- Hisao Nakai
- Rin Tezuka
- Emi Ibarazaki
- Akio Mutou
- Shizune Hakamichi
- Shiina "Misha" Mikado
- Shinichi Nomiya
- Sae Saionji
- Yuuko Shirakawa
- Kenji Setou
- Meiko Ibarazaki
- Sunglasses Boy
At his first art club meeting, the first assignment is to partner up to practice sketching one another. Hisao is left with Rin, the only other person he knows. His own artwork is clumsy, but Rin's is amazing. When asked about the gloomy expression on his portrait, she answers that she's never seen him smile. Hisao starts to reflect on his negative outlook on life since his heart attack.
Later, after another art club session, Nomiya tells Rin about a friend of his who might be willing to display some of Rin's work. Rin says she'll think about it and goes for a walk, which Hisao accompanies her on. They stop at a large maple tree which Rin calls the Worry Tree. Rin feels that, to display her work for others, she'd need to become an entirely different person. She isn't sure whether becoming a career artist is something she wants for herself. Hisao shares with Rin his own negative feelings towards the circumstances that lead him to Yamaku, but resolves to stop "wallowing under the weight of all the crap in his life" and change for the better.
Hisao receives a letter from Iwanako, in which she hopes he's gotten back to his feet in his new life. Resolved to change, Hisao observes other students and how they cope with their difficulties. When Rin paints, she goes into her own world that he cannot breach. To her, painting is a way of capturing what she cannot say. Looking at her old paintings reminds her of what she was thinking at the time she made them, and are proof of her existence. She fears she cannot become the person that Nomiya wants her to be.
Emi makes good on her promise to celebrate finishing her track meet and the three head out for a picnic. However it begins to rain and they are forced to wait out the storm in the Shanghai. Emi decides to hike back in the rain, but knowing he can't keep up, Hisao walks Rin back with his umbrella. The next day, Emi is absent from lunch due to a cold, and Rin mentions that she might have it too. She sneezes suddenly and Hisao helps wipe her nose with his handkerchief. She hugs him (in her own way) and leaves as lunch ends.
Hisao bumps into Emi a few days later who sheepishly tells him Rin caught her cold. It takes a few days for Hisao to work up the courage to visit Rin, but when he does, Rin answers the door in an unbuttoned shirt and underwear. Speaking very strangely, Hisao figures out that she's taken too much codiene-based cold medicine. As he's about to leave, she falls into him and kisses him on the lips. A bewildered Hisao tucks her in, pondering whether to call a nurse, and pockets the rest of her medication.
The next day Rin waits outside Hisao's classroom with no recollection of previous day's events. But she does recall wanting to bring him somewhere, so they walk through the forest to a dandelion-covered hill. Rin apologizes for being so bad with people and confides that her pencils and paints are the only friends she's ever had. Hisao declares that he's her friend. Rin announces that she'll give the gallery a try, realizing change was inevitable so she might as well embrace the opportunity.22nd Corner Art Gallery. They meet the owner, Sae Saionji, who thinks her technique needs a little refinement, but that she'd be willing to host an exhibit if Rin is willing to add more works. Rin commits herself wholeheartedly, and Nomiya arranges for Rin to be exempt from classes for the rest of the trimester. Saionji arranges the atelier above her gallery for Rin to do her work in, even letting her stay overnight.
On her last day, Hisao finds Rin at her desk napping, crying in her sleep. She explains that crying is something she's learned from others. She also tells Emi not to distract her by visiting while she focuses on painting. Hisao still wants to become close to Rin. He confesses his feelings in the atelier, but she cuts him off and tells him she can't think about it right now. Heartbroken, Hisao turns to l*eave, but Rin asks him to visit again tomorrow.
Thus begins a pattern where Hisao visits her in the evenings, watching her paint or reading in silence. He brings her some oranges when he realizes she hasn't been eating properly and gently feeds them to her. Rin begins to struggle--she cannot inspire herself to paint using new methods nor old. She concludes that changing is not enough. First, she must destroy the "old her". She asks Sae for cigarettes and Hisao reluctantly shares the pack with her.
Upon seeing that smoking is only increasing her melancholy, Hisao takes her into the city at night, taking random turns and discovering new views. She suddenly asks him to stop visiting her for reasons she won't explain.
Within a few days, Hisao finds himself heading back to the gallery, unable to stop thinking about rin. He runs into Nomiya and Sae who talk about the challenges of a gifted career artist. While the two old friends reminisce, Hisao makes his way into the atelier. He discovers Rin is pleasuring herself on the floor. Realising she's been seen, she rambles about the shame and frustration of pursuing a path as an artist. She asks him to help her finish and he does. In the morning, Hisao wonders whether it crossed a boundary in their friendship. Rin responds in emotionless circles and Hisao gets frustrated trying to connect with the woman he loves.
