Week 9: コーヒーが冷めないうちに (Intermediate BC)

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Week 9

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Start date: 14 August 2021
Previous part: Week 8
Next part : Week 10
Wordlist : Google doc

Reading

Week Start Date End Phrase End Page (PB) Page Count
Week 9 14 August (end of 2nd story) 175 27

Discussion Rules

  • Please use spoiler tags for major events in the current chapter(s) and any content in future chapters.
  • When asking for help, please mention the chapter and page number. Also mention what version of the book you are reading.
  • Don’t be afraid of asking questions, even if they seem embarassing at first. All of us are here to learn.
  • To you lurkers out there: Join the conversation, it’s fun!

Participants

Mark your participation status by voting in this poll.
(Please feel free to update your status whenever you like!)

  • I am reading along
  • I am reading behind the schedule
  • I have finished this part
  • I have decided to drop the book
  • So, what are the results? :durtle_tomato:

0 voters

1 Like

I definitely liked this story better than the first one. Fumiko grew on me somewhat by the end of her story, and I liked how everything resolved, but this one packed more of an emotional punch and left me thinking for a while after I’d finished it.

First off, I actually got goosebumps for a second when I realized that Fusagi knew Kotake came from the future. I wasn’t expecting that at all. And that quickly turned into tears welling up when he asked if he eventually forgets her and she lied to him. It’s really touching how these two are willing to sacrifice for one another’s happiness.

What did everyone think of the ending? What will Kotake do from here? I don’t think there’s any way she leaves him - that’s obvious to me by the fact that she reclaims her married name. I guess she can now find some comfort in the fact that some part of his heart still remembers her (based on the travel magazines and even his awareness that he has a letter for his wife that he never got to give her), and she will stand by him as both nurse and wife even if Fusagi isn’t able to see that entirely.

Also, I still really love Kei. The image of her crying even harder than Kotake at Fusagi’s letter even though it has nothing to do with her directly was a nice humorous distraction from the tear jerking stuff that came right before it. I’m so concerned for her well being - I’m not going to be happy if her health takes a turn for the worse by the end of the book.

Judging by the title, I’m assuming the next story is about Hirai, which is great, as she’s a character that has fascinated me from the very beginning.

6 Likes

Hi!

I’ve finally caught up, and am reading with y’all, woohoo!

Man, the characters in this book are kinda unlikeable、ね。房木 is worse than 二美子!

I found a sentence I can’t parse. It’s in the part where 高竹has found 房木 in the past, and he’s guessed she’s from the future.

…房木との会話は、どことなくぎこちなくなっている

Can anyone explain what is happening in the highlighted part?

1 Like

Yeah, even pre-Altzeimer’s Fusagi is kinda childish - when asked about a surprise present, throws it in the rubbish. Now, I sorta understand where he’s coming from. If I bought a present for someone intending it to be a surprise, and they find out and directly ask me about it, it makes it kinda awkward to present it right then. That said, I’d probably put it somewhere she’d find later, like on her pillow or in her bag.

2 Likes

どことない - somehow

ぎこちない (it’s ぎ, not じ, at least in my copy) - awkward

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I just finished the story. I was definitely more invested in the characters and their story this time, I found it quite emotional and powerful. Fusagi might have been a difficult man to deal with in some respects, but it’s obvious that the love between him and his wife was real. I suppose Kotake (sorry, Mrs Fusagi) can now be happy in the thought that even if he seems to have mostly forgotten her, they are in this together after all. He desperately clings to whatever remains of her in his memory, and he has explicitly expressed his wish to remain a couple for as long as she can take it, so that’s what she’s going to do - stand by him, secure in the knowledge that that’s his wish too. Not that she wasn’t standing by him before. I think her newfound energy stems from the fact that whatever comes next, it’s almost as if they have discussed how to proceed as a couple, it’s not her own decision only. She doesn’t feel as alone and helpless anymore, a nurse dealing with an invalid, she’s a wife caring for her husband.

It was quite a surprise when Fusagi so quickly caught on that she’s from the future. They were regulars in this cafe though, so they must both have known what that specific seat was for. Seeing someone in that seat must be suspicious in any case, let alone if they appear to know more than they’re supposed to.

Plot related niggles

How can you bring a whole letter, a tangible object, from the past, and not change the present? Are there two letters around now? Or has the letter moved from Fusagi’s bag to Kotake’s possession? And how is that not changing the present again?

Also, although their meeting was quite emotional, I still don’t see what traveling to the past really achieved. I assume they still live together, so having access to his bag would be no problem. I can see how she would hesitate going through his things, but if she knows the letter is addressed to her, and he desperately wants to give it to her, then why not just fulfill his wish by taking and reading it?

Can someone help me with a sentence from the letter?

I know all the words, but I’m still not sure I understand.
だから、もし、おれがどんどん、きおくをうしなってどんな言どうや、こうどうをとったとしても、たとえ、お前のことをわすれるようなことが、あったとしても、お前は、きっとれいせいに、かんごし、として自分をころし、うまくつき合ってくれることだろう。
At first I thought he was asking her to kill him, but that makes no sense from context. Is he asking her to stop acting like a nurse?
What is it with commas in the weirdest places by the way? It’s not just Fusagi’s letter, I keep having to ignore them because they just end up confusing me, making me break up sentences in the strangest places.

And another question: In the end, is Kei thanking the ghost? or the cafe in general? Is there something going on I’m missing, or is it just general thankfulness for some personal stories getting sort of a happy ending?

2 Likes
Plot-related (obvious spoilers)

I agree that bringing the letter into the present seems to violate the rules that have been so rigorously hammered into us at this point. If nothing else, Kotake has changed the present in a very physical, literal way by bringing in a second copy of the letter which should not exist. It doesn’t seem like this should be possible.

