“Choukiken? What’s that?”
“Kyouchaken,” although he corrected her without delay, going by the flow of events, the girl sitting next to him just didn’t get it and only responded to him with “Heー?”
“Kyouchaken… It’s the Hometown Geography Research Society.”
“Eh? I’ve never heard of it. Does a club like that really exist at our school?”
“It does. Actually, I was even a member.”
Around the time they got into high school, the whole grade was gathered in the gym for the “Club Introduction” which was supposed to provide information about the various clubs’ activities, but… It looks like nothing about it remained in this girl’s head.
It’s Wednesday night and they’re returning from prep school. Again this week, sitting in the seats along the wall of the train next to the boy was a classmate from school, Kitaoka Ema. Somehow it seems like it ended up becoming a routine for them to go home together once a week.
The train was reasonably crowded, and after two stations there were a lot of people standing. And today was rare in that she was listening to him properly. Maybe the phone she’s always poking at ran out of battery or something. Anyway, the topic right now was the school’s Cultural Festival.
At the school they attend the third years are focused on studying, so participation in the festival isn’t mandatory. Half of the class is super motivated about participating, but Yasuki and Class F are part of the remaining half that won’t participate.
Instead, Yasuki has plans to help the Hometown Geography Research that he was a part of until the first semester. From the start it was a pretty lenient club and he still goes to the meetings, but there’s less than 10 members in the group and it seems like they definitely need the extra hands.
When he was telling Kitaoka about that, she said “Huh?” That puzzled reaction brings us back to the beginning.
“…so, what does this Kyouchiken do?”
Yasuki answered her question indifferently.
“It’s about Hometown Geography, so… They collect data on the history and changes in the industries of the area around here… They interview local famous people, or make posters and display them.”
“Heー… It’s kind of simple, huh?”
“I thought you’d say that. Once they had “Chiibaa” come though.”
Just as she broke into a smile, the surprised Yasuki asked.
“You know it?”
“Yeah. I like Chiibaa quite a bit you know.”
“Chiibaa” is a character made to make the prefecture’s history and traditions more appealing. It’s one of those so-called “Yuru-charaTL1,” a yellow rabbit granny. (Except… It’s popularity and name recognition are such that calling “a strange red being (not a dog) in the shape of the prefecture” the prefecture’s official mascot was a stretch. Many of the prefectures residents consider it a slightly disappointing character that makes them say “Is that it?”)
A retiree from the Research Society works at the Prefectural Museum, and he was able to borrow the “Chiibaa” suit. On the day of the cultural festival, several of the juniors are going to take turns wearing the costume to draw in people.
While smiling and laughing, Kitaoka said “Chiibaa’s cute, right?” It’s not like she was talking about him, but somehow he found it pretty embarrassing.
“Speaking about clubs, what club were you in?”
He unintentionally asked as soon as he had the thought, and she replied in a low voice like she was a little upset.
“Eh, I wasn’t really in any though”
“Is that so? Didn’t anyone ask you to be their manager?”
From the start of first year, the eye-catching girls draw the attention of the sports clubs’ students, so the seniors are likely to give an invitation, saying “Won’t you become a manager?” Actually, during first year an upperclassman came to the class as a scout.
‘If you have a cute girl nearby, you’ll be more motivated’ is a feeling he can understand, even if they don’t do anything resembling actual management. Whether their interest in the matches even mattered was something he was unsure of.
Kitaoka screwed up her face a little as she answered wearily.
“……they asked but I turned them all down”
“Well, I don’t have a personality that where I can just help everyone”
That frankness was unexpected and a little “Pu-!” escaped Yasuki.
“Ah, so that’s it”
It’s true that she really isn’t the “working hard for everyone’s sake” type; doing things like putting effort into getting up early or supporting everyone from the behind. Also, he felt like her feelings showed easily on her face, which can cause unnecessary trouble in the strict hierarchy of the clubs.
“What do you mean ‘Ah, so that’s it?’ Super rude” Kitaoka muttered. As Yasuki was trying to fool her with a laugh, from his left side there was a girl’s loud voice.
Kitaoka snapped her face upward. She saw a girl with a bob-cut wearing a School uniform walk towards them from the linkage between the train cars and stop in front of them. It seems like she had managed to pass between the cars.
Kitaoka mumbled while looking up at the girl. She wore the uniform of a school famed for being difficult to enter. Maybe due to that, her distinctly Japanese features gave an excessively intelligent impression. Her slender legs were in deep blue high socks paired with sneakers from a collaboration between Jaguar and a famous brand, and from it you could feel a certain personality and peculiarity that couldn’t be hidden.
