Omae o Otaku ni Shiteyaru kara, Ore o Riajuu ni Shitekure!:Volume 1 Chapter 7
A week had passed since we went to karaoke. I hadn't exchanged a single word with Hasegawa since then.
"Thanks for the other day. Can I ask you to hang out with us again?", I had wanted to say to her many times, however, it was just extraordinary difficult to talk to Hasegawa at school, so it was out of the question for me.
Like me, Koigasaki too seemed like she wasn't able to hook up with Suzuki since the karaoke session.
We were hoping that by hanging out together once, the distance between us and our targets of affection would have shrunk, but reality was not so simple.
Before I knew it, almost two months had passed since school started.
Soon, we would switch to short sleeved uniforms and the rainy season would be upon us.
As usual, I struggled with my hair wax and trimmed my eyebrows, but there was no improvement whatsoever.
On that night, I made a strong decision.
I thought of a number of things. I was overflowing with motivation after the karaoke session and was seriously considering how I could raise the level of my visual appeal.
Observing the guys in my class, I noticed something.
Most of the stylish, good-looking guys had their hair dyed.
While there were some black-haired guys who were also popular, most of the flashy, stylish, conspicuous guys had brown hair.
Then, shouldn't I also go with that? I thought.
While Koigasaki got her hair dyed at the beauty salon, since I didn't have that kind of money, I bought my hair dye at a pharmacy and went to work on it in my bathroom.
After applying it on all of my hair, I waited for ten minutes. Turned on the shower and rinsed my head.
The manual actually said to leave it for fifteen to twenty minutes, but I was afraid of 'overdyeing' my hair, so I washed it off earlier.
After rinsing it thoroughly, I looked at the mirror. In it I saw the usual me with my black hair.
Strange, I thought, as I got closer to the mirror to peer at my own hair color. While there were parts that were dark brown, there were also parts that remained completely black. In short, it was effectively sparsely dyed.
And even with that, those parts that were dyed were of a brown color that was approaching black. It seemed to me that nobody would notice I had dyed my hair.
When I went to school the next day, sure enough, no one made any mention of it.
"I've dyed my hair."
I had no choice but to announce it to Kiritani.
"Eh? It's still black! Don't tell me you did it yourself?"
He struck bull's eye.
According to Kiritani, there were cases where those people who had never dyed their hair before and went for a D.I.Y kit from the pharmacy didn't manage to get their hair dyed properly.
Even while feeling depressed, I passed by the pharmacy again on my way back and looked carefully at the hair dye selections on the shelf. Perhaps I shouldn't buy the same dark brown hair dye this time. Looking at the packages carefully, I saw the depiction of a model with hair dyed a bright brown color that was approaching orange. The box had 'Bleach' written on it.
This would probably do the trick, I thought, as I headed to the cashier.
That night, I once again struggled with the hair dye agent in the bathroom. After applying the dye thoroughly, I didn't jump the gun this time. With nothing to do in the bathroom, I simply waited.
And after waiting for twenty minutes, this should do it, I thought, and rinsed my head in the shower. I then looked at the mirror.
My hair was of a brown color that was closer to golden orange.
Whatever the case, I would never have expected such an effect.
While it might be better than not having dyed my hair at all, whether it suited me or not...... I had no idea.
"Naoki, Mama told us to use the new shampoo...... I'm leaving it here, so just take it yourself."
I heard the voice of my little sister, Akari, from the dressing room.
"Hey, wh-what, your hair color......"
I could hear Akari's voice getting closer and closer through the door. The door to the bathroom was translucent, so she seemed to have noticed something wrong with her big brother's hair.
The door swung open.
"Hey, why did you open......"
"Pffft...... gyahahahahahaha! Mama! Mama, come here!"
Akari rolled on the floor laughing in an exaggerated manner.
"Why did you call Mom!?"
"What is it Akari...... Hyiiiiiiii -!"
Mom, who dashed over, let out a scream upon seeing her son's hair color.
"What the heck...... it's only a little too bright-looking...... there's no need to......"
"I...... don't remember raising up such a delinquent!!"
"Gyahahahahaha!! This is killing me!! That hair color looks really dumb!!"
Both Mom and my little sister were surprised by my hair in their own way, but there was no doubt my new hair look was getting a bad appraisal from both of them.
