Featuring the six Manga books; top row: Yui, Mio, Ritsu, bottom row: Tsumugi, the girls in college and Jun, Azusa and Ui as Seniors in high school. Very fitting for the next to last chapter.
Last time on K-ON!!!!! “Beautiful World” Miho and her Light Music club’s band ‘Vintage 5’ performed at their school culture festival revealing a surprise to Nao that Miho was able to learn English. Sumire had a surprise of her own, telling the girls that their high school dream of playing live at the Budokan would now be a reality. Now, as old friends gather for the big day, the story nears its end in…
K-ON!!!!! “Beautiful World” Part 12.
The plane had touched down from Okinawa without issue in the pouring rain and now Nao and Miho waited at the gate for their company to arrive. Nao wore her green and blue plastic raincoat with her green rubber boots; she had on Pink track pants and a matching jacket under her raincoat. Miho had her school uniform on and was wearing her new winter raincoat that was heavy bright blue PVC with a padded lining; the coat was zipped up where Nao’s had snaps. Miho also wore heavy knee high blue rubber rain boots that were tight fitting so nothing would get in. Every so often, Nao would look at Miho and see that she felt hot and uncomfortable in her new coat, but it was better than the yellow thing she had pulled out of the trash in the tent city that no longer existed thankfully—the charity had been successful thus far.
A small woman walked with a bit of a limp, her long black hair was in a single ponytail down her back with bangs over her forehead and the sides of her face, she wore an orange nylon parka with white pluses on the shoulders of each sleeve. With her, and wearing the same jacket was a taller woman with frizzy brown hair; both were dressed pretty basic with pants and probably a blouse under the orange jackets.
Azusa and Jun stopped in front of Nao and Miho; Nao looked at Azusa seeing that she didn’t use her cane anymore, but had a kind of brace on her right leg. Azusa looked different; it was in her face, a bit worn, but with a brimming of something that felt like satisfaction for a job well done. Jun however, appeared the same, just a bit more serious than she used to be, the old carefree behavior was pretty much gone—what did they both endure in Okinawa?
Azusa smiled and looked up at Miho and said, “So you’re Miho, I’ve been waiting to meet you for a while now! I’m so happy that Nao-Chan found such a wonderful girl to take care of!”
“Yes Nakano-San, thank you,” Miho said bowing forward with her hands folded.
“Wow, now that’s a good girl, she is like a little Nao or something,” Jun said.
“Miho isn’t as bad as me—or how I used to be. Its good to see you both again, thank you for coming on such short notice, I take it that everything is going as well as it can for you two—I see Nakano-Senpai…uh, Azusa, doesn’t use a cane anymore to walk,” Nao said.
“No, I had the plate removed from my leg and they used some artificial bone to replace what was missing, its taking time to heal so I’m limping, but other than that, the brace keeps me from falling down and I feel great, no real pain anymore and I can do my work without much issue. I don’t go out into the field like Jun, but I work at the home base, mainly with the children, its more enjoyable that way, I like to make them feel better after they go through something horrible. Jun has to…um…well, not in front of Miho-Chan I guess, but she is a hero on a daily basis let’s say,” Azusa replied.
“I’m not a hero Azu, I just do my work and take care of the people who need it the most. We are doing well Nao-Chan, I’m so excited to see you girls play the Budokan, I can’t believe that you all have become such stars…your CD is available everywhere and there are billboards in the cities—I love your commercial for Pocky, you look so cute holding it in your mouth with your braces…sorry, people say I’ve become hardened from the things I see everyday, so I’m trying to have some upbeat fun especially around your daughter—now she is adorable, I love your coat, you look so uncomfortable in it though?” Jun said caressing Miho’s arm, sliding her hand on the PVC to a swishing sound.
“Yes Suzuki-San, but its better than what I was wearing when Mother found me,” Miho replied.
Azusa locked her arm with Miho’s and began leading her on towards baggage claim and Jun and Nao started off behind them with a little distance between them, Nao said, “Azusa really likes kids, look how affectionate she is being to Miho, is that right? Am I thinking clearly here?”
“Oh yes, Azu has changed drastically, she has become extremely gentle, the things we both see are horrible, we are first responders and she works with the children, she isn’t a nurses assistant anymore, Azusa is a nurse, she has really grown—oh, and her problem…the one in her brain, has really become much easier to handle, I was amazed when I saw the scans; the last thing anyone wants is Azu zoning out when a patient comes in,” Jun said.
