Noriko falls asleep, so Shuya leaves to see what Shogo's up to.
He's built a fire on the stove with some charcoal (the gas stove itself not working - actually, those work even without electricity, but I'm not sure how long the gas pressure lasts. That, or it's one of those models that won't let you use it if there's no electricity.) Anyway, point is he's boiling some water. Good idea, Shogo. After all, you don't have anywhere to put it but those plastic bottles, so you'll want it to have plenty of time to cool.
Shuya suddenly notices Shogo's sneakers.
Shogo was wearing New Balance sneakers. He'd assumed they were some domestic brand like Mizumo or Kageboshi. New Balance! He'd never seen them before!
So, I guess that's some American brand.
I'm not sure what the point of this is. So...Shogo has decent contacts for stuff? But then again we're measuring against Shuya here, just because an orphanage kid has to wear his cool American-made sneakers until they're ruins because he can't get another one of them doesn't really say much for how difficult it is to get them in general. Shogo already implied the more developed areas have way better black markets when he was talking about rock.
This is kind of bugging me. There must be some point to it with how Shuya reacts. It's not something that'd make sense for someone hoping to go under the radar before striking back, but it's also not clear if Shogo was ever trying to look model-citizeny to do that. It might be a sign he's not trustworthy, because it's kind of decadent to be jumping through hoops to wear the cooler sneaker type, but imported stuff is also the mark of rebellion, so maybe it's the opposite, but so far he does seem really trustworthy so why would the author be trying to reassure people about this.
Then he asks what Shogo's doing, which is looking for food. Only stuff like rice, apparently, because while there are vegetables in the fridge, they're gone rotten. Yet another point in favor of there being a long time between the evacuation and the games.
Shuya, instead of noticing this interesting point, just says it's stealing. Shuya, trust me, the owner of this place is going to be way more upset about using the stovetop for a campfire. Then Shogo starts a second fire to cook the rice.
"You're so good at everything, Shuya says.
Shuya then starts thinking about Kaori.
If it had been Shogo instead of Shuya, the outcome wouldn't have been so horrible.
Shogo asks if he's upset about Kaori and tells him he did his best. Shuya starts obsessing about the corpse.
By now, beginning to congeal. But the body would just stay there, with no ceremony, just left there like a disposed mannequin sprawled inside that shack. Of course in that sense she was no exception to Tatsumichi Oki, Kyoichi Motobuchi, Yukiko Kitano, and Yumiko Kusaka. That's right, everyone else was in the same boat.
He felt like puking. They were all lying there, on the ground. Already close to twenty of them.
"Shogo." The words spilled out.
In response Shogo tilted his head and slightly moved his hand that was holding the cigarette.
"What happens to the dead…their bodies?" Shuya asked. "Are they left there until this stupid game is over? So they just start rotting while the game is going on?"
So, to the person suggesting the Japanese have a thing about respect for the dead, I think you're right. Although I've heard the American attitude toward dead soldiers is also considered pretty anomalous - there's big emphasis on never leaving bodies behind. I wish I could remember where I read that, it was ages ago and I wasn't paying proper attention.
Anyway, Shogo says that there's a cleanup crew afterward, because Self Defense Forces soldiers are too proud to perform such menial tasks. Have they been called that before? Why are they self-defense forces if Japan was never conquered by America and told they weren't allowed a standing army ever again? Maybe it's one of those things that's so ingrained into current culture people don't think about the historical basis.
Wait a minute, says Shuya. The collars are a huge secret. How can they let regular people know about them? Shogo says the cleanup guys don't give a damn about why the kids are collared or think anything of it.
"Hold on. What if one of these is defective? Let's say it breaks down and someone who's alive is assumed to be dead. Couldn't that student escape? Shouldn't they confirm all the dead right after the game?"
Shogo raised his brows. "You talk like you work for the government."
"No…" he stammered. "It's just that—"
"I doubt they could ever be defective. Think about it. If they actually could break down, this game couldn't proceed smoothly. Besides, if a student equipped with weapons turned out to be alive, they couldn't even afford to check the bodies. It'd turn into another battle." Shogo took a drag as he considered it more thoroughly. "This is just my guess, but I think each collar is loaded with multiple systems, so that if one breaks down, another gets switched on. Even if one system became defective—the chances of that being at least less than one in a hundred—if the systems were combined the probability would practically be reduced to zero. In other words," he said, looking at Shuya, "it would be impossible for us to escape that way."
