After the Festival: Setsuna’s Thirty Minutes Analysis
This story is comparatively brief—not only in length, but also in the amount of time covered—which makes it all the more effective as an insight into Setsuna’s character. The reader is given a moment-by-moment narration of her thought process in that half hour, her feelings, the way her mind and body work against each other as she grapples with her impulses and desires. In the end, even though she ends up following what her body wants, she doesn’t entirely understand why, or how deep that desire really goes.
Perhaps Setsuna’s biggest misunderstanding is in her belief that she is significantly different from Kazusa where Haruki is concerned. Obviously she has acknowledged that she and Kazusa both love Haruki, and she laments that the two of them couldn’t simply savor their “middle-school love” mutually; but she is under the impression that Kazusa’s love for Haruki is deeper and more serious than her own, and that that difference would be the primary barrier to the “best friends who share feelings for the same person” relationship she’d had notions of. As far as she’s concerned, Kazusa is the only one who can’t keep her priorities straight between friendship and love. Setsuna actually does a fair bit of speculating and assuming concerning Kazusa’s feelings and reactions to various potential developments, the pain Kazusa might feel according to which action Setsuna takes—without the same level of consideration for her own feelings and reactions. This may be why her body seems to act out of sync with her mind, when really she just isn’t aware enough of her heart.
The arc of this story lines up in a compelling way with that of the side story, Twinkle Snow Reverie. It begins with Setsuna deciding to give up on Haruki romantically, and support Kazusa. It continues as Setsuna convinces herself that she’ll be all right with Haruki and Kazusa being together, as long as the three of them can keep being a trio—though it becomes clearer as time goes on, to the reader if not to Setsuna herself, that it isn’t going to be that simple. It ends with Setsuna finally failing to quash her own feelings for Haruki, and acting on them, because she underestimated how strong they were. In both stories, she does so much thinking, pondering, considering, weighing options, occasionally agonizing, and little real listening to herself, until it’s too late. This is why she fails to recognize that her love is as deep as Kazusa’s, and that therefore she will suffer just as much as Kazusa if she is relegated to the “number two” position in Haruki’s heart.
In this moment in Music Room #2, the demonstrated repercussions of this lack of self-awareness are on a somewhat different order of magnitude from the side story, which covers more time, but similar in nature. Setsuna believes she is doing what must be done in order to keep the balance that she wants. She realizes, after some more conjecture, that she doesn’t like the thought of Haruki putting her at any distance for Kazusa’s sake, but doesn’t know exactly why the thought distresses her so much. She curses herself for feeling jealous, for taking such calculated actions as getting Haruki to put her jacket on for her, for fooling him into doing what she wants; but at the same time, she finds herself thrilling at the idea of Haruki seeing her as his first kiss, the idea that she has kissed Haruki in a way that Kazusa hasn’t yet. These are not thoughts that fit with her ideal of “balance,” but she hasn’t reached a point where she can parse them and deal with them rationally. It is only to the reader that the contradictions in her thoughts and wishes are clearly apparent. This leaves an uneasy mood at the end of the story—the knowledge that something has been set in motion, which is unlikely to end without some serious strife. Being led through it step-by-step in this way only makes the tension more painful.