Roots of A: raws + summary

21 03 2009

This is the first raw I’ve scanned it, and well, I cropped it and saved them as JPG and that’s all. So they’re kind of crappy. But there you have it, Roots of A.

http://rapidshare.com/files/211634496/rootsofa.zip

What follows is not a direct translation, but more of a synopsis.  Beware. It is long. But hopefully, it will help you follow with the manga.

Roots of A starts at Teito University. Akiyama is 22 and a senior in the “Literature department” which seems to also include behavioral and cultural studies. Teito University is all elite and hard to get into. We zoom into a criminal psychology seminar that Akiyama and four classmates are taking. One of the students asks, “So why is everyone taking this class.” In turn, we’re introduced to the four classmates (whose names really aren’t important), and their reasons for taking the class. All of them can be summed up by. “I thought it would be interesting.” and “Professor Okabe’s seminars are always easy.”

They (meaning the 4 classmates, Akiyama doesn’t actually speak yet) talk about how not a lot of people take Okabe’s seminars because he’s so forboding. And I think one of them reasons that Okabe’s spent so much time dealing with criminals and other strange people that he can’t help but be so gloomy. Then one of them looks to Akiyama for confirmation.

Akiyama just says, “Maybe.”

Professor Okabe enters the room…and yeah, he’s pretty forboding. His eyes are closed, and you really can’t see his face at all. He gives them an assignment in profiling, that is using evidence and psychological methods to create a profile of person. One of the classmates asks if they’re going to be doing this for a real criminal, and Okabe says no, they’re not analyzing a criminal, but the sender of a letter.

Okabe asks if anyone knows what a “letter balloon” is. Akiyama says that he did that in elementary school. A letter balloon is where you tie a letter to the string of a balloon and release it. Okabe confirms this and informs the class that this particular letter was found in a tree near a house in Setagaya (a neighborhood, I’m guessing), but that the part of the letter with the name and address of the sender was smeared out. One classmate suggests it’s because that when it was pulled out of the tree, it dropped on some wet grass.

So basically, the assignment is to construct a profile of the sender. They have two weeks to do the assignment, and they’re allowed to talk to each other. Then Okabe will read their analyses in class. Oh yeah, and if they’re totally wrong, they get extra work to do over summer break.

***

The classmates and Akiyama are in a cafeteria setting. One of them is all, “So who said Okabe’s seminars weren’t a lot of work” and someone else is, “Never mind that, let’s look at the letter.”

The letter:

“Nice to meet you

Thank you for picking up this letter.
The snow on the mountains has completely loosened, it’s becoming the season for the cherry blossoms to open.
How is the place where you live?
Is spring coming?

Spring is the season for travelling and first meetings.
School entrances … changing classes …. finding jobs…

Spring is the season for hope.
So that no matter what painful things are happening
The budding leaves on the trees and flowers are overflowing with life
And that life gives us courage.
This is spring.
Spring sure is wonderful.

So I hope that the new season brings you hope and courage.
That would make me glad.
Please let me know if you have read this letter.”

One of the classmates figures out the sender is a man, based on the use of “boku” and that the season is spring. Another one is all, “that’s not specific enough, and goes an pins the date to between March 24 and 31” based on the mentioning of spring events “school entrance ceremony, changing classes, finding a job” but not mentioning graduation which would have taken place near the beginning of March. Classmate is all pleased with himself, and then goes on to say that the writer of the letter was a student, just based on the order of said spring events. Then, based on the phrase, “The snow on the mountains has completely loosened,” they conclude that the letter writer was from the Touhoku.

And that’s it… and they’re all looking sweatdroppy, because that level of analysis isn’t going to please the professor.

Then they ask Akiyama, who has been silent this whole conversation, what his opinion of their analysis is. Akiyama states that it isn’t bad, but that he has one question: “Is it correct?”

Everyone looks all nervous but concludes that the professor was probably the one who found the letter, and so he doesn’t actually know who the sender is. So no matter what they write, it will be correct. The classmates start looking relieved, while Akiyama hangs out in the background and just stares a piece of paper (his copy of the letter?) that he folded up.

