White Album 2 manga
Volume 3, chapter 3
FX: Tap tap
Message: Submitted my report. Today my seminar is having a get-together. Now I’m officially on winter break. That said, my plans for the winter are pretty much just working, so it’s hard to call it a break…
…I guess I won’t really have Christmas or New Year’s, then. But I have to take this opportunity to save up. Once I start looking for a job in earnest next year, I won’t be able to do anything part-time.
Are you going anywhere, Setsuna? Hokkaido? Okinawa?
Setsuna: No Christmas or New Year’s…
Setsuna: But this is supposed to be a vacation…
Setsuna: …You don’t have to keep that perfect guard up…
Chapter title: SESSION14
A Love Letter in an Article
Student 1: Hey, Kitahara! When is Izumi-san gonna get here?!
Student 1: We came today because you said she’d be coming!
Haruki: Sorry, she’s not picking up…
Phone: The number you have dialed cannot currently be reached…
Narration: Izumi was whining about how she didn’t know where we were meeting, so we all gathered on campus at 4:30, but we waited forty-five minutes and she still hadn’t shown up.
Izumi: I don’t knowwww!
Narration: I mean… I guess that’s the usual for her, but…
Student 1: Dammit, this is boring! Drink more, Kitahara!
Student 2: It’s my turn next!
For every minute that she doesn’t show up, you’re gonna take responsibility!
Haruki: …If I get carted out of here in an ambulance, it probably won’t look too good when you two are trying to find jobs.
Student 1: …Y’know, I never did like you…
FX: Chatter chatter
Haruki: Izumi! Why haven’t you had your phone on this whole time?
Chiaki: I kinda got… caught up in something… Actually, some pretty intense special training.
Phone: Uh? I don’t know what you…
Chiaki: …Yeah, you probably don’t.
Haruki: Well, whatever.
Do you know where we are?
Chiaki: Is the party still on?
Haruki: They said we can stay until nine, so we’re good for now.
Chiaki: Got it…
Haruki: What’s up? Are you not going to make it?
Chiaki: Ah, no, it’s not really that…
Chiaki: Hmmm… I dunno…
Narration: Something seems weird with Izumi today.
Narration: Like she’s fatigued, or in a trance, or… She’s more lethargic than usual, further out of tempo with me than usual.
Chiaki: Hey, Haruki… What are you gonna do? When the first party is over.
Haruki: Huh… Well, this time around, I might actually go along to the second one.
Chiaki: So, this is what it’s like… Having your chest tighten up and ache, dying to see someone, just from hearing their voice…
Haruki: Huh? You’re talking too quietly. I can’t hear you.
Why don’t you cut out early?
Haruki: I don’t understand.
Chiaki: Why don’t we have our own second party, just the two of us? …That’s what I mean.
Haruki: …I still don’t understand.
Chiaki: I guess not. I just want to see you… right now.
Haruki: Then come here right now. Everyone’s been waiting for you.
FX: Chatter chatter
Narration: This isn’t the kind of relationship where I should freak out over her saying she wants to be alone together. I mean, that’s what I always thought…
Chiaki: Haruki, you really never get a clue.
Narration: But, lately, Izumi has started to feel more like a woman… and I’m a bit at a loss as to how to respond to that.
Chiaki: That’s just who you are.
Haruki: The upperclassmen want to drink with you, Izumi. The professor, even.
Haruki: If you want to drink with me, we’ll have loads of other opportunities.
Chiaki: Game over, huh?
Haruki: Huh? What was that?
Chiaki: Nah, I’m just gonna head home.
Haruki: …If you say so.
Chiaki: Apologize to everyone, will you? Make up some kind of excuse for me.
Haruki: Will do. They’ll all believe it secondhand from me more than they would from you directly, anyway.
Chiaki: Anyway, g’night. Try not to go too far overboard.
FX: Chatter chatter
Haruki: Yeah, good night.
Keep it up.
Chiaki: She’s a real handful, yeah?
FX: Beeeep beeeep
Chiaki: All righty!
Time for the finishing touches!
FX: Beeeep beeeep
Student: Kitahara! Where’s Izumi?
Narration: Was she asleep…?
Haruki: Sorry, I don’t think…
Narration: The chores just keep raining down, even when I’ve got a hangover…
Sign: Conference Room
FX: Knock knock
FX: Pow pow
All: on your first publication!
Mari: The February edition of Ensemble. It’s the magazine where your article was first printed.
Haruki: Oh, wow…
Staff: Kazusa Touma is on the cover… It’s an unusual treatment for a rookie pianist, but the look is good, and the article you wrote was great, too.
Staff 2: It feels like an old drama, kind of. The delinquent girl blooms into her full genius through engaging with people around her…
It was super interesting.
Narration: As I saw her for the first time in three years…
Her eyes were as severe as always.
Her hair as silky as always.
Her skin, pure white as always.
As always… she looked incredible.
Mari: But this is about you!
Mari: Congratulations, Kitahara! As of today, your life in editorial hell has officially begun!
Mari: Here, this is a sample copy! It’s yours, Kitahara.
Haruki: Th-thank you.