Kumiko, as she was called, took her white earphones out and thrust them into her pocket. She turned to Kitaoka with a big grin.
“It’s been a while! How’ve you been?”
Kitaoka was coaxed into returning a smile.
“Good. You’re probably as good as ever, huh?”
“Well, yeah. But the supplementary lessons… all these supplementary lessons are gonna kill me.TL4 What about you? Are you headed back from prep school?”
Somehow it seems like this girl and Kitaoka get along well. They probably have a bunch to talk about since it’s been a while, so he got up to give his seat to Kumiko. “Ah, excuse me then,” she said with a smile as she unreservedly sat in the open seat.
He stood behind Kumiko and held the leather strap for support. As he was planning to change train cars while pretending to be one of the people getting off at the next stop, Kitaoka called out to him. “Iijima”
“I’m not lending that to you. I’ll take it.”
She said while reaching for the clear case he was holding. This girl……, even though he was making an effort to pretend he was unrelated in front of her friend. What is she doing? Read the air! He was assaulted with a feeling of having wasted his effort.
Just as you’d expect, Kumiko compared the two with surprise and said “Ah……, Eh?” while her voice overflowed with confusion. After all, she hadn’t realized that Yasuki was accompanying Kitaoka.
“Umm……, Who might this be?”
“Iijima-kun. From the same class in high school”
She readily answered. “Hello” During the time he was greeting Kumiko, the clear case was taken half by force and now rested in Kitaoka’s lap.
Seeming to have recollected herself, Kumiko faced him and a good-natured smile rose to the surface. “Nice to meet you,” she greeted him.
“I see” he ambiguously nodded. Isn’t she pretty eloquent? She’s talkative. How long has it been since he’s talked to a girl outside of Kitaoka or his family Yasuki wondered a little.
To Yasuki’s dismay, Kumiko was staring at his right side that was unoccupied while holding the strap. What could it be? Could his uniform have gotten dirty? While Yasuki was getting uncomfortable, Kumiko suddenly spoke up.
“Hey, Iijima-kun, you a fan of ScoSho?”
The accurate guess gave him a shock.
Scottish Shorthair (ScoSho for short) was the name of the young rock band that was currently Yasuki’s favorite.
But how did she know them, he wondered. Could she use psychic powers? “Eeh, Yeah” he answered, and her face lit up.
“I knew it! I love them too! They sold that keychain on their last tour, right?!”
Kumiko let out a high pitched laugh while pointing at the keychain hanging from the right side of his backpack. It seems that after all, this girl wasn’t an esper or anything, she was just a girl with good eyes.
“That’s… right. Actually, I wanted a T-shirt, but they were sold out”
He answered while looking slightly behind. When he went to the live show last year he bought the keyholder, which was one of the tour goods. He ended up hanging it from the backpack he commutes to school with, but up until now nobody had ever reacted to it, so he had forgotten it was attached there.
Being told ‘I’m jealous, let me see it better,’ he turned to the side. While Kumiko studied the keychain in her hand, a puzzled Kitaoka asked
“What are you talking about……?”
“ScoSho the band. Don’t you know them? The one that goes ‘Overflowing with a little courage you are the only one I can’t save♪’”
Kumiko quietly sang a part of their most famous song. Still, Kitaoka with an expression that said she didn’t understand at all tilted her head and murmured “I’ve heard that…… I think?”
It’s not impossible. ScoSho enjoyed strong support from some music lovers, but generally speaking, whether they’re in the charts or not, their sales can’t be said to break any records.TL7
(By the way, the band name comes from a mix of the members two favorite breeds of cat. While the name leaves a cute impression, the music is hard rock with electronic elements and the lyrics are often extremely introspective. Even among fans, ‘Mimura (vocalist and lyricist) Neurose Theory’ is spoken in hushed tones.)TL8
“Thanks,” Kumiko said while releasing the keychain, and once again looked up at Yasuki and started speaking.
“But you actually got a ticket, huh. I’m jealous. I tried to pick one up the day they went on sale, but the major cities were instantly sold out, right? Good job getting that ticket.”
“I reserved the ticket online… If you apply there, you can win with a lottery”
Thinking back now, he was exceedingly lucky. He applied because he had nothing to lose, but unexpectedly he was actually picked to get a ticket. When you compare it to the number of enthusiastic fans, the venues for ScoSho are always too small. On the day Yasuki went, tickets had jumped up to 3 times the original price at auctions.
