Kuro Yoshiwara Melancholia 3 – Shinonoi Seno
CV: Morikawa Toshiyuki
Thank you Nurie for your commission!
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…
Sometimes things go well, and sometimes they don’t. It’s only natural for that to keep on happening, isn’t it? Back then, I had completely lost sight of myself. It might have been because of the success I had experienced for the first time in my life. Perhaps it was because of the twisted feelings I had for you.
I did something really terrible to you, didn’t I, Chou-san? And to you as well, Nanami… What would have happened to me if you and Chou-san had abandoned me? It’s so frightening that I don’t want to think about it.
Why have you got a bitter smile on your face? Do you think I’m a helpless man?
Who has chosen that helpless man though?
It’s you, of course.
Nanami! Are you here?
I’m here to see you. We couldn’t take things slowly last time.
Hey, Nanami. I’ve made up my mind. I’m going to buy your freedom. I’m a participant in the game too, you see. I’ve got the right to do that, haven’t I?
I need you. It was crazy of me to give up on you because of the money.
Things will work out somehow. Fortunately, because of the painting you modelled for, I’ve got some money to hand. I only need a little more to buy your freedom. I’ll be able to work something out soon. The rest depends on how you feel. Isn’t that right?
Hey, Nanami. Say that you’ll choose me. I don’t mind if that’s all you say. I’m sure you’ll be happy if you choose me. I can create unbelievably wonderful paintings if you’re with me. I’ll be noticed by society, just like I was before. I can take good care of you too. I’ll definitely make you happy! So let me win the game… Please…
You’re so noisy! Hey, Chou-san. Can you be quiet for now? I’m having an important conversation with Nanami right now.
Oh, this? I’ve got to take Chou-san somewhere after this. That’s why I’ve put him in his cage today.
It’s already gotten this late! I won’t make it in time for my appointment if I don’t go now.
I’ll be busy going around a few different places. Since I’ve seen your face, I think everything will go well again.
Ah, Nanami… I don’t want to go. I want to stay with you a little longer. Soon I won’t have to feel like this anymore. Everything will work out once you’re mine.
I want you to look forward to it. See you later.
Nanami. You belong to me. I’ll definitely make you mine. My very own lucky mermaid.
How annoying! Who could that be?
Hello, this is Shinonoi.
Ah. Hirasawa-san, hmm? Put me through to him then.
What on earth do you want? I’m busy right now, so don’t bother me.
What do I mean? I meant exactly what I said. I can’t accept any more work from you. I’ve found a much better job. I don’t have time to waste drawing illustrations for a third rate magazine.
I’ve already made up my mind. Sorry, but you’ll have to ask someone else.
I’m going to hang up now.
Ah, right… Could you pay me for last month’s work soon? Thanks.
My goodness! How annoying!
What on earth is it now?
Alright, put me through to them.
Hello? I’ve been waiting for your call! Have you got any news on that job?
I see. Then could we go ahead with it right now? I’ll even draw erotic art if it makes me money.
Let me just confirm something. There aren’t any particular requests regarding the painting, are there?
Well, you aren’t going to be fussy about an illustration for an insignificant advertisement, are you? A popular artist like me can do anything…
Haha. I thought so. I’ll do it just like I did before then. It doesn’t matter, as long as I get paid.
Anyway, I just need to make a lot of money right now. I’m counting on you.
Nanami! I’m here to see you.
It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? I’m sorry.
Eh? You’re asking me what’s the matter?
Nothing at all. I suppose I have lost a little weight though. I’ve been busy working again recently. But when I consider that I’m doing it all for your sake, I don’t feel unhappy at all. I feel as if I’ve got to work even harder.
Thanks to that, I’ve got almost enough money to buy your freedom. So you don’t have to worry about choosing me.
Of course you’re going to choose me, aren’t you? Nanami.
Why have you got that expression on your face?
I want to buy your freedom and take you home with me soon. Then I’ll be able to see you all the time, without having to come all the way here.
I’m sure every day will be an enjoyable one. Everything will work out and we’ll enjoy ourselves all the time.
As long as you’re around, I’ll be able to create amazing paintings. It was the same at that time too. The day when I first painted a picture of you. I’ve been thinking about a lot of things since then. Good things always happen when I’m with you. I paint one picture after another and I earn money too. It’s all thanks to your mysterious power.
