But I'm totally loving the screenwriter/director's parallel time period storytelling!
Hakuouki Sweet School Life (SSL) Episode 2 [Feelings That Cannot Be Expressed], Runtime 25 minutes
Kyoto, 1864We last left Chizuru and the Shinsengumi in this era on a daring rescue (Chizuru having been captured by a band of Choshu ruffians.) Now we're watching their escape at the beginning of episode two.
"Do you think Hijikata-san has rescued Chizuru?" asks Heisuke among their heated sword battle on the first floor of the inn.
"I believe in Hijikata-san," says Saito calmly as he fights.
Harada pushes back an opponent, "It doesn't matter what the situation is, we're together, so don't worry."
Heisuke races to the bottom of the staircase to see Soji crossing swords up on the landing, while Hijikata and Chizuru are racing down. Chizuru ducks while Hijikata blocks a swing from behind them.
"Chizuru!" shouts Heisuke. "Chizuru! This way!" She looks back at Hijikata and then down at Heisuke who is now being attacked by another Choshu ronin.
If this were in a different time, my fate...
"Chizuru! Hurry!" says Heisuke pushing back his attacker. Chizuru stands frozen for a moment.
...would any of this be different?
Modern Day, 2015
"Crap, crap!" says Heisuke racing down a flight of steps in his neighborhood. He turns to call out impatiently, "Chizuru! Hurry!"
"Wait up!" says Chizuru, out of breath while she rushes after him.
"We absolutely can't be late for the last day of testing!" he insists.
"It's you're fault that you woke up so late!" she retorts. (TN: She could have just met him at school...no?)
"I was so exhausted! I couldn't help it that I woke up late! That's why I'm rushing now!"
"What the heck?! Didn't you sleep late because you were playing video games?!"
"No!" says Heisuke turning around to face her.
Flashback: Heisuke had seen Hijikata walk her home, and it bothered him so much he couldn't sleep...
He races off again without saying anything further.
"Arrrghh!" exclaims Heisuke in frustration.
"What's wrong?" she asks, chasing after him, but he races onward. "Heisuke-kun!"
"We're in a hurry, Chizuru!"
"Hurry!" He starts jumping up and down as he reaches the bottom of the steps. "HURRY!"
"Wait a moment!" Chizuru pants as she reaches the bottom. "My legs...I can't continue like this! Hei--- EH?" Just as she's about the shout at him, she's spirited away by a passer by.
"HEY!" shouts Heisuke after Okita, who's running lightly with Chizuru's hand in his.
"Heisuke-kun!" Chizuru shouts after him as she runs in a different direction.
"Be a good girl and come with me," smiles Okita cheerfully.
"Okita-senpai, but--" she protests.
"Hey! Stop right there!" Heisuke shouts behind them.
"Chizuru-chan, this is the final sprint," says Okita. He starts to run, pulling Chizuru behind him.
"Hold up! Soji!" Heisuke trails behind.
The last students are trailing into school grounds past Saito and Kaoru. Saito checks his watch.
"It's time," he says calmly.
"That goes without saying," states Kaoru before moving to shut the gate.
One stray student walks into the gate before it closes.
"Hey, wait a sec!" Kaoru calls out after him. "You're late AND you come in dressed like a slob? What's up with that? Fix your uniform. Be quick about it." Saito pauses and goes toward Kaoru to shut the gate.
Okita and Chizuru rush towards the entrance.
"Really, you're not fit to be seen," grumbles Kaoru, not paying attention.
"Made it just in time," says Okita cheerfully. But Saito closes the gate in front of them.
"Just in time," says Saito calmly. "What a pity. You two are now considered late."
"Hey, Hajime," says Okita with deadly calm. "Good morning.
"Soji," says Saito, in equal threat. "You understand, don't you? You are late."
"Don't be so starchy."
"You are late."
"By a few seconds."
"You are late."
"Just look the other way. Turn around and close your eyes."
"I said, you're late. Late is late."
"You're just as heartless as ever," goads Okita.
