Omae o Otaku ni Shiteyaru kara, Ore o Riajuu ni Shitekure!:Volume 1 Chapter 6
It wasn't the time for me to worry about tests, so I took care of my midterms without studying too much, and the long awaited day came.
On the day of the karaoke session.
We had arranged to meet at 1 PM in front of Ikebukuro station.
"Since you're the organizer, you should pick the meeting place, at least", Koigasaki had told me, and after deliberating for a long time, I thought that a place I'm familiar with should be fine, so I decided on Ikebukuro, where I used to hang out with my middle school Otaku friends when we went to Otaku shops.
I woke up an hour before it was time to leave the house, washed my face, ate my breakfast, brushed my teeth, shaved, and wore the 'victory outfit' that I had bought the other day.
And, as I was struggling with my hair wax in front of the bathroom mirror,
"Naoki, what's with that host-like outfit ~! And how long are you going to stand in front of the mirror? You're in the way and gross to top it off!"
I answered my little sister, who was hurling abuses from behind,
"Shut up! If you want to brush your teeth, go do it at the kitchen sink. I'm at war here."
But my protest was ineffective and my little sister, Akari, thrust me aside and started brushing her teeth.
At that moment, my Mom spoke.
"Naoki...... you've been styling your hair recently. Don't tell me you got yourself a girlfriend?"
"There's no way that would happen! There's no way this creepy Otaku Naoki could get a girlfriend!"
...... little sis, you're an Otaku too.
"No, I didn't...... But today, I'll be going to karaoke with some girls from my class."
"Eehh?? Naoki...... that's great to hear, isn't it? I'd been worried if you could even manage to talk to girls in real life...... and to think there are girls willing to go to karaoke with you......"
I didn't really know if she was worried or just mocking me.
Akari made a shocked expression,
"Aren't those girls a figment of your imagination?"
"They must look like gorillas......"
"Finding girls like that would be rather difficult, actually! They are normal, cute girls!"
After hearing my words, for some reason, Akari turned red in the face and yelled angrily.
"That pissed me off! Who do you think you are!? It's just going to karaoke with girls in your class! What're you getting so worked up for! Creepy!"
While saying that, she gave me a kick on the leg.
"Ouch! What's the matter with you all of a sudden? It's none of your business anyway...... Crap! It's this late already! I'm leaving!"
Time flew while I engaged in wasted chatter with my family and it was time to leave. I just had to make do with my hair as it was. Since I was the organizer, I couldn't afford to be late.
"Good luck...... Hey, Naoki, are you going in those clothes?"
"I see, those clothes...... erm, forget it, it would be overprotective of me if I meddle with your fashion choices, and besides, it'll be troubling if you get a mother complex."
"H-Huuh!? I'm out of time, got to go!"
While I was kind of bothered by the meaning behind Mom's words, I didn't have the time to give it further thought and left the house at that.
I headed towards the appointed meeting place, at the Ikefukurou statue at the east exit of Ikebukuro station.
Because of all my rushing, I arrived earlier than expected, ten minutes before the meeting time.
"Sorry for the wait, huh......?"
While Koigasaki was already at the meeting place, she appeared to be talking to a guy I didn't know.
The only guy among today's members whom I didn't know would be Suzuki's friend, but the guy talking to Koigasaki didn't look like a high school student.
"Meh, so you're already meeting another guy."
The guy said after seeing me and he left. Koigasaki was frozen stiff.
At that moment, I finally understood.
"That guy was hitting on you......!?"
"You're slow to only realize it now! Aah ~ what's up with that guy! Even though I was ignoring him, he just went on and on......"
I casually looked at Koigasaki's outfit while she grumbled to me.
Her outfit gave me an impression different from the last time I met up with her. She was wearing a pink dress with floral patterns and a thick belt. A can-can hat covered her head, and her make-up and twirls were even a notch above her usual self.
"Hey, what's up with those clothes!?"
Koigasaki's grumbles stopped abruptly and she grabbed hold of the hem of my shirt.
"Eh, I bought a magazine and bought this set at a store featured in the magazine. It cost me a bomb ~"
I doubted my ears when I heard Koigasaki's unexpected words.
