The last volume in the first season of Brothers Conflict. Sorry this took a while to come out, the book was sold out everywhere. I couldn’t order it through HMV, and it was out of stock for a while in other places. Thank God for CD Japan.
For Ema, the Asahina brothers are her important family. They’re also the people who honestly conveyed their feelings for her, and she finally finds the “answer” for their affection. In this volume, it’s time for Ema and Yusuke’s entrance exam. A fight breaks out between Subaru and Natsume, while both Kaname and Iori made their decisions after what happened last time. After telling them how she feels, Ema graduates from high school and walks towards the future…
Chapter 21-1: 願いは叶わず心は通じて
[ Unfulfilled wish and connected hearts ]
On the way to school, Yusuke asks if Ema is okay. She’s obviously not okay after what happened on Christmas Eve, but she tells him she’s fine and asks about his center exam result instead. It turns out he already tried grading his own exam, and the result is — for the lack of better words — quite terrible. He’s not bothered at all though, as he only took the center exam since Ukyou wouldn’t stop bothering him about it. He only has one goal, and that’s Meiji University. He got a “D” in the mock exam, but he also knows that he wouldn’t be able to handle so much studying, so he decided to bet everything in a single exam. While Yusuke seems satisfied about his future plans, things aren’t going so well for Ema. Her exam result isn’t as good as she expected, and she’s thinking of changing her target university. It’d be hard to enter Meiji University with her current grades. However, Yusuke asks her to stop. Her mock exam results have been good up until now, and he knows that she’s way smarter than him.. so he doesn’t want her to give up after a single failure. Especially not before she takes the entrance exam itself. After a long silence, Yusuke takes off the “safe delivery” charm around his neck and gives it to Ema. He tells her that God can be mean, but wishes that truly came from one’s heart will always be granted — it’s a reward for those who never give up. Yusuke’s words instantly warms up Ema’s heart.
After what happened on Christmas Eve, Iori rarely shows himself in front of Ema. The same goes for Kaname, who now spends most of his time outside. Of course the others noticed their behavior, and this created a tense atmosphere at home. Ema feels really bad since she was involved, and even more because she knows the conflict can’t be resolved that easily. Yusuke’s words remind her that no matter how hard it gets, there will always be a way as long as she doesn’t give up. She tells him that she will take the exam to Meiji University after all. As they run off to school, Yusuke subconsciously grabs Ema’s hand and blushes upon realizing what he’s done. He quickly lets go and apologizes, but she holds his hand again — quietly thanking him in her heart.
When February comes by, Ema is busy with studying. She took entrance exams to several universities, but her main goal is to be accepted into Meiji University. Ukyou tells her that he’ll take care of the household until the exams are over, so she can use her time to study. By this time Ema has realized that it’s impossible to do everything by herself, and she knows that relying on other people is just as important. One week before Meiji University’s entrance exam, Subaru comes to see Ema. He informs her that he officially got accepted into the pro team, and he’s going to Kyushu next week for final adjustments. He will be away for two weeks, so by the time he returns, the exam period should be over. Of course Ema is happy to hear the good news, and she tells him that she’ll do his best to get accepted. Subaru says he’ll be happy to have her as his junior, and he’s about to say something else.. but he decides not to disturb her studying time any further. Before leaving, Subaru tells Ema that he’ll be waiting for her in Meiji University.
Time passed, and the day of the exam results announcement eventually comes. Yusuke finds Ema’s number on the board, but they can’t seem to find his number. However, he knows he did pretty well in the entrance exam. He never thought he could go that far, so despite this failure, he has faith in himself. Right after the exam, he has decided that even if he fails, he’s going to take the entrance exam again next year. Yusuke promises that he’ll get accepted next year, so he wants Ema to wait for him in Meiji University. He doesn’t want her to be sad about his failure, and he’s sincerely wishing for her to be happy about her own result. The tense air at home is painful for him too, so he’s hoping that her success can light up the atmosphere. As they walk home, Ema thanks Yusuke for caring so much about her. He blushes and runs off, with her following him from behind.