***

Akiyama approaches the teacher and asks him directly if he knows whether the analysis is correct or not. The teacher says yes, and that he knows who sent the letter.

***

When Akiyama tells this to his classmates (I’m guessing he told them), they laugh him off, stating that the professor isn’t going to admit that there’s no single correct answer, and that Akiyama should spend his time working on the assignment, and thinking about why even though the writer of the letter seems to have a steady, cheerful personality, the handwriting is uneven. Akiyama looks troubled.

***

There’s Nao in a junior-high uniform, with her friends telling her to come on. Well, Nao’s just  found 100 yen, and she has to go turn it in. Her classmates call her foolishly honest, and they sort of walk out of the story. Random. Of course during this Akiyama is nearby, lost in thought and it’s debatable if he even notices what a bunch of junior-high girls are talking about. But as soon as Nao walks off stage, Akiyama has an epiphany.

***

It’s the day of the reports, and Okabe is reading one of the classmates reports aloud in class. Most of the conclusions are those that were talked about during the earlier scene. Some new things: Looking at the Kanji used, it’s that learned by junior high students in their 2nd or 3rd year, so the writer is likely a high school student. If he were a college student, then finding a job would have been a higher priority than changing classes. Also the person’s attitude is positive because he uses words like “hope” “courage” and “first meetings” The method of sending the letter, by balloon, shows that his character is romantic and childlike.

***

Okabe ends the report, and calls it “completely wrong.”

The four classmates do a double take. And one asks how can it be wrong, and that not even the professor could know if the profile is right or not.

The professor states again, that he clearly knows the profile of the sender. And asks if anyone else has a different analysis of the person’s profile. Akiyama raises his hand.

Akiyama’s interpretation: The sender of the letter is a 19 year old man. And regardless of his personality, he was going through some dark times. He wrote this letter at the beginning of March, and he released it from the southern part of the Bousou peninsula.

The really loudmouthed  classmate, is looking all frustrated and thinking sort of “What the hell, that’s impossible”

And the professor, to the shock of everyone says that Akiyama’s interpretation is correct.

What follows is the obligatory: How do you know?

Akiyama mentions a couple of strange things. First, the smearing of the ink. When he sent the letter by balloon as a child, he put it in vinyl so that it wouldn’t get wet. And the letter was folded up really small, so if it had gotten wet outside, more than just the name and address would have been blurred. Therefore, the letter had gotten wet after it had been read. Then he mentions that he asked the professor that question, and the professor responded that he knew who sent the letter. Now, knowing the name and address of the person wouldn’t have been strange, but the professor spoke as if he had had contact with the sender of the letter.

Then Akiyama points out another weird thing. When sending a letter to someone you’ve never seen or met, after greeting them, you’d introduce yourself. But this person says nothing about themselves because they didn’t want to say anything, but they used a lot of positive expressions like hope and courage. So the sender had wanted to shake off the bad situation…but if that were the case, how did the professor know so much about him.

Akiyama then says that he learned the exact identity of the sender. Everyone is all, “how the heck” and Akiyama admits that what he’s saying next isn’t analysis. He happened to ask the professor’s wife what happened. The classmates are dumbfounded, and Akiyama apologizes to the professor.

So, the story of the letter…(as done in summary, so it’s not as good as the manga).

The sender of the letter was a 19-year-old man, Takeda Koushirou who had been very sick for 3 years, which is why he didn’t talk about his situation, and why even though he was 19 years old, he still thought of school events before work events. So basically to help cheer her son up, she came up with the idea of sending letters by the balloon. She blew up 50 balloons while he wrote 50 letters. But he didn’t write anything about being sick or in pain. Instead he put in the hopeful words. He didn’t want spend the last of his strength making other people take sympathy on him.

He also did not write about graduation because it implied an ending.

The whole part with the snow and the mountains was because Koushirou had moved to Chiba for health reasons and had not seen the outside landscape, so he wouldn’t know that the mountains there didn’t have snow. Instead, he called upon childhood memories from when he was healthy and living futher north.

