|Chapters 24 - 34|
Seki and Shimizu grow closer meanwhile Punpun deals with his conflicted feelings about Aiko's boyfriend. Uncle Yuuichi goes on a date with a pretty lady, which reopens old wounds.
Chapter 24 Edit
Shimizu's mom lovingly sends him off to school. The guidance counselor speaks to Seki about his atrocious attendance and grades, but Seki says that if he's not bothering anyone, he should be free to make his own choices. In the hallway, Seki spies Shimizu handing money to two kids. After school, Seki finds the three of them outside and demands the two bullies give Shimizu his money back. The male bully, Abe, says Shimizu gave him the money willingly, and Seki throws a punch. Shimizu tells him to stop, but Seki turns to fight the female bully, when she pulls out a cigarette and triggers in Seki a crippling flashback of the miso factory explosion. She's able to corner him with her lighter, and Abe approaches holding a rod. After the fight, Shimizu apologizes for causing trouble; he just wanted to get along with his new classmates. Seki tells him people can only rely on themselves. When Shimizu asks if is's lonely living that way, Seki tells him through tears that he will protect him if Shimizu will trust him and not leave him alone anymore. Shimizu grins, and the two walk home together.
|“|| ...Damn, I sure am in my rebellious phase.|
Chapter 25 Edit
Punpun mopes in his room. He wants to be happy for Aiko and her boyfriend, but he can't. At dinner, Yuuichi seems oddly lovestruck. Punpun reads his monthly letter from Papa that always ends telling Punpun to stay a good boy. He goes on a walk by himself and gets coffee from a vending machine, the taste as bitter as his mood.
|“||There's still no absolutely positive proof that Aiko and Yaguchi are dating! That's the attitude! Punpun, cool as always! And even if they were going out and Aiko liked Yaguchi, it's not such a big deal! That's right! Punpun, you're so cool!||”|
Chapter 26 Edit
The girls and Punpun's friends discuss group plans for semester break. Komatsu, reading a sports magazine, gets teased for his badmitton obsession, and when Sonoda expresses romantic interest in Captain Yaguchi, she's told he's dating Aiko. Discussion quickly turns to wild gossip about Aiko being a prostitute. Punpun's mood is soured by the gossip and his failure to stand up for Aiko, so he skips badmitton practice. Memories of Aiko's hand and lips and a curiosity of other parts leads him to a magazine stand. Yaguchi suddenly passes by and asks Punpun why he skipped practice.
|“||As Punpun felt the blackness creeping into his emotions, he felt his memories of Aiko, her expressions, her feelings, fading far, far away into the light...||”|
Chapter 27 Edit
Since Yaguchi and Punpun are headed the same way, he says they ought to walk together. He waits for Punpun to buy his magazine, who hastily chooses a business management zine instead of the adult magazine he wanted. Impressed, Yaguchi admits his grades aren't too hot and he needs to win the next tournament to get reccomended to a decent high school. Punpun wonders if the rumors about Yaguchi's huge dick are true, and God urges him to stab Yaguchi through the eye. Yaguchi buys Punpun a coffee and continues chatting, about how mediocre he feels compared to a natural talent like Komatsu who's only a first year, about how hard it is to focus on improving when his girlfriend's always on his mind. Yaguchi calls Punpun a good listener and waves goodbye in front of the orthopedic clinic in a way that reminds him of Harumi. Punpun is at a loss, because Yaguchi is nice and deserves happiness, but if Punpun can't have Aiko, where is he supposed to invest his love?
Chapter 28 Edit
God tells Punpun it is impossible to make everyone happy because happiness always has a price. Komatsu and Yaguchi face-off at morning practice. Komatsu tells Yaguchi to quit slacking, and Yaguchi asks for a bathroom break. Punpun rushes in late and passes by Yaguchi secretly tending to his hurt foot. In class, Punpun tells Komatsu to go a little easy on Yaguchi, and Komatsu spiels into a rant about how equality and peace do not exist and life is about competition, victory, and defeat. In between classes, Punpun spots Yaguchi talking to a crying Aiko.