Chapter 21-2: 溢れた想いがぶつかり
[ Overflowing emotions are clashing ]
The next day, Natsume invites Ema to an amusement park in Minato Mirai, Yokohama. It’s new and not open for public yet, but he’s giving her a ticket to be a tester for his company’s new games — the reward for passing the entrance exam. Of course she kicks his ass 20 times in a row, and he eventually gets pissed since they’re using Tsubaki and Azusa’s voice for the commanders.. which makes him feel like Tsubaki’s raging at him for being so weak LOL. When Ema says she wants to play the game with their brothers, Natsume asks if she wants to kick everyone’s butts at once. ﾌﾟｯ(※థэథ)∵.*.∵ Here, Ema mentions that Subaru seems to be good in action games since his reflexes are good enough to get him into the pro team.. and Natsume is surprised to hear this. After having dinner, Natsume drives Ema back to the mansion. He actually has something to say to her, but he decides to save it for next time. However, Ema can tell that Natsume wants to say something important. She doesn’t know when they can meet again, so she asks him what it is. He admits that it’s indeed important, but he just can’t say it after hearing about Subaru’s achievement. Natsume is impressed that Subaru got recruited into the pro team, especially since there was a time when he got removed from the regulars. He can’t help but feel pathetic, and that’s why he can’t tell Ema what he wanted to say.
Natsume then tells Ema that back in the past, he used to be an ekiden / relay marathon athlete. He even participated in Hakone Ekiden, but he gave up and stopped running — unlike Subaru. While most of his ex-teammates took the challenge to compete in world-class marathon, he decided to start working instead. In a company that has nothing to do with running. Now he can’t help but feel like a half-assed fool who doesn’t deserve her, though he quickly asks her to forget about this. Knowing that Natsume is telling her to go, Ema then gets out of his car and walks back to the mansion. She knows he was probably thinking of confessing, but she decides not to ask and wait until he’s ready to say it. As she approaches the mansion, Ema sees Subaru in the entrance hall. He turns around and smiles when she calls him, which makes her realize that he officially made it into the pro team. Subaru then starts walking towards Ema, but suddenly a voice stops her from behind. Before she could tell what’s happening, Natsume hugs Ema saying he can’t hold back after all. He’s aware that he’s a pathetic man, but he can’t erase his feelings for her. When she looks up, he’s about to confess that he loves her.. but they suddenly hear Subaru’s voice from behind. He tells Natsume to stay away from Ema, and without giving any chance for Natsume to recover from the shock, he punches Natsume in the face. Just then the rain starts falling, and Ema can see that Subaru clenches his fists as he looks down at Natsume.
Chapter 22: 遠ざかる背中に
[ Towards the fading back ]
After a long silence, Natsume looks up and wipes blood from his lips. Subaru angrily asks what he did Ema, and Natsume turns around to look at her. When their eyes met, Ema suddenly remembers the night she spent in Natsume’s apartment — reviving the sensation she felt when he hugged her. Reverting his gaze back at Subaru, Natsume admits that he’s in love with Ema. He says he’s serious about her, and this causes Subaru to snap. Ema stares in shock as Subaru leaps to punch Natsume again, but this time, Natsume grabs Subaru’s hands and stops him from doing this in front of Ema. Eventually Subaru puts down his fists and walks back to take his belongings at the entrance hall. He glances at Ema as he walks past her, but he doesn’t say anything. Natsume also apologizes to Ema, saying he didn’t know that Subaru was there. All he could think about earlier was to stop her. Ema remains silent, and Natsume walks her back to her room. He then excuses himself since he’s drenched from head to toe, but she invites him to come inside and wait until his clothes dry off.
As he walks into Ema’s room, Natsume feels nostalgic because the room used to be his until he left the mansion. Back then the room was messy, with jumping ropes, clothes and sports uniforms scattered all over the place. Since Natsume needs to dry his pants too, Ema leaves to get the first aid kit from the living room. Along the way Ema feels embarrassed because she was the one who invited Natsume into her room, not to mention it’s right after he confessed that he loves her.. but she tries not to think about this. After treating his own wound, Natsume asks if he can talk to Ema for a while. The subject is none other than Subaru. Natsume knows Ema must be surprised to see Subaru punching him like that, but Subaru has a reason to do that. Ever since he was small, Subaru has problems getting along with everyone around him. He doesn’t share any interests with people around his age, such as Tsubaki, Azusa, Rui or Iori. Subaru spent most of his time alone, but he naturally got along well with Natsume since both of them love sports. Whenever Natsume was training at home, Subaru would come to join him. They were really close, and Natsume became Subaru’s “coach”. He gave Subaru a lot of advice, and Subaru listened to everything he said. However, their relationship took a turn for the worst when he quit running.
