Masterpost: Waiting at Tuberose Summary

As I read through Tuberose, I was thinking it'd be nice to keep a summary going of the things that happen through out the book. This is not a translation, just a summary. I couldn't and I'm not trying to maintain Shige's writing style, but if you're curious to know about the general plot then I hope this is helpful to you!

Age 22

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Age 32

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Chapter 19 - 美津子 Mitsuko

[※ Content Warning (click to open)]
※ Content warning for talk of suicide.

It’s mid-September and the summer heat is still unrelenting, with the deaths due to heat stroke in the hundreds. Since Kouta works at night, it doesn’t affect him except for now as he heads to Mitsuko’s house in the early afternoon.

When he got his job offer he called her and she was really happy for him, he could hear her sniffling over the phone, but after that communication from her had suddenly stopped. At first Kouta didn’t think much of it, but he’s been unable to reach her though LINE nor texts and when he tries to call her he just gets a recording saying that her number is not in use. He feels like it’s her refusing him, but he becomes worried and decides to visit her at home.

He doesn’t have a key to her place, but hesitates to ring the bell thinking that if she’s cut off contact with him, then she’s unlikely to let him in. Like he did when entering Shizuku’s building, he gets in when a resident is leaving and heads up to the 3rd floor. He can tell someone is home, and when he rings the doorbell someone calls out from inside, but it’s not Mitsuko’s voice. A boy who looks to be around high school age answers the door and asks who he is.

Kouta, irritated by the heat and the boys rude greeting, asks him who he is and says that he’s here to see Saito Mitsuko and was wondering if she’s in. The boy answers that he’s her nephew and asks who Kouta is. Mitsuko never seemed to want to talk about her family, so Kouta didn’t know she had a nephew. He changes to polite speech, and tells him his name and says that he’s from AIDA and came to see Mitsuko on a sudden urgent matter.

The nephew gives him a dubious look and asks if he hasn’t heard, saying that they told her company. Kouta realizes that he must have seen through his lie and tries to cover asking what he’s referring to. He answers that his aunt isn’t there, she’s passed away.

Kouta asks him if he was told to say that, and the nephew becomes annoyed and asks him to leave. Kouta tells him not to joke around and the nephew says that he isn’t, and the lack of energy in his face annoys Kouta more and he yells at him. The nephew tries to close the door in his face, but Kouta stops it with his foot and forces his way in.

Inside are lots of cardboard boxes, and Kouta asks if they’re preparing to move and the boy is annoyed by Kouta’s insistence. Kouta notices an odd smell. He goes into the apartment without taking his shoes off as the nephew yells after him. As he heads further in the smell gets stronger and Kouta notices that while the furniture such as the bookcase is there, everything is empty and on the table is an urn.

The nephew tells him that his aunt killed herself, and he’s here managing her possessions. Kouta goes to the urn and lifts the lid and inside is a white power, he sees stars flickering on the edges of his vision. The nephew asks him what’s going on and to cut it out. Kouta asks him if she really killed herself, and the nephew said that that’s what he told him before and that she hung herself on the bedroom doorknob. Kouta thinks about how he’s touched that doorknob many times, and sees that floor below it is stained with something and at last realizes what the smell must have been. He is suddenly overwhelmed with nausea and runs to the bathroom to throw up.

Kouta imagines Mitsuko’s hands wrapping a rope around his neck, her face is emotionless and her skin feels as if it’s been coated in wax. Thinking of that makes him throw up again. The nephew asks him if he’s ok and offers him a handkerchief, but Kouta refuses it and wipes his mouth with some toilet paper. The nephew asks him who he is, saying that couldn’t have been a coworker.

Kouta tells him that he’s new to the company and that Mitsuko helped him a lot, so he had wanted to come to thank her, the higher ups didn’t tell him about her death which the nephew accepts. Kouta asks him what happened, and the nephew says that she had been embezzling the company’s money and the stars reappear in Kouta’s vision. The nephew adds that he doesn’t really know, but thinks that she must have killed herself because she was having money troubles.

Kouta thinks about how the reason she was probably able to spend so much at Tuberose despite being in accounting is because she was using the company money. He recalls a conversation with Misaki, and how she told him to not view them as people but as clients- as money, and how kindness or affection will only hurt him. She had told him that whether the clients work the sex industry or borrow money from the yakuza or even die, he should have the strength to pretend he doesn’t know. He thought she had just been over exaggerating to threaten him, and thinks about how that means that the one who killed Mitsuko is….

Thinking that makes the white stars clouding his vision float and move around wildly. Kouta asks the nephew if she left a note and he says that she didn’t. Kouta feels as if he's lost his sense of equilibrium, but manages to stand and apologizes for barging in. The entryway feels far away, and there’s no longer any smell. He opens the front door and the sun which had been shining brightly before is now blocked by clouds.

As he’s leaving, the nephew asks him to tell the higher ups at the company that if her life insurance comes in he’ll repay them and shuts the door before Kouta can answer. The clouds grow larger as Kouta leaves the apartment. He doesn’t want to believe what just happened, and hopes that she just fled somewhere far away, but thinks that it’s unlikely that the nephew was lying to him. No one knew he was coming today for them to try to trick him anyway. But his body can’t accept that she’s gone.

It begins to rain. The time he’s spent with Mitsuko feels like it’s slipping out of his hands, all becoming past tense- her last words to him, her straightening his necktie, their kiss. He wonders when she decided to die, was her embezzlement discovered when they were apart? Or had she already decided from the time they met? The rain strengths getting Kouta thoroughly wet.

He was the one to order her to keep coming to Tuberose, he took advantage of her obedience and hadn’t hesitated in making her spend lots of money. He stops walking and thinks about how he’s the one who invited her death, though he hadn’t wished for that to happen. He thinks about how he’d return all the money she spent and more if she would come back.

The road ahead of him seems to warp, but not from the heat. He thinks about how her skin that he’d like to touch no longer exists in this world. His tears are washed away by the rain, and his sobs drowned out by the sound of it. He feels like he is being swallowed by the puddle that he’s standing in. Before him he sees two big hands, Mitsuko’s hands. The hands surround his neck and begin to squeeze.

It becomes even more difficult for him to breathe, but he finds it comforting to feel her warmth again. But then the arms begin to lose color, they thin and the skin begins to crack and peel and fall away. Her flesh decomposes and turns black. In the end all that remains is bone, but her hands still remain clutching Kouta’s neck.

Kouta closes his eyes and wishes for everything to be a lie. The rain gets even stronger and Kouta feels everything, including himself, grow cold.

← Chapter 18      Continue to AGE32 →

Chapter 18 - 戻るべき場所、行くべき場所 The Place You Must Return to, the Place You Must Go

After all the interviews have finished, Kouta has three unofficial job offers and one rejection. Three weeks have passed since his interview with AIDA, but he hasn’t heard anything. Though he knows it’s unlikely they’d hire him, since he heard back from DDL right away when he was rejected, he can’t let it go yet.

