7th May – “Cultural Exchange”
“Okay, pay attention~”
The Golden Week ended safely too, then the next day.
I was dumbfounded by Omaezaki-sensei who was standing on the podium as usual.
No, to be more accurate it wasn’t by Sensei.
It was by the extremely unique person standing next to her.
“Starting from today everyone will have a new friend. That’s right, a late entrant~”
“Their name is Serephina Ruby Krasis-san.”
“Serephina-san just came to this world.”
“So everyone, please get along with her!”
A strange sound was interposed between the speech, but it wasn’t like it came from Omaezaki-sensei.
It came from the late entrant student introduced by Sensei… That is to say, from our new classmate that came to Itoku.
The student called Serephina-san was entirely wrapped in a strange outfit.
It was made from a thick fabric and looked very misshapen, and the face part was a round glass. At first glance it looked like a spacesuit, but it was a little different, and having seen it in movies in the past I knew the correct name.
Hazmat suit. Something made to protect from virus, poison gas, and generally speaking from touching things directly. The “Shugoー” sound certainly came from the oxygen mask when breathing.
“Someone amazing came…”
I muttered unintentionally. I’ve been in Itoku for around one month and met all sort of students, but I was dumbfounded by this one in a totally different way.
“By the way, Serephina-san?”
Being questioned by Omaezaki-sensei, Serephina-san turned towards her with a “Shugoー”.
“About your appearance…”
Oh. Of course you would ask, Sensei. Well, it’s obvious. Rather, it’s amazing she made that person enter the classroom as if it was normal. Normally you ask before that. It’s too curious, in various meanings.
Alright, Sensei, ask for an explanation. To be honest, I’ve been wanting to make a retort for a while and I can’t stand it anymore. So now, do it, Omaezaki-sensei!
“Aren’t you hot?”
“You’re asking about that!?”
I stood up, kicking my chair.
“Sensei! There is a more fundamental question you should ask!”
“Ah! Now that you mention it, that’s right. As you would expect from Mamoru-kun. How careless.”
After staring in wonder, Sensei clapped her hands and said to Serephina-san.
“Wearing something other than the school uniform to school is prohibited, you know?”
“That’s right, but that’s wrong!!”
Ah, it’s hopeless. We won’t make any progress like this.
“I will get angry if you remain like this, Serephina-san. Could you take it off?”
Demanded Omaezaki-sensei, going at her own pace, but Serephina-san greatly shook their head horizontally.
“Oh. Perhaps you’re not wearing anything under it?”
To deny it, Serephina-san shook their head once more.
“Then, there are no problems~. Okay, time to undress~”
Omaezaki-sensei drew her hand towards Serephina-san’s protective gear while smiling.
Serephina-san’s body froze because of the surprise, but then they began to struggle in resistance. However, Sensei wasn’t perturbed at all, and as if she knew the structure of the protective gear beforehand, she took it off swiftly.
“Okay, I will look after it~”
On top of that, she folded it skillfully and held it against her bosom.
For an instant I thought there might be a reason they wore it and it might be dangerous, but it’s Sensei after all. It’s not like she didn’t consider it, maybe, so it’s fine.
“W-what are you doing, you pleb!?”
I gasped seeing the person who appeared from under the protective gear, flaring up at Sensei.
There wasn’t any special reason.
The transfer student wearing a uniform was a girl.
To put it simply ー She was cute. Like, really cute.
She had long gorgeous hair similar to melted gold, and her skin looked smooth and white like the snow. The pupil inside her almond eyes made you think of the vivid blue sky, and under her gently bridged nose were lips with a beautiful hue of cherry blossom.
Her figure had the proportions of a model, and from the top of her head to the tip of her feet, there wasn’t any useless part. She was too perfect, making you think of a doll. Impeccable, faultless, perfect, those words were surely for this person.
Just that… I was curious about a certain thing.
About the “ears” on both sides of her visage. They weren’t round like mine, but sharp and pointed.
“If something happened to my body by being touched by this world’s air, would you take responsibility!?”
“My my, you don’t need to be shy.”
“Do you listen when people talk?”
Serephina-san made a face as if she couldn’t believe it.
Sensei faced forward while smiling and started to explain.
“Serephina-san is from, based on how it’s called in her world, the ‘elf’ tribe, and the chief of the tribe decided to send her to Itoku. She’s a little older than everyone, but many of you are the same, so it’s not a problem.”
No, well, that’s true… I looked behind me.
Expressionless, Mao sat arrogantly atop three piled up chairs, and besides her was a huge coffin, as if it was normal. … Yep. No problem.
“Okay, then, please introduce yourself to your future friends.”
Being urged by Omaezaki-sensei, Serephina-san, who was breathing roughly, turned towards us. Noticing all the class had their attention on her, she quickly cleared her throat, flustered.
Then ー She said.
“I-I have nothing special to say! After all, I have no intention to befriend anyone in this ‘Itoku’, not at all!”
The classroom fell silent instantly.
“… Oh my. Why?”
“It’s simple. ー I don’t want to be defiled.”
Folding her arms, Serephina-san turned her sharp chin.
“When I was in the village, my Dear Mother always told me. Bad things are mixed in the air of this world, and the heart of the persons living in it are tainted by greed. Therefore, a pure elf like me will never associate with you.”
Furthermore, she glaring this way, she said.
“The new chief thinks that there is no future for the Elf tribe if we continue to live a secluded life. I was selected by a lottery, became the representative unwillingly and was enrolled in this ‘Itoku’. However, whatever the chief thinks, I won’t change my way of thinking. You don’t need to mind me, or rather, I wish that you don’t approach me. ー That’s all.”
Serephina-san brought an end to her speech, building a splendid iron wall between her and us.
“… My my.”