"Ahh, jeez, you guys are annoying!"
I frantically closed the door shut.
Is this hair color really so weird...... No, I can't take my family's word seriously. Perhaps I might get an unexpectedly good appraisal on it...... was what I wanted to think.
I mean, if I wanted to dye it back black, I would need to go buy a new hair dye agent, and since it was already close to eleven at night, the pharmacy was already closed.
The only thing I could do was first go to school in the morning, and if the people around me didn't react favorably, I would go buy my black hair dye at the pharmacy on my way back after school.
On the next day, when I entered class, I could feel the eyes of my classmates locked onto me.
The girls who were normally paid me no heed were looking at me. Perhaps I was imagining things, or perhaps they were really looking at me, and whether those looks were positive, or were just a result of me sticking out like a sore thumb, I did not know.
"Kashiwada, what happened to your head......!"
When I reached my seat, Kiritani immediately broke out. And, at the same time, someone else was approaching my seat.
"Kashiwada, what kind of joke is this?"
It was Koigasaki. Her eyes were not smiling.
"I-Is this head no good?"
"It looks weird...... when you can't even style your hair properly with wax, it's way too early to be dyeing it."
After saying just that with a demeaning look in her eyes, Koigasaki quickly went back to her seat.
"Koigasaki talked to you again...... You guys are really on good terms, huh?"
Said Kiritani with an envious tone while staring at Koigasaki's back.
"What's with you? You already have a girlfriend, don't you? And I already said this many times, but we aren't on good terms at all."
"Will Koigasaki talk to me too if I dye my hair blond ~...... No, even if that can get Koigasaki to talk to me, I won't use that color."
Kiritani snickered while looking at my hair.
"Eh...... is it really that bad?"
"To be frank, it's terrible, you know? I thought you should already have noticed. Take a look at the girls."
Hearing that, I turned and looked around me and saw that the surrounding girls were giggling in my direction. So the looks that showered me when I entered the classroom were of a negative nature. I wanted to die already.
I'd merely dyed my hair, and both Koigasaki and Kiritani called my hair weird because of that; it made me want to quickly get out of school right now and dye my hair back to black immediately.
"Ah, Kasshii ~"
While feeling despondent, as I was walking along the corridor, heading to the toilet, I was stopped by a familiar, pleasant voice. It was Suzuki. For someone with few friends like me, Suzukie was the only one who would use 'Kasshii' as my nickname.
"What an awesome color! Are you getting an image change?"
"Aah, a lot happened...... I mean, I feel this is going to be part of my dark history...... please forget what you saw today...... Ah, thanks for the other day, and sorry for being out of it that day."
I thanked and apologized to Suzuki for the other day. It would be nice if I could say that to Hasegawa.
"Nah, it was fun. But next time I want to go with just Otakus, to karaoke."
Otaku karaoke...... indeed, it sounded like fun.
"By the way, this is a little sudden, but Kasshii, do you want to go to an 'Only' event for LoveMinus?"
It was such a sudden thing he brought up that my brain froze for an instant.
Then, I immediately looked around us. Luckily, there were no students passing by, and consequently, I breathed out a sigh of relief as I stroked my chest.
There was no doubt that a LoveMinus 'Only' event would involve LoveMinus Doujin on sale. It was a Doujin event where only LoveMinus Doujins would be traded. While I had been to Comiket, I had never stepped foot in an 'Only' event.
"Eh? There is one?"
"Yeah, on the Sunday of the week after next. A friend of mine is participating as a Circle and he asked me to help. I was wondering if you'd also be interested."
"I see, I didn't know that there was an 'Only' event."
My interest in the 'Only' event started to well up. I was thinking of getting myself some LoveMinus Doujin.
"I don't have anyone to go with me...... but it sounds fun. Let me think about it."
I then continued to talk to Suzuki for a while, and as the bell was going to ring soon, we parted for our respective classrooms.
About three meters away from the classroom, a face poked out from behind the door; a certain person threw an ultra strong glare at me.
"Hey, what were you and Suzuki talking about? I'm so envious of you!? Since the karaoke, I haven't had a single word with him......"
"Well, he was just inviting me to an 'Only' event...... wait, you won't know about it even if I told you."
"'Only' event? What's that?"
Just as Koigasaki queried me, the bell rang.
"What did Suzuki invite you to!? I'll hear the details from you later!"
