As anyone on this planet would know, Chiba rarely saw snow during the winter. Obviously, that didn’t mean it wasn’t cold because it was cold; it’s winter, after all. I could even claim that Chiba’s frigidity far surpasses any other winter country.
Of course, I really had no idea since I had never spent the period between the end of January to February anywhere else besides Chiba.
The only visible comparison I could go by was the display on the thermometer and the weather report reporting on the below-freezing weather, but regardless, I wouldn’t actually know how cold it’d really be until I experienced it for myself.
On the other hand, it’s another truth that the number on the thermometer wasn’t always representative of how cold it’d be in Chiba.
In the world, there existed something called a heat index.
You experienced something first-hand, perceived it, learned it, and for the first time, you’d actually feel it.
As a juxtaposed example, right now, I could feel a growing divergence between the number on the wall thermometer and my heat index.
The sole reason for this was due to a single male student in front of me.
Sweat was excreting from all over his body even though it’s the peak of winter, his mouth was convulsing, and he was wiping off the sweat at his brow with the back of his hand covered with fingerless gloves.
When he groaned with a heavy voice, that student—Zaimokuza Yoshiteru—hung his head. As he was doing that, he buried his head into the coat he was seemingly fond of and closely resembled an avant-garde monument. He looked like he could be mistakenly placed at the entrance of a tower apartment for a high-class street in the Musashi Kosugi area.
With just that single groan, Zaimokuza went quiet and the Service Club returned to a space of stillness.
Aside from Zaimokuza and me, there were other people present in the club, but every single one of them was absorbed in their own business: one was reading a book with a cup of tea in one hand, another was fiddling with her cellphone while chomping down on tea cakes, and the last one was adjusting her bangs looking at a compact mirror.
“…Muuuuun.” Zaimokuza moaned again and looked up at the ceiling. This time his voice was, unlike earlier, feeble. But even so, he received no response.
When not a single person—not even one—reacted, Zaimokuza incessantly moaned over and over again.
Eventually getting fed up with that, a brief sigh came from the diagonally opposite corner of the table where I was sitting.
When I glanced in its direction, the Service Club president, Yukinoshita Yukino, placed her cup onto a saucer and pressed against her temple.
Yukinoshita made a gander at Zaimokuza and then slid her eyes over to me. “…For the time being, shall we ask what his business is?”
“Ehh…? But the only one who can talk with chuuni is Hikki, though.”
The one who reluctantly answered while chomping down on rice crackers was Yuigahama Yui. With her body collapsed forward on the table, she turned her head towards me.
Well, for Yukinoshita and Yuigahama to give the suddenly intruding Zaimokuza some kind of response despite how long it took them, it could be considered as a form of kindness.
But the problematic one was the one who had him completely ignored the entire time while gazing into a mirror, Isshiki Iroha. Then again, why are you even here? I mean, it’s not a big deal or anything. I won’t ask or anything.
Isshiki didn’t give Zaimokuza so much of a look. After she checked her bangs, she took out hand cream from her pouch and began skin maintenance on her hand while humming. She spread the cream along her thin fingertips and a citric smell filled the air.
That reminds me, Zaimokuza and Isshiki don’t really know each other, do they?
Though, acquaintances or not, it’s likely Isshiki wouldn’t give Zaimokuza any time of the day. Naturally, the opposite held true.
Which leaves… I thought, but Yuigahama who had been leaning forward on the table asked, “Hikki, why don’t you ask him?”
Yukinoshita nodded as if it was a given. “…That’s true. Hikigaya-kun is originally the one responsible for these kinds of matters, after all.”
“Don’t put me in charge just because you feel like it…”
The only one I was responsible for was Totsuka-tan, you know? I was such a crazy fan that I’d create some fans of him and cheer for him at a live concert, you know? But the cuteness of saying Totsuka-tan was abnormal.
In any case, the sole individual in this room who could establish communication with Zaimokuza was me. I was vaguely aware of how troublesome it was going to be, but he didn’t look like he’d leave the club unless I spoke to him.
“Zaimokuza, what did you come here for…?” I braced myself and asked.
He then shot up his face, showing a somewhat happy smile. “Ohh, Hachiman! What a coincidence this is!”
“No, you really don’t need to act like that…”
“Hapon, as you say. I am currently in a bit of a bind as you can see…” Zaimokuza stopped for a moment. He corrected his posture as if to begin anew. As the one listening, I ended up doing the same.
“Do you recall our exchange about my worries of becoming a publishing editor?”
“Yeah. Of course, this also happens to be the first time I’ve heard about this.”
Here he goes, blurting out something completely outrageous again… I thought.
Yuigahama who had been listening nearby murmured, “Wasn’t it something about light novels or something before…?”
Man, Yuigahama sure was nice to actually respond. Compared to the other two, they were more or less giving him the cold shoulder. Even Yukinoshita who had shown some interest earlier saw no value in listening to Zaimokuza’s answer just now and flipped the page of her book, going back to reading with a nonchalant look. As for Isshiki who didn’t have any interest in him from the beginning, she had a complicated face as she was adjusting her eyelashes with a curler.
However, what Yuigahama pointed out was certainly right. Zaimokuza’s dream should’ve been to become a light novel author. There, too, was a period when he claimed he wanted to become a game writer. But he immediately jumped ship and went back to wanting to become a light novel author again. His wishy-washy nature made me think he’s far more suited to being a politician.
In any case, I looked at Zaimokuza to see why he had the sudden change in heart and he crossed his arm with a difficult face.
“Hmhm, it is because light novel authors are the dregs of the entertainment world. It is a job that does not require a foundation to start, a job that anyone can do. Quite frankly, no one would be envious of me even if I became a light novel author and light novels are treated as trash just for being light novels…”
Zaimokuza looked dejected as he spoke, but when he popped up his eyes, he stated with a solemn voice. “…And that is where I realized something.”
“A-And that is…?” Despite sensing something ominous in the glint of his eyes past his glasses, I had to ask. Upon doing so, Zaimokuza violently jumped to his feet, knocking his chair back in the process.
“To write is to be criticized! To rest is to disappear! In the world of business, you are but a roadside rock! Is there value in such a job!?”
His powerful voiced clamored throughout the room as well as in my head.When the echoing stopped, Zaimokuza quietly took his seat again and the room went back to being quiet.
Despite his powerful voice, the room continued to act unconcerned. Even Yuigahama who had been listening to Zaimokuza moments ago had went back to fiddling with her phone.
The only one who could lend an ear to Zaimokuza’s tale at this moment was me. I might’ve been used to being alone, but even this solitude was a little excruciating.
“R-Right… You sure know your stuff…” I was at a loss at how to comment on his sudden outburst of lamentation and responded with something appropriate.
Zaimokuza grinned. “It is because I saw it on the internet.”
Wow. The internet is so amazing. The internet has, like, eeeverything.
Our exchange thus far had stimulated my satiety center so much that I was feeling bloated, but Zaimokuza continued on with his wonderful opinion. “As I mentioned earlier, publishing editors are much cooler! Not only are they able to have a stable life, they are one with the industry of creativity. It is more or less encroaching on the domain of anime creation! With this, I will be able to marry a voice actor! Fuahaha!”
“You must be drunk on Happy Meals with all those happy thoughts you have in your head…”
That would never happen even if Christmas, New Years, and your birthday happened on the same day. Heck, throw in Halloween and Valentine’s Day while you’re at it. On another note, “Happy Halloween” and “Happy Valentine’s Day” were used normally all over the world, but what’s so happy about them? Valentine’s Day was Saint Valentine’s death anniversary, you know… Are people going to start saying “Happy April Fools!” for April Fools, too?
