Author Chisa Asukai highlights both the universality and the fragility of family bonds in this portrayal of a woman who looks at things only from her own rigid perspective. Toko, 31, is scrupulous and strict in her ways. She unfailingly follows the rules she has set for herself, and she judges all that goes on around her by those same rules. But then, a series of events causes her personal value system to crumble . . .
Father is on the board of a major corporation, Mother is always cheerful and full of energy, daughter Toko has a stable office job, and son Kenta works for a television production company. At a glance they appear to be the ideal happy family. But each member of the family has his or her own secrets, and as those secrets begin to emerge, the erstwhile harmony of the family unravels with surprising ease.
It all begins with the shocking appearance and behavior of Kenta’s fiancée Masami when he first introduces her to the family. From the time they were children, Toko has never had a very high opinion of her younger brother, who had slovenly habits and was always causing trouble for the family. Now Masami’s rudeness lowers her opinion of him further?in addition to turning her instantly against her future sister-in-law.
As it happens, Toko has long been carrying on an affair with a married man, and she is satisfied with the current state of their relationship. Though well aware that society considers the relationship immoral, she’s convinced that it is sustainable so long as she makes sure not to cause trouble for her lover’s family.
At about this same time, it comes out that her father has secretly resigned from his executive position and is now working as the caretaker of an apartment building; also that a handsome young dancer has turned her mother’s head, and she has been giving him money. Toko regards her parents’ behavior as a shameful betrayal, and lights into them when the whole family is present, but is severely shaken when their response is to hurl their own criticisms at her. With her pride in tatters, she turns to her lover for support, but he bluntly spurns her, and she realizes all too painfully that they had never been soul mates, only garden-variety illicit lovers. The person to whom Toko turns next is the last person in the world she’d have thought?Masami . . .