Muttered softly Omaezaki-sensei, cocking her head with a finger on her cheek. As expected, even Sensei would be troubled about how to deal with such an obstinate behaviour.
“You’re a really shy person~. How cute.”
Or so I thought, but it wasn’t the case at all. The same as usual.
“Mamoru-kun, Serephina-san just came to this world and still isn’t used to it, so please teach her about various things.”
“Ah, yes. Of course.”
Omaezaki-sensei nodded, then still grinning.
“Thank you. Then, Serephina-san, please sit in any empty seat you want. I’m going to the staff room a little to drink tea~”
She left the classroom walking lightly.
Serephina-san looked at where Omaezaki-sensei left, unsatisfied, but eventually she snorted and began to walk towards the back of the classroom.
As if not minding being observed by everyone in the class, she threw her bag on a desk near the window side, then sat on the chair.
Then she glared this way.
“Please do not look at me with your dirty eyes!”
After saying those severe words, she closed her eyes.
“… She really is incredible, in various ways.”
Gai, sitting next to me, smiled wryly. I mostly agreed with him.
“Why is she acting with such hostility? You cannot build trust with your surroundings like that.”
Said Mao behind me, with a baffling sentiment.
I took out the smartphone in my pocket, and launched an app.
Before long, the words “Other Worlds Specialised Dictionary” appeared on the screen.
Just as its title says, it can give information gathered until now about other worlds about the things you search. I entered the words Omaezaki-sensei said earlier, “elf tribe”.
Results appeared right away. There were several, so I tapped the first one.
『The Elf tribe. A race existing in several worlds. The race of the same name created in literary works in this world resemble closely to it. Their characteristics are their pointed ears and their longevity. They mainly live in deep mountains, love arts and philosophy, and they have the tendency to avoid contact with people other than the ones from where they live, or the persons from other races that they recognise as “corrupted”. Various reasons exist, but the main point is that they think themselves as sacred beings.』
… I see. Thinking about it, there is that kind of feeling in manga and games. And that why she acts like this.
“How will I deal with that…”
I groaned, scratching the tip of my nose.
A few hours later.
It was lunch break, but as though there was an invisible barrier around her, there wasn’t a single person near Serephina-san.
Generally, when a late entrant or a transfer student arrives they become the centre of the attention for a while, but… well, I guess it’s normal considering how she acted.
“Hey, it’s time for someone to do something, no? The atmosphere of the classroom is pointlessly heavy.”
Next to me, Gai grimaced while chewing on a spare rib. … Yeah, he’s right.
A “don’t approach me aura” surged from the whole body of Serephina-san who was folding her arms in silence, pressuring us and making it difficult to breathe.
“But, who is someone?”
You’d need to be quite gutsy to cut through this atmosphere.
“You… Well, that.”
That? Somehow I can feel Gai’s gaze. N-no, it’s not only Gai.
“A suitable person is here.”
Mao chewed a cream-filled roll while looking this way from the seat in front of me.
I looked behind me.
“Don’t do something so cliché. We’re talking about you, Mamoru.”
“Hey, where are you Mamoru, they’re calling for you!”
“You. You. It is you.”
Mao poked me relentlessly.
“O-ouch! It hurts! W-why me!?”
“Because you’re the class representative of this class.” “Aye.”
“Don’t think I can do everything because I’m the class president! I don’t have the emotional strength to do a suicide attack against this perfect wall! Someone else suitable… What about Kisshi!?”
“She just left. Must have gone to buy her lunch. And so, we beg you, class rep!”
“Class president. We can only rely on you.”
Gai and Mao clapped their hands, then the other classmates called “Class rep” too.
“Do your best, you can do it class rep!” “Do it class rep!” “Whoo, Class rep!”
What it this unified power!?
“Okay, got it, I got it! I’ll do it! I just need to it, right!”
If I could refuse, then I would have taken the initiative long ago.
I stood up with a sigh, readied myself, then I went towards the seat in the corner of the classroom.
Serephina-san was still gazing outside the window, not looking this way.
Uhh. I’m nervous. It’s as if my heart is going to explode. But I already said I’d do it. I can’t run away.
Here I come! First, let’s try to discuss. Alrightー.
“He… hello, Serephina-san. Can I take a little of your time?”
It was the instant I called out to her resolutely.
Serephina-san disappeared with a loud sound.
I was surprised, but I immediately understood what happened.
Serephina-san hid herself behind her seat with an incredible speed.
“W-w-what do you want?”
I approached with one step.
Then Serephina-san stepped back toward the window.
“So, what do you want!?”
“Well, I just wanted to talk a little…”
I took another step forward.
With a thick sound, this time Serephina-san really disappeared.
“Please, do not approach me!”
I heard a voice from above my head. I looked up.
Serephina-san was clinging to the ceiling using her legs to hold onto the wall.
“Wow, you’re amazing!”
“I told you not to approach! If you get closer than this, I will jump out the window!”
Serephina-san looks quite frantic. She’s serious.
“N-no no. I only approached a little…”
“I heard it from my Dear Motherー”
Serephina-san suddenly opened her eyes wide, then shouted.
“If an elf is touched by a man of this world, she will become pregnant!”
Must be hard to live for you, elves!
“No, it’s not possible. At least, it’s not written in the dictionary.”
Gai gave me an advice from the back. P-phew, thank goodness.
“Seems like it’s a lie.”
“That’s not true! My Dear Mother said she heard it from the person living in the house three away from ours that her neighbour’s acquaintance’s acquaintance’s wife’s relative’s little brother’s uncle’s wife used to live in!”
“That’s an absurdly distant source of information!”
It’s far past the level of unreliable.
“A-anyway, you’re misunderstanding. I want to talk. I just want to talk!”
Serephina-san made a long groan. That’s scary.
But ー Perhaps she thought that I won’t leave no matter what, she descended reluctantly after a short while.
