The mother looks aghast while Doujima looks bewildered. Keishi sticks out his tongue and puts up his hand. Strumming the koto, he shouts, yeah!! The kids exclaims that here it is, Kei’s specialty! While the adults are speechless, Akira happily claps. The mother groans over this and becomes tense when Doujima is darkly looking at her. At the house, Doujima angrily shouts what’s up with that crude performance!! “You really have no sense of shame! Simply becoming a huge laughingstock among the disciples [/students]!” While kneeling with Keishi and Akira holding on to her, the mother angrily whispers to Keishi that he’s an idiot for he cannot play that kind of piece in front of grandmother. Keishi sheepishly says that it is because Akira is so cute that he couldn’t help it. Doujima angrily shouts if they are listening. With sparkles, the mother and Keishi say that it absolutely won’t be done again. Lying on his futon, Keishi complains that he’s really tired to death and their grandmother’s lecture is so long. Akira tells him that it is obviously such an amazing performance. With sparkles, Keishi asks if it is so, he’s super cool isn’t he!?
Akira says yes and can she play that well like him? Kei happily smiles and says that if it is her, she can definitely play better than him. He happily strokes her head and she laughs. After some time, Akira is amazed to see Keishi’s picture in a magazine saying that a genius youth’s sparkling number 1. Holding the magazine, Akira shouts to her brother that his previous competition was published. Keishi says that’s right. Akira exclaims that it said that he’s a genius and geniuses are super amazing! Keishi asks if she’ll be happy. Akira exclaims that she’s super happy!! With sparkles, Keishi calls out to his mother and says that he is going to join all of the major competitions!! <- his shirt says, ‘I’m the most amazing’. The mother wonders if Keishi is okay <- no problem in the head. Soon, the table is filled with plaques and trophies. The adults say that Keishi is really quite amazing that he is number 1 in all of the competitions that he joined. The kids say that Keishi is so cool and he heard that he even won against a junior high student! Akira’s classmate says that before, she saw Keishi on the television and it mentioned that Keishi is a genius. He’s also carefree, interesting and it’s really great that Akira has that kind of brother. Akira happily giggles.
Akira thinks, “Brother is really very popular. Although he is always very dazzling, but he’s most dazzling is at the moment when he is on stage [to perform]. It’s really great that I also want to become like brother--” She tells her mother and brother that she’ll also participate in a competition and she also want to become a genius. She wanted to become like her brother and get first prize in a major competition to become sparkling and shiny!! And, Akira got a participation plaque. She becomes flustered for her brother got number one and she only got a participation plaque. Later on, the father comes home and asks what’s up with Akira, putting her head out the balcony [through the curtains]. The mother says that it is because she is depressed for not getting the first place. Keishi happily tells Akira that they play koto together. Akira refuses and says “Akira wasn’t able to get first place so I have no right to become brother’s younger sister.” The mother is surprised over Keishi crying that she asks why he is crying. Keishi says that he is crying because his younger sister is cute and an angel. Akira asks him how she can get the first place.
Keishi says that yes..actually, lately, he is always practicing the backflip together with his friends. Akira takes her head out and shouts that is very dangerous. Keishi says that he failed so many times and he even got a bit hurt but, he always persevered until the day when he can do it. Akira is amaze over her brother’s advice. Overhearing this, the mother warns Keishi not to mention about that backflip thing in front of their grandmother or else, she’ll faint. Akira thinks that she’ll always persevere until she can do it. She calls out to her mother that she’ll participate in the next competition and she’ll always participate until she gets the first place. Narration: “From that time on, I participated in all sorts of competitions. I really want to chase after brother. I really want to become dazzling like brother. I continuously practice as if my life depended on it and gradually, I finally started getting awards. But, like this, for me to always striving hard in order to become better, the me who I saw, wasn’t at all that dazzling like brother is. Besides, brother is a talent that no one can reach up to.”