Haruki: It’s heavy…
Narration: Ensemble is built on a simple, sturdy concept—a “heavy magazine,” which is reflected in everything from the paper quality to the number of pages to the cover price…
But with this overwhelming cover, handed to me as my first commemorative gift, it feels so heavy that I don’t even know how to express it.
Mari: So, how many more copies do you want?
Mari: You have people you want to give them to, right?
Haruki: People I… want to give them to…
Narration: My first job… It might just have been for a part-time position, and I might have been given a lot of criticism for it… But this still represents a step toward the future I’ve envisioned for myself.
Narration: I know those two would be happy. Just like always, they’d barrel into my place and stay up all night partying, celebrating a job placement that isn’t even set in stone yet, and then scoot out and leave all the cleaning up to me.
…If the article were about anything other than this.
Narration: She would absolutely be happy for me.
Even if she knew what my article was about.
Should I tell her everything? If I want things to go back to how they were before, we’ll have to talk.
But… I don’t want to ruin things as they are now…
Haruki: No, I’m fine with just the one.
Staff: Economy-sized roasted mochi…
Staff 2: Economy-sized peanut chocolates…
Mari: But… Isn’t there anyone who’d be glad to have one of these?
Haruki: Nah, not really.
Haruki: Actually, could I have some of those?
Haruki: I love peanut chocolates.
Mari: Um… sure.
Haruki: Yeah, these are good.
Haruki: It’s been a pretty significant amount of time since you were able to go home before midnight, hasn’t it?
Mari: …Eh, I guess.
Narration: Around 10, I looked around and realized we were the only ones left.
Mari-san, strangely enough, didn’t have any urgent work, so the two of us left the office before 11.
Narration: Mari-san seemed kind of subdued, and I wasn’t really sure what to say to her, so we just headed toward the station together.
Mari: Hey, Kitahara…
Mari: Do you really not have anyone who would be happy for you?
Haruki: You’re still thinking about that?
Mari: I mean, why wouldn’t I?
Haruki: I’d think you would just let it go…
Mari: What about your parents?
Haruki: My mother lives in the neighborhood, but she basically just pays my tuition…
Mari: Friends? Don’t you have some left over from high school?
Haruki: Yes, I do, don’t worry. I’m not that much of a loner…
Mari: Well, then…
Narration: She really worries about me a lot… I have to make some kind of excuse.
Haruki: Um… It’s a little hard to explain…
Haruki: Basically… It’s not a matter of my family environment, or my relationships with people I know…
Mari: I get it. Whatever.
Mari: Stay right there!
Narration: It’s too late for me to decide to talk about the past.
Narration: Lately, I thought I was starting to convert everything into memories, if only a little at a time…
but it’s clear to me that I still haven’t broken through it.
…Though, I’m not sure breaking through would be a good thing, either.
FX: Huff huff
Mari: Look! I bought one!
Haruki: Huh? Um… Why did you go out of your way to buy February’s Ensemble…?
Mari: This is my collector’s edition!
Mari: You’re such a liar, Kitahara.
Mari: You do have people who are happy for you.
Mari: You did great work, Kitahara. It was at least on par with my own first article.
Haruki: …Thank you.
Mari: So… The idea that no one would be happy for you, after you worked so hard…
Mari: Don’t say something that sad.
Mari: What! Got something to gripe about?
Mari: Wh-why are you laughing?
Mari: I’m angry at you right now!
Haruki: …Khkhkh… Ahahaha…
Haruki: You’re very passionate, Mari-san.
Mari: Y-you’re the one who’s always cynical about everything! Do you think that makes you cool?!
Haruki: No. You’re the cool one.
Haruki: …I like that about you, Mari-san.
Mari: Don’t make fun of your elders!
Narration: She really is cool.
Mari is the second woman I’ve ever had this feeling about.
The first one was aloof and sharp… but Mari’s coolness is more… hot-blooded. Like something from an earlier time.
Haruki: Again, thank you… for always sharing your energy with me.
Mari: W-well, as long as you can tell…
Mari: Let’s go, Kitahara.
Haruki: Oh… Wait, just a minute…
Haruki: I’m going to buy one, too.
Haruki: Thanks to you, I’ve got a notion now…
…of someone who might be happy about it.
Narration: You taught me that, in the end…
If all you do is cast blame…
If you never clash head-on… nothing will change.
Message: The magazine with my article in it hit the stands today. I bought one in commemoration.
Everyone in the editorial department celebrated with me. It was just a party in the conference room, with sweets and juice—a modest party for a modest victory.
I apologize for not telling you the name of the magazine or the release date.
The thing is, I didn’t want you to get it first. I wanted to give it to you myself, directly.
So, um… I want you to have the magazine with my first-ever article in it.
Can I have a bit of your time tomorrow? Just five minutes is fine. I’ll bring it to your place.
Waiting for your reply.
Message: Body text
Sorry. I can’t tomorrow. I have plans to go out with my family.
Setsuna: It’s fine… Haruki-kun is trying to move forward, too…
Message: Body text
So… would the 24th be okay?
Setsuna: If we can spend Christmas Eve together… Then I know…
FX: Plip plip
Setsuna: I know… we’ll be okay…!
Takahiro: Sis, time for dinner!
Setsuna: I don’t need any…