Same Day, 10:45 A.M. (Same Classroom)

It was break time.

“Akki, I wish to speak with you.”

It wasn’t my sister but the student council vice-president with her trademark blonde hair and poker face (Later I found out that Akiko’s next lesson was PE, so she didn’t have time to play around here.)

“Um, about what, Nasuhara-san?”

“There’s an old general store, called ‘Elegant Wisteria’, on the route to this academy. They sell a diverse selection of goods, ranging from sweets and bentos up to their considerable collection of stationary. It’s an old general store frequented by students of Liliana. It appears, however, that the couple in charge have disagreements almost daily. It seems they quarreled today as well. Akki, what’s your honest position on this matter?”

“…I honestly think fighting isn’t good.”

“I see. Fighting is undesirable.”

“Also, I don’t think you need to be worried about this.”

“Well, that’s quite the thing to say. Even though I graciously introduced this extremely hot topic to Liliana Academy, you reply with no hint of gratitude or respect whatsoever.”

“No, errr, it’s just… Something like this isn’t a big deal, you know? It’s like a story about some foreign affairs minister fighting with his wife after she finds out about his affair.”

“I wonder, did something of that sort happen?”

“Errr, no, that was just an example. My point is that your story wasn’t worth worrying about.”

“Perhaps, but even if it’s not worrying for you, don’t you think it is for the people involved?”

“Errr, well, maybe, but—”

“Remember the wife at Elegant Wisteria? Apparently, this time she couldn’t take it anymore, so she ran off with the store’s official seal and all the money on hand. Her current whereabouts are unknown.”

“Eh? Isn’t that kinda serious?”

“And the husband was very displeased when he found out, so he ran off with the store’s deed… His current whereabouts are also unknown.”

“…Sounds like a lawsuit’s underway, doesn’t it?”

“Additionally, the couple had a child who only just graduated from kindergarten, and they left him all alone in the store. Both of them have abandoned their duties as parents, and it looks like he doesn’t have any other relatives either.”

“That’s incredibly serious!”

Is the kid alright?!

The police and child services are doing what they’re ought to, right?!

“Um, so what happened to the kid? How’s he going to survive on his own now?”

“Who knows? I wonder what happened to him.”

“’Wonder what happened’, huh… So you don’t know what happened afterwards?”

“No. I know what happened.”

“If you know, then tell me!”

“Curious?”

“Of course I’m curious! You stopped at the juicy part!”

“I see. Well then, if you swear absolute obedience and loyalty to me, then perhaps I wouldn’t mind telling you.”

“Isn’t that deal a bit too much for just a rumor?”

“Then promise to become formally engaged with me.”

“The terms are getting more severe though.”

“As always, you drive a hard bargain… I suppose I’ll have to be content with less. Becoming my sex slave will do.”

“Um, sorry. I can’t agree to something that unreasonable.”

“Unfortunately, this is as far as I can compromise. I can’t go any lower.”

“Eh? What part just now was a compromise…?”

“Please don’t concern yourself over such a trivial matter.”

Completely ignoring my humble protests, Nasuhara-san took the seat in front of me. This seemed to be her natural seat, but it wasn’t. It belonged to my classmate, Nanigashi-san.

“How’s your health faring, Akki?”

“Errr, well, I’m doing fine, but why did you suddenly switch gears and call it a ‘trivial matter’?”

“Ascertaining your health is far more important than irrelevant gossip. That gossip isn’t related to us anyway.”

“…I feel like that’s the complete opposite of what you said before, though.”

“At any rate, isn’t the weather lovely?”

Shifting her gaze to the window, Nasuhara-san changed the subject again.

By the way, today was cloudy, and, according to the forecast, there was a sixty percent chance of rain.

“Seeing such fine weather makes me want to go on a picnic.”

