A Simple Survey:Volume1 Afterword
Hello, this is Kamachi Kazuma.
Sometimes I will come up with an idea that I cannot put into one of my current series. When enough of those had piled up, I decided to write a book using them. Each individual idea could probably be expanded into a whole book, but that brings about the issue of writing too many series to handle at once.
It’s possible a book expanding on one of these ideas will come out later, but that is undecided for now.
Okay, this afterword will be done by chapter!! I have a feeling this afterword is going to use the term “moe” more than any of my previous ones, but the primary themes in this book were moe and love comedy, so there is no use running from it. …Come to think of it, this afterword will probably get a bit long.
File 01: A Computer Virus That Has Been Spreading of Late
This anthropomorphization came about from a desire to make computer viruses moe to counteract how scary they can be. I know naked eye 3D is not such an amazing thing that you would be dreaming about it, but it can be used as a nice gimmick in fiction.
It might be fun to create different types of characters for different types of malware, like a download bar or a key logger.
File 02: Please Feel Free to Consult with Us (But Use at Your Own Risk)
When you think about it, a world where you can use a computer to search for a marriage partner is pretty amazing. This idea developed from that concept. Because this is a light novel, it led to an elf and a little girl who speaks like an old women, but in reality, it would probably lead to a mafia daughter or a beautiful investor. Then again, thinking you would find someone beautiful might be leaving the realm of reality…
File 03: By Any Means Necessary
One of this novel’s few serious stories. In my mind, the organization here is not some country’s intelligence agency. Instead, I view it as a company that can be hired to interrogate people.
Sagittarius’s specialty intentionally draws himself in as well in order to disrupt the atmosphere of the scene, but one wrong step can lead to himself being swallowed whole.
So who is more twisted? Sagittarius who uses temporary attachment and trust to get his way or Scorpio who uses direct violence?
File 04: Ninja Art – Sleep Diver Technique ©
Ninja ideas have a way of periodically smoldering within me. When I was thinking of what to write about next, this idea came to me. But strangely enough, I was unable to expand it into a larger story.
I got as far as having the Iga and Kouga acting as something like Japanese intelligence agencies in the modern day who are in a development race over ninja goods. When I researched on metamaterials, I found it to be scarier than I did interesting. Does that mean I am not able to keep up with the current age?
Still, bending lasers seems to have more romance to it than camouflage. Perhaps that is because things like ABLs seem unrealistic (at least for now).
Also, having the protagonist be a perverted peeping tom of an old man who has no battle ability at all is more or less unheard of in light novels. That is something else I can only get away with in a short story.
File 05: Watch Out for New Types of Scams
As I do not smoke, I honestly do not know who supervises roadside smoking. It’s the same with warning buzzers. (They are not the same as sirens. They make a high-pitched electronic beeping that provides no sense of urgency.) You think you understand it, but there are a surprising number of details you are unaware of.
Speaking of scams and something mentioned in another story, manuals to control a human’s mental state are really amazing. Maybe I could do a story about a specialist who makes manuals special made to a requested individual. It could be for a president, a spy, or a stubborn girl.
File 06: 385D
At first it looks like an idea based around numbers, but it turns into something else. This started out as an idea about a mysterious young woman in a café who is seen as a valuable link to some different world by a completely normal boy. Just as the boy has experienced strange incidents related to 385D, the woman holds the reigns of the word “job” and she resolves various incidents. It could be fun to add in enemy characters who are related to words like “mystery” or “organization”.
Anytime you start paying too much attention to numbers such as doubles, it is a sign that your heart is weary, so be careful.
File 07: A Comfortable Casket for You
A casket story. Actually, the thing about “the influential science magazine Planet” at the beginning is the real heart of the story. Getting the basic premise across as quickly and simply as possible is standard, but I wonder if that worked well enough.
There are various ways of making it immediately obvious that something is a creature from a different world. For example, you can add wings or horns. However, if you stray too far from the human form, you have struck a fatal blow to any moe aspects. The safest way to avoid that is to keep the overall form the same, but just shrink the size down. A convenient way to create that impact is by having the character look the same as a human but carrying out actions that humans do not do such as entering a shop through the cat door.
By the way, is there anyone in this world who has no problem with the dentist’s drill?
File 08: The Clogging Time Lodes
A time machine story. This story came about when I was thinking about the cliché of clichés that is a future world where the resources have dried up. I started to wonder if you could write a story about creating a link to the past in the timeline to deal with the dried up resources.