"What did you say?" sais Saito, moving in for the kill.
"Wait!" interrupts Chizuru to placate. "It's fine. Please, both of you, just calm down, alright?"
"Chizuru!" says Kaoru from the gate. "You have the gall to be late?! Seriously, as your older brother I'm so ashamed."
"Kaoru..." says Chizuru petrified. "Sorry." She bows.
Just then, Heisuke turns the corner towards the gate, shouting, "Soji! I said hold up."
"Toudou," says Kaoru from behind the gate. "I blame you for making my sister late!" says Kaoru.
"Huh?" asks Heisuke impolitely. "What's this all of a sudden?"
"You guys are late on the very last day of the routine tests," says Hijikata coming up to the gate. "How very audacious." (TN: oh crap....)
"H-Hijikata-sensei," stutters Heisuke looking away uncomfortably. Even Chizuru looks away.
"Soji," Hijikata calls out. Soji reluctantly looks at him. "Today is the Japanese Classics exam. You must do well in order to make up for your poor attendance record."
"Hijikata-sensei, if you weren't my teacher I would have put much more effort into it," he responds snidely. (TN: both historically and in the anime/game, he and Hijikata have both respect and animosity towards one another)
Everyone looks at him in shock.
"You little bastard--" says Hijikata inching closer to the gate.
"What?" Soji challenges. "A teacher actually says the words 'you little bastard' towards a student? That's just plain harassment."
Hijikata grasps the gate angrily. "Soji!"
"Hijikata-sensei," says Saito, putting a hand on his shoulder to stop him. (TN: Soji knows how to push all his buttons... ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°))
"Soji, don't be like that," says Heisuke, pulling him away from the gate. Soji only smirks while Hijikata glares at him. Chizuru is puzzled by the exchange.
Testing for the day commences. Chizuru and her homeroom classmates are diligently doing their best (TN: Harada teaches physical ed.) before Harada-sensei calls "Time." The school chimes ring.
"And this marks the end of the routine tests for the month," he announces. "Test results will be announced on Monday. In the meantime, good work, everyone."
"Goodbye, teacher," they all respond respectfully before he leaves.
As soon as he leaves, the Ryonosuke leads the cheer of, "IT'S OVER!!" and his class joins in. Chizuru just watches in shock at their rowdiness.
"How'd you do, Yukimura?" asks Ryonosuke.
"I feel like I did very well on the parts I knew," she responds.
"What confidence," he smiles.
"I don't have all that much confidence," she says humbly. "What about you, Ibuki-kun?"
"Well I--" he starts, but before he can continue his stomach starts growling loudly and he doubles over.
Chizuru leans in to listen.
Meanwhile in the teacher's office, someone is singing "Happy, happy! Today is Friday!" Harada walks into the room with the test papers past Nagakura sensei who continues to sing, "Friday! Friday! Happy! Happy weekend!"
"What's with you, Shinpachi?" asks Harada. "You're in a good mood."
"Well Sano, you don't even know the half of it. Today is Friday. Next is the happy weekend. Also, the routine tests have gone by smoothly. And there's this!" He points to a brochure for a sake house 'Hot Oger - Drink leisurely at your neighborhood bar,' and adds, "You gotta loosen up, right? You have to go."
"So you say. I still have to grade papers," says Harada.
"What's the problem? You just need to get it all done by the end of the weekend, right?"
"Mine are just physical education papers, so it's not all that hard to grade. But you're the mathematics teacher and you have heaps of scoring to do."
"We need to celebrate our heroic deeds with a feast," says Nagakura. "Even if it's just the end of the routing testing for the month. Get it?"
"Fine. But at AA."
"No! Please Sannosuke! I beg of you. Right now I don't have a penny to my name."
"That's what you always say," grunts Harada.
A lackadaisical voice chimes in, "As teachers, shouldn't you reconsider your behavior?"
"Itou-sensei," says Nagakura from across the table. (TN: In the game, Itou Kashitarou was a member of the Shinsengumi briefly, but had different beliefs regarding nationalism and followed the Emperor rather than the Shogun. His split from the Shinsengumi eventually led to his assassination by Kondo and Hijikata's orders.)
