CV: Matsuoka Yoshitsugu (松岡 禎丞)
Monshiro is a mysterious person of few words. He appears very early in the story, where he saves Beniyuri and Hikage from a monster. He speaks almost child-like and appears to have been isolated for a long time since he doesn’t seem to know how to act in social situations. He also instantly becomes attached to Beniyuri.
(Another quick summary of the events and most of them follow Yamato’s route, so please read his route if you wish for more details.)
*** PROLOGUE ***
Beniyuri wakes up in a strange mansion with no memories. She meets up with Hikage and they are both saved from the monsters by Monshiro. Kagiha appears and leads them to a refuge. But then they hear a scream and so Beniyuri runs out to save Karasuba and Yamato. The team gives themselves names from the plates on the door and also find out that they are all amnesiac and that the master of the mansion wants them to complete this item called the “kaleidoscope”. They can also manifest guns through the power of their thoughts to fight the monsters.
*** CHAPTER ONE ***
The team explores the mansion and finds the pieces of the kaleidoscope to complete it. They are then told by a messenger, called Usagi, that they need to collect fragments to complete the kaleidoscope. The fragments are held by monsters and so they need to exterminate them. As a reward for completing the kaleidoscope, everyone is also given back their childhood memories. Beniyuri has a small scene where she breaks down due to the stress of this terrifying environment but she’s comforted by Kagiha.
*** CHAPTER TWO ***
Everyone trains themselves to manifest and use their guns. Beniyuri is taught personally by Yamato, and is the last to pick this skill up. Anyway, they go on their monster hunting expedition with Beniyuri choosing who she wants to explore the mansion with:
Beniyuri chooses Yamato because he helped her practice manifesting her gun. Yamato allows her to join him and, as they hunt for monsters, Beniyuri ends up telling him about her family and compares him to her dog, Koro. They meet a boy who transforms into a monster and, after defeating the monster, Yamato appears to be traumatized at not being able to protect someone “again”.
Everyone returns to the refuge with the fragments they collected and then they are given another reward by the master of the mansion in the form of Usagi delivering food to them. Everyone has dinner around a table and Beniyuri feels that everyone is getting closer together. She also manages to see Usagi’s face.
*** CHAPTER THREE ***
Yamato has been irritable lately and so Beniyuri visits him with hot chocolate. They have a talk about their families and lives before Yamato reveals that he has a younger twin brother who has been in a coma for ten years. Yamato is impatient to get out of this mansion because he’s the only one who’s been talking constantly to his brother, and the doctors say that this gives his brother the best chance to wake up.
Beniyuri comforts Yamato but runs out of his room when he tries to touch her, for some reason. In her room, the master of the mansion suddenly asks if she wants to know more about Yamato or not:
- She is scared to know
- She wants to know more about Yamato
Beniyuri wants to know more about Yamato. Besides, the master of the mansion might know something about his younger twin.
She startles when her phone beeps again with another message notification. She opens it to see a picture of two children, one who looks like Hikage and one who looks like Yamato. Could it be that they’re twins?!
Just then everyone is woken up by Yamato screaming and rushes out of the refuge to see him transform into a monster in their face. Yamato runs off before they can do anything. After this event, Usagi visits them and reveals to them that this world is the interspace between life and death. Meaning, everyone here is almost dead and the only way for them to return to life is to complete kaleidoscope, since it’ll grant the user a wish. And then Beniyuri reveals to everyone the photo of the twins that the master of the mansion sent to her. Hikage realizes that he’s Yamato’s little brother and staggers off to be alone in his room. Everyone is shocked and a bit broken from the sudden loss of one of their members.
In her room at night, Beniyuri thinks on the events that have happened:
- She wants to talk to someone
- Can they return Yamato to normal?
- She wants to solve the mysteries of this mansion
- It’d be nice if everything was a dream
- Why did they arrive here?
Beniyuri wonders if there is a way to return Yamato to normal. She goes to sleep and thinks she dreams about someone in a fox mask asking her to help Yamato.
*** CHAPTER FOUR ***
Everyone is depressed by Yamato’s disappearance but realize that they have no choice but to continue on hunting for the fragments to complete the kaleidoscope. They have collected quite a few fragments but Beniyuri only continues to feel uneasy. She partners up with Kagiha this time and they defeat a monster, which leaves her breathless and exhausted. She also has the feeling that someone is watching them.
At night, she is led outside by white butterflies and to Monshiro who leads her to the hidden greenhouse where Yamato has been hiding. She manages to turn him partially back to normal but he refuses to return to the refuge. She promises to visit him and keep this a secret from others and is led back to the refuge by Monshiro, where she wonders:
- What kind of connection does he have with Yamato?
- It’s best if she didn’t pry too much
Beniyuri wonders what kind of connection he has with Yamato. He went out of his way to introduce her and Yamato, and so he might be expecting something.
She visits Yamato every night with Monshiro and then, one day, Monshiro gives her the ribbon that he always has and tells her that it’s a protective charm. He also wants to be one of her companions and ends up popping into the room. Everyone is suspicious but Karasuba lies to help Beniyuri and so Monshiro joins the group. He ends up cuddling with her at night and whispers that he can’t stay with her forever, even though he wants to.
Yamato tells Beniyuri about a study and so she visits it with Hikage during one of their exploration and monster-hunting expeditions only to find a strange book.
- Takes it in hand
- Averts her eyes
Unintentionally, Beniyuri averts her eyes away from it. She has the feeling that this is something she shouldn’t be seeing.
In the end, she finds a photo before she and Hikage are attacked by a monster. They retreat back to the refuge and show the photo to everyone which unlocks their memories about being childhood friends, except for Monshiro. Hikage is very suspicious about this and since Monshiro is the odd man out, no one is able to defend him even though Beniyuri tries her best. In the end, Monshiro separates from everyone to hide in his room since he doesn’t want them to fight.
At night, Beniyuri realizes that everyone seems to be hiding a painful memory from her and she’s the only one who can’t remember it.
- It’s okay even if she doesn’t remember it
- She wants to remember it by any means possible
Beniyuri decides that she shouldn’t try to force herself to remember something that she can’t; though she’s a bit irritated at her own cowardice.
At any rate, she’s unable to sleep and so she heads down to the living room only to see Karasuba there too and he’s looking at the kaleidoscope. He reveals that he’s entertained the thought of breaking it because he doesn’t want to go back to the real world. But he’s only half-serious. He actually wishes he still didn’t have his memories because unhappy things happened in his childhood. Beniyuri points out that everyone has started to act strangely after regaining their memories and it feels like they’re keeping something from her.
Karasuba jokes about being her lover in the past and dodges around the issue until he finally tells her that she’ll be the one hurt by regaining her memories. Beniyuri disagrees. He also proposes that she doesn’t use his real name in this world because he’s not the same person that he was in the past. He’s not weak and unreliable anymore, he’s someone who can protect her.
He then goes on to offer her a chance to take his hand and run away from this painful reality into a sweet dream. Beniyuri doesn’t know what she forgot and if she takes this hand she might be able to save something inside of him. But is there something else that she can do? On the edge of hesitance she:
- Takes his hand
- Doesn’t take his hand
Beniyuri makes him lower his hand.
She doesn’t accept his view and believes that, even if she is scared of her memories, she should confront her past. Her real name is Minato Ai and not Beniyuri. She wants to return to the real world and believes that everyone should return together too. Karasuba jokes about how he wanted to run away but instead he received a lecture from her about confronting one’s past. At any rate, he thanks her for helping him clear his mind and then the both of them return to their rooms to sleep.
*** CHAPTER FIVE ***
Usagi tells them that they have almost completed the kaleidoscope; they only need one or two more fragments. Everyone is happy except for Karasuba. He ends up disappearing the next day and everyone goes through the mansion to search for him. Beniyuri even secretly enlists the help of Yamato. She and Hikage find Karasuba injured in a room. They head back to the refuge only to see Monshiro pointing a gun at Kagiha.
