Osananajimi to Anata ga Koibito wo Enjiru Jiyuu Kenkyuu, Saigo ni Koi wa Mebaeru ka?
Tsukasa Urabe (CV: Suzuki Tatsuhisa)
Yohei Suzuki (CV: Sakurai Takahiro)
Track 1 – A Depressing Memory
Tsukasa: Yohei is dead. I heard the news yesterday evening. While driving home, he lost control at a sharp curve and hit the crash barrier. It seems that he died instantly. Although I heard my mother’s voice through the phone, it didn’t feel real. All I said was “I see” and put the phone down. Today, whilst returning to my hometown by train for the first time in fifteen years, I remembered that summer.
1994. The events I’m recounting happened eighteen years ago, when the three of us were still high school sophomores. To us living in the countryside, the only ways to hear about the trends and news from the rest of the world were through the TV, radio, and magazines. You couldn’t freely contact your friends by phone, find the latest information online or meet people with similar interests on social networking sites. For better or worse, it was that kind of time. Well, we might have come up with that stupid idea because of that time.
Tsukasa: You and your childhood friends
Yohei: do a research project where you pretend to date.
Yohei & Tsukasa: Will love blossom in the end?
Tsukasa: The three of us were childhood friends. Our parents had been friends since before we were born and lived together in a Tokyo apartment block. But, taking their marriage as an opportunity, they chose to move to this remote place in the countryside, for the sake of their children’s future.
We were born in this town and spent all our time there together. It was natural for the three of us to go on summer vacations together, as well as spending New Year, Christmas, and other events together. Sleeping over at each other’s houses and sharing a bed were completely normal. None of us had siblings, we were raised closely as if we were brothers and sister. Even when we entered high school, that relationship didn’t change. We attended the same high school, and instead of spending our time on club activities, we would hang out together everyday.
Our school had no rules about hair or clothing, it was a relaxed school that respected its students’ individuality and control. But there was one annoying thing about that school. There was an assignment given during the summer break, known as the “research project”. Hearing the name made you think of elementary school summers, but it wasn’t something childish like useless observation or making a robot from a milk carton. To put it simply, it was like a university dissertation. The research project was the kind of troublesome thing that would affect your final grades.
You could choose any topic you wanted and you could work on your own or in a group, even if you were in a different class or grade. One week after the beginning of summer vacation, I thought up an idea for a research project during one of our everyday conversations. No, perhaps it might be better to say I mistakenly thought up an idea. Now that I think about it, my idea changed all of our daily lives. I believe life is built upon a foundation of regrets.
Track 2 – Countdown to Failure
Tsukasa: Yohei, it’s too hot!
Yohei: It was damn cold last summer though!
Yohei: Hey, Tsukasa! Don’t get so close! It’s hot.
Yohei: Until summer vacation?
Tsukasa: Hey, you two! Let’s go to a Hi-Standard  live concert this summer!
They’re indies, but they’re an amazing band!
Yohei: You always get that information so quick.
Tsukasa: But now that Kurt  is dead, this is all I’ve got!
Yohei: There’s no way I’d go to a Tokyo live house in this heat.
Tsukasa: This is why country people are a pain!
Yohei: You’re a country person too, you poser!
Tsukasa: Fine! I’ll go by myself!
Yohei: Well, I’d at least like to avoid the nightmare we had last year.
Tsukasa: Are you serious? When we went all the way to Izu, it was rainy and cold. It sucked, right?
Yohei: Hey, you. Thinking “the fish were tasty” is something an old man would say.
Tsukasa: Shut up! Summer means going to the beach. You can’t call it summer unless you go to the beach.
Tsukasa: Of course I’m not happy! This year I’m gonna get a tan at the beach and definitely find a hot girlfriend!
Tsukasa: Please! Picking up girls won’t work with just Yohei and me.
Yohei: That’s right! It’s your duty to talk to those girls who don’t know how amazing we are!
Tsukasa: You? I wonder who we could introduce her to, Yohei?
Yohei: Hmm… I recommend Iwamoto from class four.
Yohei: Hey, you. He’s no ordinary fat guy. He’s a really kind fat guy.
