WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION!
If you would like the walkthrough for his character, you can read it here.
For a general review of the game, you can read it here.
Toshiaki Kijima is the executive of the accounting/finance department, and regularly dubbed ‘the Evil Executive’ or the ‘Data Devil’ within the office. He often reduces newcomers to tears with his high expectations, critical eye towards work and pushes them to their limits in order to produce the results he desires.
This leaves a less than stellar impression on many of the workers outside of his department, and his cold, abrasive personality doesn’t exactly help alleviate that picture. Toshiaki is extremely passionate about his work, and doesn’t let negative opinions phase him; as he views that his reasons for working aren’t to socialise or befriend others.
However, what Toshiaki says and what he genuinely feels are two completely different ends of the spectrum. Although he comes across as withdrawn and aloof, he actually shows great care and consideration for both the heroine and others through his actions. His criticisms towards work are hardly ever wrong, and he never blatantly dismisses the ideas of others.
Rather, he gives constructive advice and forethought in order to improve their work. Toshiaki even chooses not to attend company social parties out of consideration, due to his knowledge that his presence may be seen as discomforting for most people; something which the heroine views as incredibly sad.
Initially, the MC is shocked at the realisation that her mystery partner whom she slept with from the company party is in fact Toshiaki Kijima—The Devil Executive from Hell. From the glimpses of her fragmented memories, the man from last night had been unbearably sweet, gentle; and yet a sense of sadness glistened in his eyes and actions.
To contrast that experience with the image she had of him within the workplace, it simply didn’t add up at all. On top of that, after meeting at the bar to discuss the events that happened last night; the heroine reluctantly admits that she only has vague memories of what had transpired between them.
She apologises for her unruly behaviour, and Toshiaki’s expression hardens at this revelation. He immediately dismisses her attempts to discuss the matter, and states that it would be best for them both to forget the event had ever occurred and abruptly leaves. The MC is taken aback by his actions, but concedes that there is no point in fretting over the matter; if he wasn’t willing to talk about it, then it would be best to do as he said and write it off as a one-night stand.
After all, it wouldn’t do her any good to further lament over the issue; especially because he was still her executive from work. Thankfully as they were allocated to separate departments, the heroine reasons that she would have very little interaction with him during work hours. It was another reason as to why her impression of him was based on what she had heard from co-workers. She had never seen with her own eyes how he approached work and interacted with others.
However to her dismay, soon after she is placed on a joint project with Yuiko and Toshiaki as her direct supervisor. She is to produce a commercial for the famous Mira Black: a canned coffee well known for its bitter and dark taste. Due to the newfound opportunity and their past history, the heroine is spurred on by her desire to finally get to know the real Toshiaki. The disconnect between the face Toshiaki shows at work, and the gentle man he was when touching her that night… just where does the blurred line distinguishing the two end?
Why did he look so sad that night, and what was the meaning behind that melancholic smile? Thus, begins the complicated romance with a man burdened by his past and belief that he could never fall in love again.
I had no idea what to expect going into Toshiaki Kijima’s route, and I had keen interest in him prior to his release since I really liked his character design. I went into his story expecting something similar to what we saw in Shunichiro Tachibana’s route, and oh how extremely wrong I was in that assumption. In comparison to Shunichiro’s route, Toshiaki’s couldn’t be anymore different.
I suppose thinking back on it now with hindsight, it makes sense as they’re in essence two completely different characters. Where Shunichiro is suave, charismatic, passionate and well-accustomed to handling women; Toshiaki is awkward, incredibly sweet, soft and struggles to convey how he truly feels. His story isn’t so much about a whirlwind romance or a heated office tryst, but two people deeply connecting in eventual emotional understanding, and helping him come to terms with his past in order to look towards the future.
For Shunichiro and the MC, they already had prior familiarity as both work partners and as her inspiration for joining the company. It’s no wonder their route takes on a more heated and sensual tone, as their barely contained attraction for one another was already present from the very beginning. Between Toshiaki and the heroine however, then outside of knowing each other’s names and capabilities at work; they essentially knew nothing about one other.
Their relationship development and understanding of one another is gradual, slow, sentimental and bittersweet; the kind that leaves warm feelings of tenderness throughout reading the story. He continually helps the MC when she is having troubles with the project such as taking her to Shimane to visit the origins of Mira Black for inspiration, and gifted her sweepstakes stickers when she had mentioned collecting them.
Toshiaki accompanies her to purchase bingo gifts for the company party, and exhibits his consideration for what others would like through his choice of items; despite them being the very same co-workers who spoke spitefully about him behind his back. He always shows concern for the little nuances and changes in the heroine’s personality, with him being the first to notice she was ill and carrying her to the infirmary.
Before long, she realises that she has fallen in love with him; and wished to know more about him not as a superior or a work colleague — but as a man whom she wanted to be with. She doesn’t want to view that night as a regret, or just a one-night stand. However, she knows that a future between them wouldn’t be possible unless she truly comes to understand the root of his suffering; and why he continued to push her away.