“… So, what do you want?”
Nevertheless, she still maintained a fixed distance between us. … Oh well, I guess it can’t be helped.
“Err, well. Ah, I know. First, let me introduce myself. I’m Yakuma Mamoru. I’m kinda the class president of this class. Do you know what’s a class president? It’s someone who assemble people. No, actually it’s not really that important. An advisor… is a little different too. Hmm…”
Now that I think about it, what’s the role of the class president? I mean, I don’t have the caliber of a leader. A mediator… No, I feel like that’s slightly off too.
“… Oh well, whatever. Anyway, I don’t mind if you think about me as the guy who gives advices to otherworlders who are still unfamiliar with this world. So? Do you have something you don’t understand about this world?”
“There isn’t. If you have finished talking, then please leave.”
“Wait wait, give me another chance, please! One more! One more chance!”
“… Just one.”
Serephina-san’s expression was like she was reluctant from the bottom of her heart. Th-that hurts…
“Umm, well, Serephina-san, you said that you don’t want to befriend us, but I don’t think it’ll be possible in the future. You were dispatched here because the chief of your tribe thought that you should interact with the others, right? I’m not telling you to forcibly become friend with everyone, but could you at least try to talk a little? Perhaps you’ll change your mind.”
“Omaezaki-sensei said it, but there are various kind of people in this class, and even though they look different, they’re all good guys. I think they are easier to get on with than what you think, and even if I’m not good you can just talk with someone else. Anyway, rather than not knowing about each other until the end, how about trying at least?”
“U-umm… Why haven’t you said anything for a while?”
I asked, unable to endure the tension, but Serephina-san said, with half-closed eyes.
“Not really. I was just observing how you could talk so tediously.”
“However, no matter what you say, I only have one answer. I do not intend to befriend you at all. In other words, what you are doing right now is totally useless!”
As expected, even I would become irritated when something like that is said to me so bluntly.
“Hey, don’t speak like that. I just wanted to make a compromise!”
“Who asked for such a thing? When? What time? What second? How many times had the sun risen?”
“Don’t answer like an elementary school kid! No matter how much you don’t want to be concerned with this world, from the moment you came there is no way for you to be taciturn like that forever!”
“Ta-taciturn!? How impolite!”
“It’s your attitude that’s really rude!”
“Hey, stop now.”
Gai forced his way between me and Serephina-san who were disputing.
“If your objective is peace, then disputes are needless. Compose yourself.”
Mao looked up at me too and slightly shook her head.
“B-but, when I’m told something like this…”
Then, the moment I was going to say my feelings to those two.
“That’s right. Mamoru did nothing wrong!”
Suddenly, someone passed beside me, approached Serephina-san and strongly struck her desk.
Long silver hair, a gallant expression, and a longsword sheathed in the scabbard attached to her waist. It was Kisshi.
She had a sandwich in her hand, so I guess she really had gone to buy her lunch.
“The problem is this woman. Even though Mamoru especially tried to deepen the interaction between us, why, of all things did you harshly shook it off? I do not care if you are an elf or whatever, from the moment you came to this world, you too have to adapt yourself to this class!”
Serephina-san snarled at Kisshi who raised her voice.
“I-I only came to this world because it was the chief’s order, not because I wanted to! That’s why, I have no reason to get along with you!”
She faced Kisshi with burning eyes,
“And why do I have to get along with tainted people like you? Just being with you gives me goose bumps, even though I do my best to endure it!”
The tone of Kisshi’s voice instantly lowered. Thereupon, I suddenly regained my composure from my excited state. Ah, that’s bad. Just now, she said something that she shouldn’t have.
“What did you sayー!?”
Just as I thought, Kisshi became enraged and attacked Serephina-san with her sword.
“Daaaaaa! Okay, stop! It will only widen the distance between us! It will only widen it to an unreachable level!”
I hurriedly binded Kisshi’s arms from her back. However, I couldn’t stop her completely as she struggled with so much strength.
“Uhh. Class rep, leave it, to me.”
Then, a huge figure passed by me making the ground rumble.
Its head reached the ceiling of the classroom, and its body was made of stone.
It was a golem, a “doll with a will”, and it seems it was made in the past by a magician from another world. In our class, everyone called him “Golesuke”. (TL: Suke is usually used for boy names, but I think it might be a pun too, as the kanji is the one used for help and assistance, and Golesuke is gentle and helps people.)
“Kisshi, stop. Class rep, is troubled.”
Golesuke stretched his long palm, then he skillfully seized Kisshi’s arms with only his fingertips.
“H-hey, stop Golesuke! This is for your sake too!”
“Violence, is wrong. I, was taught. Stop, violence.”
Golesuke dragged Kisshi along to the back of the classroom.
We’re saved… Thanks, Golesuke.
“… Well, Kisshi did too much. But even then, your attitude isn’t really good, you know? Serephina.”
Said Gai while scratching his black hair tinged with grey. It seems that he thought that it would be futile with only me.
“It’s as she said, no matter how it was in your world, from the moment you came here it’s inevitable. I think it would be better if you softened your attitude a little.”
“… H-humph. I do not care.”
Serephina-san turned away, as she didn’t want to listen.
Damn. She plans to stick to her way no matter what. I’m angry, but it’s changing to obstinacy. No matter what it takes, I’ll make her blend with everyone in Itoku!
But, what should I do to make it happens…
Then, sensing the hem of my trousers being pulled, I looked down. Mao was throwing out her chest with her arms folded.
“I have prospects of victory. Lend me your ear, I will tell you the only method to change the status quo.”
“Oh, you have a nice idea?”
I crouched down to make eye contact, and Mao nodded with her usual expressionless visage.
“In my world, I was a king with many subordinates. A reasoned mind, a method to seize victory, this shall not be achieved half-heartedly.”