After saying that, she returned to her seat.
As the closing homeroom period of the day ended, Koigasaki bode her friends goodbye, and came over to my seat.
"So, about our earlier conversation."
"Eh, well...... Suzuki asked me whether I would like to attend an 'Only' event."
"Like I was asking! What's that 'Only' event!"
I turned my head around us. There were still a few people remaining in the classroom after class.
I lowered my voice so that I wouldn't be heard by those around us, and said.
"I lent you my LoveMinus game, right? It's an event where they sell Doujin works of that game."
"What's Doujin works?"
Without even bothering to keep her voice down, Koigasaki openly uttered that word, to which I frantically replied,
"Don't say that out so loudly!"
I cautioned her. That was why clueless ordinary people were such a bother.
"Erm, it's like manga drawn by the fans of the game...... something like that."
Most of those manga are erotic; as I thought, I couldn't say that out.
Koigasaki acknowledged without much interest.
"The event is on the Sunday of the week after next, and Suzuki got roped in to help out his friend who's participating. Thus Suzuki was asking me if I would like to attend. That's all."
"Then, does it mean that if I go to that event, I'll be able to see Suzuki-kun even on a Sunday?"
Koigasaki's eyes sparkled for an instant.
"Eh, I guess......"
Koigasaki got riled up all of a sudden.
"Is the event open to everyone!? I want to go, too!"
"Well, you can go if you want to, but I think it's better not to."
"There will be a larger crowd of guys than the time in Akiba, and besides......"
What I was more worried about was the content in the Doujin works that would be sold there. I expected most of them would be erotic Doujin works. Since it's Koigasaki we're talking about, she would probably feel repulsed by the erotic Doujin works, and if she knew that I read those stuff, it would be a given that she would feel even more disgusted with me.
"Anyway, you can't go! In the first place, how's your progress with LoveMinus?"
"Uwu...... I'm busy with a lot of things ~"
Borrowing the game from someone, and yet she hadn't made any progress with it.
"If you aren't playing, return it to me! If you can't even appreciate the charm of LoveMinus, you aren't qualified to go to its 'Only' event!"
"How stingy...... don't forget that I've been helping you out."
I stiffened at those words. Indeed, Koigasaki not only invited Hasegawa to hang out with us, she had also helped me improve my appearance somewhat.
On top of that, if possible, I hoped that she could continue to help me.
"Hey, don't tell me you've forgotten about it!? You still owe me one, right!?"
Koigasaki's words made me sigh out as I remembered. What Koigasaki was referring to was the time when I didn't have the money to buy her a dress at Harajuku. Since she let me off without buying it for her, I certainly still owed her one.
"...... ah, I get it! I'll bring you to the 'Only' event. However, there are conditions. You must not buy any of the books there. Neither are you allowed to browse through them."
"In the first place, I'm not interested in those books, and neither do I have the money. Actually, why do I even need your permission?"
After hearing that she had no intention of buying those books, I felt a little relieved.
After this and that, it was decided that Koigasaki and I would attend the LoveMinus 'Only' event on the appointed Sunday.
I was a little apprehensive of going to the event alone, so I was hoping someone would accompany me, but there were many worrisome factors that came along with it.
For the third consecutive day, I went to the pharmacy, got my black hair dye, went home, and immediately dyed my hair back to black.
I swore silently to myself that I would never come near blond hair dye ever again.
The Sunday of the following week came. Koigasaki and I met up at JR's Kamata Station.
I was taken aback when Koigasaki appeared at our meeting place.
Just like the time at the karaoke, she had a frilly dress on, complete with her flawless make-up. However, on top of that, she was pulling a bright pink suitcase behind her.
"What's in that......"
"I bought costumes for LoveMinus cosplay online ~! Once I put on the costume, it'll be obvious that I'm a fan, and Suzuki might even take notice of me, right!?"
While I supposed that even without cosplaying, it would be a no-brainer to anyone that all the attendees were LoveMinus fans, her proactiveness really surprised me.
"You aren't even an Otaku; I'm surprised you are okay with cosplaying."
"I'm just doing it for the sake of getting close to Suzuki-kun! Anyway, these days, Gyaru magazines also feature cosplay fashion, and I've always wanted to try it out once ~. Besides, LoveMinus costumes are sailor uniforms, right? My middle school uniform was the blazer-type and I really adored sailor uniforms!"