“So you’re insisting on calling it good, huh…? It’s fine, I’ll play along. Hm, let’s see. Well, a picnic sounds pretty nice. The cherry blossom season’s almost over, and the temperature will rise soon – a picnic would be quite timely.”

“Well then, why don’t we depart at once?”

“Eh?”

“For the picnic. It’s a timely event, isn’t it?”

“No no no, that’s absurd. We still have school, you know?”

I might not consider myself an honor student, but I certainly wasn’t going to ditch school and run off like some sort of hot shot. And besides, the weather was only going to get worse.

“You might say that, Akki, but there’s a saying that there’s no time like the present, you know? Also, considering the saying, ‘A horse comes from a gourd.’[1] Isn’t it true something you claim is absurd can suddenly become reality?”

“Errr, well, that aside, I’m still not sure about skipping school. We’re student council members, so actually doing something like that is a bit… you know?”

“Do you know the saying, ‘Lose a fly to catch a trout’?”

“No, I know what it means, but how is it related to skipping school for a picnic? By the way, look around; the whole class can hear us. If we keep talking like this, they’ll get the wrong idea, right?”

“Incidentally, isn’t there also a saying that goes, ‘Truth comes out of falsehood’?”

“Give up already!”

It seemed like she randomly came up with that talk about picnics on the spot.

I mean, when she came here it looked like she had something to talk about. Shouldn’t she have something more important to say?

“No matter how unrelated, any saying goes, doesn’t it?”

With her usual poker face, she continued, unperturbed by my cold gaze.

“Going against the flow and utterly refusing to picnic; it’s not like the world will end if you go. Act like an adult and go picnic.”

“…You’re using some pushy logic.”

“Is that so? This is only because it’s a pain persuading you.”

“If it’s that much of a pain, why don’t you act like an adult and give up?”

“I can’t do that. Besides, you’re half the reason our conversation got to this point, Akki. If you consider yourself a man, take responsibility.”

“Er… No matter how you look at it, it’s 100 percent your fault that things have come to this.”

“If you won’t go on a picnic, then you’ll just have to die.”

“Threatening me all of a sudden?!”

She was as crazy as ever.

It was almost like a child would say, ‘If you don’t buy me candy, then you’ll die!’.

“It’s because persuading you is a pain.”

“It’s a pain, huh? Please stop saying things like that… It’s especially scary when you say it with that emotionless expression of yours.”

“Well then, if you refuse to go on a picnic with me, then I’ll scribble in all of your textbooks.”

“Huh… Your threats are suddenly on a smaller scale.”

“I’ll draw mustaches on the photographs of important people in your history textbook.”

“So you not only lowered the scale, but you’re getting cliché.”

“Then how about this? I’ll write your name in all of your textbooks. Your full name.”

“Then I’ll be able to find my textbooks if I lose them.”

I think that would be a rather nice thing to do, wouldn’t it? Especially since I wasn’t the type of person who’d write their names in their textbooks.

Incidentally, my sister was the type who wrote her name on everything she owned.

“At any rate, no means no. I just transferred here, so I don’t want to embarrass myself. Look, everyone’s giving us weird looks because we’re having this pointless talk, right? That’s quite painful for someone like me, you know?”

“I see. It’s unpleasant to go on a picnic with me no matter what.”

“I didn’t go as far as ‘no matter what’ though. Skipping school is absolutely out of question. That’s all.”

“I-It’s not like I wanted to go with you on a picnic or anything, okay?!”

“Wha—?! Please don’t yell so passionately all of a sudden. Plus, it’s just wrong when you deviate that far from your character.”

“I-It’s not like I wanted to go with you on a picnic or anything, okay?!”

“Errr, no, you don’t need to say it twice. But I mean, I don’t mind if you didn’t want to go. I have no problem with that.”

“You don’t understand, Akki. This is the ‘tsundere’.”

“Yeah… tsundere, you say?”

“Correct. In truth, my desire to picnic with you is so great, it’s unbearable, but I lack the ability to honestly express those feelings. I tried to play that character.”