Mitsuko has been busy at work and Kouta is busy preparing to leave Tuberose, so they haven’t seen each other since the day of the interview. Though he had planned on working there until right before beginning work, because he said he would quit when he got an offer, he’s trying to quit as early as possible so as to not break his promise if he gets it. However, he knows Mizutani and the other hosts won’t make it easy, especially for a popular host.

At the end of August, Kota pays a visit to Inarikio shrine when Mizutani is visiting. Mizutani spots him after praying and Kota tells him he has something he wants to talk to him about. Mizutani seems to guess what Kouta wants to discuss, and motions that they should continue the conversation inside Tuberose. Once inside, Mizutani suggests they talk in the staff room, but Kouta insists on talking at one of the tables out front wanting to stay within the eyesight of others.

Kouta gathers his courage and tells asks Mizutani to let him quit, telling him that he was only planning on working there until he found work. Mizutani stays silent for a moment, seemingly disinterested before telling Kouta that he doesn’t mind if he leaves, but there are conditions. He can quit if he can get three people who exceed his highest monthly sales numbers, warning him that he knows what will happen if he doesn’t.

Though he speaks softly, his voice is threatening like that of a demon king, but Kouta’s already decided that he won’t accept any conditions and tells him so. Mizutani lights a cigar and asks him if he’s suddenly become a hot shot while job searching, telling him that if he’ll make it so he can never work again. Kouta doesn’t bend, and Mizutani raises his voice getting the attention of the other hosts.

Kouta brings up Amu, accusing Mizutani of using him to stop Shizuku from quitting. Kouta’s voice shakes with nerves, but he confronts Mizutani who begins to look angrier and angrier. Mizutani grabs Kouta by the front of his shirt and drags him close to his face, and Kouta can feel the heat of the cigar on his cheek. However, he’s able to pull out his smart phone in his pocket and play the recording of his and Amu’s conversation at the university. In the recording, Amu explains what Mizutani made him do to set up Shizuku, and that Shizuku, who made him money, was more important to him than Amu.

Kouta explains that Amu came to see him and told him the truth, and Mizutani calls him a liar. He puts out his cigar and steps back to calm down, asking Kouta if he thinks he can take him down with this. Seeing Mizutani act cocky gets on Kouta’s nerves and he loses control grabbing Mizutani by the front of his shirt. He asks him what it is he wanted to protect. If it was Shizuku, and how that turned out.

Mizutani slaps him across the face, but he refuses to let go. He yells about how Amu trusted him, and he used him. Even if his mother was only his mistress, he’s still his son. Kouta continues even after Mizutani tells him to be quiet and slaps him again, asking how Tuberose is doing after Shizuku left, if the sales have increased. Nobody has managed to surpass Shizuku’s record yet.

Kouta yells at him to return the Shizuku that he looked up to, to return his friend Amu. Mizutani slaps him even harder and Kouta falls out of his chair to the floor. Mizutani climbs on top of him and shouts in his face. Kouta continues to yell at him to admit he messed up while all the other hosts watch, but on one interferes. Mizutani yells that he’ll show him what happens to people who defy him and begins swinging punches. Kouta begins to find it hard to even breathe, and wonders what’s taking so long. He wonders if it’s to get back at him for when he punched him earlier.

Suddenly Mizutani stills, and the other hosts' gasps alert Kouta to the fact that the person he’s expecting has arrived. Mizutani stands up from Kouta, smooths back his hair to look at the new comer, asking him who he is.

Shizuku approaches Mizutani, looking as he had before- the result of dieting and exercise. Shizuku is the first to move, bowing down to the floor and asks Mizutani to forgive him and let him work at Tuberose again. He says it’s thanks to ‘Papa’ that he was able to become number one, he has no where else to go.

When Kouta had told Shizuku about Amu at the soba restaurant, he thought he would want revenge, but instead he had cried quietly and said he wanted to go back. Shizuku continues to beg Mizutani, but he tells him he’s not cut out to work at Tuberose and to go somewhere else.

Kouta regrets that part of him thought Mizutani was a good person- wished he was. There’s a pause where neither Kouta nor Shizuku can move, and then one of the other hosts gets bows down on the floor as well, asking Mizutani to take Shizuku back, saying that he’s needed there. The host sounds terrified, and Shizuku looks surprised and pleased.

Slowly more and more hosts follow suit, until they’re all down on the floor bowing asking for Mizutani to forgive Shizuku. Mizutani’s anger reaches a breaking point and he yells at them that it doesn’t matter what they say and goes to leave Tuberose.

Kouta panics and yells after him if that means that Shizuku can go start his own place, and Mizutani says he’d like to see him try. As Mizutani goes to leave again, Kouta shouts out to the other hosts asking them if they would follow Shizuku. That stops Mizutani in his tracks. At first there’s silence, but then first one and eventually every host raises their hand to say that they’ll follow him. Shizuku looks unsure and like he hasn’t fully digested the situation yet, but then slowly nods and says he’ll do it.

Mizutani glares at Kouta and Shizuku, and then tells Kouta he has to work for him until March, help make it so Shizuku can come back. Help the less experienced hosts and handle things with Shizuku’s kid and Misaki. Those are the new conditions for him to quit. There are shouts of joy from the other hosts, and Shizuku hides his face in his arm. Kouta goes over and rubs his shoulder. As Mizutani leaves, Kouta doesn’t feel a trace of the demon king in him, but instead he reminds him of his father.

That night they hold a sudden welcome party for Shizuku and many customers come to celebrate. Kouta ends up drinking more than usual, and it’s not until 8am that he starts to head home. He’s throwing up and on his way to Shinjuku Station when his cellphone rings. It’s AIDA, calling to tell him that they’re offering him the job.


Chapter 17 - 二羽のカラスと二本の海老 Two Crows and Two Shrimp

Two crows fly across the large window behind the interviewers, and Yachigusa knowingly asks Kouta again if he worked as a host. Kouta knows from what happened to the previous interviewees that it’ll do no good to lie and tells the truth.

He explains that he failed in job searching and was in financial trouble when got scouted to be a host. He answers all of their follow up questions about hosting truthfully too. They ask him if he wasn’t reluctant to prey on women, and he answers that he didn’t see it as preying on women, but as satisfying tired women. They also ask him if he’s proud of being a host, and he says he is, but he doesn’t think of it as a career and is planning on quitting as soon as he gets an offer. He adds that though hosting is an easily misunderstood job, in the sense that you have to please customers, he has experience that relates to their company, and he can use it to have a good effect on AIDA. Yachigusa leans forward incredulous at that and brings up how Kouta had participated in the first day of the internship at DDL but didn’t come to the second.

Kouta tells him that his friend went missing and when he went looking for him in Shinjuku he got caught up in a brawl and was arrested, exactly as he had told DDL. They ask him if this friend was another host and Kouta tells them that he was, though he feels like his privacy is being violated.

