Kuro Yoshiwara Melancholia 3 – Shinonoi Seno
CV: Morikawa Toshiyuki
A commission for Nurie. Thanks for commissioning me!
One spring day, when the several days of rain had stopped and gentle rays of sunlight shone down for the first time in a while. I was at home painting an ukiyo-e , as I usually did.
It’s no good. Something really isn’t quite right.
I’ll have a break for now. I’ll get some fresh air.
Come to think of it, I haven’t checked the postbox recently. I should have a look and deal with it now.
The letters in the postbox were soaked because of the recent rain. Most of the letters were bills and I felt even more annoyed.
This one is soaking wet too. I pay my rent and newspaper subscription whether they send these letters or not.
A black envelope caught my eye.
What’s this? It’s the only one that’s not wet. Maybe it only just arrived?
I’m sure that’s Hirasawa-san.
Hello. This is Shinonoi.
Ah, I see. From Gekkan Roman.
Alright, alright. I’m aware of that.
Please put him through.
Hello, Hirasawa-san. It’s been quite some time.
Well, about that… To tell the truth… It’s not finished yet.
Alright, alright. Even I know that the deadline for this month’s illustration was two days ago!
If I could have done it quickly, then I would have already done so!
There’s no way I can be so careless about it!
Even though it’s just an illustration for a monthly magazine, it is one of my works! If I did something unsatisfactory, then you’d be troubled too, wouldn’t you?
Please leave me alone now!
Ah… Chou-san. I hate this. There are times when I just can’t draw, no matter how much someone hurries me.
My goodness. I really shouldn’t have picked up the phone.
Right… I’d completely forgotten about it because of the phone call. A letter came.
The more I look at this letter, the stranger it seems. This black envelope even feels strange.
Hey. Don’t you think so too, Chou-san?
This letter is definitely for me, isn’t it?
Alright, I’m going to open it. It might be from a reader who saw one of my illustrations in Gekkan Roman.
Haha. As if anyone would send a letter to an unpopular ukiyo-e artist like me.
Hmm… What’s it say?
To all participants: The Kuro Yoshiwara  Game is about to begin.
What is this? I don’t understand it at all.
This was written in the letter:
The winner of the game will receive a courtesan as a reward.
The game has three rules:
One: You must charm her.
Two: You mustn’t hurt her.
Three: You mustn’t let her escape.
With these rules in mind, the six participants will fight for her.
Also, anyone who has read until this point can no longer be allowed to forfeit the game.
Anyone who breaks the rules will be subject to Kuro Yoshiwara’s judgement.
Hey… Give me a break. Judgement? What does that mean?
The letter I opened definitely was a strange one. It’s probably someone playing a trick.
There was still more of the letter to read.
The courtesan that you will receive if you win is a woman descended from mermaids. Her tears are also said to have the power of immortality.
A mermaid… Isn’t that a fictional creature which only appears in stories?
The power of immortality… That’s quite unbelievable.
 Ukiyo-e is a genre of art that was popular from the 17th-19th century. Its artists would produce woodblock prints or paintings of subjects such as beautiful women, kabuki actors, sumo wrestlers, landscapes and scenes from history. The term “ukiyo-e” translates as “picture of the floating world”.
 Yoshiwara is a famous red-light district in Edo (modern day Tokyo) which was created in 1656.
Hmm? She fell asleep on the sofa? The gramophone is still on too.
Did you fall asleep while reading?
I went to the trouble of getting a book because you wanted to read it.
Well, maybe the content of the book was a little too difficult for you.
Because you’re a dummy, you see.
Your stomach is showing. Aren’t you being too defenceless?
I’m going to poke your stomach.
You’re not waking up at all.
Well, it’s been particularly warm recently and the weather is good. I can understand why you started feeling sleepy.
I suppose I’ll cover you with a blanket.
Hmm… I’m sure it’s over here… Got it!
There you go.
Now that I’m looking at you, you really are beautiful. You’re just like a princess from a foreign story or painting. Would you wake up if I kissed you gently?
Unfortunately, I’m not a prince though.
Ah, Chou-san. Nanami is having a nap, so don’t disturb her.