In the same vein as the recent trend of appending happy to anything, Zaimokuza thoughts were no exception to the rule. They were so happy that they were bad. What’s bad? They were seriously bad.
In the first place, his final destination of marrying a voice actor was bad.
This era’s already suffering from low marriage rates as it is, so how could someone like a light novel author ever get married with a voice actor? Get your head out of the gutter already!
I don’t really care if Zaimokuza was hurt or depressed as he continued to pointlessly live his misunderstood life, but I had to make sure to inform him. It’s what they call the goodwill of a classmate.
“Wh-What is it…?”
Either my voice had deepened without me noticing or my passion had leaked out with it, but when I called Zaimokuza’s name, he sat up straight and looked at me head-on. As I looked into his eyes, I slowly spoke.
“Let me ask you. When you were in middle school, did you think that once you got into high school, you’d be able to get a girlfriend?”
Bullseyes; Zaimokuza broke into a cold sweat and went dead quiet. I pressed further. “And this is what you should be thinking right now. And that is… ‘once I get into university, I should be able to get a girlfriend!’”
“Nnnngh! H-How did you know…!?”
He didn’t even need to ask. My answer was obvious.
“Everyone’s gone through that before, after all…” I said, instinctively letting out a heavy voice. Yes, there, too, was a time where I had those thoughts. It’s because I was a teeny, tiny toddler who knew nothing of the world nor his own place in it. You just couldn’t help but think about how you’d get married at twenty-five and have children. But as you progressed through middle and high school, you were gradually exposed to the inner mechanisms and reality of the world. This made you lower the standards of your idealistic visions. You couldn’t see your small dreams to realization; that’s this world, I dare say…1
When I had those thoughts, I suddenly ended up letting out a nihilistic chuckle. Zaimokuza sighed heavily and stiffly as if in agreement.
But there, I could hear a small cough overlap with a quiet voice.
“Everyone… I see.”
I turned and Yukinoshita who should’ve been reading her book glanced at me. But when our eyes met, she abruptly turned her face away. On the other hand, Yuigahama who had been fiddling with her cellphone had stopped her fingers and froze with a troubled expression.
And again, the club room became quiet. Huh? What’s with this silence…?
As I sat there restlessly in the awkward mood, Isshiki removed her gaze from her compact mirror and glanced at us. She then let out a brief sigh. “…I don’t really care, but is it easy to enter a publisher?”
I was under the impression she hadn’t been listening since she had been ignoring Zaimokuza the entire time, but apparently, the conversation had reached her ears.
When Isshiki asked, the stiff atmosphere finally dissolved. She probably wasn’t asking anyone in particular, but Yukinoshita tilted her head in contemplation. “I’ve heard that there’s a high barrier to entry for publishers…”
“Ohh, it does sound pretty hard, huh?”
It was doubtful that Yuigahama had any idea what the problem was. I wonder if this girl actually knew what publishers did as a company in the first place…
In any case, ignoring Yuigahama for the moment, Yukinoshita was right on. I recall hearing from my pops that it’s considerably difficult finding employment at major mass media outlets. Now then, let’s see just how intent Zaimokuza is in challenging those places… I looked at Zaimokuza and he was unexpectedly calm.
“Indeed. I, too, have scoured the internet and it seems joining one is quite a task.” Zaimokuza groaned as he crossed his arms and cocked his head to the side. “However, I cannot comprehend it…
What makes it so difficult…? Light novel editors can work even in their sleep. It is a simple job that anyone can do. All you have to do is read completed manuscripts or send a mail to the people at the top rankings of ‘Let’s Be A Novelist’2 and ask them to publish their works, yes?”
I wouldn’t have suspected the he was once someone who had aimed to become a light novel author from those thoughtless words of his, but well, it’s true that the work of light novel editors wasn’t common knowledge, so this bias was unavoidable.
Normally speaking, a light novel editor was an exhausting job. Think about it, if they had to work together with people who thought pathetically like Zaimokuza, consider the gastritis, heartburn, and Yamanouchi3 they had to deal with… The worse the light novel author, the more they blamed the editors, too…
“Well, you won’t know until you get a job at one,” I said.
Zaimokuza then wagged his finger while clicking his tongue. This guy sure is annoying…
“Of course, I have already concocted plans regarding the job hunt.”
“You don’t say… Let’s hear them.”
“There is no doubt that seeking employment as a new graduate will be difficult. But it is another story if you are to transfer occupations. With someone of my caliber, I simply need to slip my way into an editorial company or a low-key publisher and aim to be recruited as one with experience,” said Zaimokuza, chuckling with an incredibly, triumphant look. It’s a mystery why he seemed so convincing with that confident smug of his.
“Ohh, he’s surprisingly thinking things through…”
As it turned out, Yuigahama was easily deceived.
“No, your first problem is how you’re going to get into those editorial companies and publishers…”
His proposal was the very image of a written career plan. Except, the only issue was how super deformed and unrealistic it was. As if spotting those loopholes, Yukinoshita squinted and made a complicated face. “In the first place, if we’re considering smaller to medium-sized companies, they shouldn’t be actively recruiting…”
But not listening to things that were inconvenient to him were the EARS of Zaimokuza.
“And there, I thought. If I can amass editorial experience as a pupil, I can easily find employment at GaGaGa Bunko…”
“You’re underestimating GaGaGa too much…”
So you say, but we’re talking about one of the three biggest companies in the country, Shogakukan, you know… He was looking down on the world so much that it was refreshing, but let’s just put that aside.
The issue was what followed.
“As such, in order to accumulate that experience, I was thinking of creating a doujinshi.”
“Uh huh. Yeah, well, do your best.”
“Umu… But currently, I have no ‘true comrade’4 that I can create a doujinshi with… A ‘true comrade’ that can see and hear the same things as I do…”
What is with that cringeworthy phrase you’re using…? Now I’m getting bad vibes from him… As I trembled from my bad premonition, as if to stop that shaking of mine, Zaimokuza placed his hands on my shoulders.
Then, he showed me a smile that was bright enough to illuminate the world.
“So… Hachiman, let us make one together!”
“I refuse. Also, I’m not your comrade.”
Your easygoing enthusiasm as if you were saying, “Isono, let’s play some baseball”5 wasn’t enough to illuminate my world. I’d like to request for indefinite retirement here. Though, I’d be perfectly fine with helping if I was compensated.
“Hachimaaaaaaaaaaan! Were we not always comrades!? Why must you always be so cruel!?” Zaimokuza indignantly called me cruel over and over again. You really think I can go along with your nonsense all the time? As I ignored Zaimokuza’s grumbling, there was the folding sound of a compact mirror.
When I looked towards the sound, Isshiki who had either finished polishing herself up or checking over her appearance put away her mirror in her pouch. Then, she propped up her chin with her index finger and tilted her head in contemplation. “Ummm, what’s a ‘doujinshi’?”
“Well, to put it simply, it’s a self-made book. You write your own manga or something like that and make it into a book.”
Isshiki was still seeing question marks even after my explanation. I wasn’t a professional on the subject myself, so I wasn’t sure how to explain it to her.
As I struggled over the explanation, sitting diagonally from me, Yuigahama shot up her hands going “me, me!”
“I know what it is! It’s called Comiket or something, right? The thing where you draw your own manga. I think Hina talked about it before.”
“That’s a rather sloppy explanation. Also, Ebina-san’s hobbies are a bit special, but well, you’re on the right track,” I said.