“Err… Because you had many subordinates, it was difficult to earn their trust?”
Mao nodded. It seems I was right.
“Therefore, I first observed the desires of my subordinates, but did not realise it. Creating an environment in which their desires would be realised without demanding would have them realise the self-evident truth that working underneath me would be to their advantage.”
This time I didn’t understand everything.
“In other words, if you wish someone to understand something, or to reach a compromise, rather than going straight for it, wouldn’t showing that you have what they want and are interested in be the most effective?”
Mao, still expressionless, raised her thumb to Gai explanation.
“Ah, I got it. But, hmm… Even if you say that…”
I don’t have the slightest idea about what Serephina-san wants.
“If you don’t know, then just prepare a lot of things. There is the saying ‘Repetition is the key to success’ in this world, right?”
… I see. Gai has a point.
The first priority is to show Serephina-san that this world isn’t that bad by showing her many things.
Alright ー It’s interesting. If it’s like this, as the class president I’ll do it thoroughly!
“… Just wait and see, I’ll absolutely make Serephina-san a member of this class!”
Suddenly all fired up, I pointed at Serephina-san.
The person herself, though, was only looking at me with a suspicious look.
“Mamoru? What are you doing?”
A little after lunch break. I was called by someone behind me as I walked, staggering slightly, through the school corridor. I turned ー But I couldn’t see their face.
It was because I was holding a large pile of books.
However, being a familiar voice, I could guess who it was.
“Ah, it’s Kadona. Well, I just borrowed books from the library. And I’m carrying them now.”
“I can guess that much by looking at you. What I want to know is why are you holding so many books, and where are you carrying them to?”
Shifting my gaze a little I could see a girl with long black hair with eyes a little upturned. Just as I thought, it was Kadona. Everyone else call her Houjou, but I only use her first name. She’s my childhood friend, so I continued to call her like that since then.
“There’s a new student in our class. So I thought about showing them to her.”
“In Itoku? Ah, thinking about it I heard there was a late entrant. She likes books?”
“Well, I don’t know.”
“What do you mean by ‘I don’t know’?”
“I just don’t know what she likes. That’s why I’m preparing to show her various things gradually.”
I put the books on the floor and quickly explained the situation to Kadona.
“… Well, something like that. I got mad, so I decided to do anything to make her open her heart to us.”
“Hmm… And that’s why you borrowed so many books?”
“Yeah. I thought that to make her blend with everyone I should make her like this world first.”
“… I see. Well, that’s fine. But, I looked about the Elf tribe once, they think about themselves as the chosen ones and hate having to do something with people other than themselves, right? What’s more they’re proud of being elves, and rather excessively.”
Kadona put her hand on her hip and furrowed her brow.
“It seems that recently a rather progressive person became the chief, saying that they couldn’t continue as they they did until now and sent a few persons to exchange with this world. But well, you can’t change your nature that easily, so I heard they caused troubles here and there. Even if you do that, you’ll just be rejected.”
“That’s why you’re a member of the student council, you know a lot. But, I won’t know until I try. Anyway, I can do nothing but attack.”
“And if it’s useless even after trying everything?”
“At that time ー Well, I’ll think about something else.”
“You have prospects of victory?”
I declared bluntly. Kadona put a hand on her forehead, partly amazed.
“… As usual, you’re just rushing blindly at full force. You know, you shouldn’t fuss over someone who doesn’t want to be involved with people more than necessary. You can just leave her alone. Perhaps that’s what she wants.”
“Even if she refuses because of her circumstances, I’m just approaching because of mine!”
“What a nonsensical theory… What if it brings a terrible outcome?”
“I’ll make it so that doesn’t happen!”
“I don’t know!”
“Quit it or I’ll slap you!”
I just said I don’t know because I don’t!
“… Oh well. Do as you like.”
I answered with a smile, looking blankly at Kadona who sighed deeply for some reason.
… Oops, can’t stay here. Break is almost over.
“Well then, Kadona. See you later.”
Firing myself up, I raised the tower of books.
I carefully faced forward, then slowly began to walk.
“Good grief… You’ve always been strangely stubborn once you decided something.”
Said Kadona with a sigh behind me.
“But… If something happens, say so. Because it’s not something you have to do alone.”
“Yeah. It’s alright. I have a lot of reliable friends in my class.”
“T-that’s not what I meant!”
I turned towards Kadona with a puzzled face as she unusually raised her voice. Then, after coming to her senses, her cheeks flushed.
“No… nothing. Just go already.”
“Nh, that so? Got it.”
What’s the matter?
While inclining my head to the side, I returned to Itoku.
Once I returned to the classroom I put what I held on Serephina-san’s desk.
“… What are those?”
Seeing the mountain of books in front of her eyes, Serephina-san widened her eyes a little.
“I gathered various things from here. I thought I’ll show them to you. Then perhaps you’ll think that this world isn’t that bad.”
“No thank you.”
“Hahaha. No need to be shy.”
“I’m not shy!”
Intentionally ignoring Serephina-san’s words, I took a nearby book.
That’s right, it’s a fight. Of course you’d watch your opponent. I must attack at the slightest opportunity!
“How about this one. It’s a novel released recently. It’s a mystery, know about it? A strange murder happens, then a detective use is proud intellect to solve it. It’s interesting.”
Serephina-san gazed at the book with a somewhat fed up face.
Then thinking that it was inevitable, she took the book and flipped through its pages.
“Someone died in a room or a gorgeous passenger boat, but the window and the door were firmly locked. That’s why at first the police thought it was a suicide, but the detective noticed something and concluded it was a murder ー something like that, it has a novel trick, and I didn’t notice the foreshadowings at all.”
