|Period 43: Marionette's Lover|
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|Next||Period 44: Ding Dong Lady|
Lala Nishino is very popular and a happy teenage girl with an amazing boyfriend. But one day she starts to notice how odd he has began to act and someone leaves her a strange gift; a marionette said to control the one loved by the owner.
Yomi points to a group of young girls nearby who are playing with a marionette. She remarks on it's special powers and how it has become very popular lately.
Lala Nishino has it all; not only is she pretty enough to be scouted by magazines and television programs, but she also has friends who admire her, and a handsome boyfriend who is a talented basketball player and is admired by people outside of the school. Her life is perfect, she can hardly believe how happy she is every day.
One day Lala shows up to school with an image someone took of them during their first date. Aki is embarrassed and asks that she not bring them again as she lovingly gets closer and brings up being invited to a movie by someone from the magazine. But she is disappointed when Aki reveals the last-second practice that was scheduled recently, so he can't go. He apologizes and heads off, leaving Lala to think about how he used to behave back when they began to date six months ago. Now he's had a lot of last-second practice and she can't understand why. Her friends then point out that because her birthday is tomorrow, he might just be planning her a surprise and finding this plausible Lala decides not to say anything more.
It's then they spot a wrapped present has been left for her on her desk, and she finds a marionette with a heart etched into it's wood. Her friends find the strange gift to be creepy as two classmates recognize the puppet, remarking that it was sold on an auction recently; it's rumored to be able to control the person you love. Uninterested, Lala tosses the puppet to her friend Junko, suggesting she try it out because she's the only one without a boyfriend yet.
After school Lala and Aki hang out at a cafe while she informs him of what happened. Aki insists she has nothing to worry about, but before he can say anything more she interrupts, teasingly wondering if he noticed that she changed her lip gloss recently. Rather than respond Aki excused himself to the restroom, leading her to once again think about his strange behavior. Wondering if he could be hiding something she checks his phone for anything suspicious, seeing that he left his bag here. But to her shock she finds that Junko has left his a message asking what his favorite side dish is and how she wanted to pack it for lunch.
She quickly tosses his phone back into his bag as he returns and he notices her concern, but when asked she claims it's nothing. She worriedly thinks about whether or not this is the same Junko as her friend.
The next day, everyone approaches Lala with their presents, including Junko who made her some cookies. Lala refuses to believe that Aki and Junko could be together behind her back- especially considering that Junko has never dated before, and she's so plain.
Suddenly, one girl brings up that some boys requested Junko's number, much to her and Lala's confusion. She finds it hard to believe that Junko could suddenly be popular without her knowing; but she does recall seeing her look up bento recipes as of late, so it is possible she got a boyfriend. She continues to observe Aki and Junko, and noticing how flustered they seem causes her to fear the worst.
Throughout class Lala is too distracted to focus, deciding to break up with him and find someone better. But she gives it more thought, deciding that she doesn't want to lose what they have because of how envious everyone is of them; she won't let them find out he cheated on her. She observes Junko and wonders if it would be possible to make her disappear, but then she spots the puppet in her school bag, and remembering what those boys said the prior day she takes it and retreats to the girls bathroom.
Having taken a hair from Aki recently when she noticed his bed-head, she plucks one of her hairs and places them both into the puppet, then she prepares to rejoin her friends to test it out. She lowers the doll behind her and begins to move it, requesting he ignore Junko. She is delighted when it works, causing Junko concern until she spots Lala, who she tries to speak to- only to be ignored by her as well. Lala quickly clings to Aki and offers to make him a bento for his upcoming match as they walk off, but she decides this isn't good enough. She has to do more.
Throughout the remainder of the school day Aki cuddles up with Lala, who happily reciprocates. Their sudden fondness is stronger than usual, which goes noticed by friends and classmates who can only observe with confusion. Everyone is either flustered or squealing over how cute they look, and Lala smirks as she notices Junko -who seems frustrated- gets up to leave the room. She only wishes she thought of using the puppet sooner, and lovingly agrees to wait for Aki to finish with club before they take off, leaving her friends to continue gushing over them.
However, Lala still wants revenge on him for cheating on her.
As the guys take off, Lala pulls out the puppet and thinks about her plans of manipulation. She'll make Aki stop focusing on his club so much to pamper her and her every need, take her out on dates, buy her new things, and she'll make him get down on his knees and beg for forgiveness. But to her alarm, she notices that as he leaves the room Aki isn't moving the way he should be, he's still leaving.
She collapses to the floor in frustration when Junko approaches, asking if they can speak in private as Aki is shown observing them from the hallway. Lala angrily agrees, then confronts her with what she was suspecting this entire time. Junko gently apologizes and begins to cry, confessing that she had feelings for Aki since they were first year students. She would often give him advice whenever he would stress out over his club, and she knew that because he was dating Lala she had to give up and move on but she can't help but feel the way she does. She feels horrible for lying to Lala, and asks that she forgives her.
Lala stands in silence until she has a moment to speak, and briskly she informs Junko that Aki could only ever like her and tells her to stop. But just then Aki shows up, telling the girls to stop. Lala is delighted to see him, but she stands in alarm as he approaches Junko and apologizes to Lala for not saying something. He brings up that when he asked her to wait, it was to speak to her about this, and he admits that he realized that when he was with Junko he really liked her, and she likes him. Lala points out that she also likes him though, but he coldly tells her that he isn't her puppet, and she never loved him. She only loves herself.
As Lala stands in stunned silence, Aki and Junko hold hands and begin leaving the room. Enraged by being dumped, she rips the puppet out from her bag saying she will set him free, violently clenching the puppet as hard as she can before throwing it out of the window nearby. As she observes she suddenly notices her arm hurts and she looks to see it has become battered and bloody.
In the distance her classmates hear her scream and in a panic, they find her bloodied and broken body laying on the ground, with her arms and legs broken and poses similarly to the doll next to her. She can't move, and she stares at it realizing that the pain she caused it happened to her and she thinks about how every demand she made to it wasn't controlling Aki throughout the day; but herself. It was her who ignored Junko, and she was the one enforcing Aki to act lovingly in class, and when she made it bow down she was the one who fell to the floor.
She opens the head of the doll to see their two locks of hair as she thinks about what Aki said earlier. She realizes he was right, it never was about him- she only loved herself. This doll was herself; something she can only think about as she lays on the ground and continues to bleed out.
Meanwhile, Junko observes a page on the puppet using her phone and she quietly murmurs that Lala did what she expected. She's very happy by her success, but when Aki asks if she said something she insists it's nothing other than her being happy that they can be together now. She happily clings to his arm, and Aki is shown to look at her with concern before they begin to walk off.
Yomi observes the two sets of people, Aki and Junko walking off, and Lala and the puppet as she lays on the ground lifeless. She remarks on the situation before asking people to let her know if they feel the need to control someone they love, then asks how they like the puppet. But she suggests they understand their feelings beforehand.
- This is the second time a Protagonists age is revealed. Lala is 17, making her one of the oldest in the series.
- Lala's friend Junko resembles Riri Itou.