Kazusa’s normal ending: Summary and Analysis
General outline of the route: Haruki and Kazusa promise to be together until the end of winter. It would soon become apparent they do not want to part ways, but Haruki is getting torn to pieces, and so Kazusa is forced to sacrifice herself  for his own sake.
 “Until last night, I wanted to run away with you. I would have gone anywhere with you, as long as you held out your hand to me.“
 “…No, I still… I know that’s what would make me the happiest out of anything in the world.“
 “I really did want to stay shut away with you, in our own little world… just the two of us, forever.“
 “But you’re falling apart! While you’re spending time with me, you’re breaking down further and further!“
1. Kazusa Normal Ending Summary
The nine parts of this ending’s summary include the translation of more than 20% of the original content (displayed in bold text) and can be read at the following links:
As opposed to our previous works (IC and CC summaries), there will also be an analysis for each Coda route:
2. Kazusa Normal Ending Analysis
This is a harsh, tempestuous ending, in which the consequences of months’ worth of Haruki’s choices and mistakes come to a head. In its course, Haruki reaches a point of brokenness that seems to be beyond repair; and, ultimately, it is through Kazusa’s sacrifice—fulfilled through her departute—that he starts to reconstruct himself, thanks to the help on either side from the two girls who love him the most.
The chief trouble that sets off the ending is this: Haruki can’t resolve himself to break it off with Setsuna,  so he begins to fragment.  Compounding the problem is that neither of the girls can resolve herself to break it off with him, either, which brings things to a constant tug-of-war of self-blame. Neither of them wants Haruki to feel any burden or responsibility. The lies are a crucial part of this game, to the point that Kazusa actively encourages him to lie to her. He tells her she’s the only one he has, that he loves no one else; in exchange, she falsely tells him that she’s fine with him having both her and Setsuna. She says she’s happy about it, and that it will make them all the happient—this state of affairs may be a rotten one, but as long as Haruki and Kazusa can hold all their lies up to the end, things might work out. If they can’t do that, then everything will fall apart.
 When I thought about Setsuna…
 When I thought of Setsuna, when I worried about Setsuna, when I felt guilt toward Setsuna, when I remembered the secret I was keeping from Setsuna…
 My body and heart went out of control. My flesh and spirit couldn’t maintain equilibrium. Everything… ceased to function.
 If I could have thought of only one person, had feelings for only one person, this whole time, then all of this useless suffering wouldn’t have happened.
 Just as phantoms of Kazusa flitted through my head every time I saw Setsuna, every time I held Setsuna…
 Whenever I spent time alone with Kazusa, whenever we connected so deeply, I heard Setsuna’s voice resounding gently in my head—every time.
 So, because I shut my heart… I broke myself…
This creates a balancing act that puts an enormous strain on Haruki, mentally and emotionally, and, inevitably, cracks appear on both sides. Kazusa’s discovery of his engagement to Setsuna causes her to cry and break down first,  which then leads him to skip out on that all-important birthday dinner with the Ogiso family, trading a lie to Kazusa for a lie to Setsuna. Then, in the very next section, he learns that Kazusa hasn’t been vacating her apartment like she said she would, on nights that he’s had Setsuna over. She’s been suffering silently the whole time, forced to hear every sexual sound they make, repeated reminders of how things truly are. Haruki is forced to a renewed, shocking realization of exactly what he’s done to her, and in the moment, he blames her for not keeping it hidden, even though he knows it’s unfair.
 Kazusa: “The one who told you to do all that, while still loving Setsuna… It was me!”
 Haruki: “Still, I’m sorry. I knew that wasn’t really how you felt, but I still…”
 Kazusa: “It was! You were being exactly how I wanted you to be!”
 Haruki: “Kazusa… That’s enough.”
 Kazusa: “You just kept on the best path you had, without hurting me, without hurting Setsuna.”
