Have I mentioned that Sei is gay? 'Cause she is. Really, obviously
gay. I just want to make the point.
(In case you feel like arguing that falling in love with a woman once
doesn't make you gay, with which I agree, let me remind you that,
after Shizuka and she have their conversation, she comments that
Shizuka is quite charming, and that she would have liked to get to
know her sooner - they could have been good friends. Then Sei kisses
Shikuka as close to the lips as she can. Still not convinced? Read on.
The New Year's arc is written in first person, from Yumi's point of
view. It gives us some serious insight into her thoughts. The rest of
the Yamayurikai do not show up for this arc, something that is done
correctly in the manga, but not in the anime.
The entire first part is Yumi at home with her family on New Year's
Eve and Day - all very normal family interaction and establishes her
relationship with Yuuki much better than the anime does. It turns out
that Yuuki was conceived right after her birth then born prematurely,
so that he's a little small for a boy. It mortifies Yumi that they
look like twins, but she's glad he's a boy, so not in the same school
as her. She's also very older sister-y to him, despite the fact that
they are pretty much the same age.
Sachiko's New Year card was drawn with calligraphy pen and ink - Yumi
did hers on the word processor with clip art, last minute, because she
Yumi hears the phone ring and her mother answer it, and based on the
responses, she thinks it must be her grandmother, because her mother
is speaking so formally. So she's quite shocked to find out that it's
Yumi's first thought at Sei's invitation to "hatsumode" (first shrine
visit of the new year) is that she might get to see Sachiko praying at
the shrine in kimono.
Sei goes from speaking like an old man, wanting to see Yumi's pajamas
in her bag, to speaking like a child - probably just to drive Yumi
crazy. When Yumi asks how Sei got there, Sei responds, "bun bun" -
like a baby calling a car a "vroom vroom."
Sei shoves a bag of sweets in Yumi's coat pocket, then spends the rest
of the scene reaching into Yumi's pocket to pull out candy. (Yumi
does, as well, so the scenes are accented with flavors as she puts
pieces in her mouth.)
When they get to the shrine, Sei makes them get fortunes first. Yumi
finds it hard to believe that Sei is even normally religious (and, in
fact, Sei never prays while at the shrine), but when she sees that
pretty young miko seem to be handing out the omikuji, Yumi becomes
suspicious of Sei's motives.
Sei comments that in Yumi's family, she can tell that Mari-sama and
Buddha live side by side, because of the smell of incense and sacred
wine that comes from yumi. Yumi starts to protest, but Sei just looks
at her seriously and says that it was just a metaphor. Yumi think that
she's right though - although her family isn't religious, they have
ofuda hanging, and Yuuki has Buddhist objects from Hanadera, while
she, obviously, has Christian things from Lillian.
When they finally get up to the front of the line Sei does, in fact,
flirt with the miko, giving them openly "eroppoi" looks - let's call
it somewhere between a leer and bedroom eyes, shall we? When the miko
hands over the omikuji, Sei takes her hand and holds it.
On the way to the car, Sei keeps handing Yumi all the bags of food to
carry - at some point Yumi feels as if she's running away from home.
It turns out that *Sachiko * was the one who coined the "Gingko
Prince" nickname for Kashiwagi. (And, btw, neither Sei nor Yumi can
remember his name initially.)
There is no butler at the door - really, all the servants are gone.
Yuuki answers the door, to Yumi's shock. Which brings me to this point
- Yuuki did not lose a bet at the game center - he WAS the bet. His
friend Kobayashi lost to Kashiwagi, so Kashiwagi got Yuuki for the
As Yumi gazes lovingly at Sachiko, when she comes to the door, we get
a *detailed* description of her clothes, her hair - even how her make-
up is romantic. Yumi is overcome by the desire to turn around and
shout, "This lovely woman is my onee-sama!" to everyone and anyone
Sachiko's mother, Sayoko, is very relaxed and delightful. She tells
Yumi right off to call her Sayoko, and that she will call Yumi Yumi-
chan. (Yumi notes that when Kashiwagi called her Yumi-chan, Sei got
pissed, but when Sayoko does, Sei doesn't protest.)
I think that Kashiwagi is gayer in the novel than he is in the anime.
Remember - Sei pegged him immediately in the first novel. Here he
serves tea...traditionally a woman's job.
Sayoko plays cards with everyone and Yumi begins to really like her.
But when she catches Sayoko-obasama pouting at Sachiko she wants to
run up and hug the older woman, because she's so cute! (I'm SO sorry
we didn't have time in the anime to get to know Sayoko better - she's
really adorable.) Oh, and Yumi recognizes the pout - she's seen
Sachiko use it on Rosa Chinensis.
Yumi catches Kashiwagi stealing sushi out of Sachiko's box and gets
indignant...even when she realizes that he's probably just taking the
things she doesn't like, it still annoys her. In her head she calls
him, "You bastard Kashiwagi" - in the same tone of voice that Rosa
Gigantea uses when she talks to him.
Oh - when the sushi is opened, both Yuuki and Yumi hesitate to eat it,
knowing that, if they do, they will never be able to eat sushi again.
lol (I've had that problem myself, so I sympathize. Once you've had
good sushi, you can never order it again at a place that's mediocre.)
Unlike in the anime, (where Sachiko and Yumi never had this talk) Yumi
*does* know about Kashiwagi's sexual preference and she worries
through the whole story about Yuuki. (Acting older sister-y again -
and she's very conscious of the fact.)
Kashiwagi and Sei get into an argument just before Sayoko comes by
with the Nakakiyono paper and brushes. Kashiwagi complains that no one
likes him because he's too cool. Yumi think of Yoshino's line - "your
brain is turning into miso."
Sei just clears her throat derisively.
Sayoko and the boys all do the Nakakiyono charm with the girls. Yumi
complains that her writing is terrible - she's not used to writing
vertically, or right to left, or with a brush. Then she sees Yuuki's
characters and feels better.
And last of all, Yumi's first dream of the New Year is this:
Sachiko, dressed as Benten, goddess of wisdom, is staggering under
many large black boxes of sushi, while Sei, as Kokuten, god of wealth,
has bags of takoyaki and roasted corn in one hand and in the other
from her mallet flows a wave of candy, "falling down like a never-
Once again, a fun book from Konno Oyuki, a woman for whom I have
nothing but immense respect as a writer. (Except her puns kill me.)
Oh, and btw...Sei is really gay. lol