While I didn't like the idea of her cosplaying LoveMinus characters with such a tainted motive, I kept quiet as I didn't want to hear a stream of complaints coming out of her.
With the help of a map, we arrived at the event's location.
"S-So many guys......"
When Koigasaki looked at the event venue, she turned pale just like the time when we went to Akihabara.
"Didn't I already tell you! It's not too late yet. Do you want to go home?"
"Huuh? What are you talking about? I'm already here! There's no way I'll turn tail now! In order to make up for last time's failure, I've decided that I'll definitely talk to Suzuki-kun today."
From here on, we would be acting separately for a while. The plan was to have me go link up with Suzuki first. Then, Koigasaki would pretend that she'd come on her own and met us by coincidence, taking the chance to talk to Suzuki. I would then help liven up the conversation by talking about LoveMinus and cosplay.
After splitting up with Koigasaki, I verified the booth number from the message sent by Suzuki and proceeded there.
Spotting me, Suzuki smiled and waved at me. Another person, whom I supposed was Suzuki's participant friend, was sitting right next to him.
"Ah, nice to meet you. Are you Suzuki's friend?"
"Yes, we go to the same school."
After exchanging greetings with Tanaka-kun, who was Suzuki's participant friend, they invited me into the booth.
I received a copy of the Doujin drawn by Tanaka-kun free of charge, and feeling apologetic, I offered to help tend the booth. As such, Tanaka-kun, having some booths that he wanted to check out, took up the offer and left me and Suzuki in charge.
While tending the booth with Suzuki, I learned that Tanaka-kun was an Otaku friend Suzuki had met online, and as we chit-chatted for a while, I finally asked Suzuki about something which had been on my mind, before Koigasaki came.
"By the way, Suzuki, don't you have a girlfriend?"
It was something I'd wondered about all this while. Even if he was an Otaku, it wouldn't be strange if a hot guy like him had a girlfriend or two.
If, in the unlikely event that he already had a girlfriend, then all of Koigasaki's efforts would have gone down the drain. That was what I thought.
"Eh, why the sudden question? Kasshii, do you have one?"
"There's no way I would have one. Besides, I'm the one asking you, Suzuki."
"My girlfriend is Rinka...... Not just me, everyone here at this place either has Rinka, Manami, or Nono as his girlfriend......"
It was unusual for him to sidestep my question with a joke, but I guessed it must be a topic he didn't want to discuss.
"I'm pretty serious here. I've decided that I'll only love 2D girls."
He said that calmly with his clean-cut face.
He might have said something that sounded cool, but if one were to listen to that declaration carefully, it sounded like a very regrettable thing.
"Seriously...... why would you......"
"2D girls are great. They won't betray you."
"...... what happened in the past?"
"...... uuhn...... nothing in particular, really ~"
There was a tinge of sadness in Suzuki's smiling face as he said that. Even though he said there was nothing, I suspected something really had happened to him in the past. But if the person in question was trying to dodge it, it would be difficult to pry further. It was probably something he didn't want to talk about.
At that moment, I remembered Koigasaki. If that was how Suzuki thought, then the chances of Koigasaki becoming Suzuki's girlfriend were pretty low, I supposed. Koigasaki's motivation and efforts today were not half-assed. Even though she'd kept failing and failing again all this while, it seemed that she was determined to get closer to Suzuki today. When I remembered her determination for today, I felt that I had to at least try to do something to help her.
"Didn't we go to karaoke the other day? Didn't any of the girls there catch your eye?"
I tried asking with a thin thread of hope attached.
"Oh, karaoke, huh? That Koigasaki girl......"
I was extremely surprised when Suzuki remembered Koigasaki's name. Perhaps, there might be some hope......
"That girl is cute, but isn't she a Bitch? I heard some really crazy rumors. Like she's 5-timing or prostituting herself...... seriously unbelievable."
Of all things, he had the worst kind of impression. Suzuki knew about that rumor, too.
"I hate Bitches the most."
Said Suzuki flatly.
I realized it then.
Two meters away from the booth where we were sitting, wearing the uniform from LoveMinus, Koigasaki stood there in a daze, with a pale face.
She seemed to have heard that.
Koigasaki ran off as I stood up from my seat.