This time, Yukinoshita had an unconvinced and doubtful look. “It doesn’t apply only to manga. When I hear the term, I have a stronger association with the field of literature and the arts.”
“Right, there’s that, too.”
Actually, if we’re going to trace the term back to its roots, even famous and great writers had produced their own books before. Literature like Shirakaba6 and Garakuta Bunko were even in school textbooks.
In reality, doujinshis were expansive in scope and weren’t confined to just manga, but review books, investigative study books, or even photo albums. There were distinct genres as well as an extreme variety of content out there.
Also, when I mentioned review books, that ranged from critique books on military affairs to a review synopsis of a previous cour anime. There were even books of rock-paper-scissor victories between Sunday anime7, too. Furthermore, large-scale doujin activities went beyond just books and extended to cosplay, self-produced anime, drama CDs, and character goods. So, the scope was huge.
“Right, so Comiket… Now that you mention it, I’ve heard about it before.”
So you know about it, Raiden?8 Well, Comiket’s been the focus on television and special programs recently, so it wouldn’t be strange to know about its existence.
However, Isshiki seemed to have a one-sided understanding of it.
“Isn’t it, like, a place where you can make loooads of money?” She asked, leaning slightly forward in keen interest with sparkling eyes. Her movements were like that of a pure maiden, but what came out of her mouth was completely terrible…
“No, that’s not necessarily true. I hear they usually disregard their profits.”
Doujinshi were first and foremost, “I make them because I like to”, so their objective was supposedly not for profit. That’s not to say I knew since I wasn’t clear on the details myself. But among the numerous circles who created doujinshi, if you factored in their sundry expenses, they typically hovered between the red and green, plus and minus, or zero.
“…They don’t profit… but still do it?” Upon finishing, Isshiki groaned and began holding her head. It seems she was having trouble understanding…
“So it’s something like a world of hobbies.” Yukinoshita nodded. Well, for Yukinoshita who I could imagine spending money on her hobbies like tea, Pan-san the Panda, and cat merchandise, it might actually be up her alley.
“That kind of stuff is pretty amazing though, huh?” said Yuigahama, chewing her candy. Given that it’s her, she seemed somewhat impressed even though she didn’t sound like it. She let out a sigh.
“Doujin activities aren’t anything rare. Actually, otaku aren’t the only ones who want to make books, you know.”
“You think soooo?” Isshiki still had a skeptical voice. When we’re dealing with cultural things such as doujinshi that were foreign in nature to someone like Isshiki, her impressions were normal.
But there were other examples similar in concept.
“There are things like free newspapers that university students make. Think of that,” I said.
Yuigahama tapped her hands. “Oh, so something like those things they put up during school festivals.”
“…Ohh, that I can understand.” Isshiki nodded as if she was able to form an image of it.
“Right? Basically, free newspapers are overly-aware9 types of doujinshi.”
“Hearing you put it like that makes it sound incredibly questionable, but that’s a perfect way to put it…” As if remembering something unpleasant, Yukinoshita pressed firmly against her temple.
What a coincidence, when I mentioned “overly-aware”, my head kind of went blank there, too.
“In any case, there might be some BIAS when it comes to FREE NEWSPAPERS, but I think we managed to come to a mutual CONCENSUS. Of course, when we’re talking about FREE NEWSPAPERS, it’s on a CASE BY CASE BASIS, so in order for us to reach a clear AGREEMENT, the only thing we can do hereafter is to look at them each with TRIAL AND ERROR as an INFLUENCER, that way, we can COMMIT on something with the result.”
“Senpai, what the heck are you saying…?” Isshiki winced. It kind of looked like she had backed a few centimeters away from the back of my chair.
“Oh, sorry. My awareness went overboard for an instant there…”
“It may have been better if it had just gone somewhere else instead…” Yukinoshita sighed in astoundment.
Either way, we were now all on the same page that doujinshis were hobbyist things.
People who created free newspapers were more or less no different from doujin circles. In other words, they were an otaku genre for “overly-aware types”.
If I had to say, doujinshis existed on just the numbers of genres and on the numbers of people.
“So, what kind of book are you looking to make?” I asked Zaimokuza.
He thought silently for a moment. Then, he lifted his face with a crisp face and opened his mouth.
“Fumu. I suppose it’ll have to be a novel… I am not knowledgeable about anything in particular nor do I possess the ability to draw.”
His reasons were way too pathetic.
Isn’t it about time you stop with that hackneyed “since I can’t draw, I’ll become a light novel author!” trend…? At the very least, I want you to aim to become a light novel author with a proper reason like, “I don’t think I’ll be able to find employment, so I’ll become a light novel author instead!”
“In the end, it’s going to be a light novel… If you really want to write one, there’s plenty of ways to get them published on the internet. Like what you mentioned earlier, ‘Let’s Be a Novelist!’ or whatever. Actually, I think you’d have higher chances of debuting if you tried there.”
As rare as it was for me, I gave Zaimokuza some constructive advice, but he didn’t seem very keen about it. “Mmm… I cannot say I like that place very much.”
“Why not? Try it, it’s pretty darn popular right now, right? Parallel Universe Reincarnation Peerless CheaRem.”
The instant I uttered that, Isshiki let out a low voice as if she was saying, “What the heck is this guy saying…?”
What’s with that look? How irritating… Did I say something weird just now? I thought, and it turned out I did.
The girls huddled their chairs together in a group and began whispering in deliberation.
“Parallel, Universe? Chea? What did he say just now…?”
“CheRem… what’s that?”
“Maybe he means cheetaras?”
Refined snacks you’re into there, Isshiki.
Parallel Universe Reincarnation Peerless CheaRem recites the tale of the protagonist being reincarnated in a parallel world while building a harem through his peerless, cheating powers. Crap, trying to explain it made no sense to me at all.
Well, it’s something that should just be enjoyed by those who liked it. There’s no need to forcefully explain it to people who weren’t interested nor was it something that everyone needed to understand.
Parallel Universe Reincarnation Cheating stories were originally similar to light novels, so it’s fine as as long the people who liked them were happy with them.
And this didn’t apply to just light novels.
It applied to everything. Words, or even feelings.
As long those things were able to reach the one person you wanted to convey them to or make happy, that’s more than enough.
But I wonder why? It just wasn’t getting through to Zaimokuza-san at all.
Even now, he was ignoring what we were saying and was wriggling his arms and legs as if desperately holding something in.
“Arghhhh! That is not the issue! It is not about popularity or how well-received it is! I do not care about that at all, it does not bother me at all! It’s just, um, you know? How should I put it!? I do not like the idea of being confined to things like rankings and standings! Like, I do not want people criticizing my work behind a screen or something!”
I was almost deluded into thinking he had uttered something cool for an instant there, but there were all sorts of curious words coming out of his mouth. And one answer came to mind.
“Ahh. Huh? Do they display the rankings there? Well, I guess it might be a little too rough seeing how unpopular your work is, huh?”
“No! Absolutely not! Rankings, standings, ratings, and reviews do not bother me in the slightest! Things like rankings are nothing more than a metric! The rest need only be covered with courage!” said Zaimokuza, eagerly.
However, in the end, there were just some things you couldn’t cover with courage alone. With how transparent he was being about the thing he was concerned about, he was completely see-through!
“…Oh. So, your spirit broke from actually submitting something, huh?”
“That’s some growth on his part considering the amount of resolve you’d need to show something like that to the public.”
“Yep, yep, he’s got the guts.”