So his mother released the balloons from the hospital roof at the beginning of March, when the south wind was the strongest. Not all the letters would necessarily reach people, but one of them did reach Professor Okabe’s 18-year-old daughter Reiko in Setagaya. Reiko herself was going through some tough times, having been forced to give up basketball (a sport in which she was a nationally ranked player) because of a serious knee injury. Not knowing what to do, she remained locked in her bedroom and did nothing.

When she read Koushirou’s letter, it really gave her the strength to start going again. It was like being reborn. So, soon afterwards, she wrote a reply to Koushirou saying that his letter gave her strength and courage. But when to the reply to that letter came, it wasn’t from Koushrou, but his mother.

Everyone looks puzzled.

It was because Koushirou died soon after recieving Reiko’s letter. His mother said though that Koushirou was so happy that someone had been helped by his letter, and that he had died reading it. Reiko, who had no clue what kind of situation Koushirou had been in, took the original letter to her room and reread it, crying, which caused the smearing of the ink.

Now the classmates are crying. Akiyama apologizes to the professor for not completing the profiling assignment as intended, but instead asking about the circumstances. The professor (well, heck he doesn’t have much in the way of facial expressions) says that he’s not going to yell at Akiyama, but on the contrary that Akiyama did the right thing.

Cue shocked looking Akiyama.

Normally in a profiling assignment, you’d make a guess about the sender based on the text of the letter, just like the other 4 people’s reports. But Akiyama actually took the letter and asked the professor why he handed out that letter for that assignment, which was the actual intent. Okaybe explains the purpose of psychology, to understand the hearts of others, and that as top-students who will enter society standing above others, he doesn’t want them to neglect really looking at people.

And even more than a good profile, coming into contact with people is the best way to understand them.

The class ends, and Okabe tells them that when summer vacation ends, they’ll be focusing on their graduation plans. Oh yeah, and everyone passes. Which gets a big celebration from the classmates. Akiyama just looks thoughtful.

***

After class, Akiyama meets with the professor in the hallway and declares his intent to continue to grad school. Okabe asks that didn’t Akiyama state that he planned on entering a government agency. Akiyama says he changed his mind, and wants to continue studying under Professor Okabe in order to understand people’s hearts. The expression on his face is so absolutely idealistic that I have to mention it here, because it’s something that you will never, ever see in the main Liar Game manga.

And that’s the story of how Akiyama chose to enter grad-school, five years before his first meeting with Kanzaki Nao.

***

Analysis coming in a couple of days. I hope that helped. =D


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16 responses

21 03 2009
quantula

Yay, thanks for that!! I especially agree with the statement about Akiyama looking idealistic and hopeful…. it’s sad, but maybe with Nao’s help, the readers will see him regain that kind of expression. Poor guy, he really lost faith in everyone around him.
…so the current Akiyama is 27?! Impossible!! He doesn’t look that old!
The age difference really is huge then…. 😀 ❤

It’s all good anyway. 🙂

21 03 2009
onicchi

I think Akiyama will be happy again, but I don’t know if he can get that kind of innocence back.

…so the current Akiyama is 27?! Impossible!! He doesn’t look that old!
The age difference really is huge then…

Japanese wiki said 26…but 27 makes a lot more sense. It’s about as young as I can believe Akiyama to be, if he has a master’s degree and enough time to drive a company into bankruptcy and serve a jail sentence.

But it’s not really that huge an age difference…it shouldn’t get in the way. =D

21 03 2009
quantula

I think Akiyama will be happy again, but I don’t know if he can get that kind of innocence back.

Unfortunately, I have to agree. 😦 But he doesn’t have to be ‘innocent’ in order to trust others again, right?
At least Nao makes him laugh once in a while! XD

But it’s not really that huge an age difference…it shouldn’t get in the way. =D
And it never will!!! Have you ever watched Roman Holiday? That’s what this reminds me of. 🙂

Once I get Volumes 7 & 8 (grrrr they still haven’t arrived), I’m going to go on a whole AkiyamaxNao rant. 🙂 I’m not even going to bother to be analytical and insightful.
….Just bottling it up for the right moment.

