Kuraokami, the legendary rain dragon also known as the deity of rain and snow was a majestic beast, the sky of azure. In ancient times, it was said that his benevolence saved the land of Japan during its greatest droughts and disaster, driving away even the greatest of winds and waves. The people of the great eastern land worshipped and venerated the great dragon. However, over the years, Kuraokami realised that the droughts and storms that plagued the land of Japan were of no natural cause but rather due to the reckless actions of humans. Their little inventions and designs had condemned them to a cycle of disaster after disaster as time and again, they disrupted the natural cycle of the world. By the age of machines and science, most had forgotten the legendary sky dragon but a few devoted followers still held on to their belief of a force greater than them, a force that could intervene and stop their path to destruction should they continue on their quest to play god with their ceaseless degradation of the world they lived in. Taking pity on the people he once held deep regard for, Kuraokami decided to give the people of Japan one last chance. Every 1000 years, a hare-onna would be born into this world. She would be a shrine maiden whose prayers would be directly heard by Kuraokami. But this came at a price. To remind humanity of its irresponsibility and foolishness, the hare-onna's life would eventually be sacrificed in exchange for the miracle that Kuraokami had blessed her with.
When the god of storms, Raijin heard about this, his wrath was immeasurable for every millennia, he would be deprived of the storms and havoc he so loved to wreck on humanity, should this shrine maiden exist. As deities could not directly interfere with each others work, Raijin had no choice but to make a ame-otoko as a symbol of vengeance against his great rival, Kuraokami. For every shrine maiden that appeared, a bringer of rain would be there to remind humans of the supreme Raijin.
"Wow, you really do have a great imagination Natsumi." Hodaka replied doubtfully as Mr Suga's niece told him everything the old records keeper had told her in their interview. The "sunshine girl" might be true since Hina's prayers did indeed seem to be blessed by a supernatural force but an ame-otoko? Who could that ever be? And all the talk about dragons and rain gods made Hodaka's mind spin.
"Senpai! Come and play with me!", Mr Suga's daughter was a young girl no more than ten wth short straight bangs covering her forehead and a huge smile on that adorable face of hers. Grabbing him by the hand, the little girl pulled Hodaka away and he soon left Natsumi's fairytale in the back of his mind.
Two days later, Hodaka was still running, but not in a lush field of grass with his employee's daughter, no, he was still on the run from the police. They had somehow identified him despite his pullover and cap and now grabbing Hina in one hand Naga in the other, they were racing through the streets of Ginza, surprised pedestrians throwing looks of disapproval at his reckless behaviour. The rain had been pouring for days and the streets were flooded up to six inches in some areas. Feet sloshing in the rain, breath raspy with the exertion and hearts beating wildly, the trio stopped round a deserted alley as the police chasing them seemed to have lost their trail.
Making sure that no one had followed them, the trio started looking for a place to stay the night as they waited for their train to leave Tokyo. Hodaka was overjoyed when Hina had agreed to run away with him. He had never run away from home this long before. He had never met a "big brother" quite like Nagi before. And he most certainly hadn't had a girl who he really liked run away with him before. He couldn't wait to explore the world with her, to find a place where the sun would shine on her beautiful face and she would see it with her own two eyes, smiling and free, not cumbered by the burden of praying and praying for others while admired the sun in exhaustion. She was just a girl, she had just turned eighteen a few days ago, yet in those gentle and loving blue eyes, all he saw was weariness and the concern for him and her little brother. She would be free. They would be free, he silently promised.
After being turned away at over a dozen hotels, they finally found one which was neither full nor age restricted. The room was spacious and well-furnished with a queen sized bed that could easily fit all three of them. After a refreshing hot bath, they sat down to unpack the stash of food they found in the pantry. There was an assortment of food, from omu rice bowls to bentos of oyako don and even a yakiniku rice burger.
"OISHI!", the trio yelled in unison as they each claimed their favourite dish.
"Mmmm! This is amazing!", chanted Hodaka as he stuffed another bite of the yakiniku beef burger in his mouth.