 Kazusa: “I’m a fool… I can’t even uphold my own rules. I’m such a fool…”
This fragmentation also tells on him physically, as seen in the extreme symptoms that start to take hold of him whenever he’s away from Kazusa, given any opportunity at all to reflect on the reality of what he’s doing.  He even compares Kazusa directly to a drug, which would make the headaches, nausea, sweating, chills, something like withdrawal symptoms, setting in after less and less time away from her until he finally just withdraws himself, hiding away in his apartment with her.
 Headache, nausea, chills… My heart was pounding like an alarm bell, and my hand was shaking so hard as I tried to hold the strap that it was almost funny.
 But the heat coming from my body was nothing so simple, and before I knew it, I had gone pale enough to be noticeable to my surroundings.
 Because, by the time I called Setsuna earlier, I had already made up my mind.
 I would betray her, once again.
 I wanted to expose my body to the cold wind, to make the sweat and headache and nausea go away. The chill… I could bear for now.
 The chills grew more and more severe, while the sweat and headache didn’t abate at all.
 Now, all I could do… was pray that it didn’t start snowing.
As he gradually loses all sense of the passage of time, of what day it is, of anything outside the fact of being completely tangled up in Kazusa, his state does seem comparable with that of a broken drug addict,  even down to his belief and insistence that this is what makes him his true self. Even as he repeatedly acknowledges the brutal, bestial entity he’s become, he believes all is as it should be. From an outside perspective, Kazusa’s included, it is clear that something is very wrong; but Kazusa has not yet found the gumption to tell him so, because she deeply, desperately wants to protect him, and to keep believing in their own little world herself.
 ‘Every single day I go to the station, but then I start feeling so sick that I can’t even get on the train.’
 I wasn’t some middle school student skipping class… What was wrong with me?
 When I looked at my pitiful face reflected in the mirror, my expression twisted into something even more pathetic.
 I vomited in the station bathroom and rested on the bench for half an hour, but the nausea, headache, and dizziness wouldn’t fade.
 Anyone could see that I was in bad enough shape for it to hinder my work—and yet, miraculously, as soon as I returned to my apartment, it all went away.
 In other words, the period of effectiveness of this “drug” had shrunk to less than an hour.
But, eventually, things go far enough that she can’t keep up the delusion any more; and in one final, drastic measure—because, at this point, drastic is the only option—Kazusa inflicts a blow of her own. It begins with one last lie, one last attempt to protect him—this time by hurting him, telling him the whole thing was fake. Maybe, just maybe, that sort of devastation could finally jar him out of it.
And it does devastate him; but it isn’t long before Kazusa folds and concedes her lie. This scene represents one last failure to hold the lie up until the end, one last failure to protect him. Instead, she has to break him with honesty, with reality, because she knows the broken Haruki she sees before her isn’t the real Haruki.  And, just as Kazusa knew, believed, promised, Setsuna is there afterward, more than prepared to suffer and help him pick up the pieces even with everything that’s happened. 
 “You won’t even care if we fall into the pits of hell together…?”
 “That… That warped and broken-down version of you… is supposed to be the real you? That’s not my Haruki!”
 “Like hell… As if I’d be deceived by such a stupid lie! Quit ridiculing my feelings!”
 “In the past week, I was desperate and cried a year’s worth of tears. So, I feel like I can make it through this next year.”
 And… that impossible strength of will, that led her to keep supporting someone for a year, even after he had done such horrible things to her, had betrayed her twice.
 “If you keep calling me ‘dummy’ like that, over and over, I’ll actually turn into one.”
 “I’ll love you so much that I won’t be able to hate you, no matter what you do to me.”
 “Well, I’ve been trained pretty hard. By the one I love most in the world. …By the one who loves me second-most in the world.“
Additional points of interest:
Kazusa’s deep love
From the start of the series, Kazusa has always had an abiding inferiority complex relative to Setsuna.  Her kindheartedness, maybe just a little too kind, never allowed her to stay with Haruki.
