Kita E Diamond Dust Drops

September 11, 2011

There has been countless of legends told for instance if you see something with your loved one, you’ll be guaranteed that your love will last forever. Which girl in love wouldn’t really want to pass up a chance to believe such a legend or dream even if it doesn’t sound feasible in the first place. Whether it’s the stars in the sky or the seashells on the shore, or in this case, Diamond Dusts. Diamond what? You know, snow when reflected by light, gives off that sparkly and shiny effect like they’re some kind of diamond dust. At least, that’s how it is in Kita E Diamond Dust Drops or also known as Diamond Day Dreams.

Unlike in many other romance and drama setting, this series is set in Hokkaido, the northern and largest prefecture in Japan. Yeah, all that comes to mind is the numbing freezing cold (at least to me) so it’ll be somewhat a challenge to have a warm date with your girl. As I have found out, this series was originally adapted from a visual novel game that was first released in 1999. However it was known as Kita E White Illumination before its sequel later in the same year called Kita E Photo Memories. Then the third instalment, Kita E Diamond Dust Drops came out in 2003 and was adapted into an anime the following year. Though I have not played or seen all the games before, the thing is that the third instalment has a very different set of characters from the first and second. So it makes me wonder if the storylines are really independent of each other. As far as I read, the different casts used in the different sequels also means that the story is different though the setting remains of that in Hokkaido. In the former, the game was like one of those dating simulations whereby you as the player have to choose and get closer to one of the many main female protagonists.

In the latter, there isn’t any dating feel anymore as it focuses on 6 different girls living in Hokkaido and the issues they face in their life such as love, friendship and conflicts. They each believe in the legend of the Diamond Dust and this would in turn affect and link them in their search for happiness. The way the anime is played out reminds me of a cross between Kono Aozora Ni Yakusoku Wo and Seraphim Call. Like the former because 2 episodes will be dedicated to tell the story of the girl in focus. Similar to the latter because of that same reason too (and also the girls’ story are independent of each other) but in the final episode each of them will converge together and probably find out if their dream will come true.

Hakodate – Atsuko Akanegi
As episode 1 begins, 20 year old Atsuko Akanegi helps her widower mom Sanae at her fish shop. During the busy day, a guy whom she knows, Kurata strolls by and passes her a jazz CD, much to her delight. Sanae has Atsuko do a last minute delivery. At the place, she meets Minoru Jinguuji, her supposed fiancee. She isn’t comfortable talking to him. He thinks of getting a handphone for her so they could easily talk but she shoots him down. Back home, Atsuko talks to her father’s alter, saying she’s too young to be married though she doesn’t view the offer to be bad. She is worried that mom will have a hard time looking after the store is she’s gone. However Sanae tells her she can manage by herself and that she’s lucky to get someone proposed to a tomboy like her. They both bicker but stop when they’re too loud and made the baby cry. Next day as Atsuko is driving in her van doing deliveries, she spots Kurata and gives him a lift home. She enters his room for the first time and meets his pet cat. Then they go out for a meal but ironically at the ramen store, they eat their famous milk pudding instead. When they return to the fish store, they see a bank officer talking to Sanae about falling back on her loan repayments. He is in a pinch as his superior has requested him to collect the debt. He advices them consider selling the place off. While walking back, Atsuko tells Kurata that when her dad died, they sold the house as they couldn’t afford the inheritance tax. Now it’s the shop. She feels she’s slowly losing the things important to her. He advices her she has the choice to give up but when she does, it’ll never come back. Then they chance upon Minoru who is worried about Atsuko’s debts. However she insists it is not his concern. He offers to buy up the business and pay off the debt so that she and her mom won’t have to work this hard. She slaps him for being selfish and says that she has never thought of her work as hard. She adds she hasn’t decide to marry him yet and thus to stay out of it. Next day, Atsuko is feeling gloomy and this causes her to sprain her feet. Kurata was passing by and offers to help do deliveries. He’ll help out for free till her foot gets better. Don’t want that foot to heal, eh? During the rounds, Minoru spots them chatting happily away in the truck. During break, Atsuko says how she wanted to be an idol but never got close. She’s saying that if her dad was alive, she would’ve led a ‘normal’ youth, going to college and hanging out with friends. After work, Kurata brings her to the mountain top to see a beautiful night view of the city. This scene calms him down as he comes here when he’s lonely or depressed. He adds that true happiness may be right next to us but we just don’t realize it. Next day, Minoru confronts Atsuko about Kurata. He thinks of finding a part timer for her as he thinks Kurata isn’t good for her. She wants him to leave him alone if he’s concern about her. But he says he’ll come back again and make it official with her mom. That night, Sanae tells her about some betrothal gift and they need to get out of this debt fast. She continues to tell her the harsh facts of life that sometimes love isn’t everything. Sooner or later, she’ll have to marry him. Atsuko is still against the marriage and runs out in the rain. She arrives at Kurata’s place all wet and soaked, crying into his arms.