"Let me try it too! Why don't you take this bowl of omu rice, it's really good!", Hani held out her hands excitedly as she leapt of the couch and exchange food with Hodaka. One bite into the burger and her eyes lit up, brighter than any star in the sky. "You aren't getting this burger back!", Hani gleefully dodged Hodaka's attempts at reclaiming the burger he had been tricked into giving up.
After dinner, they jumped on the enormous bed and turning on the flashy lights that were handing above their heads like a disco ball, they turned on the karaoke system that was installed in the television in their room and started dancing to the music by their favourite bands. Hodaka has a surprisingly beautiful voice for someone so young, Hani thought, a blush forming on her face as she watched him and her younger brother dancing wildly to the latest hit by Radwimps. Nagi and Hodaka appeared so different on the outside, one was a charming and confident girl magnet while the other was a quiet, shy but rather courageous boy.
The first time she had seen him, she had thought he was just another homeless child in the streets and when she gave him that burger, it was simply out of pity. Yet, when he had pulled out a gun to threaten the man that had tried to take her to their private club, there was a hint of fear or hesitation in his eyes. He had risked his freedom, even his life to save a girl who had simply given him a burger. He was either the dumbest or sweetest boy in the world. Ever since that day, she had felt secretly in love with him.
All her life, she had been looking out for her brother, sparing no thought for herself. But Hodaka was different. He didn't know her, had barely spent a month with her and despite the cold weather that had plagued Tokyo, her heart had never felt warmer when he was by her side. The sun warmed her face, her body, her skin, but it was her heart that Hodaka touched. Is there anything love cannot do? Hina smiled softly to herself as she continued watching Hodaka, her sunshine boy.
That night, the three of them slept together on the bed with Hani sleeping in the centre. Nagi had fallen fast asleep from the tiring day but Hodaka was still awake as he wondered what life outside Tokyo would be like. It certainly wouldn't be this cold or dull, what with the incessant rain. Something was not right, the rain had been reportedly heaviest in the Asakusa district when they were there several hours ago yet the rain had suddenly intensified over the Ginza region the moment they arrived. He vaguely recalled something Natsumi had once told him but couldn't quite figure out what it was.
"Hey, Hodaka…", Hina's voice floated over as she placed a hand gently on Hodaka's shoulders. "Do you want the rain to stop?", she asked quietly.
"Well..yea I guess so, it would be nice to see the sun everyday I wake.", Hodaka thought wistfully. He could already feel the scent of summer on his face as he held Hina's hand through a field of flowers, holding the one person who was brighter than any sunshine he had ever seen, his sunshine girl.
Smiling, a mixture of sadness and happiness crossed Hani face as she her hand slowly fell from Hodaka's shoulder to his hand. "Will you promise never to leave me? Even when I'm gone?", she asked, her voice almost a whisper as she held Hodaka's hand between her palms. "What are you saying? Of course I would. But we'll be together. You, me, Nagi, nothing can separate us, I promise you. I…I really…", Hodaka's voice trailed off. He so badly wanted to tell her how much he loved her but he was afraid. Afraid that she saw him just like another little brother. Afraid that she didn't love him the way he had so longed for, a way that even his family hadn't. Afraid of the day that the rain would swallow up his sunshine girl and leave him all alone.
"The sun. Hodaka, promise me you'll think about me when you see it again…", Hani's voice trailed off as her body suddenly turned translucent then transparent. The soft warm hands that had been holding Hodaka's own suddenly disappeared right through his and he was left staring dumbstruck at Hina's shimmering image. "What is happening? HIna! Hina!", Hodaka tried desperately to hold on to the image of Hina that was growing fainter by the second. "Why is this happening?"
