Archive for the ‘ Text Passages ’ Category

蓬莱人形 ~ Dolls in Pseudo Paradise

This post includes translations of both the widely released C63 “press version” and the original C62 version of 蓬莱人形 ~ Dolls in Pseudo Paradise.

My original translation of Dolls in Pseudo Paradise was one of the first times I had attempted to translate something other than song lyrics, and unfortunately it shows, so after nearly a decade, I have decided to go back and retranslate it.

However, as part of the ongoing battle with my brain, I have had severe issues with concentration since the start of the year, and in many ways, this translation was a lot harder for me than it was when I first attempted it. Even so, I know I caught many facepalm level errors and I think the effort was worth it.

蓬莱人形 ~ Dolls in Pseudo Paradise.
 Hourai Dolls ~ Dolls in Pseudo Paradise

C62 Story // C63 Story

僕ら正直村はもともと八人だけだったのだ。
全員で東の山に引っ越すことになって二年が
経とうとしていたんだ。正直退屈な毎日だった。
ある日、一人が桃の木の脇に小さな穴を発見した。
そう、それから僕らはこの楽園に迷い込んだのだ。
そして僕はさっそく、人間をやめた。

We, the village of honest folk, have been, since our inception, a group of just eight. Nearly two years ago we decided to move into the eastern mountains, and honestly speaking, every day since has been a bore. However, just the other day, one of our group discovered a hidden passage by the wild peach tree, and through that passage we went, wandering into this paradise. Not long after, I quit being human.

1.蓬莱伝説
   The Legend of Hourai

最も好奇心の高い僕は、先を急ぎ森の奥を目指した。
奥で謎のピエロに呼び止められ、なにやら嬉しそうに蓬莱
の玉の枝を手渡されたんだ。受け取ろうとしたら一瞬で首
と体が離れたようだ。僕は動くことも出来なくなって、
二度と仲間に会うことが出来なかった。
残りの正直者は七人になった。

I, the most curious of our group, hurried ahead of the others into the depths of the forest, whereupon I heard a voice calling me—and turned to face a mysterious clown. Happily it held out to me what appeared to be the famous jeweled branch of Hourai, but the instant I reached out to take it, my head—it seems—was separated from its body. Unable to move, never again could I return to my companions—the honest folk—who now number seven.

 不死の薬は、あの始皇帝の使いですら見つける
 ことが出来なかったというのに…
  …蓬莱の玉の枝などみつかるものか。

Not even the servants of the first emperor of China succeeded in their quest for the elixir of life… How can you expect me to believe anyone could find the jeweled branch of Hourai?

2.二色蓮花蝶 ~ Red and White
   Bi-chromatic Lotus Butterfly ~ Red and White

朝は、池の上に紅と白の二色の巫女が踊っているのが見えた。
最も早起きな僕は、その無慈悲で過激な舞に長い間魅了さ
れていたんだ。やがて雨が降り始め、僕は我にかえった時、
もう巫女の姿は無かった。

In the morning, I saw a shrine maiden dressed in red and white dancing over the surface of the pond. The earliest riser of our group, I was enchanted by her ruthless, radical dance for quite some time. Eventually it began to rain, but by the time I had come to my senses, she was gone.

 また、変な人が紛れこんで来たみたいね。
 神社まで来る前に何とかしないと…
 あら、あの娘… 人間でも妖怪でもないみたい

Another strange person has found their way here, it seems. I must do something before they find their way to the shrine… But that young girl…does not seem to be either human or youkai.

3.桜花之恋塚 ~ Japanese Flower
   Lovely Mound of Cherry Blossoms ~ Japanese Flower

雨は止むことを知らなかった。巫女はしっとりと全身を濡らしたまま、
雨に溶け込む様に消えていく。巫女に見とれているうちに
雨は恐ろしい嵐になり、最も美しいボクはピエロに捕らわれたのだ。
そのままピエロは嵐の中に消え、もう僕らの所へ帰る事は出来なかった。
残りの正直者は六人になった。

The rain knew no end—and the shrine maiden, her body drenched, faded behind its curtain as if she had become part of it. But while I was enthralled by her, the rain worsened into a frightful storm, and I, the most beautiful of our group, was captured by a clown. Into the storm, it vanished with me, and I was unable to return. Only six of our group—the honest folk—remain.

 あの桜の木の下には、今も*が眠っているのだろうか。
 あんなに紅くなった花びらが、年々、薄くなっていく。
 もう、土の中には何も残っていないのかも知れない。

I wonder if, even now, she still sleeps under that cherry tree. But as its once crimson flower petals grow lighter, year after year, perhaps nothing remains left under the ground.

4.明治十七年の上海アリス
   Meiji 17 (1884) Shanghai Alice

夜、六人は異国風のパーティを開催した。最も幼い僕はま
だお酒も阿片も飲めなかったのでひどく退屈だったんだ。
僕は一人でこっそりその場から抜け出したんだけど、暗闇
で不吉なピエロに捕まってしまったんだ。僕は、あっさり
首を切られた。もう退屈することも二度と出来なかった。
残りの正直者は五人になった。

That night, the six of us held an oriental party, but I, the youngest of our group, could not yet drink liquor or smoke opium and was terribly bored. So, alone, I crept away from the event, but in the pitch darkness I was captured— by an ominous clown. My head was cut from by body with ease, and never again would I experience boredom. So now, only five of our group—the honest folk—remain.

 阿片の煙が雲と棚引き、町のあらゆる場所に流れ込ん
 でいた。私は租界にいる。ワルツを踊る極彩色の衣装
 の人々。ここにはその魔法が届かないわ。

The opium smoke hovers like a cloud, and billows into every corner of town. I live in an autonomous settlement, where people in colorful outfits dance the waltz. Your magic will not reach me here.

5.東方怪綺談
   Fantastic Eastern Tale

僕は息が切れるまで走った。最も臆病な僕は、この楽園が
怖くなったのさ。この位予想していたことだけど、いくら
走っても帰り道を見つけることは出来なかったのだ。もう
僕の想い人も消えてしまっている、生きていても仕方が無
い、僕は失意の後に太い枝に縄を縛りつけ首を掛けた。
…僕はなぜか意識がある。縄が脆かったのか?…
最も臆病な僕は生まれ変わった。もう失うものは何も無い、
僕はもう一度だけ人間の真似をしてみることにしよう。

I ran, and ran—until I was out of breath. The most cowardly of our group, I had grown afraid of this so-called paradise. I expected as much, but no matter how far I ran, I could not find my way back. Since the one I loved had vanished, no longer had I any reason to live. So in my despair I hung a noose from a thick tree branch and tied it around my neck. I expected the end but as moments came and went I realized I had regained conciousness. Was the rope I tied not strong enough…? I wondered. Thus I, the most cowardly, was reborn. With nothing to lose, I decided I would once more pretend to be human.

 「妖怪?いまどき非常識な。」
 しかし、僕は知っている。妖怪達は、人間にそう
 思わせとけば平和に暮らせるという事を。
 妖怪は人間よりずっと平和で現実的だという事を。

“Youkai? In this day and age? That’s nonsense.” But I know the truth: That this only is what youkai want humans to think—so they can live in peace. That, in the end, youkai are far more realistic and peaceful than humans.

6.エニグマティクドール
   Enigmatic Doll

目が覚めたら僕ら五人は暗闇に居たんだ。一人の言うこと
には、僕らは謎のピエロにさらわれたらしい。四人は幼稚
な脱出計画を立てている。最も聡明な僕は、止めとけばい
いのにと見ていたがとうとう口に出さなかったのだ。
四人の予定通り計画は実行され、一人の予想に反し成功に
終わったんだ。そして僕は永遠に逃亡出来なかった。
永い暗闇の中で暇を潰していると、すぐに後ろに気配を感じ
たが、身を任せた。熱いものが背中を伝った。

The five of us awoke in darkness. According to one, we had been snatched away by a mysterious clown. While the other four were constructing an infantile escape plan, I, the wisest of our group, realized it would be best to wait it out, but I did not interject. However, contrary to my expectations, the four’s plan to escape succeeded, and by not joining them I forever missed my chance to escape. While I was biding my time in the darkness, I felt a presence behind me, but did not act, letting events happen as they may. The last thing I felt was was a hot sensation running down my back.

 ああ、この人形、どうにかして早く捨てたいのに。
 だって、あの蒼い目。時折黒い鴉がくわえて持って
 っちゃうのよ? あの目は本物の目よ。
 いつも、私が新しい目を入れるんだから。

This doll… O how I want to throw it away. After all, a black crow keeps coming to take its blue eyes away in its beak—real blue eyes. I know, because I’m always putting in new ones.

7.サーカスレヴァリェ
   Circus Reverie

僕らは見事脱出に成功したんだ。僕らは何て賢いんだろう
と感心し、楽園に見つけた住みかに帰ろうとした。
誰もお互いを疑う事なんて考えたことは無かったのさ。
みんな正直者だったんだ。みんな仲良しだったんだ…

We made our brilliant escape and felt like geniuses. All that remained was for us to return to the home we found in paradise. None of us had any doubts about the others, for we were honest folk, and all great friends…

 さて、お次は鳥人間の登場だよ。
 この鳥人間、なんと人間と、遥か南の国にしかいない
 世にも珍しい、ゴクラクチョウとの間に生まれた子供だよ。
 親はとっくに死んじまって、可哀想な孤児だったのを、
 うちの劇団で助けてあげたって訳だ。えらいだろう?