After taking a bath and calming down in episode 2, she says she’s not going home because she feels all her mom thinks is about money and doesn’t care for her. Though she knows Minoru is always puts her first, she doesn’t want to marry because of the debt. She asks him if he ever wanted to marry someone but he replies he forgot since it was a long time ago. She wonders if she’s good enough for him because she feels comfortable with him. He was going to answer that he doesn’t have the right to love anyone but Atsuko already dozed off. Next morning, Minoru learns from Sanae that Atsuko never returned. He has an idea where she might be and calls his guys to do some background research. Atsuko tries to cook for Kurata (who has left for his job) when she sees a picture of a lady a young girl. Then the pot overcooks so she opens the windows and doors, accidentally letting the cat out. As she goes look for it, she sees Minoru and his men arriving at the gate. He wants her to return but she refuses and continues that it’s none of his business and that she’s not like his property. Minoru adds that Kurata was divorced 3 years ago and his wife and kid is living in Tokyo now. Noticing her surprise expression, he notes that he hasn’t told her anything and is just tricking her. But Atsuko says she would rather hear it from his mouth. Atsuko still doesn’t want to follow him so Minoru lets her go but will return later. Atsuko later calls Kurata’s workplace, Diamond Dust, a jazz pub but he’s in the middle of playing his sax. It occurred to her what she means to him. When Kurata learns that she has called, he leaves the pub seeing that she didn’t pick up his return call. Minoru is seen talking to Sanae when Sanae’s grandma arrives. She is here to settle this dispute. Seems Sanae was in the same position herself before. She was supposed to be married into the Jinguuji family but fell in love with someone else and ran away with him. However he died early just after opening his business and now Sanae is debt. Sanae knows all this but wanted Atsuko to have a happy marriage and this proposal could make her happy. Grandma asks the meaning of happiness. Does it matter if you have love and have nothing else. She asks Minoru if he can make Atsuko happy. Atsuko sits alone at the mountain top. She falls asleep dreaming about the good times with her dad. When she wakes up, she finds Kurata giving her a piggy-back ride home. When they return, Sanae slaps Atsuko for making everyone worry while Kurata walks away. Next morning, the bank officer returns. But he isn’t here to harass for payment. He mentions about the financing from Minoru that may fall through. Then Grandma appears and when the officer learns of her family status and her intention to make an advance on the debt, the officer becomes very humble for her patronage. Grandma also leaves an elderly man she knows from a restaurant she frequent, Gen to help out with the store. Later Atsuko visits Kurata playing his music. After that he tells her about his dream of going to America to play in a real jazz club. Though it’s just at the auditioning stage, he is going to take his chance. He notes by living his dream, he has sacrificed his friends and family. He devoted his life to jazz so much that everyone got fed up and left. He tells her of the Diamond Dust legend. Sometimes on a clear morning when the wind sparkles with it, a couple who sees it can have eternal happiness. He hopes she will find someone who will see that Diamond Dust together. He pecks her on her forehead and leaves. Next day, Atsuko apologizes that she doesn’t deserve this engagement but Minoru apologizes instead. When Grandma asked him about making her happy, his honest answer that he isn’t sure. Though he hasn’t given up on her yet, he’ll do his best till the day she’ll look at him. They both shake hands. Atsuko returns to her busy but happy fish selling life. Yeah, her tripping is still there.

Kitami – Karin Shiraishi
In episode 3, Karin Shiraishi dreams of being whisked away by a prince to a beautiful place. In reality, she’s actually hospitalized in a Hokkaido hospital for more than 2 years. Nurse Yuuki warns her about exceeding her 2 hour limit per day of using her laptop but allows her to continue since she’s a fan of her website. She puts down her dreams on her website as short stories and updates it regularly so she won’t forget them. Doctor Nemoto introduces Karin to her new resident doctor, Amakasu, and mentions that she needs to undergo surgery to get to the bottom of her problem. Karin doesn’t want to so Amakasu realizes the reason of her hospitalization. It’s not that her condition is serious, but her spoilt attitude. He tries to be friendly with her but this causes Karin to get a little ‘excited’ and suffocate. Nemoto puts on an oxygen mask for her to breathe better. Karin’s brother visits her. As they take a walk outside, he mentions about her doing the surgery since mom is worried and wanting her to return to Tokyo. She is afraid to end up like her dad. Karin receives a fan mail. Calling the mysterious fan, erm, Fan, they exchange photos and chat about cool places. She gets to like Fan as each passing day. On another day, her brother visits to give her a peppermint sweet (as recommended by Fan). He also promises her to take her to a place once she recovers. This has Karin thinking that he and Fan are the same person. After taking a bath, Yuuki wheels Karin back but they spot Amakasu taking a peep into her laptop. Karin becomes very upset as she starts suffocating. In her dream, she is being carried by her prince but can’t seem to see his face. When she wakes up, she sees Amakasu sleeping next to her. She wakes him up. He apologizes for peeking without permission and says he was curious to know her feelings deep down inside and perhaps to find a reason why she’s against the surgery. Karin reveals that her dad died due to a medical mistake and thus she is afraid to die the same way. In tears, she really wants to get better and view lots of sceneries. Amakasu carries her to a show her a place. This reminds Karin of her prince in her dream. On the rooftop, they see the beautiful starry sky sparkling like jewels. Amakasu mentions the Diamond Dust phenomenon. During winter, the moisture in the air freezes and gives out a dazzling light like jewels. If one sees it, his/her wish will come true. He hopes her wish will come true. Karin takes another x-ray. Nemoto says her collapsing lungs are progressing and a surgery is the only way. However she is paralyzed in fear. In bed, she is crying when she receives an email from Fan. He gives her words of encouragement and that someone is always thinking of her. She gets emotional and feels like he’s always right next to her. Karin notices a dropped pen by her bed and thinks it belongs to Amakasu seeing that it has his initials. Realizing that he probably used it to plug in a 2-pin point for her laptop, she decides to return it to his room. I guess the nurses are slacking because they didn’t really see a wheelchair-ridden girl wheeling out pass them. As Karin returns the pen in Amakasu’s room, she is shocked to see pictures on his desk that are similar to Fan’s.