Yukinoshita and Yuigahama looked both surprised and impressed as they complimented Zaimokuza. But just to make sure, you guys were complimenting him, right? Right? Because I was completely under the impression you guys were being incredibly sarcastic there! Then again, this was Yukinoshita we’re talking about here, of course she’s being sarcastic!
I, however, was in the mood to praise Zaimokuza.
We’re talking about a man who could never even finish a manuscript, much less submit an entry to the Rookie of the Year award. While it might’ve been just on the internet, he still had uploaded his work to a public domain. When I think about how there’s going to be other people who’d suffer from reading his work besides me, I felt ecstatic. Everyone should just suffer more. If everyone suffered together, the world would definitely turn peaceful.
Or so I thought, but Zaimokuza shook his hand back and forth in a rejecting notion. “No, I did nothing of the sort. It is my impression after seeing another person’s work get damned to hell.”
Looks we’re still a long way from world peace.
That’s Zaimokuza for you. His title of a pathetic wannabe wasn’t for show. No wait, let’s think about it this way; for him to be this empathetic from seeing someone else’s work get bashed to pieces was a testament to his considerable sensitivity. Surprisingly, he might have the aptitude to become a writer…
However, I personally believe that the most important aspect of being a light novel writer wasn’t the ability to write or to compose, and certainly not even a rich imagination; it’s to not be sensitive.
What’s important was to have a mentality of steel.
You wouldn’t lose regardless of what was said to you; you wouldn’t give in even if you didn’t sell; you wouldn’t say anything unnecessary on your blog or Twitter; you wouldn’t get carried away even if you managed to get some sales; you wouldn’t get disheartened when people mocked you; you wouldn’t get involved in disputes of one thing or another when they happen; you wouldn’t look directly at a situation that got out of hand; you wouldn’t exaggerate your own ability; you wouldn’t believe in yourself from the start; you wouldn’t worry about your future and your age catching up on you; you wouldn’t cry on a lonely night; you wouldn’t raise your expectations when receiving wonderful news; you wouldn’t let numbers from other places bother you; you wouldn’t resign if you stopped being able to write; you wouldn’t run away from deadlines; and you wouldn’t forget to appreciate your surroundings.
These NAI-NAI 1610 things were necessary components in your mentality to become a light novel author.
The strength of your mentality—that’s the most important. I think the light novel As Long I Had a Little Sister had that written in it. No, maybe it didn’t. Yeah, it probably didn’t.
But since Zaimokuza was neither professional nor gutsy, I had to lead him down a path that was hassle-free! His mentality was completely like plain tofu that I’d recommend having hot pot this season.
I straightened my posture and cleared my throat. With a voice calmer than normal, I said, “Zaimokuza. It’s likely your doujinshi won’t sell a single copy. Don’t you think it’d be less painful if you looked at reality?”
Zaimokuza stammered, imagining the likelihood of that occurring. Whether it’s enduring the heat of the summer convention or the cold of the winter convention, the feeling of being by yourself at your booth, listening in on the amiable voices of the cosplay girls at the nearby booths, watching a huge line form at the circle in front of you, and looking up at the ceiling because you couldn’t stand facing your own doujinshis that didn’t sell a single copy… Could Zaimokuza handle such a situation? No. I say absolutely not.
Eventually, Zaimokuza’s shoulders dropped and as if mustering out his voice, he said, “…You have a point.”
“If you’re aiming to become an editor, it’d be more constructive to think of other methods instead of making a doujinshi.”
“Fumu… I see, I see…” Zaimokuza answered honestly as if his spirit was broken from my pressing words. Good, good, now I won’t have to worry about making a doujinshi with Zaimokuza…
Once Zaimokuza who had a loud voice earlier turned docile, the room was submerged in silence. I let out a sigh of relief now that we had finished this issue. Then, there was the sound of crackers being chomped.
“But hey, how do you even become an editor?” said Yuigahama, chewing.
Zaimokuza lifted his face. “Indeed, that is true…”
Now that they brought it up, I was interested as well.
“I guess we should look it up…”
As Zaimokuza had so elegantly stated earlier, everything was on the internet. That included things that shouldn’t be on there.
“Yukinoshita, let me use the computer.”
“…We aren’t a computer room.” Yukinoshita mumbled as she stood up. She took out the laptop and promptly prepared it for me.
I faced the laptop looking to ask Google-sensei some questions and a chair was placed down next to me.
When I looked to my right, Yukinoshita was sitting in the chair and digging through her bag to take out her glasses.
After gently lifting up her glossy, black hair, she carefully wore her glasses as if she was putting on a tiara.
Her slender and supple fingertips slowly moved away from the frame of her glasses. Whenever she blinked, her long eyelashes looked like they were close enough to brush the lenses. Once she had finished preparing, without facing anyone in particular, she nodded and quietly scooted the chair in to look at the laptop.
In doing so, her hair would flutter with the sweet fragrance of SABON11.
With her sitting right next to me, I had this strange, itchy discomfort that caused me to wrestle my body to the left so I could get comfortable. But when I did that, my nose was greeted with a faint whiff of lingering citrus.
Before I had even realized, Yuigahama made her way around to my left and was sitting.
She leaned her body forward as if to rest her chin on the table. Every time our elbows lightly bumped each other, we’d exchange glances telling the other to make some space.
But just when I thought she’d open up some room, Yuigahama would avert her eyes and our positions would stay the same. In that case, I had to do the moving, but when I felt the hems of my blazer rubbing past her skirt, I was unable to move any farther.
Furthermore, there was another presence behind me.
Indoor sandals squeaked against the floor.
When I turned my head around, Isshiki was standing behind me. She peeked her head past the tip of my shoulder to look at the screen of the computer.
The sensation of her hands which she placed on my shoulders as if to lightly entrust her weight on mine and her body warmth made me strangely conscious and even her shallow breathing had reached my ears. Thanks to that, chills ran up my spine.
…Like I said, you’re too damn close.
With my flanks and my rear occupied, my only option was to pitch forward.
But even my front was sealed off.
Zaimokuza came directly to my front and looked down on the laptop as if he was some kind of giant, bald yokai.
You’re too close, get away from me.
Pressured in almost all directions, I huddled my shoulders together while typing in the keywords that came to mind. Numerous search results immediately displayed onscreen.
“A job hunting site with a job hunting bulletin board… Ohh, a prep school for job searching in publication… They have all sorts of stuff, huh?”
“Oh Hikki, how about this one?”
As I scanned several notable links, Yuigahama leaned forward with her body and pointed at the screen. Then, Yukinoshita also inclined her head this way and read the entry that Yuigahama had indicated.
“A journal of successful experiences… It looks like… the blog of someone who received unofficial offers from actual publishers. I suppose that should be fine.”
“Senpai, hurry, hurry.” Isshiki rushed me as she tapped my shoulders.
Again, you’re too close. I’m getting all sweaty now too, so could you, like, back up fifteen centimeters away from me or something…?
I gave Zaimokuza a look of what to do and he nodded. “Umu, let us have a look!”
“…Alright, let’s check this one then.”
I clicked the aforementioned link and the top page of the journal of successful experiences loaded on the screen.
The header had “Absolute Best Unofficial Offers! kenken’s Journal of “Successful” Job Hunting Experiences at Publishers!!” displayed as the title.
“…Hey, what does it mean by ‘best unofficial offers’? Are there best and worst unofficial offers or something?”
When I asked, Yukinoshita extended out her hand to the mouse from my side. She opened up a different tab and began searching for best unofficial offers and so forth. While she was doing that, her long black hair would brush and tickle the back of my hand. Naturally, I withdrew my hands to my knees and sat in a well-mannered pose.