Subaru was really shocked, and so he came to ask why Natsume decided to stop running. However, Natsume didn’t explain the reason to Subaru. It’s hard to make a living through sports. They don’t know how long they can keep doing it, and it’d be difficult to plan things out once they retire — especially in tracks and fields. That was the reason why Natsume decided to start working, but he didn’t want to tell Subaru about this because the latter was already into basketball back then. Subaru was improving a lot, and Natsume didn’t want to destroy his enjoyment by saying “you can’t make a living with that.” Sadly this only causes Subaru to think that Natsume threw sports away. Subaru stopped listening to Natsume’s advice and has been avoiding him ever since. Despite this, Natsume is worried about him. Subaru had a weak mental which held him back during matches, so Natsume kept giving him advice about this.. but in the end his advice were useless, as Subaru managed to overcome this flaw thanks to Ema. He improved for the girl he loves, and his effort eventually brought him to the pro team. Losing her means he’s going to lose his life support and motivation, and that’s why he was so angry to see her with Natsume. He can’t bear the thought of losing her.
Ema is surprised, but more than anything, she can see that Natsume cares a lot about Subaru. It’s similar to how Azusa was so worried about Tsubaki when he was hospitalized, or how Kaname risked his life to save Iori. Even if Subaru hates him, Natsume keeps giving him advice — hoping it can lead him towards success. They’re all the same. Despite all the conflicts that happened between them, the brothers still share a strong bond. Natsume asks Ema not to hate Subaru, and he turns around to leave. She doesn’t expect him to end the conversation here because he clearly has something else to tell her, but when she asks if this is all he wants to say.. he apologizes since it’s impossible for him to continue. Not after what happened with Subaru. Natsume admits that he’s really confused, and he leaves after thanking Ema for today.
From then, Ema spends her days spacing out on her bed. The next Sunday, Yusuke comes to talk to her. He shyly hands her a letter which turns out to be the result announcement for those who are in the waiting list, and it states that he got accepted into Meiji University. Ema happily congratulates him, but Yusuke still can’t believe it himself. He asks if he really passed the exam like she did, and she laughs when he asks if those who were in the waiting list will be placed into a different group. Even after Ema explains the system, Yusuke still finds it hard to believe. He smiles and admits that his greatest happiness comes from entering the same university as her, and she feels happy when he mutters that people have to keep moving forward — no matter how hard it gets. For this one week Ema has been afraid of where Subaru and Natsume’s conflict will lead up to, but Yusuke’s words have opened her eyes again. If she can’t find a good way to resolve everything, then she needs to move forward with a solution she can come up with. Ema snaps out of her reverie when Yusuke tells her that he won’t give up. All this time he felt insignificant compared to his brothers, but he won’t back down now that he’s gained confidence. Yusuke then holds out his hand, asking Ema to keep taking care of him from now on, and she gladly shakes it. She doesn’t know that he was talking about her, but his sincere feelings really do reach her heart.