"Why the Big Bro style!?"
"Eh? What's wrong, doesn't this look cool!?"
"You know, different clothes suit different people, right? Your plain face and unstyled hair aren't a match for your clothes...... and on top of that! Of all things, pointed shoes!? You are a wreck!"
Koigasaki sighed out in exasperation. The pointed shoes she mentioned had to be referring to the shoes with pointed toes that I was wearing.
"And furthermore, you're aiming for Hasegawa-san, right!? Why are you wearing those clothes when you're aiming for a clean, neat type like her!? Most girls like her hate the Gyaru-Oh type, you know!?"
I sunk into the depths of despair.
I thought that anything I picked according to a fashion magazine would be okay......
At that moment, Koigasaki's cell rang.
"Ah, hello? Miki, where are you? Ah, all right, got it."
And she hung up.
"I forgot to mention this to you, but there's one more girl coming today."
Said Koigasaki with an apologetic face.
I'd received so much shock already that I could only make a nonchalant reply.
"When I invited Miki, Mizuki...... ah, it's Amemiya Mizuki. The same class as us. Mizuki heard us, and she begged to come along when she heard that Suzuki-kun is coming."
Koigasaki said with a depressed face. It was understandable, since that was one more rival for her. Koigasaki's chances of talking to Suzuki might be getting slimmer and slimmer.
"Sorry to keep you guys waiting."
At that moment, Suzuki and his Riajuu friend appeared at the meeting place.
"Oh, it's Suzuki."
Koigasaki's expression clearly changed when she saw Suzuki.
"Ah, this is my classmate, Hirose."
Suzuki introduced his friend to us. The Hirose guy had brown-dyed hair and wore stylish clothing. Just from his appearance, I could sense that he was a frivolous guy.
"This is my friend from class A, Kasshii. His family name is Kashiwada."
Suzuki went on to introduce me to Hirose, but that frivolous guy Hirose clearly held no interest in me.
"And, how about......"
He asked Suzuki about Koigasaki, and I frantically introduced Koigasaki.
"Ah, this is Koigasaki......-san from my class."
"...... nice to meet you......"
Before the Suzuki she admired, Koigasaki greeted in a surprisingly soft, timid voice.
Who the heck are you? At the very least, you aren't the Koigasaki I know.
"I've heard about you ~! Koigasaki-san, you are a really famous person! Nice to meet you, too ~!"
That frivolous friend of Suzuki...... Hirose, even though they were meeting for the first time, he spoke to Koigasaki in a familiar manner and took her hand and forcibly shook it.
Koigasaki had a drawn look on her face. Will she be okay? I got a little worried......
Hasegawa suddenly appeared in my field of vision.
She had her beautiful, black hair tied up nicely to one side.
She had a white frilly blouse beneath a beige cardigan, wrapped in a turquoise shawl, and wore a knee-length flared skirt.
Seeing Hasegawa in her simple yet neat and clean casual wear, I was lost in admiration.
"Ah, t-this is Hasegawa-san from my class."
I introduced Hasegawa to Suzuki and Hirose, and they greeted Hasegawa. Hirose spoke in a familiar way to Hasegawa and forcibly shook her hand, too. It seemed he was the kind who flirts with any girl he meets, true to his appearance.
"Kasshii, how many more?"
"A-ahh, there are two more girls......"
I turned my eyes to my watch; it was five minutes past the appointed time.
"Sorry, sorry ~!"
Turning towards the voice, I saw two Gyarus, Koigasaki's friends, Sasagawa Miki and Amemiya Mizuki, heading towards here.
Once again, to me, they were Gyarus with an even flashier appearance than Koigasaki. Sasagawa had brown hair that was approaching blond, and wore a tailored jacket as her overcoat and a 'torn' pair of jeans. Rather than saying she looked a little boyish, her casual wear gave off more of a delinquent feel.
On the other hand, Amemiya Mizuki was dressed in a trench-coat and a pink miniskirt, with her legs covered in fishnet tights. For a female high school student, rather than sexy, she had a glitzy look in her casual wear.
Hasegawa's neat and clean casual outfit was far too different, and looked out of place among the girls. Without a doubt, among the four girls, including Koigasaki, I felt that Hasegawa's outfit was the most charming.