 “…God, I’m hopeless. Completely hopeless.“
 “But you see… Setsuna would never say selfish things like this, would she?“
 “Setsuna would be patient. Setsuna would put you first.“
 “But, for me… It’s all about my own love for you…“
 “I can’t suppress my own selfishness, which just makes trouble for you. …That’s how things turned out this way.“
 “I’m an awful woman. I’m trash. I can’t become Setsuna, I can never be as good as her…“
 “I’m sorry, Haruki… I’m unable to become the woman you want…“
Unfortunately, it turns out her fears were not misplaced, and Haruki does end up breaking. He was losing parts of himself with every passing moment; the factors that made Haruki what he was were disappearing one by one, right in front of her. Yet Kazusa doesn’t let him shatter completely, his light wouldn’t vanish here and now: she would prioritize him over everything else. Her actions had a meaning, and were a link to the future—a proof of love.
Like this, Kazusa decides to become a living sacrifice meant to be a foundation to elevate him into the future. She had finally become aware of the truth, that she had to guide him toward bliss. Her most precious treasure in the world would surely go far ahead, she had to protect him. Their relationship—their history—wouldn’t be etched into her soul as fraught with nothing but defeat. Even if God himself called her sinful, deemed unworthy of Haruki, and decided she needed to be punished, it was still absolutely necessary to lead him to happiness. She resolved to act it out for his sake—so that he can keep advancing forward, so that he doesn’t lose himself.
This wasn’t a complete failure—a defeat. Granted, she couldn’t think of a life that would make her happier than living with him, but she was still happy to have him saved, and this wouldn’t actually separate them completely. Kazusa would be together with Haruki, always, within her heart; she would go on loving him forever. And so, embracing his fragments, she vanished. Her sacrifice would become his light shining upon the future.
“No, I don’t want to leave… Like hell I would.“
“The determination to part wasn’t long ago. …It was actually just moments ago.“
“But I was finally able to make my mind up, the moment I saw your face… The moment you smiled at me…“
“I understood… I figured it out…“
“That, compared with you finding normal happiness and living a long life with a smile on your face, my restristed happiness would be… insignificant.“
“I was made painfully aware of it.“
“Listen, I… I want you to be happy, Haruki.“
“That’s what would make me the happiest. …And I’m not lying this time.“
“Because the only one who could be happy with that… is me.“
“I want you to be happy. …I really wanted to make you happy, myself.“
“But, I can’t… I tried and tried hard, but I couldn’t…“
“My most valuable treasure in this world… will break if I hold it.“
Watching sadly as I underwent this sudden transformation, Kazusa addressed me in a choking voice.
“I tried to cherish you, I tried so hard to protect you, but I’m so clumsy that I just wound up making you crumble…“
“So… it’s best if I return that treasure to someone who can cherish it properly.“
But her self-control ruptured, her voice becoming a crying voice, tears running down her cheeks…
“To her, to the one who can protect you…“
“I’ve broken you, but I believe Setsuna will save you.“
“…I’m an awful woman. Maybe I shouldn’t even have been born.“
“I can’t protect you, Haruki. The only one who can do that is Setsuna.“
“…This isn’t about a difference in our emotions for you. In sheer strength of feelings, I won’t lose. I may be a poor loser, but I’m not willing to give on this.“
“After all, I’m willing to offer anything for Haruki’s sake. I could even throw everything away.“
“And yet, no matter what I sacrifice, or who I offer it to, protecting Haruki is
not something I’m capable of.“
“But, Setsuna wouldn’t have to throw everything away… Just by trying to protect you with all the power she has right now… Just by doing everything she can do…“
“With that alone, she can save you. She can bring you peace of mind. …She can make you happy, forever.“
Because I knew. I knew that was Kazusa was saying… was right.
