Narcissu is about people who are dying.
I read the first Narcissu last year during the summer. That was about a guy and a girl, both terminally ill and pretty much left to die. Faced with the choice of dying in the hospital or dying at home, they reject both and escape. Escape to where? Well, they figure that out along the way while we sit in the backseat and listen in.
Narcissu Side 2nd came out this year to everyone’s surprise and it offers another perspective on someone whose life is slowly draining away. This time, rather than following the journey of two people who are dying, we see how the waiting to die affects the person who’s about to die and everyone around them. Side 2nd takes place years before Narcissu, in which the protagonist, Himeko, meets Setsumi, the girl from the first Narcissu.
Side 2nd is interesting because it illuminates Setsumi’s character and leads into so many of the little details in Narcissu. It’s impressive how Side 2nd adds to the original Narcissu, even though it was already a pretty complete story. And after finishing Side 2nd, reading Narcissu again, and finishing with the new epilogue, I was amazed by how everything fit together.
Narcissu is fascinating because it shows us the end of a life without the usual drama that accompanies it in other fictional works. It’s not about people who are dying and are fighting to live. It’s not about people who are dying and decide to go out in a blaze of glory. It’s not about people who are dying after a life well lived. Narcissu is about people who have barely lived their lives and are resigned to the fact that it’ll be over shortly.
No shouting, no tears, no hope, just silence.