Back to Shuya and the gang. Well, there isn’t much of anyone else to be, is there?
Noriko is explaining her Hiroki-has-a-crush idea. Really, is there any other (non-evil) reason someone would be obsessing over finding a person they’d barely interacted with? With Takako, if you knew they weren’t an item you’d still find it plausible because she’s his childhood friend, but generally, if something is otherwise inexplicable, it’s because of romance.
Shuya can’t believe it because Takako is so much prettier, but as has been shown in the various other relationships, being in love with someone is far more important than objective appearance.
There’s more important mysteries to consider, though. He’s heard at least three sets of gunfire since leaving the lighthouse.
It would be reasonable to assume at least three people had died. Then there were only five left? Which three got killed? Or maybe no one died at all, maybe there were just confrontations, and everyone managed to escape each other. Then eight students, including Shuya’s group, were left.
No, more reasonable to assume the deaths. Not only have there only been a couple times when shots were fire and the person managed to escape, you can assume those are getting less likely the fewer people there are. The longer the game, the more likely the remaining kids are good at killing.
Shogo suggests Shuya should sleep, but he says he’s fine. Shogo and Noriko haven’t been sleeping, although they both disagree about who needs it more. Shuya notices they seem a lot more familiar with each other and then that it makes sense after spending half a day with only each other.
Their chat and some teasing of Shuya about liking Noriko is interrupted by the sight of two columns of smoke.
“Hiroki probably found Kayoko,” Noriko said. Shuya was about to nod but stopped when he saw Shogo’s mouth stiffen. Noriko also stopped smiling.
“Shogo…” Shuya said.
Shogo looked up. Then he shook his head. “It’s nothing. I just think things might not be what they seem.”
Shogo begins listing off things that could’ve happened. Hiroki may have given up because he found her dead body, for one. Or she might not have trusted him.
Shuya was hoping Hiroki would return with Kayoko Kotohiki. Then… there would be five of them. Five of them could escape.
Shuya then recalled that Mizuho Inada was still alive, at least she had been at noon.
This is why Shuya is a good protagonist! He wants to save everyone. He can’t, and he’s not the sort of impossibly pure and selfless person to try anyway even though it means sacrificing himself, but he wants to.
Shogo is uncomfortable with the idea, saying it’s not safe to trust people and honestly he’s not too comfortable about Kayoko either. But he’ll think about it and they can try if they get a chance.
And what’s nice here is he’s wrong. Not trusting people is safer, there’s always the chance that one of them will turn on you, but Kayoko shot because she panicked and probably could have been talked down if Hiroki hadn’t been injured and rushing, and Mizuho, while extremely delusional, still appeared to have a perfectly functional moral compass. She believed some people were demons and she had to kill them, but only Kazou and Mitsuko who she’d personally seen murdering innocent people. Presumably, the worst that’d happen is she’d refuse to leave because she was still hunting Kazou.
Anyway. Shogo says that it’s time to finish the game. They’ll have to fight Kazou and Mitsuko and he needs to be ready.
So that’s what it came down to. They could afford to contact Mizuho Inada only after they’d defeated Kazuo and Mitsuko. Although he wasn’t comfortable with how he’d gotten used to the idea of killing his classmates no matter how extreme the circumstances were…
…Shuya nodded and responded, “I am.”
I find this interesting. Shuya isn’t thinking it’s time to kill their enemies but is making it a condition of helping someone else. He really doesn’t like the idea of doing this, but having to do it to help someone else is a lot more palatable.
4 students remaining
But, as the survival counter reminds us, it’s all moot. They don’t need to find Hiroki or concern themselves at all with Mizuho. They won’t have to face Mitsuko. Kazou is all that’s left.
Shogo tweaked the bird call. It was the third time. The rain was now lightening up, and the drops falling off the edge of the roof became less frequent. The time was already past 5 p.m.
Hm. So they’re nearing the time of announcements.
Shuya explains he only took four calls to find them, but he already knew where they were and just needed the sound to find their exact position.
“Where do you want to go?”