With all the members assembled, we ascended the stairs to exit the underground station.
"What should we do now ~?"
Hirose asked, and I frantically replied,
"Ah, I was thinking we should make our way to the karaoke......"
"Karaoke right off the bat? Since many of us are meeting for the first time, don't you guys want to go some place and talk?"
Said Sasagawa Miki.
"Ah, I want to talk ~. We haven't even introduced ourselves yet ~"
Amemiya Mizuki chirped in agreement.
I hadn't thought about that......
Taking Hirose's suggestion, we ended up going to a family restaurant.
While we were making our way from the station to the family restaurant, the guys and girls started talking among their own gender groups. Throwing a glance at the girls, I saw Koigasaki talking to Hasegawa. In her own way, it seemed like she was considerate not to let Hasegawa feel left out. I changed my impression of Koigasaki a little.
After reaching the family restaurant, everyone ordered drinks, and the girls also ordered dessert. Hirose took charge of the orders. Everyone had probably forgotten that I was the organizer. But, since it was impossible for me to take absolute charge, I was sincerely grateful to Hirose. Each and every one then took their drink from the beverage bar and returned to their seats.
"Well, shall we do self-introductions? Tell your class, name, and hobbies and stuff ~ Let's start from the girls ~!"
The self introductions started with Hirose's prompting.
From the left, Amemiya Mizuki led off.
"Eh ~ Starting from me ~? Erhm ~, I'm Amemiya Mizuki from class A. I've been really looking forward to today ~ Nice to meet you ~."
I 'd never talked to Amemiya Mizuki in class despite being classmates, though I was somehow conscious of her existence.
She wears thick make-up and has a high-pitched voice. Likes guys. A typical modern Gyaru. That was the impression I had.
"I'm next. I'm Sasagawa Miki from class A. I'm good friends with Momo and Mizuki. Nice to meet you!"
Sasagawa Miki greeted energetically. Even though she was a Gyaru, she felt like someone who belonged to an athletic group. She had the brightest-colored hair among the others.
Next would be Koigasaki's turn, since she was sitting beside Sasagawa.
"All right, it's Momo's turn."
"Ah...... erm...... I-I'm Koigasaki Momo...... from class A...... nice to meet you......"
She almost swallowed back her words in the middle but somehow managed. Just looking at her was enough to make me fume. No, I don't have the time to be worried about others......
Hasegawa's self-introduction was just like on the first day of school, a simple, concise self-introduction that ended promptly.
Following that, it was the guys' turn. Suzuki did it without a hitch; Hirose finished it with practiced ease; while feeling nervous, I too did mine, somehow.
After our orders arrived, idle chatter started.
Initially, Hirose started a topic with the girls, and the girls...... actually, Sasagawa Miki and Amemiya Mizuki, kept him engaged.
Obviously, I couldn't participate in their conversation, so I kept quiet and listened. What an uncomfortable moment. Meanwhile, Amemiya Mizuki started talking to Suzuki, and Sasagawa Miki also joined in. When I looked in Hasegawa's direction...... Hirose, who was sitting in front of her, had started chatting her up. Gosh. Don't tell me that Hirose is actually aiming for Hasegawa?
I turned to take a look at Koigasaki, who was sitting in the corner opposite from me. She seemed to be getting anxious as Amemiya talked more and more to Suzuki. But, apparently unable to participate, she merely kept quiet. However, this wasn't the time for me to worry about others. I too couldn't join in any of the conversations. I just realized this, but in this group, the only people who were left out were Koigasaki and me.
While we stayed in the family restaurant for only about an hour, it felt painfully like an eternity to me.
After a while, once again, on Hirose's cue, we moved to the karaoke venue.
Because of what happened at the family restaurant, quite frankly, at this point, I felt really depressed.
I had to regain my honor at the karaoke. It was for this day that I had been listening to and practicing the J-Pop songs which I normally didn't listen.
Walking for a short while after leaving the family restaurant, we reached the karaoke box.
The karaoke was rather packed on a Sunday, and we were made to wait for about ten minutes.
"Kasshii, what kind of songs have you been into lately?"