Tsukasa: A big hearted guy like him is perfect for a boyish girl like you.
Tsukasa: Hey! How are we intolerant?!
Yohei: Don’t underestimate how tolerant I am!
Yohei: The research project? Don’t bring up awful things when we’re having fun talking.
Tsukasa: We’ll be in trouble if we don’t do it properly this year.
Yohei: That’s right. You got too influenced by TV shows last time!
Yohei: I know, right. If you look at a rocket from the side, will it look flat? The conclusion was – it didn’t change. That’s ridiculous!
Tsukasa: You guys were all for it too! I kept on asking Yohei and he said it was fine!
Yohei: Hey, there’s no need to talk like that.
Tsukasa: Then how about you date Iwamoto and see if you really do fall in love?
Yohei: Haha! Good idea!
Tsukasa: Nope, you won’t know that for sure. There’s a possibility something might happen with someone you’re not interested in if you spend a lot of time together!
Yohei: There’s none! Ah!
Tsukasa: What’s the matter?
Yohei: What you said reminded me of something. Do you guys know Takahashi from class one?
Yohei: That’s right. The really popular guy!
Tsukasa: He’s dating Tsuda-senpai, right? I’m so jealous.
Yohei: Nope, they apparently broke up one month ago.
Tsukasa: Are you serious?!
Yohei: I am. But I haven’t gotten to the good part yet.
Yohei: You’re sensitive to these kinds of conversations.
Tsukasa: So, what is it? Hurry up and say it!
Yohei: Takahashi was in the student council, right?
Yohei: He’s dating Gariko  now!
Tsukasa: Gariko… You mean that Gariko?! That really plain four eyes from the student council?
Yohei: I’m serious! At a student council gathering, he casually began talking to Gariko about how things haven’t been going well with Tsuda-senpai. Tsuda-senpai and Gariko live in the same neighbourhood and have been friends for a while, right?
Tsukasa: Yeah, yeah.
Yohei: He talked about how they ended up dating and why they fought. When he told everything to Gariko, who knows Tsuda-senpai well, she was really kind and gave him some advice like “it’s better to do this” and so on.
Tsukasa: So while Gariko was giving him advice, he ended up liking her?!
Yohei: Seems like it. He didn’t care about Tsuda-senpai anymore and confessed to Gariko.
Yohei: That’s right. I’m sure Takahashi said “ugly girls should be eliminated from this world” or something. But recently, he said “I was wrong. Girls aren’t all about looks. There’s no girl as good as her.”
Tsukasa: Did he get enlightened?!
Yohei: Dunno. If it’d been someone else, I thought they might’ve been lowering their standards. I can’t believe Takahashi is going out with Gariko.
Tsukasa: Hmm… Ah…
Yohei: Have you got stomach ache or something?
Tsukasa: So while Gariko spent a long time with Takahashi, he started to have feelings for her when he experienced her kindness and consideration?
Yohei: Yeah, that’s pretty much it.
Tsukasa: He saw what she was really like, something that others wouldn’t normally see, so he ended up liking her? Right?
Tsukasa: How about we try it out ourselves then?
Tsukasa: If two of us we spend all our time together, like Takahashi and Gariko did, will we end up like that?
Tsukasa: It’s just as you say. Things haven’t turned out that way, even though we’ve been together so long. But isn’t that because we don’t see each other that way?
Tsukasa: That’s right! We don’t see each other that way. So we’ll make ourselves act as if we do!
Yohei: What are you trying to say?
Tsukasa: I’m saying that Yohei or I will act as your boyfriend. Even if we won’t be doing it for real, we’re going to spend all our time as a couple. We’ll spend our summer break like that and do an experiment to see if we really fall in love!
Yohei: Huh? That’ll be our research project?
Tsukasa: That’s right!
Tsukasa: Huh? We’ll decide who it is with rock-paper-scissors or by drawing lots. Then the other guy will be the record keeper and write down what happens.
Yohei: Is that so?
Tsukasa: It doesn’t matter whether one of us ends up liking you or not. The most important thing is the content of the research project. If we do something as great and original as this, don’t you think we’ll be the best?
Yohei: I get the feeling we will!