31 05 2009
Au

That reminds me…When you look at the first volumes of the manga (particularly vol 1), Akiyama does look a lot older than in the last volumes (cf vol1ch1 p46 and ch2, he really looks 30)… And in vol.1, he looks a little bit err… *ugh* (I don’t remember which chapters, but they are some images where he’s not at his best).

Fortunately, he’s getting younger (and hotter) as the chapters pass 🙂 ! And his face seems to gain more expression and softness. ❤

31 05 2009
Jais

I think it’s mostly a change in art-style as Kaitani gets used to drawing them. Nao and Fukunaga have also gotten a lot rounder (and not just in the fanservicey way) since their early appearances.

Although it’s a lot more obvious with Akiyama, and for the better. =D

21 03 2009
onicchi

Unfortunately, I have to agree. 😦 But he doesn’t have to be ‘innocent’ in order to trust others again, right?

No, I don’t think so. In fact, I’m almost certain he trusts Nao almost implicitly. I also think that being with her is helping him open up to other people as well.

Once I get Volumes 7 & 8 (grrrr they still haven’t arrived), I’m going to go on a whole AkiyamaxNao rant. 🙂 I’m not even going to bother to be analytical and insightful.

Oh gosh, I can’t wait to be able to squee about vol 7 and 8. It’s certainly not as intense as the 3rd round, but it’s so full of obvious shipping moments. The touching bits (of which there are 3, not 2), plus well… the last chapter of vol 8.

Don’t worry about being rational. I can try my hand at that later ((is so going to do an essay for the LJ community ship_manifesto)).

9 05 2009
Clytia

You know….right after reading this, it makes me wonder……what is the significance of this one-shot? Is it just to show us that Akiyama used to be an innocent student, a complete different person from who he is now? I mean, we all already know that he just the path of the criminal because of his mother’s death. But what makes me wonder now……is Professor Okabe related to the LGT? I always think that the timing of the LGT is too coincidental to Akiyama’s prison release date. It’s as though the reason behind the whole liar game was to lure Akiyama in. Furthermore, it was the LGT agent (who posed as a solicitor) who told Nao about Akiyama. Who knows whether other LGT agents told the other candidates about Akiyama as well? But other aka ordinary people would be skeptical about asking help from a ex-convict who had committed no other crime but swindling. The first impression that people would have is: “That man was imprisoned for swindling and destroying a huge corporation. What if he swindled me as well and leave me in a 100 million yen debt?”. It was only Nao who, being the naive and gullible person as she is then, would put all her hopes in an ex-swindler.

I assume, Akiyama would be the most prized student of Professor Okabe. Though he looks grim, he appears to be a good teacher to me. Rather than working with theory alone, he wanted his students to relate to humans because after all, psychology is all about humans and understanding them. If like what I said earlier about Professor Okabe being involved with LGT stands, then I presume the liar game is like another “assignment” for his genius student and perhaps, indirectly helping him to regain his trust in humans. As such, Nao is an important “tool” in the event.

9 05 2009
BP

Well, Nao wouldn’t think “What if he swindles me into a 100 million yen debt?” because at that point she was already in a 100 million yen debt and didn’t have another 100 million yen to be swindled out of.

9 05 2009
Jais

I don’t think Professor Okabe is in with the LGT. I think his philosophy is too different from the LGTs for them to even start to mesh. The LGT is a very elitist organization that looks down on humans. Okabe wants his elite students to look at the hearts of everyone else and sympathize with them.

I think the point of Roots of A, if you want to include it in the Liar Game as a whole, is to show the type of person Akiyama would have been if everything with his mother hadn’t happened, and maybe the type of person he still is beneath all the trust issues. I’ve found it really helpful in my favorite time-waster of trying to figure out what makes him tick, just because it’s a great ‘before’ image of him.

The optimist in me still thinks that some part of his Roots of A self still exists.

I guess I’m really skeptical about the idea that the Liar Game was created to lure Akiyama in, in the first place. I see where people come from when they pose the theory, but I guess planning a whole game, getting hundreds of people involved and choosing a specific target just so you could lure in the one person who is willing and capable of actually destroying you…

I don’t know if the sponsor’s enjoyment of watching people deceive others extends that far.