The interviewer tells him that it’s because he's a host that he wasn’t able to come to the second day of the interview, and asks him if he knows what happened to his group. He tells him that without Kouta, who had been the leader, they were unable to produce anything good and failed the internship with none of them getting offers even though some of them may have been talented people. He asked him if that was the kind of good effect he means.

Hashigusa speaks fast and angrily, asking him why he even applied at their company after not being hired once and failing at the internship. He tells him that they don’t even hire people who take a year off of job searching, so there’s no way he’s getting an offer. He asks him if he knows why he was accepted to the internship and made it to the final interview for AIDA, and tells him that it’s simply because they were curious why he was so persistent. He tells him that he’s done some research, and while this past year of his certainly has been interesting, he isn’t suited to their company, or probably job searching in general. He brings up how he failed at getting any job offers last year and tells him to give up and just become a host for life.

Kouta remembers the day in Shinjuku when he threw up in the streets and the inferiority he felt. The feeling of something separate from himself that appeared and moved his body when he punched the guy reappears. He’s told to sit down and he can feel his fist shaking. The figure of the demon king appears in his mind, and he feels as if he’s denouncing him. This makes him remember a quote from The Prince, and rather than sit down he whispers it out loud, “The first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful.

This makes Yachigusa raise his head and asks him if that’s from The Prince. Kouta says that if the CEO is intelligent, then everyone there must be capable. Once again, two crows fly across the window in the opposite direction from before.

Kouta says that he believes that they are all capable, and though he knows it’s rude he's going to say this anyway, that Yachigusa was right to criticise him for causing trouble for so many people. He says that in the tough world of hosts he was able to become number one in less than half a year, and to put it bluntly no one at this company would be able to do that. He says that the reason someone like him, who had no social skills, was able to come this far is because he has the 'cunning of a fox’ and the 'strength of a lion’. Though he said before that he was arrested because he was helping his host friend, it actually wasn’t just to help him. It was because that friend used to be the number one host, and once he started to fall everyone began hating him though they couldn’t say it. Once Kouta got in a physical fight with him, his stock rose and the rumors even made it to the customers.

When Kouta had mentioned the fox and the lion Yachigusa had laughed, and he thinks that he’s lucky that he knew The Prince. In reality, he hadn’t made any such calculation, but he doesn’t know how else to show off his cunningness. He says that he caused a lot of trouble by not making it to the second day of the internship, but he had hoped that the company would find it interesting that he was trying to help someone, which was why he was honest in his message to the company. That had been Mitsuko’s idea.

He says that he understands that they can’t hire him due to his failure in job searching, and says that he’s reflecting on how he caused trouble at the internship. He says that since he’s become so much more calculating than he was last year, he thinks that he can be useful to the company. Kouta feels like he has been possessed by the demon king. He repeats that he believes the interviewers to be excellent and quotes another line from The Prince, “A prince must demonstrate that he loves naturally talented individuals, and respects those mastered in an art.” and then sits down.
Though one of the interviewers comments that he’s being cheeky, he can feel the approval of the other interviewees. As soon as he leaves the conference room the demon king leaves him and he feels uneasy and chills run through his body as he remembers his behavior. After leaving AIDA he tries to call Mitsuko but she doesn’t pick up, so on the train home, he messages her to tell her about the interview and heads to Shinjuku.

He looks at the guardrail that he saw the night he was drunk and met Shizuku for the first time, and the word ‘depression’ that been written there has since been painted over. He feels hungry and eventually decides to go to the same soba restaurant that Shizuku took him to before and orders a double shrimp tempura soba. A man with his hat pulled down low enters, and though Kouta doesn’t recognize him at first due to the weight he’s put on, it’s Shizuku.
Shizuku notices him while putting in his order and they greet each other. After being released by the cops Shizuku had stopped coming by Tuberose much and eventually quit. While Kouta doesn’t know what happened with the negotiation with Mizutani, the rumor amongst the hosts is that Shizuku handed over everything in his bank account. When Kouta had gone to his apartment, he had already moved out. Shizuku sits down far away from him, so Kouta gets up to sit next to him.

Kouta asks him what happened and rather than answer Shizuku asks him about his suit and if he’s been job hunting and when Kouta affirms this Shizuku says that they live in two different worlds. Kouta explains that today didn’t go well so he’s here to drown his sorrows. They talk about how they’re at the same place they were a year ago, and Kouta asks Shizuku if his baby has been born. Shizuku sighs and tells him it’s been two months, and how he hasn’t met them. He comments on how Kouta should know that already since he’s sleeping with Misaki, and Kouta denies this saying they only met up for Shizuku’s sake though Shizuku doesn’t believe him at first.

Kouta explains Misaki’s plan of helping Kouta surpass Shizuku so Shizuku could leave, and he comments on how Kouta really has surpassed him. Kouta tells him that if Shizuku had continued on as he had been, he never would have surpassed him. Shizuku says that he just isn’t able to put his all into it anymore, and how it’s all Amu’s fault. As he’s talking he continues putting spice on his shrimp until they’re completely red with it, and it reminds Kouta of Mizutani with his chige nabe.

Kouta asks Shizuku if he still has the will to continue, and though he notices that the spark in his eyes is missing, he wants to believe that he can. He feels that it was fate for them to meet here, and invites Shizuku to become a host again.

Chapter 16 - 最終面接 The Final Interview

The chapter opens with job searching season starting again, and this year things are going much better for Kouta. He only made it the final interview for one company last year, and this year it’s increased to 5 companies, including his first choice, AIDA. With his experience as a host, his ability to talk in front of others has vastly improved and he knows what he’s supposed to say from looking at the person he’s talking to. Although job searching is usually painful, Kouta finds himself enjoying it.

He’s already been told he’ll have offers at two companies, but he doesn’t feel as confident about AIDA. He feels unsure how he made it so far in their process, but knows he has to do his best to not repeat last year's mistake and do well in the interview to impress everyone there. Mitsuko tells him that according to her research the final interview may be a difficult one, but cannot give him any specific details as none of the new employees will tell her. Kouta saw the same written online, but since no details were posted he thought that it might be fake.

Though he’s curious why no one wants to talk about it, he begins to prepare for his final interview. The day of the interview arrives and Kouta is really nervous, but Mitsuko sends him off with a smile telling him that if he does as they practiced it’ll be fine. Kouta leaves Mitsuko’s house and heads out into the heat towards the station.

At first, he’s comforted to see other young people in suits at the station, but as he thinks about how they could also be interviewing for AIDA his sense of camaraderie changes into hostility towards his perceived rivals. On the train, he runs through possible questions in his head answering them flawlessly. Before getting off the train he considers contacting Megumi but doesn’t. Things aren’t going well between them, both because Megumi is busy and because she doesn’t approve of him continuing to work as a host. As a result, they’ve not been talking much, though Kouta has been hesitating to break up with her due to her relationship with his family.