"Huh? Kasshii, what's wrong?"
Suzuki appeared not to have noticed Koigasaki.
"Ah, sorry, I saw someone I know...... I need to go after her!"
I left the booth to chase after Koigasaki.
By then, there was no longer any sign of Koigasaki, who had melted into the crowd.
I returned to the booth.
"Did you find her?"
"No, she's already gone."
"Suzuki, about what you were saying earlier."
I remembered something that I had to clear up.
"About the part that Koigasaki is a Bitch......"
"Eh? Aah, yeah?"
"That's just a rumor! It was made up by a girl who hates Koigasaki!"
"Eh? I see."
Despite clearing it up, Suzuki appeared indifferent.
As I returned to my senses, I myself found it inexplicable that I'd been so desperately trying to cover for Koigasaki.
Well, it's not good to leave an incorrect rumor flowing through the grapevine...... it's not like I was doing it for Koigasaki...... I started making excuses to myself.
At that moment, the booth master, Tanaka-kun, came back. After saying that the event was coming to an end soon and it was about time to pack up, I bode both of them farewell.
I frantically started searching for Koigasaki again.
As I went around the booths, I still couldn't find her. I then headed toward the cosplay plaza beside the hall.
I found Koigasaki there. A participating camera-boy was in the middle of taking pictures of her.
"Erm ~, can you sit on the floor and clasp your knees ~?"
I frantically called out to the camera-boy, who was aiming his camera with clearly suspicious eyes.
"Ah, e-excuse me, I'm sorry for interrupting your photo-shoot, but we're in a hurry here......"
I hurriedly brought Koigasaki away from the place.
"Huuh ~, that guy was really unbelievable! It was obvious that he wanted to take a pic of my panties...... He's seriously terrible! Are all Otakus like that!?"
After putting some distance away, Koigasaki started ranting about that guy.
She seemed fine to me and I was relieved.
I looked at Koigasaki once again. Even though she was indeed wearing the uniform from LoveMinus, her hair remained the same; it was just 'Koigasaki wearing a uniform from LoveMinus'. You can't call that cosplay.
"Haah ~ jeez, this is really horrible! Some people almost managed to take weird pictures of me, the place is crawling with guys, and they are selling books with erotic covers......"
At that moment, I could tell that Koigasaki's expression changed from anger to sadness.
"And it seems like Suzuki-kun hates me......"
She murmured to herself. As I thought, she heard what Suzuki said and seemed to be pretty depressed about it.
"He doesn't hate you. He was just taken in by the rumors."
"But he called me unbelievable. 'Koigasaki is unbelievable'......"
Koigasaki was already on the verge of tears.
"It'll be fine! I cleared that up with him. I got Suzuki to understand that the Bitch rumor was untrue!"
"...... really? ...... but, it's not just that. I also heard what he said before that. Suzuki-kun has no intention of getting a girlfriend outside of his games, right?"
"Mm......, you heard that too?"
"I'm totally different from the game character that Suzuki likes...... and I can't become that......"
Koigasaki was completely in pessimistic mode. She had her head hanging, ready to cry anytime.
The usually proactive, positive, strong-willed Koigasaki, who was willing to plunge into action to get what she wanted, wasn't there.
"Of course you are different. One's 2D, the other's 3D."
"If you are different, then you just need to teach him the greatness of 3D! Think about the effort you've put in! For whom did you go to Akiba? Or play Eroge? You aren't even an Otaku, but yet you came to an 'Only' event and even cosplayed!? It's all for Suzuki! Are you going to let all that effort go to waste!?"
Koigasaki was stunned by my inadvertent heated-up persuasion.
"...... why did you get so heated-up? It's beyond my understanding."
"Eh, nothing...... I just thought it's unlike a girl like you, who's usually so strong-willed, to get so despondent......"
It was also beyond my own understanding why I got so riled up for Koigasaki's sake.
She had always made a fool of me, demeaned me, and really pissed me off a lot. That was supposed to be the case, so why? I thought that I just didn't want to see her getting so down.
Why did I do so much for a girl, I wondered.
Koigasaki stared at my face for a while, and broke into a small smile.
"Well, it might be just like you said. I've already put in so much effort, after all......"
"Yeah, right? It'll be a pity to give up and let it go to waste!"
"...... give up? No one said anything about giving up!"