While waiting, Suzuki asked casually.
I hadn't talked to anyone much, so I felt saved by his question.
This was the time I'd been waiting for, and I started naming the popular J-Pop artists whose songs I'd been dutifully studying.
"Seriously? I don't know any of them."
After talking to Suzuki for a bit, Amemiya Mizuki started talking to Suzuki in the midst of our conversation and I ended up getting left out of the talk again.
Then, my name was called and we were led to a room.
Leading the way was Amemiya Mizuki who started with the song of a popular K-Pop girls' group.
We then took turns entering our songs. I was planning to enter the one song I was most confident with from among those I had practiced, but......
"Ah, Hirose, you entered this song!? This is really good, right!"
"Miki-chan, you like this song, too?"
Hirose had entered it before me......
Left without a choice, I entered my next best song, by a rock band.
"Eh, Kashiwada, you're singing this!? It's really unexpected!"
When the display showed the title of the song I planned to sing, Sasagawa Miki talked to me for the first time. Though I was taken aback, I was a little delighted. But.
"I also like this song, but I'm really surprised that Kashiwada likes it, too! I thought you were going to sing Ani-songs or the like."
"Yeah, yeah, I also thought so!"
Sasagawa said while laughing. Hirose too chirped in agreement.
They were totally mocking me. More like, despite trying to hide this, do I look that much like an Otaku......
At this point, my HP was approaching zero.
"Momo, what are you singing ~? Why don't you sing AKB! You always get the song and choreography down perfectly, don't you?"
Sasagawa passed the song selector remote to Koigasaki and prompted her to make her selection.
"Erh, today, I'm not singing...... erm, my throat's not well."
"Eh!? Don't say that ~! I really want to hear Koigasaki-chan sing AKB!"
Hirose stood up and made himself comfortable next to Koigasaki.
Koigasaki kept quiet and turned her head to the side.
"Hey, hey, talking about AKB, does anyone here like a band member in particular!?"
Amemiya Mizuki asked immediately after finishing her K-Pop song.
Hirose answered right away. Amemiya and Sasagawa reacted.
"How about Suzuki-kun?"
"AKB...... I'm not really interested, but if you ask me......"
Suzuki spoke the name of the youngest and most innocent-looking member of AKB.
At that moment, I had decided on my answer.
While I wasn't specially a fan of AKB and wasn't too informed about them, if I had to name a favourite member, only one of them was my type. I prepared myself to say her name when my turn came. However.
"Suzuki-kun, so you like the innocent kind!? I'm a little surprised ~!"
"By the way, the poll results will be out in June, won't they? I'm curious who will claim the most plain-looking category."
"Well, I actually bought the CD and voted!"
"Eh, seriously!? Hahaha! Aren't you really hardcore!"
With that, Amemiya, Sasagawa and Hirose kept talking about AKB.
My turn never came......
My heart completely snapped.
"Huh? Who's next ~? I don't know this song."
Said Amemiya Mizuki as the guitar intro of the upcoming song resounded in the box.
I doubted my ears. It was a song I liked...... a popular Vocaloid song. For a moment, I was worried that I might have entered the song out of habit, but I didn't remember doing that.
"Ah, it's mine ~"
Suzuki stood up.
This guy...... what a hero...... even if he had no intention of hiding the fact he was an Otaku, to think he would pick a song that was popular among Otakus in this Riajuu-filled place.......
Even though it was someone else's business, I ended up feeling nervous.
Before long, the intro finished and Suzuki started singing.
This was the first time I'd heard Suzuki sing; I was surprised by how good he was. With a beautiful voice, at an octave lower, he perfectly finished singing this song that crossed into the realm of a female's high pitch.
"Eh, Suzuki-kun, you're really good ~! It was awesome!? Oh my, that was really cool ~!"
Amemiya Mizuki was full of praise.
Everyone was taken aback by Suzuki's singing.
I casually turned my eyes to Koigasaki......
With a spellbound look, her stiffened-up body appeared to be completely motionless. Her eyes didn't leave Suzuki for a second, and even her eyeballs seemed fixed in place.
"I'm really amazed ~! Eh, whose song is this!? It's really unexpectedly good ~!"