Beniyuri starts to lose her patience at how everyone is keeping a secret from her. Karasuba ends up shooting Monshiro’s mask and breaks it to reveal that he has the same face as Hikage. Hikage reveals that he’s the master of the mansion. Monshiro was Kazuya, Yamato’s twin brother all along.
Hikage tries to kill Beniyuri for the last shard but Kagiha takes the shot for her. Hikage attempts to kill her again but is wounded by Yamato, who suddenly appears. Hikage retreats and uses Kagiha as a shield. Beniyuri has memories of the time everyone went to the summer camp and started to explore a mansion on a lake.
*** CHAPTER SIX ***
Yamato takes their diminished group, consisting of Beniyuri, Karasuba, himself, and Monshiro, to the greenhouse in an attempt to find somewhere to hide from Hikage and heal. They rest there until Karasuba’s wound heals. Beniyuri starts to feel isolated and hurt at how everyone is still keeping a secret from her. But then they’re approached by Usagi who reveals that Beniyuri has the last fragment and the master of the mansion wants her to come to him.
Everyone makes a plan to deal with Hikage, but this only makes Beniyuri feel more isolated since her plans are shut down and she’s not very involved apart from having the role to talk to him. In the end, she’s the one who decides when they should go though and she:
- Wants to look around
- Wants to go immediately
Beniyuri decides that she wants to look around because, like everyone has said, they don’t know what Hikage is thinking. She’d like to prepare herself first. Monshiro smiles at that. Yamato agrees with her point since it’s not like the other side has demanded they come to him immediately, and so they don’t need to rush. Karasuba agrees too because if they’re going to get into trouble then he’d like to come up with some plans. Monshiro voices out an agreement to delay their departure as well.
She wonders what the goal is for gathering the fragments of the kaleidoscope. Can they safely return to their original world? There are so many things she wants to ask but it’s too early to meet Hikage yet. Above all, is it even a good idea to meet him while she’s still trapped in her depression? Loneliness and suspicion prick at her decision. At any rate, they want to look around their surroundings first before meeting Hikage.
Yamato suggests that they rest for today and so everyone bunks down. Because the greenhouse doesn’t have any beds or pillows, everyone just chooses a place they like to create a nest. Beniyuri sits down on the lawn beside a flowerbed and stares off into space. There is a mountain of things she wants to think about and things she needs to think about, but for some reason her mind isn’t working well.
Everyone is right beside her and yet she feels like they’re so far. It’s quiet… like she’s in the depths of water… and that she’s all alone. She exhales and mutters about how she’s not sleepy at all. Suddenly, white butterflies come into view. Her eyes follow them as they fly from flower to flower, and then she notices a person on the other side of the flowers. She greets Monshiro, who startles, and then asks if he has business with her.
Monshiro gives her a look in that manner of speaking. She guesses and asks him if he wants to come over here. He nods and moves over to her quickly, as if he were waiting for this moment. He takes a seat beside her and then silence befalls them. She notices that he isn’t speaking at all and even though he usually doesn’t say much he did talk about various things. But she does admit that just being together with him makes her feel more at ease.
Beniyuri understands there are things they won’t talk about, but at least she can see his face from beside him. As she sneaks glances at him, her eyes come to rest on the pendant swinging from his chest. The stone is just like obsidian. It feels like it’s just one step short of becoming pitch black and looking at it makes her uneasy. She ends up asking him if that’s okay? He repeats her words questioningly.
She points out that his pendant is very black and asks if he’s feeling okay. He’s not feeling terrible anywhere, is he? He tells her that he’s fine. She asks him if that’s true though, since she knows that if his pendant become black then he’ll become a monster. Now that she thinks about it, when Yamato transformed into a monster his stone was this color too. Monshiro repeats more firmly that he’s okay.
Beniyuri falls silent but wonders in her mind if he’s really okay. He’s defeated a lot of monsters but… She suddenly recalls out loud that Monshiro has been here for ten years, right? How did he keep himself safe? He hesitates before answering that it’s probably because of the ribbon. She asks him if he’s talking about the ribbon he gave her, and she pulls it out of her pocket to hold it in her hand.
The light purple ribbon seems to shine somehow even though there is no light. Monshiro smiles as he tells her that this ribbon protected him… whenever he was attacked by others wearing masks and whenever he was sad and thought he would die… No matter how hard it was, or whatever dangerous encounters he faced, the hope of returning the ribbon to her is what saved him. This ribbon was something that she lent him and so he treasured it and knew he had to return it to her somehow.
Beniyuri hesitantly confirms that this was something she gave him? He nods and then asks if she doesn’t remember? She apologizes because she doesn’t. He smiles and tells her not to worry because he’s content to have returned it to her. She protests though because if this ribbon really has that kind of power then he should– Monshiro interrupts and tells her that he wants her to have it. He’s fine now.
For a second she feels like a shadow passed over his face. As she stares at him, trying to confirm what she saw, he suddenly takes her outstretched hand and asks her to let him touch her, using her real name. She only has enough time to blink in surprise before he embraces her. The moment she feels his slightly lower body temperature throughout her whole body, a fire feels like it was lit in her heart.
Beniyuri stutters and asks him what’s got into him all of a sudden!? Right now, he just called her “Ai”. He doesn’t respond. She calls out his name again and tries to draw away, but he just pulls her back with more force. She can almost hear the pressure that he’s using to hold her and she becomes puzzled. Monshiro murmurs that she’s warm… and it’s like he’s holding the sun.
She doesn’t know how to respond to that. He continues on to say that being here has been like being in dark, cold water for an eternity. Like he’s underneath the ice and at the bottom of the ocean during winter. It’s been long enough to feel overwhelmed and he hasn’t been able to talk, smile, or touch anyone. He’s almost forgotten what “warmth” feels like. She murmurs his name.
Monshiro tells her that, since they came, he remembered everything he forgot. Once again he was given “warmth” by them. He’s happy. “Warmth” is such a happy thing to feel. His words come out choppily and is mixed with happiness and sadness, and she doesn’t know how to respond. It may have been because he is also holding her tightly to the point of it feeling crushing.
His slow chosen words and actions tell a story of how he’s always been alone. Through his touch, she can feel his long loneliness. In her mind she realizes that for a long time… he’s been alone. He must have been sad, more so than what she’s been feeling… for a long time. She slowly turns around to face him properly.
He murmurs 「アイ・・・。俺に『温かい』をくれたお前たちを、元の世界に戻してやりたい。だから、俺は――・・・。」(Ai… all of you who have given me this “warmth”, I want to return you all to your own world. And that’s why I’ll–…). He swallows the rest of his words and squeezes her tightly before releasing her, leaving her confused.
After he releases her, he gives her a look that shows his reluctance on having parted. Right now she has no idea what he’s thinking, but the feeling she got from him about wanting to say something is gone and she realizes that his “business” is done. Beniyuri ends up asking him what he wanted to say back there. He doesn’t say anything. She tells him that she has the feeling it’s something that she isn’t supposed to hear or ask about but…
Monshiro continues to hold his silence and averts his eyes as he stands. She calls out to him to wait though and recalls his words about wanting to return them to their original world. He’s not going to come with them? He stiffens upon her question and looks at her with clear eyes.
And then he tells her seriously that, no matter what happens, she needs to continue holding onto her hope. She can’t give up. Beniyuri asks him what he means, but he interrupts her and wishes her good night. He quickly heads to his sleeping area, as if to prevent her from asking him anything more.
An indeterminable amount of time passes and, during the middle of the night, Monshiro murmurs the name “Takuya” and “Aki”. Both of them are sleeping. It looks like he can leave now. He looks at their sleeping faces for a while longer before slipping through the vegetation and heading to where “she” is sleeping. He calls out her real name, Ai, and then notices that there are wrinkles between her eyebrows. Is she having a bad dream?