In her dream in episode 4, the prince turns out to be Amakasu but he turns into darkness and swallows her. Waking up in her bed, she finds his pen on the table. But she doesn’t feel betrayed but rather happy. He comes in for her morning rounds so she returns it to him. Karin seems to become conscious of herself and even asks Yuuki how to enlarge her breasts! She soon asks Fan’s preference in girls and his reply is someone with confidence. She is sure that Fan is Amakasu since there are details in their conversation she has never told anyone else but him. Karin experiences a traumatic flashback when her dad died on the surgery table. Then she spots Amakasu heading out to the woods and tries to follow him. Deep inside, to her horror, she sees him and Yuuki kissing. The shock must be too much so she starts coughing. Didn’t they hear her wheel by? Yuuki tries to help her but she slaps her hand away and decides to wheel herself back. I guess she doesn’t have enough strength so Yuuki eventually does the honours. Karin asks how long they have been seeing each other and her reply is that they’ve known each other since school. Karin is upset that she can’t even go to school. Then she has another dream of that darkness swallowing her. This time she sees Yuuki and pleads for help. But she too becomes the darkness and kills her. Karin soon becomes distraught to a point not finishing her meals, that the duo were seeing each other and the reason why he keeps sending her emails. Yuuki tries to be helpful but Karin she tells her off that they’re laughing at her behind her back by doing so. That is when Yuuki deeply apologizes and reveals that she is Fan and Amakasu knows nothing about this. Amakasu took those pictures so she borrowed them. She wanted to see Karin get better but since she refused to undergo surgery and that they couldn’t get their message across, she thinks there was someone she could truly open up to. She never meant to hurt her. Then Karin receives bad news about her brother. He is unconscious lying in a hospital bed. Seems that he has been pushing himself working hard at part time jobs. As Amakasu explains, the medical bills are soaring and it is expensive keeping her here. That’s 2 freaking years, man! Karin realizes why her brother rarely visits nowadays and never told her this. He says that there are people who are worried about her from the bottom of their hearts and don’t want her to ignore them. In her bed, Karin ponders hard. Her brother always puts her first, Yuuki was always worried her and Amakasu never gave up on her. It hit her for the first time that she is a spoilt kid as she always thought she was the most miserable one. Soon she gets the courage to tell Amakasu that she will undergo the surgery but with a condition that he will be by her side then. Of course. During the surgery, Karin dreams of being released by the darkness. Then she spots her young self afraid of the darkness. She gives her some words of encouragement and when their eyes meet, she turns into bright sparkles of light. The surgery is a success as her brother (thankfully back to his energetic ways) and his friend pick up Karin to go sightseeing in their rundown truck. Better than getting cooped up in the hospital, right?

Sapporo – Kyoko Asahina
Kyoko Asahina is filming a scene in episode 5 when her actress, Miki gets a phone call in the middle. Kyoko takes the phone, tells the other line to call back because Miki’s in the middle of a job and has everyone redo the scene. However they’ve been doing it for 20 times in a row so Miki is obviously pissed. Buchou (Club Captain) tries to calm the ladies down but Kyoko reminds him about her absolute orders as director. She even went on to say never to call her by her first name because it would look like he’s making fun of her! B*tch! After calling it a day, Kyoko goes home and is picked up by her boyfriend, Yuu. I guess his stomach was growling that he didn’t listen to Kyoko’s complaining. They go shopping and do some video rental. Man, she even has control over what videos to rent! She’s like a dictator. At home, she works on her film in engross while Yuu is made to cook since it’s his punishment. Then they watch footage of today’s filming. She isn’t happy but he thinks it’s okay. As punishment, she makes him wash the dishes. Next day in the Cinema Club, Kyoko is being interviewed by a committee of the Amateur Film Festival. She has confidence in Kyoko and gives her a movie synopsis manuscript to fill in. Next day, Kyoko and her members resume filming but Buchou says Miki isn’t here and has taken a day off knowing well despite they had to shoot this scene today. Kyoko insists that she wants this scene filmed and borrows Buchou’s handphone and hears Miki with her friends in a karaoke box. She calls her despicable and tells her never to show her face here again. The other members get pissed off with her strict attitude. Buchou tries to reason with her about compromising and the way she does things not being considerate to others. Kyoko remains adamant with her stand that they must win the prize so Buchou will go talk to Miki while Kyoko agrees that they will finish this scene tomorrow. She goes home and being picked up by Yuu. She ponders what has happened today. She receives a phone message from the committee lady leaving her fax number. Before the message finishes, she stops the tape. Looking at the cabinet filled with trophies, Yuu notes that she got an honourable mention last year. Kyoko has a change of heart as she decides to do the cooking. That night, Yuu takes her on his bicycle to show the beautiful Moon reflection over the river. She feels happy and cheers up. Meanwhile Buchou successfully talks to Miki. She agrees to return but hopes he won’t turn up tomorrow so as not to spoil her. Next day, Kyoko seems livelier as she gets prepared to shoot the scene. Miki tells Kyoko that she will do her best to meet her expectations. Back home as Kyoko watches today’s footage she is shocked to see that the film is all blank.

