At a small old two story Japanese building, a man finds the Nitou Incense[/Koudou; 仁藤香堂分店] Store. A couple of good looking guys greet him. The man asks for the owner and the two says that they are the owners. The smiling two offers him some incense that they are selling but the man wants hangonko [返魂香] an incense wood wherein one can see one’s deceased loved one and talk with them upon burning it. While the two’s smile disappear, the man says that he heard about someone experiencing it even if he doesn’t believe it so do they have it. Smiling again, the glasses guy says that they have it and does he want to see someone. The man says that his mother died a month ago and he wasn’t able to see her one last time so he cannot accept that the inheritance given to his younger sister which is more than his, when he’s the oldest son. Glasses guy’s eyes narrow when the black haired guy quickly left. Glasses guy shows him the incense that the man is more than willing to buy at any cost. After freaking out over how much it is, the man left. Glasses guy angrily calls out to Aki [black haired guy; name means Autumn] who is watching television for leaving him behind with the customer. Aki tells Haru [glasses guy; name means Spring] that it is alright since he can handle it. On the television, there is an interview about an actress, Kurasawa Naomi [guesswork from 倉沢奈緒美] who will star in Ginsberg[金斯伯格]’s [foreign] movie. Just then, they have a customer. To their surprise, it is Naomi. Putting on their smile, they prepare to greet her but their smiles freeze when Naomi complains over how hard it is to find their store that she got lost and her feet hurts just when she is going to a filming soon. Aki tries to escape but Haru grabs him and ask if she needs something. She tells them that she doesn’t know for Kusao Shinobu [guesswork from 草尾忍] told her that he kept something there. After checking the records, Haru says that it is the Hangonko incense to a certain Tanaka Naomi [guesswork from 田中直美; I’m assuming that she is using the name given name for her screen name though the kanji is written differently]. Naomi says that’s her. They look at the picture to see a fat girl [with another guy whose face is covered by a speech bubble]. Aki blurts out plastic surgery. This irritates Naomi. She got more furious when Haru whispers to Aki that they can use this news in exchange for money. Naomi shouts if they are swindlers and that isn’t her and who needs that incense. Haru blames Aki and Aki says that they are both guilty. Haru wonders what to do now..with the picture and incense. At the film shooting, Naomi complains about her foot when Ginsberg asks if she is okay. Naomi slaps her face and plans to concentrate on her first film which is a great opportunity for her. A jealous female costar complains why Naomi was chosen when she is just some photo shoot girl and maybe it is because of her [big] breasts. Naomi is furious that costar is saying it out loudly and this isn’t an easy world wherein one can get a role just because of one’s breasts.
She had studied acting and got a lot of photo shoots because of her breasts which she did as if her life depended on it, then quit to do auditions to get this role. Then, she looks pained upon recalling a guy telling her, that’s great and he wants to see. Ginsberg kept on calling out to Naomi ‘cut’ over her mistakes. Naomi complains that she is doing what he told her yesterday but Ginsberg says he forgot about it since it has been a long time. Costar taunts her for being an amateur. A man tries to tell Ginsberg not to delay it but Ginsberg wants Naomi for tomorrow since today won’t do. This irks Naomi that she tells him, ‘I never make plans that far ahead.’ This made Ginsberg smile and continue the filming. It turns out that it is a line from Casablanca and Ginsberg likes old movies. Then, there is a flashback of young Naomi watching a movie with a boy and she wants to be in a Ginsberg’s film. The boy said that’s great, he wants to see it. He offered to help her out and tells her that when nervous, take a deep breath. End flashback. Naomi takes a deep breath and thinks, ‘Just watch’. Costar is furious that Ginsberg praised Naomi’s work. Then, she notices a picture from Naomi’s things. Back at the store, a woman asks the two if they sold hangonko to her older brother and why he bought it. Haru says that he wants to see his mother. The woman shouts that he doesn’t want to see her but rather change the will because he wanted to get more assets. Trembling in anger, the woman says that his brother left their mother in her care and didn’t even bother to visit so it is his fault that he wasn’t able to see their mother one last time. Their mother already left for a peaceful place but he wants to call her back to ask for money and they would unexpectedly sell it to him. Haru says that it is the customer’s freedom to use the hangonko as they see fit. The tearful woman angrily left. Then, Aki sees in the internet, a picture of fat Naomi with a guy whose face has been black out with a marker with a mention of having plastic surgery. At the film studio, costar is taunting Naomi for showing her face after that ‘gossip’ on the internet. Costar shouts to Ginsberg about Naomi having plastic surgery so she must be removed from the film. To the costar’s surprise, after someone translated it to English, Ginsberg doesn’t care about that. Naomi had the last word by telling the costar that compared to her [costar] who is naturally beautiful and complacent, and her [Naomi] who works hard to finish her work, who can captivate the audience. The result is apparent if they both stand on the same stage. Recalling how she was told that she was ugly, etc and how her friend gave her tips to improve them, Naomi prepares herself and plans to move on forward. Soon, the others are telling Ginsberg that he found a great actress and commented that her expression seems to say ‘Please look at me’. Ginsberg wants to re-shoot the scene because of the actress who cannot do anything without a translation.
