Hyouka:Volume 3 Chapter 2-1

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2-1 Has Something Happened With the Classics Club?

005 - ♠02


Saying "I enjoyed this a lot" may sound easy, but is actually a pretty difficult task. Rather than the possibility of the difference in one's level of understanding, a more important factor would be the difference in one's level of interest. When watching a magic performance, a dense person would not even understand even a hundredth of what was going on. On the other hand, if one had the ability to see through a magician's trick, then no matter how much entertainment he may see, while he may try to enjoy to his heart's content, there's no way he could have enjoyed it sufficiently.

It was morning, and I was walking to school earlier than usual, as the Kamiyama High School Cultural Festival starts today. Seeing Fukube Satoshi constantly repeating "Ohh, I'm so looking forward to enjoying this," I felt compelled to mischievously tell him the above, to which Satoshi responded with a frightful smile and slowly shook his head.

"An excellent idea, was what I wanted to say, but you're too naive, Houtarou,"

"Oh? How so?"

"For a person like you who was raised on nothing but boorishness to even think of lecturing me on my enjoyment, you're too naive," he said as he raised his index finger and swung it left and right as though acting.

"Of course I already knew that it was useless to try to enjoy myself deep down, within the marrow of my bones. The most important aspect of Epicureanism is to be able to separate one's senses. It's just as important as the day when you finally give up your energy-saving ways and actually work hard on a test."

"Like hell that day would arrive. Anyway, what's this about separation of your senses? What does that have to do with you being able to say you'll enjoy yourself?"

"All right, then let me enlighten you. First, I wouldn't think of saying something like "I'm gonna enjoy a lot," as I'm a fairly easy to please person. You know what I'm good at resigning myself to? Just from the point of view of Houtarou the Boorish."

Do you know? Satoshi gestured as he finished his sentence. Fleeting a glimpse at him, as I had no intention of bursting his bubble, I said nothing. Sensing I had no intention to answer, he lowered his voice as though informing me of a secret and said, "Even if I'm not good at enjoying myself......"

"......"

He gave a broad smile.

"I could still look forward to people giving me their enjoyment!"

Oh boy.

Ignoring my cold expression, Satoshi continued with his talk of how he's still "gonna enjoy this." I could do nothing but keep quiet and smile bitterly.

Fukube Satoshi. I have been hanging out with this fellow since junior high.

From his appearance, Satoshi was a person with brown eyes and a slim figure that might be mistaken as that of a girl when seen from afar. And while he may seem like a weakling, he has developed some amazing leg muscles due to his penchant for cycling.

Though his real features lie with his mental state. You may have caught a glimpse of that from our conversation just now; he can be pretty forceful in abandoning his studies and social life casually. Already a member of the Handicraft Club and the General Committee, he decided to join the Classics Club as well simply because "it sounded interesting."

He is never seen without his drawstring bag in his hand, though I have no idea of its contents. All I can say is that it contains all sorts of stuff.

In the road ahead, we could see Kamiyama High School appearing. The outer walls weren't painted pink due to the Cultural Festival, and seen from afar, it looked no different from any other regular high school. However, within its grounds were flourishing all sorts of activities concerning the Cultural Festival. In order to prepare for the festival, classes were suspended since yesterday.

The body of students heading towards school looked different today. While there were many in their uniforms, there were also many from other clubs in their casual wear. And there were many who did not carry any bag with them, as there was no need to bring any scholastic equipment. Due to such discrepancies, even I could feel the expectation that something different from usual was about to start.

Though Kamiyama High School is a school geared towards students entering university, it didn't have that many supplementary classes, neither did it have a particularly high record of students entering famous universities. If you were to ask the students of Kamiyama High School what its specialty was, only one in ten would have said it specializes in university entrance exams. The other nine would answer "It's a school known for its vibrant Arts-related club activities." There are many kinds of arts-related clubs in Kami High, and its activities too are various. And the highlight of these activities would of course be the Cultural Festival, which was rare amongst high schools for its number of days, with one day for preparation and three whole days for the main event.

Satoshi suddenly raised his voice cheerfully.

"And besides... Why, Houtarou, isn't that Mayaka?"

He pointed to a girl in front of us. She was dressed in casual wear comprising of a red cardigan and white brocade trousers, but I couldn't tell whether she was Ibara Mayaka from behind. Though I've known her since elementary school, I've rarely seen her in casual wear since junior high. But if Satoshi says it's her, then it has to be.

For many times Ibara had confessed her love to Satoshi, yet while Satoshi was not one to fall into self-loathing, he had chosen to evade her advances time and time again. I couldn't figure out why he's done so even if I wanted to.

"I'll be going on ahead."

He turned and said that before running off towards that girl ahead of us.



006 - ♣02



As I moved forward, I was certain that it was indeed Mayaka. Though seeking Houtarou out in a crowd was like trying to look for a needle in a haystack, there was no way I could miss Mayaka. I ran up and tapped her on the shoulder.

"Hey, Mayaka. Morning!"

Knowing her, she would have stared at me and said "Hey! That hurts!" Which was why I only tapped her softly. Though it seemed Mayaka didn't seem to be in that mood today, as she became stiff and turned her head slowly.

"...Morning."

She muttered only that and turned back forward. Ahh, I see. I exclaimed to myself and smiled (which was what I'm good at; I've long forgotten how to make a serious face), and I answered Mayaka's anxiety.

"Your costume suits you."

"R-really?"

"So, who are you cospla..."

I could not finish my sentence, as I could feel a jab into my stomach. Great aim. Due to that hit, my abdominal muscles quickly lost their strength, so its effect was immediate.

Mayaka murmured with a dangerous glimmer in her eyes, "Don't use that term in front of normal people."

Well, I don't think "costume play" would be considered taboo nowadays. Though I do get that Mayaka's feeling pretty embarrassed about it, so I wouldn't say anything. By the way, I already knew that she was planning to cosplay today. Mayaka's Manga Studies Club had asked for permission from the General Committee to turn up in casual clothing. As there were not enough changing rooms at school, the General Committee granted that permission.