It’s one of the works my classmates recommended to me after asking them, and even though I usually don’t read this genre, I totally got into it. How is it? I’m sure you’ll be engrossed. You’ll like it. You’ll think that this world too isn’t bad!
“The culprit was totally unexpected, anyway it’s really exciting. I read it without sleeping at night. Andー”
But. As if to stop me, Serephina-san closed the book.
“Eh, h-huh? It was boring?”
“Even in the village I lived there were at least novels. They were all philosophical, only things to make you think, and I was absorbed reading them. However… I do not have an interest in this sort of thing.”
“… I, I see.”
Grrr. It won’t be easy. No, it’s only the beginning. Next. Next one!
“Then, what about this one? It’s a traveller’s journal written by someone who toured the world with his own feet. It’s different from using an airplanes or a car, so it’s interesting.”
The troubles with the local residents, the anxiety to possibility be involved in a crime, the beautiful landscapes, the warm exchanges with unknown people.
It was made to move the readers, making them think how beautiful is the world.
I’m sure this oneーー!
“A trivial thing. I do not need to know of this world.”
No way, seriously!?
“No no no. Did you read it? Here, this page, it’s amazing. Look, the great fight against a beast he happened to meet in the jungle…”
“Once I defeated a monster who appeared in the village with a single arrow. In comparison, this is nothing.”
… Ah, is that so?
“T-then, this one? Delicious food from all around the world with photos and impressions. There were things even I didn’t know and it was kinda fresh.”
“Food is something you eat to maintain your life. Only the people of this world think about the pros and cons.”
“No, but! Show! Curiosity! Be! Be more enthusiastic!”
“You are overbearing.”
She, she’s tough…!
“… Ah! Then, how about this one? It’s a Light Novel, it’s fun! To tell you the truth, this one is written by someone in our classーー”
“You are persistent! Would you stop already!?”
Serephina-san flatly retorted to my tenacious approach.
“No matter what you show me, my answer will not change. The distant gods watch over everything, and there is no way that we, the Elf tribe, will have an interest in the things the people of this world smeared in greed like!”
She took a glance at the book in my hand and snorted.
“I can summarise everything in one word, worthless. As long as you like such things, compromise will forevermore be unreachable for us.”
“Why, there’s no need to go that far!?”
“Because this is impossible, I said it was impossible!”
“How can you understand that without trying!?”
“Because I can understand even without trying!”
T-that bitch! How much trouble does she think it took me to prepare so many things?
“… I will at least recognise your effort. But that is all. Go away from me as quickly as possible.”
Against this tone refusing everything, I chewed my molars.
… As if… as if I’d let it finish like that!
“A-alright, the last one. The last of the last. Look!”
“… You’re still continuing?”
“Yeah, I am! Of course I am! Or rather, now it’s the real deal. After seeing that you’ll be surprised!”
I took a book from the pile and put it in front of Serephina-san.
“… What it this?”
Serephina-san picked up the book and frowned.
A boy with pointed hair doing a kick in the empty space was drawn on the cover.
“It’s a manga!”
“You don’t know… It’s a story made of drawing and words. The story is presented in a different way from novels. They exist in the entire world, but the ones from Japan are particularly popular even in other countries.”
“Drawings? A story using not sentences but drawings? Such a thing is possible?”
“Yeah. It’s interesting. Especially the one in your hands, it’s a little dated, but it still has many fans. Of course, I really like it too.”
I read it since I was little, and I still periodically reread it. It’s a wonderful work that you won’t be able to stop reading until the last volume once you’ve turned a page.
“This is my ultimate weapon. You just need to read the start, so please try it. I beg you!”
Serephina-san made a bewildered expression seeing me bow my head. However.
“… I suppose it cannot be helped. However, this is the last one.”
Partly amazed, she opened the volume and started reading silently.
I swallowed my saliva, and I simply waited for the result.
… Then five, ten minutes passed.
“… How… is it?”
Because there was no reaction, I felt uneasy and tried asking.
But, Serephina-san was still silent and continued to look at the pages.
Her expression didn’t change. P-perhaps, it was no good?
I became unbearably anxious.
“… Is this sold anywhere?”
Finally closing the volume, Serephina-san asked me.
Her gaze was sharp as though she wanted to pierce me. W-what. Did I mess up?
ーー What’s more, they’re excessively proud.
I remembered my conversation with Kadona.
Uh. Perhaps… it became discomfortable to Serephina-san.
I heard there was a considerable number of persons thinking that manga are vulgar.
Let’s put aside whether it’s right or wrong for now ーー That’s the case for this world. So all the more for Serephina-san who is from the Elf tribe, she might think “You made me read such a thing?”.
Crap, it had the opposite effect!? I-I need to follow-up!
“Er, I want you to hear my opinion Serephina-san. Manga and novels are both as good. It’s exciting just reading them, especially this work, it has cool characters and is fully loaded with intense battle scenes, you’re never tired of reading, you just can’t help but want to read what’s next…”
Was she listening to my frantic speech or not, Serephina-san looked at the cover in silence for a little while.
“You talked enough. Please, answer my question.”
She shot a glance my way once again, so I closed my mouth and scratched my head.
“Agh. I-I see. … It is. Specialist shops have more, though.”
“Shops where they only sell manga. There should be ones in the city centre.”
“… I see.”
After she muttered a few words, Serephina-san averted her gaze to think about something.
Mmh. What’s the matter?
Her mood seems different from when I passed her the other books…
When I thought it was strange and was about to ask ーー Suddenly the chime rung.
“Class is starting. Please tidy up the things you put on my desk.”
“N-no, but, there still are other…”
“… Got it.”
I thought a little more then I could do it, but she put her usual extremely firm barrier and Sensei entered the classroom.
I reluctantly gathered up what I brought, then retreated in low spirits.
… Damn, the tactic didn’t succeed, huh. I thought it’d work.