Since his relationship with Megumi began to deteriorate, Meme’s been keeping her distance from him telling only their mother about her new cram school. As a result, Kouta’s been paying her less attention and he’s been getting busier too. On Meme’s birthday, he just left a birthday present on the table for her, but when he looked the next day it hadn’t been opened.

Kouta eventually makes it to AIDA and sees that many people have already lined up at reception. After checking in, he heads to the designated conference room and sits outside it waiting to be called. There are four others waiting like him, and Kouta notes that none of them are wearing glasses, so following Mitsuko’s advice he wears his so that he’ll stand out visually. Eventually, a woman comes out and tells them to enter in the order that they’re called, and Kouta’s name is last. Once they enter, he sees that there are six men there including one he recognizes from his interview at DDL last year. The man is the youngest looking there, and like last year is wearing thick-framed glasses and a wireless earbud.

Kouta remembers that Mitsuko had said that she was the one who hadn’t wanted to hire him and hopes that that means that this interviewer has a positive impression of him and that him being there might be in his favor. The man tells them that the interview is starting and that his name is Yachigusa. The interviewees are told to state their name and university, and Kouta notes that the others all went to better schools than he did but answers unbothered.

Next, they’re asked about their strengths and weaknesses, which Kouta has already been asked at countless interviews before so he has a ready answer. He says that his strength is that he can give his all for the sake of others and that his weakness is overestimating himself. He explains that he’s had to support his single mother whose health is declining and younger sister so he’s overworked himself in the past doing multiple jobs to support them. Their follow up question about him being in university for 5 years is the same that he was asked at prior interviews too. Kouta answers that he overestimated himself and wasn’t able to devote himself to classes, but explains that he made up for it later. Being able to talk about his shortcomings as if they are strengths is something he learned at Tuberose.

The following questions are also ones he’d been asked previously and is able to answer with confidence. But after that things take an unexpected turn. Another interviewee is asked why she was the vice president of the golf club in school, and after she answers that she thought it was a social sport that would help her after she graduated, the interviewer asks why she was unable to become the president. She says that there was a classmate with more experience and skill who had been a better fit for it and then they asked her what exactly she had done as the vice president. The interviewee answers that the president taught technique so she was in charge of organizing the schedule, taking care of the teammates and she proactively created a good atmosphere.

Yachigusa then turns to another interviewer bringing up how his nephew was at the same school and in the golf club with her. That interviewer says that he’s heard quite a bit from his nephew about her. With Yachigusa’s urging the other interviewer continues on to say that she slept around with others in the club which caused fights and as a result membership decreased. Kouta is unable to look at her but can tell she’s trying her best to keep it together. This is worse than he imagined when Mitsuko warned him about the interview.

The interviewer tells her that this information wouldn’t be a problem for the company if she had been able to respond well to something embarrassing, and tells her to sit back down. Kouta glances at her and sees that the once cheerful seeming woman looks like a marionette after it's strings have been cut. The same thing happens with the next two candidates. First, that one of the male interviewees had shoplifted in the past, and that another spends exorbitant amounts on idols, and the next female interviewee the fact that she is a sexual minority. None of whom are able to deny or say anything when their private business is maliciously attacked.

Kouta can tell that they’re beginning to think that they don’t want to work at AIDA anymore, and Kouta also realizes the reason why none of the new employees wanted to talk about the interview process. Next is Kouta’s turn, and he feels his heart rate shoot up. They ask him what his greatest memory from university is and Kouta considers making something up but decides that from how things have gone so far, it’s better to be honest.

He says that because he was so busy with school and work he doesn’t really have any, and when they ask him about friends he says that though he had some friends he didn’t have any that he could call close friends. They question his ability to communicate and he reassures them that that isn’t an issue because he had lots of friends in high school and is used to dealing with customers from his experience working.

Yachigusa then points at him and says that he interviewed with DDL last year, and that Kouta’s people skills seem to have greatly improved since then. He asks him what his part-time job is, and at the same time that Kouta begins to say that he works at a restaurant, Yachigusa asks if he works as a host.


Chapter 15 - ライオンと花畑 The Lion and the Field of Flowers

The chapter opens with Kouta returning to his university’s campus. He notes all the different kinds of students, and though he didn’t have a ton of friends in school it’s the first time he’s not seen anyone he knows and thinks that it’s as if it’s the first day all over again. He thought he would feel something, but he’s just bored so he decides to have a smoke.

He hears a familiar voice call out to him using the name ‘Mitsuya’, and the use of his host name makes him drop his cigarette in surprise. He doesn't see who called out to him at first, but then he turns around and spots a young man with glasses and a beard. It’s not until the man says ‘Long time no see’ that Kouta realizes that it’s Amu. His hair is loosely curled and he looks like a completely different person.

Looking at him closer, Kouta can see Amu’s unique pureness, same as the last day they met at the yakiniku restaurant. While Kouta is at a loss for words, Amu happily tells him that since Kouta told him that he was taking a year off from job searching he thought that he might find him here. Not knowing where to start, Kouta simply keeps smoking and Amu pulls out a ¥5,000 bill and tells him that he came here to pay him back for the yakiniku and karaoke.

Even though the university is far from Tuberose, Kouta is worried about someone seeing them and goes to look for an empty classroom. They find a large empty one and sit in the back row to talk. Kouta asks Amu if he was the one that took the money, and Amu answers easily that he was. He says that he didn’t take it because he needed it, but because he was told to. Kouta asks him by who, but instead of answering Amu walks down to the front of the classroom and Kouta follows.

Amu asks Kouta if he’s still at Tuberose, and how his sales are and Kouta answers telling him that he ranked number one last month. Though some of that is due to the incident with Shizuku, his skills as a host have greatly improved and he’s become a top level host. Kouta tells Amu that he’s also job searching. He’s picked 40 companies that he didn’t apply to last year and has already started to submit his resume. One of those companies is the game company, AIDA. Submitting his resume to AIDA, the parent company of DDL, was Mitsuko’s idea, saying that he might be able to make use of his failed internship there. Before DDL was founded she used to work there.

Kouta tells Amu that if he hadn’t left, Kouta would have only made it to number 2. When Kouta asks Amu why he took the money, Amu says he’s leaving and heads for the door. Kouta grabs his arm and tells him to talk and Amu says that it’ll be their secret. He takes a marker and draws lions and flowers on the white board. He then begins to tell Kouta a story about a lion king who lived in a field of flowers with a female lion and two cubs. However, the lion king loved women and so had many other lovers on the side. One day, one of the lovers got pregnant so he told her not to keep the child. She wanted to have the baby though so she ran away from him to a place totally different from the flower field, a dim and dirty cave. There she gave birth to her cub and raised him alone. They were poor and the cub was bullied, but he managed to grow up one way or another. One day the cub asked his mother why he doesn’t have a father, and she lied and told him that his father died in a car accident. He believed that until one day he hears that his father is a lion king. After his mother tells him this, she passes away.