He comes closer to her and brushes her bangs up. His hand pauses before he suddenly smiles and leans down to place a kiss on her forehead. Beniyuri’s expression softens and the wrinkles disappear. He whispers to her that he gave her a charm; a charm so that she won’t see any bad dreams and to bring out his courage.
Monshiro turns around and thinks about how he probably won’t win against Hikage but… he still needs to do it. He’ll take back the kaleidoscope and return Ai to her world. He steps out into the hall and notices black butterflies hovering in a corner. This must be the sign that Usagi spoke about. The black butterflies continue down the halls of the mansion, releasing their ominous light.
He looks down slightly and the pendant at his chest glimmers with a dull light. No matter what happens to him… Monshiro raises his head with determination and starts to walk through the master of the mansion’s domain. He stops in front of a large door where a concentration of black butterflies have gathered and reaches through the fluttering flock of them to grab the handle. This is where Hikage is.
In an instant, the butterflies scatter and the door opens slowly. Hikage greets him casually, but then smirks and corrects himself to call him “Kazuya” instead. Monshiro just calls out Hikage’s name in greeting. At the end of a road that should have no end is a large space. At this place that is releasing a brilliant light is a familiar figure. Monshiro tells him that he came for the kaleidoscope and he’d like it passed over.
Hikage asks him mockingly if he came all the way here just to say that? He’s grown overconfident after being together with the people he loves. Monshiro states that he’s not joking around and he’s serious. He takes out his gun and aims it at Hikage’s heart. But Hikage only smiles coldly. Pointing the gun at him now, does Monshiro think he can win? Monshiro replies that he doesn’t think he can win. Hikage asks him if he’s an idiot.
Monshiro admits that he is an idiot but so long as he can take Hikage down with him then all that will be left is the kaleidoscope. And if everyone can return home with that then… Hikage realizes that Monshiro is going to sacrifice himself and he finds it disgusting. He must be satisfied to disappear cleanly as a dead person but honestly that’s a very selfish way of thinking. But what awaits him might not be a halfhearted thing like death.
This makes Monshiro ask Hikage what he’s talking about. Hikage points out that the “thing” around his neck is quite stained. Monshiro should know what awaits at the end for a soul stained in despair. Those who transform into unsightly beasts descend to hell and it is different from the afterlife; they are pulled into an unknown world. No one knows what that place is like since no one has ever returned.
Hikage is smirking as he tells Monshiro that he may fall into such a world, which could contain an even greater loneliness than this one. He’ll become alone again and have nothing in a dark and bleak world. It’s such a terrible thought, no? Hikage starts to walk towards him and the sounds of his shoes echo. Monshiro snaps at him not to come close. Hikage takes another step. Monshiro backs away and tells him that if Hikage has no intentions of handing the kaleidoscope over then he’ll take it by force.
But Hikage just addresses him as Kazuya and informs him that this kaleidoscope is something he has worked to complete for an innumerable amount of years. He’s finally one step before completion. And for such a precious thing to be snatched from him at that point… doesn’t Monshiro think that would be rude? Monshiro points out angrily that Hikage has manipulated a lot of people for that sake.
Hikage smiles and tells him not to say such disrespectful things; he didn’t use them, he borrowed their cooperation. He tells Monshiro that everyone hates him because he’s always so blunt like that. No one understands him and no matter what he says or does he’s always alone. Yes, he must be so lonely. Monshiro retorts that he’s wrong and the one who is lonely is Hikage. Even though he is together with everyone he is still alone. No ones know the real Hikage and that is much more lonely. SHOTS FIRED.
There is no response from Hikage. Monshiro declares that he loves everyone, which is why he’s going to return them to their world. The end. Hikage calls out his real name again and asks him if he wants to know what his beloved brother truly thinks of him. Monshiro’s eyes widen and he starts to ask what he’s doing, but all of a sudden Hikage darts into his space and diverts the gun.
Monshiro stiffens and as he tries to adjust his stance, Hikage leans forward to whisper into his ear with a distorted smile that he’s been shunned by his brother… like this. Hikage touches Monshiro’s forehead and a scene flows into his head.
In the hospital, Takuya remarks on how it’s almost been ten years since Kazuya has been sleeping like this. He’s looking down at Kazuya. He then goes on to recall how they used to play a lot in the park with Aki, Natsuki, and “that person”. Even though Kazuya always hated going outside and would stay cooped up, he showed up at the park only when “that person” was there.
Monshiro is stunned when he realizes that this is Takuya’s memory. He doesn’t know why he’s lying in a hospital bed. Takuya goes on to confess that he’s always worried over Kazuya since he didn’t say much, couldn’t make friends, and was often alone during class. And so, at the beginning, he was happy when “that person” dragged him out. But then at one point he started thinking of Kazuya as being annoying. Monshiro is stunned.
Takuya talks about how Kazuya, being clumsy, would always catch “that person’s” eye and be treated kindly. “That person” was always more on Kazuya’s side than his. No matter how many things he said, that person would listen to a single word of Kazuya’s. Takuya admits that he’s thought countless times about how things would be if Kazuya didn’t exist… he smiles wryly and points out what a terrible brother he is.
Monshiro inhales sharply. Takuya admits that even now he think about it a little. Kazuya’s conscious hasn’t returned ever since that accident and even though Takuya comes to see him everyday, he hasn’t woken at all. Then he tells Kazuya that he wouldn’t know but he quit soccer. Takuya says that his past and future are bound to Kazuya and this must be the punishment he’s delivering onto him, huh. But if this punishment is to continue then he would rather… Kazuya not to have existed.
Both Monshiro and Hikage are brought back to the present, where Hikage stretches his arms out in a flourish and declares that this is his brother’s true feelings. No matter where Monshiro is he is shunned, isolated, and pitiful… Hikage feels sympathy. Monshiro staggers back and stutters out that he’s lying; his free hand grips at his head. He didn’t die from that accident? It sounds like he’s still alive…?
Hikage raises an eyebrow and is surprised that Monshiro didn’t even know that. He informs him that he is still alive. Monshiro stiffens. Hikage elaborates that he hasn’t gained conscious since the accident though and has been sleeping in the hospital and worrying his brother. Monshiro chokes. Hikage grins and tells him that he must be glad to still be alive. But does he want to return to the real world?
From the start, he didn’t have many friends and no one wants him. His precious brother, who he was willing to gamble his life on to return to their original world, wishes for him not to have existed. His value is exactly that, which is why he is alone wherever he is. Monshiro starts to tremble violently, letting out keening sounds.
Hikage’s voice softens as he repeats again that Monshiro is alone wherever he is. Isn’t it much better if he just disappeared? Ah, wait, he can’t do anything if no one is troubling themselves over him though, right? In that case, he’ll destroy Monshiro instead since he’s grown bored. MAN SUCH LOW BLOWS HIKAGE. The moment Monshiro looks up, he sees the flash of light from the muzzle of a revolver pointed at him.
In the next instant, a dull pain spreads through his entire mind.
Someone calls out his real name. Monshiro wakes up to find himself in the entrance way of the mansion. Once again someone calls out his name and comments on how they had been in a dangerous spot. How is he feeling? Monshiro’s eyes widen before he asks why Natsuki… Kagiha just smiles silently. Monshiro recalls that he was shot by Hikage. Kagiha explains that it was a bit hectic but he dashed out when things ended up like that. It’s fortunate that his head wasn’t injured.
Monshiro realizes that Natsuki hit him and defended him. Is it okay for him to have been saved though? He points out that Kagiha has disobeyed Hikage and so the “promise” won’t be kept, and didn’t he want to return back to life no matter what? Kagiha admits that he thought he could sacrifice anything for his goal but he couldn’t watch as Monshiro got shot right before him… since they’re childhood friends.