“There are things that feelings alone can’t do. I never tried that in my life before. I never learned the way.“
“…It’s just that, once I got here, the bill finally arrived.“
“I’m not someone who can protect you.“
“I am a good-for-nothing that can only love you. I am a weakling that can’t support you in anything.“
“I could never… be a match for Setsuna.“
“But this is what I wished for. I want you to be happier than me. For that reason I’ll put on a brave face, I will endure.“
“Carry on as the strong person that you are… I want you to live forever like the Haruki you were when I first met you, the one I loved.“
So frustrating, sorrowful and lonely… So intense I can’t help but be moved..
“No, there was something up with that piano performance… Look, there are people crying all around us. Why did this have an effect that powerful on the general public?”
“Isn’t it… because she was crying herself?”
“Yeah, right… We’re in the second level. No one could see that.”
“I can… I can always tell when a woman is crying.”
“I’ve… given up on him.”
“…You finally made that crucial decision.”
“But I’m never going to give up on loving him for as long as I live. So… it’s alright if I don’t see him anymore”
“You won’t regret it?”
“Of course I will. How could I not when I love him?”
“I love the fact that he’s no big deal.”
“The fact that he’s weaker than he looks… The fact that he was stupid enough to be attracted to the likes of me… I love it so much it’s unbearable.”
“Well, I’m sure you figured it out ages ago, but I just wanted to tell someone. …How incredible my love is.”
Todokanai Koi becomes a song dedicated to Setsuna
“Please, Haruki… I haven’t heard you play guitar in forever. I want to hear it.”
“…All right, but only a little.”
And, as I took the guitar in my arms, Kazusa sat down in front of me and stuck out her knees, claiming the front row for herself.
“Mm, I’m fine with whatever. Something that’s easy for you to play.”
‘Haruki-kun, you’ve been practicing and practicing just so you could play this for me, haven’t you?’
‘The Setsuna who heard my terrible guitar playing and decided to sing along with it…’
‘That’s who I love most in the world.’
‘If you forget the melody, just listen to my guitar. If you forget the words… Well, cover it up with a smile.’
‘I couldn’t possibly forget… This song is just for us.’
‘When the concert is over… I want you to take me by force.’
“…What is it?”
“…Sorry. I can’t do it. I’ve forgotten how to play.”
My fingers wouldn’t move against the strings.
It wasn’t that they couldn’t do it well. They genuinely refused to move.
“You don’t have to play me an entire song… Just the hook would be fine.”
“I really can’t… I’m sorry.”
Because the last memory I should have recalled at this moment had just rushed furiously through my head.
“I… really haven’t played at all since then. I’ve forgotten everything you taught me.”
That which remained in my memory, from two years ago… My confession, Setsuna’s response…
All of them, one by one, disavowed everything I was right now.
What came to my face was a forced laugh. What came to my heart was far more scornful.
The fact that the feelings I held now weren’t fake. The fact that my memories from two years ago weren’t fake, either.
…The fact that both of these were true served only as further proof that I was a shallow, horrible person.
That’s why I couldn’t play it. The song Kazusa wrote…
Because, that song… belonged to Setsuna now.
Throughout this route, Kazusa becomes a drug  that floods Haruki’s brain. And, just like with any other drug, it hurts his ability to make decisions, leading to intense cravings and damaging compulsive behaviour. The withdrawal symptoms—nausea, chills, mental confusion— start setting in after less and less time away from her,  until he becomes utterly unable to interact with civil society. 
 But, maybe that was similar to the exaltation of getting into a drug with a high risk of dependency.
 What I felt when the high-dependency drug known as “Kazusa” wore off…
 The dizziness, headache, and heart palpitations that assailed me even this morning, the moment I started to board the train… I would drive all of that out of my body’s memory.
 It wasn’t totally unreasonable for Setsuna to assume I was sick.
 I could barely eat a bite of the dinner she made.
 I was unquestionably pale. My forehead was sweating rivers, and I couldn’t stop shaking.