While watching her brother who is now in junior high playing on stage, Akira thinks that when she was young, she simply felt that her brother played really great and amazing, that’s all there is to it. “But as the current me improves, I realize it more. Ah, this person is truly a genius.” At home, Doujima is scolding Keishi over what he is doing. Holding a guitar, Keishi says that he is practicing for a band performance at the school festival. Doujima exclaims what, that crude thing, don’t touch it! Keishi says but isn’t it very cool. Doujima can only click her tongue. After watching that scene, Akira thinks that her brother is the only one who can rebel against their grandmother and compared to her--.. She recalls some girls saying that Keishi is truly amazing and not only is he a koto genius, he also gets a lot of attention at school. “Compared to him, Akira is really a super ugly girl.” This made Akira depressed but she shook her head. She thinks that even if her brother is indeed a genius and normally, he is indeed totally dazzling but compared to anyone else, he practiced more and work hard a lot. “It’s alright, even if I’m not a genius, if I only work hard then I will be able to do it. I only have to persevere and one day, I’ll also reach that kind of level--..”
In a car at [probably] the highway, the parents are talking about Akira. The father says that lately, Akira is really doing her best. The mother agrees. The father says that from the time she joined competitions, it is only not long ago when she was finally able to get second place! The mother says that she also really wants Akira to be able to get first place. Looking at his wife, he assures her that it is definitely no problem. He didn’t notice a truck heading straight at them from the side. Crash. Keishi is running at the hospital’s hallway. He calls out to Akira and his grandmother. Totally aghast, trembling Akira calls out to him. Sitting on the bench, Doujima looks lifeless while staring at some place. This made Keishi really nervous. Akira hugs him and starts sobbing. He hugs her tightly. Narration: “Everything came too quickly. It’s too sudden. We and our parents were forever separated [by death].” At the funeral, Akira clings on to Keishi who looks thoughtful. Later on, Akira stands by the house door while Keishi wears his shoes. Akira asks, “-what? What did you just say, brother..” Keishi says that he said that he decided to quit college and go straight working!
Akira exclaims, “Work.. but, brother, shouldn’t you be the successor of Tsubaki Group!?” How about koto!?” Keishi laughs and asks her to forgive him but he finally found a work that suits him. “Basically, teaching other people to play koto doesn’t suit me. I have already given up on koto. I’ll hand over Tsubaki Group to you.” As he turns to leave, stunned and trembling Akira says, “Wa..wait, brother. How come you are giving up on koto! Answer me. Brother.. (Why--)” At a room, Doujima tells Akira that depending on the current people [enrolled?] in Tsubaki Group, it is truly not enough to provide for Akira and Keishi. “The disciples have also decreased a lot.” Akira protest if her bother is a koto performer and have concerts, then it would be enough. Doujima says that this world isn’t that simple that they can quickly earn money. Akira shouts then she won’t study high school and go to work. Doujima exclaims for her not to say foolish things for it is only she [Akira] who can succeed Tsubaki Group so be aware of it! Akira continues to protests that her brother unexpectedly gave up on koto.
Doujima says that Keishi is entrusting everything up to her [Akira]. “Could it be that you are failing to live up to his intention? *this shocks Akira as she trembles and bites her lips* Besides, Keishi’s personality is too unrestrained. Even if he has the artistic talent but he isn’t suitable for Tsubaki Group. Right now, this is for the best.” Akira thinks what’s up..with that, how come the one giving up is her brother and how come he is entrusting everything to her. Then, people are gossiping. “Wasn’t Keishi the successor?” “I heard that he had given up on koto” “It cannot be. It’s such a waste! He is obviously quite talented.” “But, it seems that Doujima-sensei said that Akira-chan is more manageable.” “If their parents didn’t encounter that accident..” “No matter what is said, if she wants to REPLACE Keishi as successor, Akira-chan must considerably do her best for it to be okay.” At the room again, Akira asks, Water’s hentai. Doujima says that’s right, whether in technique, melody or expressive power, this piece is rated as the finest composition. “In the next TWO YEARS, you are going to master this piece.” Akira is surprised and nervous.