You’re saying that again… It’s no good pretending. I know everything, you see. When I saw you the other day, I was able to paint something that sold reasonably well. You did something to help me, didn’t you?
Why are you denying it? You helped me, didn’t you? That was your answer to me, wasn’t it? Because I felt that way, I even gave Chou-san away.
That’s right. A man who owns a show tent contacted me a while ago. He wanted me to give Chou-san to him. As you know, Chou-san is a very handsome and intelligent bird. He wanted to teach him to speak and make him the star attraction of his show tent.
I’d never considered giving Chou-san away before. Chou-san was my only family, you see. But I need a lot of money in order to make you mine. If you’re mine, then I’ll be fine without Chou-san. I’m not lonely at all. I’m actually satisfied that I’ve got a lot of money.
Hey, Nanami. I want you to be mine soon.
Come, let’s exchange cups of wine. I heard that we must exchange cups of wine if we’re going to spend the night together. Perhaps you didn’t give me answer before because we hadn’t exchanged cups of wine? If that was the case, then you should have said so.
Here you go. Have a drink, Nanami. Let’s put an end to this ridiculous fight quickly.
What’s the matter? Come on, pick up the wine cup quickly.
Why? Do you hate me?
Then why are you refusing? I need you. I’d do anything to make you mine! That’s why I’ve been working to scrape together some money, no matter how vulgar the magazine was or how indecent the advertisement was! You used your powers to help me, didn’t you? You did that because you cared about me, didn’t you? You’re saying you won’t choose me now, despite that? I can’t agree with that!
It’s not like that? What do you mean?
You haven’t done anything? That can’t be true! You see, I can even sense your power now. When I see your face, I feel excited and happy. I can forget about bad things and I feel sure that I’ll be able to paint good pictures too!
It’s because I’m with you. This is your power. I’m sure that it was because of this power that my works were suddenly accepted by society.
My skills? No… That’s not right.
Even if that was the case, you were the one who drew out my skills. You don’t understand, no matter how much I say? Everything that happened was all thanks to you! I know that!
Perhaps it was something you did without realising? I don’t mind if that’s what it was. But then that’s even more reason for me not to leave you here. You’re a miraculous being who hides a great power. Wouldn’t you be troubled if someone else found out and tried to take you away?
I’m the one who will own your power. So listen to what I say, Nanami.
I was a little rough, but I suppose this counts as exchanging cups of wine.
Hey. Come on and say you’ll choose me. That’s all you need to do now.
Or are you telling me that you’ve found someone better than me?
Stop? What are you talking about? There’s no way I can do that. You’re going to be mine now, Nanami.
It’s alright. I won’t hurt you. I’ll be disqualified from the game if I do that. I’ll be gentle, so don’t resist me any longer. Entrust yourself to me.
I did something pretty terrible to you, didn’t I? Even the things I said were unreasonable.
It would’ve only been natural if you ended up hating me, never mind about choosing me.
But I honestly did believe it back then. That everything was the result of a miracle you had performed… It might be more accurate to say that I clung to that idea. In the end, I probably didn’t have any confidence about the paintings I did. That’s why I couldn’t believe in my own abilities. It was all thanks to you that everything went well. When things didn’t go so well, it was because you weren’t there. That was what I thought and I didn’t try to face myself.
I wouldn’t be able to paint a good picture like that. You made me realise that. What would I have been doing right now if I hadn’t realised? I might have lost everything and ended up dead. You might have been living a better life after someone important bought your freedom.
Why are you shaking your head? Could it be that you’re still happy you chose me?
I see. You really are a good-natured person, or perhaps an incredible idiot.
What do you mean I can’t buy her freedom?! I’m a participant in the game! I’ve got the money ready too! I’ve got the right to buy her freedom! Anyway, wasn’t it you who asked me to be one of the participants? So why are you saying that now?!
She did… What are you talking about?
Then let me see Nanami right now! Otherwise…
Nanami…! You came at just the right time! Look! I’ve finally got the money to buy your freedom!
I’m sorry I kept you waiting. Come on! Come with me!
Why are you saying that? Do you intend to betray me?
That’s not true? You don’t understand me, despite all I’ve said? There’s no problem with us being together! Haven’t I kept telling you that only good things have happened? Everything goes well when you’re around! But if you’re not around, nothing goes right!
I need you! You should understand that by now!
What do you mean? You want to forget everything that has happened?
