It feels like it's been fucking FOREVER since we last got back to Emi and Hisao. I don't think that says as much about your update speed as it does about how much of an emotional roller coaster the last couple chapters were (or maybe this is just a shitty time in my life, idk).
As an author, the fact that we are one chapter away from an Emi/Iwanako encounter... is a strange feeling for me. I'm so used to thinking of them as being in conflict—it is somewhat weird to have to get myself into that mindset that these characters are unconnected.
The interesting thing about Emi's reticence to see Hisao reopen communication with Iwanako is that I don't think it would work in the opposite direction—if, for whatever reason, Emi needed to talk to Hajime, I can't really imagine Hisao having any real qualms about it. Then again, I'm not really a Hisao expert; I chose the one plot where I had to write him as little as possible.
The revelation (such as it is) about Emi's experience with her friends was really interesting—a great mirror of Hanako, and depressingly realistic. I suspect this ties into your headcanon about why, exactly, Emi attends Yamaku, when, of all the characters in the story, she's the one most certain to have done completely fine at a normal school? Of course, Nurse being at Yamaku would have been a good reason, as well, and the proximity is convenient, given all her concern for her mother's well-being...
Dewelar writing Lilly wrote:"I understand. After all, you wouldn't be the first girl to be distracted by her tutor."
This is why I usually open other fics as a Word document, or try to wrangle Beeline Reader into displaying them. On the boards I miss little connections like this and they're extremely satisfying.
The Lilly-traveling idea is interesting, because she mentions this idea came into her head after the conversation with her father. I'm guessing that, after that conversation, she's solidly arrived at the conclusion that she's been so fixated on what's expected
of her that she never really took the time to second-guess her direction in life. Or, well, honestly... after everything that's happened with her, with her relationship (and both Hanako and Hisao kind of moving on, in a sense, from her), I'd feel aimless, too. I wouldn't blame her for wanderlust.
I'm not sure how to feel about Emi's revelation that she isn't good enough (or, at least, doesn't think
she's good enough) to get a track scholarship. On one hand, it's an uncomfortable headcanon for me to have, and it may
conflict with Summer's Clover
, which I acknowledge as canon? But, on the other
think it's genius, if you consider the scene "Advanced Game Theory" in Shizune's route to be hinting at this. No, hear me out. Like, Hanako is pretty passionate about chess, and Shizune gives considerably fewer fucks about it, but beats her anyway (and was almost certainly holding back.)
Canon Shizune wrote:"Her feelings are real, but her feelings for the game aren't real."
"That means someone taught her."
"If you love chess that much, but you can't give it your all, it's because you love the memories attached to it and not the game; it's too precious to her to see as a tool for true competition."
We know that Emi is somewhat
competitive—those track meets definitely matter to her—but when Lilly broaches the subject of her receiving money
for it, potentially even making a career
out of it, Emi withers. Whether or not it's true that she's not good enough for competitive running is really besides the point.
With Emi's admission to Lilly, we can imagine the events of "Advanced Game Theory" play out, but with Emi in the Hanako seat and Miki in the Shizune seat. The fact of the matter is that, to a large degree, running is to Emi what chess is to Hanako: a raw, emotional connection to a lost loved one (and, in both instances, their father.) If she did
make a career out of running—what Shizune called "true
competition," with all the sponsorships and capitalism or whatever that entails—she would be cheapening that connection. And it matters
too much for that. Maybe it would
be better for Emi, emotionally, to keep her running the way it is, and just blow people away at Breast Cancer Awareness marathons or whatever.
Anyway, if that's an intentional parallel, it's brilliant. Or maybe I just think it's brilliant because *I* noticed it and I'm amazing. Who knows.
Dewelar writing Emi wrote:I could just be a ronin for a year like you." I can say that playfully because don't really mean it. There are several reasons why it would leave a bad taste – one reason in particular
Heh. Took me a moment. Poor Hajime.
Oh, hey, one other thing—this story, in a lot of ways, completes the story arcs of every girl at Yamaku, in one way or another. (Which is why it needed to be so long—it sort of arrives at a Good End for FOUR characters, rather than one, and Miki's probably on the Suzu route so we've never had any need to worry about her.) The one exception to this, I highly suspect, is Rin—and her going to the Worry Tree in this chapter seems to reinforce that idea.
I'm trying to remember how the timelines play out here. Is she going to wind up starting the gallery for Nomiya? I mean, I know that's beyond the scope of this
story, but it seems like you're foreshadowing it here by depicting her frustration at not being able to communicate with Hanako, and then later in the chapter where Emi seems concerned that Misaki isn't around, apropos of seemingly nothing.
Dewelar writing Emi wrote:I power-walk through the girls' dorm. When I get outside, I break into a run
*snort* Isn't learning things the easy way nice
Dewelar writing Hisao wrote:this is the first time I've met the parents of a girl I was dating. I spoke with Lilly's mother briefly a couple of times, but I never even talked to Iwanako's parents."
*doublesnort* Kazuhito and Yoshizumi had no idea you existed, Hisao.
You know, speaking of parallels, this is two consecutive chapters now where moms have revealed they're getting remarried. I've mentioned that Mayoi and Meiko are reflections of each other in another analysis, but this strikes me as interesting: Mayoi's home, throughout the story, has been a refuge
, and at the end, her getting married to Julia (and departing the country) is considered an upsetting turn of events. Meiko's home has consistently been a stressful
location, but at the end, her getting married to Nurse (and becoming more emotionally fulfilled) is treated as a cause for celebration. It's interesting.
relieved to see Emi's conflict with her mother come to a resolution. You have no idea how badly I wanted that in the VN. And your Meiko backstory (particularly her suicidal ideations) are in perfect harmony with my own headcanon about her. (Also, again—while she has some strong parallels to Mayoi, I think there exists an even stronger reflection of her.)
I definitely liked this chapter more now that I'm sitting down and picking it apart at size 16 text—the first time I read it, my ADHD was kind of overwhelming and the only real takeaway I made at the end was that it felt short. But now that I'm thinking about it harder, I think there's a lot of excellent content here. It's just buried under a whole lot of subtlety.
Oh, one last thing: You probably know this, but the reason this chapter isn't getting a whole lot of reviews is partially because only the serial readers are in a position to speak on it—we're at a point now where (as with Tomorrow's Doom
and After the Dream
,) a lot of the archive readers can't catch up as quickly. It just kind of comes with the territory in a fandom this small.