This won’t be of note if you haven’t spent the last five years trying to get inside the heads of Meiji writers, but:
Tengo sighed. “Our prospects are not very bright, I would say. But there’s no turning back now, is there?”
“Even if we could turn back, we’d probably never end up where we started,” the Professor said.
Aaaaand boom. A cultural moment that lasted three decades, right there. The dissertation I would’ve written, right there. Simplified.