I’m back! After a very sad and emotional end to what was another wonderful summer I’ve decided to blog about a very emotional story by the same mangaka who did First Love Sisters. When I began reading the script for Cat’s Eye Hall Chapter 1 I nearly stopped working on it and requested to give it to someone else. You see, the second page labels the story as “A Yuri Double Suicide”. I’m very leery of anything involving suicide. It’s something that has deeply affected me and changed my life and something I will almost always avoid talking about, reading about or seeing in movies/TV. My sister decided to take her own life when I was younger and I’ve never recovered from it I guess. While this may simply be a story, there are things that stick with us our entire lives. That word “suicide” is one of them for me. Against my better judgment I decided to do it anyway. I can’t run from the word the rest of my life, I’ll encounter it again and again and I can’t ignore it forever. Thankfully I didn’t ignore it this time, because the story is truly beautiful.
It’s the story of Deie Hiyori and Kadowaki Shiho. Two high school girls who befriend each other. Hiyori seems unpopular, glum and very shy. Shiho seems out-going, attractive and popular. The two are total opposites. (As usual, right?) Shiho also has a friend, Namiko, whom we later find out is jealous that Shiho is spending so much time with Hiyori. I assume there are the makings of a love triangle there, but we never get that deep. You’ll have to use your imagination for that one! Back on topic, Shiho and Namiko are the only two people from their middle school and have become close because of it. I’m guessing they’re probably freshmen in high school. Shiho seems to have noticed Hiyori and appears to feel bad for her because of how people talk about her. One day Shiho and Namiko happen to walk up on two girls picking on Hiyori. Shiho stops it immediately and drags Hiyori away (to help her fix a button she lost from having her jacket pulled on by the two girls picking on her, remember this because it‘s important). Shiho pulls one of her buttons off and pulls a small sewing kit from her purse. She then begins sewing it onto Hiyori’s jacket. There’s a quick exchange between the two and Shiho tells Hiyori that she’s weak and it‘s her fault she gets picked on. Which in turn causes Hiyori to cry. Shiho, feeling bad again, apologizes and ask Hiyori to be her friend. Probably the only friend Hiyori has from the looks of it. Namiko stands idle and watches all this happen. It seems a conscious effort was made to include her in frames, watching but staying out of it. Perhaps to make her appear jealous later on?
From then on Hiyori and Shiho become best friends. Shiho helped her change her appearance and mannerism. She begins to realize how much she loves watching Hiyori grow and change, little by little she‘s becoming a new person. After time she realizes that it’s not only that, but she’s in love with Hiyori. In her room Shiho confesses her feelings to Hiyori and kisses her. Hiyori returns the feelings and thing begin to get physical between the two. Right in the middle, Shiho’s mother burst through the door and catches them. Uh-oh! That’s never fun! (We’ll save that story for another day~)
Back at school things are tough for the girls as the rumor begins spreading around school. Perhaps Shiho’s mother spoke with someone else’s mother and so on and so on…no word exactly how it leaked out they were caught, but somehow it did. Shiho, who puts on a strong front, is crushed and cannot take the ridicule. It seems everyone is making fun of her. If you think about it, it’s not something she’s used to. Hiyori on the other hand is, that’s why it probably isn’t bothering her nearly as much. Shiho is so broken up over the teasing and name calling that she decides a double suicide is the only way out. Hiyori, who probably can’t imagine living without Shiho, agrees. I don’t think she’s really up for it but she’s so in love with Shiho that she goes along with it.
In the beginning of the story you see Shiho chasing a black cat into a antique shop. In terms of the timeline this is after they agreed to kill themselves. The two of them have magically become separated. She then begins telling the story I just went over to a hostess, who oddly reminds me of Ai Enma from Hell Girl. The Ai clone seems to have a collection of antique buttons from the 19th century. As she’s showing them to Shiho, one falls and suddenly she’s transported back to Hiyori. The two are now magically joined back up and relived to have found one another again. Hiyori begins telling Shiho about the black cat, the antique shop and the buttons. Shiho realizes it’s the exact same thing that happened to her.
Hiyori says that she found a button that reminded her of their first meeting (when Shiho replaced the button she lost, see I told you to remember that) and she had a change of heart. She decided that no matter what happens she’ll always have Shiho, no matter how bad things get. She tells Shiho that she would rather live with her than die with her. Shiho and Hiyori share a touching moment that any happy ending kind of person (like me) will enjoy. Before heading off they turn back to find the button that Hiyori found…but it seems to have vanished. As the two walk off in the distance, holding hands, the black cat watches them go.
So, one question from me. What exactly was the Cat’s Eye Hall (antique shop) and who was the Ai clone? Right now it’s kind of open ended, you can make the shop what you want it to be. There seemed to be a few time lapse holes in the story with the whole black cat and teleporting (it worked for Marimite s4 opening, right!). Unless I just missed something. I got confused a couple times with that. I’m still really not sure what to make of it. I’d love to hear some other input once you get a chance to read it. It seems this is only the first chapter as well. It’s part of much longer series. I’m curious if we’ll see any of the same characters or if each one will involve a different set of girls with a different obstacle to overcome with help from Cat’s Eye Hall. Looking forward to seeing this progress and hopefully unveil the mystery of the Ai clone, the cat, the antique shop and the teleportation!