Shuya looked at Shogo, who was sitting on the other side of Noriko. Shogo turned towards him.
“I forgot to mention it, but I have a connection. Once we get out of here we can stay there for the time being.”
You forgot, Shogo? You are an endless fount of suspicious behavior.
He says the guy will be able to get them out of the country. It’s a friend of his dad’s. He doesn’t say who, though, saying that if they split up and one of them is captured, it’s better if they can’t tell the government.
So I’ll be in charge of getting us there.”
Which means they’re screwed if they lose Shogo.
Then he writes something on two pieces of paper and gives them to Shuya and Noriko.
Don’t look at it now. It’s our contact method, just in any case. The time and locations are written on it. Go to that place and time every day. I’ll do my best to get there too.”
“We can’t look at it now?” Noriko asked.
“Nope,” Shogo said. “Look at it only in case we end up splitting up. In other words…your note and Shuya’s have different information. It’s best you two don’t know what’s on each other’s note. Just in case one of you gets caught.”
I wonder if it’s actually the guy they need to find. So far, Shogo has given no sign he’s aware of the microphones, but he’s avoided saying his plan’s details aloud and we know his non-explanation is considered harmless by the listeners. Also, if he did study up on the games, that seems like something he could have figured out there.
But if that were the case then shouldn’t he and Noriko also come up with their own place and time to meet?
Yes, that’s an additional way this seems fishy. Shuya just shrugs it off by figuring that if Shogo is caught, they’re fucked no matter what.
Shuya says he’d want to go to America, and Noriko didn’t care so she says she’ll go with him. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the opposite, where it’s the girl who has the opinion on where to go and the boy who’s willing to follow her.
He says he’ll play on street corners with his guitar!!!
Shogo chuckled, “Huh.” Then he said, “You best be a rocker. You’re talented. From what I hear, in that country the odds aren’t stacked so high against you even if you’re an immigrant or exile.”
Well, maybe back then. Likely America seems a lot more free and open in general to people who just know of it by how we portray ourselves.
Noriko says she wanted to be a teacher. Shuya’s shocked because the country sucks, so who’d want to be a teacher? Shuya, you haven’t mentioned a single teacher you disliked. Don’t be so cynical. Noriko reminds him that also, their dead homeroom teacher was a great guy.
Shogo says it’d be a bit difficult, but that the academia is pretty interested in their country, so that’d help.
Shuya realizes that Shogo hasn’t said what his plans are. He says that when he said burn it all, he really meant it. He’s not going. Shuya offers to stay and help, and then Noriko agrees, so Shogo says he needs to leave because otherwise Noriko will stay too and they’ll all die. He doesn’t actually have any chance of success, he just wants to blow up as much as he can before dying.
He lectures Shuya about how he has to protect Noriko from everyone, but at least follows up by telling Noriko to protect Shuya, even if it’s more vague and less If she’s in danger then fight for her. Whether your assailant’s a burglar, the fucking Republic of Greater East Asia, or an extraterrestrial alien. the way it is for Shuya.
You see, he explains, they still care about each other. He has no one left.
The photo included Shogo. He was wearing a school coat, and his hair was as long as Shuya’s. He was smiling, wearing a bashful smile that was hard to imagine on him now. And on his left was a girl in a sailor suit uniform. Her black hair was bundled over her right shoulder. She looked assertive, but her smile was incredibly charming too. In the background were a road, gingko-like trees, a whiskey billboard ad, and a yellow car.
Not getting it, Noriko asks if they’re the same age and Shuya asks if she’s in Kobe. She was and was, specifically in his class.
There isn’t any noble love story for them. She leaves before he does, and she doesn’t wait. He finds her again, only for her to run away. The next time he sees her, it’s her corpse.
And then Shogo says, when he saw the two of them, they really seemed like a nice couple. So he wanted to help them.
After a while Noriko said, “I bet…” Shuya looked over at Noriko, who continued, “…she was just terrified… and confused.”
“No.” Shogo shook his head. “I…I really loved Keiko. But there must have something about the way I treated her when we were going out. That’s what I think it came down to.”