Doujima continues to say, “With your current level, it is still very far from reaching Keishi’s. The disciples also have a lot of dissatisfaction. So within these two years, through this piece, you are going to start your training all over again, and accumulate your strength bit by bit. Afterwards, give me the FIRST PLACE in the most famous koto competition. *Akira becomes nervous as she mutters, first place..* This way, no matter who, they won’t complain, right. Do you understand? Properly practice, okay, together with Keishi’s share.” And, darkness starts to envelop Akira. Narration: “From that day on, without interruption, the days when I’m always facing the koto from morning to night, I’ve practiced as if my life depended on it. It is like I’m swallowed by mixed feelings. I hope that I would be able to REPLACE brother. I hope that brother’s choice is correct.” Keishi goes to see Akira and asks if she is still practicing, would her body be able to endure it. She says that she is fine. Keishi asks if it is really like that, and don’t force herself-- Akira shouts that she said that she is fine!! Keishi looks a bit tense. Akira apologizes and says that she is really fine.
Narration: “It is like, in case I stopped, I’ll sink deeper into the abyss that I have to continuously practice as if my life depended on it.” Akira overhears her grandmother shouts, what did you say!? Akira asks what had happened. Doujima says that it seems that in this competition, THAT CHILD from Houdzuki Group is also going to compete. Akira says that she recalls that Satowa is in junior high.. Doujima says that is right, it is quite brazen for a mere junior high student to want to join this competition. Akira thinks that before, Houdzuki Group is Tsubaki Group’s school. The successor there is called a ‘genius’ young girl. “I have heard her performance before and it is indeed very amazing. It’s perfect. It totally had no mistakes. That kind of performance is disconnected from common people. [/beyond common people’s reach].” Doujima says that before, the head of Houdzuki is basically worthless and in order to properly educate her daughter, she is always under constant pressure but she [Doujima] didn’t think that she would now become a hindrance. Akira looks nervous. “It is like, in my want to erase my heart’s uneasiness, I would practice even more as if my life depended on it from that day onwards.” And, Keishi worriedly looks at his younger sister who kept on practicing.
Soon, clad in a kimono, Akira prepares to head out with her koto. Keishi calls out to her and asks if today is the official competition. “Too bad that I have work that no matter what I couldn’t get a work leave. So, I won’t be able to go see your competition..” Akira says that it is alright. Keishi tries to tell her something but she apologizes and says that she’s going. Narration: “I can only support myself up to today and definitely, there’ll be a change. There is definitely light in the future waiting for me. Definitely.” Soon, it is Akira’s turn to perform. She nervously holds her hands together and tells herself that it is okay. She starts playing. The male judge thinks that she’s very skillful. Akira starts to sing. The people are amazed for it is an infectious [/inspirational] voice and so elegant.. The judge thinks that Akira really values each note she’s playing. Narration: “Whether it is the chanting or the technique, it is simply as if there is no impurity. Even if the piece goes fast, each note is quite pleasant to listen at. In order to be able to reach this kind of realm, I had already gone through a lot of practice and went through a lot of performances. She recalls her brother telling her that she will be like him and she asked how she can get first place.
Akira had assured herself before that it is alright even if she isn’t a genius, she can definitely do it after through a lot of hard work. Then, one day, she’ll be able to reach that level. She thinks, “Until I reach that level--” And Akira finishes playing. She thinks that it is over..until now, this is her best performance.. Recalling her brother, she thinks that she has done it...!!! At the lounge, Doujima asks if Akira had finished tiding up and does she want to rest here first. Akira declines and says that she wants to hear the others perform. Back on their seats, Doujima says that she thinks that this time around, Akira is already very close to being in first place. Akira says that she flatters her. And, it is announced that it is Satowa’s Yagegoromo is going to be next. Akira thinks that Satowa is really amazing to be able to play that piece at such a young age but it is alright, she knows even if her level is genius-- And, Akira and everyone are stunned once Satowa started playing. Narration: “—it merely took a syllable and it is already enough. In these past two years, as if my life depended on it, I practiced and mastered technique and expressive power. She totally made it all gone up in smoke.” Doujima grumbles what’s going on with this piece when it is basically not Yagegoromo. “This way, she’ll be disqualified! This child is really doing a disastrous thing!!”