Tsukasa: You’re right… Anyway, we have to make some detailed rules about being a couple. When we’ve decided those, we’ll also decide who the record keeper will be.
Yohei: Alright, shall we decide after the ending ceremony then? And we’ll start the research project at the beginning of summer break!
Tsukasa: Right! Let’s all think of some rules until then.
Yohei: Got it!
 A Japanese hardcore band that was formed in 1991.
 Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of the band Nirvana.
 The nickname “Gariko” implies a geeky/nerdy girl. The closest equivalent I could come up with in English was “Plain Jane” though the meaning isn’t quite the same.
Track 3 – What if…
Tsukasa: It’s finally summer break!
Yohei: It’s way too hot this summer.
Tsukasa: I’m gonna spend all my time on the beach this summer!
Yohei: As soon as you said that, it started to pour down with rain…
Tsukasa: Stop that! Don’t look without asking!
Yohei: What a weird book. Do you like older women?
Tsukasa: I secretly bought that the day before yesterday!
Tsukasa: Okay, let’s hurry up and decide the rules. If we put together all our ideas…
Yohei: Umm… First of all, you can call your boyfriend by his first name as you’ve always done, but you’ll call the record keeper by his family name.
Tsukasa: You dummy! It won’t be much of an experiment if you just act like normal.
Yohei: You must hold hands whenever you go out or are together.
Tsukasa: That’s not the problem! You should start as you mean to go on! Saying it’ll feel hot is out of the question!
Yohei: The record keeper must accompany the couple whenever they go out.
Tsukasa: Well, if the couple went out alone, then the record keeper wouldn’t be able to record what happened.
Yohei: The record keeper should observe the couple from a distance.
Tsukasa: Ah, right… The end of the experiment will be the end of summer or…
Tsukasa: Don’t rush me! I was gonna say if the two people fall in love or become a real couple.
Tsukasa: Say something!
Yohei: Speaking hypothetically… What if someone confesses and gets rejected?
Tsukasa: Hmm… If that happened as soon as we begun, then the research project would definitely feel incomplete.
Tsukasa: What are you talking about? Life is full of the unknown! There’s even a possibility that Yohei would go mad in this heat and confess!
Yohei: No way! I’m only talking about things hypothetically. So if someone does confess, how about they make it the last day of summer and we take that as the result of the experiment?
Tsukasa: You’re pretty smart, Yohei.
Tsukasa: Okay, so we’ll take a confession on the final day as the end of the project.
Yohei: Now that’s done, we just have to decide who’s going to be her boyfriend.
Tsuksa: You’re right. How about rock-paper-scissors?
Yohei: It’s no good telling us to hurry up.
Tsukasa: Okay, let’s go.
Yohei: Yeah. So the loser will be her boyfriend?
Tsukasa: How about the winner chooses who it’ll be?
Yohei: Yeah, alright. Okay, here I go!
Yohei & Tsukasa: First is rock! Rock, paper, scissors!
Yohei: You win. Choose what you want.
Tsukasa: You idiot! Nobody would wanna be your boyfriend!
Tsukasa: Fine, I’m going to be the record keeper.
Yohei: Ugh. Huh? I have to be her boyfriend?
Tsukasa: What? You’ve never mentioned that before.
Tsukasa: You serious?
Yohei: Anyway, Kawada-senpai is a really strong and fun guy.
Tsukasa: So what happened?
Yohei: Huh? You should’ve gone out with him! Kawada-senpai is a really cool and fashionable guy, right?
Yohei: Hmm… What’s your type anyway?
Tsukasa: I’m sure that we’ve never asked that before.
Yohei: What are you talking about?
Tsukasa: I don’t like older women!
Tsukasa: Who cares if you keep it a secret, it’s not like I want to know anyway!
Tsukasa: It feels kinda different to be called by my family name.
Yohei: Yeah. I think this is the first time I’ve heard it too. It does feel pretty strange.
Tsukasa: Well, rules are rules.
Yohei: So we’ll be starting tomorrow. Where shall we go?
Tsukasa: Hmm… Wouldn’t Ogami Park be a good place for a date?
