But leave it I did (I had to, bloody Toru wouldn't stay there, even though he a bit needs to, or maybe what he needs is to hang out with Midori some more) so I could write some things about it and tell you all my revised opinion on Naoko. Because, well, poor Naoko! I know before I was just relatively bored with her general lacklustreness and limp dishrag qualities, but really, the girl's been through more than anyone could reasonably bear. Retreating from the world as she has her whole life, it would be difficult enough for her to exist and flourish as a part of it, but since her sister and boyfriend left her to it because they decided that the real world really was too much for them to face? I mean, what the hell is she supposed to do with that information? Really though, what got me about Naoko in these two chapters was her selflessness, and self-awareness. She realises that she has the problems that she does, she's trying to cope with them, and at the same time realises that she can't offer much to Toru, and so she wants him to carry on living, and only to remember her, nothing else. It's not asking for a lot, and a much more unreasonable person would ask for a lot more, and so for this, I kind of appreciate her a lot more.
But Naoko and Kizuki's relationship? That shit sounds, well, intense! Like, they were so wrapped up in each other that it was like the whole world didn't exist, or at least didn't matter, and so when they were thrust into the real world and all its rules and social boundaries, they didn't quite know how to deal with it. It is this which Naoko seems to think led Kizuki to commit suicide- the inability to cope with a world that wasn't exactly the way he wanted it, I guess. In moving to the retreat though, Naoko has done pretty much the same thing, so both have checked out from the world in their own ways. It's tempting to think Toru will go the same way- when he leaves the retreat, he doesn't quite know how to react to the outside world, for example, but he also isn't suited to life in the retreat either:
"I was surprised to find myself missing the hum of people shouting for no reason and saying overblown things. That was just the kind of noise I had become weary of in recent months, but sitting here eating fish in this unnaturally quiet room, I couldn't relax."I actually warmed to Toru quite a lot in these two chapters, and I finally decided that his mental issues weren't quite as bad as Naoko's although I still think he has things to sort out that he hasn't really acknowledged yet to a great degree. But I could be wrong, we'll see!
I greatly missed Midori in these chapters (even though she really, really wouldn't have fit in with the serenity of the retreat because she's simply brimming with life, and is hugely a part of the outside world) but this was offset by the introduction of Reiko who I really really want to be my friend. She's so lovely, but also a kind of deceptive character (Not that she herself is deceptive, but that the way she is described is) because she seems so incredibly sane to begin with, until you find out more about her and realise just how messed up she really is (Wow. Another messed-up character. What a surprise!) I know that she's basically sane now, but still she can't reconcile herself to living out in the world because she's afraid of what might happen to her if she does. All of which I find totally ok because I like her so much and I don't want her to fall apart again because it would make me sad. Basically.
Can we talk about Reiko's piano lesson story for a minute though? Because, I don't know if it was just me, but there was a point in her story when I was wondering if the clearly sociopathic student was actually Midori. I have no firm evidence for this- Midori has shown no signs of being a lesbian, or an incorrigible liar, or, you know, a sociopath; but I've read too many books where seemingly innocuous and not related to anything else events turn out to be related to another character too. All I really have to go on is that the girl said that she couldn't love her parents, or that her parents didn't love her or something, and I kind of got a teeny bit suspicious. Believe me, I'm hoping that I am entirely wrong about this because I LOVE Midori, and I'm probably just being mental. But if we all find out in Chapter 11 that Midori is the evil life ruiner, then I want everyone to remember that I thought of it first. Agreed? Good.
Soooo, these couple of chapters have given me greater insight into Naoko, who I now have a lot more love for, and introduced me to Reiko who is really so awesome although I suspect we might not see a lot more of her (unless Toru checks into the retreat, which, admittedly, is unlikely). I also wrote down an embarrassing number of passages from the book, practically so many that I might as well have just copied it all out... Oooh, and I enjoyed the great number of popular (Western) culture references, especially Reiko liking Simon and Garfunkel, because really, that makes her my kind of woman. What I am looking forward to is some more Midori, and having looked at the first couple of pages of Chapter 7, I can already see she's there. So, yay. Onwards!