Not long after Suzuki finished, Amemiya moved closer to Suzuki.
"I've never heard it either. Since Souta plays the guitar, he must know the less prominent songs as well, right?"
Hirose nodded to himself.
No one had realized this was a Vocaloid song that was popular among Otakus.
"Erm, how do I explain it? It's a song from an animation site, written by an amateur......"
Not knowing how to explain it to normal people who were ignorant of Vocaloids, Suzuki looked troubled.
"Ah, could it be it's a song from an independent band that hasn't made any major debut yet!?"
"Wow, Suzuki-kun, you aren't only in the light music club but really knowledgeable about music ~!"
Completely off track, Sasagawa and Amemiya were impressed.
"Ah, Kasshii, you know this song, right!?"
Suzuki became cheerful and threw the ball to my court.
"Ah, aah...... well......"
Of course, I wanted to tell Suzuki that I knew and loved that song, but I wasn't sure it it was a good idea to answer him in front of the rest, so I became evasive.
Before long, the intro of the song I entered started playing and Suzuki handed the mike to me.
While I sang the song that I'd practiced like crazy, the others were still clamoring Suzuki about the song he sang. No one was listening to me.
After I was done, the intro of AKB's latest song started playing.
"Eh...... this song; why...... I didn't enter it......"
Koigasaki was surprised hearing the intro.
"Momo, I've been waiting for you to enter this song that you sang the other day and since you didn't, I did it for you! Now, stand up! Make sure you do the dance, too, all right!?"
Sasagawa urged Koigasaki to stand up.
Hirose got excited and started clapping.
Koigasaki stood up with a rigid expression, and just when I thought she was going to pick up the mike, she took the remote and pointed it to the screen. The words 'song terminated' then appeared on the screen.
"Ehh, hey Momo, why did you delete it!?"
"Ah, oh no, I accidentally deleted it by mistake! Sorry for wasting your effort."
While saying that, she flashed a smile at Sasagawa.
"Seriously, what are you doing."
Sasagawa returned with a wry smile.
"Then, make sure you sing the next one, okay?"
Hirose added with a tone of regret.
The next song started and Hirose, who had entered the song, took hold of the mike.
"I need to go the ladies for a bit."
Koigasaki told Sasagawa and with that, started leaving the box.
"Momo, what's up with you today......"
Sasagawa looked at her intently with worried eyes.
"Uhn, she might just be having a stomachache, right? Her face is pretty pale ~"
Without a hint of concern, Amemiya became absorbed in selecting her song.
Koigasaki wasn't her normal self. Which reminds me, all this while, didn't she have a really rigid look on her face with Hirose sitting beside her? Even I got concerned about her well-being.
"I'm also going to the gents......" I said to Sasagawa who sat beside me and exited the box.
Facing the toilet, I saw Koigasaki squatting in front of the ladies.
"Hey, what's wrong......"
"Eh, why are you......"
Koigasaki noticed me and her face turned to one of amazement.
"Are you all right?"
While Koigasaki wasn't in tears or anything, her face was as white as a sheet.
"T-There's no way...... I would be all right...... that Hirose guy sat right next to me and tried to speak to me familiarly, and I didn't get to talk to Suzuki-kun......"
Koigasaki started venting out her displeasure.
"I mean! How can that guy rub shoulders with me when it's only our first meeting! He's too close! I can't take it anymore! I've had enough of him!"
Koigasaki hugged her own shoulders and trembled.
"Frivolous guys like him are the most difficult to handle for me!"
I never realized Koigasaki was pretty much at her limits.
I was so absorbed in my own affairs that I hadn't realized Hirose had been sitting right beside Koigasaki, and been physically plastering to her.
When I thought about it, I hadn't really heard much of her voice all day. She didn't really speak much (which was true for me, too).
I was the only one who knew about Koigasaki's dislike for guys. To top it off, I was the organizer. I had to be more considerate of her.
"Speaking of which, I didn't have the time to concern myself with you, but how did you do? Did you manage to talk to Hasegawa-san?"
Even though she was in pretty bad shape herself, Koigasaki still asked about me.
Somehow, I started to find her admirable.
"Hasegawa...... Ha...... Hasegawa!?"