After talking to Yusuke, Ema goes to get some food on the 5th floor. There she runs into Wataru, and the two of them end up playing a racing game. Natsume gave it to her at the end of last year, but Ema stored it away so she wouldn’t get addicted in the middle of the exam period. He did warn her that it’s hard, so she’s afraid that it might be a bit too difficult for Wataru.. but Wataru sulks saying he’s not a kid anymore. He’s going to enter junior high this year. Just as she feared, he keeps on losing and refuses to give up. Wataru also tells Ema not to lose on purpose, as he wants to win against her fair and square — he wants her to acknowledge him as a man. At the same time, Juli is cackling in the corner of the room. Since Wataru always makes a move on Ema, he’s happy to see the poor kid losing. He believes that Wataru will grow up to be an evil like his brothers, so he tells Ema to “crush” him before then. ｡ﾟ(ﾟﾉ∀｀ﾟ)ﾟ｡ｱﾋｬﾋｬ Luckily, Rui soon comes to put off Juli’s rage. He also reminds Ema that the “Protect Chii-chan Club” will always be on her side, so she can always rely on them if she has any worries. That being said, he wants her to know that nobody in this house wants to trouble her. They all love her, so she should trust them more. Ema has realized that she needs to make a decision, and she has to believe that everyone will accept that decision. Rui’s words also make her realize that she has to think about who she truly loves, otherwise she won’t be able to answer their feelings. As Ema thanks Rui for the advice, they can hear Wataru sulking in front of the TV. The word “CONTINUE?” is floating on the screen. ﾌﾟｯ(※థэథ)∵.*.∵
In the evening, Ema decides to go out so she can think alone. She soon hears voices in front of the elevator, and there she finds Tsubaki and Azusa — discussing about the latter’s role. Ema actually wants to avoid everyone until she sort out her feelings, but it’s too late. They have realized her presence, and she has no choice but to approach them. Azusa explains that they’re heading out for work in different studios, but he’s giving Tsubaki a ride so the latter can read his script along the way. When the elevator comes, Tsubaki receives a call from the producer and starts discussing about work. Ema is surprised to see this, because Tsubaki usually would come to talk to her or give her a hug.. but right now he’s completely devoted to work. Noticing Ema’s expression, Azusa admits that he’s actually just as surprised. Ever since he agreed to become Azusa’s substitute, Tsubaki has been working really hard. He always takes his job seriously, but now it feels like he’s really aiming to become the best. Ema thinks it’s because he managed to get his dream role, but Azusa chuckles saying it’s probably due to a different reason. He asks if she’s still angry for what Tsubaki did, and when she says no, he asks her to look at the current Tsubaki too. Azusa also knows that Ema wants to avoid them in order to make a decision, and he’s ready to accept her decision.. but he wants her to look at the change in Tsubaki. It’s the first time Tsubaki has ever gotten so serious and passionate, which makes him much more charming than he used to be. Before leaving the mansion, Ema hears Tsubaki happily telling Azusa that the producer allows him to act the way he wants to.
An hour later, Ema returns to the mansion and bumps into Subaru on the elevator. Things are obviously still awkward between them, and he tells her that he’s going out for practice. As he picks up the bags he dropped, Subaru also says that he won’t come home for a while. Ema is surprised, and she chases after Subaru asking for an explanation. After letting out a heavy sigh, Subaru turns around and says that he’s just following her words. A few months ago she asked him to keep basketball and her separate, and that’s what he’s doing now. He needs more practice to prepare himself for the pro team, and Meiji University provides all the things he needs — such as accommodation and meals. Ema knows Subaru is hiding something because he won’t look into her eyes, but before she could figure out the reason, he asks her to forget everything he ever said to her. Subaru then says that he didn’t want to say it either, but he feels guilty for punching Natsume. It was Natsume who taught him everything about sports, and yet he punched Natsume right in front of the girl he loves. He can’t forgive himself, and he wants her to forget everything because a man like him won’t be able to make her happy. Once again Subaru picks up his bags and walks past Ema, stopping for a second when she calls his name.. but then he leaves without turning back. Shocked, Ema can only watch Subaru’s back until he disappears from her sight. She feels empty upon realizing what just happened, and her tears start flowing out.
Chapter 23: 恋の火は燃えて
[ The flame of love is burning ]
On her graduation day, Ema is looking at the falling cherry blossom petals. Every year she sees the same scenery in spring, but it’s not the same as the petals she saw three years ago. A lot has happened during the last three years, and she shares most of those memories with her stepbrothers. Ema has been thinking for the last few months, and she has finally found an answer. She doesn’t know if it’s the best answer, but her decision is firm. All she needs to do now is to tell everyone about this. As Ema walks through the street, a voice calls her asking if she has time to talk.. and she turns around to find Iori standing beside her. It’s been a while since the last time they saw each other, but today Iori came to apologize. He knows what he did was unforgivable, so he won’t ask her to forgive him. He only wants to give her an apology, as well as congratulating her on her graduation. Iori also asks if she’s going to Meiji University, and Ema apologizes for not choosing Jouchi University.. but he says she made the right decision. He has realized that he needs more time to recover from his past, but he’s happy to see her today. It gives him the confidence to start over. Iori then takes his leave, but he doesn’t tell Ema about his destination. He only tells her that he needs a little more time, but he promises that he’ll return home one day.