Come over here, I’ll play with you.
Hey, Chou-san. I’m thinking of going to do some painting by the Sumida River. Will you come with me? I wanted to ask Nanami to come, but it doesn’t look like she’s going to wake up soon.
Shall we go now then?
Ah… If she’s still asleep when I get back, then it might be good to paint a picture of her while she’s sleeping. I’ve been painting nothing but landscapes for the recent competition. She might be annoyed if I painted a picture without asking, but it would be her fault for falling asleep.
Hey… Did I wake you?
Oh… That’s unfortunate.
Yes, I was thinking of going to the river to do some painting. I’m going with Chou-san.
Will you come too? I was thinking about painting a picture of you soon.
It’s a little unfortunate that it isn’t of your sleeping face.
It’s nothing. I was just talking to myself.
Come to think of it, the first time I painted your picture was by the river, wasn’t it?
You got into a bit of trouble because of that, didn’t you?
A woman descended from mermaids… Her tears have the power of immortality.
I can’t believe it, no matter how many times I read it. What am I even doing participating in a game for nobles? There’s no way a real mermaid exists in this world anyway. If something like that did exist, I’d like to see it with my own eyes. It might give me an idea for a painting too.
I haven’t made much progress with this month’s illustration and that letter distracted me even more. I can’t think of any good ideas.
Was it called Kirarou? I’m sure that the signature of its owner was at the end of the letter. I’ve heard a little about Kuro Yoshiwara before. Apparently that neighbourhood is a place only frequented by rich clients.
Hey. What do you think, Chou-san?
Hmm? Are you interested in the Kuro Yoshiwara game, Chou-san?
That’s right. If you go there, you’ll know right away whether the okiya  called Kirarou really exists. Then you’d also be sure whether the letter was real or not.
So if the letter did turn out to be real and you could meet a mermaid by going there, I think I’d like to meet one. It might actually be a good idea to use a mermaid as the theme of my illustration. I’ll paint a mermaid like the one in that story. Not in a Western style of painting, but as an ukiyo-e.
There are also many old legends about mermaids. There are some stories of good luck among those, so there might be superstitions too.
Right, I think I’ll go to Kirarou now. Even if the story of the mermaid doesn’t turn out to be true, I haven’t been to the hanamachi  for a while now and seeing a beautiful courtesan might just help me with my work.
Ah, it’s the phone. It’s not going to be another reminder from Hirasawa-san again, is it?
Even though I’ve just found some motivation… My goodness…
Hello. This is Shinonoi.
Hmm? Mi-san? Who could that be?
No… It’s fine, put them through.
Hello. This is Shinonoi…
You’re that person from before…
I already told you, I don’t want to sell Chou-san! How many times do I have to tell you? I’ve had enough!
Listen up. Chou-san is no ordinary parakeet. He’s like family. No matter how much you offer me, I’m not going to give him up. So please stop asking. Goodbye.
What was that about? He was incredibly persistent. Chou-san is a precious family member who I care more about than myself. I definitely wouldn’t sell him to some suspicious little shop. Isn’t that right, Chou-san?
Anyway… Shall we forget about that and go to Kirarou?
Wow… This is a surprise! It really does exist! Kirarou… There’s no doubt about it.
This really is an impressive okiya. It might be the biggest one around here.
What should I do? I don’t have that much money.
But I could go home after hearing what they’ve got to say. I don’t think they’ll try to get money out of me if all I do is talk to the manager.
Ah. Sorry, Chou-san. You’ll have to be quiet for a little while from now on. I might get thrown out if I bring a bird inside.
Alright, get inside this hat.
You really are a good boy, Chou-san.
Please excuse me. I’m the ukiyo-e artist, Shinonoi Seno. I came here because I received this letter…
The manager’s confused look became an unnaturally pleasant smile when he saw the letter I held out. And so I was able to set foot in Kirarou, the best omise  in Kuro Yoshiwara.
This is the mise ? It’s quite different from the mise in a normal okiya.
The door is locked too… It’s just like being in a cage.
Hmm… I see. You certainly are beautiful. You have a very beautiful voice too. It’s a mysterious voice that I’d like to hear again.