Kouta tries to interject, asking who the cub is but Amu cuts him off saying that the story isn’t finished yet. Life was tough for the cub, but he was excited that his father was a lion king and went to go find him. He told the lion king that he was the child of his lover, but the lion king didn’t care, he’d already forgotten about the mother. Though the cub was disappointed he told the lion king that he wanted to be like him, so the lion king told him to work for him and the cub began to work in the flower field.

At this point in the story, Kouta finally understands why Amu’s story is set in a field of flowers, and thinks about how the flowers in the field must resemble tuberoses. Kouta suddenly remembers Amu talking about ‘proof’ the night they ate yakiniku together.

The cub worked as hard as he could to be recognized by the lion king, and made a friend in the flower field. One day, the cub was summoned by the lion king. He thought he was going to be praised, but instead was told about a plan. A plan to get the key from a sempai lion and steal all the money in the safe. Kouta thinks that that’s why Amu knew the combination to the safe. If he had thought about it he could have guessed, and wonders why he hadn’t realized what was going on behind the scenes.

The cub was told that if he returned the money to the lion king and hid away for awhile, the lion king would adopt him. So the cub did as he was told and hid somewhere away from the flower field. Amu pauses talking, and Kouta wonders how he felt with all the employees and Amu himself calling Mizutani ‘papa’.  Amu tells Kouta that the story isn’t over yet, and asks him why the cub lion suddenly went to go see his friend.  Kouta tells him that it was to return money and Amu tells him that he’s wrong.

Amu tells him, ‘He doesn’t eat tofu right?’ and Kouta remembers how when he went to eat with Mizutani he refused the tofu. Amu tells him that it’s said that if you make an offering at Inarikio Shrine and abstain from tofu, your illnesses will be healed, which is why Mizutani doesn’t eat tofu. Kouta thinks that that’s why he ran into Mizutani at Inarikio Shrine over new years. Amu says that he doesn’t know what illness Mizutani has, but that it must be a fatal one. He must not have much longer if Mizutani, who doesn’t trust others, suddenly adopted the child of one of his lovers and split his money. Amu says that Mizutani doesn’t think of him as his son and begins to erase his drawings on the white board.

Amu says that he found out why Mizutani made him carry out that plan, it was to keep Shizuku from leaving. The chime to signal the end of class rings. Amu says that that’s why he told him to get the key from Shizuku, that since Shizuku’s numbers were better he was more important. Amu said that that was fine, if he became number one then he’d become important to Mizutani too, but he doesn’t have that chance anymore. He can’t even go to Kabukicho because he stole the money.

Kouta tells Amu that everyone thinks he’s dead, and Amu asks if it was Mizutani’s command. Kouta nods and Amu laughs tiredly saying that he’s thinking of going far away, maybe overseas. Amu says that he thinks he can make do since he received some money to stay hidden. He says that before that he wanted to see ‘Mitsuya’ one more time, since he’s the only friend he’s ever had.

A student comes into the classroom, but leaves after seeing the two of them in there. They head out into the busy hallway. Kouta says ‘maybe we’ll meet again’ but his words are lost in the crowd of students. When he goes to repeat himself, Amu has disappeared. He reaches into his pocket to touch the ¥5,000 yen note from Amu and pulls it out of his pocket. He catches a whiff of lemon, but when he sniffs the bill itself it doesn’t smell of lemons. He puts the money back in his pocket and starts walking again.


Chapter 14 - 二重螺旋 Double helix

The chapter opens with Kouta being released from jail two days after the fight. He sits down at a bench in front of the train station and turns on his phone to see that he has missed calls from Mitsuko, Megumi, his mother, DDL, the hospital where Misaki was sent, as well as a message from Misaki saying that she was safely discharged from the hospital and that she’s sorry for causing trouble. She thanks him for everything and says that she broke up with Shizuku and is going back home to Gunma.

Kouta calls Mitsuko back, and though she answers she doesn’t say anything. Kouta apologizes and she asks him if he’s ok and he tells her that he’s fine physically. Kouta tells her what happened and can tell that she’s disappointed and angry but is calmly reigning it in. She tells him that they should think about what is best to do next, for now he’s to message DDL and explain why he couldn’t make it to the second day of the internship, hiding the fact that he’s a host but telling the truth about everything else.

He starts to head home, and while on the train types out and sends a message to DDL on his phone. When he gets home no one is there. He heads to his room where the papers for his internship are still laid out on his desk, and pulls the curtains and goes to sleep where he is able to forget the panic and regret for a bit. He wakes up when Meme comes home and yells that he’s home upon seeing his shoes in the entryway. Meme runs up to his room and starts hitting him. Despite being sleepy still Kouta gives up on sleep and picks her up and takes her downstairs where their mother is.

Kouta feels uncomfortable at how maternally his mother looks at him. The day he was arrested the police had called her, and Megumi probably also knows what happened. Kouta tells Meme he needs to talk to their mother and asks her to go play in her room. Kouta apologizes for worrying her and comes clean about working as a host. His mother says that he had a reason, and though he doesn’t say anything knowing that it would just be an excuse, she apologizes.

Hearing his mother say to him what he had said to Mitsuko earlier is tough. Being apologized to makes him feel guilty much more than apologizing does. His mother tells him that he should be honest with Megumi, when she found out he was arrested she had cried. So Kouta messages her to tell her he’s home and to ask to meet up so they can talk. She responds saying that after her training is over in about 2 hours she’ll come over.

Kouta goes back up to his room to wait for Megumi, and can’t bring himself to do anything. He pick up the internship materials on his desk and stares at them. He’s reminded of a certain scene in Mishima Yukio’s novel ‘Inochi Urimasu (Life for sale)’. In one scene, [the main character] tries to pick up and read a dropped newspaper despite the fact that it’s covered in cockroaches, but the letters turn to cockroaches and flee. The letters in the documents he himself had made seem to squirm like cockroaches, and feeling sick he throws them away into the trash.

He opens the window and starts to smoke and begins to feel like nothing matters. He notes that this is just like how he felt on that night in Shinjuku after giving up on job searching and throwing up in the streets. He ends up thinking of Mitsuko, and feels like he might be crushed by the guilt he feels towards her.

Megumi shows up after three hours, and Kouta belatedly realizes that he got a message from her saying that though the training is over her peers aren’t heading home yet so she can’t leave. She apologizes for being late when she enters his room, and Kouta doesn’t understand why everyone is apologizing to him. Seeing her in a suit, Kouta forgets what it is that he should be apologizing to her for and stays silent. Seemingly annoyed at being kept waiting, Megumi puts her bag down and tells Kouta to explain everything.

When Kouta asks what she means by everything, Megumi explains that she means everything he’s been hiding from her. While looking down on him sitting on the bed, she says asks him what work he’s been doing since it clearly wasn’t at a restaurant. She opens up the closet where all the clothes Kouta had bought for work are, pointing out that he couldn’t afford these kind of clothes before. Kouta notes that she must have been suspicious of his work for awhile, and tells her that he’s been working as a host. He explains all the details, and she asks him what he’s going to do and he tells her that he’s going to job search, but until he gets a job he’ll continue to work as a host.