I shook my head feebly to the classmates who looked this way.
A few days later.
I took the train together with a few classmates and came to a certain town.
Lovely characters and maids promoting shops were everywhere today too, in this town known as the Otaku capital even in Japan.
“When is Mii’s concert, again?”
Walking in the main street, I asked nobody in particular, then Gai, who was next to me, took his ticket from the bag hanging on his shoulder.
“Let’s see. It’s starting at five and half. There’s still a little time.”
“Okay. But, it’s amazing. The tickets sold out just after they went on sale, right?”
“Yeah. After that it seems like the prices skyrocketed to tenfold in net auctions.”
“It’s only their debut and they’re already so popular.”
I looked around and watched the huge monitors installed on the surrounding buildings.
Three girls wearing flashy dresses were singing together while dancing intensely.
『Their popularity is still rising, the Kemoners’ new song ‘Just don’t rub our Paws‘ broke through the million downloads!』 was written on the lower right.
That one of them was my classmate was a rather strange feeling.
“An idol, huh…”
Kisshi who was walking in front of me stopped and muttered while looking up at the monitors with deep emotions.
“What, you want to be an idol, Kisshi?”
When I asked her, Kisshi froze.
“Oh, that would be nice. Kisshi is a beauty after all. She might become popular.”
Said Gai, raising the corners of his lips.
“D-d-don’t say something so foolish! There is no way I would think such a thing!”
“You, totally shaking. Bull’s-eye, isn’t it?”
Asked Mao who was clinging to my back. We were walking together until just a moment ago, but she suddenly jumped on me saying “This one, totally exhausted”.
“There is no way! D-do not insult me like that, or I will cut you down!”
Kisshi drew her sword and thrusted it this way while blushing. I panicked.
“Stop, Kisshi, this is the street! The police will come!”
“This is trivial compared to the shame I am feeling! On my name, I will send you to hell!”
Don’t! You should be a hero!
“No but, before, after school, you frantically danced in front of a mirror, right? If I’m right, it was the dance from the Kemoners’ new song.”
Kisshi stiffened at Gai’s statement.
“Eh, really, Kisshi? Perhaps, you really do want to be an idol?”
I said, genuinely surprised.
“T-t-t-t-t-t-that’s not t-t-true! G-Gai, you bastard, why do you know!? Even though I verified there was nobody around many times…”
“Ah, yeah. Because it’s not like I saw it.”
Kisshi starred in wonder to Gai’s unexpected answer.
“Somehow it felt like you did it, so I tried saying it, but, you really… I see, you…”
Gai turned away hiding his mouth while saying this. Seeing his shoulders shaking, I guess he was holding in laughter.
On the other hand, Kisshi was bright red as if she was going to explode, clenching her fist while working her mouth up and down.
“W-well, calm down, Kisshi. L-look, everyone has such a time in their life…”
“Agree. Kisshi, you, must not mind.”
Mao with her head on my shoulder agreed too.
“Everyone has secrets. ーー However, a little embarrassing it is.”
“Ah! Don’t say that!”
Even though I desperately put a seal on that word!
“I… I… I…”
Kisshi was starting to shout in fits and starts, but eventually looked up to the skies and,
“I will kill youuuuuuu!”
With a sudden yell, she turned back and left with a violent dash.
“Waah! Kisshi ran away! L-let’s run after her, Gai!”
“Y-yeah, got it. I’ve gone a little too far, huh. Let’s go, Golesuke.”
Golesuke, who had accompanied us in silence until now nodded to Gai who called him with a wry smile.
While making sure of the direction where Kisshi ran, we started chasing after her.
After advancing a little, we finally caught sight of her retreating figure.
“Hey, wait, Kisshi! It’s alright! Everyone passes through this… or not, I don’t know, but maybe!”
“I swear, disclose your secret I will not.”
Mao waved her hand from my back, but Kisshi still didn’t stop.
Can’t be helped. Let’s run a little faster.
The instant I was going to increase my pace.
Together with the impact, the sound of something falling on the ground resounded many times.
“Ah, I’m sorry. Are you alright?”
I was paying too much attention to Kisshi and ended up bumping into someone.
After saying to go ahead to the others, I kneeled and started to pick up what fell.
“Please, do not mind. I will do it myself.”
Said the person with their hat covering their eyes, but I couldn’t leave it like that. For the moment, I took a nearby book.
“… Eh, this is…”
I recognised the cover. That was this month new volume of a popular serialised manga. I bought it recently, so I still remembered.
“Mamoru, I gathered some. Express your gratitude.”
Mao, who had descended from my back before I knew it, gave me a few books while throwing out her chest. Taking them after thanking her, I looked at them and they were manga too.
No, that’s not all. All the scattered books were volumes from different works. Among them were anime blu-rays and setting documents too.
Well, it’s the Otaku town after all, so it’s normal.
“I-I said to not mind!”
After telling that to me while being somehow agitated, they took the volumes from my hands as if stealing them, thenーー
I saw her face, and spoke unintentionally.
“… Serephina… san?”
I didn’t recognise her because of the hat and her clothes, but of course I’d understand by looking at her face directly.
“Eh? ーー Ah, you are…!”
Surprised too, Serephina-san opened her eyes wide and stopped moving.
“Ah, it’s really you, Serephina-san. What a coincidence to meet you here… Wait, then those manga…”
I said while looking at them.
“They are… yours, Serephina-san?”
“W-what foolishness… There is no way that is true!”
Cramming the volumes in her paper bag, Serephina-san stood up.
“A-a proud elf like myself, liking those things so close to lump of worldliness!?”
“No no no, but you’re carrying them!”
“I-I only picked them up! There! By chance! A large quantity! In this paper bag! Being an elf who lives with the nature! I cannot forgive unlawful dumping! I only obeyed my nature!”