Yohei: Not even an elementary schooler would go on a date there these days…
Tsukasa: Shut up! This is okay for the first date!
Tsukasa: Ah… So even you have times when you get nervous!
Yohei: Don’t get mad! Anyway, I’ll be counting on you from tomorrow!
Tsukasa: You guys are acting like this is a marriage meeting!
Tsukasa: Alright, we’ll meet up at Yohei’s house tomorrow afternoon!
Yohei: Got it!
Track 4 – Our Daily Lives are Changing
Tsukasa: Saturday, July 23rd. Good weather.
The first day of our school project has begun. I’ll be the only one reading these research notes, so I think I’m gonna write whatever I like about those two. It’s fun thinking about how nervous they’ll look as they hold hands! I get the feeling Yohei will say “I don’t think I’m going to develop any feelings for her, let’s give up” after one week, but today I’m looking forward to how things will turn out in the end.
Tsukasa: Hmm? You’re already here?
Yohei: Don’t call him “Tsukasa”. You’re supposed to call him “Urabe-kun”, right?
Tsukasa: It really does feel weird, but never mind!
Yohei: So, shall we go to Ogami Park?
Tsukasa: Hey, you two should be holding hands!
Yohei: Ah, you’re right. Come on then.
Tsukasa: I’ll be walking behind you.
Yohei: Say something!
Yohei: Ah… This feels kind of weird, doesn’t it? We’ve been together so long, but we’ve never held hands, have we?
Yohei: Yeah, it feels strange.
Yohei: You’re not used to holding hands, right?
Yohei: What’s with the way you’re holding hands? Have I got germs on me or something? You’re trembling a little too.
Yohei: Look. This is how a couple should hold hands.
Yohei: Not like that!
Yohei: Hmm? Yeah. I have held hands with someone else.
Yohei: I’m telling the truth. Remember Miyazaki from the basketball club in middle school? I dated her.
Yohei: I didn’t tell Tsukasa either. We broke up right away too.
Yohei: Hmm… Because there was someone else I liked, I guess.
Yohei: Of course I’m not going to tell you. It’s in the past. But you’re more popular than you think too, right? I’ve heard a lot of stories.
Yohei: Aside from Kawada-senpai who we talked about yesterday, I heard that Kondo from our school confessed to you as well. Then there was also a guy called Yamashita from a different school.
Yohei: You dummy. Don’t underestimate the information I’m able to get.
Yohei: That was what I wish I could say. But I’m good friends with most of our classmates, right? I hear about these things whether I ask about them or not.
Yohei: Lots of our classmates want to hear stories about other people.
Yohei: But aren’t all the guys who confessed to you the bad boy types? I can only judge by their appearance though.
Yohei: Are you concerned about us? Like you think it would be difficult to hang out with us like before if you were dating someone.
Yohei: Then is there someone else you like?
Yohei: That response is too ambiguous for me to understand. But when I heard stories about other guys confessing to you, I felt like “we can’t be kids forever”.
Yohei: Hmm? Something about me? What is it?
Yohei: Oh? You knew then.
Yohei: Well, it was complicated. I said no.
Yohei: We were in the same situation, right?
Yohei: Hey, I haven’t talked about this much. I think I might not have ever talked about it if it wasn’t for this opportunity.
Yohei: Perhaps we held things back by ourselves. We decided we wouldn’t talk about romance because we’re like siblings.
Yohei: But Tsukasa is such a kid for deciding to go on a date to Ogami Park.
Yohei: We’re supposed to play on the jungle gym in this heat? That’s exactly what I’d expect from someone with no planning skills.
Yohei: Hey, Tsukasa!
Yohei: And he can’t hear me because he’s got headphones on.
Yohei: Guess we can’t do anything. Shall we walk a little more?
Yohei: Ah. Are you thirsty? I’ll buy you some juice today, so let’s go to the shop.
Yohei: Buy that thing yourself!
Yohei: I call it being economical.
Track 5 – The Ocean, Twilight and Alienation
Tsukasa: Wednesday, August 3rd. Good weather.