Up next is bird-man! This marvelous creature is a child born from the crossing of a human and a rare bird of paradise known only to exist in countries to the far south! Its parents long dead, we discovered the thing as a poor and desperate orphan! But our troupe rescued it! Aren’t we just awesome?

8.人形の森
   Forest of Dolls

楽園は、僕らが住むにはちょうど良い建物を用意してくれた。
森の奥にある古びた洋館は、いつでも僕らを受け入れてくれる。
でもいつもなら大量に用意する食事も、いつもの半分で済んだ。
正直者の僕らはいつのまにか半分になっていたのだ。

Paradise prepared a perfect abode for us to stay in: an ancient, western-style mansion, which has always welcomed us. However, I noticed that although a large amount of food was normally prepared for us, only half of that amount is now necessary, for our number— the number of us honest folk—has dwindled to half in no time at all.

 雨が止まない。
 私がこの家に迷い込んでから、一度も太陽を見ていない。
 もう何日経つんだろう。
 人形はしきりに話し掛けてくる。
 僕は、人形の首をはねた。雨が止んだかの様に見えた。

The rain will not cease. Not since I wandered into this house have I ever seen the sun. How many days has it been? I cannot say. The dolls keep talking to me. They will not cease. So I twisted their heads off, and finally—it appeared—the rain had stopped.

9.Witch of Love Potion

午後は、いつもお茶の時間と決めていた。いつもならただ
苦いだけの珈琲が、今日は僅かに甘く感じたんだ。
それが惚れ薬−Love Potion−入りだったとは…
最も大人びた僕は、美しきピエロに恋し幸福のままに眠りに落ちた。
残りの正直者は三人になった。

I always took my coffee in the afternoon, but the bitter drink I was accustomed to tasted a bit sweet that day. Little did I know, my coffee had been spiked with a love potion… Thus I, the most mature of our group, fell in love with a beautiful clown and then proceeded happily to fall further, into a deep sleep. And so, three honest folk remain.

 まさかね。もちろん僕も馬鹿じゃない。
 友達に言ったって笑われるだけさ。
 あそこの店に惚れ薬が売ってたなんて。
 だから僕は誰にも言わず豚の貯金箱を壊したのさ。

Of course not. I’m no idiot. If I told my friends, they would just laugh at me. Who else would believe that store sold love potions? That’s why I broke the piggy bank without telling anyone.

10.リーインカーネイション
   Reincarnation

僕は明らかに毒で殺された仲間を見てしまったんだ。あれ
は自殺のはずがない。珈琲は僕が適当に選んで皆の部屋に
配ったんだからな。他の二人には彼の死を伝えなかった。
最も警戒心の強い僕は、自分で用意した食事以外は口に入
れなかった。他の二人が寝静まるまで必死に起きていた。
僕らは別々に部屋に入って鍵をかけた。そう僕は二人のう
ちある一人を疑っていたんだ。
どこからか、すぐ近くで木に釘を打つような音が響いて
いたんだ。一体どっちの仕業だろう? 暗闇の中恐怖に顔
が歪む。音に合わせ僕の手足が痛む。まるで五寸もある釘
で打たれたかのようだったんだ。霊媒師にでも相談しよう
とも考えたが、ある事に気付いてしまったんだ。
そうだった、僕が木に打ち付けられていて動けないんだ
った。どっちが僕を木に打ち付けているのだろうか?
そして最後の釘が眉間に当てられた。
そこには予想通りの顔が見えた。
声を出す間も無く、光は完全に途絶えた。

I discovered one of our companions, killed clearly by some sort of poison. It could not have been suicide—of that I was sure. However, although I distributed it randomly, I was the one who brought everyone their coffee, so of course I did not tell the others of his death. After all, the only clear suspect was me. So I, the most distrusting of the group, refused to eat or drink anything I did not prepare myself, and strived to stay awake until the other two slept. That night, the three of us each entered our separate rooms and locked the doors. By then, I was sure one of the other two was the culprit.

Then, all of a sudden, I heard the sound of someone hammering a nail into wood. Which one of them is it? I wondered, my face twisting in fear as I peered out into the dark. With each thud I could feel a sharp pain in my hands and feet, as if six inch nails were being hammered into me. At first, I thought about consulting a medium, but then I realized the obvious: I cannot move, because I am being nailed to a tree. Which of the two of them is doing this to me?! I thought desperately. But then, I felt the final nail pressed against my brow. As I suspected, a face came into view—but before I could cry out, the lights went out.

– interlude

君は余りにも腑抜けだったのだ。
正直者が馬鹿を見るということが分からないのか?
こんな隠居暮らしで昔のあの鋭い感覚・・・・・・が麻痺したのか?
もう一度街の賑わい、富と快楽が恋しくないのか?
僕は、昔みたいに皆で盗賊団になって、もう一度人生やり
直したいだけだったのに。
一仕事終えた僕は、朝食の準備をし夜があけるのを待った。

What a fool you are. Don’t you realize living an honest life only prepares you to meet a cruel fate? Or did this otherworldly escape paralyze the sharp senses you used to call your own? Don’t you still yearn for the bustling towns, for riches and pleasure? I only wanted a fresh start—to return to the days we lived as a band of thieves—but now… Having finished my work, I made preparations for breakfast, and waited for dawn to break.

 そもそも、道の無い森の中に洋館が建ってるだけでも
 不思議なのだ。あそこに住んでいた少女が滅多に街に
 出てこない。でも、最近、彼女の娘らしき人を見た。
 何で娘ってわかったかって?
 そりゃ、あれだけ幼少時代の彼女に似ていれば…

It is strange enough that a western-style mansion was built in the middle of the forest with no roads leading to or from it, but the young woman who lives there almost never comes to town. I have, however, seen a girl who appears to be her daughter around sometimes. How do I know it is her daughter and not some other girl? Well, she looks just like the young woman did when she was a child.

11.U.N.オーエンは彼女なのか?
   U.N. Owen was Her?

最も早起きな僕の意識は、すでに虫の息だったんだ。今朝
のハムエッグに何か盛られてたんだろうな。なんて僕は頭
が悪いのだろう、二人になるまで全てが分からなかったな
んて。全部あいつの仕業だったんだ、気違いになった時点
で殺しておくべきだったんだ。
 いずれにしても、もう遅すぎたな…
いつかの巫女が見えた気がした。僕の幻覚なのか?
それにしても髪の色はあんなブロンドだっただろうか。
僕の命と引き換えに、もうしばらく幻覚を見せて欲しいと
言う願いは、前者だけ叶ったようだ。

Barely hanging on to consciousness, I, the earliest riser, knew I was already at death’s door. There was something in this morning’s ham and eggs. How stupid I was, not to realize the truth until our group had been whittled down to just two. It was all *** fault. I should have killed *** the moment *** went mad. Regardless, it is all too late now… I thought as I began to drift off. Is that… No, I must be hallucinating. Why would that shrine maiden be here? Was…her hair really that blonde? Nevertheless, I thought, I would give up the rest of my life to hallucinate just a little longer— but before I could voice such a wish, only the first part came true.

 君は想像力にかけている。罠に落とそうと思えばわけはない。
 U.N.オーエンほど想像力豊かな犯人なら、君の頚に縄を
 まく事ぐらい朝飯前だろう。

You really have no imagination. Anyone could make you fall for a trap if they so wished. Given a culprit with the imaginative power of U.N. Owen, it is obvious they could have a rope around your neck before breakfast.

12.永遠の巫女
   Eternal Shrine Maiden

あれから生まれ変わった僕は、昨日は夕食後、強烈な睡魔
に襲われたんだ。頭が割れる様に痛い。昨夜のことが何に
も思い出せない、永い夢を見ていたような気がする。目の
前の現実さえ見なければもっと良かったのに…
何てことだ、一人は珈琲に毒、一人は木に打ち付けられ
ていて、そしてもう一人は首をはねられて・・・いたなんて
僕は椅子と縄を用意し最後に呟いた。
最後に死んだとしたら、珈琲で死んだ奴しかありえない。
つまり、そういうことなのか?
そういうことなのだろう。
僕の夕食にも何か盛られていたようだな。
そんなことはもうどうでもいい、僕は一人だけなんだ。
もうこんな嘘つきだらけの世に未練など、無い。
今度は丈夫な縄を天井に縛り、僕は高い椅子を蹴った。
今度こそ、二度と体が地面に着くことは無かった。

そして正直者は全員消えた。

I, the reborn member of our group, was assaulted by an intense drowsiness after yesterday’s dinner. I awoke with a spitting headache and could not remember anything about the night before. It felt as if I had been dreaming for a very long time… If only I did not have to wake to this… I thought, as reality stared back at me. One of our group was poisoned by their coffee, another was nailed to a tree, and yet another was beheaded and… It only made sense for the one poisoned to be the last to die. In that case… I wondered, is that what happened? It’s the only way. Something must have been put into my dinner as well. But that does not matter now. What matters is that I am all alone. I have nothing left to regret leaving behind in this world full of lies. I made sure this time the rope was sturdy as I tied it to the ceiling and around my neck, and kicked the chair I stood on—and this time my body never again reached floor.

And then there were none.

