Like many stories, I felt that the ending was a little rushed. The plot was pretty good for most of the volume except the last two chapters where it concluded pretty abruptly. I liked how it ended as I don't think any other ending would have worked. Maybe another chapter would have made it work even better.
Overall though, I thought the 4 books told a very nice, and at times, very sentimental story. Many of the supporting characters got phased out at the end, which is unfortunate, but they probably couldn't have added any more to the plot as the story is mostly about the relationship between Iriya and Asaba. I'm looking forward to finishing the anime and the next Mizuhito Akiyama novel.
My volume, despite buying it used, still had the bonus postcard with a montage of images used on the cover of the 4 volumes. The pullout picture is a depiction of what Asaba dreams their lives could have been. It's my favorite drawing in the series.
10. 夏休みふたたび（前編） (Summer Revisited, First Part): Asaba and Iriya have run away from Sonohara and are heading south. While she has her black card that she can use to withdrawal money from (coming from the military money pool), they decide that it's a bad idea and so they live off Asaba's savings, which totals to a little more than $1K that he has in his duffle bag. They first start out living at an abandoned train station, but Asaba then decides that since all the schools are in recess due to the recent national emergency, they can camp out at a school. They choose an elementary school in the town of Kikuni. Iriya and Asaba are having the best days of their lives. The place they're staying at has bedding (nurses office), washing, and dining... all the necessities. Most of all though, they have freedom.
Using the multitude of cellphones that Suizenji had and that Asaba brought along, Iriya sets up a perimeter alarm system. One night, it gets triggered and after a brief struggle in the darkness, they see that it's just a hobo named Yoshino who was also thinking of staying at a school because of it's facilities. He quickly earns Iriya and Asaba's trust and soon, Asaba even asks for his advice on what he should do with Iriya using the "What if there was this girl who was a pilot..." The next day they play teacher and students with Yoshino being the history teacher and the two kids as students. Later, Iriya sees a cat and they take it in. They name it "School Principal."
After 5 days of staying at the school, Yoshino goes to the library to get some books but hears that there are rumors going around that a white haired ghost is haunting the elementary school. He knows that he should leave the place now. At the same time, Asaba heads to the convenience store to buy a razor and after making two trips, the first time forgetting the cat food, he finds some erotic magazines and starts day dreaming. Meanwhile, Yoshino goes back and as he's about to leave, he runs into Iriya. Iriya asks where he's going and he says he's leaving. He then pushes her over. She gets up and warns him that she'll report him to the MP. Meanwhile, Asaba decides to hide under a bridge to masturbate. Meanwhile, Yoshino is attempting rape, but Iriya manages to fight back and find her knife. Just as Asaba has his orgasm, Iriya stabs Yoshino.
11. 夏休みふたたび（後編） (Summer Revisited, Last Part): After Asaba hides his books, he heads back to the school. As he approaches, he sees Yoshino limping out, clutching his side. He goes inside and sees Iriya in tattered clothing and immediately knows what happened. He runs out again with a baseball bat to find Yoshino. He runs until he can run no more and collapses on the side of the road crying. He then meets Hikari again, the young girl who he met once before after his climax under the bridge. After some talk, he gives her the bat and she goes home with the gift. When he comes back, Iriya explains that her intention was to kill when she stabbed him.
The local police have received a very detailed anonymous tip about the boy and girl living at the school and go to investigate later that night. Asaba and Iriya notice too late when see a spotlight in the school and hurry to pack. As they're about to flee to the woods near the school, Iriya realizes that they didn't bring the cat. Asaba tells her to run ahead and that he'll bring him later, but knew that was a lie. At the end though, he decides to go back and get the cat. When he reaches the forest, he looks in his duffle bag and realizes that Yoshino had taken his $1K+ savings. When they reach the abandoned train station, Asaba goes can't hold his rage inside anymore and starts his fury and ends it by telling Iriya that he no longer wants to see her face again.
She then loses it.
They have a fight and Iriya stabs him too. He passes out but wakes up with Iriya beside him. He thinks that she's already contacted the military, but instead, she tells him that she's waiting for "Asaba."
Later, they enter a convenient store to get some food and the clerk pays particular attention to them because he's bloody and she's wearing a half torn school uniform, with a helmet, and white hair. Asaba pays with his 100 yen coins. Iriya has lost her marbles and thinks that Asaba is now someone else and that she's going to wait for her "Asaba." The only way he can get her to go anywhere is to convince her that "Asaba" is at the destination. She's also lost track of time and thinks it's the day before the firestorm.