Perhaps she lost her self-control because of the agitation, her tone became weird.
“No matter how you think about it, that’s impossible! If you want to make an excuse you should do it more naturally! You live with the nature after all!”
“B-be quiet! This is not an excuse! I-I do not have the slightest interest! In manga!”
Then, Mao stretched and took out something from the pocket of Serephina-san.
“Mamoru. What is this? This one asks you.”
I looked at what she held out. It was a little scrap of paper. It was filled with letters and numbers.
“Ah, it’s a receipt. You receive it as a proof you bought something… Let’s see, twenty comics…?”
A hand stretching with a momentum similar to a snake hunting his prey took back the receipt I pinched with my fingers.
“W-w-w-w-w-w-what are you doing, little girl!?”
Serephina-san scolded Mao, but with her usual expressionless she only tilted her head to the side.
“This one is the Demon King. Not a little girl.”
“King? How stupid… No matter how you look at it, you are just a little girl.”
“Wrong. Not, a little girl!”
Mao raised her hands to protest. While soothing her saying “My my”,
“So you really bought manga. … Perhaps, did you like it?”
I asked, grinning.
“That’s right. That manga was interesting. After reading it, of course you’d be interested in other works. You couldn’t help it. Yeah, it was inevitable!”
“T-t-t-that’s not true!”
“Don’t force yourself. No, I should stop. If Serephina-san became a little interested in this world, then that’s enough.”
Tapping my hand on her shoulder, I nodded satisfied. Immediately after that,
“P-please do not make fun of me! I told you that’s not true!”
Serephina-san greatly raised her voice. The passersby turned their head.
“H-how many times do I need to tell you!? I am an elf, someone living in a village deep into the mountains, loving arts and philosophy without being in contact with this world! T-that I would like things like manga, that I would get fired up by a work where the protagonist and his rival who were enemies at first, but gradually came to trust each other, stood against the great empire together or the like, or even one where the protagonist fights against all the difficulties wanting to become the strongest ninja, and his relation with his comrades who support him because of his recklessness brings tears to the eyes, or enduring the agony of the strong friendship between a knight from a ruined country and an intelligent dragon, or overlapping myself with one of the girls longing for the cool man called D4 at school, or that I cannot have enough of the relationship between the samurai with remarkable abilities but do not have a master and the feudal lord watching over him, such things ーー Do you think I like them!?”
“No, you’re totally into it! And not just a little!”
There were even a few works I don’t know!
“Y-you are wrong, I do not care about things like manga… I tell you!”
Said Serephina-san before turning back and running away.
I hurriedly started to pursue her, but I immediately stopped.
Serephina-san bumped into something and fell on her backside. At the same time, her hat fell and manga scattered here and there from the paper bag again.
“Uh. Class rep, I captured, Kisshi.”
The one who said it in a cutted off low voice was Golesuke. He was holding Kisshi who had a complex expression in his arms.
“Good grief. She avoided the passersby with splendid footwork. As expected of a brilliant knight.”
Said Gai with a smile, while Kisshi ground her teeth.
“Kuh… In that case, it’s inevitable. You can do as you like. I will endure any sort of disgrace.”
“What kind of resolution is this? It’s not like I’ll do anything. It’s just about you wanting to be an idol, you know?”
“F-fool! That’s wrong, it’s not like I want to be an idol!”
While warding off Kisshi’s claim, Gai picked up the manga at his feet.
“Nh, here, you dropped it… wait.”
She tried to hide her face right away, but it was useless.
When he gave her the volume, Gai noticed it was Serephina-san and winked.
“What an unexpected encounter.”
Serephina-san hung her head while grinding her teeth for a little while.
But before long, she slowly looked up towards us.
“… Do you have a problem with that?”
With nowhere to escape, it seems she gave up. She stood up while dusting herself off, then she looked at us defiantly.
“Do you have a problem with that!? That’s right, it was interesting! It was the first time I saw a book with drawings giving such lively feelings! Even though I was thinking that this is not good, that I should not read them, I read one, then another and then I could not stop… I could not control myself! Then, the other things too, like anime or the thing called Light Novel the class president showed me, I was curious and tried them, then I became engrossed! Right, I came to like them!”
“Wow, she became defiant!”
After speaking like surging waves, Serephina-san blushed and turned away.
“Surely, you find it funny, right!? Even though I looked down on you and said I would keep my distances, it ended like this! If you want to laugh, then laugh. If you want to ridicule me, then do it! E-even then, I… I love manga!”
In front of Serephina-san who who declared that so clearly, I unintentionally became dumbfounded.
… How to deal with that…
While I continued to think in my own way, I looked towards Gai and the others.
Then they looked at me too.
We exchanged glances, and even without words, we somehow conveyed our feelings with just our eyes.
… Yeah. That’s right ーー Of course.
“No, I won’t laugh.”
Serephina-san was taken aback by my words.
“My objective was to make you like this world. And it succeeded splendidly. The, there is no need to laugh or ridicule you. Rather, it’s something to be happy about.”
Continuing, Gai, Kisshi and Golesuke who were on the side nodded to show they agreed.
“Hmph. At first I thought you were a difficult to approach fellow, but it seems it isn’t the case. It looks like we can get closer.”
Kisshi, released from Golesuke, presented her hand while smiling.
“Once again, Serephina. ーー Welcome to the Special Class Composed of People from Other Worlds.”
Serephina-san looked at Kisshi’s hand as if it was something unbelievable. Then, bewildered, she looked away and bit her lips.
It was as if she hesitated and was worried about the decision she should take.
However, the silence didn’t last long.
“… T-this is not like I intend to get along with you, but…”
After a while, Serephina-san slowly grasped Kisshi’s hand while clearing her throat.