 今日も何事もない一日だった。
 明日も何事もない事が約束されている。
 ここには誰も来ない。人間も神も。
 妖怪?ああ、毎日来るわ。

Nothing happened today, and tomorrow I have nothing planned. After all, no one comes here, neither humans nor gods. Youkai? Oh, they come here every day.

13.空飛ぶ巫女の不思議な毎日
   The Strange Everyday Life of a Sky-Flying Shrine Maiden

楽園の巫女は、いつもと変わらない平和な夏を送っていた。
ある夏の日、巫女の日記にはこう書かれていた。

八月○日
今日遭った出来事といえば、森の廃洋館のある方から歩
いてくる美しいブロンドの少女に遭ったこと位ね。その
少女をどこかで見たような気がしらけど、私はそんな瑣
末な事に頭を使おうとはしないの。その娘はいたずらに
舌を出しながらぺこりと頭を下げて、大笑いしながら楽
園の出口の方に向かっていったわ。変な娘ね。
そういえば、あの娘は正直者八人組の唯一の女の子だっ
たわね、そんなことはどうでもいいけど。
あーあ、今日もまた退屈な一日だったわ…

この楽園「幻想郷」から人間の数が八人ほど減り、七人の
遺体は無事妖怪たちに持っていかれた。幻想郷は正直者を
永遠に失った。ただの数値の変化だ。
そんなことは、大したニュースでも無い。

The shrine maiden of paradise experienced yet another peaceful summer. In her diary, she recounted these events:

August Xth
About the only thing that happened today was I met a beautiful blonde-hair girl who came walking from the direction of the ruins of the western-style mansion in the forest. I felt I had seen her somewhere before, but I did not waste any thought on such a trivial thing. As she bowed to me in greeting, she stuck her tongue out in jest, before turning around and laughing her way towards the exit out of paradise. What a strange girl. Now that I think of it, she was the only woman in that group of eight honest folk— not that it matters. All in all, today was yet another boring day.

In this paradise, otherwise known as Gensoukyou, the number of humans decreased by eight and seven corpses were carried away by youkai. The honest folk are now gone forever, but in the end, all that has changed is a subtle shift in numbers. You cannot claim that to be news.

 最近、魔法だとか妖怪だとか今時無学なこという輩が
 増えてきたな。嘆かわしい。

Lately the number of people who thoughtlessly accuse happenings on magic or youkai are increasing. Honestly, it is depressing.

C62 Composer’s Greeting

きっと始めましてZUNです。長い間創曲活動をしてきましたが、
うっかり音楽CDを出すことになりました。内容はというと、実
に時代に逆行しています、レトロラブなのです。特にいまの小洒
落たダンス系ゲームミュージックではなく、一昔前のストレート
なゲームミュージックが好きな方に最適です(狭)あと、全体的
に少女チックになっていますので、そういう趣味の方にも聴いて
もらいたいです。

これからも、東洋風と西洋風に、アンティークなオリジナル曲を
作曲していきたいと思っています。

ちなみに、このCDを聴くとなぜか安心できないものがあります。
それは、道を外れるとモノは安定しないからでしょう。
蓬莱人形は「癒さない系」CDなのかもしれません。首吊るし。

 2002.8.11 ZUN(正直村の隠し子、最も高所恐怖症な僕)

This is probably the first time we’ve met, so nice to meet you. I’m ZUN. I’ve been composing for a long time, but am just now accidentally putting out a music CD. Its contents run against the flow of modern times, a kind of love letter to retro sensibilities. It is certainly not full of the sort of stylish, dance-game type music you encounter nowadays, but I am sure it is a perfect match for people who love the kind of straight-game music that was a hit not too long ago (a tiny target audience). However, there is a bit of a girly-tastic flair to the music as well, so for those into that sort of thing, I would love you to listen as well.

From here on out, I plan to continue composing “antique” original melodies in both eastern and western styles.

As a final note, it is possible that while listening to this CD, you may find you cannot feel at ease for some reason. I think that may be because when people (or things) step off the beaten path, they give up certain guarantees of safety. Hourai Dolls may be an un-healing CD, what with the hanging and all…

 2002.8.11 ZUN (Illegitimate Child of the Honest Village, the Most Acrophobic of Them All.)

Press Version Composer’s Greeting

おおよそ初めまして、ZUNです。このCDは、C62にて
発表したもののプレス版となっております。
曲自体は、かなり昔に創った曲ばっかなので今聴くと恥ずか
しいです。殆どが、自作のシューディングゲームで使用した
曲のアレンジとなっています。
一昔前の「アーケード世代のゲームミュージックらしさ」を
感じて頂ければ幸いです。

また、日本を捨てて海外に飛び出そうとしている方にも、
是非聴いていただきたいです。

 上海アリス幻樂団

Nice to meet you—if indeed this is the first time—I am ZUN. This CD is the mass-produced version of the one I released at C62. The tracks themselves are all ones I made a long time ago, so listening to them now is a bit embarrassing. Most are arrangements of tracks I used in my own shooting games. My hope is that, through this music, you might feel something that harkens back to the bygone era of arcade games.

Also, to those abandoning Japan to fly off overseas, I especially hope you will listen to this CD as well.

Shanghai Alice Illusionary Orchestra
            Music Composer / Arranger ZUN

Eupho Christmas Special // Daytime Christmas Lights

I originally planned to release a translation of this short story on Christmas Eve last year but it never happened. Better late than never though, right?

This short story is taken from the last book in the Year 2 arc of Sound Euphonium (a short story collection – [AZ-JP]), and is written from Nozomi’s perspective. She is running errands on Christmas Eve and runs into Natsuki. This story takes place after the main sequence of Year 2 events and is therefore after the events of Liz and the Bluebird and the most recent movie (but does not spoil its ending).

I wanted to translate this story because it offers a rare glimpse from Nozomi’s perspective (who often hides what she thinks) and also illustrates what I love about Natsuki.

Enjoy.

(This may be taken down by the end of the year so read it while you can!)

真昼のイルミネーション // Daytime Christmas Lights

The usual Christmas songs were playing, out onto streets lively and gay, when Nozomi walked into the bakery to pick up the cake her family had ordered: a white-frosted strawberry shortcake, dressed up neatly in a decorative box. Strawberries were a fruit her mother liked, the firmness of the shortcake fit her father’s tastes, and the not-so-sweet frosting was Nozomi’s favorite kind, so as long as she could remember, her family ordered the same cake every year from the same shop. It was, at this point, an integral component of the Kasaki family’s Christmas dinner, along with curry, rice and chicken.

It was only just past noon, but Kyoto’s 4th Avenue was overflowing with people. In no hurry on her way back to the station, Nozomi glanced at the packs of students, all dressed up for the holidays, shuffling this way and that. Nozomi liked the merry atmosphere of Christmas: the tall trees with their bright decorations, the staff with their Santa hats, the skip everyone seemed to have in their step—all of it served to lift some weight off her chest.

“Oh, hey—Nozomi!”

When Nozomi heard her name, she stopped and turned around. It was Natsuki. She was dressed casually, in a light grey coat and purple scarf with subdued hues, and was waving.

“Hey! Never would have thought I’d run into you here! What are you up to? Out shopping?”

“Well if buying a movie ticket counts as shopping, I guess so.”

“You went to see a movie? By yourself?”

“Yeah, by myself. So what are you here for?”

“I came to pick up a cake for the fam, for tonight—you know, it being Christmas Eve and all.”

“Tonight? You don’t celebrate on Christmas day? That’s the normal thing to do, isn’t it?”

“You open gifts from Santa on Christmas day, but everything else happens on the twenty-fourth, right?”

“That’s not the way my family does it at least. We don’t break out the Christmas cake until tomorrow.”

“Well, ‘to each their own,’ I guess. Everyone has their own way of doing things.”

“When you put it like that,” Natsuki said with a nod, “I guess there’s no real right or wrong way to celebrate Christmas.” As far as Nozomi could tell, she did not have strong feelings either way.

Natsuki glanced at her watch. “Do you have time to grab a bite to eat?”

“Yeah, I have time… Did you have something in mind?”

“Not really, but I’m sure we’ll find a good place if we just wander around a bit.”

Without waiting, Natsuki headed across the street and Nozomi followed, looking around and taking in the decorated sights.

The topiary in front of a nearby department store was cut into neat cubes and wound with electrical cords for all the Christmas lights. It was ugly. To Nozomi, the windings of unlit lights looked as if they were choking the life out of the greenery.

“Doesn’t it make you feel a bit strange, seeing the lights during the day?” Natsuki asked suddenly.

Nozomi froze. Was I being that obvious? Or am I just that easy to read? She glanced at Natsuki, but Natsuki was focused on the topiary Nozomi was just looking at.

“At night, they’re all bright and shiny and all, but during the day, all you can see is a tangle of cords. It’s like seeing the person on the inside of a mascot character costume.”

“You’ve seen inside one of those mascot character costumes before?” Nozomi quipped.

“Oh, you know what I mean! It’s a metaphor,” Natsuki laughed.

Nozomi gripped the handle of the bag holding the box with the cake in it tightly. “I really do like the lights though, when everything’s all lit up…”

“But doesn’t it upset you? You know, how the kind of people who wouldn’t even notice the lights during the day just turn around and are always like, ‘Wow! It’s so beautiful!’ the moment they’re turned on? Like, ‘What gives you the right, when you can’t even tell the worth of someone unless they’re burning bright?’ You don’t feel that way too?”