Why is that…?
Of course I can’t do it! If you’re not around, then from now on, I…
A gift? I don’t want that! You see… It’s only you that I want!
Chou-san… What’s going on? Why have you got Chou-san?
It can’t be…You’re going to ask me to give up on you in return for bringing him back?
What’s the meaning of that? Stop making a fool of me!
No! I’m not leaving!
Wait! Wait! Nanami!
Stop! Let go of me! Nanami!
Wait! I don’t want this! I don’t want it!
We should never have met. I was completely unaware that those words were a sign of your kindness.
When I finally realised, I had done something that I couldn’t take back.
Why did things turn out like this…? Everything’s over… It’s over…
Do you hate me now? Or did someone else win your affection?
I’m sure that’s what happened. You were dazzled by the status and fortunes of the other participants. I don’t know whether they were nobles or something else, but I’ve been made a fool of!
Just like the other courtesans, she only wanted to deceive men and cheat them out of their money! I was tricked! She pretended to be someone from the countryside who knew nothing… She treated me like a plaything!
I’m sure that’s why she used the power of a mermaid to help me!
I can’t forgive her. I definitely can’t.
I’m not going to let her end up being happy with another man!
Nanami… You’re going to be mine. You’ve got to stay by my side and use that mysterious power.
Hmm… There are quite a few people here seeing him off. So that man is a regular customer?
Ah, Nanami… You’re more beautiful than everyone else again today.
There are so many courtesans around, but not one of them compares to you.
You’re smiling… Are you that fond of that other man?
You haven’t smiled at me recently, have you?
If I get rid of all the other participants, then she’ll have to choose me. But you probably won’t smile again…
The military police…
Hmm, what’s the matter? Are you doing your rounds?
Thanks for your hard work. Goodbye then.
What is it? Let go of me! I’m going home!
No… It’s not like that… I’m not trying to make excuses… I said I’m going home! I don’t have any more business here!
I can’t believe you’d shoot an ordinary person all of a sudden…
That’s right… But I’m an artist… I can’t sharpen charcoal without a knife… It’s not like I was waving it around.
I wonder what would happen if anyone found out that the military police shot an ordinary person by mistake…
I’m going home. I’m going to go home and forget about everything.
She’ll probably never be mine. Even if I try and force you to be mine… Nanami… You probably won’t smile at me again…
In that case… It doesn’t matter… Nothing matters anymore…
Chou…san… What are you doing here?
Ah… I see… You ran away from Kirarou the other day…
Hey… Chou-san… I’m sorry… You were like family to me, but I did terrible things to you. I’m really sorry. I won’t ask you to forgive me now though.
Ah… He’s gone… Of course he would go… If I’m going to die alone now, then that’s fine…
I was able to apologise to Chou-san, so won’t it be alright? But at the very end, I’d like to see Nanami, even if it is only for a moment…
Oh? Nanami… Is that really you…?
I thought you didn’t want to see me again.
Chou-san… Chou-san brought you here?
I see… You really are intelligent, Chou-san.
I wanted to see you. There’s something I have to tell you.
Hey… Why do you look as if you’re about to cry? Even though you abandoned me so cruelly… You really are an idiot…
You said this before, didn’t you? That we should never have met… I suppose that’s true… It was a mistake for me to set foot in Yoshiwara, somewhere I don’t even belong…
I should have thrown away that letter without reading it… If I had done that, I would still be living a carefree life with Chou-san… I wouldn’t have known about the game or the rumours about the mermaid…
Even if I wasn’t popular, I would have worked hard and painted the picture that I wanted to paint someday… I would have had something to aim for too… If only I could take back everything that happened… If only I could go back to how I was before and do everything again… That’s how I feel.
But… Nanami… I still don’t feel as if we should never have met. You see… I really do love you.
I got distracted by unnecessary things like the mermaid’s power and the game, then before I knew it, I was only thinking about how to make you mine. But I didn’t actually want to do that. I just loved you. I wanted you to love me too. I’m sorry I couldn’t say it properly.
I saw an illusion in my clouded mind. It was as if I was in the sea. Before me, there was a beautiful mermaid princess, just like one from an illustration in a book from the West.
She had an incredibly sorrowful expression on her face and wouldn’t stop crying. I thought it was strange, considering she was in the sea. But her beauty was breathtaking.
