This month Love So Life got a gorgeous 2-page color spread and the coveted position of first series in the magazine. This phenomena is called 巻頭 ("kantou"). Unfortunately, my scanner is really, really terrible at handling color pages. It's the kind that sucks the pages through it, scanning both sides of the page at the same time. This makes regular magazine and manga pages really easy to scan, but unfortunately the color covers of manga volumes are too thick to go through, and color pages like these are too slippery to go through well; the scanner can't get a good grip and pull them through. As a result, you'll see there are some places where the image above doesn't line up, and where the text is distorted. This is actually the result of the best two pages out of almost 100 attempts!!! Even so, this picture is adorable beyond words!
There was also a really beautiful full-color calendar for 2013 included with this issue, featuring pictures of most of the series that run in Hana to Yume, including Love So Life. It's really a shame, but the calendar definitely wouldn't fit through my scanner, so I had to settle for taking some pictures of it. The file is almost 40MB, so I uploaded it separately from the chapter RAWs, in case there are people with bandwidth restrictions or slow download speeds who only want to read the RAWs and don't need/want the calendar.
Finally, it's really unfortunate but I found out there is a jerk who has been uploading my RAWs of Love So Life to his site for online reading, and he's refusing to give me credit for scanning them. So from now on Love So Life is also going to be getting watermarked using the less-obtrusive method. I don't own Love So Life any more than anyone else on the internet; it's a copyrighted work of fiction. I'm more than willing to share my RAWs with just about anyone for just about any purpose, but it's insulting and hurtful for people to disregard the effort I put into scanning by not even bothering to send me an email to ask for permission. I'm sincerely sorry to everyone else who is troubled by this decision to begin watermarking scans of this series.
Love So Life Chapter 69 [Japanese]: http://www.mediafire.com/?uirik6vawax2d80
2013 Calendar Furoku: http://www.mediafire.com/?sbp6sohap0iidsv
The taglines on the front cover are rather vague and don’t have much in the way of pronouns, verbs, or grammar, but it says something like “My heart beats faster and the coldness is left far behind; together with my [excitement / nervousness], [your?] warmth draws closer. This will be an especially happy winter.”
On the first page of the main chapter, Shiharu and Rio are at school and Shiharu has just finished assembling her Christmas presents for Akane-chan and Aoi-kun: drawstring bags. This might not seem like a big deal, but drawstring bags are a huge deal in Japan. I still can’t figure out what they use them for, since I can’t find any need for one, but *everyone* here is using them, it seems, because they go through the laundry in my house faster than underwear. Anyways. Rio praises Shiharu for being crafty as usual, and Shiharu insists it’s really simple, while brandishing the book she got the idea from; “50 easy handicrafts.” Rio tells Shiharu that she was worried Shiharu had been really upset over the “Nao-kun thing” but she’s glad to notice that Shiharu seems to have perked back up, and Shiharu apologizes for making Rio worry. She says she was really troubled because Nao-kun really cared for her, and *implys* (without saying so) that she felt some obligation to not let him down (in short, return the favor for all he’d done for her over the years by dating him) but she trails off, and Rio finishes the thought for her with “But it can’t be helped, after all, because the person you love is Matsunaga-san.” Shiharu starts blushing and Rio asks her if she has decided what to get him for Christmas, When she says she couldn’t decide what to get him, Rio valiantly offers to go shopping with her. Shiharu narrates as the next few days fly by that Christmas is getting closer and closer, finals are over, and finally it’s winter vacation. In the following scene, Shiharu arrives at Matsunaga-san’s house for her usual babysitting to find they’ve got a kotatsu. She asks where they got it and Matsuanga-san explains that he found it in the storage space on the second floor when he was looking for the (fake) Christmas tree. He remarks that it’s really old and he doesn’t have any recollection of every using it as a kid. Basically, he has no idea how it got in the attic. Shiharu says she’s never used one either, and Akane urges her to get under the blank it because it’s warm. Shiharu looks to Matsunaga-san, a bit flustered for permission, and he tells her it’s fine. She gets in with