As for what she accomplished by going to the past, well I think she accomplished two things. For one, she got one last chance to speak with her husband as he used to be before he forgot her, so she got to make peace with/say goodbye to that part of her life in a way that she may have felt she wasn’t able to do before. Also, she probably could have taken Fusagi’s letter easily, but given what we know about Fusagi, I don’t think he would have liked that. I think Kotake wanted to receive the letter from him directly, willingly, and with his blessing, even though in his present state, she probably could have read it without his noticing.

Sentence from the letter

In this case, 自分 is definitely referring to Kotake rather than Fusagi. 自分 can be a tricky word.

By 自分をころす, I’m not 100% sure, but I assume he means something like Kotake stifling herself or holding herself back. I know 殺す can be used this way as in 息を殺す (to hold one’s breath), and 押し殺す is used similarly, meaning to stifle something (a laugh, or an urge to do something for example).

So I think what he’s saying is, he feels that as a nurse, she will probably be able to hold back (her sorrow, her position as his wife, etc?) and continue to care for him/be good company for him as a nurse no matter what he says or how he behaves, even if he ends up forgetting who she is. Then he goes on to basically say he doesn’t want her to do this, as they are a married couple after all and should live as one; she shouldn’t simply stay with him out of sympathy.

3 Likes

Ah, thanks, it makes perfect sense now that you explained it. Although I find it a strange verb to use in this case, given it’s main meaning.

Also, that’s an excellent point on why she wouldn’t just take the letter. If she didn’t have the luxury of time travel at her disposal however, I still think it would be perfectly okay for her to do so given the circumstances.

2 Likes

Fusagi definitely knows about the cafe’s urban legend - it’s explicitly mentioned that he spends his time there because of it. One presumes this is after he’d already started to get hooked on it.

Well, remember, returning from the past with new information doesn’t change the present, only the future. And yeah, one could argue that a physical letter constitutes more than just information (say, you could burn the paper and release heat that wasn’t previously present in the world), but, well, a wizard did it.

One thing that bugs me a little about the letter is that in the movie version, Fusagi (he’s the nurse, and the traveller, in the movie) finishes his coffee, holds the letter ready to return with it… and then at the last second, he puts it down to hold hands with Kotake… yet still returns with the letter in his hands.

2 Likes

There are either two letters now, or the letter has left Fusagi’s possession. It may not be fundamental, but it is a change in the physical sense. I always assumed that she would read the letter in the past, then return to the present with the knowledge of the letter’s content, not the actual letter itself. Oh well.

Edit: Hey, will Fusagi still worry that he hasn’t delivered the letter? If not, that’s another change. If yes, I wish he could somehow come to know (and remember) that the letter has been delivered and read, poor man.

That’s when he can’t even remember who he’s supposed to give the letter to though. At that specific time in the past, he has no reason to go further back in order to give the letter, does he? But you’re right that he must have been aware of the urban legend way before then.

2 Likes

Yeah. I love unwrapping the logistics of time travel stories where the creators have gone through great pains to make logical, consistent timelines. I’ve watched Primer a handful of times, Your Name a couple, and I’m currently working my way through Tenet one scene at a time. I don’t view コーヒーが冷めないうちに as a one of those stories. They certainly beat us over the head with the rules, but the rules are there to motivate the characters, not us. I don’t see nitpicking logical inconsistencies and paradoxes as a fruitful endeavor.

That said, it’s still fun to think about!

Let’s not rule out the possibility that he forgot it’s been delivered and he wrote another letter. Then the whole timeline thing can be consistent. And… would the second letter share the same sentiment? Definitely overthinking it, now…

I really like that idea–sacrificing knowing what’s in the letter to just hold hands and be together. Missed opportunity, I guess.

3 Likes

Well, I slightly suspect that at that point, he’s simply waiting for an opportune moment to give it to her directly, and can’t quite work up the courage.

Have you watched Dark? German series on Netflix. Go watch Dark. I’ll wait.

And then there’s Avengers: Endgame, which makes a specific point of setting up the rules of time travel, then just breaks them all anyway.

That’d be changing the past. As I mentioned in the thread a few weeks ago, the feeling I definitely get from this is that people actually travel to a bubble universe that simply happens to exactly resemble the past.

2 Likes

That’s exactly my understanding as well. The letter is there in his bag, written and ready, but it’s such an awkward thing to deliver (and he’s not very good with giving things anyway as we’ve seen) that he just never finds the perfect moment.

This was my theory as well, but how can you take things from a bubble universe and bring them to the present? Argh. @maskedkoala is right, there’s no point nitpicking logical inconsistencies here. (Maybe the letter self-destructs after it’s read? :upside_down_face:)

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You just need to do it smoothly enough that the TVA doesn’t notice.

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Hahaha. We are definitely watching the same things.

YESSSSSSSS! Possibly my favorite time travel story of all time. And talk about stories where none of the characters are likable… I’ve begged friends, totally unsuccessfully, to watch this series. With the exception of the ending, maybe, these are my favorite rules for time travel. I also found it hilarious that there’s a little mini loop where a Marta kills a Jonas like once every 15 minutes.

I finished watching about ten days ago, and I’m still working through some of the twists. Though it kinda didn’t help that I watched each season far enough apart that I largely forgot who was who. :stuck_out_tongue:

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This chapter made me cry a lot…like…a lot 🥲

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Fun fact: the letter on page 170 is written only using kanji learnt in elementary school.

I confess I don’t know whether there’s any elementary school kanji which could have been used here but were omitted.

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Hello everyone! My apologies for the late edit, but Week 10 discussion thread is finally open. Welcome to the 3rd story and its discussion!

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