When I saw her, I thought “I want to paint a picture right now”. However, it would be a better painting if she was smiling. Ahaha.
After that, I suddenly felt my body floating to the surface.
I’m… What on earth happened? I thought I was dead… I was in so much pain earlier too… I don’t feel any pain at all now…
Nanami… Did you do something?
What? I can’t hear you! Speak more loudly!
It can’t be… You’ve lost your voice… Is it because you cried for me? Are you really a mermaid?
Why…? But… That other time… This didn’t happen when we watched the cinematograph together… I’m sure you cried, but you didn’t lose your voice!
Why? Hey, try to remember! What was different about that time… Once we know that, we could find a way to get your voice back!
I can’t understand like that! My goodness! What am I supposed to do?
Right! Write here! If you do that, then I’m sure… Come on! Use your finger to write on the palm of my hand!
I… love… you…
Hey… Will your voice return to normal if you abandon that feeling?
I see… But I’m a little relieved to hear that…
You see… You’ll have to end up hating me for your voice to come back…
Now that we’ve understood each other’s feelings, I don’t want that to happen.
I’m sorry for being selfish. But I’m really happy that you told me you love me.
I ended up sacrificing you, didn’t I? Even though I wanted you to smile…
But there’s one thing I can do, isn’t there? I’ll paint plenty of good pictures so that you’ll be able to smile. For the sake of the person I love.
So this time I definitely will take responsibility for her.
That’s alright, isn’t it, Nanami?
As for the fee, please accept this.
However, things will be more difficult from now on. I haven’t got a single penny left after paying the fee.
Are you worried?
It’s alright. I’m going to work hard so that you’ll be comfortable.
Well, we might have to make do with Russian bread for a while though. I’ve given up on creating all those indecent paintings just for the sake of money. I won’t do anything like that again. Now I feel the same way I did when I first painted a picture of you. Even I got excited about it being a good painting while I was working on it. I really wanted to complete it quickly. I still feel the same way now.
Anyway, I want to paint something soon! Ideas for things I want to paint are coming into my mind one after another! I think I’ll be able to make all of them into good paintings! If I paint a good picture, then I can help you relax a little. I’ve got to work hard!
I’m not relying on the mermaid’s power like I did before though. I really do feel as if I can paint better pictures than I usually do when you’re by my side. The person I love is by my side, you see. So of course I’d feel motivated!
Oh? You’re blushing. Are you embarrassed? Is it because I called you the person I love?
Hmm… You’re looking down. So you really are embarrassed.
You can’t do that though. Come closer. Tonight is the last time I’ll see you in Kirarou.
When I think about us leaving here tomorrow and living together, I should feel really happy…
But it’s a little sad that I won’t see you looking like this again. So much so that I’d like to paint a picture of you looking like this.
I won’t paint a picture of you like this after all. I don’t have any drawing materials with me. I want to keep the expression you’ve got right now all to myself too… Someone else would see it if I painted a picture, wouldn’t they? I don’t want that to happen.
Hey, Nanami. How shall we spend our days from now on? What would you like to do when you leave this place?
I want to paint pictures. I would like to paint your picture too, but first of all I’m going to paint a picture of the sea, just like I promised I would. The sea in your hometown. I’d like to keep practising the Western style of art, then go and paint a picture of that sea someday. Together with you.
Even if it takes me ten or twenty years to finish, I hope that I can give you a painting that’ll make you happy. Sorry, but I won’t be giving up. You’ll wait for me, won’t you? By my side, until that day.
Thank you. It’ll be fine. I’m sure I can do it. I’ll certainly try to paint a picture that will surprise the whole of Japan… No… The whole world… I’ll be doing it for you, of course.
Ah… We got so carried away talking about the past that we lost track of time. We’ll go down to the river tomorrow after all. It’s gotten quite cold too.
Right… I got some wine as a gift, so shall we warm it up and have some? We’ll put some thin slices of apple in it too. I’m sure it’ll make us feel warm.
Ah… Who could be calling at this time? I suppose we shouldn’t have gotten a phone here after all. You wouldn’t use it anyway. I need it for work though…
Hello, this is Shinonoi.
Eh… A call from Hirasawa-san?
No, I don’t mind. Please put him through.
Is that you, Hirasawa-san? It’s been a while since we last spoke. I’m surprised you knew the phone number of this house.
I’m sorry you had to go to all that trouble. I moved house without telling you how to contact me, you see.