Mayaka wore off-white brocade trousers and a scarlet cardigan. It was a pragmatic costume that was able to withstand the cool autumn winds of early October. Some accessories were attached to her cardigan, and inside she wore a white collared shirt, and a thick looking belt was wrapped around her abdomen. The main point would probably be this belt.

I looked at her costume from top to bottom. Hmm, I just don't have a clue. Guess I'll ask her again.

"So, what costume is this?"

Like a rat trying not to alert the cat, I carefully chose the right words so that Mayaka may accept my question. She quickly looked forward and said in a detached manner,

"Frol,"

"Frol? Frolbericheri Frol[1]? You're wearing her costume?"

"Yeah... I also brought this handbag."

I wouldn't get what she was referring to even if she said so. Well, that's what Mayaka wanted to wear after all. When she learned that her club required her to come in cosplay, being the shy person that she is, she would definitely choose a character that was hard to recognize.

Ibara Mayaka. As I was a guy, she was way shorter than me, but then as a girl she was way shorter than others. If she wasn't dressed in her sailor uniform, she would no doubt be mistaken as an elementary schoolkid. And right now, Mayaka wasn't dressed in her sailor uniform. And it's not just her figure that's small, just observing from the features of her face alone, one could say Mayaka was baby-faced.

Yet it was hard to figure out Mayaka's vigorous sense of justice from her childish expression emanating from her childish face. For example, when she's angry, she would simply bite her lips. Naturally, nothing can replace the smile that she was born with. (On the other hand, from my years of hanging out with him, Houtarou sure has bad eyes for not being able to notice that.)

I'd better stop looking into someone cosplaying a character she didn't feel like cosplaying, so I began spinning my drawstring bag and said, "Well, anyway, good luck with your role. I'll pop in at the Manga Studies Club later."

Mayaka showed some shyness as she nodded softly.

"You have to contribute articles for the Manga Club as well, right?"

"Yeah."

"I read it... Must be tough, to hold similar positions in both the Classics Club and Manga Club."

"It is tough. Since nobody else was willing to contribute."

I was originally planning to congratulate her for her hard work, but all of a sudden her gaze suddenly became sharp. Oops, looks like the conversation is headed in the wrong direction. For the Classics Club manuscript to arrive so late, no matter how one looks at it, I couldn't offer any excuse. So I decided to change the topic.

"Ah... so, Mayaka, you'll be with the Manga Studies Club all day then?"

Though she didn't look pleased that the topic was changed, she nodded.

"Will you be stopping by the Classics Club?"

"Nah, it's probably impossible for me to leave the Manga Club in the morning. And besides, it's not worth it for me to just stop by... I really ought to have followed things through."

I deepened my smile and patted Mayaka on the back.

"Try not to think too much about it! It can't be helped once you wake up from it!"

Mayaka gave an ambiguous smile and nodded at my words. No, this doesn't look right. Such a grey-looking smile wouldn't be what makes Mayaka look great.

Even though Mayaka said she's fine with it, there are occasions when Houtarou expresses doubt at my evasion of her advances. Well, Houtarou was never one to flatter people. I could tell him the reason, but I wasn't sure if he would understand even a tenth of it. To begin with, this is a problem between me and Mayaka alone, so it doesn't matter whether Houtarou understands it or not.

Before we realized, we had arrived at the school gates. I turned to have a look at the gates, which had huge, colourful flowers hanging over them. This was the hard work of the General Committee, made to welcome visitors to the Cultural Festival. A banner hung from the outside of one of the windows of the school building, which read "The 42nd Kamiyama High School Cultural Festival."

And so it begins.

I wonder if I'm making a face that's trying to enjoy all this. As I was in a trance looking at the school grounds, Mayaka suddenly jabbed her elbow at me.

"Fuku-chan... Try not to do anything silly during the Cultural Festival, okay? While you may not find it embarrassing, it'd be embarrassing enough for me."

Heh, guess I'm not trusted at all, eh?

But that doesn't mean I won't do anything!



007 - ♠03



There's this hard object resting in my pocket, and for some time it's been bothering me.

It was the fountain pen, or to be more precise, the trash known as the unusable fountain pen. The ink had long run out, and I was entrusted by my sis to take care of it. Last night, as I didn't want to just toss it on the floor, I brought it to my room, intending to throw it away there. But it seemed I ended up bringing it along with my handkerchief. While it's pretty much useless now, who knows what role it would play as time goes on.

I toyed with the pen by flipping its cap on and off, making a clicking sound as I walked up the stairs. My destination was the Classics Club room on the fourth floor.

Seen from above, Kamiyama High School appears as an H-shape. On one side was the General Block with its regular classrooms, while on the other side would be the Special Block with its arts and science related classrooms. They are joined in the middle by a connecting corridor. When seen from further above, one would see the corridor from the General Block extending towards the Gymnasium.

The Geology Lecture Room, which is used by the Classics Club as their club room, is located in the Special Block. And it's all the way in the corner at the end of the corridor. If Kamiyama High School was the whole world, then this would be its periphery. Normally, we'd curse about how far the club room was while also feeling grateful for how serene it was. Yet with the Cultural Festival upon us, we had to consider another factor, the fact that being located in such a remote corner of the school means we're doubtful of getting any visitors.

In every floor, you would see posters, mascots and advertising boards in all different shades of colour, though that's only up to the third floor. In the fourth floor, all you get is a barren landscape. You won't even see any ads for shopping malls or chain stores. To begin with, there aren't many clubs based up here anyway.

Still, we've put up a few posters in some hard to miss spots promoting the Classics Club, but even that was not enough to enliven the mood of this god-forsaken place. Personally, I prefer this sort of tranquility, but it's troublesome for the Classics Club as an organization, particularly for its president, who sees it as something quite worrying.

I slid open the door of the Geology Room. The girl sitting in the centre of this dreary room stood up upon seeing me enter.

"Good morning, Oreki-san," she said and bowed deeply, her long black hair flowing as she did. This was Chitanda, president of the Classics Club. I reckoned she was probably the first to arrive.

