What does music mean to you? I ask the man before me.
“In a word, Reira.”
It’s not easy to get Takumi-san, the Guitarist and principal composer of Trapnest. In journalistic circles he is known to be more ruthless than the most bloodthirsty sharks in the Japanese entertainment press.
It’s a good thing I’m not a journalist, but it’s still quite challenging because I’m actually pretending to be one.
“Why am I talking to you again?”
His girl stood him up. I met the woman earlier, who was quite pissed after waiting for a long time apparently. What happened next is something Takumi doesn’t have to know. Takumi was sitting by a table not too far from the bar, right next to mine. I struck him up for a conversation after he was getting visibly impatient. He welcomed the whiskey.
You need to be yourself for a change. To everyone you talk to, you’re obfuscating many parts of yourself.
“I can be fully myself with Reira.”
No. She knows much of you, but you actually have some restraint when you’re with her Unless, restraint is indeed the telling part of you.
“And how do you know this?”
I know too much of everyone, though I understand very little. Do not concern yourself with me.
“Well, you don’t seem like a journalist. What is your business really?”
I’m in the, um, maritime industry.
More like a shipwright.
So just talk, Takumi. I’m not Reira who wants you, or Hachi who needs you, or Yasu who judges you. I light a cigarette.
“Kill that. Smoke these.”
I kill my cigarette as I pull out one from Takumi’s pack of Gitanes.
What the fuck are you dicking around with Hachi for?
“Asshole. You said you wouldn’t judge me!”
Like I said I’m not here to judge you, if only you’d be straight with yourself.
“You’re failing spectacularly at being non-judgmental, but I’ll tell you anyway — because I do need to straighten some things out with myself; inasmuch as I think you draw me far more crooked than I really am.”
I pause and take a slow drag. He’s baiting me, and I won’t make this a contest between trolls. I just smile at him through the cloud of exhaled smoke.
“Well it must vex you to understand that Hachi and I are happy together.”
I don’t respond. He is right, Hachi is quite happy with him; silly woman. However, I’m not vexed at all. I lie:
You got me. I’m ‘vexed,’ as you say. However, it’s more about you. Hachi’s happiness with you is founded on her fundamental character trait: her willfull and cheerful ignorance. But this isn’t about Hachi (another lie). Do you even know what you’re doing with your life?
“My life has only been about one thing, if you must know. It’s music. Everything else just feeds it. The success, the women, Hachi, they exist because of what they allow me to do for music.”
Heh, and music is Reira.
“Music is Reira.”
I don’t want to prompt him for an explanation. Some awkward seconds pass. I take a sip from my glass.
“Do you understand what ‘purity’ is? I don’t mean that Reira herself is pure, though there’s a naiveté to her greedy wantonness. I mean that when she sings, her voice… the music that comes out of her is the purest beauty I will ever know in this life…
It compels me, with all the power that I have. All my talent, intelligence, and effort must serve her singing.”
That’s all you want? For the world to listen to her song?
“That’s not all I want, but it is the most important thing to me.”
Tell me though, what’s so special about Trapnest anyway? Do you actually think this little band from Japan is really making any meaningful contribution to music?
“If you can’t hear it, if you can’t feel it, especially in person – then there’s nothing I can do for your soul. There’s music that doesn’t call that much attention to itself, but rewards those who would search for it and discover it’s beauty. Rei–“
Bullshit Takumi. Trapnest writes pop music, and plays the big-business pop band game.
I think I pissed him off. He kills his cigarette, swills down his whiskey. For a moment I thought he’d look me in the eye. Instead he looks down and lights another one.
This is the thing, Takumi. Do you actually think that Hachi will be okay with living off the scraps of your being that you leave for her?
“She’ll have to be, because that’s all I can give.”
And as much as I dislike what I’m hearing, I’m afraid of the truth behind what I think he’s about to say next.
“The scraps of Ichinose Takumi’s being is worth more than a hundred complete souls of men! Hachi will have a happy life because of me. Hate me if you must, but know that I am right. I’m done with this conversation.”
The tall young man rises abruptly yet smoothly, making his way with purposeful strides towards the exit, casually settling the bill with the bartender – who gave me a look that tells me that I will not have to pay for my drinks tonight. Oh Takumi I don’t hate you at all. But I do think you’re mistaken. While you may give Hachi no small measure of happiness like no other man. Her fulfillment in life also and truly hinges on a woman’s.
While I expect only people who’ve read NANA will have an appreciation (yes I have ambition) of the work I put in above, I add the following annotated links for those who haven’t read the manga and may be interested in doing so.
I pretty much discovered NANA from the ringing endorsement of this blog post: NANA Rocks – This is How You Do Drama over at East Anyhow. It’s completely spoiler free, but full of personality and enthusiasm. I was sold immediately.
For a more comprehensive view, do read Why You Should Read NANA over at there it is, plain as daylight. It has overviews on the story, the characters, and with strongly written opinion I can get behind.