"You should be setting an example for the students. Unless you don't want to recognize the great efforts the students have put forward, I suggest you start grading right away...away....away...." He looks back down into his book. (TN: He's reading a book on middle Edo Period art. During the Edo Period (1615-1868), a uniquely Japanese art from developed known as ukiyo-e, or "pictures of the floating world." A Buddhist concept, ukiyo originally suggested the sadness (uki) of life (yo).) Itou uses a pun on words between "shira" and "shiara", the difference between his nagging and his book.) He laughs.
"Laugh it up," says Nagakura.
Meanwhile, in the Student Council cave...
"Amagiri, Shranui," says Kazama. "The routine tests have finally come and gone. We must begin the next stage."
"Next stage?" asks Shiranui.
"That's right. We've already eaten together. Naturally, we ought to set a date for the wedding." (TN: wut...?)
"Wait, that's not it," says Shiranui. "Also when you say 'eat together' you were at school and you just sat down with her in the cafeteria."
Flashback: Kazama drinking from his wine glass while Chizuru has an odd what-the-heck-is-going-on smile on her face.
"Next, it is naturally required that I give her a pleasant surprise. And it must be a big, big surprise." (TN: OMG they way he says 'surprise' is so cute and hilarious)
"So this 'surprise' you speak of...what is it then?" asks Amagiri.
"Don't you understand, Amagiri? My surprise will let the woman I love turn her dream into a reality. That is my surprise." (TN: I got nothing....¯\(°_o)/¯)
"Okaaay...." responds Amagiri.
"It is the surprise I dreamed up in my mind. Just thinking about it brings unstoppable mirth. Surprise." He looks over to his minions. "Why aren't you saying it with me. One, two--"
"Su-Surprise," Amagiri reluctantly chimes in.
"Oh my god, this is lame," says Shiranui.
Cutscene to Heisuke, making his way listlessly down the hall. Chizuru sees and approaches him.
"Yo," he responds. "You going home?"
"Yeah. Are you going to practice kendo? That's rough."
"It's not that bad. You know," he begins nervously.
"Well, never mind."
"What are you doing, Heisuke," says Saito, joining them. "If you don't hurry, you'll be late."
"I know," says Heisuke before storming off again.
"Yukimura-san, you and Heisuke are childhood friends then?" he asks.
"That's right. It's because of Heisuke's encouragement that I took the entrance exam to Hakuo Academy."
"I see." He goes silent.
Saito's heart beat suddenly fills the hall.
"What is it?"
"Actually... I've been wanting to speak to you, Saito-senpai, about something for a long time..." Chizuru says. His heart beats even louder. "But I just haven't had the opportunity." And louder. He backs away slowly, never taking his eyes off her.
"Oh." He backs up a bit. "What is it?"
"Thank you for always looking after my older brother."
His face falls and he leans against the wall. "Oh, it's about Nagumo then. From a personality perspective you two are so different one can hardly tell that you're brother and sister."
"That's because we grew up in different households," she explains. "So the time we've actually spent together hasn't been all that long. But he's still my older brother."
"Life is truly mysterious. A pair of estranged siblings can once again meet at the same school."
She nods in agreement. "Even though my brother is a little strange, I ask that you continue to look after him here on after." She bows deeply and heads off cheerfully. His heart starts pounding again.
Why is it my heart is beating so fast? Why? (TN: even Saito is not immune. BTW Saito's was my 2nd favorite route in the otome game Hakuouki: Stories of the Shinsengumi)
Chizuru walks out into the schoolyard and notices someone on the roof of the next building.
"Huh? Okita-senpai?" As she watches, he seems to fall over the side.
Chizuru is about to scream. In the background we hear Kazama's voice say, "Surprise!"
In fact, Kazama and Amagiri are still saying "surprise," when Shranui has finally gives up it.
"Oh for heaven's sake, stop it. That's enough! What exactly is this 'surprise' of yours?"