Upon reaching the mansion, Ema finds Kaname in front of the entrance. He usually dresses in sparkling flashy outfits, but today he’s simply wearing his monk attire. She notices that he has a lot of luggage around his feet, and he tells her that he’s going out for a while — to the mountain. At first she thinks he’s going out for a hike, but then he explains that he’s going to take a training as a monk. Before she could recover from the shock, Kaname tells Ema that Iori has left the mansion. Iori’s room is now empty, without any furniture or clothes left behind. Ema finds it hard to believe since she just met Iori earlier, but Kaname knows about this. Last night, Iori came to see him. He said he wants to be alone for a while, but he wanted to apologize to her before leaving. Kaname didn’t stop him knowing Iori’s decision is firm, and he believes this is the best option for them. In the end, he couldn’t do anything as an older brother.
Kaname feels that if only he’s more reliable, he would be able to do something before Iori reached desperation. He concluded that he needs more training, and so he decided to leave as well — apologizing to Ema since he won’t be able to help her for a while. When Ema asks him not to blame himself so much, Kaname smiles saying he feels like cancelling his training.. but she can see that his decision won’t change. It’s the expression he makes when he’s lying to protect someone’s feelings. He’s going to train himself until he can be a good big brother, and he wants her to understand. Holding back her tears, Ema asks if there’s anything she can do for him.. and Kaname asks her to call him “onii-chan” just once. Noticing that Ema looks surprised, Kaname laughs saying it’s impossible after all. For now, he’s just glad that he can stop her tears. Kaname then turns around to leave, and Ema finally calls him “onii-chan!” from behind. He stops for a while, but then he continues walking without looking back. After he leaves, she cries alone since everyone is leaving. First Subaru, Iori, and now Kaname is gone too.
C= C= C= C= C= C= 。・゜゜ヽ| ；∀；|ノウワァァァァァァンッ!
Not too long after that, Rui finds Ema — still in tears — in front of the entrance. She quickly wipes her tears saying she wasn’t crying, and Rui decides not to ask further. Instead, he invites her to eat cakes together in his room. He tells her that spring is a very busy season for beauticians like him, so he eats three cakes and gives the rest to her. After they’re done eating, Rui tells Ema that he lost two regular customers who are moving away. They came to inform him about this, and it makes him happy. Not because they took the time to see him before leaving, but because they promised to visit him again. The painful thing isn’t separation, but the end it brings. People will always return to see those who are important for them, so he wants to be a person who can stay in their hearts. He spends his time waiting for their return, and that’s what makes him happy. Upon hearing this, Ema suddenly feels warm inside. She realizes that everyone’s leaving because they don’t want things to end in a bad way, so they’re trying to do something in their own ways. Tsubaki and Azusa made up not because they’re close, but because both of them did their best to fix the situation. Right now Subaru, Iori and Kaname are trying to do the same thing, and Ema knows she needs to do her best too. On the other side of the table, Rui smiles and wishes Ema good luck.
After leaving Rui’s room, Ema runs into Tsubaki and Azusa on the 4th floor. They don’t have work in the evening, and they invite her to visit the amusement park with them — it’s to celebrate her graduation too. At first Ema is reluctant, but she agrees since it’s a good chance to tell them about her answer. Before they go home, Ema invites them to watch the parade. They know that she wants to talk to them, so they take her to watch it from the quiet viewing platform. There Ema finally tells Tsubaki and Azusa that she can’t return their feelings right now, and she apologizes to both of them. After a short silence, Tsubaki answers that he understands while Azusa thanks Ema for telling them. They stand beside her as they watch the parade below, completely setting their gaze at the lively attraction. However, Ema soon feels that Tsubaki and Azusa are holding her hands from both sides.. and the next thing she hears is their voices whispering into her ears at the same time. They tell her that they accept her answer, but they want her to know that despite her rejection, both of them are still in love with her.