Kagiha continues to smile calmly at him without emphasizing the favor he had done by saving Monshiro’s life. Monshiro points out that he’s pointed a gun at Natsuki… Kagiha remarks on how he wasn’t serious though, right? Monshiro retorts that he was. But Kagiha knows that Monshiro was desperate to separate him and Hikage; it wasn’t to hurt him. Rather, he wanted to make it so that no one would get hurt or be sacrifices for Hikage, right? He just didn’t convey it very well.
Monshiro averts his eyes. Kagiha laughs self-derisively since this isn’t something he can say. Monshiro calls out his name before saying that Natsuki is always like this, willing to overlook everything. He understands everyone very well and always watches their surroundings… on “that day” Natsuki tried to stop them from going to the mansion, but they ignored him. In the end, the rain made the lake overflow and Ai and him ended up drowning.
Kagiha is silent. Monshiro narrows his eyes and accuses him of being too kind. He knows just about everything but he restrains himself and just smiles. Why doesn’t he blame anyone? He dragged Natsuki into the mess, so why did he save him? Kagiha starts to say that he’s wrong– but Monshiro interrupts and says that he isn’t, because Natsuki tried to save him when he was drowning he’s gotten involved in this. He wouldn’t have to wish to be alive again and would have continued to be alive!
Monshiro shouts out that if he didn’t exist then…! Kagiha stiffens and then warily asks when Monshiro’s pendant became that color. They both fall silent. Kagiha finally admits slowly that Monshiro is right and he wants to live. After a moment of silence, a black drop falls silently from Kagiha.
Kagiha continues on quietly 「君と僕の状況が逆だったらよかった。僕なら彼女をうまく支えることが出来る。だから・・・その場所を譲ってほしい。これが僕の本音だよ。」(It would have been better if our situations were reversed. I would be able to support her better. So… I want your place. These are my true feelings). EVERYONE STOP BEING ASSHOLES TO EACH OTHER JFC.
Monshiro chokes out Natsuki’s name brokenly and he drops his head; his arms start to tremble. The shaking continues to spread through his entire body until he’s trembling violently. Monshiro realizes out loud that Kagiha has come to think about how if Monshiro didn’t exist then… Do Takuya and Natsuki hate him? Aki… and Ai as well?
Kagiha doesn’t say anything. Monshiro continues to shake as he takes the silence for an admission. Just like Hikage said… Kagiha’s eyes widen upon hearing those words. Monshiro smiles faintly as he comments on how it looks like it’d be best if he didn’t exist. Something shatters.
Back at the greenhouse Beniyuri blinks in confusion and asks everyone what’s wrong. It’s the following morning and after getting up she sensed that something was out of place. Yamato doesn’t know how to explain it. Karasuba wonders why problems after problems just keep happening. Beniyuri repeats his words questioningly. Yamato sighs and then exchanges a glance with Karasuba, their brows furrowing.
Yamato opens his mouth to start talking but Karasuba finishes his sentence by saying that someone, who should be here, is gone. Beniyuri blinks. Yamato explains that when they woke up this morning Monshiro was gone and they can’t find him despite searching through the greenhouse. Beniyuri is in denial and asks if Monshiro might not have just changed his sleeping place. Yamato tells her he thought the same but they checked every nook and cranny here and he’s nowhere to be found.
Karasuba sighs and jokes about how he’d like to admit defeat if this was a hide-and-seek game. Beniyuri can’t believe that Monshiro is missing and wonders why. Yamato doesn’t think he was kidnapped and that he probably went outside. Karasuba is shocked to hear that he would do that alone at night. Yamato answers that Monshiro probably did it because it was at night and he wanted to slip past their eyes. No, he doesn’t really know though or what that person is thinking.
Beniyuri murmurs his name and recalls the last time they spoke to each other. It was last night, just before they went to sleep. He said he wanted to return them to their world. She repeats the words he spoke thoughtfully. Yamato asks her to repeat what she said. Beniyuri reveals that, last night, Monshiro came to her and told her that he wanted to return them to their real world.
She had asked him if he wasn’t going to return with them but received no answer. Yamato freezes. Doesn’t that mean…!? The kaleidoscope connects this interspace and their world. It is currently in Hikage’s possession. Beniyuri finishes Yamato’s sentence about how Monshiro can’t have possibly gone to face Hikage alone, could he!? Karasuba calls out for her to hold on and not to become too flustered.
Beniyuri protests and tries to point out that something may have happened to Monshiro. Karasuba asks her sharply what she can even do in this state? He also tells Yamato to calm down. Yamato snarls at him, but this just makes Karasuba tell him that he’s being too overprotective of Monshiro. He acknowledges that Monshiro is Yamato’s younger brother but he’s no longer a child who can’t do anything. His tone isn’t joking and is serious as he scolds Yamato.
Karasuba sighs quietly before looking at them tiredly. He can’t believe Monshiro is someone who would make Beniyuri unnecessarily worried like this, which is why it can’t be helped and he’ll join the search for Monshiro. Yamato gapes at him. Karasuba points out that this is better than going alone, right? Beniyuri starts to suggest that they should all head out then, but Karasuba shakes his head and tells her to wait here on the chance that Monshiro will return.
She stares at him with wide eyes. Karasuba points out that it’d be bad if Monshiro just stepped out for some air and then came back to find everyone missing. Beniyuri can see his point but still… Karasuba points out that instead of coming back and seeing their faces, Monshiro would be much happier to receive a welcoming from her, right? Beniyuri admits his point here as well but she still protests to being the only one left here.
Yamato agrees with Karasuba though. He thinks there’s a meaning behind Monshiro having talked to just her last night. Beniyuri stares at Yamato in disbelief. Karasuba has a complicated look on his face before he pastes a light smile and tells her that it’s decided she’s going to watch over their base then; it’ll be okay and he and Yamato will just look around quickly before returning. Yamato and Karasuba quickly exit, leaving Beniyuri to stare at where they disappeared with a shocked look.
She sits down on the lawn beside the flowerbeds and waits for everyone to return. She looks around the wide space and raises her eyes to stare at the high ceiling. Passing the time like this alone makes her feel uneasy. Both Yamato and Karasuba are late and it feels like a lot of time has passed. Monshiro also hasn’t returned. Where did he go?
After some time, she gets up and starts to walk around to pass the time. Beniyuri thinks back on Karasuba’s words about Monshiro being pleased to be welcomed home by her. But is it truly best for her to wait here? To just wait without doing anything? She raises her head just in time to see something black dart past her vision. A black butterfly flutters through the air. She’s shocked to see one because she’s never seen one in the greenhouse before!
Beniyuri has a bad feeling about this. Is something happening outside? Because she can’t stay still any longer she exits into the hall. She looks around for Yamato and Karasuba without straying too far from the greenhouse. But no matter how deep she stares down the hall, she can’t see anyone’s shape. However, she seems something unfamiliar instead. A flock of black butterflies.
There are clusters of them down the hallway and they almost resemble black lamps floating in the air. Beniyuri realizes that these are probably the “signs” that Usagi spoke about and will lead to Hikage. In other words… Yamato, Karasuba, and even Monshiro followed these…!? She swallows through a tight throat and then, after some hesitation, takes a step forward.
But after some time of walking she feels a “wind” coming from somewhere. She’s puzzled because none of the windows can open in this mansion, so why does she feel wind? This wind seems to be blowing from somewhere but it’s in the opposite direction of the butterflies. It’s like there’s a huge crack somewhere. Could it be that there IS a window open!? After a moment of standing still she starts to run.
Beniyuri makes it to the entrance hall and forgets to blink at the sight that awaits her. What is this? NUCLEAR EXPLOSION MONSHIRO?? Where there should have been an extravagant room is instead an endless ruin. And in the center of that is a gaping hole as if something large collided there. It’s very windy and she realizes that the wind is coming from here. But what exactly is this?