Kazama holds up his hand and responds, "A wedding ring."
"Hah?" says Shiranui, dumbfounded.
"So, it's a ring?" asks Amagiri.
"Exactly," answers Kazama proudly.
"We must find out Chizuru's ring size immediately."
"Huh," says Shiranui.
"And we must not let Chizuru discover what her surprise is going to be."
"Wouldn't that be difficult?" asks Shiranui.
"Whatever it takes, I will make it happen," Kazama smirks.
"Aaaaah! Okita-senpai," Chizuru cries out as she reaches the roof of the opposite building to find him crumpled on the ground.
"Okita-senpai!" she shouts as she tries to wake him. "Are you alright?! Okita-senpai!"
His eyes open and he sits up suddenly. "Just kidding."
"Why would you do such a thing?" she asks in shock.
"What? Were you worried?"
"Of course! You gave me quite a scare."
"That was quite fun, wasn't it?" asks Okita playfully.
"Did you come all the way up here just to scare me?" she asks suspiciously.
"Nope. I came up because I wanted to watch the sunset."
"Sunset...? In this weather?" she looks up to the overcast sky.
Heisuke meanwhile is practicing in the dojo, crossing shinai with Saito. (TN: but this actor's arms are a little too scrawny for prolonged swordplay, no...? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)
"Men!" (TN: among the attacks in kendo men means 'face' strike. Other commands include "suki", "dō", "hidari kote" and "migi kote") The students in the dojo are lined up and switch sides after each lunge.
"Men!" Heisuke calls again. This time he is distracted by the thought of Hijikata escorting Chizuru home the other night and how happy she seemed. He had wanted to call her but couldn't bring himself to do it.
"What's wrong with you, Heisuke?" asks Saito, sensing his distraction. "Attack." This time Saito is able to strike Heisuke on the side.
Cutscene back to Okita and Chizuru on the roof. (TN: I don't think Heisuke should only be worried about Hijikata...but perhaps he sees Hijikata as the biggest threat because he's so perfect... (~˘▾˘)~)
"Um... Okita-senpai aren't you also part of the kendo club?" Chizuru asks.
"Yup," he responds, arms cross and looking out to the landscape.
"Is it okay that you're missing practice right now?"
"I'm not in the mood."
Flashback to Okita waiting outside faculty department for Kondo. But when he tries to intercept him, Hijikata calls Kondo's attention away.
"Kondo-san," Hijikata greets.
"How did the routine tests go?"
"Why are you asking? It's not like I can give you an answer right now."
Kondo chuckles. "That's true. But this school is always relying on your support. You're always concerned with the students' grades as well."
"That goes without saying. I will do my best to make this Academy even better, Kondo-san."
"I'm counting on you you then, Toshi."
"Um..." says Chizuru, trying to keep up the conversation since Okita has fallen silent. "This is actually the first time I've been on the roof."
"Heh, is that so?"
"I'm usually just going back and forth from the classroom to the library."
"You're not used to this place yet?" he asks.
"Truthfully, I haven't really gotten used to everything yet."
"Well, since the routine tests are over, from here on out there are a lot of things to look forward to."
"The culture fair!" she exclaims happily. "The sakura festival also!"
Soji takes a picture of her excited face. "Smile one more time, Chizuru-chan."
"Okita-senpai!" she says, embarrassed.
"Pretty please? Once more, Chizuru-chan." She complies, shyly. Okita examines the picture.
"Hmmm..." and then suddenly pulls her close for a selfie.
This time he's satisfied with the results. "Yup. Not bad at all. I'll send this to you later," he says before leaving.
Finally, the kendo club breaks for the day. Heisuke sits on the floor for a breather.
"Heisuke," Saito admonishes. "Your form was all over the place today. You had so many openings. Did something bad happen?"
"Not really," Heisuke answers.
"Kendo is not meant to be used as stress relief."
"I'm not the only one," Heisuke retorts angrily. "Hajime-kun your sword work was also less than optimal today." When Heisuke storms off Saito puts his hand over his heart. My heart was beating faster than normal. I wonder what the reason was?