I thought she was totally in 'given-up' mode just now, and now, she suddenly said that. In a strong-willed manner.
And without saying anything further, she started walking.
"Hey, where are you going?"
"Do you still need to ask? I haven't accomplished today's objective yet! Just now, I got scared and ran away, but I'll definitely talk to Suzuki this time!
I followed after Koigasaki, who had completely recovered back to her usual self. I felt somewhat relieved as I looked at the back of her usual and strong-willed self.
However, at Tanaka-kun's booth, everything had been cleared out and neither Suzuki nor Tanaka-kun were around.
"Did they go back already......"
"Ehh, are you kidding me? Then, this whole trip I took the trouble to make has become meaningless!"
Koigasaki's shoulders slumped in disappointment.
"Well, there's always another chance. Don't feel down."
"It's not like I'm feeling down!"
Having turned around to rebuke me, Koigasaki continued in her usual strong-willed voice,
"I have to work harder tomorrow...... you'd better lend me a hand too!"
"Ah, I'm starved."
My stomach had been growling for a while.
"I agree. We haven't had lunch, after all."
"I haven't really eaten anything since morning!"
"What? Did you oversleep?"
"No, not that. There wasn't anyone at home in the morning, so there was only cup noodles for me. Ah, I didn't feel like eating cup noodles in the morning, so I left home without eating anything."
Koigasaki made a somewhat incredulous face, but she didn't comment further.
I had no idea what it was that I said that had made her so incredulous.
"Well, I'm also hungry. Why don't we go eat something?"
I was deeply surprised by Koigasaki's suggestion.
What surprised me the most was that she just invited me to have dinner with her without any ulterior motive.
Up till now, we had acted together for a number of times, but I went along only for the sake of helping her achieve her objective.
There wasn't a single instance of us spending time together when she didn't have something to gain from it.
Even though it was just a matter of having a meal together because both of us happened to be hungry, I couldn't help but feel surprised.
"What? Why are you keeping quiet? If you don't want to go, it's fine."
"No! I'm going, I'm going! Let's go!"
Well, this wasn't the time to worry about needless things. My empty stomach was already unbearable.
After Koigasaki got changed, we left the event venue and walked to the station. Maybe it was because both of us were tired, we kept silent throughout. But the atmosphere didn't seem strange nor heavy (or it might just have been how I felt).
It was just nice that there was a fast food restaurant before the station.
"Is that ok?"
"Aa-uhn, that's fine too, huh?"
We entered the shop and ordered at the counter.
Right now, I was needlessly nervous.
Some time ago, the two of us went to Harajuku for a 'mock date'. Right now, it felt more like a date than back then.
At that time, we went to Harajuku purely because Koigasaki wanted to make me buy clothes for her.
Right now, the two of us were having a meal at a fast food restaurant because we were both hungry. Even though it was really nothing out of the ordinary, it just felt a little like a date...... and while the thought of Koigasaki calling me a 『Virgin Fag』 if she found out was turning in my mind, I proceeded to order a hamburger and fries set. Koigasaki, who was making her order next to me, suddenly asked.
"Hey Kashiwada, what did you get!?"
"Eh, just a normal hamburger set......"
"Seriously!? Then I'll have that as well...... no, but I guess it's better to have one with cheese......"
As her words trailed off, Koigasaki ordered the same set as me.
After getting our orders almost immediately, we headed to the seats on the second floor.
"You were pretty indecisive."
"Yeah, I rarely come here, so I wanted to eat this and that."
After finding a suitable seat, we sat across each other.
"You rarely come here? I thought Gyarus only eat McD. Was I wrong?"
"What kind of prejudice is that? Indeed, I've come here a number of times when hanging out with my friends, but other than that, I don't come here at all."
"Is that so?"
"Yeah. If I go out with my family, we definitely won't come here. More like, my parents tell me not to come here too often."
What a strange family, I thought, but since different families had different circumstances, I didn't say that out loud.
"Thanks for the food!"
Koigasaki civilly put her palms together, then stretched her hand out towards the food.
She was surprisingly well-mannered.
"Ah, like I thought, it's actually pretty tasty! Papa said that it tastes bad, but it's been a while since I had one, and it's just as good."
Koigasaki became absorbed in the hamburger which she hadn't eaten for a long time.