By the way, are you…
Ah, I’m sorry! It was impolite of me to be so familiar right away…
My name is Seno. Shinonoi Seno. It seems that I really have been chosen as a participant in the game. I checked with the manager just in case, but there seems to be no doubt about it.
I’m not a noble or anything like that… So what on earth is going on?
This place has quite a unique atmosphere. A courtesan like you is locked up in this place that resembles a cage. On top of that, you’re blindfolded… I’ve been feeling hesitant about this for a while.
As I’m a participant in the game, they said that I’m allowed to stay here tonight and see just what you’re like. The manager said so before I came past here.
Don’t be so worried. I’m not planning on doing anything to you. There are just a few things I want to see for myself. Like what’s hidden under your kimono…
Oh, there’s nothing unusual about your legs after all. I thought you might have fins or something.
That’s right. You’re descended from a mermaid, aren’t you? So I thought you might have fins on your legs… I suppose there really is no truth behind the rumours then.
Well, it’s not as if I seriously believed that you were a woman descended from mermaids.
What is the truth? Tell me whether you’re a mermaid or not.
Hmm… I see. If you don’t know, then that can’t be helped.
But even if you’re not a mermaid, it doesn’t mean that I’m disappointed. A courtesan as beautiful as you would make a lovely subject for a painting.
Hey. Will you become a model for my paintings?
Ah. I’m actually a ukiyo-e artist. I spend every day painting.
I haven’t been able to create any good paintings recently though.
I came here because I thought that painting a picture of a mermaid would be a good idea.
So the game isn’t as important to me. That might cause trouble for you though.
Eh? Is that so? Well, if you think about it normally, then I suppose so…
All of the clients are probably aiming to win the game and make you theirs.
Just like you said, I might be an odd client because I came here to request that you be my model.
So would you model for me then?
I’d like to take you outside instead of having you stuck inside this cage. From what I’ve heard, you can pass through the gate if you’re with me, can’t you?
The waterfront would make a good background if I’m going to paint a picture of a mermaid.
I was thinking about it all the way here, so I’ve got my ideas sorted out.
So what do you think?
Really? Then I’ll meet you here around noon tomorrow. Alright?
That’s great. Now that you’re going to help, I’ll do my very best to make a good painting. I’ve got to go home right away and get ready.
I’ll be going home tonight. I’m looking forward to tomorrow!
 An okiya is a boarding house for geisha and courtesans.
 Hanamachi (literally “flower town”) are districts where courtesans and geisha entertained.
 Courtesan houses were ranked as omise, nakamise or komise. Omise translates as “first-class”, while nakamise and komise mean “second class” and “third-class”.
 Mise (meaning “shop”) was a room fronted by wooden bars where courtesans would sit while waiting for their clients.
Chou-san! This way! We’re almost there!
I’m sorry! Did I keep you waiting?
I’m happy though! I didn’t think you’d wait for me out here.
Well, shall we go now?
Hey, Chou-san! Let’s go!
Yes, he’s my family. I think he’ll come back soon.
There he is!
Yes. This is Chou-san, a red-breasted parakeet.
He was actually with me when I came to see you yesterday.
I got him to hide inside my hat just in case.
Even though he’s a member of my family, I thought they’d be angry if I brought a parakeet into the okiya.
Alright, Chou-san. Introduce yourself.
Chou-san is very intelligent. He remembers the words I say and he can talk. He can even introduce himself too.
Come on, Chou-san. Nanami is waiting.
Oh? That’s strange. He would normally do it by himself…
He might be nervous about being around a beautiful woman like you.
Alright, shall we go? I’ve already decided where we’re going, so just follow me.
I suppose around here is fine.
Just wait. I’m going to sharpen my charcoal pencil.
You come here and sit down too. You’ve walked quite far, so you’re tired, aren’t you?
Ah… It feels good that the weather is so nice today.
This place is quiet, isn’t it? As you’ve agreed to be my model, I should concentrate on drawing. But I don’t actually like places that are too quiet. Hearing the sound of the water beside the river while I’m drawing is just enough.
Of course! This river is called the Sumida River and is one of the five largest rivers in Tokyo. If you go downstream, there are even houseboats.