"I should have told you this earlier but, I could feel myself merging with the sky a little every time I said a prayer. It was as if a part of my body or my soul was taken to seal the rain away. I did not want to to believe it then, but…I finally realised that the only way to stop this rain once and for all is to sacrifice my entire body. I'm sorry…I…I should have told you earlier…" Holding back tears that looked like part of her shimmering form, Hina's voice was so full of sadness and regret that Hodaka felt his own voice break as he buried his head in his hands and yelled, "I…I don't want to ever see the sun again. If I miss lose you Hina…the sky can rain for the rest of our lives, it docent matter but please Hina come back to me. I don't want to see the sun. I don't want to to lose you. Please…".
"It's too late, I've said my final prayer. It is for you Hodaka. I loved being a sunshine girl more than anything. But…more than that, there was on thing I loved more Hodaka. I loved…"Hina's voice was barely a whisper as her words choked on a unfolding tears. Before she could finish her last sentence, a bright flash suddenly enveloped the room as Hina's dressing gown fell to the bed. The sky immediately started to glow as a ray of sunshine broke through the overcast grey sky.
As the rain slowed and slowed, eventually coming to a stop, Kodak's tears flowed and flowed. Why? Why did she have to be a shrine maiden? Why did she have to care so much about him. Why couldn't he at least hold her once last time. Why? Why? Why? What cursed fate had brought them together only to tear them apart again? WHY? He screamed into the sky but no words came out.
"I know this sounds crazy but in the legends, it speaks of a hare-onna and ame-otoko…", Natsumi's voice suddenly floated in his mind. "Hmm, come to think of it, the rain started the way we arrived at Tokyo", Mr Suga's passing comment suddenly struck him. "It seems like the rain is always the heaviest wherever we go, just now it was at Asakusa, now it's at Ginza, we must be just really unlucky!", Nagi's lighthearted comment hit Hodaka like a brick. Could it…Could it be? Could the legends be true? If Hina was truly a shrine maiden, then perhaps the legend of a rain boy wouldn't be too far-fetched. But in that case, who could the rain boy be? Who could this cursed person be in this city? Unless…No it couldn't be, it couldn't be, it couldn't be. It was too much of a coincidence. No it was just a myth, a story fabricated by grandparents for their child. Because if everything the legends said were true, if everything he suddenly remembered were true, it would mean, he, Hodaka was the ame-otoko.
Had he caused Hina to sacrifice herself? If it was true, he was doubly to blame for Hina's disappearance. If the myths were true, he was both the cause of the rain as well as Hina's final sacrifice to fulfil his wish. It was him, he had brought this. In a cruel twisted, sick joke, some cursed fate had brought him together with a girl, made him fall in love, only to be one to tear her away because of some millennia old superstition. But more than that, it was his wish, his last wish that Hina had sacrificed herself. She had only given a bit to each of the people who's wish she granted, but for him, she had given him her whole. She had given him a life of warmth, a lifetime of sun. However, in doing so, Hodaka's life had never felt so dark. Is there still anything that love can do?
A though suddenly struck him. The shrine. Hina had told him about the shrine where it all started, where she had said her first prayer. Leaping off the bed, he ran as fast and as hard as he could. The shrine was not too far from here, on foot it would only take around ten minutes at the pace he was going. Racing across the still wet ground, he stumbled more than a few times, earning him grazes and cuts all over his body but still he didn't stop. Breath ragged, legs burning and heart hammering in his chest, he though over and over again. Wait for me Hina, I'm coming!
Reaching the bottom of the building where the shrine was located. He rested for less than second before scrambling up the steps two at a time, his feet clanking on the metal steps. Once he finally reached the top, he was breathless, not from the view of the sun bathing the face of Tokyo as flowers sprang forth and golden ays filtered through the canopy of building and trees, but from the fear and desperate hope that he clung on to. This shrine was the last shred of hope he had of seeing Hina again. The sky could rain forever, it wouldn't matter. Hina was brighter than any sun, warmer than any summer and he was going to hold her hand once more. Eyes closed, hand clasped together, Hodaka prayed to whatever god might hear him. "Please give me Hina back. I want nothing less, but nothing more either. Let the world rain again, but please, let Hina shine again.". Clinging to his last shred of hope, Hodaka stepped through the shrine.
As he did so, the sky began to darken and a single drop of rain fell to the ground.