Once her search displayed the results, she pointed. “It seems like it refers to an unpublicized ranking of prospective employees within the company. The best offers seem to be referring to the ones at the top of those rankings. Upon entry into the company, they’ll be treated as executive trainees and they’ll also have the advantage in where they are assigned… or so it says.”
“You know, just hearing ‘executive trainees’ gets me a little worried…”
That sounds like a sweatshop if I ever heard one. It sounded as worrisome as slogans like “The feeling of being at home!” or “The young generation are showing great efforts!” Now I was becoming concerned about what lie ahead in kenken’s future.
Well then, having already witnessed something frightening, we might as well follow along this kenken or whatever’s path of glory to see if he’s able to wonderfully become a corporate slave of a publisher through his best unofficial offers.
We scrolled down the screen and decided to read the journal entries one by one.
“Absolute Best Unofficial Offers! kenken’s Journal of “Successful” Job Hunting Experiences at Publishers!!”
This blog will discuss the process of getting the best unofficial offers from publishers one by one!
All rights reserved @kenken
1. Filling Out The Job Application
JA’s a strange acronym, isn’t it (lol)?
On the applications, there are standard questions that ask you to provide a short CV, your work history, and your motive for applying. Besides those, there are also questions unique to every company such as: write an essay or comedy skits on three topics, recent news that interested you, three people who are currently the center of attention, your most embarrassing story of failure, etc… Sometimes, they have eccentric parts as well such as having blank white pages asking you, “Please use this space to describe yourself.”
Job offices also store past JA’s as well, so one effective strategy is to ask upperclassmen from a seminar or a club to let you see theirs!
As an addendum, regarding the CV…
Recently, there have been many job applications that do not have a university name listed, so you will not always be put through an academic filter. As a matter of fact, I have championed the stance against the very existence of academic filters from the start. Many students who were extended unofficial offers from famous companies were from well-known universities, but I feel the reason for this is only because said students happened to attend a well-known school and was chosen based on their hidden potential and not the brand or strength of their alma mater.
Perhaps many companies will begin to recruit people by evaluating them on a much more equal and personal level without any bias.
Conversely, perhaps we, the job seekers, also should not judge a company based on their brand or their name value. It is possible that being aware of the fact that the companies and job seekers share a mutual position in selecting each other may be the key to success.
I want to send this saying to everyone.
“When you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” (Nietzsche)
Hoh… It’s actually written quite decently based on a quick look. Actually, why was kenken sending the words of Nietzsche to us? I honestly would prefer Nietzsche himself doing that.
Yukinoshita who had been looking at the blog together with me nodded her head as she continued reading. But Yuigahama and Isshiki had a disgusted expression and looked slightly hesitant.
“It’s so wordy…” Yuigahama murmured.
You won’t be able to read Conan if this amount is enough to get you down. There might be a lot of words, but interesting things are still interesting!
While thinking that, my shoulder was tapped repeatedly in irritation.
“This is kinda annoying, isn’t it…?” said Isshiki in dissatisfaction and continued tapping my shoulder with her fingertips. Alright, let’s stop tapping my shoulder now, okay?
But well, Isshiki’s feelings were understandable. Somehow, I was getting fed up with this person’s writing.
It’s a mystery as to why he was acting so high and mighty, but his content sounded like something you’d hear from an overly-aware university student. Just the thought of university having a lot of these people made me not want to go…
That being said, this kenken person or whatever was considerably pretty out there from the start. My motivation was just going to disappear If his entries after this one were going to be just as enthusiastic. KinKi Kids12 or Yoshida Terumi13 were the only ones I could think of that had this much energy.
“Fumu… I see, I see. I understand it now, more or less. Hachiman, proceed to the next!”
It’s doubtful that Zaimokuza actually really understood anything, but I nodded back and clicked to the next page.
2. Written Exams
Many publishers test on general knowledge, but there are some who give out SPI tests. They sell workbooks for both types of tests, so it would be wise to prepare with them beforehand. For ordinary companies, SPI is required. In addition, you may have to take the SPI test if you are changing occupations. There is no harm in preparing for it as well. As for the written portion of the exam, based on my personal experiences, Company S and Company K asked good extensive questions while Bookstore K asked bad questions that were focused on failing you. So for those who are trying Bookstore K, beware!
While he appeared calm, he slipped in some words of resentment towards Bookstore K… Judging by this, this kenken or whatever likely failed at Bookstore K.
“Hachiman, what is SPI? A spy?”
When Zaimokuza’s voice came down from above, Yuigahama reacted. “Isn’t that some kind of magazine? Since it’s a publisher, I guess you have to read that, huh?”
“What you’re talking about is the ‘SPA!’ magazine…”
A “SPA!” test? What the heck is that? Are they going to tell me to “answer with the top thirty gyoza stores @Shinbashi” or something? The frightening thing was that the publishers could easily ask you questions you’d get on Quiz Champions14.
But I wasn’t very knowledgeable on the subject of SPI exams myself, so when I was in a bind with answering, Yukinoshita quietly reached out to the laptop. She opened another tab and began searching for SPI tests.
When she finally stumbled upon a relevant page, she slowly moved her hand to her chin and nodded. “To put it simply, SPI is a type of aptitude test. It seems like… they measure a set of skills such as your logical reasoning, calculative thinking, and communication ability as well as your character through a personality assessment.”
Yukinoshita consolidated the important points and explained while pushing up her glasses with her middle finger. But for Yuigahama, it didn’t seem to make much sense since her mouth was agape.
“Ohhhh… so you’re saying it’s like a psychological test or something? I totally get that!” said Yuigahama brightly, and she turned towards Yukinoshita.
Yukinoshita then looked away in the opposite direction as if she had given up on something. “…Well, I suppose that understanding is good enough.”
“No, that’s definitely wrong.”
“Yukinoshita-senpai, please don’t give up on explaining…” said Isshiki.
As if having second thoughts, Yukinoshita closed her eyes and started to think.
“I-I suppose. I’m sure even Yuigahama-san can understand if I give more thought to my explanation. In a way that Yuigahama-san can understand… In a way that Yuigahama-san can understand…” Yukinoshita muttered in whispers while earnestly contemplating.
Seeing that, Yuigahama’s shoulders dropped. “Yukinon’s kindness kinda hurts…”
Well, trying to explain or understand a test you had never taken before might be difficult. In this case, you had to take these tests for yourself to actually understand them. Whether we like it or not, we all had to take these tests someday eventually. Ughh, I really don’t want to look for a job…
However, it’s reassuring that you could prepare for these written exams beforehand.
If there’s something difficult in the process, it’d be the “interviews” that were in the upcoming entries.
Now, just how was kenken going to get past this obstacle? I proceeded to the next entry to see what he had in store for us.
3. The First Interview
There are occasions where you’ll be interviewed in a group.
There was this guy at Big K that kept butting in and trying to provoke me. He was seriously annoying. I’ll resent that guy forever.
That was all that was written. You’re suddenly neglecting your explanations now, aren’t you, kenken? But you’re still making sure to put down your resentment though, aren’t you, kenken?
Zaimokuza made second looks at the meager content.
“Ooohn? Hachiman, is there nothing more written?”
“Looks like it. Let’s look at the next one.”
With so little written, there wasn’t much information we could gain from it.
After checking with Yukinoshita and the others, I moved the mouse and clicked to the next page.