Megumi admonishes him, saying that that’s no good, if he doesn’t focus on job searching he’s going to fail again like he did last year. The way she speaks to him as if she knows she’s correct irritates him, and he tells her he needs money. She tells him money will work out, he can borrow some and pay it back later. Fed up with her self righteousness and arrogance, he tells her that he can’t and asks her if she’s going to support them and pay for Meme’s cram school fees then.

Megumi counters that he should sell the clothes and accessories that he’s bought and that he can’t save if he spends everything he’s earning. Kouta sees that she’s wearing the M necklace that he bought for her. Megumi argues that it’s because he’s working as a host that he couldn’t participate in the second day of the internship that would have helped him get a job. It’s all due to the host job. She also tells him that he can’t be a host, that it doesn’t suit him and he should find a part time job that suits him more.

Unable to bear anymore, Kouta kicks the trashcan and the internship materials scatter across the floor. He tells Megumi to leave but she refuses. She neatly picks the papers up and lays them on his desk before gathering her bag and opening the door. Outside is Meme, who asks if she’s leaving. Megumi looks at Kouta, but he pays no attention and crawls into bed, pulling the comforter up he resolves not to think about anything and falls asleep.

He doesn’t know what Megumi does in that time, but the next time he awakes is to the sound of the light being switched off, and Megumi climbs into bed with him, stroking his head and hugging him. Kouta is fed up with it and tries to go back to sleep, but is too bothered by her presence to fall asleep. Megumi whispers that he '人の匂いがする’ which can mean either that he smells human, or that he smells like someone else and Kouta frees unsure which she means. He can’t help but feel that he is probably seeped in the smell of not just Mitsuko but the customers and hosts from the club, and feels sick. He’s itching to wash himself, but stays still and pictures the demon king in his head, calling out to him over and over again to help him.

The next night, Kouta heads to Tuberose, where news of what happened with Shizuku seems to have already spread. The other hosts tease him, and ask what happened to Shizuku and Kouta explains that he’s still with the police. Due to discrepancies in testimonies from those involved, and the fact that the owner of the store with the broken window filed a claim, Shizuku is being held for longer than Kouta. According to the police, the reason Kouta was released after only 2 days is because Shizuku covered for him saying that he was uninvolved.

Kouta is hailed as a hero by the other hosts for fighting with Shizuku. It seems that many people, including customers, had been anxious about Shizuku lately, because that night Kouta receives champagne from other hosts’ guests and get asked for by Shizuku’s customers. While he’s puzzled by the new way he’s being treated, he takes advantage of it and works hard to increase his sales.

About an hour before the club closes, Mitsuko arrives. Though she acts the same as usual, to Kouta it appears as if she’s pushing herself to smile. He apologizes, and she says there’s no need and that it’s her fault for making him do this job. When he protests she says that all his problems are her fault, and those words pierce him.

He says that it’s because she failed him at the interview that they were able to meet properly, and come to know each other in this way. Kouta notes that among all the sweet lies that get told here, this alone is the truth. He thanks her for failing him in the interview. Mitsuko only stares at him and though he can’t read her expression it seems that she accepts what he said.

Mitsuko then tells him that that’s no good, he’s just running away. Kouta himself doesn’t know if he’s fighting or running. Once work is over they head to Mitsuko’s place, and though Megumi calls him Kouta doesn’t answer. As they have sex Kouta thinks about how Megumi said that he smells like someone else, and thinks about how Mitsuko’s scent is seeping into him and his into her. As he thinks about that, the shape of their intertwined bodies changes into the double helix of DNA in his mind. It connects and joins their past and future, and they become one. Wound together like a rope, they are long and endless. He loses himself into those thoughts and holds Mitsuko tight.


Chapter 13 - インターン1日目 First Day of the Internship

The chapter opens with Kouta calling Mitsuko to tell her that his first day at the internship went well. He’s aiming for a planning position and successfully presented several game ideas and the next day they’ll begin the game creation simulation. He tells Mitsuko that he wants to see her, but she tells him no because he needs to focus so she’ll see him after everything is over the next day.

Since they slept together the second time, their relationship has surpassed that of host and client and he’s been making more time to see her and come to rely on her. She's become closer to something like a lover and adversely, Kouta and has been talking less with Megumi who has been busy since April.

He jokes that Mitsuko should come by Tuberose instead, but Kouta isn’t actually working that night. Remembering what happened when Shizuku tried to quit, he lied to Mizutani that his mother wasn’t doing well to get 2 days of vacation.

He hangs up and heads home. Since he spent the previous night at Mitsuko’s, it’s been awhile since he’s been home at that time. Meme and their mother are making gyoza, and Kouta teases Meme and joins them. They make a lot of gyoza planning to freeze some of them. Meme asks Kouta if Megumi is coming so he messages her asking if she wants to come over and have gyoza. When he tells Meme that Megumi will be there in an hour she smiles happily.

They’ve made around 100 gyoza by the time Megumi arrives and starts helping their mother with cooking while Meme watches. Kouta is drinking beer and eating gyoza when Megumi asks him if he’s preparing to begin job searching. Kouta hasn’t told her or his mother about the internship, so he tells them about it. They say that that’s amazing, and when they comment on how Meme had wanted Kouta to get a job at a game company she says that next year she’ll have to study not play games.

Though Kouta doubts her a bit, he’s proud of how serious she’s being. Before she finishes eating, Meme falls asleep at the table so Kouta carries her up to bed. When he returns to the table Megumi tells him that a woman called him, and his mother joking says that it’s awful to cheat when he has Megumi. Kouta tries to laugh it off to cover how shaken he is by that, and when he looks at the screen of his phone he sees that it was Misaki who called. He tells them that it’s his friend’s girlfriend and calls her back.

On the other end, he hears angry yelling and Misaki yells for him to help her because Shizuku is acting violently, saying that he’s going to kill her. Kouta asks her where she is and she tells him she’s at home. He tells Megumi and his mother that his friend needs help so he’ll be heading out. They worry for him since he has the second day of his internship the next day, but he assures them he’ll be back soon.

He catches a taxi to Shizuku’s house calling Misaki on the way but she doesn’t pick up. After 20 minutes he arrives at Shizuku’s apartment. Kouta tries to find which window is Shuzuku’s apartment, but is unable to tell and is stuck outside the auto-locked building not sure what to do. Unlike last time, there’s no one going in or out to let him in. If he rings the bell, it might distract him from Misaki, but on the other hand it could also set him off more.

After staying stuck in indecision as he grows more frantic, Kouta finally rings the doorbell, but there’s no response. He keeps ringing it until the door suddenly opens and he takes the elevator up to Shizuku’s apartment in a hurry. When he opens the door to their apartment, it’s eerily quiet. He calls their names, but no one answers. He heads into the living room where there are clothes, empty bottles, and dishes scattered about, and in the middle of the room Misaki is collapsed on the floor.

