Back to the main gang. Noriko is better.
"Your fever's gone down. Shogo said it probably wasn't from septicemia. It was just a really bad cold. Probably from fatigue."
I am really not sure where they're getting this. She was displaying all the symptoms of septicemia, they gave her antibiotics, she got better almost immediately. It's currently 7 pm and she's already better.
Shuya fills us in on the 6 pm announcement, including the fact they need to leave because the area they're in will be forbidden at eleven.
Since it was hard to tell exactly where the border of the forbidden zone was, the southwest shore area was all off limits now.
Hm. It seems the areas are being blocked off much faster than I estimated. I wonder what the maximum lifespan of the game is?
Only eighteen hours had passed since the game began, yet Third Year Class B of Shiroiwa Junior High had been reduced to half its size.
I also wonder what the normal lifespan of these games is. Kazuo was behind a third of the deaths, after all. And Mitsukos can't be common, and between the two they've managed half the deaths. Hm. A fourth of the kids in the first day would seem closer to the one example we have that lasted four days.
When Shogo brings Noriko food, jokingly pretending to be a waiter and showing he knows at least a few English phrases in the process. There's an egg with it.
"Where'd you find that?" Shuya asked. All the fresh food in the refrigerator was rotten, probably because the government had moved the civilians out a while ago. All the other houses were probably in the same condition.
Shogo looked at Shuya out of the corner of his eye and grinned. "I found a house that kept a hen. It looked like it hadn't been fed in a while and looked pretty weak."
I hope he let it go.
More and more, I wonder what happened to the people on this island. Not being able to find your cat makes sense, but there'd be no similar problem finding a caged hen. Even if they weren't allowed to take it, it wouldn't have taken much time to release it.
They drink tea and Shuya says that they should get together again and drink tea watching cherry trees blossom.
"Shogo," Noriko said, "I feel totally fine now. Thank you so much. And I'm so sorry for all the trouble I've caused."
Shogo smiled and replied, "You're welcome," in English. "But it looks like the antibiotic wasn't necessary."
How does improving after you're given an antibiotic prove it wasn't necessary? What the hell.
Shogo says that she could still have septicemia, so she should take it easy. Also, he needs a nap of his own.
"Please be considerate to your neighbors though if you get intimate."
In the dim room Shuya could see Noriko's face flush.
Shogo then left the room. Beyond the half opened door, Shuya heard him walk out of the kitchen and into the waiting room. It became quiet.
Noriko broke into a smile and said, "Shogo's so funny."
He does seem moderately upbeat, which probably counts for a lot right now. Shuya says he reminds him of Shinji, who supposedly is also a funny guy. Shinji so far has seemed more of a coolkid.
"Yeah, if he were only with us…"
With Shinji along and with Shogo on their side, Shuya thought they couldn't be defeated. And if Hiroki Sugimura were with them they would be fearless and invincible.
They start reminiscing about the basketball game last year. Noriko remembers how all the girls were cheering loudly. Shuya remembers mostly that Yoshitoki was making devil signs of support, which meant way more to him. Noriko starts crying.
I was thinking how wonderful our class was..."
Your class contains a psychopath, another psychopath, at least two really nasty bullies, and an attempted rapist.I guess it's kind of inevitable when the author wants a varied cast, but it does kind of get in the way of viewing this as a pure tragedy. It would have really helped if the author had restricted things to panicking kids and kept the serial killers out of it.
It might have been from the still lingering fever, or it might have been from the drugs, but Noriko seemed to be in an emotional state.
I think it's just stress, Shuya.
She then switches the topic to People Who Have Crushes On Shuya. I believe that would be the female population of the class, possibly minus Mitsuko.
Shuya is caught flatfooted by the inexplicable topic switch, so Noriko continues to say that she thinks Megumi and Yukiko did.
She added, "I am in no position to be telling you this now, given the situation I'm in."
Not sure what's up with that.
Shuya is shocked. I'd assume he knew that girls liked him in a general sort of way, but didn't realize they were serious about it.
"I wish you'd told me after we escaped."
"I'm sorry. Did it shock you?"
"Yeah, a little."
Noriko tilted her head again, "But…I thought you should know in case I die."
Either this is some weird thing of the author or it's some Japanese thing I don't get.
Anyway, Shuya just says they'll make it. Then he says he knows someone with a crush on her, but chickens out and says it's not a classmate and that he'll tell her who later.
Noriko looked somewhat relieved as she looked down at the knees of her skirt and only mumbled, "I see."
Interesting. Of course, Shuya could be misreading, but if he's not, then like a lot of the girls, she might consider someone around with an interest in her to be a danger under these circumstances.
Shuya wonders what the girls liked about him.