“For the time being, in deference to the man who introduced me to manga… to Mamoru, I will compromise in my own way.”
“You, honest you are not.”
Mao pointed out, but Serephina-san told her to be quiet while blushing.
“But to think it would be manga, huh. I prepared a lot of things, so it’s unexpected.”
I thought that kind of thing felt like the total opposite of her.
“Because it was something unknown to her, it conversely became an impetus.”
I leaked a “Hmm” to Gai’s opinion, not sure if I got it right.
“Anyway, it was a good thing I tried to talk boldly to Serephina-san. A lot a things happened, but it’s all right in the end.”
“… However, you are a strange man. To try to involve yourself with me when I showed such a clear refusal.”
Serephina-san made a wondering face
“Well, you were really stubborn, so it really fueled up my obstinacy.”
“You did too much. Just to persuade me, you gathered so many things.”
“Hahaha. That’s true. But, if Seraphina-san grew to like this world thanks to that, then that’s all that matters. My perseverance paid off.”
Serephina-san cheeks flushed at my smile.
“… W-well, because I just came to this world I was anxious, and perhaps I was too obstinate. To give me the chance to dispel it, hmm, what to say… You have my gratitude.”
“Nh, did you say something?”
Her voice was small, so I didn’t hear correctly.
“ーー N-nothing! But, at most I only thought it would be fine to appreciate this world a little. D-do not misunderstand, please.”
“Is that so? Won’t you go deeper from now on?”
“I will not! Please, do not belittle me!”
“I wonder~. The manga world is pretty deep after all. Before you know it you won’t be able to come back.”
“That’s how are Otaku in general after all.”
When Gai shrugged his shoulders, Serephina-san raised her hands.
“N-never! Absolutely! On the honour of the Elf tribe, this will absolutely never happenーー!”
A yell echoed in the skies.
I looked at everyone else face, then we all laughed out loud.
… Then, time passed once more.
“Mamoru. The first episode of each anime of this season aired, which ones do you recommend?”
“Eh? Ah, umm, well, sorry, I didn’t see them all…”
“What are you doing!? You are losing eighty percents of your life!”
“Yes! First, Monday, at two a.m is ‘Senkou no Gaiway’, it’s a valuable work about realistics robots but is as intense as a super robots one, furthermore, it’s supervised by Osanai-san, so the production is in the realm of gods from the first episode! It has a higher number of frames than the rest, so without a doubt it is in the top three of this season, though the problem is if they will be able to maintain the quality until the end! However, according to the staffs, Osanai-san pours an incredible passion into this work, so people think there is no need to worry. In the first place, the origin come from the childhood of the supervisor!”
“No matter how I think about it, looks like it’ll be a long talk, so let’s do it later?”
“Ah, which reminds me, did you watch ‘Yumekoi Shoujo Magilia’!?”
“Listen to what I say! And what about Osanai-san’s past!? I’m a little curious!”
“At first I thought it would be an anime for young girls that should be broadcasted on Sunday morning, but my view was too shallow. It took an unexpected direction in the second half and dumbfounded the viewers. In the first place, I should have known it from the moment the supervisor said it was inspired by the famous manga ‘Rekkatia’, I was truly careless and I am reflecting seriously about it!”
“No, nobody is condemning you about it, so no need to reflect!”
“Incidentally, Mamoru, did you see the currently popular ‘Maboroshi wo Kakenukeru Shoujo’!?”
“Jumping to something else again!? Eh, umm, ah. I saw this one. It was interesting.”
“How many times?”
“How many times did you watch it!?”
“Watch it five times, please. Otherwise, you cannot say it was interesting.”
“Isn’t the hurdle too high!?”
“No but, Mamoru, you cannot understand the whole story by only watching it onceーー”
“Ah, sorry, Serephina. I’m borrowing Mamoru.”
As I was overwhelmed by Serephina-san’s vigour, Gai excused himself and took me out.
“Ah, what are you doing, Gai! I am still explaining about ‘Maboroshi wo Kakenukeru Shoujo‘ to Mamoruーー”
“Guess what, Elko, I found a shop selling the complete set of ‘Koukaku Kidou Reidina’ you said you wanted before.”
Serephina-san still tried to speak to me, but another classmate called out to her and she turned his way. She started to get hyped talking about manga. … Good grief. Anyway, I was saved.
By the way, ‘Elko’ was Serephina-san’s nickname. Like we did with Kisshi, she’s an elf and a girl, so Elko. It’s really simple, but it established itself in Itoku before we knew it.
“It’s nothing. But, to think she would fall that deep…”
Yeah, it was unexpected.
“Or rather, where did the Elf tribe honour go?”
“Looks like it was blown far away. Should be a star now.”
A really miserable conversation.
“Speaking about elves people imagine noble persons you can’t approach, but it’s a rather extreme change.”
When I was about to walk out in the corridor with Gai, Kadona suddenly peered into the classroom.
“She changed too much and is now a different person. As if she reincarnated. … Oh well, thanks to that she’s blending in the class, so I’m glad.”
“Isn’t she blending too much? What’s more she going deeper and deeper… It feels like she fell too much and won’t be able to go back.”
There was nothing to object.
“What Mamoru told her influenced her in various ways. As expected of the class president.”
Gai tapped my shoulder and laughed lightly.
“No, rather than my influence, I think it’s more like Elko always had it in her and it just bloomed…”
Seems like no matter the world, Otaku are everywhere.
You don’t become one, you just awaken one day.
“I see, this chapter really had this meaning! If you read it only once you think it’s just slice of life, but it is not! Which reminds me, in his previous work the author skillfully set up a device, and it was used in an unexpected way in the second half. Truly a God! A God Mangaka!”
A little away from us, a classmate and Elko, who was striking a desk in excitement, were talking together.
And like this ーー A new friend was added to Itoku.