Akira thinks, “It only takes a syllable to know. This overwhelming absolute gap that no matter how hard a commoner like me does one’s best, it is absolutely impossible to even hope to reach that kind of level.” And Akira is stunned when it was announced that she got first place. Doujima smiled in relief and told Akira that her name is called so do not be lost in thought and quickly accept her prize. Snapping out of it, Akira says ya. In a daze, Akira walks towards the stage. She overhears the people gossiping. “How come the first place isn’t that junior high student?” “She did something foolish for that child broke the rules and got disqualified.” “Ah, is that so. By the way, what was the piece that the first placer performed?” At home, Akira looks at her previous rewards that are either 2nd or 3rd place. She looks at her first place plaque. She recalls her brother telling her that if it is her, she’ll definitely be able to play better. Akira bites her lip and lifts up the plaque. She uses it to viciously hit away all the awards from the table into the floor. She shouts, “What’s up with that breaking the rules and got disqualified.. What’s up with that!! I obviously played that kind of performance. Don’t joke around. Don’t look down on me!!” Tears start falling down her eyes. She starts to sob and finally screams it all out, Ah ah ah ah ah ah. Narration: “-I believed that what was waiting for me is light but what’s in front of me is a deeper darkness that I cannot see the way out.”
Comment: And, that is Akira’s story of how she became that way from happy girl who really admires her brother to someone almost devoid of emotions unless someone does some comparison between her and Satowa or questions her ability. I don’t know if it is intentional that she is brutally honest about her assessment with Chika and the others. It is possible that she probably doesn’t want to give them any false hopes and flatter them like what her brother did to her when she was young. She really believed that and when reality sunk in, she seems to took it well except that people kept on comparing her as inferior since her brother is better and later on, his inferior substitute. Even her grandmother also thinks that she isn’t better Than Keishi that Akira is forced to play a very difficult piece just to get the disciples approval. Her brother couldn’t help her either because he was the one who put that kind of situation and responsibility on her. In a way, she has no one but herself to depend on and just hoping that she’ll also see the light or become dazzling after working hard as if her life depended on it to get first place.
Well, she got it but in a way that she isn’t satisfied with. I used to think that people would usually become happy if they got first place because the one who is supposed to win got disqualified. Now, based on this story and in this kind of case, I guess it does feel hollow for it isn’t really her win. Just like what happened with her brother, she becomes first place or head of the group because the genius decided to throw it all away. I can somewhat understand Akira’s hostility with Satowa and why she doesn’t want to teach her because well, what can a commoner teach a genius. When they first met, Satowa is also oblivious who she is and didn’t even know that she won that contest. It is understandable though since Satowa also has a lot of things on her mind. Still, Akira knew who she was before the competition. Again, that’s how it is if one is famous and talented. So, in a way, what’s the point of it all? From the chapter, it seems that everyone is saying that she isn’t good enough compared to <insert name>, she has to strive hard, practice but then, after all that, what? She cannot reach genius level. It was all futile.
Yet somehow, Akira probably suppressed everything after that outburst and just does what her grandmother wanted her to do. Anyway, she has no choice and unlike the geniuses, she couldn’t give it up since everything has been entrusted to her. If she did, I guess she’ll think, what’s left of her then? This is something she dedicated her whole life in and it isn’t something she can easily throw away. In a way, unlike Chika and others, Akira had totally lost the fun part of playing or wanting to play it since it became a burden and responsibility for her. On a side note, I do wonder why Doujima is intent on getting the Houdzuki group..is it because of the name and reputation? Even if Akira isn’t the ultimate best koto player of all, I think she can still excel in teaching. Not all excellent players become good teachers, which was seemed to be her brother’s case. I’m not sure though if she is this cold with her students or it is because Satowa is in the club. Anyway, since most of the characters here are somehow helped into the right path after a ‘dark past’, I guess Akira will somehow be able to see the light again. Scans by 二次元秘店汉化
Quote of the day:
Unhappiness lies in that gap between our talents and our expectations. ~ Sebastian Horsley