Noriko tilted her head. "Everything about you."
Shuya chuckled and shook his head, "What do you mean?"
"That's what it means to love someone." Noriko's suddenly sounded serious. "Isn't that how you feel about that girl?"
Shuya thought of Kazumi Shintani's face. He thought about it. He hesitated, but thought he should be honest. "Yeah. Something like that."
"If it's not, then it's not real," Noriko said
Well, I'd say that's kind of initial-crush love, but yeah, sure.
Shuya says that he can understand why the guy has a crush on her, because she's wonderful. Noriko asks for a favor.
Noriko then leaned over slightly and gently put both of her hands on Shuya's upper arms, putting her head against his shoulder. Her shoulder-length short hair brushed up against Shuya's cheeks and ears.
They remained like this for quite some time until the dimness outside the window turned into moonlight.
Well, that was sweet. And it's nice to see Shuya easing into the idea of being in love with her, instead of it happening abruptly.
Next is Hirono's chapter. She's in bad shape, with a terrible fever and dehydration. The book informs us that she's got septicemia and that Noriko actually didn't. This seems unrealistically fast.
Hirono's head spun with thoughts of hatred towards Kaori Minami. Her burning body and thirst only intensified these thoughts.
Hirono Shimizu had no intention of trusting anyone in this game.
So, it doesn't look like this will be a particularly sympathetic chapter.
Hirono explains that she knows better than to get anywhere near Mitsuko.
Mitsuko took on a bad-girl leader from another school (who'd by then become the mistress of a yakuza gangster). That girl ended up getting run over by a car. The injury was nearly fatal. Mitsuko didn't say anything about it, but Hirono knew Mitsuko had some guy do it.
I found Mitsuko a lot more palatable in the manga because most of her sociopathy seemed aimed at guys, which was understandable given her backstory. Here, she seems to target girls.
Anyway, point is, she knows Mitsuko is bad news. But she doesn't trust anyone else either.
At the same time though she wasn't too thrilled about killing off her classmates. She'd done prostitution and drugs, and she constantly fought with her parents who treated her like a lost cause, but murder was taboo. Of course the rules of the game permitted it, so it wasn't a crime here—but while she'd done some bad things, they were never all that harmful towards others. Even though she'd prostituted herself, compared to other girls who pretended to be proper at the same time that they "phone-dated" (she knew Mayumi Tendo was one of those), at least she went the whole nine yards working with professionals through her connection with Mitsuko Souma. As for drugs, what was wrong with asserting her individual freedom to choose? And it wasn't like she was putting the mall's cosmetics department out of business by stealing stuff from there.
I don't know if this is supposed to be sort of sympathetic, by saying she's done delinquent things but still has morals, or if it's meant to be her making excuses. Part of this is a lack of context - does it make sense to consider phone-dating part of the same spectrum as prostitution? Individual freedom to choose sounds like some sort of dog-whistle I'm not familiar with. And I don't know how people view minor theft, if her viewpoint is largely what people believe or considered deluded.
And she does go on to add that Yes, she bullied others around, but they deserved it.
Which seems pretty nasty, particularly when we're told her bullying involves pulling a knife on someone. I believe this is the first time we've had a viewpoint character actually defend bullying, even Mitsuno made it clear he only went after other boys he was competing against.
In any case, she was…
…not the kind of girl who'd go around murdering people. She knew that much.
…it was different if she had to defend herself.
So on balance, while I think you can read it sympathetically, the book isn't particularly aiming at that.
It does make it clear she didn't start the shootout. She was hiding out and noticed someone was nearby, so she tired to leave and Kaori shot her.
That bitch. She was always acting so innocent with her blind devotion to idol groups, and then all of a sudden she has the nerve to pull the trigger on me. Well, I was able to finish her off. (In self defense. The jury's verdict would have been 12-0, no prob.) And if the others are anything like her then I'll have to be merciless, I think.
Yeah, not looking good for her. It's disappointing that the last two POVs have been so negative. The first half of the book seems to have a focus on explaining why it's understandable for people to act like this and putting the focus on the fact they make bad decisions out of fear. But Sho and now Hirono are treated as just making excuses.
It even goes on to have her imagining celebrating if she somehow wins.
She thinks about Shuya's appearance and claim he's with Noriko.
Ridiculous. Nothing could be more risky than being with someone under these circumstances. If you're in a group, well then, that's just your own fault if you get shot in the back. Besides, it was impossible to escape anyway.
Raising the possibility that Shuya could have defused the fight if instead of claiming he was with Noriko, he'd led with "we have a way to escape!" Hirono might not have believed him, but it seems like her bit about trust is specifically that under the circumstances, you couldn't trust people - a person might be lying about there being a way out, but if there was a way out, it would be possible to trust people.