4. The Second Interview
When I gave my reason for applying, this guy from Company F was trying to piss me off by telling me, “Okay, good job on being able to say that! ^^”. He was probably some kind of chief editor or something, though. I definitely won’t forgive that guy.
The entry at this point just threw all explanations out the window and was littered with nothing but resentment
In following kenken’s job hunting experiences that gradually worsened, a dry laugh started to well inside of me.
I could hear my neighbor Yukinoshita sigh. “There’s less and less detailed information every entry.”
“If anything, he’s getting more specific about things that don’t really matter…” Isshiki made a wry smile in wonder.
Just as these two said, kenken was providing less and less information and seemed to have been breaking down at the same time. Even I was on the verge of keeling over while reading this. Looking for a job sure sounds hard…
But this was just the second interview. There was still more left to his journal of successful experiences.
I made a large stretch, readied myself, and proceeded to the next entry.
5. The Third Interview
The stress interview. There were about 10 middle-aged men employees at Company K. It was bad. There might’ve been 20 of them. It was really bad.
Now kenken wasn’t even complaining anymore. His initial enthusiasm had disappeared in a puff of smoke and he was already at death’s door. If anything, I wanted to commend his mental strength for going out of his way to put up all this information.
But just the mention of a stress interview made you feel the considerable pressure associated with it. Even in this brief entry, the fear and despair of how bad it the interviews went were quite apparent.
We could only imagine it, but interviewing with the employees of a company sounds super hard. If you had a bunch of distinguished old men with many years under their belt wearing black suits with prominent titles like board member, company executive, management director, and executive director sitting side by side, isn’t that just SEELE15? This wasn’t just any Impact, it’s the Third Impact.
“It sounds kinda hard…” Yuigahama whispered, her voice mixed with sympathy and grief. I, too, was feeling similarly miserable.
“It looks like there’s still more…” said Yukinoshita, slightly in pain. It almost even sounded as if she was suggesting us to not look any further.
But we had come this far, so we should—no, we had to see it through to the end. I operated the mouse with my shaking hand and clicked to the final entry.
6. The Final Interview
Those mass-res bastards lied about how the last interview was just to confirm your intent to apply and not something you’d fail in. Don’t screw with me. They normally just failed me.
The journal of experiences stopped there.
Exactly what happened to kenken in the end? Just thinking about his fate caused my chest to tighten.
I was seemingly not the only one as everyone else had also let out a profound sigh.
It’s like feeling guilty from peeking into the small blue print of a single person’s life or feeling helpless after being witness to the frontlines in the war of job hunting.
But beyond that, I felt this strong desire of not wanting to work with the person who had made this journal. He was so full of enthusiasm at the beginning, but in the middle, he was mostly just cursing and complaining…
“Um… so, like, did this person even pass?” Isshiki asked in modest.
Yuigahama then realized and looked at the display again. “You’re right! He even called it a ‘successful experiences’ journal, too!”
“Ahh, it’s probably that. They basically just write ‘successful’ in advance. It’s like a rule of attraction and it’s something like image training that overly-aware people tend to like.”
“It sounds more like something for self-enlightenment than it is for image training…” said Yukinoshita as she pressed against her temple.
Well, there certainly was a component about job hunting that pertained to self-enlightenment… I mean, when we were surfing the web earlier, there were these gaudy phrases like self-reflection, self-PR, the desire to grow, and other stuff. Sure, it might be unavoidable since companies were looking for human resources with a tenacious and strong mentality, but the way everyone was trying to exhibit a similarly, colorful personality was extremely unnatural that it’s scary.
Now that I know this much, it doesn’t sound like an industry I’d be able to work in… As my meter of work desire went rock bottom, Zaimokuza who was standing in front of me spoke to me with a small voice. “Hachiman, what is mass-res? Is that something like the Chiba-dog16?”
“They’re nothing alike. Which Chiba dog are you talking about here?”
Chiba-dog was a character mascot of the Chiba Prefecture Environment Foundation and was a dog based on the geographical shape of Chiba Prefecture. Putting it that way, you might think it might be similar to CHI-BA+KUN, but they’re surprisingly different creatures. Chiba-dog had dog in its name, yet it didn’t resemble one at all. As a matter of fact, the mysteriously named creature that looked like a dog CHI-BA+KUN was much more dog-like. Just what’s going on with Chiba’s tastes? This prefecture’s way too rocky.
Listening, Yukinoshita tilted her head in thought. “Well, it’s most likely short for mass media research society.”
“Research… It sounds like they’d totally do a lot of experiments.” Yuigahama murmured as she stared up at the ceiling. She was probably imagining all sorts of related things to research. But Gahama-san’s imagination of wearing a coat while holding flasks and beakers was probably mistaken, I think!
However, it’s true that the word “research” didn’t refer to anything in particular, so it’s rather hard to imagine it. It’s easy if it’s about scientific techniques or history, but for mass media research, not much came to mind.
“…I guess we should try looking up mass-res then.”
“Indeed. Do as you must!”
Since Zaimokuza gave me a reassuring agreement while flapping his coat like Professor Clark, I promptly asked Google-sensei for the answer.
I entered a random university name, added a space, and appended “mass-res”.
After submitting the phrase, there we had it, there we had it. On display were all these overly-aware phrases. They had a photo of people in suits introducing themselves decorated with their favorite motto along for self-promotion. After that, there were tons of comments of support from their friends.
In addition, there were photos of them taking a trip to India, mountain climbing at Mount Fuji, a BBQ training camp for job hunting, so I had no idea what it was that they were researching.
I closed my eyes halfway as I read because looking at the page directly was just too much for me. Eventually, I had a general understanding of what the club was about.
Basically, it was a club that gathered people who sought for employment at television broadcast stations, newspaper companies, or publishers. There, they’d exchange information and teach other foolproof methods to succeed in securing employment.
“H-Hey, Hachiman, must I enter one of these mass-res clubs in order to enter a publisher? Must I really? Absolutely?” Zaimokuza trembled in fear as he looked upon the photos of bliss.
“Well, I wouldn’t say it’s absolute. I actually think you’d be better off not joining something like this based on the homepage alone…”
I’m sure amongst the many clubs that promoted themselves as mass media or advertising research societies, there were some who actually did what they were supposed to do.
But just hearing overly-aware stuff like that made me think of Sir Tamanawa, the student council president of Kaihin Sogo High, so I just couldn’t hold a positive image at all.
As I looked at the website, a particular sentence grabbed my attention.
“…Actually, Zaimokuza, I don’t think you’ll be able to get in.”
I pointed at the corner of the screen. Displayed there was, “Entrance Exam.” They had a written test that asked general knowledge questions and the names of several club members beside the club president that you needed to interview with.
“Apparently you’ll need to take a written test and go through interviews to join this mass-res club or whatever.”
I tapped on the relevant part of the screen with my finger and Isshiki looked down. With an apathetic voice, she said, “Ahh, I guess it’s impossible then…”
“Hmhm… Hachiman. I am not a master when it comes to interviews…”
More than I’d like to anyway… But I also happened to be pretty poor at interviews. There was a time where I nonchalantly failed an interview of nothing for a part-time job, so not only did I run out on my duties at part-time jobs, I also ran away from interviews.
As I nostalgically drowned in my useless nature as a human being from the past, Isshiki stretched out her hands all the way to the laptop from behind me and fiddled with it. She then let out a voice of realization as if convinced of something.
I questioned her with a look wondering what happened. Isshiki then nodded. “But you know, wouldn’t Yui-senpai totally pass something like this?”