Tsubaki, Azusa and Ema remain silent on the way home. They reach the mansion at 10 PM, and Tsubaki finally breaks the silence upon seeing Subaru in front of Ema’s room. Subaru is surprised to see them together, but then he explains that he returned to apologize to Ema. He also explains that he punched Natsume in front of her, admitting that he did such a thing because he loves her. Subaru then bows his head and apologizes to Ema, but Tsubaki tells him not to get ahead of himself. Azusa quickly stops him from lashing out on Subaru, but he adds that it’s hard to accept Subaru’s actions — both as a man and as a brother. They want an explanation as of why he punched Natsume, but they’ll leave him with Ema for now. After they leave, Subaru apologizes to Ema once again. He was really confused back then, and he wanted some time to sort out his feelings. He realized that what he did was really selfish, and he didn’t even notice that he was hurting her. Subaru then tells Ema that he loves her, and his feelings won’t change even if she hates him. Since Ema is too surprised to answer, eventually Subaru says he’ll return to the university. She quickly stops him, and he looks relieved when she thanks him for confessing. He congratulates her on her graduation, telling her that he’ll be waiting in Meiji University before leaving.
Late at night, Ema is thinking about everything that has happened today. She strangely feels calm, but she knows it’s not over yet — she still needs to tell Natsume about her decision. The next day, Ema wakes up early and finds Ukyou in the kitchen. It’s the day of her graduation ceremony, and they’re going to have a family party afterwards. Ukyou needs to leave for work, but he’s going to make it in time to attend the ceremony. When Ema thanks him, Ukyou mentions that she has a good expression. He’s been worried since she’s growing up to be an adult, so it would be rude to tell her about what to do from now on.. and yet all of his brothers seem to be troubling her recently. However, Ema asks Ukyou not to worry. She’s going to deal with them by herself, and from her expression, he knows she’s going to be just fine. (人´∀`)☆゜’・:*
After the graduation ceremony, Ema and Yusuke return home in the evening. When they enter the living room, they’re greeted by the sound of party crackers and colorful confetti. Masaomi congratulates both of them, while Wataru hands a big bouquet of flowers for Ema — as well as giving her a kiss on the cheek. He innocently asks if she’s happy to receive his first kiss, and Yusuke immediately strangles him for doing such a thing. ﾌﾟｯ(※థэథ)∵.*.∵ The others are just as surprised, so nobody gives the poor kid any attention as he runs around seeking protection LOL. During the party, Ema keeps glancing at Natsume to see if she can talk to him.. but he’s busy talking to Tsubaki and Azusa. Soon she receives a mail from Fuuto, who tells her to watch a certain channel on TV. The camera shows a close-up of him, and naturally this attracts everyone’s attention towards the TV. It turns out Fuuto is currently participating in a live show, and they asked him to send a mail for someone. When the presenter asks about the “lucky person” who received his mail, Fuuto says it’s for his big sister since it’s her graduation day. For the next part of the show, Fuuto has to give a direct message for Ema on TV. After congratulating her, Fuuto promises to keep giving Ema “fun” days from now on.. but then he adds another message for the “idiots” who are aiming for her. He says they’re dreaming if they think they can obtain her, since they never entered her field of vision to begin with.
Before Ema could realize what’s happening, someone turns the TV off and throws the remote control onto the floor. She doesn’t know who did that, because everyone in the room are either pissed or sighing. Everyone except Hikaru, who’s obviously enjoying this development. Fuuto’s message has ruined everyone’s mood, and they start leaving one by one. Natsume gets up to smoke in the terrace, so Ema takes this chance to talk to him. When Ema tells Natsume that she has found her answer, he knows that it must be related to his indirect confession. She actually wanted to wait until he says it directly, but she wants him to know that she has decided not to date anyone right now. After a long, painful silence, Natsume eventually says he understands, but Ema isn’t done yet. She couldn’t tell anyone else about this, but she wants him to know why she made this decision. Natsume looks surprised, and he asks why she chose him.. and Ema answers it’s because he understands her the most. He’s not sure if he has the right to listen, but he decides to listen since he can’t refuse her request.