Someone answers her that it’s hell. Beniyuri looks up to see Kagiha, who amends his earlier statement and says that it may be more correct to call that a place that is often called hell. She gapes at him and then asks him what he’s doing here. No, more importantly, is he okay? He was wounded when he defended her. Kagiha reassures her that he’s fine and his wound is healed. She’s relieved because she was really worried about him.
But where has he been until now? And what does he mean by this hole being “hell”? Kagiha ignores her first question and answers that this is his first time seeing this. He goes on to say 「奈落は――絶望に染まった魂が堕ちていくところ。普通の人が普通に逝くあの世とは違う、虚無の空間らしい。」(Hell is a place where souls stained in despair descend to. It’s different from the afterlife that normal people go to and seems to be a place of nothingness).
She echoes his words in confusion. Nothingness? Kagiha explains that it’s a place with no ground or sky or end. It is the last thing for anyone who falls and is an unknown space of which no one knows anything about. This hole seems to be an entrance to that place. Beniyuri recalls that Usagi did talk about something like this as well. She asks why such a place opened up here at this time? No, more importantly, how does Kagiha know that this hole leads to hell?
Kagiha doesn’t answer. MAN SCREW YOU KAGIHA AND WHAT YOU SAID AND DIDN’T SAY TO MONSHIRO. Beniyuri continues to press him and asks how he knows such a thing and why he’s so calm. Sorrow seems to pass over his face like a shadow, but there is no surprise. He only lowers his eyes to the hole. Beniyuri notices that there seems to be something there–
She’s stopped by Kagiha who shouts out that it’s dangerous and she shouldn’t approach the hole! His voice is wild. She protests though because the thing that is on the ground is Monshiro’s pendant! Why? Kagiha hesitates and looks away. She asks him what happened to Monshiro and demands that he tell her what he knows. After a long pause, he slowly opens his mouth and tells her that Monshiro has been pulled into hell by the darkness in his heart.
Beniyuri stares at him in shock. Kagiha points out that she’s seen it before, right? Souls in despair are greeted by black butterflies which take them somewhere. But Monshiro was protected by the ribbon and so, instead, his heart was haunted by a darkness that is countless times greater than other people. And then he wasn’t able to endure it any longer, this enlarged despair. He’s been swallowed up by it and there’s nothing they can do now.
She can’t believe it and, while being pulled back by her shoulders, she looks into the giant hole. Monshiro is in the depths of this hole? Kagiha murmurs that he wasn’t able to save Monshiro. Beniyuri doesn’t respond. Kagiha goes on to say 「だから、せめて君だけは守らせてほしい。この穴に近づいちゃ――。」(That’s why, at the very least, let me protect you. Don’t go close to the hole–). WOW SERIOUSLY NO.
Beniyuri interrupts him and confirms if Monshiro is in this hole… all alone in the dark? Kagiha nods. She recalls what Monshiro told her last night about how he’s felt like he’s been in the dark and cold water for forever. Like he’s under the ice and at the bottom of the ocean in winter. For a long time he hasn’t been able to talk, smile, or touch anything. He’d forgotten even the meaning of “warmth”.
He was scared of being alone and had forgotten the “warmth” of other people. What she can do right now is… Beniyuri pulls out the ribbon from her pocket and feels like it’s glimmering with heat. She remembers how he told her to continue holding onto hope no matter what happens and to never give up. She tightens her grip on the ribbon and closes her eyes, steadying herself, before she looks again at the hole to hell.
Beniyuri declares that she’s going to Monshiro. Kagiha gapes at her. She confirms with him that Monshiro is in this hole, right? He doesn’t understand what she’s saying and asks her if she’s being serious. She tells him that she is and if Monshiro is in this hole somewhere then she’s going to retrieve him. She doesn’t know if she’ll be able to return and so maybe she’s using the wrong words but she’s not going to let Monshiro, who has been alone all this time, to be alone any longer.
Her words surprise even herself. Her legs tremble at the thought of jumping into this hole, which seems to continue without an end into the darkness of hell, but… if Monshiro is somewhere in there and trapped in loneliness then she’s going to get close to him. Kagiha slowly asks her if this means that she likes Monshiro? WOW SERIOUSLY KAGIHA NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR ALL YOUR INSECURITIES.
Beniyuri ponders over his words. Does she like… Monshiro? She tells Kagiha honestly that she doesn’t know but there is a part of her that wants to get close to Monshiro. If that’s what it means to like someone then she might. All she knows is that she wants to go to where he is and then get to know him slowly. Kagiha suddenly snaps out that he won’t allow it and he won’t let her go! He’ll do anything to stop her.
He doesn’t want to lose her too. Beniyuri murmurs his name and turns to look over her shoulder, seeing his earnest eyes. The hand that he has on her shoulder is trembling faintly. But it’s warm… like the sun. She realizes this warmth is what Monshiro wanted. She places her hand over Kagiha’s hand.
Beniyuri thanks him and then apologizes, calling him by his name Natsuki. He murmurs her true name as well. She confesses to him that recently she’s been insecure, sad, and irritated at how everyone seemed to know things that only she didn’t know. She made up her own loneliness. But there are so many people worried about her that it’s proof of how she’s not alone, right? When she realizes that, she feels so warm. Kagiha smiles weakly at her.
She tells Kagiha again that if Monshiro – no, Kazuya – is feeling alone and swallowed up by the darkness of loneliness then she wants to go to him and tell him that he’s not alone. Kagiha looks away and breathes out shakily. Also, this hole is strange. He asks her what she means. She points out that he can feel the wind coming from it, right? It certainly has a scary atmosphere but it also feels like it’s connected to the outside world. It’s scary but it’s also not just fear she feels. She feels like there might be something on the other side.
Kagiha protests and tightens the grip he has on her hand. Beniyuri softly asks if he can grant her one request, if he truly has feelings for her. Kagiha’s eyes widen before he answers firmly that he’ll grant her anything that he can do. She wants to entrust this hairpin to him. He blinks in surprise. She unfastens the pin and takes his hand, that was on her shoulder, to place it in his palm. She explains that this hairpin seems to have the last fragment and without it the kaleidoscope can’t be completed.
Beniyuri points out that if she takes this with her and can’t return from hell then no one will be able to return to their world. And that’s why she’s entrusting it to Kagiha, no, Natsuki. Kagiha startles and asks if it’s really alright to entrust such an important thing to him. She tells him firmly that of course because he’s more reliable than anyone. And that’s why, if she doesn’t return, then he should use this and return everyone home.
Kagiha protests and points out that she wants to return to life, right? She wants to meet her father and Haruka again, right?! She’s going to throw away that wish for Kazuya? She smiles at his loss of composure before telling him that she hasn’t thought about throwing anyone away, sacrificing them, and becoming happy by herself. That’s not true happiness and she wants to be happy together with everyone… which is why she’s going to go now. Kagiha chokes on her real name. DAMN YOU TELL HIM GIRL.
And then, before fear can take her feet and before Kagiha can react, she jumps into the bottomless hell. In an instant, her view is wrapped in darkness and she can’t see anything. It feels like she’s thrown away her body and has become a soul.
Outside the hole, Kagiha repeats her words quietly about not wanting to be happy by having to sacrifice others. As he thought, she’s the person he loved. He might not be able to remain the way he is. YES FINALLY BE THE MAN YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE.
Back with Beniyuri, she pushes her body up from the ground it had been lying on. The area around her is pitch black. This place is…? She blinks but nothing is in her vision. No, more like she is seeing nothing but this heavy darkness which is different from the light of a night sky. Beniyuri recalls how she followed after Kazuya and jumped into the hole. Which means this place is… hell?