“I’m glad, so she has an attachment to children, she cares too much for them; that’s good, it keeps her strong in what she does and makes her more resolute. So, Azusa is pretty much healed now of everything that had happened to her, she has really made a new life for herself…but you two don’t really work side by side then?” Nao said.
“Not anymore, we did at first, but she became registered as a nurse and changed sections, we do travel together, and live together, but, she and I are separate in our work; I won’t even tell you what I see every day, and I won’t even think of talking about it around Mio, its about time she got the hell out of the house…of course that was a long time ago; I heard she was in a play with Ritsu, but they didn’t come to the island; Tokyo only I guess. We see the commercials you guys do all the time and I watched the Anime that Yui was a voice in, how cool was that! We did of course receive the copies of all the ‘Hokago Tea time’ concerts, Ui actually sent them to us; I guess Yui gave them to her?” Jun said.
“Sumire did, she is in charge of all of the company aspects, we record and produce on our own, Mugi refuses to go with a company after being let go by the one she was with. Its better to keep everything self contained, it brings all the profit to us for our charity. We have three cities with zero percent homeless; each factory or business created becomes a Co-Op after it’s established and we take none of the profit from it—the tabloids can’t stand how goody-goody we are, but we don’t care, we only care about the people. When we reach five cities we plan to expand on our charities…however, you’ll have to find time while you’re here to tell me how we can assist in Okinawa, I know its more of a farming community or where you are it’s a bit rough, but we want to contribute and not forget about it just because it isn’t part of mainland Japan, so we’ll talk about that later. After we get your baggage, we are going to my place and I’ll get you and Azusa settled, then I have to go to the Budokan with the girls and get the final preparations for the stage prepared,” Nao said.
“Busy, busy…” Jun replied.
“Yes, quite, but its wonderful…” Nao said.
After Azusa and Jun retrieved their baggage the four made their way to the parking garage, both Jun and Azusa were in awe of Nao’s black Evolution; she had pressed a button on the key and all four doors opened on their own with the piston function that the taxi’s used, the doors tipped upwards in the front and backwards in the back and Nao opened the trunk and helped her old friends to put their luggage in. She closed the trunk avoiding the large spoiler and Azusa grabbed hold of Miho again and said, “We get the back…but how do the weird doors close?”
Nao laughed and said, “I’ll take care of that for you, don’t worry about it.”
“What an awesome car, I thought a rock star would have a Bentley or something, but this is the one Maki got you after—well you know…” Jun said.
“Yes it is, I’ve added a few things like the automatic doors, I really love this car, and dare I say more than my Ralliart…” Nao’s eyes wandered to Azusa who was getting Miho into the back seat and putting her daughter’s seat belt on, it was kind of strange seeing Azusa act like…well, like Yui almost. Miho had reached up and pulled her door closed, the look on her face was an unstable smile as though she were trying to humor a child. “Is she ok? Azusa,” Nao asked Jun after closing the door beside her friend.
“She’s fine, don’t worry about Azu…Miho-Chan is sulking…I really don’t think she’s comfortable in her coat at all, remember Nao, she is fifteen, right? So, she may not like that you are dressing her; remember when you were fifteen?” Jun replied.
“I remember very well, I took care of my brothers and was bullied until Sumire took care of them. I did have a computer, but we were poor; I took care of myself; so now I’m taking care of Miho like an adult is supposed to, I don’t care if she is uncomfortable in her raincoat, she’s wearing it and that’s final; she knows that she has to obey when it comes to her health and safety. Miho has a list of things that she will never be without; one is warmth, two is love, three is never being lonely, four is having a loving family, five is that she will never want for anything; she will always be safe, she will always be protected, she will always be loved—its cold, its wet, so she is wearing that uncomfortable coat until I allow her to take it off,” Nao explained firmly.
“You are really strict about things that most people or parents forget about…so between twelve and fourteen Miho was living on the streets alone, now I understand perfectly…Azu is trying to cheer her up, she is so kind…she’s always been kind and loving, I think when she was ran down and paralyzed that was when she became a little ‘dark’ but, things have changed for the better,” Jun said.
Nao nodded and Jun sat in the passenger seat and Nao closed the door for her; when Nao got in herself after walking around to the right she saw Jun securing her harness and did the same for herself saying, “I guess you’ve worn one before?”