Here, Ema tells Natsume that she thinks of them as her family. She’s happy to receive their affection, but in her eyes, they’re all her brothers. She doesn’t know what to do because choosing one of them means rejecting the rest, and it might affect their relationship as a family. She’s aware that her vague attitude is only causing the situation to turn worse, so she decided to stop behaving that way and make things clear for everyone. She also thought about which one of them does she truly love, but she can’t find the answer yet. However, she did realize that she currently values her family bond more than a romantic relationship. She’s a part of the Asahina family too, so when she finds the person she loves, she wants everyone to give her their blessings. After a while, Natsume smiles saying he understands. He thanks her for telling him everything, and he asks her to take care of him as a family from now on.. but then he mutters that it’s impossible. He can’t see her as a sister. The next second, Natsume suddenly kisses Ema on the neck. He can accept her rejection, but it doesn’t change his feelings — he’s still in love with her. Then he leaves without saying anything else.
Soon after Natsume returns inside, Hikaru comes out of the corner. He greets her with a mischievous smile, telling her that she made a mistake. Even if Natsume understands her, Ema shouldn’t forget the fact that he’s a man. Of course Ema is surprised and asks if he’s been watching the whole time, but Hikaru calmly replies that he was the first one who came to the terrace. He went out to smoke too. Hikaru promises not to tell anyone about what he just saw, but he tells Ema that she miscalculated the result. Even though she wants to put an end to things by rejecting everyone, it might cause their love to burn even stronger — much to his amusement. That’s exactly why Tsubaki, Azusa and Natsume all confessed to her again right after she turned them down. Hikaru tells Ema not to worry since she didn’t do anything wrong, but they can’t predict what’s going to happen later. He then takes out Brothers Conflict’s scoreboard he showed her a few months ago, and he sets it aflame saying they don’t need it anymore. Because “the second race” is going to start soon. Hikaru smiles saying Brothers Conflict will continue, and he’s going to join in for the second round. He laughs and asks Ema to enjoy her peace for now, then he leaves her in confusion.
It’s been two years since Ema became a part of the Asahina family.
She can feel that her third year in the family will be even harder than before.
After #023 – Side Natsume: 記憶は苦く、運命は甘く
[ Bitter memories, sweet destiny ]
A week after the party, Natsume is smoking at the parking lot beside the mansion. He wants to apologize for what he did, and he’s thinking about what he should say to her. She rejected him not because she hates him, but because she thinks of them as her family. He doesn’t feel bitter because it means she’s not rejecting them completely. The problem is what he did to her after that. She said that he understands her the most, and he completely betrayed that feeling by kissing her on the neck. Natsume actually wanted to apologize sooner, but he’s been busy with work recently. Up until now he’s been working in the management division, but he got transferred to the development team this spring. It’s a completely different job, so he has to attend a lot of meetings that drag on until late hours. He didn’t have much free time because of this, making it harder for him to see her. From the entrance, Natsume can see that Ema is in her room. Just then someone says he’s blocking the way, and he turns around to find Fuuto nearby — wearing casual clothes with a hat and glasses. He’s just as sarcastic as usual, and when Natsume tells him not to behave that way, he asks if Natsume’s trying to act like a good big brother. Before scolding him, Natsume should reflect on what he did to Ema first. Fuuto keeps teasing Natsume knowing that he came here to see Ema, but Natsume holds back his emotions and calmly explains that he wants to inform Ema about his transfer.
Upon hearing this, Fuuto sighs and asks why Natsume goes that far for Ema. Is it because she’s using his old room, so he feels that they’re connected by destiny? The word “destiny” revives all the memories Natsume shared with Ema up until now, which makes him realize that he’s not the only one who remembers those things — she does too. He only needs to believe in her, and all of his worries are vanishing into thin air. Fuuto goes ･･･(ﾟдﾟ )ﾊ? when Natsume smiles and thanks him, but Natsume only asks if he can take Fuuto’s message — the one that got aired on TV — as a war declaration. Fuuto looks surprised for a moment, but then he smiles saying he’ll take Natsume on anytime. Natsume says he accepts the challenge, and after a short silence, Fuuto grins and asks if he knows who he’s challenging. Natsume sincerely thinks Fuuto has a good smile, in the sense that it makes him want to crush it with all his might. ヽ(*´ー`*)ﾉ Instead of going inside, Natsume turns around to leave. Fuuto asks if he’s not going to see Ema, but he says it’s not necessary anymore. He’ll come to see her when it’s necessary, and now it’s not the time to do so. He believes that destiny is linking them together, and that will bring him towards victory.