The one real problem with time machines is that the story cannot progress if there is no one who is aware of the before and after changes, but it is not easy to come up with a reason why your characters would not be affected by it. That is why I added a quick reference to that.
File 09: Even Matters of Hell are Decided with Cash?
This idea about hell came about from the fact that businesses sometimes run prisons or carry out punishments. Having the priest be worldly, having the punishments be absolutely ridiculous, and having the ghost be a beautiful girl were all efforts to rid it of any real feeling of hopelessness.
While the corpse of a beauty seems wrong even in fiction, a beautiful ghost can be perfectly moe. How very strange.
Also, using a ghost could be convenient because I would not even need to explain away any use of clothes like buruma that have almost completely disappeared from the modern world but are still popular for some reason. Of course, that would require having the ghost be from an earlier decade.
File 10: Destiny Takes the Form of an Arrow
This came from an idea about a protagonist who could decide whether he would face horror or love comedy by which arrow he followed. At the same time, I could add in some meta jokes about the distinctions between genres.
In light novels, a beautiful upperclassman is the default sign of an amazing person. That is one of my favorite types of characters. But if you actually ran across a beautiful, glamorous, and skilled upperclassman who had never dated anyone before as if waiting for the protagonist, you would definitely assume there was something unpleasant about that upperclassman like a fruit covered in some kind of preservative. It is strange how the idea gains appeal when used in fiction.
File 11: A Girl Arrived as Collateral on an Unrepaid Loan
An absolute cliché. When used in a world of swords and magic, it works well enough, but it just seems oddly out of place when used in the 21st century. The course of the story could change greatly depending on whether the protagonist is lazy or aggressive. By the way, it could also be possible to have the heroine’s mother arrive in order to look after her daughter or something. At first, I planned to have that as the ending, but that could turn into a horror story unless it was a very young mother. For that reason, I had it be just the grandchildren.
File 12: A Santa Claus Trained as a Gentleman Thief
This began with the thought that it might be fun to have a Santa who specialized in sneaking into impregnable mansions. Since he would not be stealing anything or defeating anyone within, the story could even be made for quite a young target audience. It could also be good to make a version with a beautiful girl Santa and two (male) reindeer servants. By the way, the reason Mimi-chan’s father hates Santa so much is that he spotted the real Santa as a child and received no presents from that point on.
Santa is a simple moe symbol and by having “Santa” in the title, people can guess about what kind of characters will be in it without even reading the summary. This makes it a very “safe” genre from a sales perspective, but it has one flaw.
It is exceedingly hard to make a series when your protagonist only does anything once a year.
You would have to make your main characters immortal (or maybe just stop the flow of time like in certain prime time anime featuring a family with a marine product name or a blue robot) or make the story such that the characters act on days other than Christmas as well.
File 13: How About We Try Taking a Peek?
This idea expanded from the thought that handheld game systems these days were so convenient you can use them for anything. (I have even played a part in the handheld game and smartphone businesses…) This time, it’s a western hell. Instead of actually seeing hell with the handheld game system, the boy is being tempted by the demon named Ashtart. By throwing Gabriel in as well, it takes the form of the stereotypical angel and demon whispering in the protagonist’s ears.
I think demons have more appeal than angels as far as moe aspects go, but that may just be my subconscious desire for more revealing outfits. You see a lot of female demons, but female angels are a lot less common.
…By the way, if you had the chance to see the real hell, would you take a peek?
File 14: Would You Like Something from the Human Face Series?
This idea branched off from the idea of cyborgs. I thought of this while trying to come up with a solution to the problem that removing the human form from a cyborg dealt a fatal blow to any moe-ness.
When you look closely at some dentures someone has taken out to wash, doesn’t it just seem so real that it makes you feel like your common knowledge is failing you?
File 15: Better Made than the Real Deal
When you look into it, the creation of imitation sake, steam, and sweat used in dramas is quite interesting. You would think they want something that looks just like the real thing, but the viewers would think it looked wrong even if they used the real thing. The idea of making something that looked more real than the real thing sounded like it could be expanded into a light novel dealing with the occult. Something like preparing a temporary offering and temple to summon something.
File 16: Those Spoken of in Legends
The story of a hero and demon king who have had friendship blossom between them as they fought. After playing for so many hours, they have both completely forgotten what their goals are.
When it comes to RPGs, I can be very greedy, so I have thought up a few businesses you could set up. One of those is the armed hero delivery service mentioned in the story. I’ve also thought of something like an inn set up one step away from the demon king’s castle. The inn would be reliant on the demon king not being defeated.
