows may fall off my face though, and honestly, I’m worried about how Wakamurasaki’s going to play out…)
I guess my only story-wise worry is that Nomura Mizuki seems to have this habit of having these great grandstanding scenes, but while it was perfect for Bungaku Shoujo, I’m not sure if it’ll work quite as well in this one. “Aoi” didn’t really have a grandstanding scene, but this one definitely did. However, plotwise it was very much tied into Hiina’s motives and the back plot, so it was definitely acceptable in this particular case.
I have one or two things to say about the ending, but the percent of people reading this that have already read the book is probably 0 or extremely close to 0, so let’s go ahead and stay spoiler free. So I’ll end with this:
Ever since (I first heard the faintest glimpse of your voice, like) hearing the first faint calls of geese (as the seasons change), my head has been in the clouds (and I can’t stop thinking about you)!
(The other poem had a more interesting grammar structure, but its contents weren’t as interesting.)
The series is accelerating.
There are a lot more deep character exploration in “Yugao” compared to “Aoi”.
The pacing was better than “Aoi” and did keep me reading late into the night at the end, but it wasn’t perfect. However if anything it matched Koremitsu’s confusion very very well.
The plot is a bit more tangled than the first and there are twists, and a good mystery, but none of the twists really caught me off guard like I have been before.
Yuu is a very interesting character herself, but I think it’s even more interesting how she has affected -other- characters, from Hikaru, to Koremitsu, to Toujou, to Honoka, and even (maybe) Asai. Koremitsu’s character has already shown development, and Honoka is as well as a fresh, complex, rather atypicical but at the same time very classic tsundere ^^.
Writing Style/Flavor: 9.6
Rather than up a notch, maybe it’s just that I’m getting used to the flower talk and I always appreciate the Heian era poems that pop up here and there. I did get some pretty strong emotional chest pains here and there though. ^^;
The cover art is very beautiful, and the inside cover picture of Yuu is breathtaking. The inserts all conveyed mood well and etc. ^^