Chitanda Eru is a girl with jet black hair extending all the way to her back as well as pupils of the same colour. Gentle in her demeanor, she was rather tall and well-proportioned for a girl. Her calm way of speaking gives one the impression that she's an elegant lady with a prestigious upbringing. In fact, she is the only daughter of the Chitanda clan, known for being the owners of large tracts of farmland.

However, if you ask me, this elegant Japanese lady image is not Chitanda's true nature.

Amongst her mature features, only her large eyes betray her true character. Possessing a sense of curiosity which has exploded many times before and will continue to explode in the future, this was Chitanda Eru. Ever since I entered school, I and the Classics Club have been involved in many bothersome events thanks to her curiosity. My life motto has always been "If I don't have to do it, I won't. If I have to do it, make it quick." But so far I have been unable to adhere to it, and it's all her fault.

Chitanda lifted her head and made a soft smile. Though she wears her heart on her sleeve, she would rarely express her feelings in an exaggerated way. Rather, she does it in moderation.

"The day has finally arrived."

"So it seems."

"Let's give it our all!"

"Yeah."

I nodded.

Looking at the pile of objects lined up between me and Chitanda, I groaned.

"...You say give it our all, but do you have any idea how we're gonna get this sorted?"

We're talking about none other than the Classics Club essay anthology, "Hyouka." A rather queer name for a title; as for why it had such a queer name, that's a long story. Each volume was bound nicely in a vinyl coating which went through adhesive surface treatment, on its dark brown cover was an illustration of a dog and rabbit biting each other. This cover design was derived from the first ever volume of "Hyouka," which was made in a water-paint style, though this year Ibara decided to draw it in a cute style. Objectively speaking, it didn't look bad at all.

The people working on this anthology included me and Chitanda, and while Satoshi did contribute, he only participated in writing his part of the manuscript. Of course, even after the manuscript was completed, the anthology wouldn't be finished right away. There would still be work involving confirming the number of pages, choosing the right font and paper type, arranging the manuscripts, placing the page numbers, etc, before submitting to the publisher for printing. All that was left to Ibara, who also worked on the other illustrations as well.

While we were consulted on matters concerning the design of the anthology, we were merely confirming Ibara's choices. Seeing how troublesome it looked for her to have to work on so many details, both Chitanda and I had offered to help her many times.

Yet Ibara had turned our offers down, saying she's used to doing such stuff, so it's no big deal to her, and how she can easily handle this amount of work. Besides, she said it would be quite bothersome to teach an amateur from scratch. Hearing her say that, Chitanda decided to relent on helping.

And so, the anthology "Hyouka" is finally complete. In fact, it was a job well done. Very well done, indeed.

Upon seeing the final product, Ibara went speechless.

When she brought them over to us the day before yesterday, we too became speechless.

...The pile of objects lined up between me and Chitanda were the "Hyouka" anthologies. Rather than "pile," "stack" would be a more appropriate description. Even "mountain" would not sound far-fetched.

Before, we had only planned on making an order to print thirty copies of "Hyouka". Taking one for ourselves, as well as one each for our supervisor and one to keep for archiving, it would leave us with twenty-four left to sell, which was how many we expected to sell.

However, the number of copies somehow ended up being more than we expected.

About seven times more.

I learned that even for a thin anthology like this, two hundred copies of them stacked together was enough to form a "mountain."

To ask us to give our all selling all these is an extremely tall task. Upon hearing my grumble, Chitanda became lost for words as her smile went stiff.

"...Umm, while giving our all may not guarantee everything, I'm sure we'll still achieve something!"

The problem would be how much effort we should be giving then, but...

The door behind us opened; it was Satoshi. Lifting his right arm, he greeted us.

"Hi there, I see you're all worried about our excessive stock!"

Well, so are you.

While still at a loss for words to address the predicament we were in, Chitanda still bowed deeply like she had to me.

"G-good morning, Fukube-san... How is Mayaka-san?"

"Oh, she said she'll try and come, but she probably won't make it."

"I see...," she muttered regretfully. That was to be expected.

While Chitanda and I aren't affiliated with any other club save the Classics Club, Satoshi has his hands tied with the General Committee and Handicraft Club, while Ibara spends time as a librarian and with the Manga Studies Club. During the Cultural Festival, Satoshi would be busy patrolling the grounds as a member of the General Committee, while I hear Ibara is required to stay with the Manga Club for some time.

"Then, shall we begin?"

Satoshi and I nodded. Looking at us one by one, Chitanda slowly spoke.

"There's not much time until the Opening Ceremony starts... So does anyone have any ideas on how we could sell this many copies of 'Hyouka?'"



The price of "Hyouka" was set at 200 yen.

This was the price decided by Ibara and Chitanda after much calculation. We originally wanted to sell 30 copies at 400 yen each. As we were expecting to sell them all, the proceeds made along with our own club funding would be just enough to cover the printing costs.

But now we have 200 copies of "Hyouka". It's not exactly an extremely tragic mistake, and the printing of excessive copies also meant we actually paid far less for each volume as a result. If we were to sell all 200 volumes, then we could lower the price down to 120 yen per copy and still break even.

But it was impractical to expect all of them to be sold, so taking that into consideration, we settled for 200 yen apiece, though we would need to sell 120 copies in order to break even. Chitanda eventually decided on this price, though selling 120 copies still seems rather optimistic... Still, as I kept quiet, I wasn't planning on complaining afterwards anyway. Surely 200 yen is pretty cheap for an anthology sold at a Cultural Festival, after all.

By the way, even if we were to sell them all, we would not be able to profit from it anyway. As the Kamiyama High School Cultural Festival expressly forbids clubs from profiteering. While I've heard of stories where people would occasionally get away with pocketing 1000 yen for themselves, any amount more than that would end up in the national treasury, sorry, I mean the school treasury.

There are about a thousand students in Kamiyama High School, so in order to break even, we would need to sell to 12% of the student body. In order to sell all copies, we would need to target 20%. This was a pretty difficult task. To use TV ratings as an analogy, even a lay person would know how hard it is for a programme to achieve 20% ratings.