 The world without Kazusa. The world with my boss, my colleagues, my friends, and my love. My former world…
 Had become like the bottom of the sea for me. Untrodden territory.
Haruki himself is surprised by his transformation: he had always been prone to work everything out meticulously beforehand, to make things as efficient as possible; but the word “efficiency” is well out of the new Haruki. During his trip with Kazusa, he manages to miss the first express train, mix up their transfer station, and ride back a station. Most importantly, his plans become crazier and crazier  the longer he stays with Kazusa. 
 Yes, meaningless. Food, sleep, society. Talking to, coming into contact with, being acknowledged by anybody else.
 “Let’s go to our Stone Age, where nobody knows us, where there’s nobody around who cares about us…“
 Were I alone, I would have come to a halt with anxiety. I would have been unable to move for fear. My heart and body… would have broken from despair.
 But, as long as I was with Kazusa, I didn’t feel that anxiety, that fear, that despair.
 The usual me—not thinking, not worrying… Getting swept away in my desires, dissolving in lust, seeing nothing but Kazusa—the real me.
Deep inside, Haruki knows there’s something very wrong with him, and yet he can’t resist the urge to use the drug, no matter how much harm it causes to everyone: his beloved Setsuna and friends are struck by his sudden disappearance; skipping on his two different jobs—his usual work for the Graph, and the special for Ensemble—leaves Hamada and everyone else in the department in a very bad position. Kazusa’s treatment isn’t any better, and she ends up turning into a mishandled sexual object that momentarily eases the unpleasant physical and mental damage he suffers after betraying Setsuna.  Overall, his recklesness knows no bounds,  he admits even Youko—perhaps the one person in the world who would ever acknowledge them— would feel betrayed, and he doesn’t mind if Kazusa stops playing the piano to stay with him.
 I was ravaging Kazusa with all I had. Violating her, defiling her, wrecking her.
 “Sorry for… doing such horrible things. It hurts, right? Aren’t you cold?”
 So, I thrust into her furiously. Digging my nails into her breasts, digging my teeth into the base of her neck.
 I exchanged the pain in my heart for pain in Kazusa’s body.
 Because, that way, all of the bitterness I felt would disappear. Kazusa would absorb all of it.
 Because the cold and the sweat, the headache and the chills—Kazusa would change all of it into pleasure for me.
 As I bit into Kazusa’s tongue, I tried to forget all the pain that kept coming back and coming back, no matter how many times it faded away.
 I gave pain to Kazusa, and in doing so I escaped my own pain.
 And we didn’t make the five-minute walk back to the apartment.
 Unable to wait even that long, we made our way to a small park nearby, slipped into a small thicket, and stuck closely to each other through our coats.
 I pressed against Kazusa with all of my weight, crushing her against the tree she was leaning on in the thicket.
 “Kazusa, I, I… I want to… be inside you…“
Unwilling to face his problems, all he does is hope that the future will somehow shine bright.
I convinced myself, by convincing Kazusa.
“Life is simple… Everything will be solved, before you know it… Hahh, mm, mph…”
At this point, I wasn’t saying anything like, “This is what we’ll do to make things go well,” or, “I’ll make it work somehow.”
But, really, that was only natural…
Right now, I couldn’t even protect myself adequately.
No matter how much I tried to explain it. No matter how tightly I embraced her, trying to make her forget.
No matter how far I tried to flee, I couldn’t stop the anxiety over the future just ahead of us.
Not Kazusa’s, but my own…
Could I remain myself from here on out? Having cut off society, my relationships with people, everything?
Would Kazusa be able to continue playing the piano? Or would she keep running away with me, forever?
And, if Kazusa did choose the latter future, how would I respond to her…?
Thinking about it wouldn’t necessarily bring me to any conclusion. I didn’t want to think about it, anyway.