Hey… Eh? You haven’t heard of houseboats?
Could it be that you’re an idiot? Or is that what happens when you’re raised in the red-light district?
Eh? It’s not? What do you mean?
Hmm… I see. You’re from a fishing village in Kumano . So then you really were uprooted and brought to Kirarou just for the sake of this game. But now that I think about it, that makes sense. There’d be a lot of people talking about a courtesan as beautiful as you.
Alright, that’s done. I’m ready now. So it’s your turn next.
By the way, did you make sure to have lunch?
Ah… I thought so. That’s no good.
You might think that being the model for a painting just means sitting still, but not moving is more tiring than you’d think. You get hungry too. So…
Ah, here it is!
Here you go. I’m sorry this is all I’ve got, but you can have some too.
As you can see, it’s Russian bread .
Eh? You haven’t heard of this either?
Haa… You really don’t know anything. People usually call it “bread for the poor”, but I quite like it. It’s a little sweet too.
Art materials cost a lot of money, so eating this is more than enough for me.
It tastes great! I’m not the only one who likes it, Chou-san does too.
Look! He’s really happy when I give him some crumbs like this. Right, Chou-san?
See! You eat up quickly too.
What do you think? Does it taste good?
I see. Then I’ll bring some more next time. It’ll be your payment for being a model today.
Hahaha! Why are you so happy? Someone would normally be angry if they were paid with Russian bread. You’re so strange!
Is this your first time modelling for a picture?
I see! That makes sense. But it’s lucky that a subject like you was hidden from everyone else’s sight until now.
That might be thanks to you living in a country fishing village. Haha.
Right, I think I’ll get started with the drawing. I need to finish the illustration today, otherwise I won’t get any more work.
That’s right, I draw illustrations for a magazine called Gekkan Roman. You’ve heard of it, haven’t you?
Well, you are an idiot who doesn’t know anything. It’s selling quite well in Tokyo… Actually, I suppose that’s not right. It’s a third-rate magazine that people only know by name. Ukiyo-e aren’t very popular in this era.
There aren’t many magazines that will publish my works either. A job is necessary to survive, even if it’s only a small one.
Right… I want the bridge on the other side to be in the background, so could you get a little closer to the riverside?
If you go there, your shadow is going to obscure the bridge… Go to the right a little… There!
That’s good. Could you just take one step backwards? There you go.
Ah, watch out!
Are you alright? Take my hand quickly!
You gave me a shock when you fell into the river so suddenly! But I was the one who asked you to take a step back and you did as I said…
Ah… Your kimono is soaked. I’m really sorry. I’ll take you back to Kirarou right now.
That’s right… But you shouldn’t be concerned about the painting right now, should you?
It would be terrible if you caught a cold.
I’ll find some kind of excuse to get the editor, Hirasawa-san, to wait a little longer.
Come on, let’s go. Shall we take a rickshaw? You’re soaking wet, you see…
No… I was just thinking that you would make a perfect picture. Especially now that your clothes are wet… You look really attractive… The drops of water running along your skin… Your hair clinging to your neck… Everything…
Actually… Just wait a moment! I’ll be done right away!
The background doesn’t matter right now. I should put the focus on the model. I’m sure that will draw more attention. If I make a rough sketch, then I’ll be able to finish it later somehow. Like this…
It’s done! I’ll tidy up the lines and add colour once I get home.
I’m sorry! I said I’d take you back soon, but I got carried away…
But when I saw how you looked, I suddenly wanted to draw you…
Yes, of course! I can do something about it at home now that I’ve got this rough sketch.
It’s also been a long time since I’ve had such a clear idea in my mind of what I wanted to draw!
I’m glad I asked you to model for me! It’ll be a good painting! I’m sure of it! Although I don’t know why…
Shall we go then? It’ll start getting dark soon. You really will catch a cold if you stay out here.
Hello. This is Shinonoi.
Hmm? From Hirasawa-san?
Ah… Alright. Please put him through.
Could it be about that illustration?
Ah, hello. About the other day…
Eh? Ah, did you receive it? I’m very sorry I kept you waiting.