“Am I missing something? Because I think you’re reading way too much into this.”

“I can’t help what I feel okay? …and I really feel that way. You know, I…think the kind of person who can realize someone’s worth without having to see them shine, and can be like: ‘You don’t have to shine to be worth something. I see your worth, and I see you,’ those people—I just think they’re really amazing. Like, Yuuko’s really good at that, seeing people for who they are.”

“Natsuki…you really like Yuuko, don’t you?”

“What makes you say that?”

Anyone who heard what you just said would have the same reaction.”

If you asked either of them directly, both Natsuki and Yuuko would claim to hate the other’s guts. “She and I can never—and will never—get along,” they would say, but despite that, both of them clearly had a deep respect for the other. Nozomi, as well as many others, often wished they would put aside their differences, be a little more honest with themselves and just get along, but she recognized, even if she did not fully understand, that the way they always fought was more proof than counter-proof of the love they shared.

Nozomi subconsciously smiled when she thought about Yuuko fulfilling her role as the band’s club president. She was a model president, from the moment she took on the role to the moment she passed on the torch. She was kind, a little scary, and most of all, determined, in a straightforward way. It would feel weird for Nozomi to say she admired Yuuko; they were much too close for that. To admit she was jealous did not fit either; Nozomi was too soft to hold on to that sort of animosity.

It really is so much easier to speak ill of others than confront your own problems, Nozomi thought, reflecting on where her thoughts almost took her. When things don’t turn out the way we want them to, everyone wants a villain to have take the blame. That way, we can file away the outcome as unfortunate but settled. After all, the future is too long to bear to consider the faults that lay at our own feet; no one wants to admit they could have been better—but if there is one thing I never want to become, it’s someone who refuses to look at the ugliness inside her. No matter how hard that is.

“Oh, look, it’s that café Kanade’s been going on about. Let’s go here!” said Natsuki, as she stopped and looked inside one of the glass-paned storefronts.

The warm-looking interior, dotted with the glow of several wood-burning stoves, looked very appealing to Nozomi, who had begun to shiver from the cold wind blowing outside.

“Do they have dessert?” Nozomi asked.

“I’m sure they do… Look, see? It says they have galletes.”

“Oh, that sounds good… Now I’m hungry.”

Natsuki opened the door, and Nozomi followed behind her. As they walked into the café, they were first met by a pleasant gust of warm air. The table they were shown to had two sofas for seats, with decorative cushions that more-or-less cried for attention.

As they Natsuki and Nozomi wiped their hands with the steamy wet hand towels supplied at the table, they looked over the menu. The names of each dish were overly long, but each was paired with a picture, and Nozomi felt her stomach shift expectantly.

“I think I’ll have this one—the one with the walnuts and vanilla ice-cream.”

“That’s what you’re looking at? I’m really drawn to this one with the bacon and eggs, but I don’t know…”

“If that’s what you want, you should get it,” said Nozomi, offering a nudge.

“You know what? I think I think I will,” replied Natsuki, dropping the menu and waving for the wait staff.

The both ordered one item each. If Nozomi had her way, she would have liked to order some tea as well, but her allowance was running a little tight, so she passed on it.

“I’m glad I ran into you today,” said Nozomi, as they waited. “It’s great to be on winter break, but everyone’s so busy with entrance exams I can’t bring myself to ask anyone if they want to hang out.”

“Well you can always ask me. I’m always up for hanging out.”

“Really?”

“You bet. Now that we’re done with the band, honestly I’m bored to tears,” said Natsuki, with heavy yawn as if for emphasis. She did not bother covering her mouth. “I know it’s not like me to say stuff like this, but it feel like I’ve got this big hole in my heart, you know? When you’ve spent every day practicing as much as we have, hearing ‘You’re free!’ is more of a nuisance than a blessing.”

“Not to mention the fact that we’re both done with our entrance exams.”

“Yeah, that too. Definitely. I mean I have no idea what to do with this much time. I guess once we enter university our time will get gobbled up by part-time jobs and circle activities and whatever, so this is only temporary, but still…”

“Don’t forget to add studying to the mix.”

“Right, studying. I can’t even imagine what that’ll be like—studying at university. Honestly I’m still not convinced going to college is really the right thing for me. I’m only going because that’s how everything ended up. If it wasn’t for everyone else going, I doubt I would.”

Natsuki, who had slumped over to rest her chin in her palms after her yawn, slumped further, onto the table like a pudding collapsing without its container. By the time Natsuki’s chin hit the table, Nozomi could see the whorl on the back of her head without leaning forward.

“I think it’s rarer for someone to go to college with a set goal in mind. Isn’t the whole point of going to figure out what it is you want to do?”

“You really think four years is long enough to find that out?”

“I’m sure it’s long enough for some people, and for the others, they gain the insight that four years of college isn’t enough to find what they’re looking for.”

“That’s quite a spin you’re attempting.”

“But I’m right, aren’t I?”

“Well, I guess…” Natsuki yawned again, this time so hard tears welled up in her eyes. “What do you plan to do at university? Are you going to keep playing the flute?”

“That’s the plan—but there isn’t any concert band at our university, so I think I’ll end up joining an orchestral group.”

“I’m glad to hear that. The flute really suits you.”

Nozomi laughed. “What does that even mean?”

“Seriously.”

Natsuki looked as serious as she sounded, staring up from the table, so Nozomi pulled back the gut reaction she had to laugh it off. But Nozomi did not want to look fazed, so after hugging one of her legs with the other under the table, she moved to change the subject.

“What about you?”

“Me? I dunno, maybe I’ll join a band.”

“You mean like, a rock band sort of band?”

“Yeah, I think it would be fun.”

“You’re not going to continue playing the euphonium?”

“No plans as of yet. I’m kind of burnt out on it.”

“Ah… I hear you.”

Nozomi could not count the many times she had heard the phrase. Burnout was an all-too-common refrain, throughout both middle school and high school. It’s a lot of work, being part of a concert band club. You put your soul into it, sparing no effort to squeeze whatever you can out of yourself, and all for one single performance. As Nozomi reflected on the past few years, she found a lot of pain and suffering—but what lay beyond it all, at the culmination of her efforts, was an unbelievable experience—it was so fun. There’s just something about performing in front of other people. Preparing for it is like refining the tip of a beautiful blade, working improvement on improvement, reaching for perfection. Practice is boring, and has none of the flair of a performance, but the final result, that moment on stage when it feels like the heavens open up and your soul tingles from the excitement and joy, is more than worth it. To Nozomi, that moment was everything; she loved it more than she could bear—but she could still understand how chasing after it for so long could wear someone down.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t think it’s possible for me to have an experience like what I’ve had at Kitauji ever again, so I can’t really justify the effort anymore.” Natsuki, usually brimming with confidence and a do-or-die attitude, looked down at the table and spoke slowly, as if considering every word. “It felt so incredible, performing at the Kansai competition. I thought to myself, ‘This has got to be my peak in life.’ I’m dead serious.”

“It may be your peak for now, but only until you hit your next one. You’ve got no need to worry.”

“If you say so…” replied Natsuki with a smile masked over a sigh. The way she smiled was beautiful, but it was a beauty tinged with loneliness.

Nozomi began folding her hand towel into an awkward looking boat, but before she was done, the wait staff brought their orders, so she quickly shoved it out of sight.

“Well, don’t mind if I do~” said Natsuki, popping a piece of bacon from her gallete into her mouth.

Nozomi took her knife and fork and split hers straight down the middle, spilling the pastry’s caramel sauce onto the plate.

“This is really good,” said Natsuki, after taking a proper bite. “The only problem with stuff like this though, is that there’s never enough to fill you up.”

“But isn’t that a good thing? You get all these flavors, but you still have room for more.”

“I didn’t think of it that way… You’re a genius.”

With that silly of a response, it was hard for Nozomi to take Natsuki seriously, so she answered with an exaggerated shrug. Natsuki meanwhile busied herself with folding a part of her pastry over with her fork to keep the egg yolk from spilling out.

“About what you were saying earlier…” said Nozomi, grabbing Natsuki’s attention back from her plate, “it’s true we may never have an experience like what we had at Kitauji again, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have something different. Playing an instrument doesn’t have to be such a serious endeavor.”

Natsuki did not interject, but continued chewing on her food.

“You might think you’ve had enough now, and not play at all in college, but you might feel an itch to play after you graduate. Maybe that feeling won’t come until you’re old and have grandkids. It’s never too late to start again. Competitions offer us really clear goals to strive for, so it’s easy to get obsessed with them, but there’s nothing wrong with just playing because you want to. At least that’s what I think.”

“Were there people like that in the ensemble group you joined outside of school?”

“Yeah, tons! Some people who only picked their instruments back up after starting their careers, and there a few people in our group older than my grandmother—people who just want to play.”

“That’s really cool, taking the initiative like that to be true to yourself. Maybe I’m just overthinking things.”

Natsuki used the leftover pieces of her gallete to scoop up the rest of the sauce on her plate and gobbled up the last few bites of her order. Nozomi, meanwhile, had more than half of hers left on her plate.

After wiping her mouth with a napkin, Natsuki, with a satisfied look on her face, leaned back into her seat. As Nozomi watched her long bangs brush against her cheek, she thought about how much longer Natsuki’s hair was since the time they first met. It looked even longer than usual because it was not tied up that day, perhaps because of how cold it was.