|“|| One person's happiness comes from another person's misfortune, don't you know?|
Chapter 29 Edit
Yaguchi reaches to comfort a crying Aiko, but she slaps his hand away and leaves. She stops dead in her tracks when she sees Punpun but eventually drops her gaze and continues walking. Punpun wonders if Aiko still hates him. Yaguchi is chosen for the upcoming tournament, but when walking with Punpun after school again, he says his orthopedic doctor forbid him from playing on his injury. He also says that although Aiko was the one to confess to him, after they held hands only one time, she won't let him touch her at all. During lunch, he had mentioned Punpun's name and Aiko started crying, so here he asks if the two have a history, and Punpun admits he likes Aiko.
|“||It was true, something about Aiko's expression always looked a little sorrowful. That part of her hasn't changed at all, Punpun thought to himself.||”|
Chapter 30 Edit
Yaguchi says he should've dedicated himself to badmitton instead of getting a girlfriend, but then says if he can't have both, he doesn't want either. He makes a deal with Punpun: if he loses this tournament, he'll forget all about Aiko, but if he wins, he and Aiko will be together forever. Yuuichi arrives at the new cafe just as Yugami is leaving. He finally recognizes the waitress as the nurse who took care of Mama. She gives him a free iced coffee and underneath is a note asking him on a date.
Chapter 31 Edit
Yuuichi leaves to think and smoke, then returns to schedule his date with Midori. At home, he leaves chocopies in Punpun's room and helps Mama off the couch and into bed. With the living room and TV free, he plays his rented porno tapes and masturbates. The next day, he and Midori show up at the restuarant she made reservations at, but she reserved the wrong day, so they go to karaoke instead. Yuuichi likes Midori but can't shake his regrets of "last time" and goes to the bathroom for a breather.
Chapter 32 Edit
Yuuichi leaves the date suddenly, and Midori says she will be waiting for him to come by the cafe again. He finally comes by days later, right as Yugami is leaving. He comes in as Midori is closing up shop, and she sits him down for a chat. Yugami is pursuing her, but she doesn't know how to answer him although her parents want her to find a man. Someone else is the one for her, she's sure, because in all her years she has only ever once asked a man to dinner after just meeting him. Yuuichi tells her he is scum unfit for relationships, but Midori says a man taking care of his sister and nephew is surely a good man. He stays with his family not out of love, he says, but so he can hole himself up and ignore life. Midori insists he is a caring man, because she sees in his bag he even bought her a book about managing cafes. He confesses that after she asked him out, he masturbated for the first time in five years. Midori asks why he is telling her things just to push her away and asks if something terrible happened in his past. Yuuichi tries to pay for the coffee and leave, but Midori says the price is one million yen until he answers her question.
Chapter 33 Edit
Yuuichi begins his story, which he has never told anyone else. Five years ago, living on his own in Oofuna, he was a pottery teacher for middle-aged and elderly women. One student, Mrs. Yagi, fancied him. Yuuichi's life was boring and drawling, filled with the faces of his students, girlfriend, coworkers. One day, as a ploy to get closer to Yuuichi, Mrs. Yagi brought her beautiful, intelligent 16-year-old daughter to class...
Chapter 34 Edit
Since it's a weekday and the young girl before him looks so sullen, he wonders if she is the type to skip class because of bullies. He asks about her hobbies, and she jokes that she is usually tied down in ropes by her mother. Yuuichi's senses are overwhelmed by her when he gives her a short lesson, but he has to leave when he gets a call from his sister that Punpun has gone missing. Before he leaves, the young Yagi asks him about his faith. In times of loneliness or suffering, she chants, "Dear god, dear god, tinkle tinkle hoy," although God has never appeared to her nor answered her prayers. Today, however, makes her feel that God really exists. He simply tells her to come again and stay in school, and she asks if he will go on a date with her if she goes back to school. His coworker, Washio, glares at him through the door. He says yes. He finds the lost Punpun and teaches him the spell "dear god dear god tinkle tinkle hoy." Later, Yagi arrives at his empty classroom in her school uniform and takes him on a walk. He tells her not be discouraged by bullies, and she says that's not the problem. She had an abortion half a year ago, and ever since, her mom keeps her locked up so nothing else bad can happen. With rope burns on her wrist, she says she told her mom today she's running away, and if she goes back now, she might be killed.
|“|| Thinking back now, that girl who suddenly appeared into my ordinary life was my door to the extraordinary.|