“That’s so wrong,” Shuya adamantly insisted.
Shogo looked over at him, his arms folded over his pulled-up knees. The smoke from the cigarette in his hands drifted up gently like silk.
“There was a misunderstanding. A small misunderstanding, I’m sure. Given how fucked up this game is. The odds were against you. That’s what it really came down to, right?”
Shogo grimaced wryly again and only replied, “I don’t know. I’ll never know.”
I like all this. We know that Shogo wasn’t a bad person and is obviously broken up by his failure to help her and the idea she was afraid of him, but at the same time she isn’t blamed for assuming that. The lesson seems just to treat others well and let them know you love them – especially when this is mirrored by what happened with Kayoko, who did have good reason to assume the worst of Hiroki.
Shogo says that the bird whistle he has is because it’s Keiko’s gift. She liked hiking and birdwatching, and they were planning to go out the week after they were selected for the program.
Noriko says that, while she doesn’t know the girl, she can see how happy she is in the photo, and that Keiko must have loved him too. And, she adds, she doesn’t think Keiko would have wanted him to die. Shogo shrugs this off, which makes sense – I think here, suicidal acts are an individual matter, of not wanting to live. I think what he does in her memory is to try to help Shuya and Noriko, and what he does for his own sake is try to kill the government. After all, I expect his father would also say he didn’t want his son to die, but his father’s death is clearly part of why he feels he has nothing left.
The whole time, Shogo has been periodically tweeting the bird whistle. It must be very nearly six.
Well. On to the next chapter.
It had stopped raining completely by the sixth time Shogo tweaked the bird call. It was now 5:55 p.m.
Oh god. They’re so close to knowing what’s happened.
but the light which now seemed brilliant, compared to the preceding hours, enveloped the island. They removed the thatched roof from the rock wall.
After sitting against the rock wall, the open sky up above, Noriko said, “The sky’s clear.”
And they have no idea. They’re waiting for their friend to find them to escape, thinking they’re safe. The rain has stopped, the sky is blue, the game’s almost over.
Shuya asks Shogo what he wanted to do, and he says he wanted to be a doctor, because they can help people. Noriko makes a more impassioned plea about not throwing his life away.
If I were Keiko, this is what I’d say.” She looked up at the sky, now tinged with orange, and continued, “Please live. Talk, think, act. And sometimes listen to music…” She stopped, then she continued, “Look at paintings at times to be moved. Laugh a lot, and at times, cry. And if you find a wonderful girl, then you go for her and love her.”
And Shuya says there must be a way to fight back without committing suicide to do it.
He looked up at them. He was on the verge of saying something.
Shuya thought, that’s right, come with us, Shogo. We’ll be together. We’re a team.
He’s interrupted by the six pm announcements.
Shuya was already thinking. There were only four boys left, Shuya, Shogo, Hiroki, and Kazuo Kiriyama. (Of course the same was true with the girls, Noriko, Kayoko Kotohiki, Mitsuko Souma, and Mizuho Inada.) Kazuo couldn’t die so easily. And Hiroki had sent the signal. So none of the boys were dead.
“…we have only one. No. 11, Hiroki Sugimura.”
And they realize something has gone horribly wrong.
It’s a great cliffhanger. There have been surprises in this book, but a lot of them were self-contained, introduced and concluded within a chapter. Most times characters wondered about something, it was something we the readers already saw. That was necessary to show all the actual deaths, of course, but it does kill a lot of speculation.
Here, there’s been some great dramatic irony building, and now that we’re all on the same page there’s the question of what do they do? They’ll have to get out of there, but will they move fast enough? And if they rush they might just end up giving away their position.
1 Yoshio Akamatsu: “the biggest kid in the class, the timid type, the kind of kid who’d always end up the target of pranks and insults.” Bowgun weapon, kills Mayumi, killed by Kazushi.
2 Keita Iijima: Shinji’s former friend who he’s been avoiding since he proved to be cowardly. Wasn’t playing. Shinji shoots and accidentally kills him.