And if the LGT were specifically targeting Akiyama by telling a lot of players his whereabouts, I actually think some of them would show up. If I could get an ex-con on my side to help me steal someone’s money, I’d take him. So it’d be surprising that Nao was the only one (besides the media) to show up.

10 05 2009
wmhm

Yeah, that’s true. Luring in Akiyama couldn’t possibly have been the only motive- what with all the money involved; but I still think that having him join was part of the plan. After all, his prison release just happening almost simultaneously with the beginning of the 1st Round- it’s just too convenient a coincidence. So maybe, Akiyama joining the fray was something that the Liar Game organizers thought would be interesting, but not something that was an actual objective of setting the game up?
And I really don’t think Professor Okabe seems to be that kind of person. He seems idealistic, and didn’t really strike me as cold or ruthless. Sure, he’s interested in human nature. But from what I could gather after reading the above summary, he seems to be more of the kind who likes to observe humans as they react to everyday situations- not set them up in to highly manipulative mind play like in the Liar Game.
Anyway, the manner in which all this is laid out suggests a large organization involving lots of shady (and rich) businessmen. (I don’t know about Japan, but in our country, college professors don’t have that much money.)
The point of the ‘Roots’ story is, I think, kind of like a background introduction to Akiyama, his past and his motivations, as well as the times when he was a carefree idealist before becoming a disillusioned and suspicious guy. And maybe, something that happens in the final showdown will connect back to that- who can say?

10 05 2009
BP

The biggest reason that Okabe probably isn’t part of the LGT is the money, as stated. But not the money necessary–the debts and profits. (A lot of things said right now will have already been said ^^’) Okabe is idealistic and wants to know about people’s nature. Now, in Nao’s view, the Liar Game is about conquering your greed (as it says at the top of here) and being an upstanding individual. Now, I don’t think that that’s actually too far of a stretch for Okabe, but I think only Okabe would do it if afterwards he jumped out from behind the curtains and said, “All the money was fake! No one is actually in debt, or made a profit!” and I doubt that is going to happen.

And I am going to say what I said before: I really really really doubt that the LGT wanted or anticipated or even planned for Akiyama to get involved at all. They could’ve postponed Game 1 and just invited him. Or even if they wanted to lure him in through Nao, the lawyer would’ve mentioned Akiyama when he mentioned hiring a con-artist, NOT when Nao called by chance a few days later.

10 05 2009
Clytia

You guys could be right that Professor Okabe is not behind the whole LGT thing. I was just thinking using CLAMP’s POV….LOL (had been reading xxxHolic a lot lately~).

But the thing is, are the people who lost REALLY in debt? Since the candidates did not sign any contract, does it mean when the 100 million yen was delivered to the candidate’s home, it is considered as an offer and when the package (even though the people have no idea what it was) was accepted, it is an acceptance and hence, they are bound to the “implied contract”. Even though the candidates may find it difficult to argue by the defence of misrepresentation and duress, the question is was there an offer that induces an acceptance which is legally binding in the first place?

10 05 2009
BP

If the LGT is serious about the debt, I don’t think they’ll let a little thing like the law get in the way of it. (As they’ve said several times, they will go through “any means necessary” to have the debt paid back.)

Of course, it could all be fake, and they could be emphasizing that so much so that people don’t suspect a thing. But (1) Would they really give away all that money (to the winners), and (2) Do you really think Kaitani would give us such a weak ending as “It was all a big joke and no one was ever in endanger of ever being in debt at all!”

29 05 2009
vada

oh gawd oh gawd!!!! thanks so much!! thank you.. i’ve been looking all over since last year for this one, suddenly remember to google it up again and voila! you shared this one

i will read your summary *i dun care bout its length*, and analysis, and all *bows*

thanks again ^___^

31 05 2009
Au

Do you know the name of the classmate with the glasses ? ‘Cuz he looks like the twin of Kikuchi … Weird…

31 05 2009
Jais

Glasses guy is Igarashi Natsuki. So, no relation.

But yeah, that was my reaction when I first saw him.

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