When we last left our boys, Ryouma had realized that he very much wanted to return to the way he was and delivered a request to Kisaragi:
Ryouma: “I want…to remember all about Izumi!”
Izumi is thrilled at this confession, and Ryouma explains that while he heard that Kisaragi doesn’t know how to remove the hypnosis, they’re going to just try putting another hypnosis on top of the one he’s already under. Kisaragi isn’t so sure this is a good idea, but Ryouma reminds him that if they don’t do this, he won’t be able to concentrate on the shoot–so Kisaragi really has no choice, and he eventually agrees to give it a shot.
The trio head off to a more private location so that Kisaragi can try the hypnosis, but Shougo–with a passed-out Rei in his arms–has no intention of leaving them to head off alone and demands to accompany them. Once in Kisaragi’s room, the ‘spell’ begins: “You will remember Izumi… You will remember Izumi… You will remember… THERE!”
With a clap of his hands, Ryouma is hypnotized.
Ryouma: “Izumi…? I remember him! The author of Kouya Hijiri was IZUMI Kyouka!”
Izumi: “Not THAT Izumi…!”
It seems Kisaragi’s wording with the hypnosis didn’t quite have the effect they’d hoped for, as Ryouma has remembered pretty much every Izumi there ever was–except for his own.
So they try a different approach: “You’ll go back to before… You’ll go back to before… Go back to before… THERE!”
They tentatively test Ryouma’s memory…but this time, he seems to have forgotten who Kisaragi is–and where he is right now, too. Something seems fishy, though, and when they press him further…
Kisaragi: “Ryouma-kun, just…how old are you right now?”
Ryouma: “5 years old!”
THIS TIME they made him revert to his childhood! But they keep trying–hypnosis to make Ryouma an adult again turns him into an 83-year-old, for instance–and eventually they at least manage to get him back to square one, though he of course still can’t remember Izumi. Kisaragi is getting frustrated by now and decides that they’ll just have to take a break here and wait until they get back to Tokyo where Kisaragi can do some research into how to break the hypnosis.
Ryouma agrees to give up for now, and Izumi is despondent.
Ryouma: “It’s all right; I’m not giving up on you–just on our past together.”
Even if Ryouma can’t remember their past–that just means they have to start over from the beginning, right? Izumi realizes what he’s saying–that they’ll just start fresh and learn to love each other again–and agrees.
However, not everyone is satisfied with the situation.
Shougo leaps forward and delivers a harsh chop to Ryouma’s head–which you may recall he also used on Ryouma during that first traumatic experience when Ryouma attacked Izumi. He roars at Ryouma to get away from Izumi, interrupting their embrace, and when Izumi frantically asks what he’s doing, he cheerily announces, “A noggin chop!”
Ryouma massages his head, in no small amount of pain–but then realizes something seems off.
Ryouma: “Huh…? Izumi? Weren’t we…fighting…?”
Against all odds, it seems that Shougo’s blow to his skull has jogged Ryouma’s memory, and when asked about how he and Izumi met, Ryouma replies that they met on set 10 years prior.
Izumi: “WE DID IT!! HE’S GOT HIS MEMORIES BACK!! ONIICHAN YOU’RE AMAZING! YOUR NOGGIN CHOP IS AMAZING!”
Shougo: “All according to plan!”
They then try to see just how much he remembers, asking what the last thing he recalls was, and it’s here that all of Ryouma’s memories come flooding back–including those of the past few weeks–and this sparks an upwelling of emotion.
Izumi is horrified to see Ryouma crying, certain the blow must have hurt him, but Ryouma explains that he’s just realized how much he’s hurt Izumi while his memories were lost, and the two collapse into a sniffling, tear-filled apology session.
Izumi: “Ryoumaaaaa ;~; DON’T CRY! THIS WAS PARTLY MY FAULT TOO!”
Shougo isn’t thrilled that they’re hugging again, but Kisaragi steps in to defuse the situation, urging Shougo to leave them be for now. When Shougo refuses to relent, Kisaragi tries another tactic:
Kisaragi: “Then I’ll just take Sagara-san and make my leave!”
Left to their own devices now, Izumi confesses that after Ryouma lost his memories, for the first time, he finally understood how Ryouma himself felt: the pain of the person you love not returning your feelings, the sadness of being rejected, the worry regarding their relationships with other people. He’d never really understood any of that, until now.
Izumi: “I’ve…made you feel so sad, haven’t I? I’m sorry…”
Ryouma’s not without fault, he realizes. He’s possessive and felt petty regarding Izumi being a better actor than him, hardly becoming of a man. He then apologizes anew for all the horrible things he did to Izumi while he didn’t have his memories.
Ryouma: “And yet…despite all that, you never gave up on me. Thank you for that.”
Izumi suggests that they call it even this time, and while Ryouma insists he’s at greater fault, Izumi explains that they both lost this fight–and the two share a kiss to reaffirm their feelings.
Ryouma: “I love you, Izumi…”
Izumi: “And I love you so much, too!”
The scene then cuts to their filming location–it’s time to film the final scene of their show together. Ryouma is understandably a little nervous, though, worried he might not be able to pull it off. He had to be hypnotized in order to do it before–what if the same thing happens again?
Kisaragi steps over to give him a pep talk, though: he makes his living by finding diamonds in the rough and polishing them to a shine–that’s how he brought the rough actor that Ryouma had once been and molded him into the great personality he is today. And as he sees it, Ryouma is his greatest work yet–so he ought to have more confidence in his abilities. Rather than the types that shine bright from the outset, he prefers actors who are dirty and muddy when he finds them so that he can clean them up and make them beautiful.
Kisaragi: “In other words, I really love you! …Wait, huh?”
As Ryouma stalks away, he reminds Kisaragi that he really wants nothing to do with his ‘love’, but…he is grateful. He knows he’ll be all right now.
The rest of the shoot goes off without a hitch–and after three long months of filming, their drama is finally done!
To be continued…
[Note: this ends pretty cleanly, with no hint whatsoever as to what’s coming next–but this is chapter 26, and presumably the start of a new volume, so we’ve still got plenty left for a new arc!]