Akane and immediately melts into a happy puddle from the cozy warmth. The two of them cuddle really adorably, until Matsunaga-san interrupts the moment to ask Shiharu to celebrate Christmas with them again this year. At first she’s a bit shocked, because she realized she was acting really goofy while he was right there watching, but she readily agrees to join them. Since Matsunaga-san has to work both the 24th and the 25th back to back again this year, Shiharu suggests they celebrate in the evening on the 23rd, and tells him with a big smile that it will be “Christmas Eve Eve.” Aoi, who is rubbing his eyes as if he’d just woken up from a nap under the kotatsu (very possible) asks what “Christmas Eve Eve” is and Shiharu tells him they’ll have a Christmas party a bit early this year. Shiharu thinks to herself, while blushing a little, that she’ll be able to spend Christmas with Matsunaga-san and them again this year. The twins start pestering Shiharu to read them a picture book, and she begins reading it while Matsunaga-san wanders out of the room, presumably to work on something for his job. He comes back a few minutes later to ask Shiharu what she’d like for a present and finds her and the twins asleep from the pleasant warmth of the kotatsu. Shiharu’s got her head down on the table and her cheeks are a bit flushed, and Matsunaga-san looks at her as if he’s enchanted. He crouches down and reaches out towards her and begins to call her name, as if he intends to wake her up, but his voice trails off halfway and he ends up just watching her contemplatively. Shiharu starts talking in her sleep, laughing and say “No, Akane-chan, that’s wrong…” Matsunaga-san smiles at this, but suddenly Shiharu wakes up with quite a start. She sees Matsunaga-san and begins apologizing for falling asleep on the job, while he tries to calm her down, insisting it was less than five minutes. Shiharu thinks to herself that she absolutely must not get under the kotatsu, it might be “dangerous.” Sometime later, Shiharu goes home, and the scene changes to the daytime, presumably the following day. Shiharu and Rio are out shopping for Matsunaga-san’s Christmas present, and after some deliberation in which Shiharu wonders if Matsunaga-san will be troubled by receiving an obviously inexpensive present and Rio assures her the feelings put into choosing the gift are more important than its price, she decides to get him a tie. The scene changes again, and it’s nighttime now, possibly of the same day. Matsunaga-san is home alone with the twins and they are making Christmas presents for Shiharu. Matsunaga-san, having an eerily similar mindset to Shiharu, is reading a book called “Handicrafts children can do from 3 years old and up!” which is where it seems he got the idea for tonight’s project. Akane is covering a cup in papier-mâché shapes made of colored paper, while Aoi is doing the same to a plate. Akane-chan asks Matsunaga-san if Shiharu will like their gifts, and he says he hopes so. Akane grins really big. Just then Aoi-kun reaches for the glue, and Akane-chan snatches it up and yells that she’s using it. Matsunaga-san steps in to tell Aoi that he has to say “Let me borrow it” when he wants something, and he also tells Akane that she has to let Aoi use things when he asks nicely to borrow them. Aoi-kun does as he’s told and asks Akane to let him borrow the glue, and she grudgingly gives it to him. The scene changes again and it’s finally the promised night of the 23rd. Shiharu arrives at the Matsunaga house to find Akane and Aoi dressed adorably as a reindeer and Santa, respectively. She’s a bet befuddled by their cuteness and stammers a bit while asking Matsunaga-san why they’re dressed that way. He explains that their grandparents sent these outfits as a gift. Matsunaga pours them all a drink and when Aoi asks what it is, he explains it’s Chanmerry, a brand of alcohol-free champagne (more like carbonated juice, really; Japanese drink it around Christmas the way Americans would drink eggnog). They all toast and cheer “Merry Christmas!” Matsunaga-san remarks off-handedly that it’s certainly unusual to celebrate Christmas with a kotatsu, since Christmas is originally a religious holiday from the west and kotatsu is traditionally Japanese, but Shiharu insists it’s a perfect compromise of eastern and western customs. Akane-chan drinks some of the fizzy Champerry and then remembers that she wants to give Shiharu the Christmas present she made for her. She hands Shiharu the bag and announces that it’s her “Christmas Pesurant” (mixing up the order of the syllables because it’s a long, foreign word). Shiharu makes a big deal of asking permission to open it, and after opening it fawns over the cups and tells Akane how pretty it is with origami