Hisao demands that Rin explain what he means to her, but she is unable to do so. He yells at her about how selfish and unhealthy she's being by devoting herself to her art, treating him only as a source of inspiration and not as a person with feelings. Rin coldly demands that he leave. Hisao returns to his dorm. Before falling sleep, he notes how much time he wasted chasing things out of his reach.
The next night Hisao goes to the exhibition to apologize to Rin. Rin is not there, but Emi is, to support her friend. Nomiya finally appears with Rin, who pointedly ignores Hisao. The many guests begin asking questions of Rin, about her disability and how it affects her painting, her inspiration and technique. Rin is so overwhelmed that she sinks to her knees. Hisao escorts her outside to calm down. Rin realises she isn't ready to cope with so many questions.
Rin admits she wasn't ready for the gallery and walks back to school. Nomiya is outraged when he learns what Rin has done. Emi suggests she and Hisao find her and "kick her ass", but Hisao persuades her against that. The two return to the dorms to prepare for exams.
Nomiya interrupts Mutou's final exam to talk to Hisao. He has been unable to find Rin since she left. When prodded on why he pushed Rin into it, Nomiya explains that he saw it as his duty to ensure her talents didn't go to waste. Hisao leaves Nomiya and finds Rin in the unused classroom where they first met. Rin continues to hold herself at a distance. Hisao explains that Sae and Nomiya believe Rin is throwing away everything she has been working towards. He convinces her that she needs to apologize to Nomiya.
Hisao waits outside as the art teacher scolds Rin, lecturing her throwing away a promising career. She states, in her detached way, that the exhibition was a mistake. Nomiya frustratedly tells her she might not be an artist after all and storms out. When Hisao goes in to comfort her she pushes him away. Hisao tells her that Nomiya was trying to make her into someone she wasn't ready to be, and that in a way he was doing the same thing by trying to make them "more than friends". She cries in his arms, and Hisao holds her until she's done, realizing he fell in love with her a long time ago, even if he isn't able to connect with her well.
Rin explains it's easier to express herself with art than with words. She's trying to get people to understand her so she doesn't feel so alone. Hisao realizes she's been reaching out to him like he's been reaching out to her. She accepts that it's okay to never be completely understood, but dares to trust in Hisao a little more.
On the first day of summer vacation, a heavy rain pours outside. Hisao hears a thud at his door. Rin stands in the hallway, soaking wet. She's gone for a walk in the rain and, since Emi has gone home for the summer, she needs help changing into dry clothes. Hisao nervously agrees to help. As he dries and undresses her, one thing leads to another. Making love is a transformative act for both of them: Rin discovers what it feels like to not be alone and Hisao learns to stop worrying about the future.
Afterwards, Rin takes him back to the hill of dandelion flowers which are now in full bloom. She asks Hisao if he loves her. He isn't sure. Rin tells Hisao "I love you" anyway, describing the phrase as "a weird taste". She admits that she's a little bit afraid of Hisao, because he makes her feel like she should be someone else. She starts to cry.But the things about her that frustrate him are also what he admires most about her. Rin decides it's okay not to change. Hisao asks Rin if she still plans to become an artist, but Rin asks him to watch the sky with her instead. She asks him "What's the right word for when it feels inside your heart that everything in the world is alright?"
Hisao tells Rin that she should be happy so many people are interested in her art and convinces her to go back inside. Nomiya brushes off Rin's collapse as a spell of dizziness and Hisao loses her to the crowd of art enthusiasts.
After finishing his final exam, Hisao has an abundance of free time. But all he wants to do is see Rin. At the art gallery, he runs into Nomiya and Sae who are still enraptured by the success of the showing. Rin enters the gallery but stops upon seeing Hisao and leaves again. He chases after her for an explanation. She tells him that talking to him hurts her. The two of them wander the streets in silence, until eventually Hisao asks Rin about how she felt the exhibition went. Rin says all she wanted was for someone to look at her art and say "I understand how you feel". Hisao tells her nobody will ever understand her because human beings experience life uniquely. This hurts Rin deeply, who asks "Why do you say that when you made me feel otherwise?"She announces that Nomiya has helped her with a scholarship to an art university in Tokyo, leaving before the final trimester at Yamaku. Hisao is shocked how ready she is to leave him, but Rin states that she must go her own path, even if it changes her. She tells him to forget about her, then walks out of his life.
- This route has the most choices of any.