I don't think the group would have done too well with Hirono, though - once she found out that the escape plan was "hang out until everyone else dies, then Shogo will explain" she'd presumably come to the reasonable conclusion that Shogo was just out to win. But if she hung out with the group for a little while, maybe she'd be convinced Shuya and Noriko weren't out for blood? If she was willing to trust them, she might be willing to stick with the whole group - Shogo wouldn't be able to easily kill all three of them, after all.
In fact, it'd add a lot of needed life into the group dynamic to have someone who didn't trust Shogo. It's sort of like the emotional equivalent of the wolf/sheep/cabbage puzzle. Shuya and Noriko trust Shogo. If Hirono trusts Shuya and Noriko, but not Shogo, that then means Shogo doesn't trust her. Having someone constantly glaring at Shogo waiting for him to make a wrong move would be a lot more interesting than the endless friendship lovefest here. Currently, the tension of if Shogo will betray them is limited to the reader's point of view, so if you dismiss it, as I can't help but do, there's nothing left. Whereas if there was potential for the characters to react that way, there'd be tension over if they might turn on him unjustly.
Anyway, currently Hirono's sure that Noriko or Shuya will be killed by the other and maybe she'll have to kill the survivor or whatever. She can't really focus much. She's just too thirsty.
unlike the previous house she'd hid inside, the roof was tiled. An unpaved road came in from the left side of the farm. There was a light truck parked in front of the house. She also saw a moped and bicycle.
Huh. Come to think of it, it's odd that bicycles haven't been mentioned before. I'd expect plenty of them around, and it doesn't sound like the people would've been able to take them. Maybe they're commonplace but being ignored by the kids because they require sticking to open areas.
There's also a well.
She's actually pretty smart for someone near death, throwing a rock onto the roof of the house and watching for any movement, managing to wait patiently five minutes.
Then she goes to the well.
But then she discovered something and let out a small shriek. There was a tiny fingernail-sized frog swimming in the water.
This seems weird to me. Wells should be empty and, for this reason, kept covered. You don't want things drowning in them. Maybe the frog's small enough to climb up and down.
It jumps on her and she's startled, making her drop the bucket back into the well.
Hirono groaned and looked over in the direction of the frog. I'll kill it. I'll kill that fucking frog!
Really, not coming off well.
She saw a black figure in a student coat stop a mere four or five meters in front of her.
Hirono's back had been facing the house. Now she saw the back door behind the figure was ajar.
It's Toshinori, who she describes as quite ugly. He's got a belt in his hands and he's holding it with the buckle outward.
He was supposed to be good at violin (apparently he'd won some competition). A pretentious, well bred, quiet boy.
This seems odd for something she'd be thinking after her bit about how she was too worldly to trust people. I'd think that in her time as a prostitute, she'd have learned not to expect anything from being born to high class.
She shoots him, then rushes over to the house to find his pack.
Still on her knees, Hirono opened the lid of the half filled bottle and pressed her lips against it, sucking on it as she tilted the bottle back. Hmm. Was this an indirect kiss with the boy who had tried to kill her—who was, on top of that, dead?
I can't tell if this is the author being so obsessed with the concept he's got her thinking about it even though she's had lots of actual sex, or if Japan at large is so obsessed that even after extensive prostitution, indirect kissing is still a big deal.
I mean, I can understand being creeped out by the dead part, but not the "does this count as a kiss????????" aspect.
As soon as she finishes drinking, the guy's belt wraps around her neck. She tries to get it off and tears her fingernails away instead, then tries to get the gun but he kicks her arm hard enough to break it.
And that's it for her. Turns out he had a bulletproof vest on.
You know, I think this is sort of an issue with the problems of having variety enough to keep things interesting. The author wants lots of weapons to show how the kids use them, but the more complex things get, the more ridiculous the idea that anyone would think there was any point to this. The televised rewrite does make a sort of sense - if you were observing how the kids used things, you'd at least have usable data.
I guess you can figure out some things by tracking them - so they'd know he survived this long without encountering anyone, then that he won a fight against someone with a gun. But even that's a bit tricky. Maybe she missed, he hid and then jumped her.
(There's also the problem of stuff like Hirono running off without taking Kaori's stuff - unless there's another tracker in the bags, after a while it should be hard to tell who has what. Especially the non-gun weapons.
Well, perhaps there's been some creep over time. Like, perhaps the first time they did this, they just handed everyone a pistol, and then someone suggested giving half of them knives and seeing how well the knife-users did, and so on until they'd completely lost track of things.
20 students remaining
Which brings us back to it being half boys and half girls that remain.