This is really ridiculous, and I wonder if there's any connection to the bit earlier about how Evil Mirror Japan is still doing great economically because of their awesome craftsmanship. But come on, every last one of these has a less in a hundred chance of anything going wrong at all, and this considering the amount of abuse they can be expected to take? And all fit into something that's also carrying an explosive, battery pack, constantly broadcasting radio, GPS...
And it's particularly bad for being unnecessary. I was talking about this possibility earlier, and the big issue is that dead bodies don't move.
The collar reports your location. So even if it starts falsely reporting that you're dead when you're alive, they'll notice the problem as soon as you keep moving. Talking will also give the game away. Furthermore, it doesn't need redundancy because it's already got a similar thing in how it reports multiple pieces of information. In order to be dead, a person has to be still, silent, AND listed as dead by the collar - or put another way, you'd have to know your collar was going to break in order to not be found out immediately. That's assuming the collar decides who to list all on its own and doesn't also send back whatever data it's using to determine death (no idea what that is, it's obviously not temperature or anything). Because if it did that, the most likely mechanical glitch would be to produce nonsense numbers instead, which would immediately alert the people in charge that it was broken.
That said: the most likely failure of the collars is to break entirely, not to report you dead. The "report" is the key part here Shuya's missing. The collars themselves don't turn off upon death but continue to broadcast to the headquarters. All that turns off is the exploding, and there's no sign that's permanent. But there's no reason why they couldn't just break entirely. In that case, they'd know someone's collar had broken, but it'd still be messy to deal with.
And I'd guess that this does happen semi-regularly. It's inevitable with the number of games they're running. I'd guess either they just redouble their efforts to prevent any escape, in which case it's a good candidate for a way for people to turn the tables, or they gas the area immediately and count it as a loss to avoid that possibility. Depends on how their government deals with things outside its control.
Shuya thinks of none of this. He just wonders how Shogo thinks he can get around it if it's so perfect, but he doesn't say anything because Shogo suddenly apologizes about how he should've agreed to move Noriko earlier.
"We'll just have to wait and see. If it's just a cold, then her fever will go down as soon as she gets some rest.
I am really wondering what they mean by "cold" here. Colds usually take at a week to get over and even assuming it fit her symptoms, in that case it isn't "just" a cold and their real concern should be that is what she has and, it being a virus, there's nothing they can do to treat it.
Shuya's just grateful Shogo was there at all, since he'd never have been able to treat her. He feels bad now about getting mad at him earlier and apologizes for that, and Shogo says that no, he was right.
Shuya tries to shift the conversation to Shogo's dad, only to learn the guy's dead. Unlike Sakamochi, he interprets this as why (or part of why) Shogo wants to destroy the country. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be read as unreliable narrator stuff or not - I really don't have much concern about Sakamochi's claim that he's fine with things because his behavior just doesn't seem to properly match up with a user who's fine about the government. It's kind of like Tolkien's bit about how someone who was truly there to mislead would look fairer and feel fouler - Shogo so far has treated the issue of their trusting him like a wound he can't stop picking at, while in his actual actions he really does seem to be doing his best not to hurt others.
Oh. Also, in fine narrative tradition his mom died when he was young, of illness. Shogo then adds that he's fine because he's got the pension, although it's smaller than they say.
Then Shogo brings up Yoshitoki, and Shuya explains about Yoshitoki's crush on Noriko. Then he starts talking about the orphanage.
My parents were killed in a car accident. But that's unusual. Most of them—"
Shogo understood. "They end up there because of 'domestic' problems. They're illegitimate children."
Huh, that seems really weird to me. Japan seems pretty positive toward abortions (Shogo just casually dropped thats' one of the things his dad knew how to do) and, apparently, are also creepily okay with infanticide. But maybe there's some connection there in that what handful of kids do survive are more likely to be discarded.
Anywa, point is that Yoshitoki was one of them. He remembers one time in elementary school they were talking about crushes. But what's really on his mind is that if you love someone you marry them, and say you just can't get married for some reason. If you ended up having a kid with her, wouldn't you still want to raise the kid?" So the point is baby Yoshitoki doesn't believe in love. And I guess the point of this is that it means even more than normal to Shuya that Yoshitoki did end up in love with Noriko.
I don't think this story really adds anything, and honestly, the Noriko thing doesn't really get better if Shuya's conscious of what he's doing. I think it works a lot better as him latching onto her irrationally and not being aware just how skewed his judgement is about all of it. But then, I think my disconnect with the book here is I don't really view what Shuya's doing as particularly noble - it's a general good thing that he's helping someone, but which particular person he's helping shouldn't matter. His obsession with Noriko first and foremost would actually be a flaw if he followed through with it any more, so it's not as positive a goal as the book seems to think.