“Huh, why’s that? I’m totally bad with tests, though…” Surprised from the sudden call, Yuigahama let out a discorded voice. As she looked at Isshiki with blinking eyes, Isshiki scrolled down on the screen.
“Ah, no. Just looking at this picture gives me the feeling they’re kinda similar to us, so I thought it’d be super easy since they’d probably let cute people in.”
“Well, that’s fair.”
If we put aside the written exam, Yuigahama seems like she’d be good with interviews. She could probably communicate with those enthusiastic, go-go guys.
When I nodded to Isshiki’s statement, Yuigahama who found it surprising to be evaluated like that blushed. As she rubbed the hair bun on her head, she shot glances at me. “R-Really?”
“Yeah. If it’s you, Yuigahama, you seem like you could fit right in with this annoying happy-go-lucky atmosphere.”
“That’s your reason!? I got happy for nothing…” Yuigahama dropped her shoulders and looked away. No, no, it’s not like I said you weren’t cute or anything, yes. I was just saying that if it’s you, you could easily fit in with these enthusiastic, go-go university students, yes. It’s just, you know, I don’t think it’s a good thing if you let those people drag you into their pace!
“Well, how about this? Uh, people judge you based on your appearance, but what’s important is the inside… In fact, I’d say it’s better to avoid these clubs that evaluate you based on your appearance and enthusiasm. Probably, not that I’d know.”
“Eh? Mmm, well, I guess so. Yeah…” Yuigahama didn’t seem to be in full agreement, but she reluctantly nodded and turned back my way.
Listening from beginning to end, Isshiki blurted out in a small voice as if appalled. “…Senpai, you’re super bad at following up.”
Buzz off. If I was good at it, I wouldn’t be ditching my interviews at all.
“Inside, huh…? In that case, I’m not sure what to think of a gathering of only people with the same values. I can’t imagine them seeking to grow if they’re enclosed in a homogenous and monopolized environment…” Yukinoshita who had been lending her ear to the conversation from the side looked at the website and opened her mouth in doubt.
Zaimokuza then hit his hand. “…Hapon. So what you are saying is, if I were to give an example, a producer of a certain game company makes a game that completely bombs because he readily decided to make a game out of an original work of some other publisher and refusing to publish a game due to how hard it’d be with the game being copyrighted by other companies due to a certain, super giant publisher monopolizing the game magazines…! I presume it is something of that nature?”
“I have no idea what you’re saying because you’re talking about all this complicated stuff, and I’m sure you’re talking about something entirely else, but that’s probably it.”
I responded appropriately indicating what the heck are you talking about—in short, what the—and Zaimokuza made a big nod. “As I thought! The truth is written on the internet, after all!’
Wow, the internet is amazing. What do you search for that to come up? Damn this master of search. Still, for generations to come, I had the feeling search experts would become a necessity. It’s a talent of the current generation.
When I became impressed—in a certain sense— with him, Zaimokuza blazed in an aura of combativeness. “…Damn them! So the one truly at fault for my undiscovered talent and my inability to make a debut is the evil empire, a certain, super giant gigantic publisher, and their monopoly of the marketplace, correct!?”
Yeah, yeah, just start writing first, okay?
× × ×
We took a break for tea time and convened again in front of the laptop.
Since the earlier “Absolute Best Unofficial Offers! kenken’s Journal of “Successful” Job Hunting Experiences at Publishers!!” wasn’t very informative, we decided to look for other similar websites.
On some of the job hunting websites, there were comments from people with actual jobs and company application overviews, so they turned out to be good references.
And on them, we came across some shocking figures.
“The success rates for major publishers are really crazy… Thousands of people apply and only fifteen of them are employed…?”
“There’s no precise number on the total number of applicants since it isn’t formally announced, but it should be about two hundred to three hundred times that amount.”
After hearing the numbers Yukinoshita gave from an approximate calculation, Yuigahama sighed in admiration. “Woow, becoming an editor sounds really tough.”
“This is just the total number of people employed, so if we take other department assignments into consideration, the number of people who can become a publishing editor should be less.”
Yukinoshita’s statement was plausible. There are likely people who belonged to general affairs and sales operations, so the editorial department should vary as well. For the light novel division that
Zaimokuza was aiming for in particular, there’d be at most one or two people. For new employees, if they got unlucky, it’s possible they wouldn’t be delegated to any departments.
“M-Mmph… G-Gununu… If that is how things are, becoming a light novel author seems far simpler…”
If we consider the success rates alone, it might just be easier to work as a light novel author for GaGaGa Bunko. They didn’t interview light novel authors there, after all.
While we’re at it, we might as well check on the success rates of making your debut as a light novel author at GaGaGa Bunko. When I reached my hand out to search, my hand was grabbed from behind.
“S-Senpai, pl-please wait a moment.”
Isshiki’s voice was trembling when she stopped my hand.
“Wh-What’s wrong?” I asked.
Going “Mm! Mm!”, Isshiki wagged the tip of her finger and pointed at the screen.
“Look at this! Look!”
What’s the deal…? I thought. When I looked, she was pointing at a comment made by an employee from a certain publisher. He introduced himself and provided information on his job: the university he graduated from, what his job entailed, an approximate time schedule of one working day a week, and so forth. As I followed the lines one by one, my eyes stopped at one.
“A salary of ten million yen at age twenty five…”
You’ve got to be lying, no way. Major publishers really are amazing… Only three years out of university and he was already making that much? On top of that, he gets raises while he gets paid that salary? This guy’s like a total winner…
I sat there trembling in shock and I could hear deep breathing noises from behind. When I turned around, Isshiki placed her left hand to her cheek and showed a sweet and poppy smile. “I’m going to marry a publishing editor.”
“No, wait, calm down. If anything, I’m the one that’s going to marry a publishing editor.”
“You’re the one that needs to calm down…”
When Yukinoshita told me in disbelief, I came back to my senses. Indeed, I might’ve lost my composure there. On second thought, ten million yen wasn’t that amazing. I’m Hachiman, so that means there’s eighty thousand of me. That was exactly enough for one hundred and twenty-five of me. Imagine how annoying it’d be with that many of me. That’s why ten million wasn’t that big of a deal! I was more than enough by myself and it’s exactly because I was alone that there was value!
As I nodded to my own mysterious logic used to convince myself, Yuigahama on the side groaned. “Editor… Editor, huh… Mmm…”
“Well, isn’t having some kind of goal in itself a good thing? I’ve been trying hard everyday towards my goal since a while ago, after all.”
“Hoh, a goal…” I gave Isshiki a scrutinizing glance to see what she truly meant when she had uttered something so unlike her.
But there, she placed her index finger to her chin and tilted her head. “Of course, I plan on retiring after several years by getting married, you know?”
“Just where exactly are you putting in the effort…?” said Yukinoshita, sighing.
Isshiki puffed her cheeks. “I mean, I’m not very good at studying and there isn’t anything I want to do…”
“I totally get you. I’m like that, too…” Yuigahama dropped her shoulders and slumped over. Isshiki confirmed with her from behind. And as if realizing something, she lifted her head and looked at Yukinoshita.
“Oh, but Yukinoshita-senpai, you seem like you’ll jump straight into working.”
Yukinoshita blinked her eyes to her unexpected statement.
“I’m…” Yukinoshita stumbled, thinking the subject wouldn’t be directed to her. Her open lips were on the verge of saying something only to be promptly sealed shut.
When she averted her eyes down, her long eyelashes curved downwards. In doing that, her hair smoothly swayed, giving a glimpse of her slender neck as well as highlighting her white skin, causing me to instinctively catch my breath.