She somehow manages to stand but she can’t feel the sensation of a ground. She’s certainly standing but she also feels like she’s drifting in the middle of water and, for a second, she feels like she’s drowning. There’s nothing. There’s no one. She doesn’t know where Kazuya is and apart from her own presence she can’t feel anything in this space. Her realization of this nothingness makes her uneasy.
What to do? What should she do? She doesn’t know her right from her left and in which direction should she proceed? She’s scared. This endless fear starts to make her body tremble little by little. Where’s Kazuya!?
At that moment. A white light spills from her clenched hand. When she opens her hand, the ribbon shines and stretches forth into the darkness, like a rope. Where is the ribbon going off to? Could it be that Kazuya is at the other end? No matter how much she stares in that direction though she just sees darkness. In that case, there’s nothing for her to do but believe in her only clue and walk.
Beniyuri reaffirms her grip on the ribbon and settles her heart before starting to walk on a path that is not a path. Time passes. She can’t feel anything and so she can only continue moving her feet. She feels like she’s been walking in the same place, but at the same time she also feels like she’s gone very far. Because thinking about anything makes her feel uneasy, she clears her thoughts and continues to walk.
After continuing for some time, she feels the temperature – if she can’t even call it that – change slightly into a cold air that surrounds her. What is with this cold? She has goosebumps but she also doesn’t have a bad feeling from it. Beniyuri startles when something like a water drop seems to hit her cheek. In an instant, a voice seems to echo through her head, and scenes flash through her one after another.
In one, a boy with slanted eyes pants for breath and then looks around the entrance hall of a mansion. Where is this place? Is no one here? He’s been walking for a long time now but he hasn’t seen anyone. What is this mansion? Who is… he? He doesn’t know. He doesn’t know anything. He stops moving and then grips the ribbon in his hand tightly. The only thing he knows is that this ribbon is extremely precious, which is strange because this ribbon is of no help at all.
A terrifying roar can be heard from somewhere and so he quickly hides himself behind a sculpture. He’s been hearing these strange cries for a long time now. Someone help him! Suddenly, a boy with drooping eyes calls out to him. Kazuya?! He’s Kazuya, right? The boy with slanted eyes raises his head and sees two unfamiliar people.
A young man with two moles asks disinterestedly if this boy is an acquaintance. It looks like they fell into this interspace together. The droopy-eyed boy realizes that Kazuya must have came with him at that time too. The boy with slanted eyes is shocked to see people and then quickly asks who they are and if they know him. The boy with droopy eyes realizes that he doesn’t have any memories, which was the same for him at the beginning.
The boy with slanted eyes wonders what they’re talking about. Does he know these two? The boy with droopy eyes pleads with Hikage to include Kazuya too. Hikage, the boy with two moles, crosses his arms and says that he doesn’t care. Hikage gives the boy with slanted eyes an evaluating stare before telling him that he’ll give him his memories and, in return, he’ll lend them his aid. Hikage wants to complete the kaleidoscope.
The boy doesn’t understand anything that is going on but he doesn’t want to be alone like this. He nods and tells them that he’ll cooperate. Hikage smirks and remarks on how the deal has been made. He looks forward to working with him then, Kazuya.
Suddenly, Beniyuri returns to herself in the present. Everything around her is still darkness. Could it be that she just saw Kazuya’s memories? The time when he just arrived here? Hikage and Natsuki invited Kazuya to be their companion. Natsuki, no, Kagiha and Hikage didn’t just meet recently… they knew each other all along? Why? She moves her feet, which had stopped, and continues forward to the endless distance. And then. Plop. Another droplet strikes her cheek and scenes appear in her head.
In this one, a broken man screams. In front of him is a screaming man. The man’s body is corroding at an intense speed. A young man with two moles, Hikage, snorts at this person who had no spirit. This man went mad without being of much help. People are fragile. He crosses his arms and watches as the man twists in pain and becomes something ghastly. He doesn’t care though because others will continue to “fall”.
From the start though, everything is only passing the time until the kaleidoscope is completed. If he had sturdy pieces like them then he could have had more fun. The young boy with droopy eyes is silent. Same with the boy with slanted eyes. The broken man screams again, which causes Hikage to snap out that he’s being annoying. He shoots the man, who had transformed into a monster, without hesitation and then returns to his room.
In his mind the boy with slanted eyes realizes that, once again, for the sake of the kaleidoscope someone has been sacrificed. He calls out and asks how long this is going to continue. Hikage turns back and answers that it’s obvious; it will continue until the kaleidoscope is complete. The boy points out that he’s taking people who would have gone to the afterlife, uses them, and messes them up though for that sake.
Hikage asks him dangerously when he became arrogant enough to talk about to him. The boy with slanted eyes freezes. Hikage asks him why his eyes have gone so round. Is he surprised to have a gun pointed at him? The boy doesn’t respond. Hikage tells him not to think of himself as being special. He’s only interesting as a chess piece and that’s why he’s kept them around. They should just stay silent and obey him, and then he’ll grant their wishes. The boy with slanted eyes doesn’t answer but in his mind he–
At night, the boy with droopy eyes asks Kazuya why he called him out this late at night. Kazuya says that he wants to talk to him, Natsuki, and he doesn’t want Hikage to find out. Natsuki asks him what it is. They lower their voices to whispers. Kazuya tells him that he thinks what Hikage is doing is strange and he doesn’t want to stay with him any longer. He asks Natsuki to run away together with him and to stop listening to what Hikage says.
Natsuki murmurs his name and, for a second, hesitation appears on his face before it returns to normal. He refuses and states that he’s going to remain here and continue collecting the fragments. Kazuya doesn’t understand and asks why. Natsuki tells him that if the kaleidoscope is completed then Hikage has promised to return them to life.
Kazuya tells him that Hikage is lying because he sees them as nothing more but tools. They can’t believe in him. Natsuki points out there’s nothing else they can believe in though. If there’s even the slightest hope then he’ll cling onto it; he wants to return to life no matter what. No matter what he needs to sacrifice or who he needs to sacrifice… Kazuya asks him why he would go that far.
Natsuki answers that he made a promise with “that girl” and he wants to protect it. No, it’s not just that he wants to protect the promise but that he wants to live and be together with “that girl”. Kazuya murmurs his name but then tells him firmly that he’s going to separate from Natsuki here then and leave. He doesn’t want to see any more people suffer and he could care less about the fragments of the kaleidoscope.
He was together with them because he was lonely being by himself. He doesn’t think about wanting to return to life. He says his goodbyes to Natsuki and wishes him well. Natsuki calls out his name.
Beniyuri wipes away the droplet on her cheek. Once again that was Kazuya’s memories, right? Kazuya and Natsuki arrived at this mansion earlier than her and were already collecting the fragments…? But Kazuya left the refuge after that and then… more water droplets fall onto her and she closes her eyes in preparation for the next memories.
In one, a young man with slanted eyes murmurs Ai’s name. How much time has passed? He feels like a year has passed since he separated from Natsuki and the others. He didn’t meet with anyone else today, huh. The day before yesterday, yesterday, today, and maybe even tomorrow too… Living alone is terribly lonely. He murmurs Ai’s name again and thinks on how this ribbon is something precious that Ai lent him and it’s his hope.
He wants to meet Ai. If he continues to hold onto this ribbon he wonders if he’ll get to meet her again someday. He brings the ribbon up to his face and presses it against his cheek. No, he’s mistaken. He can’t meet her he needs to return it to her. He recalls how Hikage had told him that this was the interval between life and death and a world without a lifespan. If he continues to wait here then one day, maybe far in the future, there will come a day where he can return the ribbon to Ai.
Kazuya looks around at his body before, after some thought, draping the ribbon around his throat. If he wears it on him then he won’t lose it. One day he’ll definitely return it to Ai. He falls silent for a while before wondering how long it will be until that day comes.
