I have two versions of these RAWs for you to chose from. One is the 'untouched' RAWs which I only rotated and cropped. If you're high on your own fumes like a few people I know (and myself occasionally!) and my editing makes you want to gouge out your own eyeballs, please download the RAW file, although it is several times larger. Otherwise, you might like to download the 'Edited' version, which I've run through a few filters, leveled and resized. It's nothing fancy but it's a bit more visually pleasing if you ask me, and the file size is much smaller.
This chapter starts as a flashback to the time that Matsunaga-san first found out that the twins’ mother died. I believe this might also be the first time we see her face or learn her name? But I’m not sure, I don’t remember the details from previous chapters well. At any rate, her name was Matsunaga Misaki, maiden name Takegawa Misaki. There’s a single panel of mid-flashback flashback in which he remembers when Kouichi first introduced Misaki, just after they were married. Then it continues with the telephone conversation where Kouichi is calling from the hospital explaining to Matsunaga-san (who is at work) that Misaki was driving another mom who lived nextdoor to the trainstation when an oncoming truck crossed over into their lane and hit them head-on. The other mom was alive but still unconscious, but by the time Kouichi arrived at the hospital, Misaki had already died. Kouichi is squatting near the phone looking completely devastate and Matsunaga-san’s face show’s complete shock, and he doesn’t know what to do. Matsunaga-san tells Kouichi he’ll come to the hospital right away if there’s anything he can do to help, and Kouichi tells him that before going to the hospital he left Akane and Aoi with Miyagawa-san (Takeru’s mom) and that they need to be picked up in the morning but he has a lot of procedures he needs to handle with the police, hospital and funeral home, and so Kouichi asks “Seiji, can I get you to look after them for a little while…?” Matsunaga-san agrees right away and says that he’ll go pick the twins up at 7am the next day, and that he doesn’t have to work until 1pm, when Kouichi promises he’ll be home by. Matsunaga-san notices Kouichi’s voice shaking and offers again to come to the hospital but Kouichi insists he’s fine. On the next page Kouichi drops the phone without even hanging it on the receiver and stumbles out of the hospital; presumably the last time he was ever seen until his return in Chapter 59!
In the next scene, Matsunaga-san goes to pick up the twins and has to tell Takeru’s mom the bad news. He tells her he still can’t believe it and she is really shocked because although Kouichi told her when he dropped off the twins that Misaki was in an accident she didn’t realize it was so serious. She wonders out loud how they’ll explain it to Akane and Aoi and Matsunaga-san gets a pained look on his face, and asks how they are doing. It turns out they were crying hysterically all night and had just fallen asleep before Matsunaga-san arrived. He applogizes for the trouble and she tells him it’s only to be expected because the twins haven’t even started daycare yet so they are still afraid of strangers. He apologizes a second time and asks her if she can help him watch the twins again today because he has some stuff he has to do at work. When he sees the twins for the first time, Matsunaga-san is shocked because they were only tiny infants when he last saw them. Then Mana wakes up and comes in, still half asleep and Matsunaga-san at first mistakes her for her older sister Nanami “except… smaller…??”, and when the mom tells him it’s not Nanami, he gets really alarmed and says “Don’t tell me she’s Takeru’s…?!” but the mom finishes his sentence with “…younger sister, Mana.”
After that Matsunaga-san takes the twins home and puts them to bed at his parents’ house. I believe the situation needs some explaining, and after reading these chapters I *think* this is what is going on but I’m not sure: Matsunaga-san moved out of his parents’ house as soon as he was old enough and has been living on his own, not too far away but he hasn’t been in communication with the rest of the family much either. His and Kouichi’s parents are god-knows-where doing god-knows-what, and Kouichi, Misaki and the twins lived in the house that Matsunaga-san and Kouichi grew up in. Then, after Misaki died and Kouichi disappeared, Matsunaga-san moved back into that house (where we’ve seen him throughout the whole series) so that the twins would be in a familiar environment.) He mentions that his job let him take a ‘condolence leave’ for people who’ve lost a relative. He thinks that although the twins have gotten so big compared to the last time he saw them, they are still so tiny. Worried that he might roll over in his sleep and squash them, Matsunaga-san pulls his own futon a bit further away from theirs.
