Continuing with our reading of Ryukishi Zeronana’s light novel version of When the Cicada’s Cry: The Festival Accompanying Chapter, Volume 1 (竜騎士07の”ひぐらしのなく頃に解:祭囃し編”), the next section beginning on page 55 shows Miyo Takano meeting with a wheelchair bound old man named Mr. Koizimi, who knew her adoptive father, Hifumi Takano. Clearly from these last few sections of the story there has been a huge jump across time into the future, far from the trauma of the orphanage. This section runs about 20 pages and takes place at a golf course and in a guest room at a high-class bar. He affectionately calls her Miyo-chan and says she has grown into a beautiful woman.
The conversation turns to American nuclear power, Japan’s three anti-nuclear principles and its position as a non-nuclear power in the world, the Cold War, and the United Nations. Then they discuss Professor Takano’s research on the Hinamizawa Syndrome in Manchuria (known as Manchukuo in Japanese at that time) where he discovered that Hinamizawa’s native soldiers stationed there with the Japanese army (known as the Kwantung) in 1940 had parasites. He had not made this discovery in Japan.
He became aware of the last stage symptoms of the disease in Manchukuo. Mr. Koizimi says her adoptive father was unlucky but that she can continue his research into this disease. He gives her an attaché full of money for her research, and she thanks him profusely over and over again.
On page 63, it gets into the damaged psychology of the war zone soldiers and the strengthening of the Hinamizawa Syndrome in native Himanizawa soliders which Professor Takano, then a military doctor/ major, had begun studying and understood as being connected to the unique Hinamizawa faith in a local deity called Oyashiro. However, he thought that no one would believe in the illness-inducing parasites in such an ideological context. It says on the next page that at that time in the early part of the 20th century, state of the art German medicine had determined a number of odd diseases were due to parasites. Now, all of this brings to mind the medical experimentation that Manchukuo during that time was infamous for, and of course, German medicine of the time included notorious German medical experiments at concentration camps:
Mr. Koizimi also brings up the Second Sino-Japanese War which began on July 7, 1937 and resulted in some events in China that even today are political hot potatoes. The next few pages go into rather great detail about the war.
I should note that the numbers throughout this section are given in Old Japanese style of “Showa” with the reign year. There are actually reign year conversion tables that I found to get a more accurate understanding of the year since subtraction just gets you in the ballpark and is usually off a year.
These topics continue into the next chapter, which is titled, “A High Class Ryotei,” finishing out part 1 of the book, A ryotei is a traditional Japanese restaurant that had a special function in old Japan:
Ryotei are used by wealthy VIPs and high level government officials for meetings. Takano is here mingling with five other people in this section. One of the men starts talking to her about Hifumi Takano’s research and military weaponry generally, particularly atomic, chemical and biological weapons used for deterrence. I’m not going to get into the details here too much other than to note that this meeting is likely to be connected to her “shadow government” activity.
Miyo Takano is named a major in the Japanese Self Defense Force, which interestingly enough looks very much like her given name Miyo in Japanese though the pronunciation is different (三佐 for major and pronounced misa, 三四 for her first name Miyo). It seems this is an updated version of the rank Hifumi Takano held in the old Japanese military when he served during World War II.
Part 2 of the novel is called “The Rainstorm” and has a drawing of Takano Miyo when she is young, crying in the rain.
The first section of this part is titled “Director Irie’s Installation,” and Major Takano is introduced to Dr. Kyosuke Irie. This chapter continues in the third person as it details their first meeting, which quickly turns to the subject of the Hinamizawa Syndrome. Most of this chapter isn’t dialogue, though, it’s exposition connecting Hinamizawa Syndrome to a lengthy discussion of brain surgery, the Japanese Psychoneurology Society’s decision to forbid psychosurgery, psychiatric patients in general and related topics going back as far as Showa 40 (the late 1960s to early 1970s – note that the main story of the series here takes place in Showa 58, or 1983 with the one volume flashback to 1977, and I think the one story arc flashes forward to 30 years later, but I haven’t read that group of books yet). Once Irie becomes director of the institute, they can begin their research on Hinamizawa Syndrome.