“Right…”

But what timing. Akiko also seemed to have talked about something similar.

Could this tsundere thing be a secret boom among the student council members?

“There are a lot more people than I thought who can’t be honest with their feelings.”

Nasuhara-san said.

“If I can add more, not being very good at speaking their mind and instead needing others to sense the situation – for the Japanese with that characteristic, tsundere is just another national illness.”

“I think you’re exaggerating a bit though…”

“Plus, when people sympathize with the ill around them, we call this kindness. It’s the same with tsunderes. Therefore, Akki, you should also have more sympathy for tsunderes.”

“Hm, is that so? Well, I’ll try my best then.”

“By the way, I don’t like your little sister at all.”

“Yep. that’s not tsundere.”

“I-It’s not as if I like your littler sister or anything, okay?!”

“Yep. Even though you’re talking like a tsundere, I can’t feel any goodwill coming from you.”

“By the way, I think Gin-Gin is really cute.”

“Yeah, that’s what everyone thinks once they’ve seen her up close.”

“I-I want to pet Gin-Gin’s head and dress her in cute clothing because she always dresses plain, a-and It’d be nice if I had occasional pajama parties with her in the dead of the night, I guess?!”

“Aren’t you just blatantly showing your true colors now?!”

“By the way, I respect the student council president from the bottom of my heart.”

“But you don’t really mean that, right?”

“I-I really think the student council president is a scoundrel, alright?!”

“Yep: that’s what you really think.”

Basically, Nasuhara-san set up one joke after another for me, and I kept on reacting.

Rather, am I someone fit for this? The president would probably go along with it easily, Ginbei would probably bail out soon after, and Akiko, well… she probably wouldn’t have this kind of talk with Nasuhara-san in the first place.

“Sigh. Well, that’s enough, isn’t it?”

While I was really surprised at her reaction, Nasuhara-san nodded in satisfaction.

“That was good. You passed the audition.”

“Huh? What audition?”

“The audition for the new duo we’ll form.”

“A duo audition? But it didn’t seem like one at all.”

“Today, I persisted in being unreasonable to you, and I confess it was a magnificent ploy to evaluate your tsukkomi sense.”

“Eh? Weren’t you as absurd as usual?”

“You know, Akkii… I’ve been thinking.”

Nasuhara-san nodded repeatedly and ignored me.

“You know I’ve already confirmed your sense of comedy, right?”

“Well, yeah. You did say something like that.”

“I considered introducing you to the Kansai Comedy Duo Association, but you did not seem especially enthusiastic when I brought it up.”

“Well, yeah. I don’t intend to live off of comedy.”

When she had first said it, I had thought the whole introduction talk was joke.

Normally, you wouldn’t expect to hear Nasuhara Industries’ daughter and the Kansai Comedy Duo Association in the same sentence.

“However, on further consideration, it became apparent that permitting your talent to be buried would be far too regrettable. I wish for the world to recognize your talent… And, therefore, I’ve been thinking about how I might accomplish this every day.”

“Well, I’m happy that you’re praising me, but don’t you think you’re overestimating me here?”

“I’m not overestimating anything.”

“Is that really so?”

“It is. You possess extraordinary talent. There’s no mistake.”

“Hmm… You’d really help me out if you could be more specific. What kind of extraordinary talent are you sensing?”

“If I say it’s there, then it’s there. But in any event, we can’t go on if you continue with that indecisiveness of yours. Please make up your mind.”

Uwa.

This kid gave up on explaining it.

“Anyway, after some thought, I arrived at a certain conclusion. You can’t become popular as a solo comedian, but by forming a duo with me, we should be able to refine each other’s talents. And since that’s the case, you’ll gladly accept my offer for sure, no?”

“…It’s a naive question, but even if I did form a duo with you, why do you think I’d take the road of comedy in the first place?”