To begin with, our market is not limited to these thousand people. The Kamiyama High School Cultural Festival is free for all, so even regular townspeople would come. As the Cultural Festival takes place from Thursday to Saturday, most visitors would opt to visit on Saturday, the third day. But I have no way of guessing how much they would contribute to the sales.

Besides...

"The problem lies with the Classics Club's name recognition and its poor geographical location."

"Yes, I agree this is the biggest obstacle."

I felt the same way with both of their opinions.

I have already mentioned above about how disadvantageous the Geology Room's location was. For the Classics Club's name recognition, it's even worse. Nearly all of the students in Kami High wouldn't even know of the existence of the Classics Club. In fact, if I hadn't applied to join this year, the club would have been abolished altogether. Unlike the Tea Ceremony Club, which was known for its open air tea ceremonies, or the A Capella Club renowned for its abilities, who's gonna buy the anthology of a club they've not even heard of?

So there's the location and the name recognition. I spoke up.

"In other words, we will need to find a more conspicuous place to sell, as well as to advertise our club name."

"Well, obviously," Satoshi said teasingly, as though saying we would sell out if we could achieve both. Of course I know that, but it's because we can't achieve them that we're at a loss for what to do.

Meanwhile, Chitanda nodded in admiration.

"Find a new location to sell... And all this time I've been thinking of how to bring customers all the way here. Oreki-san, that's a really innovative idea."

"Erm, it's not exactly innovative..."

"But, will we be able to get permission to move to a new location right away?"

Who knows? That's Satoshi's department, as he's with the General Committee. But he shook his head.

"I'm not really sure. While it may be possible to just move to any space, it depends on whether the Classics Club could be granted such a privilege. So you're gonna have to ask the General Committee president, or even the Student Council president himself."

"Who's the General Committee president?"

"Tanabe-sempai from second year. The General Committee will be holding meetings in the Conference Room from time to time, so you could try dropping by to have a look."

"Why don't you do it?"

Satoshi bit his lip and nodded ambiguously.

"Well, I could do that... But I'm not really confident in conducting such negotiations. Chitanda-san, it might be better for you to start the conversation with them, and for me to assist you by the side."

I see, that could be a good way of doing it. Yet Chitanda looked somehow uneasy. While she might be a forceful lady, like Satoshi, she probably wouldn't be confident making such an unreasonable request either. Yet she could expect no help from me, for I too am bad at those kinds of things.

The situation at present was nothing to be joyful about. Yet Satoshi looked pretty jolly. Well, that's Fukube Satoshi for you, he might even be relishing such hardship. As though bouncing, he spoke.

"Rather than that, I'd prefer to do the advertising."

"Advertising, huh? So how're you gonna do that?"

"Well, that's a secret."

I have a bad feeling about this. I could not think of any secret plan of Satoshi's that could ever work.

"Huh? Do you have a good idea?"

This got Chitanda interested, to which Satoshi puffed his chest.

"There are many competitions and races held during this Cultural Festival, so I was thinking of joining them under the name of the Classics Club. By achieving a good result, we would increase the club's popularity!"

"T-that's a great idea!"

How's that a great idea anyway? I raised my eyebrows as Chitanda was clearly being fooled. Satoshi basically wanted to participate in all these competitions and races himself. To begin with, it'll still be Satoshi participating, it's just that the entry name will be that of the Classics Club instead.

But still, it's not a bad method, as we haven't got any other way of advertising our club. It was possible it could actually turn out quite well.

I looked at the clock and said, "So it's roughly decided then? Chitanda will go and request a new selling location, and Satoshi will do the advertising."

"Yes, so we had better make our way now. But what will you do, Oreki-san?"

Me?

Actually, I had a plan. A plan to contribute greatly to the selling of "Hyouka," as well as stay true to my creed.

I cleared my throat and said solemnly, "I will..."

"Yes?"

"Stay and watch the stall."

Chitanda blinked her eyes while Satoshi muttered as though realizing something.

"...In-indeed, or else there won't be anyone left behind."

"Yes, you're right. We would need someone to watch the stall."

Now how's that? No complaints at all.

"Well, now that things are decided, we should get going. We don't have much time," I said while looking at the clock on the wall.

There were only ten minutes left before the Opening Ceremony begins. Even the Cultural Festival and Sports Day were not exempted from attendance taking, but taking into consideration that students would be scattered in their clubrooms overseeing their exhibits, attendance would be taken during the morning assembly every day. In other words, we'll be counted as late if we don't get to the Opening Ceremony on time.

Nodding greatly, Chitanda cleared her throat. Taking a deep breath, she said in one go, "Then let us proceed with our allotted tasks. We should try to sell as many volumes as possible. Our target is to sell all 200 copies of 'Hyouka'! Let's give it our all!"


...Well, let's just say I wasn't even thinking of whether we could sell all 200 copies.


[200 COPIES REMAINING]



008 - ♥02



About a thousand students were packed within the dark gymnasium, which had its windows covered by curtains, and due to today being a rather hot October day, the gymnasium ended up being stuffy. Inside the gymnasium was a light that shines onto the stage, but even now that light was turned off, so it was pitch black inside. But it only lasted for a moment, for in the next moment a spotlight shone on a male student; it was the Student Council president. He was a rather tall and intrepid looking person who was said to speak eloquently as befitting of a Student Council president.

The president walked towards the mic and looked around the hall as he took a deep breath. He then declared loudly, omitting any prefix altogether, "I declare the 42nd Kanya Festival open!"

As the voice from deep within his abdomen flowed out, the thousand Kami High students instantly burst into an uproar. The Kamiyama High School Cultural Festival opening ceremony had begun.

According to the "Kanya Festival Guide" published by the General Committee, the Breakdancing Club will lead the opening ceremony with their performance. I'm ashamed to admit that I've not seen people perform breakdancing before. While I know it has something to do with dancing, I don't exactly know how dances can be broken. I wonder if it has something to do with the performers breaking something on the stage?