I wonder what kind of face she would make at me if I told her I liked it shorter.

Nozomi’s clumsily made towel ship began to collapse, sinking in the puddle of condensation pooled around her glass.

“I mentioned I went to see a movie, right?” said Natsuki, breaking the silence.

“That you did. What did you go see?”

“The one everyone’s talking about nowadays, you know, the one based on the suspense novel. I went to see it because a band I like did the main theme song.”

“Was it any good?”

“It was. The movie incorporated aspects of the novel pretty well and overall, had a decent script and cast.”

“Great.”

“Well, yeah. I guess so.”

As much as Natsuki seemed to be praising the movie on a surface level, that clearly wasn’t all there was to the story. Nozomi bit down on a walnut with her back teeth and decided to press her on it.

“Was there something that bothered you about it?”

“I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that, but…when I heard the main theme song play during the movie, it was just so catchy, like a pop song. It just felt so different from any of the music the band used to play… I guess this is what happens to everyone when their music starts selling, but I didn’t want to accept that it would happen to this band.”

“So what you’re saying is, now that this band you like has made it big, you feel left behind. A lot of early fans feel that way, don’t they? At least that’s what I hear.”

“I’m not denying that’s part of it, but there’s much more to it than that. Remember how I was talking about the Christmas lights? That’s closer to what’s bothering me.”

“What do Christmas lights have to do with anything?”

Natsuki did a rare thing and took her time to think about how to answer, furrowing her brow.

She must really have strong feelings about this band… Nozomi could only guess what kind of music they played, but most of what Natsuki listened to had lyrics that were a bit too intense for her tastes.

“I guess what I’m trying to say is: I’ve always felt this band was fine just the way it was. Even if they weren’t shining, so to speak, there wasn’t any need for them to. When I was looking at those unlit Christmas lights, I thought, you know, ‘This is beautiful.’ But it’s not like those lights aren’t going to come on; they will, and they’re all the more beautiful for it, so people from all around will come to look at them. But what happens then? Someone will say, ‘We’ve got to make them brighter, so more people will come!’”

“Well, I suppose so.”

“It’s not a problem so long as they understand what was great about the lights in the first place. The kind of people who say, ‘If we do this and this, it’ll really bring out the best in them,’ they’re not the problem. Even if there’s a big change in direction, I can understand when it’s done in service to the original. I can respect that. But the more people gather, eventually you’ll have people who don’t have any idea what they’re talking about speak up. ‘There’s still not enough light. We need to add these other, different lights,’ they’ll say, or, ‘I know the instructions say we can’t have these run all night, but I’m sure it’ll be fine!’ Then what happens? When the circuits overload and the lights all break, it’s always those idiots who are scratching their heads, saying, ‘I wonder why that happened?’ Gee, I wonder why.”

“You’re kind of scaring me here. This is just a metaphor, right? Are you really that upset?”

“I’m not upset, I’m just…worried. I don’t want this thing I love destroyed by someone who doesn’t know the value of it.”

Natsuki became quiet before she continued. “But that’s not the worst of it. What I’m really worried about is becoming one of those insensitive idiots, an adult who doesn’t even realize they’re trampling all over someone else’s love. I can’t see myself as a college student, let alone a working adult, so as I sat there watching that movie and listening to the main theme song, I felt this wave of anxiety swallow me up. You know how they say a lot of people panic right before they’re about to get married? I guess this is just the college version of that.”

Natsuki tried to laugh it all off with a joke at the end, but she wasn’t doing a very good job. Her smile was strained.

Nozomi picked up the last piece of her gallete with her fork and popped it into her mouth. The last bit of the melted ice cream was so sweet it made her teeth hurt.

“I’m anxious too—about college and about starting a new way of life. It’s equal parts excitement and worry.”

“So you’re saying it’s normal to feel this way?”

“Yeah. I’m sure everyone has to deal with a little anxiety. But it’s going to be alright. Even if you end up thinking you’ve made the wrong choice, all you have to do is turn back and start over.”

“Is that you speaking from experience?”

“I…guess you could say that.” Nozomi said, reaching for her glass and downing it in a single gulp. The cold of it gave her a brain-freeze and she visibly flinched.

Natsuki broke out laughing, and when Nozomi saw that this time her smile was genuine, she smiled back.

“Natsuki, you’re not going to turn into one of those adults you hate.”

“Where’s your proof?”

“Okay, so I don’t have any proof, but…” …that’s how I hope things will turn out. As Nozomi admitted, she had little to back up her claim, but, even a baseless confidence is worth something if it can help lift someone up, she thought, and decided to assert herself a little more.

“…I know how good of a person you are, Natsuki, so I’m sure everything will turn out fine.”

Nozomi had spent so long running around in her thoughts that by the time she blurt out the rest of her sentence, it was not quite what she had in mind. Now I sound like an irresponsibly positive idiot.

“What?” Natsuki said, as she responded with a “What am I going to do with you?” sort of laugh.

See? Nozomi thought at first, but in the lightheartedness of Natsuki’s voice she felt a non-verbal thank you.

The Gymnopédies Never End (Gymnopedie ga Owaranai)

Download the e-book (PDF:JIS-B6) [here] for free!

(Use this link for a more updated version with some typos fixed: [link])

Support Us!

If you would like to support the author, please buy the original story (if you haven’t already) in Japanese [here] for 100 JPY. (Booth allows for an extra “boost” to be sent as well).

If you would like to support me, please use this [link] to donate. (If you include “Gymnopedie” in the donation message I will send half of the amount received to Umisawa.)

If you happen to be in Kyoto, the full text of Gymnopedie ga Owaranai is being re-released in print as part of ジムノペディが終わらない-Re:Medianoid- at the Cafe Terrace event today (11/17) at 部-27 for 800 JPY.

Blurb:

Secret Sealing Club members Usami Renko and Maribel Hearn visit an abandoned amusement park, seemingly as part of their usual activities, but Renko cannot shake the feeling that something is controlling her. When a strange girl—or thing—invites them on a ride she calls “The Circus” Renko is forced to confront the forces that drive us all mad.

Vita Sexualice’s seminal 2011 short story, The Gymnopédies Never End, will be sure to turn your mind and your stomach as you search for answers, even after you are done, to the parasitic nature of life.

Content Warning:
(Mild) Depictions of non/dubiously-consensual sex, suicide (aftermath only) and murder, with a touch of cannibalism and body horror.

Image Song:

Don’t forget to check out RD-Sounds’ tribute to the story!
“捧げられたイメージ/Sasagerareta Image” [lyrics]

In lieu of an afterword:

First of all, I would like to thank Umisawa Kaimen for their support. When I got the green-light to go ahead and translate Vita-Sexualice’s doujin novels I was ecstatic. It took a while to get to this point, but I’m happy to share the un-healing. I probably would never have translated this story (and others) if not for a minor stroke, seizures and considerable other brain wreckage, but deep dives into the stories and hacking away at the translations really helped me, so it’s weird these things work out sometimes.

Jane Does is still in the works! Expect it!

緋劇 Higeki—A Tragedy to be Avoided at All Costs (Excerpt)

IF YOU ARE READING THIS POST USING A READER THAT DOES NOT HONOR CSS COLOR-SETTINGS, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED: UN-GATED R-18G CONTENT LIES BELOW

Foreword:

I’m not exactly sure how I talked myself into this, but this is a follow up post to 喜劇 Kigeki—A Comedy Which Should Never Have Been which is a translation of a short excerpt from the second section (Higeki is the first) of Vita Sexualice’s レギオンの肖像 -Portrait de Legion-. The prose is… a far cry from the norm, and reading it can be a very mind-altering experience. If you can read Japanese, are not easily nauseated, and anything I’ve said has piqued your interest I suggest you read this review, which compares Umisawa Kaimen’s writing style to James Joyce’s. I am currently working on full translations of two of Vita Sexualice’s other novels, which I find tamer, and a little more accessible, but this beast in the corner still calls my name. I don’t know if I’ll ever translate more than excerpts out of it, but we’ll see. The convoluted events of this novel actually tie directly into Jane Does, so…

Content Warnings: [R-18G] (All Offensive Content Must Be Highlighted To Be Viewed)
+ Bestiality, sexual violence, incest involving minors (in appearance, not age), moderate general blood and gore (low intensity).
+ All sex acts in this particular excerpt are technically “consensual” even though they are violent.

緋劇 Higeki—A Tragedy to be Avoided at All Costs (Excerpt)

CLOSED
Due to Circumstances Involving the Proof of Girls’ Absence

 

Kirisame Marisa and Alice Margatroid stood at the gates of the Scarlet Devil Mansion and found the paper notice there on a spring day, the sky infested with grey clouds shaded like the underbellies of fattened larvae. Under the dearth of light and lack of contrast, the windowless scarlet-walled mansion struck Alice, with more force than usual, as a coffin. Was it always this bad? the puppeteeress thought, catching a few stray hairs blown loose by the wind and turning to her companion magician, who stood with her arms crossed, indignantly staring down the gate.

“So, what’s this all about?” Alice asked.

“It’s been like this for three days,” Marisa explained, the gate without its guard, not a word, not a sound. “It’s been shut this whole time.”

“I see.”