Later on, Naomi comes back to the store and asks if they don’t have a chair. She asks for that incense. Aki tells her that they didn’t put up that picture. Naomi says that she knows for it is the one she has and Shinobu’s face got erased by a marker. She asks to have the other picture. They give him the box of hangoku with her name on it from Shinobu. She tells them that she didn’t have plastic surgery because she went on a diet, put on make-up and learned how to make herself look beautiful because of some devil trainer. Aki[?] asks when did Shinobu die. Naomi sadly smiles and says, last month. She looks up the sky and asks, are you watching? Soon, it is a big buzz about Naomi’s work on the hit movie, she can speak English and she will have a new film soon. Holding the incense box, Naomi mutters Shinobu’s name. Then, the man before comes and complains about the incense being a fake for the deceased didn’t appear so he wants a refund. Haru says that they only told him that some customers say that they have seen it so does he think that is actually true. At the balcony, Naomi lights the incense. From the smoke, Shinobu appears and calls out her name. Shinobu is Naomi’s childhood friend whom she watches movies with instead of playing outside because he has a frail body. Naomi happily asks if Shinobu has seen her movie, Reborn on the Mars with Ginsberg as director. To her irritation, he says that it is so-so. Naomi calls him an idiot for he never praises her. She starts to cry and asks why he left before the movie is shown. Shinobu says that he was told that he’ll only live up to 15 years old so he already did his best. Naomi shouts that he should have done better than that. He teases her for being ugly if she cries. Naomi shouts for him to shut up. She cries that he is always like that. She thinks that he never said that he likes her so she also didn’t mention it. Shinobu kisses her head. Naomi recalls the two guys telling her that Shinobu said that she is his beautiful flower, a gem he polished that everyone would be infatuated with her. And, even if he is gone, he also wants to see a glimpse of her [capability]. With a scene of Naomi in front of a theater, she thinks that she wanted to get Shinobu’s approval that she always strived hard until now. One side of her misses him, and at one side, she places Shinobu at the camera and the audience, facing him as she continues to act, and hoping that he’s watching her from the heavens. And, the incense is burned out. At the store, Haru complains that there have been no customers since those two. Aki informs him that they have run out of hangonko. Haru exclaims that they still have one. Aki says that this is for Goshima’s grandfather. Haru says that it is almost time for grandfather to come. Aki says yes, then they’ll just purchase [some]. The last scene is the bruised[?] girl [from chapter 0] in a cheongsam looking for Nitou Incense Store.
Comment: Their shop kind of reminds me of Xxxholic wherein there is a store that can help people but in this case, it is incense that can make one see one’s loved one. The ‘good one’ gets what they want to see and the ‘bad one’ didn’t get to see. I do wonder if there is something that has to be done for it to work. Does the soul has to want to be seen or the soon-to-deceased person has to do something with the incense? Naomi’s story is touching and sad. It makes me think as an aftermath of Kyou no Kira-kun but in this case, Shinobu never confessed. Perhaps, he doesn’t want her to be sadder than she is because of he’s dying and makes her want to think more of him as someone who ‘made her what she is now’ and she never stops wanting to make him approve of her. With Naomi, it seems that the mangaka can indeed make a strong female character. I wonder if the store sells other special incense or it is limited to the hangonko. Anyway, the grandfather in the end, I don’t know if the Goshima grandfather and the grandfather whom they are going to buy some incense, probably the hangonko, is the same one. If he is, maybe the lead girl will be the one who’ll sell it to them and somehow, she ends up working at their place. Since she is wearing a cheongsam and foreign affairs called before, I wonder if she’s Chinese and they are illegal immigrant or something. That could be why those other people look at her suspiciously before. I think that hangonko is of Chinese origin. Scans by 深雪汉化组
Word of the day:
The memories of what God has done for us can become building blocks for today and tomorrow. ~ Our Daily Bread