She confronts her club members in episode 6 but they think she’s accusing them. That’s when she puts down her foot. She rips the tape apart and calls it quits from her club. She’ll be taking the equipment since she won it from the last festival. Buchou tries to reason with her and understand she’s the victim but Kyoko has made up her mind. When she comes home, she instantly makes Yuu her film assistant and imparts her rigid schedule to finish her film. They travel to a shore to film sceneries but Kyoko is never happy with the shot. There’s a lone passer-by interrupting the filming so much so he thought he was to be filmed! Annoyed Kyoko tells Yuu to throw him into the sea and the thing is, he did it! The queen’s orders are absolute, I guess. Kyoko tells Yuu about the Charenka folktale whereby Lord Yoshitsune fell in love with a girl named Charenka. But he had to escape from the people against him and left without telling her goodbye. When she found out, she stood on this cape and yelled out to him but her voice never reached him. Kyoko mentions she deserved what she got because if she cared for him, she would’ve never let him out of her sight. Yuu then mentions to head home after dinner. Kyoko says that they haven’t shot anything. He knows seeing the way she is now, no matter how many days she takes it won’t matter. Back home, Yuu mentions that she seemed like she’s just thinking about of winning the prize, making her impatient. He wonders if winning it is important because he feels she should figure out what is most important to shoot and at this rate nobody will follow her. Kyoko gets upset and shoots her mouth off. She mentions about the tremendous pressure she has to keep up. The expectations that everyone had of her after winning a prize. She starts comparing him like a lost kitten and that she has to feed and make sure he’s happy and that’s hard to keep up. Unlike an amateur like him, if he doesn’t understand that, she doesn’t want him to interrupt in her film making ever again. Yuu just nods in agreement without fighting back. Next morning, Kyoko realizes that Yuu has packed his belongings and left. She does the filming and living her life all by herself. Then she gets a call from the committee lady reminding her about the manuscript deadline. Kyoko then requests if she could withdraw from the festival as she doesn’t know what to shoot. In college, she remains gloomy as she watches her Cinema Club members making progress. Then she watches her past film making footage. She seems much friendlier, livelier, smiled a lot and humble about the prize she won. She’s even surprise this was her before the prize. There’s a footage where she was captivated by the “Diamond Dust”, the pretty snow fluttering in the wind. Then she thinks she hears Yuu outside and goes after him in the rain. However it’s the wrong person. She breaks down and let loose a frustrated scream. Soon, she submits her manuscript to the committee lady. She asks her about the Charenka folktale. Though she deserved what she got, maybe Charenka didn’t even know if she liked Yoshitsune or not when she was with him. She only realized how much he meant to her when she lost him (like in her case with Yuu). Kyoko finally realized what that there are things that she wants to film. As the new term starts, Kyoko is back in her Cinema Club (now taking on the position as the club captain) and humbly interviewing new recruits in the club. And yes, she won the prize.

Asahikawa – Suomi Kitano
A flashback in episode 7 when young Suomi Kitano told her friend Hanna Jarvinen about the Diamond Dust daddy told her. Your wish will definitely come true if you make a wish on it. She wished that they win the gold medal together. But there can be only 1 gold medal. So how? Break it into half and share. Ah, such innocence. In present time, Kouta breaks off with his friendship with cocky Haruto. Haruto realizes Suomi watching her and makes a run but she follows him. He panics and trips but Suomi offers him her cream puffs. Then she says she’s hitting on him. That’s is, talking to someone and having tea. Though she doesn’t know what to do after that. Haruto thinks that they should go somewhere so Suomi suggests the zoo. There, she finds out Haruto hates figure skating and was the cause of the fight with Kouta. Seems Haruto was bored and invited Kouta to join the skating class but he sucked. Furthermore, Haruto showed off and he got mad. While eating ramen, Suomi tells him a story about 2 girls who both loved to skate and very good friends. However they had a run-in with each other. One had a pain in her leg, the other in her heart. Soon the girl with the pain in her leg began to feel pain in her heart and thus started hated skating. Haruto didn’t understand a thing so Suomi explains it’s alright to lose interest in skating but to hate it because of a friend is sad. Changing the topic, Suomi wishes to see Haruto skate. While she watches him, she remembers the time when she was skating with Hanna. Everyone else was talking bad about them but Hanna didn’t mind. Then the inevitable happened. Hanna slipped and collided into Suomi during a practice. Haruto invites Suomi to skate with him. Though she fell down, it wasn’t as painful as she thought. Soon she pulls off graceful moves like a pro skater, surprising Haruto. She dances with him, captivating the crowd. As everyone starts to remember who she is, Suomi takes Haruto out from the ring. Outside, he is surprised she skates well. She thanks him for reminding her what is like to skate. Something she has long forgotten. Skating is fun. The next place she suggests is to go make up with Kouta. Outside his home, Haruto is still nervous so Suomi presses the bell for him. “A button on the intercom exists to be pressed”. Haha! When Kouta spots them outside his window, he quickly rushes down. I’m not sure if this is coincidence because Suomi seems to hail a taxi quickly. She says her goodbye to Haruto and pecks him on his forehead before leaving. By the time Kouta reaches down, Suomi is gone. Looks like he wants her autograph. Clueless Haruto finds out that Suomi is a famous figure skater, winning various competitions and her face is on a magazine cover. However she stopped skating after a collision accident. Haruto starts to make sense of Suomi’s words said throughout the day. Since Haruto doesn’t want to reveal how he met Suomi, Kouta calls him an ecchi skirt chaser. They challenge each other via skating. Friendship back on track. Suomi makes an important call, apologizing for the trouble she has caused and that she has changed her mind to enter an all-stars competition thanks to a certain boy. She departs a message for Hanna, hoping that they will make the Diamond Dust come true. She stops the taxi just to go buy and enjoy the cream puffs she loves so much.