It was rare to see someone get so happy for eating a hamburger. Well, it was really good, though.
"Hey, how did you fall for Hasegawa-san?"
Koigasaki covered her mouth with her hand while asking me that.
Hearing that abrupt question, I almost spat out the coke in my mouth.
"E-Erh...... on the day of the school entrance ceremony, well, it was love at first sight......"
That first day of school was an impactful, unforgettable day. On top of her angelic kindness, she was a beautiful girl, and her looks were totally my type. I had never seen a girl like that before, and I fell in love at first sight.
"Fuuhn, Hasegawa-san is super cute, isn't she? Is she your first love?"
My words halted at Koigasaki's unexpected question.
To be frank, my first love had turned into unwanted memories that were painful to even think about.
"You like a girl before?"
"Aah, well, yeah, in middle school......"
"Seriously? Like I thought, it's nice to be in a co-ed! Did you confess?"
Crap. If we continued with this topic, it would really get painful.
"It doesn't matter now, does it? What about you? How did you come to like Suzuki?"
It might be a little pushy of me, but I tried my best to change the subject.
It was easy to tell that Koigasaki's face turned red at my question.
"It was also love at first sight for me, though."
Koigasaki frantically washed down the stuff in her mouth with her juice.
"There's a manga called 『Kimi ni Todoitara』, right?"
She suddenly said the title of a manga out of the blue, and a question mark appeared in my head.
"When I read that in middle school, I was really moved! Kazamaki-kun, the protagonist guy, is really kind to girls and I was overwhelmed to think that such a guy could exist......"
Hey, that's not a real person, but a manga character......
"And that's when I decided that I'll get into a coed school and fall in love with a guy like Kazamaki-kun!"
"Could that be the reason why you came to a coed school even though you can't deal well with guys?"
"Yeah! You really do get it, don't you!"
Is her brain really that simplistic, I wondered.
"And then, during the school entrance ceremony, I had a really fated encounter ~!"
As if her earlier depression was all a lie, heart marks surfaced in Koigasaki's eyes. Aah, she's like a Sweet(LOL) in a drawing......
"When I was heading towards the school that day, a guy called out to me. Fujimi-High school is this way, right? He said. I was really flustered having a guy talk to me, and when I turned to look at him...... I saw a really cool guy who made me feel elated, just like Kazamaki-kun! I hurriedly replied, Yes!, and again, just like Kazamaki-kun, he returned a friendly smile and said, Thank you!......"
"That guy is Suzuki-kun, huh......"
"Yeah! Doesn't that give you goosebumps? Isn't this the same situation as in 『Kimi ni Todoitara』? And Suzuki-kun also really resembles Kazamaki-kun! Now he has brown hair, but at that time, his hair was black just like the real Kazamaki-kun! Ah, though brown hair also suits him, and he looks good with it, so I don't mind!"
"Is that so......?" I never read that manga, so I wouldn't know about it......"
Koigasaki went on and said You're an Otaku, yet you've never read a manga that the whole nation reads?, and so on and so forth, but upon recalling her meeting with Suzuki, she looked like she was in heaven.
"You know, you keep calling me creepy again and again, but aren't you pretty Otaku-ish! You fell in love with a guy just because it resembled a situation in a manga......"
"You're annoying. Don't group me together with you!"
Even Koigasaki was Otaku material. The type called Shoujo manga Otaku.
"So you never fell in love with anyone during middle school?"
"None. I've always attended all girls' school and though there were a number of times that friends wanted to introduce guys to me, I didn't really agree with the way they went about it."
"Eh? You've been fascinated by love since middle school, so isn't it great to have someone introduce you?"
I didn't really get how girls thought. If I had guy friends who wanted to introduce a girl to me, I would probably swallow it hook, line and sinker.
"Since middle school, the friends around me would hook up with guys they met at group dates or with guys who hit on them, so a lot of them had boyfriends, but isn't that unbelievable!?"
"Erm, what's unbelievable?"
"Isn't it very fake!? I don't really get why they even dated just like that!? It's definitely not true love!"
While speaking, for some reason, Koigasaki started getting roused up.
"Since it was popular among my friends, I bought some cellphone novels to read, and the protagonist is really fake! I don't get it at all. I didn't buy it to read that kind of stuff."
I supposed Koigasaki was referring to the cellphone novel that she dropped when she bumped into me.