As red, yellow, blue and green lights shone on the stage, the bewildering performance had begun. I looked up wondering where the lights shone from, and saw people busy moving the lighting equipment around in the catwalk above the stage. It probably takes lots of practice to be able to move such lights so quickly in an orderly pattern. If I get the chance, I must inquire how they mastered this pattern.

Smoke was emitted from behind the stage as the rumble briefly quieted down. As the smoke dispersed, two people from each side came flying from left and right, and at the same time booming background music was played. It was a vibrating electronic sound. I wonder if the image it conveys was that of space? In tune with the music, four people began dancing.

So this is breakdancing? The dancers looked as though they were turning a key in a doorknob, and they swung their arms and kicked their legs as though swimming in breast stroke. Dancing in a variety of moves, they looked very active indeed. Would it be rude to call them non-human? As their inorganic dance moves looked really fascinating.

Oh! They jumped!

Oh! They spun!

Oh! They stood on their hands!

This time they begun spinning around while standing on their hands. But would they be fine with all the heat caused by the friction of their heads rubbing against the ground? Wouldn't their hair be scratched off from too much rubbing? I'm curious about it.

The dance then stepped up its tempo, becoming faster and faster; I could no longer tell how they moved their arms and legs. This is amazing. The music also went into full burst... Umm, this loud sound is starting to hurt my ears. I'm not that good with loud sounds.

Before long, as the cocktail of spotlights converged in the centre of the stage, the four dancers stopped in perfect stillness just as the music ended. The crowd gave a loud response; I too gave the Breakdancing Club my overwhelming approval.

The second song began playing, which was in the rhythm of some African-like folk music. It was quite different from the previous song. I was quite curious as to how they would dance to that tune. Besides, I would also be interested in watching the performance of the Rakugo Club afterwards... No, I mustn't be tempted.

Having come to my senses, I noticed quite a number of students trickling out of the hall. They're probably in charge of watching their stalls or preparing for their club events. Without disturbing the performance of the Breakdancing Club, I too quietly left the hall.



I hurried down the corridor, walking in longer strides than I normally do. I saw some students decorating their classroom door with gold and silver paper while there doesn't seem to be much time left. I wonder what club they're from? They looked so frantic that I feel like helping them. No, I mustn't! The Classics Club itself is in a grave situation.

As I pondered how to say my lines, I reached the Conference Room. According to the "Kanya Festival Guide," the General Committee seems to be based here.

The Conference Room is situated on the second floor of the General Block. As the Gymnasium is directly connected to the General Block, it wasn't a long walk at all. So before long, here I was before the Conference Room. It was like any other classroom, save that it had a sign pasted on its sliding door that read "General Committee Room." I knocked on the door.

"......"

Huh?

"Is anybody in?"

There was no response. I tried opening the door, but it was locked.

Yes, now that I think about it, as I had left midway through the Opening Ceremony, it was not strange that no one from the General Committee had yet returned. It seems like I came too early.

Somehow, I became a bit anxious as I didn't want to waste any time. In such a situation, I should do some deep breathing. So I inhaled deeply and breathed out slowly. One more time, breathe in, breathe out.

I looked around me, there didn't seem to be anyone from the General Committee coming this way.

On the notice board beside the door was a catchy Cultural Festival promotion poster. I've seen many other Cultural Festival posters within the school grounds and around the neighbourhood, but this was the first time I'd seen this one. It was drawn in a manga-like style which Mayaka-san might be familiar with. It showed two students, a boy and girl preparing for the Cultural Festival. The characters looked cute while the clothes they wore looked real, one could feel the amazing originality effusing from it.

If there was one complaint to make, it would be its title, "The 42nd Kanya Festival." Its official name ought to be the Kamiyama High School Cultural Festival, as "Kanya Festival" doesn't really evoke a good meaning. As for why, it's rather difficult to explain. On the corner of the poster were written the words "Student Council Executive Committee." Since it's a poster made by the Executive Committee, I feel they ought to avoid using the name "Kanya Festival."

I moved my eyes away from the poster and looked around me once more, but there still wasn't anyone coming. Oh dear, this doesn't look good. Should I just keep waiting here? But we haven't got much time.

No, in such times, I should calm myself down. I once again took a deep breath, breathe in, breathe out... Okay, one more time...

"...Can I help you?"

"Wah!"

As I had just inhaled a deep breath, I couldn't help but let out a yelp. As I was startled, I couldn't suppress such a strange sound. I tried to wave my arms to explain that I wasn't particularly doing anything suspicious.

I bowed my head to the person that called out to me and said, "Good morning. Are you President Tanabe of the General Committee?"

I've seen this person before in the Wall Newspaper Club's "Kami High Monthly," so he was definitely President Tanabe of the General Committee. Wearing small framed glasses on his oval face, his short and neatly cut hair gave the image of an earnest-looking person. Tanabe-san looked a bit taken aback before politely greeting me in return.

"Oh, good morning. Yes, I'm Tanabe... Can I help you?"

"Yes,"

I nodded and uttered the lines that I'd practiced many times beforehand.

"Please allocate a new stall for the Classics Club."

"...Huh?"

Tanabe-san's eyes went round. Oh no, I neglected my manners. Paying attention to my manners, I repeated my request.

"I'm sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. I'm the president of the Classics Club, Chitanda Eru of Class 1-A. We have come here with a request; we would like you to please allocate a new stall for the Classics Club."

Tanabe-san raised his eyebrows as his face looked really troubled. Uneasily, he spoke.

"I don't really understand what's going on but..."

He looked as though he was about to say something difficult.

"As we've already decided on how to run most of the stuff during the Kanya Festival, for you to suddenly come and request a new stall would be a bit difficult."

"...So you aren't able to do it?"

"I'm sorry."

I see. It may be troubling, but it can't be helped if it can't be done. I'm very sorry, Mayaka-san, Fukube-san, Oreki-san. Chitanda Eru was not able to accomplish her task.