Her hands that were atop her skirt in a well-mannered fashion moved ever so slightly and she delicately squeezed her fingers little by little.
“I wonder. That’s what I thought before… But now, I’m not so sure yet,” Yukinoshita lifted her face and said, wearing a smile as though she was embarrassed.
“Well, I guess sooo. It’s still something much later in the future, after all.” Isshiki said lightheartedly.
Isshiki stated lightheartedly, but no voice followed after hers.
I think Yuigahama and I hadn’t been listening to her.
Because Yukinoshita’s answer had been a little unexpected.
There weren’t very many students who could give a straightforward answer regarding their futures. However, I thought—just somewhat vaguely—that Yukinoshita had already properly thought out her future. Perhaps I might’ve just been selfishly forcing my illusions on her, but even so, an unusual sense of discomfort was lodged in my heart.
I rested my cheeks in my hands on the table and made a sidelong glance at Yukinoshita. When she noticed, she tilted her head curiously at me, waiting for me to say something.
She looked at me inquisitively with an “um…” and I lightly shook my head, telling her that it’s nothing. She then retracted her chin and nodded back.
…Well, even Yukinoshita’s just a second year in high school. There’s nothing wrong with her not having figured out what she wanted to for the future yet. In fact, if she’s choosing not to say anything because it’s still unclear to her, that can be her reason, too.
When I reached that point in my mind, I gulped down the sense of discomfort and moved my gaze forward.
My eyes then met with Zaimokuza who had been groaning with his arms crossed. “Hachiman, what about you?”
“I don’t think there’s any point in asking Hikki…” Yuigahama looked at me with cold eyes and I nodded back.
“Well, I guess. Fundamentally, I want to be a full-time house husband.”
“Yep, I knew it…”
“I suggest looking up what ‘fundamentally’ means…”
Yuigahama hung her head while Yukinoshita pressed her temple with closed eyes. There, Isshiki tapped my shoulder. When I turned around, her eyes sparkled and as if to talk in secret, she placed her hand to her mouth and whispered near my ears. “Senpai, I recommend becoming an editor.”
“I won’t become one, I won’t work, and I won’t look for a job.” I answered, while twisting my body to get away from the fluffy smell of Anna Sui and her ticklish breaths.
“Besides, it’s not that easy to become a publishing editor. Well, if you started trying hard now, then that’s a different story.”
“Umuu, for just how many years must I try from this point on… That sounds painful…”
Zaimokuza held his head as he groaned. Suddenly, his eyes shot open, his back straightened, and he roared.
“…Indeed, it is not an easy feat to become a light novel author! I knew it, light novel authors are NUMBER ONE! Now then, Hachiman, we cannot dawdle any longer! Let us begin on a new piece of work!”
Before he finished, Zaimokuza ran to the door. He stopped at the door and then turned around. “Hachimaaan! Hurry, hurry!”
With how he was hopping up and down and calling to me, he clearly looked like someone suspicious, but for him to have that kind of cheerful smile, it’s a mystery why it felt so pleasant.
“Why don’t you go with him?”
Yukinoshita and Yuigahama said with wry smiles.
“…Well, I’m in charge of him, so I guess I ought to.” I deliberately stated to give up and make my decision and stood up.
At the same time, as for Irohasu, she was fiddling with the computer and searching something.
“I wonder if free newspapers are pretty easy to do…?”
You are way too indifferent towards Zaimokuza, you know…
× × ×
The sky I gazed up at from the window seat was blue and refreshingly clear. Yet strangely enough, it felt awfully bleak and didn’t feel warm at all. Perhaps this was the effects of the noiseless atmosphere in the library.
With no other patrons besides us, the library after school was near empty. It’s likely there’s a library assistant beyond the circulation desk, but the person showed no signs of appearing.
Sitting to my diagonal opposite, Zaimokuza had been grinding his mechanical pencil against his notes for a while now, but eventually halted.
Either he had run out of steam or was all out of ideas, Zaimokuza momentarily sat there in a daze. Suddenly, he said, “Fumu, must I become a light novel author in the end, after all…? I will be unable to marry a voice actor.”
“You’re excluding most occupations if marrying a voice actor is a must-have requirement, you know… Publishing editors are on the same boat.”
“I see. Being a light novel author is no good and becoming a publishing editor is also impossible…” said Zaimokuza, groaning. But then, his eyes flashed and he stood up yelling in a strange voice.
“I have got it! In that case, this means the today’s modern era is all about directors! I will make an anime! Don-don-donuts, let’s go nuts!17”
His bawling voice echoed throughout the quiet library room. I couldn’t help but break into a bitter smile when the echoing stopped.
“…Well, if that makes you happy, that’s fine.” I said.”
Zaimokuza blinked in surprise. “Mu, why are you saying something an old boyfriend would say…? H-Hey, stop that. W-We’re not in that kinda relationship, right…?”
“Don’t get all red and nervous, that’s really gross. I just gave up on you, idiot. Whatever, just get to writing. I can’t go home.”
“Mu. True… Fine, let’s get to writing.”
Zaimokuza’s energy from when he screamed out had up and vanished somewhere and then he turned dejectedly obedient. As he pulled his shoulders in together, he began writing something on his notes. Ohh, I guess you still plan on writing your light novel, huh? How surprising.
Even the Zaimokuza who exhibited no signs of growth was changing little by little. Although he was traveling on all kinds of paths like escape paths, short paths, circular paths, and so forth, he was aiming for his destination. Though in Zaimokuza’s case, his destination of marrying a voice actor was more or less doomed.
But even so, just like how he’d finish his writing word by word and sentence by sentence, he’d continue to accumulate years in his life and would mark his eventual departure from his nest.
There’s roughly only about one year until I graduated from high school. After that, assuming I was to make it through prep school and university without a hitch, it’d be approximately five years until my entry into society.
It sounded like an incredible amount of time, yet it felt like it would go by in the blink of an eye. I think that as we continue to grow, the period of a year gradually becomes shorter and shorter. And surely enough, the length of this year of time wouldn’t be the same as the next years to come.
And I’m certain that it wasn’t just the length, but also their values.
It’s possible that this trivial moment as I gazed up at the bleak sky might have some kind of value.
That’s why for now, I think I’ll continue to look up at this parched, yet beautiful sky for a little longer.
- A parody of POISON’s song, “This world is the place where you can’t say the things you want to” ↩
- A website that has people writing books, stories, and other things with listed rankings. ↩
- Medical company ↩
- Tales of Zestiria ↩
- Sazael-san ↩
- A literary journal founded by a loose association of writers. ↩
- Two shows called Sazae-san and Smile Precure air on Sunday and hold these rock-paper-scissor showdowns between each other. ↩
- A Japanese meme that originated from Sakigake! Otokojuku by Akira Miyashita. The idea is that the person playing the Raiden role is always the one who says something as if he knows something, but is actually just bullshitting on his explanation. ↩
- Overly-aware types (literally in Japanese, people with high conscious) are people who tend to talk like they know more than they do, act like people they aren’t, etc. Kind of like posers, but not just in the fashion sense. ↩
- A Japanese boy idol group ↩
- Body and bath fragrance company ↩
- A Japanese duo ↩
- Japanese actor ↩
- A Japanese variety program. ↩
- Evangelion ↩
- The Japanese is マス犬 (masu-ken), the ken part means dog. Chiba-dog is 千葉犬 (Chiba-ken). ↩
- Shirobako – Aoi’s catch hrase ↩