With the help of Shunichiro, the MC learns the truth of his past and the sadness behind his smile that night. Five years ago, his long-term girlfriend had passed away due to terminal cancer. He used to be the type of man who put his all into work, just to make time to fly to Shimane every weekend to visit her.
Toshiaki had never been the same since the incident, and rather than being the person most upset about her passing; he was rendered emotionless and dispassionate to everything. He threw himself further into his work, and despite being so in love with her; he had not shed a single tear at her funeral.
The heroine recalls his pained expression whenever he glances at Tokyo Tower, and decides that it is the place that they need to go to together in order to confront his past. He reluctantly agrees, and when they’re viewing the beautiful Tokyo night sky; he finally reveals to her what happened within his past. His work had been the only thing left for him after she had passed away, and what kept him going through day to day life.
Initially he had been proud of his work, but after she disappeared from his life; he grew to view it as the only remaining good thing about himself. After all, he was the type of cold, heartless man who could not even shed tears for his girlfriend’s death, so did he really deserve happiness? Did he even have the right to love another person? After all, due to his childish wish to see Tokyo Tower when she was better; he decided not to take her. The idea that it would most likely be the last and only time that they could go… he was afraid to accept it, and because of that he was never able to fulfil her last dream.
If only he had taken her, then she could’ve at least been happy and smiled at him one last time. The heroine begins to cry out of sadness and pain for his sake, to see how much he has bottled up inside over the past five years. She cannot even begin to comprehend the sheer loss and yearning he must have felt all alone. She admits that she had already heard the partial truth from Shunichiro, and deduced that Tokyo Tower had some special significance to him. She wanted to provide him with some solace and closure in order to confront his past, and face his inner demons.
She explains that it’s because he feels so much and has such kind consideration for others, that it wasn’t possible for him to truly be cold and unemotional. It’s because of his nature that he simply wasn’t able to face his own grief and the reality of her own death. In order to escape the cruel, painful truth he had immersed himself in his work to forget the past and his remaining regrets.
What I really loved about the heroine was not only was she passionate about her work, but she truly got to know Toshiaki and fall in love with everything about him, both the good and bad. She is tenacious, approaches everything with the utmost enthusiasm and never falls to any set backs that occur. It’s why no matter how many times he pushes her away, she stays true to her own beliefs and convictions about his character; and continues to persist in getting to know the real Toshiaki.
Out of genuine love for him does she go to such lengths in order to mend his heart; for his own sake and happiness rather than her own. To me, that is the most genuine and pure form of love that you could ever show someone else. Likewise, in Toshiaki’s POV story we see that every action he does for the heroine is due to his consideration of her own feelings and happiness.
He doesn’t want to associate with her for her own sake, as he doesn’t want to drag her down with his feelings and past burdens. He doesn’t view that he deserves her or to be loved, due to his past actions with his deceased girlfriend. It was really refreshing to see his inner turmoil over the one-night stand, and that he had fretted over the dilemma even more than the MC.
I highly recommend his POV story in conjunction with the main route since Voltage really did an incredible job with them. It gives so much more dimension to his character and the overarching story, providing more insight on what exactly happened that night and how conflicting his true feelings and actions really are.
The complete opposite of unemotional, it is revealed how much restrained passion he felt for the heroine and his respect of her work ethic, bright personality, determination, and kindness. The final chapter of his POV during his conversation with his girlfriend at her grave was truly befitting with the bittersweet theme of his story. He finally comes to terms with his own emotions regarding her death and can now let go of the past. Although he could never forget her, he hopes that she would continue to watch over him as he finally allows himself to seek happiness.
The fact that he could ultimately shed tears, and release the emotions he had built up for so many years is a testament to how much the heroine had impacted his life for the better. It is because of her that he can now look towards the future, and his life has finally started moving again rather than being forever stuck in the same place.
I really liked how their relationship in comparison to Shunichiro’s route didn’t revolve around the one-night stand. Although it was the beginning of their connection to one another, it didn’t define what transpired between them afterwards. It wouldn’t have fit with the tone of Toshiaki’s route nor his personality. His story ending was so satisfying and sweet, as he finally is able to give in to his passions and love for the heroine.
The common motif throughout his story is the comparison of Toshiaki’s personality to the coffee Mira Black, which the heroine ironically gets hooked on and begins drinking excessively during her work on the project. It’s dark, bitter and leaves a strong aftertaste initially; an acquired taste that not everyone would like. And yet once you get used to it, you notice the rich subtleties of the flavour that no other coffee can compare to.
I felt that perfectly described Toshiaki’s character throughout the route, as he really does grow on you and left a very warm impression on me by the end of his story. Not to mention it represents the heroine’s own growing feelings towards Toshiaki as well. The coffee eventually becomes her staple drink, and she learns to love the subtle sweet and warm nuances of flavour that comes after the initially bitter taste. I recommend his route if you’re after a more romantic and bittersweet story, rather than a sexually charged and dramatic route like Shunichiro’s.