The matter of Kazusa and Setsuna is its own separate heartbreak, since Kazusa is losing not only the man she loves, but also the girl she once called her dearest friend. They may be long since fallen out of touch by the point of this ending, but Setsuna still receives that front-row ticket to Kazusa’s final concert. The three of them have never been far from each other’s mind, as also demonstrated by Haruki and Kazusa’s stay at the of the inn up north—the same place they all once stayed, so long ago—and the unspoken “discussions” between her and Haruki while they’re there, remembering how the three of them once sat all together, hand in hand in hand, and pledged to be a trio forever. Finally, Kazusa must bring it into the realm of the outright-stated, just as she did in putting things to an end with Haruki: she tells him she’s going to put the burden of saving Haruki on Setsuna, because she hates Setsuna, because Setsuna is her worst enemy. Likewise, in the very final section, Setsuna says she’s come to take Haruki back because she hates Kazusa, because Kazusa is her worst enemy.
Of note is that both these declarations of hatred are responses to questions from Haruki, demands for an explanation of actions they’re taking out of love for him. It is left ambiguous whether the hatred is true—or, if it is true, whether it is complete; it is doubtful that Kazusa would entrust her most valuable treasure, as she calls Haruki, to someone for whom she felt hate and nothing else. Regardless, her statement is final, and representative of this break between her and Setsuna. It pans out almost like an agreement: even if things are over between the two girls, they still work together, effectively, to set Haruki back on a path to wholeness.
The last few lines
The metaphor at the very end of the final part is interesting: snow, winter, is tied with comfort and safety, forming a blanket over all of their painful memories, while spring, the melting of snow, the sprouting of new greenery, is tied with the revival of those painful memories. Spring is often associated with renewal, a fresh start after the cold bleakness of winter, and yet in this particular case, growth and pain are tied directly together. This in and of itself is meaningful, however: a new beginning can indeed mean pain. Now that they’ve all been broken out of the cycle of lies and denial thanks to Kazusa’s massive sacrifice, there’s a lot that Haruki and Setsuna are going to have to face head-on. But the painful memories that sprout up after the snow has melted can be recognized for what they are—things that happened. There’s no denying those things, but the past is the past, and it has lessons that it can teach without bogging them down forever.
Perhaps the first clear glimpse of that hope comes with Haruki’s simple confession that he was half-lying when he said he loved Setsuna the most in the world. Setsuna immediately calls him on the lie, and he immediately admits it, without any further lies, without trying to insist otherwise, and without any of the self-loathing turmoil of his apologies and confessions at earlier points in the ending. It is a promising moment of simple openness and honesty for both of them, and it seems to bode well for springs to come. 
 In all likelihood, I still loved Kazusa. I probably loved her enough to tie with Setsuna for first place in the world.
 But, as I was this time, I couldn’t live without Setsuna.
 Without Setsuna by my side, I would lose my bearing in life… I wouldn’t know which way I was headed.
The route’s ending song shows Kazusa’s feelings for Haruki
Kokoro wa Itsumo Anata no Soba ni
My Heart is Always With You
The sky looks like it’s about to cry
A cold wind tells me that snow is on the way
I don’t want to leave… but, unable to say a word
I let go of your hand and wave goodbye
I watch and watch as you vanish into the distance
Even though anxiety bears down on me
I know that my heart will always be with you
So that even lonely nights can pass in happiness
I know my heart will always be with you, so I want you to know
That even while we can’t see each other, I’ll be okay
Under the sky that has begun to weep
The cold wind that spoke to me passes me by
I squeeze what’s left of your warmth tightly
And shut it away in my pocket so I don’t lose it
My heart will always, always be with you
So that even on lonely nights I won’t feel so alone
My heart will always, always be with you, so I know
That even while we can’t see each other, I can laugh and say, “I’m fine”
The weakness I hide by pretending to be fine
If showing you would mean losing you, I’ll stay with you and keep pretending
I can feel your heart with me
Are you looking up at the snowy sky, feeling the same way I do?
I know my heart will always be with you, so I want you to know
That even while we can’t see each other, I’ll be okay