Kumiko continued the conversation with fire in her eyes. It seems like there aren’t many ScoSho fans near her (He understood the feeling well)
“By the way, which venue were you at?”
“The second day at Zepp”
He honestly answered, and in a voice that was nearly shouting she said “No Way?!”
“That’s the last day, then! I looked at other people’s set lists from the tour reports, but that one would be a gift from god to me?!”TL9
“Ah, the encore was ‘Junjou Clumsy Boy,’ it was a little unexpected, huh.”
“It totally was! That’s my favorite song”
The song Yasuki brought up was an early hit, so naturally it’s popularity with fans is high. However, the members were young when they made that song, so the lyrics and the melody are pretty immature. Nowadays, it’s one that’s rarely brought out.
On the day he went there it was played as a surprise, so… Naturally, there was a lot of excitement in the venue. The woman watching next to Yasuki immediately burst into tears the moment they played the intro.
“Aah, I wish I could have heard it, the live version of JunCura…”TL10
Kumiko’s black hair swayed as she sighed deeply. Then Yasuki remembered about something.
“That day, there was a CS camera. I got the DVD of the guys who broadcast it….”
The day of the live show that he went to, was edited and broadcast by the CS music channel, and while he wouldn’t say they got the entire show, they mainly got major songs.TL11 Naturally, they included the special feature ‘JunCura.’
As expected, she bit the bait she was shown.TL12 So, of course, the next line is…
“Let me borrow it!”
Just as Yasuki gave the OK, Kitaoka for some reason gave an unexpected reaction. It was a face like she couldn’t understand what they were saying.
As if she didn’t notice her friend, Kumiko’s whole face was lit up with joy.
“Really!? I’m super happy!”
She immediately rummaged in the pocket of her uniform, pulled out her cell phone, and said
“Then, contact details…… Do you have LINE?”
“Ah, I don’t have a cell phone…”
Frankly speaking, she didn’t seem surprised at all, and rummaged in her bag.
“Alright. But you can get online, right?”
“Mm. I can.”
“Aright, hold on a minute”
She wrote down her email address on the corner of a notebook and “Here” she said as handed it to Yasuki.
“Alright. I’ll send an email from my PC at home.”
He put the scrap of paper in his train pass holder. During the exchange, Kitaoka was glaring like she had some sort of complaint.
(What’s with her……)
Maybe she doesn’t want an outcast like him to get along with her important friends. When Yasuki glanced at Kitaoka dubiously it seemed that Kumiko finally realized the change that had come over Kitaoka and inquired “What’s up, Ema?”
Contrary to her words, Kitaoka clearly seemed unamused. Of course, they brought up a topic that she didn’t really understand, but it’s not as if it was gonna break their friendship apart. If it’s not common to meet people with the same hobbies, when those people meet a conversation is bound to spring up. Maybe this girl has never been in the minority, so she wouldn’t know…
However, it seems that Kumiko, who’s been with her a long time, won’t stand this childish attitude. With a bright smile, she put into action a plan to forcibly pull Kitaoka to our side.
“Do you want to give them a listen too? I’ll lend a CD”
“……I’ll think about it”
“Come on, just give it a try. The members are all pretty hot”
Is that so? Yasuki instantly tilted his head in confusion. It seems like the members of ScoSho are popular with the Cultural type girls who say things like “I want a boyfriend,” but it seems like the extroverted flashy girls like Kitaoka would keep away from those types. Wouldn’t this type be attracted to men with strong faces or strength and vitality? While he was thinking about what would happen the day after tomorrow, Kumiko suddenly threw a glance his way.
“Ah, come to think of it, doesn’t the guitarist Nishi-kun have a similar atmosphere to Iijima-kun?”
Suddenly having the conversion pointed at him, his shoulders trembled.
“I don’t really think so though……”
Although he denied it, actually he thought ‘That guy’s face might resemble mine’ a little. His older sister by 4 years had also pointed this out to him.
It’s not like he could play the guitar, and his facial structure was a bit common. Still, there was nobody who completely resembled someone who would be a successful musician.TL13
He hung his head with unpleasant thoughts. At this point the two girls’ conversation had smoothly changed to “If it has to be a musician, who’s your favorite” and Yasuki, without being noticed, breathed a sigh of relief.
(TL1) : I didn’t know what these were at first, so in case you’re like me: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuru-chara