Alright, so the “write summaries” impulse was slightly stronger than the “translate the last chapter of volume 9” impulse, so here we are! This was actually one of my favorite chapters so far! I liked the ‘visit to Shiharu’s parents’ grave’ chapter a little bit more, but this one is also memorable.
On the first page, Shiharu is remembering the special foods her mom used to make on her birthday: omurice with fried shimp, salad, and a birthday cake, and how special it make the day feel for her. Fast forward to the present, and Shiharu and Rio are in class, where Shiharu is planning the menu for the twins’ 3rd birthday party! She plans to prepare all the incredients for nori rolled sushi, and have the twins help assemble the rolls. Afterwards, at the daycare, the teacher plays the piano and everyone sings happy birthday to the 3 students whose birthdays are this month: Akane, Aoi, and Yuna. The older teacher asks Shiharu is they’ll be celebrating the twins’ birthday with Matsunaga-san tomorrow (the actual date of their birthday), which leads into a flashback scene where Matsunaga-san tells Shiharu that on the twins’ birthday he has to film a live recording (in real-time) that will last late into the night. Shiharu suggests they celebrate the twins’ birthday on another day, and he tells her that he will take a break and slip out for a while, so he can come home and celebrate together with everyone, and go back to work right after. He justifies this, reminding her that he won’t always be able to celebrate the twins’ birthday together with them after this, and he tells her that he’s already placed an order for the birthday cake at a cake shop, so he’ll stop and get it on the way home. Shiharu offers to go and get it for him, but he refuses, saying he can’t always make her do everything (actually, I think he was just trying to be cool, lol.) The flashback ends, and the teacher is a bit shocked to hear of Matsunaga-san’s plan to sneak out in the middle of work, but remarks that he’s a person who is always doing everything with all his might. Shiharu thinks that the teacher’s right, he is that kind of person, and she wishes there was more she could do to be of help to him. In the next scene, it’s the next day and Shiharu and the twins are preparing the sushi rolls. She shows them how to spread the sushi rice on the nori, and line up the toppings they like on one side, and roll it up. Every time Shiharu praises the twins for doing a really good job making the sushi, they reply “Yeah! Because we’re 3 now!” Of course, while Shiharu is watching Aoi roll his sushi and not paying attention to Akane, she gobbles up the sushi roll she just finished! Haha. Just then, the doorbell rings and there’s a deliveryman there with a package for Matsunaga-san. Shiharu is worried about whether she should be receiving mail on his behalf, but the deliveryman explained that Matsunaga-san already contacted the post office [presumably to ask them to allow Shiharu to receive mail at his house on his behalf.] The scene changes to Matsunaga-san who took his break and snuck out, like he’d said he would, but is running late. He has the taxi drop him off in front of the cake shop, and luckily he catches the owner just as she’s closing the shop. He’s so handsome when he’s in a hurry~~<3 I think I’m turning into a fangirl… Anyways, the cake shop owner gives him a gorgeous cake with the words “Happy Birthday Akane-chan and Aoi-kun” on it. Unfortunately, as Matsunaga-san is walking the rest of the way home, a very strange little old lady carrying a massive amount of luggage in a cloth on her back bumps into him, causing him to drop the box containing the cake, and it smashes on the ground. Although the woman apologizes, Matsunaga-san assures her that it’s alright, and is more worried about her safety, wandering around all alone at night, than the probably-smushed cake. The weird lady hails a cab and takes off, and Matsunaga-san tries to return to the cake shop to get a replacement cake, but it’s already closed. He has no choice but to take the one he dropped home with him, and he admits in his thoughts that he’s too scared to look inside and see how bad the damage is. When he arrives home, he’s greeted by the twins in their birthday hats, and a smiling Shiharu. He apologizes for being late and for the fact that he’ll have to hurry back to work very soon, but Shiharu assures him that she’s glad they could all celebrate together, even if only for a short while. Matsunaga-san gets a strange look on his face which I’m interpreting as “Let’s do the nasty immediately!” but that’s probably not what he was thinking. Since it’s not a matter of Japanese language but human behavior, I’ll let you guys all decide for yourself what he’s thinking with that expression, since he didn’t get to say anything because Shiharu interrupted by telling him that he’s received a package while he was at work. He checks the label and confirms it’s from the twins’ grandparents. Then the party begins! They all pop poppers and shout “Happy Birthday!” and poor Aoi-kun gets scared by the loud noise and hides behind a curtain. Shiharu reassures him that there won’t be any loud noise, and Akane-chan starts in on her favorite activity— eating! But, before she takes the first bite, she gets a better idea and starts bugging Matsunaga-san to eat the sushi she prepared, asking him over and over again if it’s yummy, before he’s even finished eating his first bite! He tells her it’s really good, and Akane cheers. Then she remembers the cake and asks Matsunaga-san where it is. He gets very anxious about admitting that he dropped the cake, and tries to use big words and round-about excuses to avoid admitting the truth that is inevitable— he dropped the cake. As expected, when they open the box the cake is quite a mess. The twins don’t even recognize it as a cake, lol. Luckily, Shiharu comes to the rescue and is able to somewhat cobble the cake back together using a butter knife, and the twins seem pleased with the result. Watching her and watching the twins eat the cake, Matsuanga-san things “As long as Nakamura-san is here for us, they’ll always keep smiling happily.” Then he remembers that the presents he bought the twins are still safe, at least (because he bought them ahead of time and hid them on the 2nd floor), and proceeds to give the twins each a “Hiragana and Alphabet Puzzle.” Shiharu remarks that the timing is just right, because the twins are starting to remember some hiragana. Then she gives the twins her present for them— home make photo albums, complete with captions, showcasing all of the fun things they’d done together. The twins at first mistake the albums for picture books, but are fascinated to find their own pictures in there (as well as Shiharu, Matsunaga-san, Rio, Takeru, etc) and Aoi-kun even tries to read some of the hiragana in the captions, whereas Akane immediately asks Shiharu to read them to her. In one of the pictures, the twins are dressed as tigers, and Shiharu remarks that those clothes no longer fit them. In her thoughts, she adds “The clothes they’re wearing now will surely begin to get tight very soon, and in no time at all they won’t fit anymore, either.” Then Matsunaga-san gives the twins presents from their grandparents; the contents of the package that had arrived earlier in the day. The presents turn out to be clothes, and Matsunaga-san suggests they wear those clothes the next time they meet their grandparents. Suddenly he remembers that the twins’ grandmother had called and told him that she was being granted an overnight pass, to leave the hospital temporarily and go home to visit, and that she’d asked Matsunaga-san and the twins to come visit her, and invited Shiharu to come along as well. He asks Shiharu if she has any plans for next Saturday, explaining that he’s only planning to go for a day-trip and come home in the evening. Shiharu gets very anxious upon hearing this, and after stuttering awkwardly for a few panels, comes out and says that she doesn’t have any plans, but that isn’t the problem, it’s just… Since she’s an outsider… Her meaning doesn’t really communicate to Matsunaga-san, and he just says “Yes?” trying to propt her to get to the point, but then realizes it sounds as if he’s just agreed that she’s an outsider, and so he tells her on the last page “I’ve said so before, but to us, you are like a member of our family.” Shiharu still looks uncomfortable, the chapter ends on a happy note, with a picture of the twins playing with balloons and Matsunaga-san thinking something like “You’re the one who supports them with all her heart, takes care of them, and lets them keep on smiling.”