The separate loves of two young women, along with their mutual friendship, are recounted with a marked element of suspense.
Part 1, “Love,” is narrated in the first person by Ranka Ichinose; Part 2, “Friendship,” by Rurie Kasanuma. The two women are in the same year at a suburban Tokyo university, where they get to know each other as members of the student orchestra. The story covers a span of a little over six years from the time they first meet.
The beautiful Ranka falls in love at first sight with part-time conductor Hoshichika Shigemi, an up-and-coming young conductor brought in to see the orchestra through its annual concert. Shigemi is quite the Adonis himself, and the grapevine is constantly abuzz with gossip about his female conquests. One day, as Ranka sees an uncharacterfully tipsy Shigemi home, she runs into Nanako Muroi emerging from his building. In her late 40s, Nanako is married to an internationally renowned conductor who has acted as a mentor to Shigemi. When Ranka learns that Shigemi has been carrying on an affair with Nanako ever since he was a student, she trembles in fury. After Ranka graduates from college and goes to work for a major trading company, Nanako’s husband learns of the affair, and Shigemi is effectively thrown out of a job. Not only does Shigemi become abusive toward Ranka, but he demands money from her?even blackmailing her with a sex tape he has secretly recorded.
Because her older sister was always the pretty one, Rurie grew up with an inferiority complex about her looks. Although she was an academic standout all through school and has won a place in the highly competitive art history program, and despite being a more accomplished violinist than Ranka, she idolizes her friend, and as time goes by she develops feelings for her that are deeper than friendship. Without telling Ranka, she befriends Ranka’s previous boyfriend?the guy she was seeing before she went gaga over Shigemi?and tries to get him to sleep with her, but is spurned. When Ranka begins seeing Shigemi, Rurie becomes her confidant, and strongly urges her to break up with him. After finishing her undergraduate degree Rurie continues on to graduate school, but then her painter father falls on harder times as his works stop selling; with his support for her education dwindling, she accepts Ranka’s offer to move in with her.
Roughly two years later, Shigemi falls to his death from an old bridge near the building where Ranka and Rurie live. The police rule it a suicide, but Rurie saw Ranka push Shigemi from behind when he fell. At the scene, she recovers Shigemi’s smartphone, which contains the sex video, from his hand.
Once she has gotten over Shigemi’s death, Ranka becomes engaged to a junior colleague from work. The day before they are to be married, Rurie delivers Shigemi’s smartphone and a letter that reveals the truth about his death to the police. At the wedding reception the following day, the police arrive to arrest Ranka just as Rurie is beginning her speech as Ranka’s maid of honor.
The work probes the question of how one draws lines between caring, romantic love, and jealousy: is it even possible to draw such lines? Is the true object of love the self rather than the other? The result is an unsparing portrayal of female passions made more volatile by youth.