3 Tatsumichi Oki: jock, handball. Hatchet. Runs into Shuya and Noriko, attacks when Shuya reaches for a weapon and accidentally killed in the resulting fight.
4 Toshinori Oda: Bulletproof vest. Strangles Hirono, gets her gun. Attacks but fails to killed Hiroki. Killed by Kazou.
5 Shogo Kawada: Looks older than the rest, has facial hair already, transferred in, scarred. Shotgun. Saves Shuya and kills Kyoichi. Doctor skills.
6 Kazuo Kiriyama: Awesome. A sociopath who decides to play the game by flipping a coin. Possesses several guns. Attacked but failed to kill Shuya, Noriko and Shogo. Kill count: 14.
7 Yoshitoki Kuninobu: Shuya’s friend since childhood, they grew up in the orphanage together. Killed for threatening Sakamochi.
8 Yoji Kuramoto: Seen briefly by Mitsuru. Yoshimi’s boyfriend, attacks her. Killed by Mitsuko.
9 Hiroshi Kuronaga: Part of Kazou’s gang. Killed by Kazuo.
10 Ryuhei Sasagawa: Delinquent. Part of Kazou’s gang. Bullied Yoshio. Had a younger brother. Killed by Kazuo.
Hiroki Sugimura: Tall and knows martial arts. Seems tough but is actually shy, likes Chinese poetry. Shuya’s friend. Close to Takako. Has a device that shows him when someone with a collar nearby, also armed with a staff. Searching for two girls, one of which was Takako and the other is Kayoko. Stabbed fatally by Kazou, shot by a panicking Kayoko.
12 Yutaka Seto: Class clown. Best friends with Shinji, joined up with him. Fork weapon. Had a crush on Izumi. Decides to take on the government. Killed by Kazou.
13 Yuichiro Takiguchi: Teamed up with Tadakatsu and ran into Mitsuko, who he felt sympathy for. Shot attempting to defend Mitsuko.
14 Sho Tsukioka: Part of Kazou’s gang. Escaped Kazuo’s massacre. Gay. Had a gun. Stalked Kazuo, tricked into a forbidden zone and killed.
15 Shuya Nanahara: Main character? Minor but utterly harmless teenage rebelliousness. Popular with the girls. Killed Tatsumichi. Attempted to stop Hirono and Kaori’s shootout, failed. Escaped Kazou but fell off a cliff, then was patched up by the girls who found him.
16 Kazushi Niida: jock, soccer. Killed Yoshio by accident. Had a crush on Takako, tries to get her to stay with him and assaults her. Asserts he’s chosen to play. Killed by Takako.
17 Mitsuru Numai: Delinquent. Part of Kazou’s gang, pistol weapon, tried to keep Ryuhei from bullying Yoshio, believed himself Kazuo’s adviser. Killed by Kazuo.
18 Tadakatsu Hatagami: jock, Shuya’s friend when they were younger. ‘Shuya had started playing electric guitar, which was considered an “unpatriotic” activity. Tadakatsu’s mother was uptight about that sort of thing.” Teamed up with Yuichiro, accidentally shoots him when trying to shoot Mitsuko. Killed by Mitsuko.
19 Shinji Mimura: Shuya’s current friend. ‘short hair and wore an intricately designed ring on his left ear’, highly athletic, knows a lot of information, particularly about the outside world. Extremely cool under pressure. Best friends with Yutaka, joined up with him. Pistol weapon. Uncle probably part of the rebellion. Decides to take on the government. Shot and accidentally killed Keita. Killed by Kazou.
20 Kyoichi Motobuchi: Class representative, dad’s a government official. Sees Shuya’s fight with Tatsumichi. Pistol. Killed by Shogo.
21 Kazuhiko Yamamoto: Sakura’s boyfriend. Gun. Commits suicide.
1 Mizuho Inada: A friend of Megumi’s. Insane, believed she was specially chosen to fight demons and had magic powers. Attempted to kill Kazou, failed.