In another one, Kazuya ducks under a cover and hides his body before peeking out. A young boy with a mask passes by closely. He waits a moment longer before sighing in relief at how the boy passed. It should be safe to leave now, right? He looks at the small back of the boy who passed him and, for a second, wants to chase after him and talk. But he can’t. He mustn’t speak with them. Those people are in the mansion right now but after some time they will depart to the afterlife.
If he does something to them and they become like him then they won’t be able to leave the mansion. He doesn’t want to get them involved. But… but he’s lonely. Thanks to Hikage explaining the theory of this world he can’t live alone without any problems. But the more time he spends here the more the reality of that bright other world seems to grow farther. He’s almost forgotten his father and mother. His brother… huh. Did he have a sibling?
But he doesn’t remember what his sibling looks like. Where…? Who is he? He’s started to forget even himself. His name, the place he lived, and his age. He’s overcome with surprise when he realizes that, at some point, he’s started to lose memories of things related to him. He recalls that someone told him that memories are the way to remain in this place. If he loses his memories then he’ll lose his face, body, and then depart to the afterlife.
Kazuya inhales sharply. He can’t! He needs to return the ribbon. He can’t disappear yet. He can’t depart to the other world yet. He panics as he realizes that after he loses his memories then his face is next. He touches his face with both his hands. In an instant, he removes his hands quickly after feeling something out of place. He feels like there’s some kind of mist or shadow covering his face. What is this?
Is his face disappearing? He doesn’t want that! It’s scary! He hugs himself and tries to endure this abnormality. If he walks around like this then someone will might see his changed shape. At this thought, he freezes. He suddenly has a thought about the thing that everyone else is wearing. He takes off one of the “things” adorning the walls and places it on his own face. If he wears this then he’s safe. There’s nothing to be scared about. Nothing at all. He’s going to wait here for Ai to come.
The young man wearing a fox mask finds himself in a greenhouse. He’s found a place that is bright and different from the rest of the gloomy mansion. So there was a place like this. The flowers are blooming. The vibrant flowers heal some of his loneliness. What is he doing here though? Why is he so tired? What is he?
He sits down in front of a flowerbed and strokes the flowers with his fingers. Each time he does that, the flower sways. It’s a trivial reaction but he feels happy at this “response”. He feels calm here and decides to make this place his living area. He’ll wait here for “that person”. Wait. That person? Who is that person? He’s here because he’s waiting for… someone? For what reason is he waiting for them?
The young man in a fox mask lowers his head in thought. And then he sees the purple cloth around his neck. Ah, yes, he needs to return the ribbon. He can’t remember who he needs to return it to but until that happens he can’t disappear. He mustn’t disappear. He grips the ribbon in both hands and, for some reason, feels a great longing. He starts to cry. It’s nostalgic, gentle, and warm. His heart which feels like it’s been frozen into ice thaws and tears begin to flow.
Beniyuri regains her conscious and feels that her cheeks are wet. These aren’t water droplets… they’re… She tries to wipe away the tears underneath her eyes but her fingers just become wet. Kazuya has been waiting here all this time to return the ribbon to her? Even though, along the way, he forgot who he was and couldn’t remember anything. He still stayed here.
She recalls the first time they met in this mansion. She, who had just woken up here and didn’t understand anything, was attacked by a monster but saved by a man wearing a fox mask. He reunited with them at that time. Even though he must not have wanted to meet Hikage he still saved her and came to her side. She sobs out through her tears that she needs to hurry and find him.
Beniyuri tightens her grip on the damp ribbon and resumes walking into the darkness. She takes a step. And another step. She continues to move forward into the never-ending darkness. As she does so, the cold she feels against her skin deepens until she feels like it’s penetrating to her bones. She’s assaulted by a coldness like winter. She braces herself against the cold and continues to walk.
She’s saved by this cold. There’s a temperature in this place. In other words, this hell isn’t a nothingness but just a very dark place. Which, in that case, means there’s nothing to be afraid of. And the droplets floating in this space have gradually increased… and the true form of these droplets, which had previously touched her, is something she’s starting to understand. Suddenly, something appears at the end of the ribbon.
The moon? At least that’s what she feels like it is when she approaches the “thing” that is releasing a delicate and faint light. But when she approaches it she realizes what it really is. She shouts out Kazuya’s name!
Kazuya, all alone in the darkness, is curled up and holding his knees. What she had mistaken for the moon was his silver hair, looking as if starlight was trapped within it. Beniyuri calls out to him and asks him if he realizes that she’s here; she came all this way for him! She hurriedly runs up to him. There rests a faint light in his dull eyes. He asks her who she is. She hesitantly asks if he doesn’t know who she is…? She’s Beniyuri… no, Ai.
He tilts his head curiously and then lowers his eyes. He doesn’t know. She quickly tells him that they played in the park. They played kick-the-can, tag, and even drew in the sandbox. He gives her a puzzled look. She realizes that it’s not working and changes tracks to ask if he remembers them meeting in the mansion. He ate the sandwich she made and they slept in the same bed. Kazuya tells her that he doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
Beniyuri murmurs his name in despair. Kazuya tells her blankly to leave him and it’s best if he stays alone like this. It’s best… for him to be alone. A teardrop appears at the corner of his eyes. That droplet slides down his cheek before floating off into the air. Just as she thought, the water droplets from before were his tears. Kazuya buries his head into both his arms and hides. How can she open his heart?
She wants him to remember. Beniyuri touches him and then shows him the ribbon in her other hand. She asks him if he doesn’t remember this because it looks like something she lent him long ago. She reminds him that he’s always thought about returning this, right? He’s continued to wait here for that, right? She tells him that she’s received it now… this and his feelings. She thanks him for taking care of it.
He repeats her words brokenly. Ribbon? He waited? She realizes that she doesn’t have just the ribbon to thank him for. He saved her from a dangerous situation when they first met and, thanks to Kazuya, she’s managed to live safely up to now. She thanks him again and then admits that she has a lot of gratitude towards him. Kazuya raises his head and stares at her intently.
Kazuya recognizes the ribbon and how he needed to return it to “that person”. Was that person her? She nods eagerly. He recalls that she used to take him, who was always alone, to the others. He, who was always alone and lonely, joined her circle of friends. That person is her? She nods before telling him that she came to take him back. He shouldn’t stay here and they should return together!
He asks if she is… Ai? Beniyuri nods. Kazuya calls out her name again and uncurls himself from his position to stand. Reason seems to have returned to his dull eyes and they clear up. He asks her worriedly what she’s doing here because he was sure he fell down here alone. She tells him teasingly that she chased after him and she can’t believe he went off on his own despite hating to be alone. It was hard work getting down here!
Kazuya apologizes but he still thinks it’s best for him to be alone. She asks why. He explains that he causes troubles if he’s with everyone. Takuya and Natsuki had to go through difficult things because of him. This is why it’s best for him to not exist. She asks if this is what Hikage said because that’s not the case. It’s not true that it’d be best for him not to exist. She tells him firmly that Takuya, Natsuki, and everyone else loves him.
Is he a bother? She thinks he might be a handful sometimes. But that’s the same for them. Are they really friends if they don’t trouble each other from time to time? What about siblings? He repeats her words in surprise.
She goes on to say that if he believes he causes trouble and yet everyone is still together with him then that’s not being a “bother” and that’s them “worrying”. And if he causes people worry then he just needs to apologize, thank them, and return their kindness one day. If he just feels guilt and runs away then he won’t be able to return their kindness. Is that okay?
He shakes his head and gives her that point. But what can he do for everyone? She agrees and points out that he can’t do anything if he stays here like this, right? That’s why she thinks they should leave. He starts to smile. She encourages him. But he wonders if they can even get out of here. She explains that this ribbon led him to her and she’s sure that it’ll lead to somewhere bright. Kazuya was the one to tell her to hold onto hope. He smiles and nods.
