Twinkle Snow Dream Analysis
The first scene of this story—following the brief framing moment at the very start—is a happy, domestic image: Setsuna teaches Kazusa, her best friend, how to cook, because Kazusa is worried about not being able to make anything for her boyfriend. Meanwhile, said boyfriend—Setsuna’s other dearest friend—warns them both that they really ought to get back to studying, for Kazusa’s sake. Apart from Kazusa’s heightened emotional sensitivity, it seems as though very little has changed, which is exactly as Setsuna wants it to be. The lovers and their cupid: the three of them, all together.
The first sign that things might not be quite as ideal as they look actually comes through Takeya and Io, and their discomfort while witnessing Haruki and Kazusa leaning all over each other in the third section. In the moment it might simply come off as exasperation in the face of two sweethearts displaying affection for each other (albeit in their own idiosyncratic ways), especially combined with Setsuna’s bright energy as she shows up and sweeps everyone off for their end-of-exams karaoke party; but we know how much Takeya and Io care about Setsuna, and it’s likely that at least some of their “indigestion” comes from worries about her state of mind regarding this whole thing. Indeed, it is during her conversation with Io on the way to the karaoke spot that Setsuna finally states outright that she “lost,” introducing the idea that she and Kazusa were rivals, competing over Haruki. At this point Setsuna herself is still acting as though everything is fine, but clouds have begun to appear.
The cracks in Setsuna’s resolve become clearer during the trio’s Christmas party at the inn, when she falters in the middle of her final toast. Haruki and Kazusa are quick to reassure her that the three of them will remain just that, the three of them, the next year and the next year and the next, forever, but Setsuna acknowledges to herself later that no dream can last forever. It worsens in the next section, as her desire for time alone with Haruki (found through his insistence upon walking her home from school) asserts itself more strongly, until her phone conversation-gone-sour with Kazusa, and her emotional breakdown immediately thereafter, finally brings home to her that this group of three thing she wanted so badly really isn’t going to work.
Suddenly, she can’t even bring herself to see Haruki at all any more. She fakes a cold to get out of crossing paths with him at Kazusa’s competition performance, she starts waiting until the last minute to show up at school, staying in class during breaks, and leaving early just to avoid seeing him, she considers switching majors in college so she and Haruki won’t be in the same department any more (even though, as Io later points out, she went into the Politics and Economics department because Haruki was going to be there as well). The pain that the mere concept of “the three of them” causes her has become so severe that she starts wondering whether she and Haruki will have to change the names by which they address each other. This question in particular echoes several other significant name-related moments in the course of the trio’s history—Setsuna and Kazusa finally beginning to call one another by name, for example—so her despair at the thought of having to take things back a step, to become “Ogiso” and “Kitahara-kun” again, is similarly significant.
At this point, Takeya and Io reenter the picture to call Haruki and Setsuna out in parallel. Haruki’s problem lies in the desire to keep both of the girls he cares about, without drawing a more distinct line, even though a distinction has clearly formed itself, all the more with the new level of physical intimacy he and Kazusa recently reached; Setsuna’s problem lies in the contradictions of her wish to keep both of her dearest friends and her unavoidable feelings for Haruki. This wish she cherished, this ideal of the three of them, is causing both her and their relationship to fracture. Unfortunately, the conclusions reached by each of these conversations don’t fit together—even though Setsuna shows some promise in her decision to let go of her fixation on everything remaining the same between the three of them, Haruki is determined to keep on with it, because he sincerely believes that that’s what Setsuna wants.
Hence, after Setsuna’s birthday party in the next section, a party to which neither Haruki nor Kazusa was invited, during which she found herself feeling truly happy and fulfilled for the first time in months, Haruki’s sudden appearance at her door with a gift shatters everything. He doesn’t mean to—he sincerely thinks that Setsuna will want to come with him, to celebrate together at Kazusa’s place. He admits that he wants to keep things as they are, even if it’s selfish of him. He has refused to take Takeya’s advice and draw a line—and his adamant insistence upon honesty leads him to all but state outright that he and Kazusa are now sexually involved with each other. There was no way for a declaration like that to lead anywhere positive, and following it up by reiterating that he and Kazusa still love Setsuna and want to be with her is too little, too late. In one sense, it seems as though that sort of extreme shock might have been enough to cut Setsuna loose from her obsession for real, for good; she does say to herself that she’s prepared to throw everything away, and disappear out of their lives.
But then she kisses him, and it’s not without a tiny sliver of hope, and that hope is the undoing of the entire thing.
The lack of names in the very last section is interesting, as well as the deliberate ambiguity regarding pronouns, because this scene could be describing her, or him, or even both. It draws them together by placing the blame, and the punishment, the nightly re-living or re-imagining of the choices they made, on both of them. The previous section might not state outright whether Haruki made the “wrong choice” that Setsuna hoped he would, but the lament over having “ruined it again” suggests that he did. Either way, their failure to draw the line that they were both told to draw caused the whole relationship between the three of them to collapse. It is a grim, grey ending, the complete opposite of the warm, idealistic scene at the start, and a stark depiction of the end of a dream, whether literal or figurative.