File 17: Attribute Colors for the Palette
At first, my idea was to have everything decided by the extent to which the characters represented an attribute, but displaying “extent” as a concrete parameter is difficult. That is why I shifted the idea to the number of attributes. I also like the idea of a world that prevents crime by rewarding the good rather than cracking down on the evil. However, can it truly be called “good” to turn away and not do anything about those who do evil things?
It also could have been fun to make it a world where writing power (?) is represented by a clear number. (The small fry characters would have low numbers and they would give very sloppy explanations of things. The description of the heroine could take up half a page.)
File 18: Chef Koitarou's Insatiable Challenge
This idea expanded from the thought that a cooking light novel would work best if the work of a single cook would decide the fate of the world. I’m not sure I have ever before seen the idea of providing something even more delicious to eternally avert the enemy’s focus rather than defeating the enemy.
…I suppose the one major problem is that the chef makes the food but there is no one to say that it is delicious. That somehow makes it all feel so empty.
File 19: A Unification of Standards is Urgent Business
The theme here is transformation heroes. I like the idea of a security buzzer that calls in a hero because I could see a toy like that actually being made. I’m not really sure if magical girls still use wands in this day and age, but any other form would require an explanation as to why it was shaped like that.
It might have been good to have the father at the end “transform” into a dandy company worker by putting on a toupee.
File 20: All Sorts of Offerings
A Japanese mythology story. It all might have been easier to imagine if I had used western gods like Zeus and Odin rather than Japanese gods. The idea of “I smell another woman’s perfume” has become about as common a “seasonal term” as the clothespin or the pencil cap with a hole in it. Here, I have used that in the form of offerings.
…I wonder if a local god really would view that as cheating?
File 21: Let's Think Up a Romantic Language of Flowers Meaning
You sometimes come across surprising things in the language of flowers. Like the Western European-style grape. I thought it would be fun to show the scene of someone seriously worrying about various things when thinking that up.
I just do not find girls who end their sentences in “~ssu” to be very moe, but it is one of the easiest-to-pick-up-on sentence enders alongside things like “~gozaru”. I once mentioned that “~gozaru” was not moe to my editor, but he said it could be if it was a blonde foreign girl who mistook it for proper Japanese. I really had the scales fall from eyes there. …Maybe there is a way to use the fundoshi as well.
But then, perhaps it is just a universal truth that a beautiful girl will look cute doing pretty much anything.
File 22: The World's Most Enjoyable Lesson?
It was something I just happened to write in the story, but I really liked the line about “Micro” not being the JIS mark.
Even after all the explanations, I still wonder if black holes are really safe, but maybe I am just being left behind by the times.
File 23: This Time the Ice Age is Real
This idea started with amazement that we had real time translation software on handheld game systems and with how many amazing things smartphones can do.
Those kinds of apps tend to be like a supplement. I think it is normal to search for things to fill the gaps where you yourself are lacking. But if everyone does that to enough of an extent, no one will have any individuality.
…Perhaps having faults is important.
File 24: How to Defeat a Powerful Enemy That Does Not Exceed Human Understanding
A story about using human greed as a new method of exterminating monsters. But with the more grotesque aspects like the abridged description of opening up and checking through the inside of the troll, this could be a difficult story to expand on. It may have been a bit milder if it was the story of someone in the jungle observing their target through binoculars to find out if it could be used in any way. And by actually heading out to the scene, I could add in some action-y bits of danger.
As one creature’s population shrinking can lead to the population of that animal’s prey increasing, the professor’s methods have a different risk.
The Introduction to the Participants at the end had something akin to the compatibility quizzes often seen in magazines that use yes or no questions. With the contents of the survey and the survey itself, “the absurd” was used as the theme of the entire novel. It is a common term, but it is one of those terms that looks like a technical term when given an arbitrary term in furigana, isn’t it?
Having the opening of that part be so low key was to create enough of a contrast to make it clear the story had left the “play within a play”. This meant that story had to get off to a slow start.
I guess I will stop there.
I give my thanks to my editor Miki-san, my illustrator Haimura-san, and all of you readers.
I used a gimmick to give the whole thing an uneasy feel to it. I did not technically use any psychological tricks or anything though, so don’t worry about it too much. Everything was fiction from beginning to end.
…If my ideas pile up enough again, I might make another one of these, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon.
The next assignment is to research the water and soil that makes seeds grow.
- The girl in this story ended her sentences in “~ssu”.
- Throughout the endings, the Japanese term for absurd had the English word given in furigana.
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