“Yes, in the helicopters—this thing is really fast isn’t it?” Jun replied.
Nao smiled and said, “Yes, I was able to get it tuned to just under 400 horsepower; let’s take the highway shall we!”
“Watch out for the Traffic Safety Police Nao-Chan!” Azusa said cheerfully.
“I don’t really speed, I just do the maximum allowed by law, but getting to that speed is half the fun!” Nao said.
Nao started the Evolution and took it out of the parking lot and made her way to the off ramp away from the airport; she switched to the paddle shifters and even Miho couldn’t help but giggle like she did the first time she rode in the car as Nao drove with speed and precision as she took them all home.
Azusa reached up to the taller Miho and untied her hood and unzipped her raincoat, it was soaked and she wanted to get the teenager out of it, she said, “Another bad rainy season…I remember Yui getting soaked in order to protect her guitar and I was told she went to class wearing a maids outfit that Sawako had made as a performance costume—I wish I could have seen it. Out you go Miho-Chan.” Azusa helped Miho out of her heavy coat and Nao took it from her and hung it up by the hood.
Jun and Azusa had left their bags right by the rise off the tile by the door and began to take their orange coats off as Miho stood quietly. Nao sighed and said, “I have to go soon, we are actually getting a car to take us to the Budokan and it’ll be here to pick me up in what appears to be just a few minutes. I’m the first stop so you guys can’t see anyone just yet, but I’ll be sure that when we come back that they drop us off here and we can have a get together…Miho, give Suzuki-San and Nakano-San slippers.”
“Yes Mother,” Miho replied as she quickly took two pairs of slippers from a sitting shelf at the entrance, she put on a pair herself and the three stepped up to the carpeted living area.
Nao checked her backpack purse and made sure she had everything ready to go and said, “Miho will show you both around, I’ve set up the guest rooms, however, if you two like you can share one, but there are two, so it should be fine to have your own for a change—I’m guessing that you two don’t get much privacy?”
“Either way is fine Nao-Chan…oh, your ride is here—a stretch limo, man talk about being lucky!” Jun said.
“Okay, Miho, come here,” Nao said.
“Yes Mother,” Miho replied as she obeyed.
“I want you to listen to both Nakano-San and Suzuki-San, show them around and get them settled, make sure you are a good hostess to them and I’ll be back with the girls later tonight; understand Miho?” Nao said,
“Yes Ma’am, I understand,” Miho replied.
“That’s my good girl,” Nao said hugging Miho, she waved to Azusa and Jun and put up her hood and left to the awaiting car.
Night had fallen and Jun lay on the sofa by the Kotatsu, she was reading a Manga oddly, but she yawned and closed her eyes, she didn’t mind being left alone. Jun put the book down on the Kotatsu and took a blanket over herself and rested; this was the most peace she’s had in a long time, so she wanted to take advantage of it.
In the stage room Azusa and Miho sat at the edge of the platform with a small amp that had a split connector that allowed for two pairs of headphones to be plugged in at the same time. Miho wore her large pink headphones and Azusa had borrowed Nao’s large green headphones. Miho had Nao’s Gibson SG over her lap and it was plugged into the amp, Azusa had to talk a little loud for Miho to hear her as she taught Nao’s daughter to play a little better than she was able to on her Takamine Jasmine Acoustic.
Azusa was extremely patient and took her time showing Miho some tricks and better fingering techniques. She also taught Miho why an electric guitar could offer more options than an acoustic—Nao could afford to buy Miho an electric—a good one too, or maybe she would part with the antique SG; regardless, Azusa and Miho were having a lot of fun together while Jun slept.
Jun suddenly awoke from her short rest as the door opened and the girls of ‘Hokago Tea Time’ and Sumire came in to Nao’s home. With them were two other guests that Jun never thought she would see with them. Ui had joined her Onee-Chan and even Nodoka was with them followed by her body guards; it was going to be a full house!
Nao unsnapped her raincoat and took it off, she hung it next to Miho’s and then pulled off her rubber boots, the other girls removed their jackets and shoes and Nodoka’s guards stood by the door. They all put on slippers and made their way towards Jun who had gotten up from the sofa.
There were a lot of girlish squeals at seeing one another again and Ui was so happy to see her oldest friend after so long.
Sumire and Tsumugi went into the kitchen to prepare tea and cake and the rest sat around the large Kotatsu tucking their legs under the blanket with the heater running underneath.