Cut scene to Chizuru on her way down from the roof. She notices Heisuke taking a bottle of water outside to the roof of his building.
"Heisuke-kun!" she calls out. "Good job completing practice!"
"Yeah," he says with a half hearted wave before going back inside.
"He doesn't seem very cheerful for some reason," she observes.
Just then Shiranui and Amagiri approach her on the stairs.
"Amagiri-senpai and Shiranui-senpai," she greets. Amagiri bows in response.
"We've been looking for ya a long time," sighs Shiranui.
Amagiri holds out a framed piece of rice paper out to her. "Please poke a hole through this."
(TN: face palm)
"Aha...?" she puzzles.
"Please don't ask any questions. Just poke a hole through this paper."
"Umm.... what are you guys going to do with that?" she asks.
"We're sorry," says Shiranui. "Could you please help us out and poke a hole through this paper?"
"Okaaay..." she responds with a nod. As she prepares to run a fist through it Amagiri stops her.
"Please just use your ring finger," he adds.
She pokes out her right ring finger.
"Left ring finger," he finishes.
"If you please, just comply with these instructions."
Chizuru nods. "Here I go." (TN: OMG this scene....)
When she completes this task, Amagiri bows. Chizuru bows in return. "We greatly appreciate your cooperation."
"Thanks a lot," says Shiranui, before they walk away.
"What the heck just happened...?" she stares back at them.
Cutscene: Soji walking down the hall. He looks up to see Hijikata on the landing.
"Did you take your classics exam seriously?" Hijikata asks.
"You just need to glance at my answer sheet to know I didn't take it seriously at all," Okita responds cheekily. Hijikata sighs in frustration as Soji saunters away.
In the teacher's office, Harada and Nakagura are quietly grading away. Nakagura glances at Itou, who is gazing out the window.
"Itou-sensei, I hate to ask but can you help me with grading these?"
"Eh, didn't you know? I was hired as an art teacher," Itou responds with a smile. "The sunfish's weakness is here." He puts his hand in front of his face. "Assisting others in grading examination papers in another subject would be laughable."
"Just because there isn't an art exam, during the entire examination period you've just been goofing off. Maybe we should inform either Kondo-san or Hijikata-san," says Harada with a smirk.
Itou freaks out at that suggestion and gets on the floor before Nagakura.
"There's n-no need to report anything to them!" he shouts nervously. (TN: this guy talks so fast it was really hard to translate!)
"I, Itou Kashitarou, no matter if it's grading papers or whatever, will not find it burdensome. Please be merciful!" he proclaims. (TN: I wonder if it's because Hijikata and Kondo assassinated him in the past, lol...)
TN: okaaay.... moving on....
Back in the Student Council room....
"Do you have it?" asks Kazama turning to see Shiranui and Amagiri enter.
"Yes," Amagiri bows.
"Let me see it then." He examines the paper. "Have you heard before that if a lady's ring finger measurement matches the size of a man's pinky finger, it means the two are destined for one another. This means my pinky finger will fit through that hole perfectly." When Kazama tries it, his finger completely rips the rice paper.
Shiranui bursts out laughing.
"Kazama-sama," says Amagiri.
"Amagiri, you must have done something wrong," Kazama pouts.
"I did not, sir," Amagiri responds.
"You're really doubting us? We made sure to measure it very carefully," Shiranui adds.
"I don't believe it." He goes back to a corner and sulks.
The girl in question is making her way out of campus.
"Hijikata-sensei," she greets.
"You still haven't gone home yet?" he asks.
"Okita-senpai asked if he could take a lot of pictures of me."
"That guy is always fooling around like that. Even if he took the Classics test seriously, he's just so eccentric." (TN: aww...that's the only scene they really have together in this episode...)
In the doujo, Heisuke is taking out his boy feelings on kendo practice alone....
End Hakuouki Sweet School Life (SSL) Episode 2, Feelings That Cannot Be Expressed