Before 2nd Season – Side You: 逃げないと決めた日にしたから
[ Since it became the day when I decided not to run away ]
On a sunny day, Ema goes to visit her parents’ graves with Rintarou. The small graveyard is surrounded by trees, located in the outskirt of Tokyo. Tomorrow is the opening ceremony of Meiji University, so Rintarou returned to Japan to attend the event. Now that she’s become a university student, he asked if she wants to report this to her real parents.. and that’s why they go to visit their graves today. Rintarou is happy that Ema got accepted into Meiji University, and he asks if Subaru is still playing basketball. He’s really surprised when she tells him that Subaru joined the pro team, because he mainly keeps in contact with everyone via phone and Miwa never told him about this. As they walk through the graveyard, Ema receives two mails. The first mail contains a picture of Wataru in his junior high uniform, with a shiny Juli standing on his shoulder. The second one is a game release date list from Natsume. He already informed her about his transfer, and despite his busy schedule, he always sends a list of games that might fit her gaming taste.
Upon reaching the graves, Ema learns that her parents — Kenji and Yukie — were both orphans, so there are no other graves around theirs. The first thing they realize is that their graves are really clean, even though the small graveyard doesn’t have a caretaker. All the graves are taken care of their families, so Rintarou is surprised to see this. However, Ema realizes something. She asks if Miwa knows about this, and Rintarou answers that he did told Miwa about her parents. That’s when Ema figures out who’s been cleaning her parents’ graves. It was the person who went to his father’s grave on Rintarou and Miwa’s wedding day — Kaname. He must have heard about the opening ceremony, so he came to deliver the news to her parents. This also reminds her about Iori. Both of them never contacted her ever since they left the mansion.. but they’re a family. She believes that they will return one day, and she will keep waiting for them. As they put flowers on the graves, Rintarou also informs Ema that Hikaru is preparing to write a new novel. The story is about a girl who’s surrounded by a lot of men, and she can only wonder what he’s planning to do. They pray in front of the graves after that, and Ema can feel that Rintarou respects her father a lot.
When they return to the parking lot, Ema receives a call from Yusuke. He tells her that Ukyou has an important client tomorrow, so he won’t be able to attend the opening ceremony. Yusuke apologizes for disturbing her grave visit, and he drops the call after confirming when they’re going to come home. When Ema tells Rintarou about this, he smiles saying they have a good family. At first he was worried to let her live among the Asahina brothers, but now he knows that he doesn’t have to worry. She feels a bit sad upon hearing this, but she decides not to tell Rintarou about what has happened between them. After all, she has decided to deal with this on her own. They’re a family and siblings, but also a woman and men. As Rintarou drives them home, Ema closes her eyes and asks her parents to watch over her. She doesn’t know what’s going to happen next, but she won’t run away from anything. It might be difficult, but she wants to make a happy future for everyone. Tonight she’s going to make a feast to show her gratitude, and Rintarou laughs when she starts muttering the ingredients for dinner.
First of all, I’m sorry for the LONG summary. A lot of things happened in this volume, and I want to deliver all details for people who can’t read the novels directly. All the conflicts and decisions here shattered my heart so many times. Up until now we were led to believe that Subaru hates Natsume with a passion, but now we get to see that it’s not exactly the case. Both Subaru and Natsume care a lot about each other, even if there’s a big misunderstanding between them. ｡･ﾟ･(*ﾉД`*)･ﾟ･。I’m happy that Iori is doing his best to move on, but that parting scene with Kaname… and Ema’s realization at the final short story… How am I going to deal with all these feelings? ｡:ﾟ(｡ﾉω＼｡)ﾟ･｡ Heartbreaking scenes aside, Yusuke finally receives his spotlight in this volume. It’s a bit short compared to everyone else’s, but his words are really heartwarming. That, and I can’t help but feel that Natsume and Ema are connected by the red thread of fate. Or maybe that’s just my biased wish speaking. (❤ฺ￫艸￩)
Anyway, the second season is already starting, but I’m waiting for the book to come out. The extra chapters are only available in the books, and I don’t want to skip them. If you’ve been reading all these Brothers Conflict novel summaries, thanks for keeping up with me. Let’s keep supporting the series, and pray for Brilliant Blue to come out — whenever it’s gonna be. (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