Finland & Asahikawa – Suomi Kitano
Actually this is the unaired and bonus episode found on the DVD and dubbed episode 7.5 that concludes Suomi’s arc. However since I’m watching it in chronological order, I’ll be referring this as episode 8. Suomi is being interviewed for her recent successful comeback performance. She can’t help finish all the cream puffs… During the interview she remembers several flashbacks that lead her to where she is now. Like how she flew to Finland to see Hanna and was picked up by her coach. However he tells her that she has to undergo special training to make up for lost time in Japan since it is what the committee decided. He also says it is best not to see her yet as it is for their own good and future. In other words, if she wants to pursue ice skating again, she must forget about Hanna. Suomi dispels the rumours that Hanna accidentally injured her to be on the all-star team. She insists that they are both best friends ever since small and are always together. Hanna was the reason she loved skating. During a short programme performance, Hanna didn’t talk to Suomi and Suomi herself wasn’t in her best condition and finished 7th. When Suomi eventually managed to talk to Hanna, the latter seems rather cold in her words. She seems to accuse Suomi of running away. Though the media nicknames Hanna a cold hearted queen and other criticisms, she isn’t fazed because she is focused on winning the gold medal. She doesn’t expect Suomi to understand since she ran away. Ran away from the promise they made on the Diamond Dust. As Hanna walks away, Suomi reiterates the Diamond Dust wish that will come true. Suomi makes the same wish as before and this seems to cheer Hanna up. During the championship, Suomi gets her confidence back and puts on her best show. Attributing her great and fun memories with Hanna, she is confident she can overcome anything. At the end, her performance enchanted the crowd. Haruto and Kouta were there to even greet and congratulate her. Then Suomi sees Hanna giving the winner with a little applause. The interview ends (and all the cream puffs finished too). The interviewer asks what she was thinking during that performance. Suomi recalls talking to Hanna as the latter asks about the need to break the medal into half. Can she? It’s hard, you know. Thankfully, she doesn’t have too as Hanna allows to keep her half for now. She’ll win the next championship and call it even. They apologize, made up and feel that today was the best and beautiful day for the both of them. One of their many life quotes “A beautiful day doesn’t always have to mean a sunny one”. At the end, there’s a short segment featuring several ‘blooper scenes’. For instance, Sanae slapping Atsuko but her “ouch” reaction was too slow (or was it because it was too hard?), Atsuko screwing her ramen and milk pudding lines, Kyoko opening a door and bumping her head into another one, and Suomi finishing a the ramen before handing the empty bowl over.

Sapporo – Shouko Saibara
Takeda puts a necklace around Shouko Saibara‘s neck in episode 9. Then he says he can’t take any time off to see her due to his busy work. Shouko knows this is coming since she is having an affair with a married man with a kid. However he promises to call before the flower season ends. At her workplace, Shouko tries to call Takeda but receives a voice mailbox. She is a radio personality, more precisely a relationship expert with her own slot known as Cappuccino Break. She and her colleagues Uraoka and Tezuka talk about the recent affairs but Shouko is okay with it as long as they’re happy. Shouko goes on air and reads a fan mail from a fan known as Radio Boy. He looks like the type that can be a stalker. Uraoka cautions her that she shouldn’t get too friendly and maintain a distance but she thinks it’s to value her audience. Hey, even her website is popular. During the break, she tries to call Takeda again but it didn’t get through. Back home, she receives a phone message from him. It’s a courtesy call that he still remembers though he reminds her that he can’t pick up the phone due to his work and doesn’t want others to get the wrong idea too. Next morning, Shouko is happy that her colleagues bought her favourite bread but they denied doing so. Actually it was Radio Boy. I guess the security was slacking (they’re bored and glued to the TV) that a random guy could just walk in and out with ease. Later Radio Boy faxes a message, admitting he was the one who did so. Shouko didn’t mind and doesn’t see a problem since she does reveal her favourite stuffs on air though her colleagues are worried. After work, she goes to the flower shop but it seems the sunflowers are out. A flashback reveals how Takeda brought her to a sunflower field. It’s her favourite flower since she was born in the summer. Then she hears Takeda’s voice but sees him happily with his family. He walks pass by her without batting an eyelid, pretending like he never knew her. Shouko stood there paralyzed. While lying gloomily back in her dark room, she suddenly receives a delivery of sunflowers. Thinking it was from Takeda, she happily decides to call him to thank him even if she knows he won’t pick up. Then she spots a message within the flower and is shocked to read it was sent by Radio Boy.