Beniyuri asks him to come with her… to the place they need to go. They hold hands and walk forward, depending on the ribbon. They walk through the darkness with no sound of their footsteps. The only thing in front of them is the ribbon and an endless journey. Kazuya suddenly startles, making her ask him what’s wrong. He points out that the area around their feet seems to have changed. She wonders if that’s true because it’s still pitch black and she can’t see anything.
He tells her that if she walks forward a bit more then she’ll realize it. He tightens his grip on her hand and continues forward. Suddenly, she feels like she’s suddenly walking up an incline and there’s a weight on her. Is this…? He confirms that it seems to be a slope and it leads upwards. She asks if it’s an exit?! He doesn’t know but there might be something there. She falls silent and they continue walking.
Soon she can feel it. Right now they are walking on a slope and going upwards. As she thought, this place wasn’t a void! She unconsciously raises her head and feels her heart lift. Soon, something enters her vision. A reflective surface?!
At some point, they arrive at the summit of the gentle slope. Looking up, she can see glittering waves like the surface of the ocean. She hurriedly tells Kazuya to look at it and there’s light over there! His eyes widen. She points out how that must be the sun, right?! Did they get out?! Could this hole have led to the their original world?! He seems to be at a loss for words due to his surprise and squints his eyes against the brilliant light.
But then… Beniyuri calls out his name questioningly. Kazuya inhales sharply, making her adjust her grip on his hand and turn around. He’s staring at his feet with a stricken expression. She asks him if something is wrong with his feet. He glances at her and asks if she’s okay. She repeats his question with a puzzled look and answers that the slope is a bit steep, but she’s fine. She’s not that tired either and can still keep going. He doesn’t say anything more.
Beniyuri wonders if he’s tired… though the exit is just right there. She casually looks down at his feet only to realize… Why?! She crouches down and sees that his feet are slowly sinking into the ground that is not a ground. Why is this happening? She’s okay so why is it just him…!? As if he were standing on a swamp without a bottom, he slowly sinks. She quickly tells him to come with her and surely if they reach the light something will happen! It’s just a bit further and they should run!
He starts to struggle and she tries to help him but no matter how far she tries to move she can’t seem to continue. It is as if the darkness is stealing over them and suffocating them. Beniyuri orders him to hold onto her tightly and not to let go of her hand. He says her name weakly. She pulls on him through their connected hand and with the other hand, while holding the ribbon, reaches out towards their goal above them.
Kazuya finally tells her that it’s enough. He’s done. She protests loudly and tells him not to give up so easily. Kazuya tells her to look at the ribbon. She does and cries out in dismay. The ribbon, which had been bearing both their weight, is stretched thin and looks like it can snap at any moment. He tells her that she might be able to be saved and so he wants her to let go of his hand. She shouts back that she can’t do such a thing.
But Kazuya tells her that she doesn’t need to try so hard anymore. She refuses though and she’ll keep going, which is why she’s begging him to as well. Even though she’s struggling to pull him up with all her might, he relaxes his fingers. She feels her heart breaking. Is she the only one believing in a future? Sweat is making her hands slippery and gravity is mercilessly tearing them apart.
Kazuya just continues to smile at her calmly and tells her that he’s pleading with her too… to let him return her kindness. She repeats his words in confusion. He recalls what she just told him about how one day they will return the kindness they received. He wants her to live, laugh, and be happy. He’s sure that the others think the same. And that’s why he wants to repay her and give her a future.
Beniyuri is stricken and, in her mind, thinks about how how she doesn’t wish for that! She doesn’t want a future where no one is saved but her. She thinks it’s unfair to have him repay her at this time! She desperately reminds him that this ribbon is his hope, right? It saved him whenever he was in trouble, right?! That’s why it should be okay–
Kazuya tells her firmly that having too much hope means it won’t be granted. To have both her and him saved is too much. She protests. Even though they’re in such a crisis, he just looks at her calmly.
He calls out her name and, with his free hand, holds onto her head and brings her closer. He kisses her fleetingly and tells her that this is his protection charm. He takes advantage of her shock and inattentiveness to free their connected hands. He tells her that he’s glad to have been able to give her that at the end. She gasps.
Kazuya gives her a happy smile and sinks slowly into the dark. She screams out his name and stretches out her hand but she can’t reach. Her hand only grasps on emptiness. What should she do? What can she do?!
- Reach out her hand even further
- Call out his name
*** MONSHIRO END ***
At her wit’s end, she can only call out his name over and over again. As his form grows smaller, her voice is the only thing that can reach him. She continues to scream out his name over and over again. But…
Her voice grows weaker and, between calling out his name, tears flow and mix with her hoarse voice. Is there nothing she can do? Can she not save him? In that case, at the least, she wants to burn his face into her memory. She only has that wish. It isn’t granted. Her tears come one after another and her vision distorts, making her unable to see anything.
Why is the world so unreasonable? Why was Kazuya given no happiness? The world has always pushed him, who endlessly desired warmth, to the edge of loneliness. Is it when one holds hope that there is despair? Maybe if one doesn’t wish for anything then they won’t experience sadness. Beniyuri recalls how Kazuya told her to hold onto hope. But… she apologizes because it might be a little difficult for her.
Ai wakes up to her own crying voice. Where is this place? Even though she can’t see anything through her tears, she knows without anyone telling her. She’s returned to her dearly missed world. Alone.
There was a lot of activity after that. The nurse who noticed her awake called the doctor, her father and sister came running, and a lot of questions were asked. They asked about her health and examined her body. It seems like she lost consciousness after a bus accident and it was fortunate that she wasn’t injured much and was healthy. Her father, with a tearful smile, tells her that he’s so relieved and worried so much.
She has a wound. She has a wound that no one can see and that feels like it is throbbing and bleeding. Her heart wasn’t okay at all. She is torn apart from the sorrow of having left her precious people behind.
Takuya and Aki, who were on the same bus, have remained asleep. And Kazuya, who has continued to be unconscious for ten years, continues to remain like that. Every day, she comes to visit them and open the curtains and windows and leave a flower beside their pillow. She prays for the sunlight, fresh air, and smell of flowers to reach them in that dark world.
One evening, Ai excuses herself and tells Kazuya that she’s come again. Even though there’s never an answer, she still enters his room with a cheery voice. She takes a seat beside him on the metallic chair and looks at his sleeping face. She tells him how it’s been around a month since she returned to this world and she’s finally gone back to school. How long has it been for them over there? And how is everyone doing?
She tilts her head towards him, as if searching for a response, and then continues the conversation. Her voice softens as she asks him why he let go of her hand at that time. He, who told her to believe in hope, gave up at the very end and made it so that she can’t believe in such a thing. She tells him how the doctors told her that everyone might wake up someday and so she should talk to them a lot. But she’s sure that it is a moment that will never come to pass. There won’t come a day where everyone will laugh together in this world.
Ai doesn’t hold that hope. Her heart stings and she bites her lip. But… even though that’s what she should think… why does her heart pound every time she opens the door? She talks to him every day and asks him questions as if there’s going to be an answer. She… shouldn’t believe in hope anymore. She doesn’t want to believe in it anymore. And yet she still believes and hopes for a miracle.
Even though, in the end, no one wakes and she becomes unnecessarily disappointed she still hopes. It’s okay for her to hope, right? She grips onto his hand, which has a ribbon wrapped around it, with both her hands. Feeling his faint pulse makes her heart hurt. She tells him in a tearful voice that it’s her turn this time, huh. Like how he waited for her she will continue to wait for him.
One year, ten years, or even more than that, she’ll continue to wait for him at this place. That’s why he needs to wake one day. He doesn’t need to do it immediately but… one day. For sure. She’ll wait.
And so, while both despairing and hoping endlessly, she waits for him to wake.