I see, thank you for your information. I had wanted to give my regards properly, but I ended up speaking those words softly instead. As I proceeded to leave and ponder what to do next, Tanabe-san called out to me.

"No, wait. That's just the normal procedures anyway. If you have some extenuating circumstance, then we could listen to what you have to say, but I can't promise whether we could grant you your request."

Circumstance.

...Now that I think about it, I've completely neglected to explain my situation. Oreki-san has constantly told me off for my bad habit of skipping straight to the main point without explaining myself properly. I never realized this before... but it seemed like it is indeed true. I must be careful next time.

Anyway, I should not put Tanabe-san's good will to waste. I turned around and stood before him.

I then began to explain my story.

In great detail.

We were supposed to make an order to print 30 copies, but ended up with 200 copies. To begin with, this was not Mayaka-san's fault, as I too had a look at the order sheet, and Mayaka-san also made sure to correctly place the order for 30 copies. However, at the same time, she also made another request to print 200 copies for her own anthology. As to why she would make such a request, I did not know. But the problem arose when it turned out that the publisher had mixed up the order for "Hyouka" and her own anthology. Mayaka-san blamed herself for not double-checking enough, but nobody could have foreseen such an error.

I told Tanabe-san the entire process as well. I wasn't able to keep the story brief, but all this time Tanabe-san simply stood and listened.

"That sure sounds tough."

After much thought, he said prudently, "200 copies huh? Not even the Manga Club could sell that much. I understand the desire to seek a new stall in order to sell more copies, and I would really like to help... But any other club could have faced such a situation, so it's just not possible for us to give the Classics Club a special dispensation, you know?"

Indeed, it would not be just the Classics Club that would encounter such a situation, I had known that fact beforehand but...

"So, it's not possible?"

Tanabe-san nodded softly... "I'm sorry."

But this time, after giving my regards and turning to leave, Tanabe-san uttered some advice from behind.

"But you know, if you were to entrust other clubs to sell your anthologies on your behalf at their stalls, that we don't really mind."

I- I see, I never knew such a method existed! How could I not have thought of this before? Indeed, if we were to place our anthologies at existing stalls, it would not be counted as the Classics Club receiving special treatment.

"That's a brilliant idea."

Without realizing, I became relieved.

"Thank you very much. I will consider it!"

I said and bowed deeply.



...Come to think of it, back at the Geology Room, Fukube-san had promised to accompany me to the General Committee and help me out in our request. I wonder whatever happened to him?



009 - ♣03



Hahahahahaha.

Oh, oh boy. This is too hilarious, I just can't withhold my laughter. My rationality tells me this joke is rather silly, but I still ended up laughing loudly. I think I could go on all day.

I knew the two fellows on stage, they were from the Rakugo Study Club. (Speaking of which, its name is merely an official front, as rather than the study of Rakugo, the Kamiyama High School Rakugo Study Club was more focused on Manzai[2] and stand-up comedy. I have no idea if there are any clubs that actually studied the art of Rakugo.

"Wow, it's sure been a long time since we've had a sushi dinner in a tatami room. We've spent quite some time there, we'd better get home quick, or we'll be late.

"'Kay."

"By the way, I don't mind giving you a ride, but when are you gonna to get off? Ever since I started driving, you've been giggling while looking at me all this time."

"You know, you've got quite a huge johnny..."

"Yeah yeah yeah, look I'm really worried about you. We'd better get you home quick... What're you grinning at?"

"Heh heh, and then?"

"You know, you were sobbing and giggling while saying 'My leg's gone limp, you think I'm able to step on the brakes?' It'd be dangerous for you to drive, no?"

"I guess."

"Oh dear, I've stepped on the accelerator by mistake."

"You're the one driving dangerously!"

Hahahahahaha.



010 - ♦02



I left the gymnasium as soon as the Opening Ceremony entered into intermission once the breakdancing performance was over. Before exiting, I turned to look back at the dark and stuffy gymnasium, and saw only half the students had remained behind.

To be honest, I feel like joining up with the others at the Classics Club. It was a failure for me to not double check with the publisher, so I feel like I have to take responsibility. On the other hand, I also realized it was also partly due to me not wanting to go to the Manga club.

It's not like I dislike the Manga Club. Though my expectations of the Manga Studies Club were different from before I entered school, I like the Manga Club the way it is now. Since manga is something you ought to like from the bottom of your heart. However, just because people with the same interest are gathered together does not mean there will be no friction between them.

...This heavy feeling I've been having since the start isn't so good. I'm probably the glass half-empty type of person. I'm supposed to be enjoying the privilege granted to me by the Cultural Festival of wearing this cardigan and brocade trousers within the school premises.

The Manga Club room is located in Preparation Room No. 1 on the second floor of the General Block. Compared to the Geology Room of the Classics Club, its location was a blessing as it's right next to the regular classrooms. Outside on the corridor was a non-flashy signboard that read "Manga Study Club". It was designed by our president Yuasa Naoko-sempai.

The sliding door was left open as we were soon to expect customers coming in to visit our stall.

"Good morning."

Not wanting to sound too much like Chi-chan's polite way of greeting people, I tend to pronounce it as "Good MORNing." It's not exactly special or anything like that, only that I've yet to see anyone pronounce it that way in mangas and novels.

"Oh, Ibara, you came."

Greeting me open-heartedly was Kouchi Ayako-sempai from second year. Not only is she very active and knowledgeable, her works are also of a high level, thus making her a central figure within the Manga Club. It was she who suggested that the Manga Club should randomly pick members to cosplay. Since she was the one who proposed it, she too was cosplaying today.

Her Chinese-style costume was probably self-made. It was neither a cheongsam[3] nor a Mao suit[4], but more like that of a Taoist priest. She wore fluffy-looking purple trousers and a gown with long yellow sleeves flowing all the way down to the floor. The sleeves were cut from the sides, allowing the arms to come out from within. The gown she wore was generally red in colour, though the colour around the chest area was slightly different. An original Chinese gown like that would have been more fluffy, so this was simply an imitation. On her head was a wide hat, from which a talisman hung in front, covering her right eye. Wrapped around her body was a yellow sash, though it's probably made of a large ribbon. As Kouchi-sempai had short-hair to begin with, her sharp gaze and average build means she looked just right for this character.