Today we’re taking the train to a neighbouring station to go swimming. It’s been more than a week since we started the research project. It’s become natural for the two of them to go out holding hands while I follow behind them and for her to call me by my family name. I have a feeling that there’s something different about the two of them. They look like they’re having fun and they seem like a real couple.
Well, that means the project is going well! But I’m wondering about this weird feeling I’m having. I remember feeling sad and as if I’m becoming like a stranger. Anyway, we’re going to the beach today, so whatever!
Girl: Don’t you feel sorry for him?
Girl: Isn’t it weird that he’s following them in the first place?
Girl: I know, right! It’s kinda painful.
Tsukasa: What? They’re talking about me?
Yohei: Don’t let it bother you, Tsukasa.
Yohei: Shall we stop holding hands for now?
Tsukasa: No, it’s alright. It’s the rules, you see. Anyway, can I go to that carriage over there?
Yohei: No, we’re going to stop holding hands, so you stay here.
Tsukasa: Shut up! The rules have been decided, so stick to them!
Tsukasa: Huh? I told you to call me by my family name, right? I’m not angry!
Yohei: Hey. What’s the matter, Tsukasa?
Tsukasa: Sorry. I guess it was nothing to get angry about, huh. I was just annoyed by how those stupid girls were acting. I wonder what school they’re from.
Tsukasa: Don’t apologise! It’s not your fault. That’ll make it look like I’m jealous of you two!
Yohei: I guess it’s better not to go somewhere with a lot of people, like on trains.
Tsukasa: I said it’s okay! Sorry I got mad. I’ll go and calm down in that other carriage.
Tsukasa: This really is a great place! I’m glad there aren’t many people here.
We’re finally at the beach!
Tsukasa: We don’t need to go to the beach house! What good is it gonna do to eat that expensive ramen which tastes awful?!
Yohei: But I actually like that awful ramen.
Tsukasa: Ah, ah. You guys are perfect for each other.
Tsukasa: I didn’t think I’d hear you say that!
Tsukasa: Yeah, yeah. I’m going in the water now.
Yohei: Shall we go too then?
Yohei: Hey, Tsukasa! The three of us can have fun together in the sea.
Tsukasa: Oh, you’re right. But you two should keep holding hands. You guys are paying for lunch if you let go!
Yohei: That’s not fair, Tsukasa!
Tsukasa: I wonder what I should have for lunch?
Yohei: Hey. He’s being annoying, so make sure you don’t let go!
Yohei: That’s just what I wanted to hear! Okay, let’s go!
Tsukasa: I’m tired from all that swimming!
Yohei: No way! It’s past 5 o’clock!
Tsukasa: Are you serious?!
Tsukasa: You’re right! It looks beautiful!
Yohei: We don’t normally get to stop and look at the sunset. It’s an amazing colour!
Tsukasa: I used to think people who wanted to shout after seeing the sunset were idiots.
Yohei: It makes you want to shout without thinking, right?
Yohei & Tsukasa: You idiot!
Tsukasa: That was so dumb!
Yohei: That’s gotten rid of our stress, so how about we go home?
Yohei: Acting as your boyfriend stresses me out.
Yohei: Oww! Stop that!
Tsukasa: Hey! Stop messing around and go home! Are you going to take a shower?
Yohei: What’s the matter?
Tsukasa: Don’t forget stuff like that!
Yohei: Shall I look for it with you?
Yohei: Be careful!
Yohei: Ah, that’s good! Shall we go home then? Come on.
Tsukasa: Okay, let’s go.
Tsukasa: What are you holding out your hand for?
Yohei: Ah, today is special. All three of us are gonna hold hands like friends on the way home.
Tsukasa: Huh… Guess I don’t have a choice. Just for today then.
Tsukasa: Wednesday, August 3rd. Evening.
I thought I would write up my opinions on the results so far. Today, I clearly understood that our relationship is now different from before. I said they could treat me to lunch if they let go of each other’s hands while they were in the sea, but in the end, I didn’t see them let go. They stayed close together as they happily held onto the swimming ring.
When I saw the two of them holding hands in the sea, they seemed like a real couple. Even if they are not a couple, I think it was clear to anyone that they weren’t acting. I also knew that the feeling I had turned out to be right. When she went to find something she had left behind at the beach, Yohei admitted something to me.