Kouta rushes over to her, and there’s no bruises to indicate that she’s been hit, but she’s unconscious though still breathing.  Kouta calls for an ambulance, and though he isn’t able to explain the situation well it arrives within 10 minutes. The paramedics guess that it’s cerebral anemia. He puts her on a stretcher and she wakes up, immediately asking about Shizuku.

Kouta tells her that Shizuku wasn’t there when he got here, and she asks him to look for him saying that he must still be nearby. When Kouta tells her he can’t she begs him to, saying that she’s fine on her own and if he doesn’t it’ll be bad for Shizuku. Unable to tell her no, Kouta decides to look for Shizuku. The paramedics urge Kouta to go with them in the ambulance but Kouta gives them his number and says he’ll definitely come later and Misaki says she’ll explain what happened so the paramedics agree.

Kouta leaves the apartments and heads to where he thinks it’s likely Shizuki has gone, downtown. He wonders who it was who buzzed him in, and comes up with a hypothesis. That Misaki fainted while Shizuku was in the middle of his rage fit, and Shizuku panicked and realized the doorbell was buzzing and let him in. Then while Kouta was riding the elevator up, he left down the stairs or stayed hidden somewhere in the apartment. The place where Misaki had lain collapsed was quite far from the door buzzer. It would be unnatural for Misaki to go that far before collapsing after unlocking the door.

If that is what happened, it’s been 20 minutes since Shizuku left the apartment, if he took a taxi or the train he could’ve gotten quite far. Not sure what to do, Kouta heads toward Tuberose, then passes the batting center towards Kabuki-cho. Reluctantly, he decides that if he doesn’t find him by the time he gets to Shinjuku Station, he’ll go see Misaki in the hospital. He’s also worried about tomorrow, as it’s already 11 at night.

As he gets close to Shinjuku Station, he hears Shizuku arguing loudly with a tall foreign man. However, Shizuku notices Kouta and bowls over the foreign man and runs away. Kouta chases after him, the two of them running against the flow of drunk people towards the station. Shizuku seems drunk, his movements slow as he glances behind him every once in awhile to yell in Kansai dialect at Kouta.

The more Shizuku provokes him, the faster Kouta runs. Finally catching up to Shizuku, Kouta grabs his hood but Shizuku turns around and punches Kouta in the face. Kouta falls to the ground, and Shizuku goes to escape but ends up leaning against an electric power pole and throwing up. After Shizuku punches Kouta, Kouta totally forgets about capturing him.

Kouta runs at Shizuku, and kicks him to the ground before climbing on top of him and punching him over and over in the face. He continues to punch him despite Shizuku trying to guard his face, thinking only that he wants to mess up his pretty face. Forgetting where he is completely, he pushes Shizuku’s face into his own vomit.

Suddenly someone grabs him from behind, pulling both his arms up behind him. Glancing behind him, he sees that the foreign man from before who kicks him him the stomach until Kouta can’t breath. With barely the strength to resist, Kouta bites him in the arm. It seems to hurt him a lot, because he lets go of Kouta and Kouta gets one kick in before turning to face Shizuku. Shizuku throws an empty bottle at Kouta, who dodges it and it hits the bar window behind him breaking the glass.

Shizuku goes to escape but some onlookers grab him. Kouta feels like he isn’t himself, similarly to how he feels when he’s with Mitsuko, he feels like there’s a different him living inside himself. This other him is impulsive, unreasonable, violent, self interested, and unable to consider consequences. For some reason, the other him rushes one of the onlookers holding Shizuku and punches him setting off a brawl.

Kouta is wrenched to the ground, and his face stepped on. Beyond the feet of the crowd he can see that the police have arrived, and it is then that he returns to himself and thinks that it’s all over. They’ll be arrested on the crimes of inflicting bodily injury and damage to property and detained. Kouta thinks about how this means that he won’t be able to go to the second day of his internship and thinks, ‘Mitsuko, I’m sorry’. The police force him up off the ground, and he wipes at his dirty face, his eyes tearing up a little.


Chapter 12 - 運命(フォルトゥーナ) Fortune (Fortuna)

Mitsuko’s copy of The Prince is worn has writing on the pages. Kouta can pick out both Mitsuko’s handwriting and that of someone else. Kouta’s impression of The Prince had been of  Machiavellianism and the negation of that. From his studies in high school, he knew that the image of Machiavellianism, that the end justifies the means, is actually different from the ideology in the book. He recalls how he made a smart aleck remark about how misunderstood Machiavelli is in class making his classmates laugh.

He read the passages that were the cause of the misunderstanding. The Prince raises Cesare Borgia as an example of a capable ruler to warn against the misuse of benevolence. Cesare was thought of as a cruel and coldhearted figure, but it is because of those qualities that he was able to quell the turmoil and return unity and peace in Romagna. In the process, he just carried out the minimal punishment, hence benevolence instead invites disorder. In comparison to a leader who ignores slaughter and pillage, Cesare is much more benevolent.

Kouta says that he himself doesn’t understand now which action is correct, more virtuous, more full of love- to preserve the order through small punishment or to overlook without punishing. Cesare is described as a very charismatic person. To Kouta, it is clear that Machiavelli must have admired him, and that he was a courageous and intelligent person. In his mind the image of Cesare becomes overlapped with that of Shizuku of the past and Mizutani.

The second time he visits Mitsuko’s house, he rattles on about these things. Mitsuko seems half sick of it but smiles and tells him she’s glad he enjoyed it so much. It’s a Sunday a week after his last visit. They’re supposed to discuss the internship, but as Kouta has just finished reading The Prince he wants to discuss it. As she’s laying out the internship materials he asks Mitsuko if she likes The Prince and she replies that rather than like, it’s more that she just studied it a bit in the past.

Kouta expresses surprise because she had written and marked a lot in the book which had helped him understand the book. He asks her if she had lent the book to someone else, and she stops what she’s doing and says that she received it from someone at work, because they had really liked it. Kouta asks her if this person was a man and when she says it was he asks if it had been someone she was seeing. Instead of replying, Mitsuko goes to the kitchen and fills a kettle with water.

Kouta asks her again intending only to tease her, but as she steadfastly tries to avoid the topic he becomes more and more curious. She changes the topic by asking him what part left the biggest impression on him, and he can’t help but tell her that it was the lion and fox part. He tells her that he felt down upon realizing that he had neither the cunning of a fox nor the strength of a lion.

Mitsuko counters, telling him that he is cunning and Kouta protests that it’s just slyness. Mitsuko smiles at that and then brings them both a mug of tea. She tells him that she had liked chapter 25, on the power fortune holds over man and the ways to combat that, she says she found it a little erotic.