"Is that a Jiangshi[5]?"

"Officially, it should be called a Chinese Ghost."

Kouchi-sempai examined my costume from top to bottom, and upon seeing my feet clad in the usual indoor shoes used within the school premises said, "You need to put more effort into the shoes."

And suddenly the conversation shifted towards me. Though I didn't intend to wear this costume just to look nice, I didn't want her of all people to tell me that. For a moment, the atmosphere became tense... Since I was the only one who resisted doing any cosplay towards the bitter end.

"Oh, good morning," a voice called out from beside us; it was President Yuasa.

Rather than a costume, the president was dressed in Kamiyama High School's sailor school uniform. It was only intended for the five members in charge of the clubroom stall to cosplay to begin with, and the president was not one of them. Even though I was the only one who didn't cosplay properly, I could sense President Yuasa's generosity due to her being an open-minded person. To put it another way, from time to time she could be an easy to read person, a bit like watching a cat sitting on a porch. On her soft face were two big eyes with double-eyelids. Taking a look at my costume, she said, "Did you spend a lot making that?"

"No, I only paid for the belt, that's all."

"Do make sure to send us the receipt so you can claim your expense."

"Oh, it's okay, I'm fine with it."

Our president laughed gently, but I just could not bring myself to use the club's funds. While it was much more than what the Classics Club had, it wasn't exactly abundant.

Actually there was still some time before customers would arrive. I was looking around the First Preparation Room, in which the desks were lined up in a C-shape. The Manga Club's showpiece is "Zeamis[6]," the manga review anthology of 100 manga titles past and present. As for why it's called "Zeamis," I was told it was because last year it was called "Kanamis[7]". As for why it was called "Kanamis" last year, I didn't bother to ask as it sounded too silly. Besides that, members can bring their own published work, which will be distributed for free here to be sold as well. If they're going to sell these for money, they should have just set up a doujinshi stall to being with.

"Hey."

"Mornin'."

As time passed, more and more Manga Club members showed up.

It seems there were some members who were cosplaying despite not being required to help out. As we had twenty or so members, it was natural that cliques would be formed.

The first would be the boys. I don't know about the other clubs, but the boys actually form a minority in the Kami High Manga Club. As a result, they would gravitate towards people who were like them in order to figure out what they should be doing. They're generally harmless.

The other group was centred around Kouchi-sempai. While not particularly numerous, their outspokenness means they're considered the mainstream faction. The cosplaying members gathered around Kouchi-sempai, the proponent of the idea, to discuss how to greet the customers, and sometimes, the sound of some war cry could be heard.

"Alright! Let's get this going!"

Something like that.

And then there's the third group, which somehow could not bring themselves to follow Kouchi-sempai. It may be because they aren't fond of her boisterous nature, or they felt her actions don't match her words. And for some reason, this group...

"Hey, Mayaka, what's with that costume?"

"Mayaka, do I just leave the change here?"

"...Man, wonder when this will end?"

Was centred around me.

As for why, it was because it seemed like I was the only one who had spoken out against Kouchi-sempai.

The atmosphere was not exactly strained, neither was it explosive. Everyone is here due to their love of manga. Yet, in all this time, I didn't feel like coming to the Manga Club. The least I could do for the Classics Club was to at least request that the Manga Club sell "Hyouka" on behalf of the Classics Club. If "Hyouka" could be sold at the Manga Club, then considering the Manga Club's name recognition, we might sell around 20 copies. Right now it's a bit hard due to the atmosphere, so I was hoping the mood would change for the better, as soon as possible.

I wonder what Fuku-chan and the others at the Classics Club are doing now? I wonder who's watching the stall?

...Argh, I didn't even think about who should watch the stall!

No one would want to buy from such a neglectful club.

"Umm, are you guys open?"

A voice called out. Standing at the open entrance were two male students. Making a business-like smile, I stood up diligently and said with excessive enthusiasm, "Yes, welcome! Congratulations on becoming our first customer!"



011 - ♠04



It was just as I had expected, there was nobody coming to the Geology Room.

It's so quiet, so peaceful, so idle. All that could be heard was the remnant of some sort of commotion emanating from the central courtyard towards the General Block. This is excellent, long live being the stall keeper.

...... I shut my eyes and open them again, and saw a brownish "mountain" before me. This must be an illusion. In order to maintain the tranquility within my heart, I thought it best to keep my eyes shut again.

Of course, I had no intention of having to personally clear this mountain away. Within "Hyouka" was a manuscript written by me. For some reason, as it was none other than me that managed to compile all the clues with regards to the "Hyouka" incident, it was decided that I would contribute the bulk of the column space concerning that.

As a result of no one knowing exactly what the Classics Club does, the contents of "Hyouka" ended up being quite disorderly. You don't even need to open it to figure out what's inside. Chitanda and I contributed to writing about the "Hyouka" incident, Ibara wrote something about some manga that she respected, while Satoshi's column was about some joke concerning a classical paradox.

As it was something that had to be done, it was natural for me to want to finish it quickly, but it doesn't exactly mean I haven't got any attachment for the anthology that I wrote. If possible, I'd rather not want to throw all these 200 copies away as some bothersome trash once the Cultural Festival ends.

Even if I were to ignore my attachment, upon looking at the mountain of eccentric anthologies I thought of how Chitanda and Ibara would react if they saw those turn to trash, I couldn't help but feel depressed about it.

That's why I have expectations for Chitanda and Satoshi on their endeavors. If they could somehow think up of some amazing publicity campaign which I could not think of, I wouldn't exactly begrudge them if it meant the chaotic inflow of customers disrupting my peaceful task of watching over the stall as a result.

Which was why I decided to indulge in my moment of peace for the time being. I allowed my body to relax, feeling at ease as I shut my eyes and bob my head as I give in to my drowsiness and bent myself over the table.

The sound of music could be heard.