Yohei had liked her since middle school and saw her as more than just a friend. In other words, he had liked her romantically since then. He had kept quiet until now, afraid it would destroy our relationship, but he said he was intending to confess everything on the last day of this project.
However, as he had liked her from the beginning, it would conflict with the aim of the project, so he wanted me to keep quiet about it. It’d be a good result for the research project, so I immediately said I’d support him, but for some reason my feelings are complicated. At any rate, I think our relationship won’t be the same after summer is over.
Track 6 – Answer and Resignation
Tsukasa: Saturday, August 13th. Good weather.
Today our parents are going on a trip. There were messy days like this one when they would say something like “We’ll leave money for food, so you three all stay at Yohei’s house”.
Our parents didn’t know about the research project and had no reason to think that the situation was any different from before. So we decided to stay at Yohei’s house, while following the rules of the research project. Being the record keeper has become a pain recently. It’s so annoying.
Yohei: Yeah. Okay. Got it. Alright. I’ll go now then.
Yohei: Sorry, Saito asked me to come out, so I’m going to the station shopping centre for a while.
Tsukasa: Huh? It’s already 8pm. What time are you gonna be back?
Yohei: It’s nothing big, so I think it’ll take less than an hour.
Yohei: I’ll eat over there, so you guys order something to eat. Sorry for the trouble.
Tsukasa: We don’t mind.
Yohei: Don’t worry so much. It’ll be fine.
Yohei: Alright. I’ll be right back.
Tsukasa: Hmm… What shall we have?
Tsukasa: We’re gonna eat pizza in this hot weather? I’ll get fat! I won’t be able to pick up girls if I’m fat, will I?
Tsukasa: It’s not like I can’t! I just don’t do it because you’re around.
Tsukasa: Any girl I talked to would feel awkward because I’m around you all the time!
Tsukasa: Huh? What other meaning could there be?
Tsukasa: Shall we get pizza?
Tsukasa: I can’t eat anymore. What are we gonna do about this?
Tsukasa: Yohei said he was gonna eat before he came back. We ordered too much!
Tsukasa: I know, right! Hey…you’ve gotten completely used to calling me Urabe-kun.
Tsukasa: Hmm… Nope, I’m not sad at all.
Tsukasa: So how’s the research project going?
Tsukasa: That’s not what I’m asking! I’m talking about…Yohei’s feelings.
Tsukasa: It’s because you two have started looking like a real couple recently.
Tsukasa: It’s not that I’m curious… As the record keeper, I’m interested in the research project.
Tsukasa: Why do you look so serious? I don’t get it. But our relationship is different from before, so I guess I’m just surprised.
Tsukasa: I see. So that’s what it was after all! That’s great, isn’t it? If you like Yohei, then the research project is going well.
Tsukasa: See! We’ll get a better grade if the research project has a happy ending, right? It would mean that something resulted from it!
Tsukasa: If you guys started dating? Well, it’d be something happy, right? It’d be a little sad if we couldn’t hang out like before. Only a little though.
Tsukasa: Who wouldn’t be happy if their friends were dating?
Tsukasa: Even if you guys do end up dating, you don’t have to be worried about me.
Tsukasa: I’ve got something to do, you see.
Tsukasa: Yeah. You won’t be leaving this town after you graduate, will you?
Tsukasa: I’m serious about wanting to go to Tokyo. I hate this town which doesn’t even have a proper clothes store, record shop or beauty salon.
Tsukasa: I haven’t told anyone this, but I want to become a fashion designer. So I’m thinking of going to fashion school. It’ll be in Tokyo, of course.
Tsukasa: Don’t tell anyone!
Tsukasa: So if you guys end up dating, it’d be perfect timing. I’ve been thinking of going to art school. I’m going there to prepare for fashion school. I want to be able to draw designs as I imagine them!
Tsukasa: I’m more serious than you think! Like I said, even if you guys do end up dating, I’ve got something to do, so it’s okay!
Tsukasa: Maybe it’s not okay after all.