The sunflower sits in the dustbin in episode 10 as Shouko becomes worried and jumpy. The slightest thing would just cause her to be alert. She tries to call Takeda and leaves a message that she’s being stalked. As she continues her show, she receives more and more favourite gifts in packages from Radio Boy. She’s really getting used to him buying things for her now, eh? After a drinking outing with her colleagues, she comes home to see Takeda in her place. He’s here because he got her message about being stalked and has checked the place for any hidden devices but none. Shouko says that this stalking thing isn’t that bad and perhaps just her imagination. Takeda thinks she’s lying and is saying it just to get his attention. Then he suddenly gets intimate with her, mentioning he came because he really wanted to see her. However Shouko expresses what about her feelings and the times she really wanted to see him. It’s just unfair. She left messages but he never returned them. All she wanted was just to see and talk to him. It makes her feel like she’s talking to a phone or a machine and not him. Takeda steps on a landmine when he says it’s nothing different from her job, just talking to her microphone. Shouko gets upset and tells him to leave. Next day, Shouko ponders about the irony of her doing this. Solving other people’s problem but can’t solve her own. Then a mail with a problem that mirrors exactly like hers, a married man she’s been seeing and not sure if he loves her or not. Shouko is lost for words so much so she breaks down and over the air says she can’t do this anymore. While the faxes and message board are bombarded with concerned fans shocked at the sudden developments, Radio Boy suddenly barges in and locks himself in the radio room. Man, he’s faster than everyone! Once the music is finished, Shouko is on air again. Radio Boy says he was very happy when she mentioned her name because it made him feel existed and not lonely. Shouko still doubts her own problems and is not sure if her voice reaches anyone. He asserts that it does because he is here now and that he loves her voice. Soon faxes and messages come streaming in, voicing their support for Shouko to carry on and hang in there. At the end, Radio Boy is brought into custody. Seems he dropped a sunflower for her. Shouko thanks Radio Boy but says that she is over sunflowers now since summer is over and that he shouldn’t barge in like this. Shouko signs off from her air time by thanking her fans for their support and is grateful knowing that there are many people who listen to her. Though she has never met them all, she feels that they are all her friends and will be okay. I’m not sure the new flowers Shouko is into now but she has to courage to throw away Takeda’s necklace. Hey! Why the heck did she throw it from the middle of the pedestrian bridge?!

Obihiro – Akari Harada
In episode 11, Akari Harada believes in the Diamond Dust legend whereby if lovers see it together, they will be happy together. A scene in which a man approaches Akari’s doorstep, sorry over her loss as he hands her a little gift. As a school girl, Akari works part time at Ryuan Confectionery to help supplement income since her mom died. The cute thing about her is that she tends to mix up lines or actions, causing much embarrassment to herself and to the little amusement of others around. While working at Ryuan, good-kid-turned-bad Kurokawa comes in trying to persuade Akari to come with him but the manager tells him off. Then Akari gets a call that her dad is once again drunk at the usual diner so she has to take early leave and go pick him up. She takes him back and reminds him to continue his real job instead of panning gold. He doesn’t seem to listen, more interested in her good cooking instead though he promises to get back to real work. After school, Akari spots Kurokawa at the park, the kids tease them for being lovers and going to kiss. The odd part is Kurokawa is the one who blushed and Akari was just playing it cool. She asks him why he gave up making Japanese sweets and his reply is he isn’t interested anymore. He was once so enthusiastic about it so Akari says it isn’t about talent but the passion to make good confections. Kurokawa remains stubborn that it’s meaningless so she laments he has really changed. As she walks off, she drops her little mirror. Kurokawa spots it but she’s gone. Then he comes into a bunch of delinquents. One of them got his foot on the mirror. He tells him to get his stinky feet off and was going to punch him but was easily taken out. If not for Akari’s dad passing by, he would’ve been a goner. They both walk back together as daddy continues his wild talk about hopes and dreams and never to give up. Suddenly he starts to have a major headache. He threatens Kurokawa to leave him alone. Back home after dinner, daddy asks Akari if she would like to go pan gold with him on her next day off from school. She’d love to but she has work. He decides to go straight to bed since it’s been a long day at the construction site. Akari ponders something isn’t right but brushes it off. Dad is seen squirming in pain in bed with his hands tightly clutching his head. Next morning, he decides to sleep in longer. He tells worried Akari to go ahead first though she suggested of taking him to see a doctor. After she leaves, he quickly goes to vomit. Akari can’t help worry about her dad that she spaces out in school. Kurokawa returns Akari’s mirror at Ryuan. He asks if there is anything wrong with her dad but she brushes it off that he is fine. But her face seems to indicate she’s really worried. Daddy is seen getting drunk again at the diner. As he leaves, he collapses and his headache getting worse.