The gist of what Marisa said was summed up in her first few sentences; she need not have said more, though she did. Three days ago the sign appeared at the gate, and the gate had not opened since.

“So? What do you expect me to do about it?” Alice asked.

“I’ve just got a bad feeling, you know?” Marisa replied under her breath, re-crossing her arms.

Alice looked around to see if she could spot the usual guard, but she could not find her, nor any other—only an empty scene frozen under unsaturated beams of ashen light locked in the windless frame of silence surrounding the mansion. Even the lake in the distance bore not a single ripple on its surface, its mirror skin reflecting naught but a sky devoid of color. So the puppeteeress brought her gaze back to the building itself, drawing her hair behind her ears as she looked up towards the roof. The windowless walls…were the same. The mysterious black brambles, which Alice could not name, weaving their way about those walls…were not. It’s like the castle in that fairytale, she thought. The one with the girl, sleeping at the top of the tower. There she waits for her beloved to save her, but her beloved cannot reach her. The way is blocked by a witch’s brambles. But was there really a witch, after all? The only character in the story to witness the witch is the girl, and the witch’s actions are explained solely by her. The witch, and her own parents for that matter, exist only by her word. The inevitability of the brambles may be a mere stand-in for happenstance. In that case, what was she frightened of? What did she fear? What did she avoid? What did she push away? What did she run from? The story tells us none of those answers, for those are outside the story.

As her recollection came to its end, Alice brushed some of her fingers against one of the bars of the wrought-iron gate. It quickly swallowed up her hand’s warmth and vomited it out its end, leaving only a frozen rejection in her palm.

“So?” Alice asked again, “What do you want to do?”

***

-break-

(4 pages omitted: Alice and Marisa enter the mansion, and then part ways as two paths emerge. Marisa follows golden petals strewn on the floor, and Alice follows silver ones. The golden ones lead to the basement, where Marisa finds a locked door. After fiddling with the lock, she decides to destroy it, in the way she usually confronts large obstacles.)

***

The door held strong. A smirk spread across Marisa’s face. Considering the devil it’s made to keep in, I’d expect nothing less. But the brambles, the chains and the lock? The only evidence to suggest those things once stood in her way was the black smear painted across the otherwise flawless door and the heaps of ashes to either side. Only a few embers gnawed on the ends of the brambles near the bottom of the basement stairs behind her, but the levity she had picked up soon left with them.

I just hope Flandre is okay, Marisa prayed, as she placed her hand on the door.

With a loud creak, the seal on the enclosed space was broken, and wisps of acrid air thick with sweat gripped around her throat to greet her. The smell was pungent, and stung her eyes and nose as much as it choked her throat with its rot, but like an overripe fruit dripping with slugs plump with sweet poison, as quickly as the blinding urge to vomit rose within her, she felt the toxic concoction had easily slipped down past her defenses and seeped into her bloodstream. The sheer weight of the air passing by forced Marisa to close her eyes. She was loathe to do so, but at least, she thought, it offered some reprieve from the stinging. Stinging, like the barbs of the brambles from that fairytale—like the ones here. If I remember right, the man who came to the castle to save the girl lost his eyesight to those barbs in the end. Just like… ‘Like’, huh? Marisa chuckled under her breath. It might as well be the same! Only my damsel in distress isn’t a poor lonely princess but a lonely little vampire. But in that case, who does that make the witch?

The first sensation to breach the walls of the viscous world Marisa’s blindness had boxed her into was the sound of voices. However, the voices were more akin to unhinged roars, and their sound was paired with the sound of water, or something wet, colliding, or sliding past something else. Like a butcher handling meat on a cutting board, Marisa thought. She wrenched her eyes open. The film of tears coating the lenses warped her view, but she could make out the rough outline of a black, squirming muscular mass and something white pinned beneath it. What next caught her eye were seven-colored droplets dancing in mid-air.

It took a few moments for everything to come into focus, but there was no denying it. In a corner of the room, on the bare stone floor, there Flandre was, being fucked by a large black dog. She wore only a sheer pink camisole, and the claws of the beast sunk deep into her bare shoulders as it pinned her to the floor. When it speared its long penis into her vagina with weighty thrusts, the motions resembled a man stomping on a child more than a beast engaged in a pleasurable act, and the wet sounds came not just from the usual sources, but from the frantic rearrangement of organs as the bulging penis carved out its place in the devil-child’s unnaturally swollen abdomen. She had already been filled with more semen than she had the capacity to hold, as seen by the growing off-white puddle still spilling out of her. But whenever the penis receded, her red, swollen labia seemed to plead—to beg for it not to go, clinging to it as if coated in thick a sap. A single light bulb hung from the ceiling, only its light sourcing the scene. As busy as the dog was with its thrusting, it opened its large, fanged mouth, so that its tongue hung lazily out, and lapped at her throat, rubbing itself against her.

“Nn— Ah— Hah… Aahn… Mmn—”

The dog’s thrusts were punctuated by short, hoarse moans, which dribbled out of Flandre’s open mouth like the strings of jolted drool that accompanied them. It wasn’t so much the difference, but the uncanny similarity between the two, slobbering and on all fours, that kept Marisa from shouting. Words were a forgotten mystery, and her knees began to shake.

Humans operate under the assumption of several underlying hypotheses, which state how things should exist in the world, and the stratified filter of those assumptions, shaped by our past experiences, in turn shapes how we view the world. However, that is precisely why—when we encounter something outside the scope of our learning, or something that wildly defies our expectations, or something that does not belong where it is—we experience fear. Marisa’s throat felt uncomfortably dry. The colorful musk-stench of the room grew thicker with every thrust. Semen splattered Flandre’s knees as another mass fell out of her into the pool.

“A— Ug— Guh— Kk— Huukh— Aahn… Aah!”

As the dog’s thrusts grew more violent, Flandre’s moans began to alternate in and out of coughs, gasps and gagging. Her swollen labia also seemed to have hit a limit in its abuse, spraying droplets of scarlet blood unto the pool of semen as it tore, leading to ripples treading the surface like dazzling crested pink ibises.

“Ahn… Ugh— Nngh— Hah… Aahn… Ngha…”

After an umpteenth vocalization of Flandre’s pleasure, the dog suddenly stopped thrusting. Her swollen belly drooped as it swelled to an even greater size, and a fresh stream of semen gushed out of her, washing the pinks out of the semen pool.

Despite the release, Flandre still looked pregnant, and her twitching jaw hung open as she moaned on in an incomprehensible babble. The dog did not release her, but held itself firmly locked against her blood-stained buttocks as it reared its head and mimicked her moan with its gurgling throat, dribbling drool down her back.

How long did this continue? With no clock to tell the time, Marisa’s grasp on time could only be subjective.

Flandre rubbed her face against the cool stone floor. Her lips, dripping with drool, already had a mind their own. She smiled. Three strands of her gold-blonde hair were plastered to her sweaty cheek. Her heavy breathing made the ends of her hairs dance. The semen had stopped dripping. The dog growled. It dipped its head down and rubbed its face against Flandre’s neck, and then—it snapped down on it.

The sound of the dog’s yellowed fangs piercing the skin and tearing the flesh of Flandre’s neck was not especially loud, but Marisa’s ears focused in on it, picking up each disturbance in the air. Droplets of blood rose out of the entrance wounds and flowed along the waterways laid by saliva and sweat until her entire neck was stained scarlet. The fangs sank deeper, and more blood vessels burst under pressure. Her skin appeared to fracture like porcelain, and as her muscle fibers tore, they popped violently.

“Ahh… Ahhh!!!!”

Flandre was being eaten alive. It did not make sense that it took so long for her to cry out, and it made even less sense that her screams screamed of a deep carnal ecstasy. She was smiling. However strange it seemed, Flandre was smiling. Under the faint, warm-colored light dangling from above, other details were lost. The profile of her face pressed against the floor looked like a cut-out silhouette, with its smile so deep it threatened the rest to be torn. So much blood had drained from her half-devoured neck that another pool formed around her head. Now two circles, red and white, encircled her body. With a crunch, the gnawing of the dog’s teeth briefly stopped. It had struck bone, probably. The dog scrunched up its face as it applied more force and jerked its head. With a loud crack the spine snapped. As the dog chewed on the bits of neck and bone, Flandre’s head dangled out of the end of its mouth, swaying back and forth. A fountain of blood sprayed out of the headless body. Flandre was still smiling, though the light had left her eyes. The dog gnashed its teeth. The last of the tissue holding the head aloft ripped, and it fell to the floor, into the pool of Flandre’s own blood.

Then, on only-a-head Flandre’s face, a crack appeared, and then another. They radiated from the bottom, as if her head were an egg cracked upon the floor. The fissures skated across her face, still frozen in her dead smile. Shards began to flake off and fall to the ground, one after the other. Out of the missing voids grew black brambles, and they twisted around the remainder of her face. The vines grew thick and fat with sharp spines, under Flandre disappeared beneath them. The next sound to fill the room came from the crushing of brain and bone as the brambles collapsed on the skull. The soup, which had forgotten its identity as a head, spilled into the neighboring pool of blood, while another set of brambles attacked the headless body, dumping its digested contents into the semen pool.

The dog growled. When Marisa looked its way, however, its outline began to collapse like a structure made of mud into a volatile mass of shadow. The shadow squirmed, and two tentacles extended from it. Slowly, the two tentacles took shape into humanoid arms. Those arms planted themselves on the ground, and after some shifting, the shadow appeared to stand up, like a person.