Tsukasa: I’m not sure about how I feel recently! When I look at you two, it seems like you feel the same way about each other. Before I knew it, I was jealous of Yohei and I got annoyed at being called by my family name. I don’t know what my true feelings are.
Tsukasa: I’m not even sure myself. You and Yohei are both precious friends to me. But if you weren’t around, then I…
Tsukasa: My name. Call me by my name.
Tsukasa: I’m sorry. I li…
Yohei: I’m home!
Tsukasa: Sorry. I lost control of myself for a moment. Forget what just happened.
Yohei: Sorry. Saito ended up talking about his dating problems…
Yohei: Hmm? Oh? Don’t things seem strange around here? Did you guys kiss or something?
Tsukasa: You idiot! I’m not interested in her! I don’t even see her as a girl!
Tsukasa: It’s impossible!
Yohei: Is that so?
Yohei: Hey. Why are you so tense? Are you okay?
Yohei: Ah. Have you fallen in love with me these past few weeks?
Yohei: Huh? Are you serious?
Tsukasa: Yeah! This is like something from a popular TV show! I’m gonna get out of your way now! I’ll sleep on the sofa, so you guys take that futon there.
Yohei: Hey, hey. I know we’re doing a research project, but that’s too much…
Tsukasa: It’s no big deal! This situation isn’t normal for us and it’d be good for the research project, right?
Yohei: I don’t mind. Are you okay with it?
Yohei: Okay! Let’s sleep together then!
Yohei: Sure, take your time in the bath! The towels are beside the bathroom.
Yohei: Hey. Are you awake?
Yohei: Me too.
Yohei: Did something happen with Tsukasa earlier?
Yohei: I see. If you say nothing happened, then that’s fine.
Yohei: Hmm? There’s no reason for you to thank me.
Yohei: Hey. Can I come a little closer?
Yohei: See. It’s the rules, right? Let’s hold hands.
Yohei: Go on.
Yohei: Don’t cry.
Tsukasa: The temperature reached 35 degrees and on what felt like the hottest 3rd of August I had ever experienced, I had my first kiss. But when she asked how I felt about her, I couldn’t say anything. Knowing Yohei’s feelings and my feelings towards her, as well as having spent time with the two of them as family until now, all made me confused.
Tsukasa: I guess that’s just an excuse.
Tsukasa: That night, she cried in Yohei’s arms. The sobs that came from the darkness were cruelly clear when they reached my ears. I couldn’t bear listening to them, so I held a blanket over my head and rejected reality.
Tsukasa: Am I sad? Am I hurt? Am I angry at myself? None of those feelings seem quite right. But I was able to be sure that the research project had a happy ending, just as I imagined it would.
Track 7 – Will you see the fireworks from below? Or perhaps…
Saturday, August 20th. Cloudy.
Today there’ll be a fireworks display. We don’t like the crowds, so we watch the display from a secret spot on the beach every year. Since the other day, I had observed the two of them amidst an uncomfortable atmosphere.
In contrast to that, the two of them got closer day by day. I felt as if they were like a real couple. It seems that they had been to the station shopping centre without me knowing. There are only a few more days left of summer break. The research project is going well. It’s going well, but… Ah, I guess things are fine this way.
Tsukasa: The fireflies look beautiful as usual.
Yohei: It’s because this slope is a rice field, right? I guess the water is pure because they’re not using any chemicals.
Tsukasa: Ah, they’ve started!
Yohei: I know, right!
Tsukasa: No matter how many times we go, I’m still impressed.
Yohei: Shall we sit here?
Yohei: You sit down too, Tsukasa.
Tsukasa: But I…
Yohei: Just sit down.
Yohei: This might be the last year we watch the fireworks together like this. No matter what the result of the research project is, I have a feeling the three of us won’t be going back to how we were before.
Yohei: You really think so?
Yohei: This is just an experiment, so we’ll be friends again at the end of the summer break… You think things will work out that well?
Yohei: Tsukasa. We went to the beach in secret today.
Yohei: It’s alright!
Yohei: I confessed to her that I’ve always loved her.
Yohei: She turned me down because there’s someone else she likes. I’m such a loser.
Yohei: Hey, Tsukasa. What do you think of her?
Yohei: You keep quiet. You like her too, right?