I’m glad you like it though. It’s different to what was originally planned, but I had the opportunity to paint a surprisingly beautiful woman and I thought it would look good…
Well… I just wanted you to see it.
Ah… I’m relieved to hear that.
Yes! I look forward to working together again.
Hahaha! I did it!
Chou-san! Listen to this! The illustration I did the other day was a hit! Hirasawa-san said he was looking forward to us working together again.
It’s the first good result I’ve had in a while! I felt that I was satisfied with what I did. We should celebrate today!
Right! I’ve got to thank the woman who modelled for me too.
Alright… Let’s go to Kirarou right now! Come here, Chou-san.
 Kumano is a city in Mie Prefecture. It is roughly 500km from Tokyo.
 Russian bread is a type of sweet bread sold in Japan. There are different variations such as a sugar icing topping, kneading muscovado sugar into the flour and using sweet fillings.
Hey, Nanami! Are you here? It’s me, the ukiyo-e painter, Seno!
I’ve come here to thank you. Is it alright if I come in?
Hello! It’s been a while since we last saw each other. It looks like you managed not to catch a cold. Thank goodness.
I’m really sorry about what happened. It was my fault things turned out that way…
But thanks to that, I was able to create a really good painting! The magazine contacted me earlier and complimented me quite a bit.
It was a little impolite of them to say “You can do it when you make an effort” though!
Thank you for being the model. It looks like I’ll be able to get a little more illustration work.
What is it? You’re glad?
I thought you’d be angry because of all the trouble I caused you.
Well… There’s something I’d like to ask. If you wouldn’t mind… Will you go to Asakusa  with me now?
That’s right! I want to thank you. Of course I can’t give you Russian bread.
Even if you don’t mind, I do! I really am grateful.
Hey. Don’t be shy. Let’s go! Or is this an inconvenient time?
There’s plenty of time, even if you have to come back before it gets dark! It doesn’t have to be Asakusa. I’ll take you anywhere you want to go.
Anywhere is fine! You can decide.
Is something wrong? You’re not interested in coming with me?
Hahaha! I see. That’s right, you’ve only just come to Tokyo.
Alright, I’ll think of somewhere fun to go and take you there.
Now that’s decided, let’s go! I’ll be waiting out front while you get ready.
Right… I forgot Chou-san was with me. Please treat him kindly too.
I’m actually never apart from Chou-san though. I said this before, didn’t I? Chou-san is someone very important to me. That’s why we’re always together!
Chou-san says so too.
I’ll excuse myself for a moment.
Wow… This place is crowded as usual.
Hey. This is your first time coming to Asakusa, isn’t it?
I see. So where shall I take you first?
Yes, I haven’t been to Asakusa for a while now. No matter when I come here, it’s always nice and lively. But because this is a special occasion…
Ah! Are you interested in cinematographs?
Hahaha! I knew you wouldn’t have heard of them.
Cinematographs are… Well… To put it simply… They’re like moving photos, I suppose.
Hahaha! That look on your face! It seems like I’ve confused you even more.
Anyway, just come with me. You’ll understand once you see one.
I was just thinking that I’d like to see one. Apparently this one shows images of a foreign coast and was quite popular recently.
Come on, let’s go!
Ah… I see…
What did you think? Was it interesting?
Oh? What’s that look on your face?
Are you crying? So you were that moved…
Hmm… Well, I thought the sea scenery was beautiful, but it wasn’t that moving…
You cry quite easily, don’t you?
But now I’m sure that you’re not a mermaid. I heard about the secret of mermaid’s tears from the manager of the okiya the other day. Mermaid’s tears have a mysterious power. But in exchange for those tears, they lose their voice. Although you’re crying, you haven’t lost your voice. So perhaps the rumour that you’re a mermaid really isn’t true. However, it doesn’t really matter to me right now whether you’re a mermaid or not. You’re just who you are, you see.
Hey. What kind of place is your hometown? A large village? A small village? Is the sea beautiful?
I see. It’s not a rocky place, but a sandy one. Then is it like the Greek sea that we just saw in the cinematograph?
Well, of course it probably isn’t as beautiful. It’s a fishing village, so I suppose there must be a port too? What’s it like? Is it close to the beach?