Yui however, couldn’t get settled, it was almost as though she were restless, she said, “Where’s Azu-Nyan, I want to see my Azu-Nyan!”
“Where is Azusa and Miho, Jun?” Nao asked.
“I think they are in the stage room, don’t get mad, but I think they are using your guitar,” Jun replied.
“Really? Well, that’s ok I guess…not the Roland right?” Nao asked.
“I don’t know, I’ve been laying here since they went in there,” Jun said.
“Let’s go Nao-Chan; I want to see Azu-Nyan!” Yui said excited.
“Relax Yui, I’m sure Azusa isn’t going anywhere,” Ritsu said.
Nao took Yui to the stage room and they stopped and looked through the glass at Azusa and Miho sitting on the stage. “Why are they both wearing headphones, the room is sound proof isn’t it?” Yui asked.
“I don’t know, I guess maybe…well, Miho should know that, maybe they didn’t want to take the risk of disturbing Jun at all?” Nao replied.
“Let’s watch for a bit longer, I’m sure they’ll notice us,” Yui said calmly.
“You were so enthusiastic to see Azusa, what’s with the sudden change?” Nao asked.
“I just don’t want to interrupt them,” Yui replied.
“Are you sure you want to go through with this though, it’s been with you a long time?” Nao said as she looked at the tweed guitar case that Yui held in both hands.
“I’m sure, I have Muttan now, and I think Miho will love Gita and take care of him for me,” Yui replied.
“I can afford a guitar for her, you don’t have to do this,” Nao said.
“I want to do this, so when Miho and Azu-Nyan are finished, I will give it to her—see, look they took their headphones off, let’s go,” Yui said sliding open the studio door, both Azusa and Miho looked up.
“Oh no, Yui-Senpai, hide me Miho-Chan!” Azusa said slipping behind Miho quickly causing Miho to laugh.
“Don’t think you can escape me Azu-Nyan, I came here with the sole purpose of hugging you!” Yui said as she got closer to the stage.
Azusa sighed and said, “OK, whatever you want Yui-Senpai; you win…”
Yui smiled with closed eyes and said, “I have something special for Miho-Chan first—here,” Yui said holding her guitar case on its side with both hands, Miho took hold of it and said, “Thank you Hirasawa-San.”
“Miho, this guitar is very special to Hirasawa-San, so you must take the utmost care of it; I could tell for a while that you were interested in changing over to electric from acoustic, I think it was caused by watching me and helping me at performances. I was talking with the girls and Hirasawa-San offered hers now that she uses Nakano-San’s; go ahead, you may open it,” Nao said.
“Yes Mother, thank you,” Miho replied, she laid the case on the stage and opened the latches and lifted the lid. Azusa looked at Yui with shock, she couldn’t believe it!
“It’s a Gibson Les Paul Standard; his name is Gita—my very first guitar, now Gita will be your very first—well, very first electric guitar. Take good care of him, he is very special to me, but Azu-Nyan…uh, Nakano-San is even more special to me, so I play her Muttan exclusively,” Yui said.
Miho took Gita out of the case and caressed the neck and body, the guitar was well used and even a little banged up, but it was sound and strong and could play in any event no matter how large scale it was. “May I try it?” Miho asked.
“I hope you will, you have an amp right there!” Yui said happily.
Miho plugged the cable into the amp and Azusa turned up the volume and Miho began playing an electric version of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” for her mother; she began singing and Nao started to cry cuing Yui to hug her, as the song continued the entire group of girls entered the studio and stood watching Miho play Yui’s old Gita, everyone smiled as they watched Miho play and sing, she was really good for her age and limited experience.
As Nao cried harder the girls gathered around her and wrapped themselves around each other in a huge hug; Nodoka was the most motherly of the group and did her best to comfort Nao and so did Ui, they all shared in Nao’s joy and finally Miho finished the song and everyone clapped their hands.
Nao ran over to Miho and held her in her arms and that left Azusa open—Yui ran up to Azusa and cried, “Azu-Nyan!” And hugged her tightly and rubbed her face against Azusa’s and repeated, “Squishy, squishy!”
This was the final meeting before the show, the one that they waited what felt like a lifetime for…The Budokan was waiting for them…
Next time, on the finale of K-ON!!!!! “Beautiful World” the girls of ‘Hokago tea Time’ play the Budokan—be here next Thursday!