Tsukasa: What are you talking about? She’s just a friend…
Yohei: Don’t give me that immature crap like “she’s just a friend”!
Tsukasa: You broke the rules and confessed! What’s gonna happen to the research project?
Yohei: Hey, you. Don’t talk about that now! If you always act self-absorbed and don’t come out of your shell, you’ll lose everything!
Tsukasa: Hey! How can you say something selfish like I’m self-absorbed? Don’t take things out on me just because you got rejected!
Yohei: Shut up! Go over there!
Yohei: Come on, get up. Even when we decided who was going to be her boyfriend, you lied about your feelings and made yourself the record keeper, right? Did you think that’d make us happy? Did you think everything would work out if you hid your feelings?
Yohei: Huh?! You lied to yourself and everyone else! On top of that, you hurt her too!
Yohei & Tsukasa: Huh?
Yohei: You hate him…? You’re not telling the truth…
Tsukasa: The person you like…
Yohei: Is this how you wanted things to turn out? You’re the worst.
Tsukasa: Saturday, August 20th. Evening. Cloudy.
Tsukasa: I guess this diary doesn’t matter anymore. I loved her. Because we’d always been raised as siblings, I couldn’t develop any romantic feelings for her. That was just an excuse I told myself.
Tsukasa: Since middle school… No, perhaps even before that… Anyway, I was in love with her. I was sure that Yohei felt the same way about her. But I ignored that and ran away, saying we were just like family.
Coming up with this research project might have become a way for me to face the emotions I ran from because of how I felt. But I ran away again. I ran away from my feelings and her feelings too. I didn’t just run away, but I hurt those around me too.
Before I knew it, I had lost everything, just like Yohei said I would. It disappeared like sand falling through my fingers. That tired old saying was too powerful and all I could do was laugh.
Track 8 – The End of Summer
Tsukasa: That was what had been written in the observation notebook I read when I returned home after all this time. Rather than being an observation diary, it became nothing more than my immature writings in the end.
Anyway, considering what had happened, we ended up not submitting the research project. Things were awkward between us after that. We rarely spent time together and even if we saw each other at school, we didn’t say hello.
My parents also got divorced and we stopped meeting together like family. We ended up graduating without speaking to each other again.
I can’t believe this is how I ended up seeing Yohei again. I actually wish I could have apologised to Yohei. I wanted to say “I hit you too hard back then, so I’ll let you take a hit at me”.
That’s not going to happen now though. I worried whether I should have come to his wake as if nothing happened. But I’m here because I have to tell him something.
I honestly think that life is built upon a foundation of regrets. After that day, Yohei started a part-time job and began dating one of his co-workers, who was a year older than him. He got married after graduation. I began attending art school. After spending the remainder of my dull high school life without the two of them, I left for Tokyo. As for her…
Tsukasa: It just finished. I made sure to tell Yohei. I don’t know whether he’ll forgive me though.
Tsukasa: Yeah. Not even now.
Tsukasa: Let’s go and visit his grave when things calm down.
Tsukasa: Hey. I know I shouldn’t be asking on a day like this, but can we stay together? Will you marry me?
Tsukasa: I’ve kept you waiting a long time, but I don’t want have any regrets like I did that summer. You can give me your answer when I get back.
Tsukasa: Right! Ah… I’m going to say something embarrassing now, so I’ll hang up as soon as I’ve said it.
Tsukasa: I love you. I’ve always loved you since I was a kid. See you tomorrow.
Tsukasa: She lives with me in Tokyo now. Five years ago, we met by chance at Shinjuku station and I didn’t hesitate to tell her my feelings. Now it’s been three years since we started living together. I began to think that I wanted us to stay together, but I remained hesitant, finding myself unable to propose until today.
It was just like that summer. I had a feeling Yohei was encouraging me and saying “Are you going to end up having regrets again?” No… Perhaps he would have hit me from behind and said “Don’t come and report to me now that I’m dead!”
Life is built upon a foundation of regrets. Even now, that feeling still hasn’t changed. However, by having a future where those regrets seem less intense, a painful past can become a wonderful memory. I’m honestly able to feel that way now.