The shadow was overlaid with a bluish-white texture. The shadow, which was once a dog, was now…

“Remilia…Is that you?”

…Remilia Scarlet, the elder of the vampire sisters, in the flesh, and a black garter belt.

“Oh, if it isn’t Marisa. How do you do?” she said lips curled into a snicker.

“You…” Marisa wanted to shout at her, but she all she could do was shake. It was a miracle she was still standing. She did not even know what she wanted to say.

“What are you doing?” she said finally, her words reduced to dregs from the force required to release them.

“What are we doing?” Remilia replied, holding her smile, “We are in search of a happening.”

A what? Hers was not on the list of prescribed answers.

“A happening? That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m asking you, what did you just do?!”

“Oh, I know.” Remilia spread out both of her arms in an affected way, as if performing on stage, and raised them towards the ceiling. “The happening must be realized, for that signifies nothing less than a cultivation of the void.’

“Stop talking nonsense!”

“Which, in turn, is the most meaningless thing one can ever hope to accomplish.”

A explosion of the sounds of ripping flesh and cracking bone erupted from the bloody pool, as if mutilated and rewound, as two naked arms thrust themselves out of the floor. Those arms clawed at the ground and pulled the rest of a bloody black mess out from under the surface of the pool. Branched wings sprouted form the mass, with seven-colored droplets at their ends. It glowed with a misty light, and then out of the broken shell of caked blood, a girl emerged. It was Flandre Scarlet, and she wore the same sheer pink camisole as before.

“I enjoyed that, sister, but it’s your turn now, you know?” she said, throwing her arms around Remilia’s neck and pulling her close.

“I suppose it is,” Remilia replied.

“Hey, wait! Stop!”

“Hmm? Marisa?” piped Flandre. “You were here? Wanna join?”

“Why won’t you just explain to me what the fuck you two were doing?!”

“That needs explaining?” Remilia laughed. “Have you been paying any attention at all?”

“We’re sisters, and we’re fucking animals. What? No children are being made here.”

disjoint

The following passages are excerpts from: Sound! Euphonium: The Kitauji High School Concert Band’s Turbulent Second Movement (響け!ユーフォニアム:北宇治高校吹奏楽部、波乱の第二楽章)

These excerpts contain content covered by the Liz and the Bluebird (which is an adaptation of parts of this novel), and so can be said to contain spoilers for it. You have been warned.

The excerpts chosen for this post are two prologues, printed at the beginning of each half of the novel, which describe Mizore and Nozomi’s starting points as they face each other in their final year in the band.

Please watch Liz and the Bluebird and read the Sound! Euphonium novels if you can.

Prologue (Mizore):

Her black hair swayed back and forth as she walked, her upper arms, perhaps because of the lighting, tinged a soft red under her short sleeves. From behind, Mizore followed more closely with her eyes than her feet, watching the tips of hair hanging from her high ponytail bounce up and down. Her hair was much longer than it was in their middle school days. When she reached the stairs, she hopped up two steps at a time, her toned legs peeking out from under her dark blue skirt.

“Nozomi, wait.”

Mizore’s voice was like a whispered breath, a sigh she let slip, barely vibrating her vocal cords. This early in the morning, the school building was filled not with students but with silence. Mizore took a deep breath. The air felt dusty. Above her, Nozomi’s clamorous footsteps easily drowned out Mizore’s soft whisper of a voice. Why should I expect a voice like mine to reach her?

“Mizore? You still down there?”

Nozomi’s voice echoed across the narrow hallway and down the stairs. She must have gotten to the music room first. Mizore could no longer hear her footsteps. Mizore gripped the handrail and toMizore ok each step one at a time. As she felt the cracks in the old wooden handrail, Mizore peered upward between the flights of stairs to the floor above, but there was no sign of Nozomi — at least not from where Mizore was standing. With no more reason to keep her head up, Mizore’s gaze naturally swung downward. She had just replaced her inside shoes for her third year of high school, and they were still bright white, without a smudge. They look like a first year’s shoes, Mizore thought.

“Hurry up! Hurry up!”

As soon as Mizore made it to the top of the stairs, Nozomi called to her, waving her hand back and forth vigorously. The light coming in through the windows lit Nozomi’s outline with a soft glow, and the large white ribbon at her chest swayed back and forth with her body.

She waited for me.

To hide the smile that started to spread across her face, Mizore pulled her lips back tightly into a horizontal line. Nozomi broke into a bright and carefree smile.

“I’m so looking forward to practice, I must have walked faster than I usually do. I just really want to play!” said Nozomi, pointing to the lock on the door to the music room.

As soon as Mizore understood what Nozomi meant by her motioning, she froze up. She only waited because she had no choice. I should know better, she thought, ashamed of her giddy excitement just moments before.

“Unlock the door. Let’s get some early practice in together.”

“Yeah,” Mizore muttered quietly after a pause.

Mizore took out the key she brought with her from the staff room, a neatly written label dangled from it with the words, “Music Room”. Unlocking the music room every morning was Mizore’s job. It was an unwritten rule of the concert band — since when? Mizore wondered. Nozomi stood beside her with eyes full of anticipation. Mizore slid the key into the keyhole and shifted her gaze towards Nozomi.

“Nozomi, um…”

“Hmm?”

“Nozomi, do you…”

Mizore and Nozomi’s eyes met. Suddenly, Mizore felt as if she were suffocating. She pulled at her uniform, tightly at her chest, before silently shaking her head.

“Never mind. It’s nothing,” she said.

The door clicked as Mizore unlocked it. Nozomi hummed an audible response, but said nothing. She was smiling, but Mizore couldn’t help but think her smile was contrived.

“I am so ready to practice this morning!”

“You really like practicing, don’t you?” Mizore said, a moment later.

“What are you talking about? You’re more into it than I am,” Nozomi replied.

Nozomi threw open the door to the music room. The room was arranged for the whole band could practice together. There were far fewer chairs than last year. Without the slightest hesitation, flute case dangling in one hand, Nozomi waltzed straight over to a seat at the end of the first row and sat down. During a live performance, that seat would be the closest to the audience. It was a seat reserved for only the best of players to sit. Nozomi flipped through the pages of her music binder.

—Liz and the Bluebird.

Through the clear vinyl of the sheet protector, Mizore read the title of the page Nozomi had turned to, the title of this year’s choice piece for the national competition. The piece was based on a fairy tale and composed for a concert band. Mizore swept her hands under her thighs to smooth out the pleats of her skirt as she sat down.

“This piece is kind of like us, don’t you think?” said Nozomi, holding up her binder in one hand and grinning a toothy smile.

What is that supposed to mean? Mizore thought. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing? While those questions swirled around in Mizore’s head, she said nothing.

“I guess,” Mizore said finally, her response far more cold and indifferent than she had intended. But Nozomi showed no sign of taking her her answer in a negative way.

“Yep. I thought you’d feel the same,” Nozomi nodded with a smile, before turning to look at the room’s dark green blackboard.

Mizore followed with her eyes to the countdown written in a corner of the blackboard, marking the days until the competition. The white rounded numbers sentenced, without room for any doubt, a certain end to the dream-like days she had left.

“I can’t wait to perform this piece! I wish the competition would come sooner.”

Mizore gave a slight nod in response, willfully ignoring the voice in her heart exclaiming what she truly felt. If only that day would never come.

 

Prologue (Nozomi):

Nozomi looked at herself in the mirror. She ran her fingers through her hair, pulling together loose strands into a bundle she held with her left hand. With her free hand, she took the red hair band she had held in her mouth and fixed it tightly around the bundle to make a ponytail. When she let go, her usual self looked back at her. Staring coldly at her reflection, Nozomi pulled the edges of her mouth into a smile, her white, freshly brushed teeth peeking through her lips. It looks like you’re having fun, she thought. It was a clear and fine morning.

“Good Morning!”

“Morning,” replied Mizore, after a pause.

It was the first day of summer vacation. While Nozomi marched onward to the music room in high spirits, Mizore wore her usual expressionless face. Nozomi traced the outline of that face, glancing over her pale skin, pale lips and emotionless eyes. Mizore’s eyes reminded Nozomi of the depths at the bottom of the sea. Whenever those eyes, brimming with stillness, were directed towards her, Nozomi felt her heart shudder. It was an unpleasant feeling, as if someone was rubbing a toothbrush raw against her bare instincts, and it ran from her chest all along the rest of her body, until she could not help but break into a self-deprecating smile. By then, Mizore would have already looked away.

“Are you going to take any practice exams over the break?” asked Nozomi.

“Only one,” Mizore replied.

“Really? So you didn’t sign up to take any others? Taking at least three is almost an unwritten rule at a school like ours, but I guess that doesn’t really matter. Natsuki and Yuuko will be taking theirs over the break too.”

“I didn’t know.”

Mizore turned the key in the lock and it answered with a resounding click. Nozomi took hold of the door handle and, like always, was the first to enter the music room. Nozomi went straight over to a seat at the end of the first row — her seat. When she set her bag down she felt a wave or relief wash over her. Here she had a place where she belonged.

Nozomi took her flute out of the case she carried with her, and glanced at Mizore. Mizore had laid her instrument case across her lap and was flipping through her music binder. The clear vinyl of her sheet music protectors stuck to her fingertips as she turned the pages.