And then, I remembered the person for whom I carried a torch. Unbelievable, I had forgotten about the existence of Hasegawa.
Hasegawa also didn't seem to have spoken much today. She must have felt really uncomfortable, I supposed.
Even though I was the one who extended the invitation, I never really showed any consideration for her. I was a failure as the organizer.
I couldn't join any of the conversations, got mocked despite my efforts, and didn't even manage to notice there were people having a hard time or being left out.
"I'm no good......"
I unconsciously murmured.
"Huuh? What's with that...... if you say that, I'm no good either. Even Miki was concerned about me......"
Koigasaki sighed and became crestfallen.
After we grumbled for a while, we returned to the box which we didn't want to return to. Since it would be suspicious for us to go back at the same time, we returned separately with some time in-between.
"Ah, Kasshii. We only have 5 minutes left."
I felt relieved just hearing that from Suzuki upon my return.
Since I'd been hoping for this gloomy time to end quickly.
After the last person, Sasagawa, finished her song, I took the payment voucher and we exited the box.
I paid up at the cashier, divided the total sum among the number of people, and received the money from the rest.
"Huh, it's a little late, but ~ could it be that today's organizer is Kashiwada?"
Amemiya asked as I handed her the change from the cashier.
This was the first time I talked to Amemiya.
I shrank back as I acknowledged with a yes.
"Eeh ~ isn't it pretty meaningless for you to be the organizer? That's really funny, though."
She said to me.
What she meant was, it was meaningless for a lame, plain guy like me to be the organizer, and she found it funny.
While I'd never been able to deal with Gyarus, after today, it became even worse.
I would never become the organizer again, I swore to myself.
As we were heading to the station from the karaoke, I decided to go for a last stretch of effort and called out to Hasegawa.
Hasegawa was trailing quietly at the end of the group with her usual expressionless face.
"You know, Hasegawa-san......"
Hasegawa turned slightly to face me after hearing my words.
"I'm, sorry...... for today."
When I was right before Hasegawa, I panicked and couldn't say anything else.
I thought it might be better for me to explain why I was apologizing, but I didn't know how.
"...... why are you apologizing?"
Hasegawa asked, while maintaining her expressionless face.
I wavered and a number of words came to my mind, but, not knowing what I should say, without saying anything, the distance to the station kept melting away.
Just before we reached the station, thinking that I had to say something,
"Ah, but, thanks for coming today!"
I blurted out.
The thought of how troubled Hasegawa might be after hearing my sudden thanks without even explaining why I had apologized made me regret what I had said.
Hasegawa didn't say anything to me.
But...... just very faintly, a smile formed...... at the corner of her lips.
Hasegawa smiled. I could have thought it was just my imagination, but that Hasegawa smiled at me.
Since my first day of school, this was the first time I'd seen Hasegawa smile again.
I was jubilant.
Before I knew it, we reached the station; Hirose, Sasagawa and Amemiya seemed to be exchanging their contacts.
Either via QR code scans or IR beaming. Then, Amemiya and Hirose asked Suzuki and Koigasaki for their contacts, respectively.
I also wanted to ask Hasegawa for her contact info, but of course, I didn't have the courage for that.
Afterwards, Hirose said some closing words (Hirose was already pretty much the organizer), and we parted ways.
Riding the train alone, listening to a Nico Nico Douga vocalist I liked in my favorites on my iPod, I thought back.
All this while, I'd been listening to J-Pop in preparation for today's karaoke, and it had been a while since I'd listened to songs that I liked.
Many unpleasant things happened today.
I got to learn that it was absolutely impossible for me to become a Riajuu.
And I thought of giving up.
However, I was able to see Hasegawa's smile in the end.
Just that alone made me happy. I should work even harder. I had no time to be depressed about my pathetic self.
From tomorrow onward, I would work harder to become a cool Riajuu and get even closer to Hasegawa, I swore to myself.
Translator's Notes and References & OTARIA Glossary
- Ikefukurou (lake owl) Statue: It's an owl statue landmark in Ikebukuro station.
- Can-can Hat: Google image it.
- Gyaru-Oh: Male version of Gyaru. See here for more info.
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