12. 最後の道 (The Last Road): Asaba and Iriya continue their travels, they arrive at another station. Iriya decides to wait at the bus terminal, just like how she did during their first date. And just like before, she stands there at 6am for the 10am appointment. As 10am comes around, she continues to wait for "Asaba." Asaba asks who he is now and she responds that he is Mayumi, the school nurse and an agent of the military. Later on, he bumps into a station master and thinks up a plan to communicate with Iriya. Using the cell phone that he has, he has the station master tell Iriya that she has a phone call and Asaba talks on the other end. He finally gets through to her and has so much that he wants to apologize about, but can't because she's living in the past. He ends up just apologizing for not being able to meet her for the date. That night, the station master lets them stay in the office but then as he's sleeping, she finds out who they really are, two runaway kids.
She wakes Asaba up and makes him tell the truth, threatening to call the police on him. He tells him that he really is going south to visit his grandma. The station master has sympathy and tells him that even though all the trains have stopped running, there will be a military cargo train coming by later that night (early morning). She could pretend to be half asleep and forget to properly operate the train signal causing the train to slow down and the two of the could jump on. They agree to the idea and both will deny knowing each other.
One they're on the train, Iriya explains to Asaba, now somebody else, about how she's able to see ghosts. On the battleship Ticonderoga, there's a table in the back for the MIAs. After her last fellow pilot, Erika, died, she began seeing her ghost, first at that table and later on in her room. Although she would disappear almost immediately after being spotted, Iriya learned to speak in a "short-tongue" so that she could communicate with her. With the other pilots dead, Iriya explains that Enomoto wanted her to go to school. She really didn't want to go, but he lured her with the fact that the school has a swimming pool. Erica was a good swimmer and so Iriya wanted to do it too. With these two conflicting halves, she explains that Erica told her to just sneak into the pool at night. That's when she met Asaba.
When they reach the beach at their destination, Asaba has a dream that their actual destination is a small island in the south seas. He would have his own barber shop, he and Iriya would get married, and would explain to their grandchildren about how the journey they had coming to the island.
Later, she tells Asaba that she's going to school tomorrow (first day of school after her encounter). When he asks, she explains that he's Enomoto. When Asaba responds (as Enomoto) "why?" she says that she has someone she loves.
They arrive at his grandmother's place but after a bath, he finds that Enomoto is there waiting for them.
13. 南の島 (Southern Island): After Asaba wakes up from passing out when he saw Enomoto, he bumps into him again and asks him several things. He asks where Iriya is. She's in a van dying, he responds. He then asks what's really going on. After some huff and puff, he explains that there are two things going on, one is a war against fellow humans and another is a battle against aliens that can determine the fate of humanity. They have some ramen on the roof and Enomoto explains that the fated day is in three days.
Asaba returns to Sonohara and waits for the end of days. As the clock just passes midnight, the news reports that the war is over. The next day, he returns to school and meets a few of his classmates who have come back. Iriya is not there and doesn't seem to be coming back. Some helicopters then arrive at the school to pick Asaba up and fly him to the battleship in the south seas.
He finds out from Enomoto there that Iriya refuses to fight so that's why he's brought him on board. Asaba mentions that the news reports say that the war is over, but Enomoto thinks otherwise. After Iriya sees him (she recognizes him as Asaba), they have a talk and Iriya decides to pilot the plane and fight for to protect him and him only. After she leaves, Enomoto thanks him and pulls out a gun. Asaba also has a gun in his hands and shoots Enomoto. Enomoto also shoots, but he has blanks. Enomoto walks towards him and pummels him and they story ends with both of them injured on the deck of the ship.
Asaba knows now that Iriya has returned to the skies.
14. エピローグ (Epilogue): Afterwards, Mayumi sends Asaba a letter telling him that he'll receive a metal and an explanation of how they used him to motivate Iriya after all her fellow pilots have all died. While she doesn't think he'll forgive them, she just wants to explain everything. She signs it using the initials of her real name, T.S.
Suizenji has come back to school and says that he can't remember anything from his excursions into the tunnels underneath the base. The military is starting to leave the town. Akiho has also come back and accepts Asaba's explanation that Iriya transferred even though she knows he's hiding something. The club is back to their usual routines and the cat, "School Principal" disappeared the next summer. Asaba thinks it went looking for Iriya.