Something important? What is it?
Eh? The competition that took place the other day?
Hmm… Well… Yes, I was the one who painted that entry in the competition. But the painting was in a Western style instead of ukiyo-e. I didn’t use the name “Shinonoi” either. I’m surprised that you knew it was me.
Ah… Well, I’m surprised to receive a compliment from you.
I got carried away the last time we talked and I was quite rude. I’m very sorry about that.
In Gekkan Roman? Is that alright?
Ah… A special feature?! But if you’d like me to do it, then I’ll make sure to do a good job! What kind of painting would you like?
You’re going to let me decide? I can’t do that… But… Well… If you’ve seen the painting I entered in the competition, then how about another picture of the sea?
I considered that, but I think I’ll go for something else after all! Wasn’t there a painting of a beautiful woman that you admired before? What if I were to use the same woman as the model this time too? Of course, it will be in a Western style of art this time.
Thank goodness! I’m glad about that! I can make arrangements for the model immediately.
Yes… Well, we’re more than just friends. My wife was the model for that painting.
Hey, Nanami! This is important!
I’m going to paint something now, so just sit there. I suppose you should sit with your legs out to the side, instead of kneeling. I think I can get the pose drawn out before it gets dark. Hirasawa-san is going to publish my paintings in Gekkan Roman again! He’ll be making a special feature too! It seems like he’s pretty excited! So I want to paint something soon!
He said he saw the Western style painting that I recently entered in a competition. The painting of the sea in your hometown that I did when we’d just moved here.
It was a small competition, but I won a prize. I enjoyed painting that picture, so I’m glad that someone else noticed it like this.
Hmm? Even you look happy! But I like that expression! I’ve made up my mind! This time I’m going to paint a picture of a mermaid princess, with you as the model. Since the incidents involving Kuro Yoshiwara, I’ve avoided painting something with the theme of mermaids because I felt as if it wasn’t right. But now I think I’ll be able to create a good painting.
Although it will be a painting of a mermaid, I don’t want it to be a tragic painting which reminds people of stories from the West, but something more cheerful. I’ve seen plenty of illustrations like that before anyway, you see.
The theme will be “a mermaid’s smile”… Let’s go with that! I’m going to use your smiling face as a reference for it!
Hey, look! Even Chou-san agrees!
Ah… How about I include Chou-san in the painting too?
Hmm… But I suppose the combination of a mermaid and a parakeet is quite strange, isn’t it? Though there’s no doubt that it’s original, so I suppose it doesn’t matter. Anyway, all I have to do is work hard at painting what I want to paint. Everything else doesn’t really matter.
Chou-san seems to be really excited about this too! Let’s start right away!
We’ll work out the composition and the pose first.
I enjoy every day that I’m with you and I just keep on thinking of new things I want to paint. But there’s no need to rush. I’ll let everything take shape gradually. I’ve got plenty of time, you see. I’m going to create plenty of wonderful paintings from now on. So that you, the person I love, will smile like you are doing now. Forever and ever…
This is Morikawa Toshiyuki, the voice actor for Shinonoi Seno. Now it’s time for the free talk. I’ve just finished recording the two discs of this CD. As for my thoughts on it… I feel a sense of accomplishment. But after this there are still some extra recordings to be done. Now I don’t think that’s possible though.
It was fun. I played the part of an ukiyo-e artist. I felt it was an unusual and artistic role at first.
Although there was that aspect, he had the feel of a young man. It was fun!
I’m sorry. I was messing around.
Was there a scene that left an impression on you? Please tell us what it is.
Hmm… I wonder whether I should tell you. Alright, I’m going to tell you.
I don’t know how it was for the other cast members, but there was an animal making an appearance this time! A parakeet called Chou-san appeared in the story.
He was an unexpectedly important person in the story. Ah, not an important person… More like an important bird.
He was really important and was like a family member. The parakeet called Chou-san lived together with Seno as a family member. There is also someone called Chou-san in my line of work, so I laughed at first. However, I was able to get into the role without feeling anything like that. Sometimes I would take a break as it felt strange to keep saying “Chou-san”. I suppose it’s not important though.
Anyway, back to that important bird called Chou-san… People say that love is blind. Seno was going to sell Chou-san, a member of his family, for the money to buy Nanami’s freedom.