“That goes without saying. The idea of forming a combi with someone of my degree of talent is exceedingly attractive even to those only vaguely acquainted with comedy. You can’t refuse under these conditions.”

“By the way, I don’t think you have that much talent.”

“How rude. I’ll choke the life out of you.”

“…Isn’t your boiling point pretty low today?”

She told me that without any change in expression, so that joke didn’t seem like a joke.

“Your remark aside, you and I are henceforth a duo.”

“That pushy again…”

“I also thought about our name. How is [Ana and Akkii[2]]?”

“Isn’t that kind of name terrible?”

It didn’t sound good at all, not to mention it wasn’t clever either. I don’t even think we could make it in the world of comedy with that kind of name.

“Well, you’re free to propose your own suggestions. It won’t be too late to make a final decision after I’ve heard them.”

“No, I don’t have any ideas myself, you see? Rather, I never gave you my consent to begin with.”

“Well then, I should take my leave.”

While completely ignoring my objection, Nasuhara-san stood up.

“If we combine our talents, we’ll have the world of Kansai comedy at our mercy. Let’s give it our all.”

“…Somehow it’s getting bothersome to deny each thing you say…”

“Ah. By the way, I wonder if you wouldn’t mind having the picnic next weekend?”

“You’re still dragging that out?! Wait, then that wasn’t just a joke for my audition?!”

“Fufu. Good response.”

I had stood up and tsukkomi’ed without thinking. Nasuhara-san smiled faintly.

“As expected of the man that I have high hopes for. If we polish that tsukkomi, the day we’ll conquer the living rooms isn’t far.”

“…Ah, no. I didn’t mean to do that just now.”

“Don’t try to hide your true self from me – it’s impossible. I can tell that your desire for comedy is carved into your DNA. Your tsukkomi is inborn and you can’t run from it.”

“Muu…”

That couldn’t be true, but even if I thought that, I couldn’t deny that she had successfully lured me into tsukkomi’ing.

Hm. Am I unexpectedly dancing in Nasuhara-san’s palm?

“Well now. I’ll be leaving for real this time.”

Nasuhara-san said and turned on her heel again.

When I thought that, she turned towards me yet again.

“By the way, there’s one more thing I’d like to ask.”

“…What could there still be?”

“I wonder, how would you address me?”

“Eh? Nasuhara-san, right? Nasuhara Anastasia.”

“I wonder why, even though I’ve begged you countless times to call me Ana while reduced to tears, you still refuse to grant my wish? If you continue to not comply, I’ll exchange all your trunks with briefs.”

“…I’m in the trunks faction, but it’s not like briefs are a no-go for me. I don’t mind if it’s just that much.”

“But all of the cloth for those briefs is recycled from my used underwear.”

“Please don’t!”

If she did that, wouldn’t something restlessly stir between my legs? I’m a male high school teenager going through puberty right now, after all.

“Fufu. An adequate reaction. Even unrefined as it is now, it isn’t bad at all, but if you want to take it up a notch, tsukkomi techniques alone won’t suffice, you also need to study how to appeal to simpler emotions.”

Nasuhara-san said, nodding in satisfaction. She left, and this time for real.

Really, she’s doing whatever she wants, like always.

With these events piling up, it goes without saying that I’m feeling even more out of place in this class now…

 

And also, about the story Nasuhara-san had come up with as a joke: the variety store matter.

From my later investigations, it seemed the abandoned kid was very capable. Even though he was young, he made use of various connection, tracked down his parents, brought them back, and made them reconcile. He also made them prostrate themselves for abandoning their duty as his parents. Even though parents raise and look after their kids, they don’t always take after them, it seemed—— I didn’t know whether it was a good ending or not, but it definitely wasn’t a bad one – so I was relieved.

 

Translator notes and references

[1]Means that something unexpected happens or that something is said as a joke.

[2]Lit. means “Hole and nasty smell”.