Ah… So then…
Hmm… Is there something I could draw on?
The back of this ticket will be fine.
It’s an endless sandy beach, isn’t it? A small fishing harbour can be seen in the distance… There’s a lighthouse offshore.
Is it like this? Well, I’ve only drawn it based on what you’ve told me though.
Really? I’m glad that it looks similar then!
You exaggerate things quite a bit, don’t you? You cried when watching the cinematograph and you were so moved by a simple sketch.
Eh? What do you mean it looks like a photograph? It’s still a long way from being like that.
To tell the truth, I’m interested in Western art and I’ve been practising in secret. But I can only do rough sketches. I’ve been studying the techniques completely by myself. Even if I tidy my sketches up, they won’t be popular.
Right… Have you seen Western art before? If you’re interested, then you should go and take a look. There was a large public exhibition several years ago in Nihonbashi . I really was surprised then.
I’m an ukiyo-e painter, so it’s not as if I’m denying Japanese art… But I don’t think I would be able to draw that kind of mysterious balance of light and realistic looking water using Japanese artistic techniques… Someday I’d like to paint something that looks like the cinematograph we just saw…
I’ve said this before, but now that we’re in a world where Western things are given praise, ukiyo-e seems old-fashioned. I’d actually like to go abroad and truly study Western art. I definitely don’t have that sort of money though. In other words, it’s beyond my wildest dreams.
Eh? Really? I won’t forgive you if you’re just trying to flatter me.
I’m happy though, even if that is the case. I feel as if I’ll be able to keep practising when I get a compliment like that. Thank you.
I’m going to give you this picture. I’m sorry it’s just a rough sketch on the back of a ticket though.
Yes, of course. If I manage to master Western art, then I’ll give you a proper painting on a canvas.
Hahaha. I wouldn’t lie about something like that! Well… It might not happen for another five or ten years, maybe even more. Just wait patiently. I promise I’ll do it. Anyway, I won’t have any trouble, even I don’t work for a little while, thanks to the painting you modelled for. I think I might even be able to buy the materials for Western style art that I couldn’t afford before.
It really is thanks to you. Good things have kept on happening since I met you. I said it wasn’t true earlier, but this might actually be the blessing of a mermaid. Haha.
Eh? Ah, I’m sorry. We’re going out now.
Someone got annoyed at us. Shall we go then?
Ah… I thought we had plenty of time, but it’s already this late.
Alright, Chou-san. You can come out from the hat. I’m sorry for making you experience something uncomfortable.
Right, it’s almost dark. I should take you back to the okiya. You have something to do after this, don’t you?
A client? You mean one of the participants in the game?
I see. Well, that’s to be expected. The letter said there are six participants in the game too. One of them will eventually buy your freedom.
Hey. What are the other participants like?
You don’t know? The people from Kirarou haven’t told you anything?
Hmm… The most likely candidate to buy your freedom… He’s probably an incredibly rich man then… Or perhaps a noble…
You should hurry then. It’d be no good if you kept a client waiting. The people at the okiya might get angry at you too.
What’s the matter? You look quite sad.
Aren’t you happy? If he buys your freedom, then you can live comfortably, can’t you?
Haha. But I suppose it’s strange for me to say that when I’m one of the participants competing for you in the game too. I’m not thinking of buying your freedom. Even if I win the game, I heard that I’d need a lot of money to buy your freedom.
Wouldn’t you be troubled if a poor ukiyo-e painter like me bought your freedom?
Hmm… That’s not true? Well, I enjoy being with you too and I think I’ll be able to come up with another idea for a painting right away.
I’m a poor ukiyo-e artist at the moment, but if I have the blessings of a mermaid, then I might just become a popular artist one day!
Ah, you laughed! You don’t know if it might happen, do you? I’ve been doing well recently, so if you used something like the power of a mermaid to overwhelm everyone, then that day might really come.
Well, that’s enough joking around for now. Shall we go?
Hey, Nanami. You know… If you wouldn’t mind… Could we see each other again like this? I don’t mind if it’s only until someone buys your freedom.
Really? I’m so glad! Today really is a good day.