I thought she read those because she liked them, but it seemed like that wasn't the case.
I wanted to put in a word or two, but Koigasaki was going off non-stop like a machine gun.
"When I came to this coed high school, it seems the people around me were messing around a lot. The friends around me, after getting hit on, exchange their numbers and start going out just like that; and in just a month, they...... did it. And they break up before the year's even up. Seriously, aren't they unbelievable!?"
"Aah...... sounds like those loose girls of the modern era......"
"Yeah, right!? They are too loose! I can't believe it! That can't be true love!"
Koigasaki lightly crushed her cup of juice in her hand.
"...... fuuh. But I'm surprised. This is the first time we agree on something."
Koigasaki drank up the rest of the juice in her crushed cup in one go, heaved out a sigh, and finally calmed down.
I was really surprised that Koigasaki abhorred loose girls so much. Even though she was a Sweet(LOL) girl with her head filled by thoughts of romance, she properly valued her chastity.
"The friends around me tell me, isn't it normal?. They're all weird. You're the first person so far who's agreed with me."
"Most people these days have that kind of loose thinking."
As I looked at Koigasaki, who was eating her fries while complaining, a sense of wonder fell on me.
She was a Gyaru who dyed her hair brown, wore heavy make-up, a short skirt, and was fastidious about guys, yet at the same time she couldn't deal well with guys and was surprisingly pure on the inside.
Aside from her family, I was probably the first guy she hung out with alone together (more like, it was the same for me).
There was probably no other girl like her, whose beliefs didn't match up to her appearance, was there?
"What? What are you looking at? If you want to say something, why not just say it?"
As I'd kept quiet while staring at Koigasaki, it had roused her displeasure. There was really nothing I wanted to say, but I thought I had to say something, so I just said,
"How about...... wearing thinner make-up?"
"...... huuh!? It really pisses me off to hear you telling me what to do for my appearance!"
"Aah, that's right...... forget it."
I myself didn't even know why I said that. I thought that if Koigasaki shed her make-up, she would look cuter and be more of my type. I wanted to erase what I just said and the thoughts I just had.
We finished our meals, returned the trays, and left the shop.
After that, we returned to the station. I thought we would split off there right away.
I couldn't hide my surprise after hearing what Koigasaki said next.
"Which reminds me, Kashiwada, tell me your number."
Exchanging contacts...... that makes us sound like friends.
No, maybe we already are friends? Is it okay to say that? About our relationship.
"Today, it was great that we successfully met up at the appointed place, but if either of us had been late, it would have been troublesome, right? We should have exchanged our contacts at school beforehand."
"A-aah, yeah right......"
Trying my best to maintain a calm front and hide my inner turmoil, I took out my cellphone from my pocket.
"Hey, you still haven't switched to a smartphone!? And, what model is that ancient phone of yours!? I've never seen it before!"
...... my blood started boiling at my own self, for feeling bashful in front of this really rude girl a moment earlier.
"You're annoying. It's just that I've been using the phone I first got from my parents in middle school! I'm the kind of guy who takes good care of my stuff!"
While raging, I brought up the infra-communication screen.
"Ah, I have no infra-communication since mine's a smartphone ~"
Even though she was just stating a fact, I could hear the extreme displeasure in her voice.
By scanning the QR code displayed on Koigasaki's phone with my bar code reader, I got her contact, stored it, then sent mine via mail to her. After exchanging our contacts, we finally parted ways.
While riding the train, without thinking, I checked Koigasaki's mail address. At that moment, I realized something. It was the moment of realization that aside from my family, she was the first female contact I had in my phone.
This was perhaps the first time I'd made a female friend.
Though I wasn't sure if I could call this a friendship.
Before I knew it, the corners of my mouth had relaxed unconsciously.
Translator's Notes and References & OTARIA Glossary
- Circle: Generically, the term Circle means a group or club, usually referring to an interest group. Doujin Circle = Doujin group. Circles can be made up or 1 or more members (yes, it's possible to have only 1 member). I decided to retain the word Circle as the words, 'group' or 'club' is intuitively associated with multiple members, which may not be true for a Doujin Circle.
- Kimi ni Todoitara: Parody of Kimi ni Todoke. Literally 'If it reaches you'.
- Shoujo: Literally 'young girl'. See here for more info.
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