pasted all over it, and exclaims that any juice she drinks out of this cup will be absolutely delicious. Aoi-kun suddenly wants to give his present to Shiharu as well, and races towards her with it in hand, but just then he remembers what Matsunaga-san told him the day before about asking before taking something, and then comes out with “Let me borrow Shiharu-tan!” Shiharu is amused by this strange phrasing, but tries her best to hold in her laughter and keep a strait face. When Aoi-kun gives her his present, she fawns over it as well and says she just can’t decide what she should eat off of the plate first, and hugs him. Then she gives the twins their presents from her. She explains that this is called a “kinchaku bukuro” (a drawstring bag) and that you can put a lot of useful stuff inside. Akane asks if it’s okay to put toys inside, and the twins both cheer when she says they can. Matsunaga-san tells Shiharu he also bought the twins gifts, but he was thinking of putting them under the tree on Christmas eve, so they could find them when they wake up in the morning, and Shiharu tells him she thinks they’d enjoy that. Then he tells her he has a present for her as well, and asks if it’s okay to give it to her now. She protests weakly, saying that he shouldn’t have gone to the trouble on her sake and he says it’s nothing big, in fact he’s a bit sorry it’s so mundane a present. But it turns out the present is a pair of mittens. While Matsunaga-san apologizes that it’s so similar to the present he gave her last year (a scarf) Shiharu seems delighted that with the scarf and now the mittens she has a matching set. While she makes a big deal over how nifty the mittens are because you can pull back the top layer and free your fingers for use, Matsunaga-san goes into the kitchen to get the Christmas cake, and Shiharu suddenly realizes that she lost the chance to give him his gift in return. The rest of the night they enjoy the cake and put the twins to bed, and all along she can’t find the right timing to return to the subject of presents, so she can give him his. After the twins fall asleep, Matsunaga-san walks Shiharu home to the orphanage, pushing her bike for her as they walk. Matsunaga-san reminisces on the Christmas they spent together last year, when Shiharu ended up breaking her curfew to be with them. She recalls it too, and smiles. Then she starts to recall as well, that last year she received the scarf that she is even now wearing from Matsunaga-san, and she hadn’t thought to buy him a gift. With this memory heavy on her mind, Shiharu grabs all her courage and breaks into the topic of giving him a return give by saying “U— um…!” She stopped walking and, hearing her awkward introduction, he also stops walking and looks back at her. Blushing and unable to look at him straightly, Shiharu tells Matsunaga-san that she also got him a present, and asks him to accept it. She thrusts the present out in front of her with both hands and waits for him to either accept it or not. He looks at her blushing face for a silent moment, then smiles and reaches out to take it from her, saying only “Thanks.” Shiharu narrates, as the scene changes to the next night, Christmas Eve, than this year’s Christmas seems to be a bit different than last year’s. Shiharu comes home from work late on Christmas Eve and finds the caretaker in the kitchen washing dishes. The caretaker praises her for her work-ethic, since she went to her part time job even on Christmas Eve, and Shiharu explains that she celebrated yesterday in exchange. She asks how the orphanage’s Christmas party (which she missed to go to work) went, and the caretaker tells her it was a success, and that everyone was scrambling to get their hands on the leftover cake. Then the caretaker asks Shiharu to do her a favor and turn off the TV that someone left on, which Shiharu of course agrees to go. But as she approaches the TV to turn it off, she notices that Matsunaga-san’s TV show is on, and it’s the episode he’d recorded just that night. On TV, Matsunaga-san is holding a sign that says “The ideal present” and (presumably) lists the top 3 results. Shiharu is moved when she sees that he’s wearing the tie she gave him the day before, and she continues her narration (from when she said that Christmas this year is different from last year) by saying that this year’s Christmas makes her chest ache, her pulse race, and her body feel warm all over. There’s a really short snippet of a scene just before the chapter ends where it’s Christmas morning and Akane and Aoi are opening the presents that Matsunaga-san left for them, while exclaiming “Satan-san came!” (mistaking the order of the syllables again) and Matsunaga-san is thinking to himself “It’s be really troublesome if he came.”