Part 2 is rather short, only running a few chapters about Irie, a dinner party and going on the run. The chapter titled “The Dinner Party” is another first person meeting between Takano and a high level official who is laughing at her adoptive father’s research and what she’s attempting to do. They are celebrating the founding of the Irie Organization and their sponsor, but by the end of the chapter, Takano walks out into the traditional garden in the rain, which brings back memories of the orphanage.
The next section, “On the Run,” returns to when Miyo bit the orphanage staff member’s finger after running away with Eriko during a rainstorm. This section is also in the first person and runs really long at 30 pages. Among the things that she ruminates on here is how her fate turned out with her mother and father dying in the accident that day upon returning from a department store and what she wished would have happened instead. She reflects on her sadness over their death and her situation as a small girl now alone in the world. She wants to scream out to God and ask why she no longer has a normal life.
At one point, she seems to be having a conversation with the thunder, yelling back and forth with it as if it is God. This goes on for an extended period of time, even to the point where she challenges God to kill her. He took everyone else from her, she says, so why doesn’t he take her, too? This sequence is shown in the anime. During her tirade, she refers to herself by her original birth name, Miyoko Tanashi. (This name change is constant throughout the first volume, and it becomes difficult not to pay attention to it.) She talks about winning her bet with God.
The setting expands during her flight to the forest and then a pavement road where she sees a phone booth where she can get out of the rain as she avoids being seen by the orphanage staff. She finds a ten yen coin and decides that God has given it to her. Now she sees her chance as the rain starts again, though she wonders who to call now that her parents are dead. Then she flashes back to the scene with her father as he was dying in the hospital where he tells her about his teacher, Hifumi Takano. She decides she should call him and picks up the phone.
When she hears his voice, she mentions she is the daughter of his student Takemitsu Tanashi, and he takes a minute to recall who the student is. Finally she explains her father told her to call him and that her parents died in a train accident. She begs him to rescue her, and her time runs out. She thinks about how she wants an affectionate home and how he’ll give that to her. I should note here that I’ve read that traditionally adoption was not something encouraged in Japan given the emphasis on family bloodlines, so this whole storyline is rather special and poignant from that perspective.
Miyoko sees a car on the road coming closer and stopping. This leads to the confrontation with the orphanage employee we read about earlier. She is frozen with fear and worried about the multiple types of punishments Eriko and the others had mentioned, but she repeatedly thinks that now that she has called Takano, he will come rescue her. She’ll leave hell and is already slipping out of the spider’s web.
The scene then turns to a shower room where it seems the orphanage staff use shinai kendo swords to beat the children. I’m not drilling down into the details here, but Miyoko must face the staff member with the bandaged finger that she bit in this scene. It’s like she’s in a conflict with a wild beast again. So the scene mixes images of the showers, lockers, cold water, and the two staff members with shinai. There’s a lot of Miyoko screaming “I’m sorry” and “I don’t want to die” before her thoughts return to the idea that Takano will come to save her. About half of a paragraph on this page is asterisks with lots of exclamation points interrupted here and there by Japanese. Part 2 wraps up with her complaining about the pain and the employees calling her a bad child.
One thing I will say about this author since I’ve seen three of his stories that have been made into anime is that he is very good on the subject of abused children, which is also another more taboo subject in Japanese society as maybe it is just about everywhere. It’s a theme that does come up in a lot of his work, and he seems to have a good handle on the difficulties children in such situations have. What’s sad is that here it ends up really ruining Miyo Takano.
Part 3 kicks off with “Miyo Takano,” and it continues with the flashback to when Hifumi Takano saved her and remains in the first person. It seems her name first became Miyoko Takano when he took her in using his last name’s orthography, with a variant that drops the “ko” part and turns it into Miyo, which is Hifumi’s nickname for her. Since she likes the Miyo name better than the longer version, she decides here to change how it’s written to her later choice, continuing his number name (Hifumi means one-two-three, and she chooses to spell Miyo as three-four), but she hasn’t changed the orthography of her last name yet at this point. I like this paragraph, so let me slap that in here for good measure where she goes through the mental gymnastics to come up with her new name:
At that point, we turn back to Colonel Kozimi, whom we’ve already been introduced to in an earlier chapter. He meets with Professor Takano and laughs together with him. They talk about the war and the soldiers from Hinamizawa. I’m mostly going to skip this section, though, since we’ve already gotten the basics down on the war and its significance to the story.
I’ll stop here at about the halfway point in the book and finish it up in the next post.
Part two of a three part series.