Yukie Utsumi: class representative, braided hair, Haruka’s volleyball teammate. The first one to speak after their abduction. Noriko’s friend. Not playing. Sees Kazuhiko and Sakura’s suicide. Managed to collect a group of girls – Haruka, Yuko, Yuka, Satomi, and Chisato – who hide out at a lighthouse. Saves Shuya when they find him injured, has a crush on Shuya. Shot by a panicking Satomi.
3 Megumi Eto: Friends with Mizuho and Kaori. Had a crush on Shuya. Diving knife. Killed by Mitsuko.
4 Sakura Ogawa: Kazuhiko’s girlfriend. When she was young, she saw her father killed by the government. Commits suicide.
5 Izumi Kanai: ‘the preppy whose father was a town representative’. Killed by Kazuo.
6 Yukiko Kitano: Yumiko’s friend. Dart and dartboard. Crush on Shuya. Killed by Kazuo.
7 Yumiko Kusaka: Yukiko’s friend. Hand grenades. Crush on Shuya she’s hiding. Uses a megaphone to try to talk to the rest of their class and convince them to stop killing and join up with each other. Killed by Kazuo.
8 Kayoko Kotohiki: The other girl Hiroki is looking for. “The one who, in spite of being into tea ceremony, seemed more playful than elegant”. Shoots him when he approaches, only realizing he wasn’t going to hurt her afterward. Shot by Mitsuko while she mourns.
Yuko Sakaki: Sees Shuya kill Tatsumichi and runs away unnoticed. Found by Yukie’s group. Terrified of Shuya, attempts to poison him but accidentally kills Yuka and causes Satomi to kill the rest in a panic. Falls off the top of the lighthouse.
10 Hirono Shimizu: Part of Mitsuko’s group. Tormented Megumi. Killed Kaori in a shootout, left Shuya alone. Shot Toshinori but failed to injure him and was killed.
11 Mitsuko Souma: Delinquent group leader. “Even though Mitsuko had the gorgeous looks of a pop idol, she always wore a strange, listless expression on her face.” Has two knives and a gun. Seems to have resented Takako. Hiroko knows she murdered Takako and passed the message on to Shuya’s group. Liked Yuichiro for being kind. Kill count: 6.
Haruka Tanizawa: Yukie’s volleyball teammate, exceptionally tall. Not playing, joined up with Yukie. Killed by Satomi, who she also kills.
13 Takako Chigusa: Close to Hiroki. Track star. Ice pick weapon. Rebuffs Kazushi and is attacked by him. Kills Kazushi. Shot by Mitsuko. Found by Hiroko shortly before she dies, tells him Mitsuko killed her.
14 Mayumi Tendo: The first death in the game, killed outside the school by Yoshio.
15 Noriko Nakagawa: She has a crush on Shuya he’s unaware of and Yoshitoki has a crush on her she may be unaware of. She’s nice and likes literature. Suffering a leg injury. Was sick but appears to have recovered.
Yuka Nakagawa: Yoshitoki says she’s fat. Class clown. Accidentally poisoned by Yuko.
Satomi Noda: “model student who wore wire-rimmed glasses which suited her calm, intelligent face” Joined up with Yukie. Panics after Yuka’s death and shoots the others.
18 Fumiyo Fujiyoshi: Killed for whispering to Yukie. “She was the nurse’s aide. She was quiet but very caring.”
Chisato Matsui: always quiet and withdrawn. Had a crush on Shinji. Shot by Satomi.
20 Kaori Minami: A friend of Megumi’s. Yukie asks her to join her group, but she was too afraid to do so. Pistol. Sees Hiroki briefly. Cracking under the stress of the games. Killed by Hirono.
21 Yoshimi Yahagi: Part of Mitsuko’s group. Colt weapon. In love with Yoji. Killed by Mitsuko.
So Kazou ends having killed more than a fourth of the class all on his own and more than twice the other serial killer on the island. I think the only other person to ill multiple people is Satomi, and that’s only by virtue of spraying a room with bullets. I can appreciate the virtue of the cool unstoppable terminator guy, but he really does seem at odds with the rest of the story.