She pours Kouta some tea and he find himself watching her fingers, when he’s with her he’s always watching them, they appear to have a life of their own apart from her. Without thinking he reaches out and toucher her hand but retreats when she asks him what’s wrong. She acts as if nothing has happened and picks up the internship materials. Kouta sips on the tea to calm himself, but it has the opposite effect and he touches her hand again. When she looks up at him he kisses her, but she tells him he can’t. That the first time was unavoidable, but from now on they can’t. If they do, they won’t be able to go back. When he questions what she means, she says that it wouldn’t be good for either of them.

Kouta is a bit wounded by the word unavoidable, but knows that she’s right that if they cross this line their relationship will change and so he shouldn’t touch her. To calm down he stands up and walks to the window and starts to smoke. He remembers the day when he fought with Megumi, he also smoked by the open window like this and then he and Megumi had sex.

He realizes what’s gotten him worked up are the writings in Mitsuko’s copy of The Prince by some unknown man. Imagining his hands touching hers has made him jealous. He doesn’t want to recognize this feeling, as she is just a customer, not anyone to get jealous over. It’s his job to temp and play around with her.

Mitsuko apologizes and Kouta realizes his hands are shaking and apologizes to her too. She comes up behind him and holds on to his shaking hands and he notes that her age is apparent in her hands, the skin soft and no longer supple. He finds it unbearably cute. He tells her that there’s an eyelash on her cheek, then once she closes her eyes he touches her cheek and kisses her.

Mitsuko is surprised and pulls away from him and Kouta goes back to smoking and tells her that he thinks it’s best if he not come here anymore. Mitsuko begins to cry and apologizes like she’s saying it both to Kouta and to someone else who isn’t there. Unable to bear that, he kisses her again and touches her body realizing things that he didn’t before. Their relationship has begun to change and warp in a bad way, but he can’t stop. As if his body has separated from his soul and gained independence, out of control it seeks to drown in her body. A more primal part of him seeks her as if trying to return to the mother’s womb. As if his soul is being pulled, guided, and sucked in by that body’s soul. He feels their souls mix and become tightly knit.

As they have sex, Kouta curses the selfishness of fortune. In chapter 25, Machiavelli said as follows, “I conclude, therefore that, fortune being changeful and mankind steadfast in their ways, so long as the two are in agreement men are successful, but unsuccessful when they fall out. For my part I consider that it is better to be adventurous than cautious, because fortune is a woman, and if you wish to keep her under it is necessary to beat and ill-use her; and it is seen that she allows herself to be mastered by the adventurous rather than by those who go to work more coldly. She is, therefore, always, woman-like, a lover of young men, because they are less cautious, more violent, and with more audacity command her.

Kouta thinks to himself, ‘I’m not wrong after all.'


2018.04 Potato - NEWS Solo Series: Letters - Koyama

To all the fans,

NEWS fans have created and continue to create a place for me to belong to. Thank you. I’m sure that you’ve worried and cried a lot. Even though supporting an idol shouldn’t make you sad, there are times that I’ve made you feel that way. Because there are people who continue to follow us despite that, the four of us are able to be here. You all are our pride. Even though I treasure you all this much, there have been times that I’ve hurt you out of my own immaturity, but from that I’ve realized even more how important you are and feel even more that I want to make you happy. I’m going to do my best so that you'll think that you’re glad that you’re continuing to support NEWS and me, I am confident about that. For the amount that you’ve cried up until now, I want to make you laugh. Please trust and follow me. I will make you happy.

To Shige,

Maybe because we’ve been together since we were juniors, I have such a sense of security with you. By now, we share a common destiny. When I think about why we suit each other so well, it’s probably because of our history of shared joys and sorrows. You were beside me and experienced the same things for both the most painful and the happiest times. In the past, we had a sense of rivalry as well, there was a part of me that couldn’t be honestly happy for you when you got roles in dramas. I showed you the weak and unpleasant parts of me, but despite that you’ve always stayed beside me. I think that now that we’ve surpassed being competitive and become comrades, our relationship is the strongest. Maybe it was shortly after I started working as a newscaster. I was there when you had a discussion with someone from the agency and told them, “I want to write a novel.” I remember well your expression of determination, and I saw your hard work following that. Shige, you’re someone who has grabbed success through toil and hard work. Having someone like that as NEWS’ brain and the skeletal-like existence that supports its foundation is reassuring. I want you to continue to enjoy work. Because I like seeing you smile.

To Massu,

Massu, you’re someone who has a strong world view. At the beginning, there was a time when I felt that it might be difficult to get along with someone who’s so stubborn and has such strong preferences. But that was because I, on the receiving side, didn’t have the flexibility to. I mean, your pickiness wasn’t just in relation to yourself, but also towards the group in how you want to show NEWS off. For people who are so persistent in their preferences, maintaining the harmony in a group can be difficult, but you clear that expertly and funnel it into the group. That common ground is the costumes, and Massu is without a doubt the one visually producing NEWS. That’s something that I can’t do at all, so I’m really thankful. Thank you. By the way, there was a great costume in one of the plays we saw in NYC recently, do you remember me whispering, “I want to wear one like this”? I’m looking forward to the next costumes. (laughs)

To Tegoshi,

There’s so many things I want to say that I can’t keep it all straight. (laughs) You’re really manly. Your sense of camaraderie is really strong, and you lavish those who decide to stick with you with love. You hate to lose because you have a lot of passion, but it’s not just that you yourself want to win, it’s reassuring that you continue to push forward with the desire for NEWS to win, too. With out a doubt, you are the strongest and best front of NEWS. But sometimes you weaken. For all that you normally put up a strong front, you have no immunity for when you lose strength, so I wonder if when you do you end up lost. At those times, it’s okay to rely on me. Happy, fun, painful, sad, or angry, I like that you’re someone with a lot of heart who shows your emotions plainly. With Tegoshi at the head, I think that my role is to do course correction from behind. In this world, it’s hard to stay true to yourself, but the fact that you’re able to put that into practice is truly amazing. So… do it to your heart's content! (laughs) Because if people get angry at you for that, we’ll apologize together.

To the me from 15 years ago,

I think that the 18 year old me wasn’t able to fully grasp how amazing it was to be able to debut. It’s thanks to the people around you that you debuted without much experience as a junior and then was able to continue to do amazing work. You've misunderstood that a little and gotten a bit cocky, so be careful. Because of your youth it might be somewhat inevitable, but I hope that you’ll watch your surroundings and the environment you’ve been placed in carefully with humility and composure, and think about your place in the group. I wonder if you can do it. (laughs) For the group, for yourself, keep struggling! Keep suffering!

To the me 15 years from now,

The 33 year old me is really living true to myself. The balance of the 4 of us in NEWS is really good, and I’m having fun working without pushing myself too hard while looking after that balance. I believe that we we can continue like this forever, but are we? On the technique front, I want to keep improving. NEWS really places great importance in our music, so right now I want to study that more, but I wonder if the me 15 years from now is able sing in his own style in a way that reaches everyone. I hope so.