No, not just today… It’s always a good day whenever I see you!
Hey, Chou-san. What do you think?
That’s right, although I asked her to wait patiently… Someone will buy her freedom soon enough and we won’t be able to see each other anymore.
 Asakusa is a district in Tokyo which is famous for Sensoji, a Buddhist temple. It developed into an entertainment district during the Edo period (1603-1868).
 Nihonbashi was an important location for merchants during the Edo period.
When the magazine went on sale, the painting you modelled for was surprisingly well received. Naturally, it was liked by the readers of Gekkan Roman. There were even many enquiries from people who had ignored ukiyo-e for being too old-fashioned and new offers of work were coming to me everyday.
I really was surprised. Even when I turned offers down, the work kept on coming. Among those offers was work from a magazine which was so high class that it surprised me, as well as a request to hold a public event. At that time, something I had said to you as a joke actually happened. But in the end, it didn’t go on for very long.
It’s no good! Ah… Why can’t I draw like I did back then? No matter how much I think, nothing comes to mind!
Ah… It’s the phone. Maybe it’s Hirasawa-san.
What should I do? I haven’t gotten anywhere at all. At this rate…
Hey, Chou-san… What should I do? Although he’s counting on me, the same thing will happen again…
Did he give up? Ah… I’m really sorry! But I don’t know what kind of excuse I’ll be able to make if I pick up the phone!
Maybe I don’t have any talent after all! I’m sure it was a miracle that I painted that picture!
A miracle… Right… It was a miracle… Some kind of power that would normally be unthinkable was at work and a miracle happened to me… Could it be the mermaid’s blessing?
She really… Nanami really does have the power of a mermaid… Is that true?
Chou-san! Let’s go to Kirarou right now! We’re going to see her!
Nanami! Are you here? Can I come in?
We haven’t seen each other for a while. How have you been?
I’m glad I came to see you. I feel a little calmer now that I’ve seen your face.
Well… The publishers who heard about my reputation are getting excited that I could become a popular artist because of the painting you helped me create.
That’s right. It’s amazing, isn’t it?
But… I can’t draw anything. Even though I want to draw something like I did back then, I just can’t do it the way I want! The more excited everyone gets, the more distracted I become and I end up feeling annoyed…
I can’t decide what I want to draw at all! For the past few days, I’ve been thinking about why I was able to draw something before.
Then your face came to mind…
Hey, Nanami. You helped me back then, didn’t you? You used the mysterious powers of a mermaid to help me. Isn’t that right?
You don’t have to pretend! I know! That’s the only possibility I can think of now!
I wasn’t like I usually was… A strange power came up from inside me and I was drawing intently. Then before I knew it, that drawing was done! I’m sure that was a mermaid’s blessing!
Hey, Nanami! You really are a mermaid. I’m sure of it! You see, even now… I feel as if I’ll be able to draw something! It’s because I’ve seen your face!
Please! Help me again! If you do, I’m sure I can…
Ah… It’s the manager… I’ll be done soon. Just give me a little longer…
Alright. I’ll leave.
I don’t have a choice. Alright, Nanami. I’ll leave for now, but I’ll come and see you again soon.
Think carefully about what I just said. I’m counting on you.
It’s done! I’m finished!
It’s just as I thought! I believed I wouldn’t be able to draw anything, but now I’ve done it well!
It’s not as good as before, but it should sell for a good price, no matter where I take it. This is also thanks to seeing her. It really is because of her mysterious power. I need Nanami.
Going to the okiya and seeing her face for a little while isn’t enough. I’ve got to make her mine. Then I’ll be able to keep painting good pictures!
But why was the manager acting the way he did earlier? I’m one of the participants in the game too! He tried to throw me out of there… Even though I’m capable of buying Nanami’s freedom…
Right… Nanami said she had an appointment after that. Could it be with the same participant as before?
I can’t accept this! Before someone else gets ahead of me, I have to… I have to make Nanami mine!
I shouldn’t be drawing small illustrations! I’ll find a bigger job and get the rest of the money somehow!
Ah… That’s right… I’ve got a good idea!
Oh, hello. There’s someone I’d like to call. Their name is…