The next morning Akane-chan wakes up first and looks around, calling out for her mother and father. She sees Matsunaga-san sleeping nearby and is shocked because she doesn’t recognize him at all. She wanders into the kitchen still calling for her mother and father and when she can’t find them sits down on the floor and starts crying. Matsunaga-san wakes up and goes into the kitchen to comfort her, but this only scares her more because she doesn’t remember him. Matsunaga-san then regrets that he didn’t come to visit them more regularly, in case of a situation like this, and vows to be more consistently present in their lives from now on (still assuming Kouichi will come back for them shortly.)
On the next page begins a narration in which Matsunaga-san explains that after that phone call from the hospital, Kouichi never showed his face again. Although he should have been the one leading the mourning rites (Matsunaga-san mentions several Buddhist funeral traditions specifically that I’m not familiar with) he just disappeared without leaving any message behind. 7 days passed between this and the next scene, in which Matsunaga-san is kneeling on the ground bowing and apologizing passionately to Misaki’s father for his brother’s shameful disappearance. Misaki’s father tells him there’s no need to bow and apologize, and makes excuses for Kouichi (“Maybe he got in an accident” etc), and that they (Misaki’s parents) are lucky to have Matsunaga-san to help them with the twins even though he himself has to work, while they are dealing with the funeral services. Misaki’s father then tells Matsunaga-san that both Misaki and Kouichi would always watch Matsunaga-san on TV very happily and were rooting for him, and that because of that he (Misaki’s father) wants Matsunaga-san to do his best with his job, so he will have the twins stay with his relatives for the time being until his wife’s rehabilitation is complete, but unfortunately because they are at an age where they require a lot of attention, the twins will probably each have to go to stay with a separate relative. After hearing this Matsunaga-san thinks that he has been estranged from his family for a while now and hasn’t had much to do with them, so he should be used to missing his brother, but even so, and even though he knows it’s unlikely, he wants to believe that Kouichi will come home. So Matsunaga-san bows his head again and requests to the twins’ grandfather that he let the three of them stay together in that house, and wait for Kouichi-san to come home.
In the next scene, Matsunaga-san broke the news to his girlfriend at the time that he’s moving home and taking custody of the twins, and that he’ll be able to commute to his job from there but he probably won’t have time to see her very often. She’s a bit outraged and tells him that this shouldn’t be solely his burden, and that raising kids while he’s already so busy at work is definitely impossible. She also tells him that doing things half-assed is as bad as not doing them at all. He tells her that she’s right, but he just can’t abandon them to be separated from each other when they’ve just lost both their parents in the blink of an eye, and while picturing him and his brother as kids Matsunaga-san thinks that if at all possible, it’s best for siblings to at least stay together.From then on, Matsunaga-san reads a big stack of child-rearing handbooks and has a lot of troubles learning how to deal with children. Aoi splashes water on people from his watering bucket at the park, Akane has a tantrum in the store and won’t sit down properly in the bath and is making all the water splash out. Later, Aoi is playing with his food even after Matsunaga-san tells him not to, and when Matsunaga-san takes the dish away, Aoi bites his hand instead! Another time, Matsunaga-san becomes late for work because Akane won’t put her clothes on and just keeps running away. Totally exhausted, Matsunaga-san is thinking as he rides home from work in a taxi one day that it’s really impossible for people with no practical experience to raise children, or else he’s doing something fundamentally wrong, because the actual thing is nothing like what it said in any of the reference manuals he read! He’s really tired and run down, and thinks to himself “What am I doing?” Although he mentally prepared himself, he has ended up feeling inferior and self-loathing! Finally, he thinks that if he’s leaving the twins at the daycare all the time, it defeats the purpose of having taken custody of them himself since he rarely sees them. His last thought as the chapter end is “Why aren’t you coming home, brother…?”