He lands in hospital as grief-stricken Akari learns he has advanced brain tumour in episode 12. He first came to this hospital 6 months ago and was referred to go to the main hospital with better facilities but didn’t do so. Akari is upset he never told her about his illness. But she too never realized he has been sick all the time and is at a loss what to do. Next day, she decides to go gold panning with him. Daddy thought she was just trying to make him feel better and she has got to do better than that. Anyway he agrees so Akari pleads to the doctor to release him since she wants to spend the remaining time with daddy. Kurokawa will come with them and pleads for her case. They arrive at the riverbed as sporting and mischievous daddy teaches them how to pan for gold. He tells Akari that he came to this place with her late mom too. When Kurokawa managed to catch some (albeit a little), he got so happy that daddy gives him a judo throw over the shoulder! Well, he wants him to have a bigger dream than that. Aim for the big sparkle that’s far beyond his dream. Then he just walks off laughing nonchalantly as Akari mentions that it’s this happy sparkling smile of his that she loves. Kurokawa remembers the first time he was sparkling with enthusiasm in learning Japanese sweets. When Akari mentions how the gold sparkles beautifully like the snow, daddy tells Akari about the Diamond Dust legend. Apparently he learned it from mommy but never believed it since it was just a legend. They return at the end of the day as daddy is knocked out (snoring funnily). Akari thanks Kurokawa but they admit they had fun. But we all know daddy had the most fun. It’s like he’s reliving his second childhood. She would love to go panning again but that will not be since he is soon hospitalized and weaker now. He mentions that he did see Diamond Dust with her mom. Mommy insisted that they go look so they took an early train, trekked through the snow field and watched the beautiful snow flutter like as though it’s a dream. So when mom died, he got this feeling that it may have been a dream. But he believes what they saw was real now because he’s so happy now. He thanks Akari for everything and morning comes, he goes quietly with a peaceful and content look in his face. Akari takes a look at a little gold ornament. She remembers a man came to her house and told her dad processed the gold he collected for a long time into that to give it to her as a gift. At the riverbed, Kurokawa meets Akari as he tells her that he really does like making confectionery. He ran away from Ryuan because he thought he wasn’t good. But after meeting her dad, it made him realized that he has to pursue his dream because nothing will come out of it if he doesn’t. Akari continues to work at Ryuan (her clumsiness is still there) while Kurokawa continues to work hard making confectionery. Akari wonders if she would one day get to see Diamond Dust with someone.

Diamond Dust Drops
In the final episode 13, Atsuko leaves for the train station for a vacation as she bids Sanae and Gen goodbye. She reads a letter from Kurata who is in New York now, doing fine with his music. Suomi is trekking in the heavy snow to Sapporo to an ice skating competition. However, she’s kinda lost. Sure, Hokkaido is such a big place but she has a whole map of Japan! Similarly, Karin and her brother are also lost and their truck stuck in the snow. They are surprised to see a girl approaching them. She turns out to be Suomi as she hitches a ride. Suomi and Karin exchange messed up stories of Snow Queen and Snow White so big brother steps on the peddle upon learning Suomi’s destination. He just got his licence. Karin just got her surgery… Shouko continues to host her Cappuccino Break as Kyoko and her Cinema Club members are at the airport. Due to the snow, they are grounded and can’t film anything. Atsuko rushes by, nearly bumping into Kyoko. Then at a Ryuan branch in the airport, Atsuko spots Akari being admonished by the evil store clerk (that’s what the end credits listed her as!) for messing up everything. Atsuko steps in and tells her off that for yelling at Akari. Besides, the way she keeps scolding her, anybody would be unmotivated to work and even the sweets won’t taste so good. To prove that she’s a customer of the store, she buys 10 boxes of the sweets to shut her up! Later Akari goes to thank Atsuko for defending her as this made her happy. When Atsuko mentions about the Diamond Dust legend and perhaps marrying the one she loves if they both see it, Akari also says she knows about it. This brings tears to Akari’s eyes since she remembered her dad. Akari bids her farewell before returning to the shop. There’s a massive jam in Sapporo so Karin and Suomi decide to go on foot. On the way, they both learn that they have undergone some surgery the year before. We see a passer-by, Jurota Toukibi, fresh from purchasing a bouquet of flowers. Seems he is nervous of wanting to confess to his girlfriend. He got so into it that he accidentally confessed to Radio Boy passing by! Eventually he meets his love and they walk away together. Kouta and Haruto are in some junior ice skating championship. Haruto gets embarrassed when he sees Suomi and Karin cheering on him in a snowman outfit! As Shouko continues her show, she suddenly sees Diamond Dusts floating outside her window and wants her listeners to go out and have a look. Kyoko wants to film this Diamond Dust scene even if it doesn’t fit her film. Then she sees someone familiar: Yuu. He’s back! After the ice skating championship (let’s say Haruto and Kouta didn’t get good positions), Karin’s brother has caught up with them as they see Diamond Dust outside. Suomi quickly makes a wish that they both will win the gold medal next time. But there’s only 1 medal, right? Then share it as friends! Atsuko is waiting at the arrival hall and finally meets the person she loves. It can’t be Minoru because he’s elsewhere and he too seems to have some other girl he loves. Atsuko narrates back in her letter to Kurata that she is very happy now because she got to see Diamond Dust with the person she loves. Thus what he said about being granted eternal happiness was true. The whole world seems to sparkle while standing being surrounded by Diamond Dust. She’s sure that it’s not her alone and everyone who sees this sight will not forget this happy feeling. She hopes you will one day find this happiness too.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend…
Each of the stories is simple and heart-warming. Well, unless you’re not into this kind of slice of life drama perhaps you can start looking elsewhere. For me it is rather okay and I have to admit that the little gem (and motivation) to watch this little known anime is that my favourite seiyuu, Mamiko Noto plays a part here as Kyoko. Whether or not the Diamond Dust legend is true or not, we see that with each of them believing in it, it makes them to move and take a step forward. If not, Atsuko would still be bitter over her arranged marriage, Karin will never have left the hospital (and perhaps dead by now), Kyoko will never rediscover her original reason for filming (and the happiness that came with it), Suomi would have continued to hate ice skating and her friendship with Hanna never reconciled, Shouko will always be stuck as someone else’s mistress and ‘convenience’, and Akari will never be able to appreciate and spend the last happy moments with her dad. Some of the ending of the arc have that bittersweet ending. For instance it was sad that Akari had lost her dad though with his passing she opened her eyes. Kyoko’s end could be the most bittersweet one if Yuu had not returned in the final episode. I would have wondered where he went and left Kyoko for good (I guess any guy would if their girlfriend is this strict) as it was kinda sad to see her breakdown once she realized her important person has gone with the wind. For each of the story arc, I feel that each girl represents a particular issue such as love (Atsuko), fear (Karin), acceptance (Shouko), friendship (Suomi), forgiveness (Akari) and humility (Kyoko).