“You’ve got another solo part this year, huh,” said Nozomi.

Nozomi scanned the measures of the competition choice piece, “Liz and the Bluebird,” with her eyes. In the third movement, there was a duet consisting of flute and oboe solo parts. As the melodies of each instrument crossed one another, they expressed the thoughts and feelings of the titular characters. The oboe part brimmed with an expression of clear determination, taken so far as to be painful, and this expression was complemented by the whisperings of the flute, following in its wake. The first time Nozomi played this piece she was certain no one else but her could play it. The only one in this school who can support Mizore’s solo is me, she thought.

“Nozomi…” Mizore paused, collecting her words. “Do you like this solo?”

“Absolutely. I love it.”

Why wouldn’t I? It’s a flute solo! cried a voice inside Nozomi she would not dare let out. Someone like you, who plays a solo every year, could never understand how I feel.

“I mean, I think it’s really great we get to play a solo together,” Nozomi continued.

Nozomi held a page between her pointer and middle finger and waved it about with no particular aim in mind. Light from the window reflected off the page’s clear protective sleeve and created a bright white spot, which flittered across the page, sometimes obscuring parts of the music. It was irritating, so Nozomi stood up, walked to the window and yanked on the curtain. A shadow swept across the room and dropped the lit room into semi-darkness.

“Me too,” Mizore said after a long pause. She was looking down and her eyelids quivered.

Nozomi returned to her seat, leaned into the back of her chair and made a bright smile.

“You know how we’re kind of like Liz and the bluebird in the fairy tale? When I first heard the duet of the flute and oboe, I was sure we were the ones most suited to play the part.”

Last year, Mizore didn’t quit the band. Even though I left, she stayed behind. Nozomi really wasn’t sure how Mizore felt about her. But since she always comes to practice with me in the morning, Nozomi thought, she probably doesn’t hate me, at least.

If I were the bluebird, Nozomi thought, I would visit Liz again. Even if it were impossible for us to go back to the way things were before, there should be nothing wrong with coming back to visit every once in a while. There is no reason a tragedy must end forever tragically. At least that’s what I believe.

In response to Nozomi’s smile, Mizore’s eyes moved ever so slightly. Something, like the hint of a smile, crossed her face before she turned back to her music binder, flipping the pages, one after another. Nozomi then took up her flute and blew across its mouthpiece, obliterating the dry sound of flipped pages with a high pitched shrill that could have been mistaken for a scream.

棄劇 Kigeki – A Comedy Which Should Never Have Been (Excerpt)

legion-web

No one asked for it, and you aren’t getting any more.

This excerpt is from Portrait de Legion (レギオンの肖像) which comes in four parts, and this is from the beginning of the second part (written first).

Don’t read this book actually. I don’t recommend it, unless blood curdling screams, gratuitous sexual and non-sexual violence, torture and cannibalism are your thing. It’s also confusing as hell until you’re most of the way through. It does, however, provide the set up for the events of Jane Does, which compared to this, is very tame.

Portrait de Legion’s other subtitle is La Machine Infernale and Jean Cocteau is the poet mentioned below.

This excerpt is safe for work.


The Witch’s Bedchamber

The frivolous poet prince wrote: forever, you must strive to be drunk — whether your drink be a glass filled to the brim with wine, or the dried dregs of the opium poppy, a nauseating degree of virtue, or a fit inducing depth of immorality. Whatever it be, whichever it be, we all must strive to be forever drunk.

The witch lay in her bed, staring at the accumulated tobacco smoke swirling above her. A hookah sat at her bedside, quietly toasting the tobacco leaves in its bowl hardened with honey. She inhaled shallowly from a golden mouthpiece, holding the smoke in her mouth and letting it sluggishly seep down into her lungs. She rose partially out of bed and rested her back against two pillows laid behind her. As her right hand held the mouthpiece she tossed her left arm out towards her bedside table, upon which there was a single plate. Upon the plate were three jujubes, seven pieces of hard candy, five dried figs, and nothing else. As she exhaled, the smoke formed a ring as it drifted out towards the stagnant smoke above, mixing with it until you couldn’t tell which was there first and which was there last — nothing of it could be told.

The witch looked to a hourglass upon her vanity table. It was filled with dark red grains that continued to fall slowly through its center. Her exhaled smoke danced as if on stage, as it lost all rhyme and reason drifting to all four corners of the ceiling. Furrowing her brow, she then reached for a book that lay beside her in bed, and flipped through its pages. There were no details in its pages. It was a void of nothing, page after page, only formed into the shape of a moldy book.

If sometimes, the poet continued: you find yourself on the stone steps of a palace, or the verdant slopes on the side of a canal, or in a gloomy room filled with ashen swirls, and drunkenness, like an gallivanting energetic child dances right out the gate and away, I dare you to ask. Ask what? What time it is now.

The door to her room creaked open.

“Shall I say, as always? — or how rare?”

A sickly sweet voice tinged with night-shaded sneer, danced its way with spider’s feet into the witch’s ear, piercing its hairy needles through the skull to stroke the brain. It was awfully unpleasant.

With exaggerated motions, the devil slipped through the thin gap in the door and walked toward the witch. She fanned the butterflies of smoke away as she pulled an old round stool to the bedside, sitting down cross-legged. She rested her elbow on a knee and her head on her hand bending forward to look closely at the witch.

In the devil’s other hand swung a dark red pendulum — no, it was an hourglass. What should have been resting on the vanity, she had taken, and was now swinging in front of the witch’s face. She smiled — happily, joyfully, annoyed, sad, but smiling she swung it.

“Patchouli,” the devil said, in her sweet venomous voice, “soon Sakuya will die.”

“Again,” the witch replied, her voice low and hoarse. She turned a page, and then it was quiet.

“No, not yet, Patchouli. This play is always still beginning. Nothing will end, and so nothing will begin. Even so, this error-ridden love letter will continue, eternally. So we must end it. That is our promise.”

“No, it is a promise with you and me.”

“Patchouli, let us end this boring comedy, this idle tragedy, the kind of story no child would ever enjoy.”

The witch reached out to touch the devil’s face.

“Dying again, I see.”

Still dying.”

The poet wrote: so verily shall the flowing wind, the flying birds, the swaying trees, the open sky, all say to you: be drunk. Yes now, be drunk.

***

The Cast

  • Gramophone А: A Gramophone, broken eighty-one years ago
  • Gramophone Б: A Gramophone, killed two hundred and six years ago
  • Man: sitting for the past 19,683 years

Gramophone А, sits stage left. Gramophone Б, stage right.

Center stage, man sits in a chair. Beside him, is a puppet theater stage.

Man turns the crank on the side of the puppet theater stage.

Gramophone А and Gramophone Б start to sing.

Gramophone А: Koschei! Koschei!

Gramophone Б: Koschei the Immortal!

Gramophone А: Koschei! Koschei!

Gramophone Б: Koschei the Immortal!

Gramophone А: Koschei! Koschei!

Gramophone Б: Koschei the Immortal!

Gramophone А and Б: What do you see, in the depths of the skull, deep in the glass of your eyes?!

In the center of the puppet theater stage, a man and a girl dance, looking in different directions.

Man: Now shall we begin?! Will we begin? Are we beginning? Have we begun?! Now shall we end it? Is it ending? Has it already ended? Is it the beginning of the end? Is it the end of the beginning? Has it ended long ago?! Has it begun long ago?! What kind of story? That kind of story? This kind of story? Another kind of story? Do they want to hear? You want to hear? Yes? You want to hear? Am I telling you it? Are you already listening to it? Have you heard it long ago? What is it about? What kind is that? You want to hear it? Yes? You do? Shall I tell you? Yes I shall!!

Gramophone А: Koschei! Koschei!

Gramophone Б: Koschei the Immortal!

Man: He was sitting in that chair for forever, you see, without moving a finger, without turning his head! In a six-foot world he had been locked forever! All that was about him was rubbish, the kind of gorgeousness to make you doubt your eyes! You see he tried to reproduce the world, the flowing rivers and rotting apples and soaring wrens, the inversion of the hell living and eaten in the sea, yes everything! No, not a single thing! He tried to make a world, you see. Pipe organs, warped pearls, foreign mummies, living perfumes of rotten roses such a glorious scent as to wreck your nose, everything but that!

Gramophone А: Koschei! Koschei!

Gramophone Б: Koschei the Immortal!

Man: Now shall we begin?! Shall we end it?! Has it already begun, is it already over? Let me tell you a tale! One tale, no countless!! Or a hundred, if I may…"

The man’s hands stop.

Man: Because fairy tales belong to children!!

Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does (Update)

Jane Does is available as a digital download in Japanese on Booth [link] for only 300 JPY. If you purchase the e-book, you should also have access to the theme song, which I’ve also translated (link at the bottom of the post).

If you plan to read my translation in English, please purchase the original first.

I am currently working on a revised EN version to be made available in .epub and .pdf formats.

In the meantime, here are the links to the first draft in installments.
The posts after the first have been password protected.
The password is the first French word on page 19 (case-sensitive), which should be easy to find if you have purchased either a digital or hard copy of the book.

[15/291]
[35/291]
[56/291]
[73/291]
[93/291]
[124/291]
[135/291]
[156/291]
[177/291]
[190/291]
[256/291]
[291/291]

[Theme Song]