It was a rich harmonious tune.

Compared to the techno and tribal music of the Breakdancing Club, I much prefer this A Capella music. This means the music was being sung by the A Capella Club at the central courtyard. I gently sat upright and leaned towards the window. Perhaps they were used to singing like that, as their first harmony was enough to attract students coming to watch from various windows around the school building.

There were five students in uniform lined up in a row. One of them stepped forward and looked around the central courtyard, bowing towards us who have come to watch them from our windows. This was followed by the sound of people clapping their hands as he returned to the column and resumed singing.

So that was just a rehearsal just now, huh? When I first heard their music, it felt quite soothing to the year, enough to "make a lion sleep".

Yawn.

...... Man, as expected of them with their amazing singing. My already sleepy body was slowly being hypnotized by their gentle music, which sounded like a lullaby......

Leaning by the window sill, I struggled to stay awake, just when I thought it wouldn't be bad to just fall asleep here, the song had ended. Another round of applause emanated from the General and Special Blocks. I opened my eyes and clapped my hands as well. One of the A Capella Club members came forward to bow again before joining his club members towards a cooler box besides them, which was opened by another member. I couldn't see quite clearly from here, but it looked like they were drinking some bottled drinks. No doubt they were refreshing themselves between each song.

"......?"

Hmm?

Some sort of commotion was stirring amongst the A Capella Club members. They were pointing at the cooler box and shouting something repeatedly. They shook their heads and looked into the cooler box suspiciously. Has something happened?

At any rate, looks like they wouldn't be singing their second song anytime soon, it was pointless to look any further. So I moved away from the window and back towards my seat, yawning as I began waiting for visitors again.



Amidst my yawning, I could feel my jaw aching.

Someone appeared outside the opened door. Whoa, now that's some visitor we have here. He wore a tattered shirt which was held together by safety pins and had silver accessories all over his fingers and head. It was a punk. For some reason his eyes looked hesitant, I wonder what he came here for.

As I looked on suspiciously, the punk asked reservedly, "Umm, so what's being set up here?"

"This? ...Oh, we're selling an anthology."

"Anthology?"

The punk moved his eyes towards the mountain of "Hyouka." It was only now that he noticed this brownish mountain of anthologies stacked up.

"Sure is some amazing amount you're selling here."

"...It's a long story, we didn't exactly plan on selling this many."

"I'll have one then."

Whoa, a customer! My manners, I'd better put up some manners.

"That'll be 200 yen please."

Darn, I'm not looking courteous at all. This is asking too much of me.

The punk didn't seem to mind that though, and took out his wallet. For some reason he lowered his head as though looking apologetic as he received the copy of "Hyouka" from me. Maybe he was just killing time walking around? Just when I was thinking that, he suddenly changed his demeanor.

"Hey, w-what is this!?"

Huh? Wha-? Is there a cockroach inside your "Hyouka?"

Instead, the punk was looking at the piece of trash I placed beside the mountain of "Hyouka" copies, the broken fountain pen. As though finding a piece of treasure, he picked it up and looked at it reverently.

"Yes, this! This should do!"

He suddenly became delighted, while I could only look on with indifference.

Forgetting my attempt to look polite, I asked him bluntly, "Is something special about that piece of trash?"

"Huh? Oh, I'm sorry."

The punk returned to his senses.

"I'm with the Fashion Study Club, so we do fashion design, you see? And I've sort of forgotten to bring some chest pocket accessory for my formal costume. While a white handkerchief would normally suffice, it'll just look too normal. But I'm running out of time, so I was walking around wondering what to do. So, here, what do you think of sticking it in my chest pocket? Looks good, doesn't it?"

The punk grinned while fondling and examining the fountain pen. Well, if he likes it so much, this piece of trash perhaps does have its use after all.

"You can have it."

"R-really?"

As he said this, he searched for something in his pockets.

"Then, here, you can have this in return."

He took out a badge from his pocket. Rather than a badge, it looked more like a plastic numbered tag with a safety pin behind it. A simple design.

While I was wondering what this was, the punk pointed to it and said, "That's a VIP badge for our fashion show. Just bring that and come to the Fashion Room if you're interested. Don't worry, we'll take care of coordinating your costume. Though we call it a fashion show, you don't need to do any special catwalk moves. So anyway, see ya."

He said it as though he was escaping. Even if you didn't say it so frantically, I wasn't planning on replying. Then again, even if he's in such a hurry, would that costume of his even be considered formal?

I held the badge in my hand and put together what the punk had said so far. Basically, if I take this and go to the Fashion Study Club's stage, they'll make me into a model.

Nope, not interested. I placed it on the middle of the table.

...Anyway, he was our cherished first customer after all. In light of events, each of us Classics Club members took two copies each, plus one copy for our supervising teacher and one copy to preserve, which makes ten copies. So this means we now have 189 copies remaining.

Some progress that was. Feeling satisfied, I opened my mouth and yawned again as the A Capella Club resumed singing again. This time they were singing some up-tempo pop song. Hmm, this time it won't be a lullaby, huh?


[189 COPIES REMAINING]



012 - ♥03



No matter which of the six songs they sang, the A Capella Club was just amazing. They were so good that I clapped my hands so hard that they were hurting.

There was no doubt that choosing to sing in the central courtyard allowed their wonderful voices to reverberate across the school grounds. Perhaps they were rehearsing in different places beforehand to find out which place had the best acoustics? I feel a bit curious about it.

Feeling satisfied, I moved away from the window. It was then that I realized something and looked at my wristwatch.

...Eh?

Oh no, is it this late already? It's nearly noon! How did time pass so quickly? I must really stop getting distracted by whatever thing attracts my interest, or I won't be able to finish my task.

Hardening my resolve, I walked away from the window.

Looking back towards the corridor, I saw a strange sign curtain for the Charms Association, the signboard for the Handicraft Club which Fukube-san had put some effort into making, and a rather interesting poster of a composite photo by the Photography Club......

Are there any glasses which would allow me to only see what's ahead and not get distracted!?


Translator's Notes and References[edit]

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