I think people listening to this have already heard the main story… So he sold that important bird Chou-san to someone else. Chou-san is not just a side character. That was a very shocking scene. People really do become blind when they fall in love.
But Chou-san comes back. He comes back chirping loudly. I think you would be moved by the scene where he comes back. It shows the depth of this work. That’s a good scene. I think you should listen to it… Ah, but you have heard it. Of course you have. Anyway, I think you’ll be even more moved if you listen to it again.
Seno watched a movie with the main character in Asakusa. A cinematograph. Please tell us a story involving the first movie you saw.
A movie, hmm? What if that movie was rated 18? Of course not. I saw one a long time before that. The first movie I saw with the allowance I got… It was… Hmm, what was it? Ah, got it! I wonder if I can say it? The title is like “Space Battles”. It involves people fighting each other in space. It’s a series of movies that’s still going on. It has episode something or other in the title. I am in it too . It’s a good role. This is difficult, I can’t say everything. I’m being ambiguous about this so important people won’t have to worry about it.
A movie that’s a big hit all over the world. A popular major work. The first time I went to see a movie with my own allowance. My hometown is in Yokohama and when soldiers from the US army came to the movie theatre on Sundays, they would go and watch that movie. So there were a lot of foreigners and when the movie started, from the upper seats you would hear “ahh” and “whoa” and “yeah” while popcorn would rain down. It felt like I wasn’t in Japan.
If that kind of thing happened in Japan, I think people would say “please watch more quietly”. I guess people from the US often make noise like that, laugh without hesitation and show their excitement during the exciting scenes by calling out things like “YEAH!”. That was pretty amazing. I guess that was the first movie I saw with my own allowance.
I love movies and I often went to the small movie theatre where I lived to watch to watch triple features. You can stay the whole day for one entrance fee. I would watch the same film twice and see six films in one day. I was in the movie theatre for the whole time. That’s what my childhood was like.
The theme of this CD is mermaids. Mermaids are a legendary creature said to live underwater. Please try to draw a mermaid from memory.
Right… What should I do?
Ah! The staff have brought a pen and some paper. I’ve got to use those to draw. It seems that I’ve got to talk while drawing too. Will I be able to do this? I’ll try my best.
Just wait a moment. Oh, where’d the pen go?
Alright. I’m going to draw a mermaid. I don’t know what kind of mermaid it will be when I’m doing it from memory.
A mermaid is part human and part fish. They seem to go together pretty well.
I wonder how it is? I suppose I’ll start with the face.
Ah… Alright, I’m going to start!
It looks like a shishamo . What should I do?
They have hands, don’t they?
Oh… It’s turned into something unfortunate.
Ah… I’m sorry.
One, two, three. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four.
It looks scary.
I can’t start again, can I?
What should I do? Ah! I’ll draw some eyelashes. Maybe it’ll look more like a woman then.
Ahaha! It’s scary! This is crazy.
I’m sorry. I think that’s done.
Right… I need to draw a seashell bra.
A seashell bra… A seashell bra…
It’s the Takeda Kumiko  of our generation…
What shall I do? This is a rock…
It looks pretty amazing…
Ah, it looks more like a mermaid now.
I’m being particular about the strap on the seashell bra.
Oh? It looks a little like an ama-san .
I’m finished. This is a mermaid.
Are you going to give this as a present to someone?
You won’t? I see, you won’t. Well, it’ll probably get thrown away somewhere.
Thank you very much. I drew a mermaid.
Last of all, give a message to the listeners.
I would like to finish by saying that I hope for Shinonoi Seno from Kuro Yoshiwara Melancholia to develop even more from now on.
This series might actually become popular enough to continue, but it might be no good because of this terrible mermaid I’ve drawn.
It’s not my fault. It was the fault of the person who asked me to draw. That was unfortunate. I suppose it’s strange to say it’s unfortunate.
I think you will be able to make an interesting connection with the rest of the cast from now on, so please continue to support Kuro Yoshiwara Melancholia. Thank you very much. This was Morikawa Toshiyuki. Goodbye.
 Morikawa is referring to Star Wars, in which he does the Japanese voice for Obi wan Kenobi.
 Shishamo are small saltwater fish. Their name literally translates as “willow leaf fish”.
 Takeda Kumiko is an actress who wore a seashell bikini on one of her photobook covers.
 Ama-san are women who dive for shellfish and pearls, mainly in the sea around Mie Prefecture.