As for the male characters in the show, the way I see it that none of them are the ‘bad guy’ and they play an important and supporting role to that lady in focus. They may seem like a possible antagonist at first due to their behaviour and of course our stereotype of such people in society. For example, I bet Radio Boy would be easily judged and passed off as an obsessed stalker. Instead of bringing harm to the person he is obsessed with, ironically it is him who makes Shouko realize the importance of what she has been doing all the time. It goes to show that you could never judge a book by its cover. Hey may not have the looks, but his heart is gold. Akari’s dad at first seems like a useless drunkard. However he always holds his daughter close to his heart and it may not be conventional but he always thinks of her when doing the things he does. Even Kurokawa isn’t so bad if you get to know that boy. His delinquency stems from being unable to understand his dream. Minoru sincerely wants to help Atsuko out and there is no ulterior motive or hidden agenda behind it. Takeda’s case may make him look selfish since he only looks for Shouko for his convenience but both sides are to blame as they are both well aware that they are in some illegitimate affair. So when Shouko starts breaking down over her loneliness, he didn’t assert her possession over her and too got the strength to leave her. I want to mention about that Jurota passer-by. He is the only recurring character that appears in every arc (though not in every episode). Albeit his appearance are very short and are usually end up as blunders and comic relief (got bumped into Atsuko’s clumsy tripping during her deliveries, crashing into Haruto during his ice skating practice, almost choked while Akari was serving him at Ryuan and yes, he was the person who was thrown off the cliff in Kyoko’s story!), I guess he too finally found love after all that ‘trial and tribulation’ with some other girl that we don’t know of.

Being a year 2003 production, I won’t say that the drawing and animation are top notched. However what I can give them high marks is the very soothing and calming background music. Though I heard the guitar plucking one, the main one played makes it sound like a Chinese series (probably because it was the oriental strings). However even if they sound good, my only gripe (a very big gripe, that is) is that I wished they could have played a little more variety of the background music. I may not have heard the full soundtrack album but if there are just a handful of them, then I think it’s sad. The problem is the number of times that same background music (especially that Chinese one) is played throughout the episode. It was nice the first few times, but after a while and repeating itself as often as possible in every episode, I think it really gets to you. So much so I would go, “Oh no. It’s that song again!”. Don’t get me wrong. The song isn’t bad, just that as I have said they should have a little more variety in the choice of background music being played. How would you feel if you have to hear your favourite music day-in, day-out straight? A normal person would of course get easily sick/annoyed/bored. It’s like eating your favourite same meal every day and you’ll come to a point where you’ll tire of it. Like they say, variety is the spice of life.

Something makes the opening theme of the series catchy. I guess it’s the opening tune that somewhat reminds me of a cross between Boney M and ABBA’s Mamma Mia! Entitled Hop Step Jump by Five Spirits, it’s a lively piece that makes you want to well, hop, step and jump. I mean, hey even all the characters in the opening animation is seen jumping so I can’t help jump too whenever the chorus went “La la la hop. Shoshite step. Kita e jump. And jump. Jump, jump, hooo!!!”. The ending theme is more of a ballad that gives off that heart-warming feel after each episode ends. It’s called Aitai ~Love Theme From Kita E~ by ALLEY:A. The background for the ending credits animation shows the night sky of a city in Hokkaido. Beautiful? Any city being viewed from the top and at night with its city nights sparkling like the stars or jewels tend to be beautiful. For the mid-intermission, viewers are treated to real pictures of several landmarks, famous places and buildings in Hokkaido. My only lament is that they should have shown it in full screen rather than through some window that probably occupies 1/3 of the screen only. How can I see the picturesque beauty of it all when it’s just such a small view? Perhaps a teaser for viewers to go see the real deal if you want to see more? Like promoting Hokkaido, eh? On another trivial note, the next episode preview is narrated by the seiyuu of the girl she voiced in that arc. At first I didn’t realize who this lady is as she introduces her real name. Till Mamiko Noto’s turn came. But instead of narrating on what is next, they go on talking about some stuff which has no relevance to the next episode such as their favourite things. It makes me wonder if what they said are really so in real life or just reading from the script because well, they introduced their names so I wonder if there are some truth in it.

So the idea of the Diamond Dust legend is to give those who are down and out some hope and something to look forward. You may not necessarily be in Hokkaido to see the beautiful snow floating down to make your wish. As long as you earnestly believe it in your heart and make the effort, your dreams will come true to a certain degree. Think about it, if we just make a wish without putting in effort and each dream comes true, then we wouldn’t really have to work hard in the first place, right? Recently I think I saw some Diamond Dust too. Actually it was the dust that escaped when I was spring cleaning my room. It wasn’t a pretty sight. So does that count because I saw some Diamond Dust-like phenomenon while exerting a little effort? Note: My dreams of watching animes already came true and are continuing to do so. Now to materialize a 2D girl into my girlfriend… Maybe I need to book a trip to Hokkaido after all.

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