A Job and an Idea
Ryo: Happy anniversary! (pops a party cracker)
Touma: That surprised me.
Haruka: What are you talking about? Whose anniversary is it?
Minami: I do not know either.
Torao: There’s confetti on my hair…
Tsukumo: Come on, now! Can you guys act more excited? Let’s do it again.
Touma: Oddly enough, you sure are energetic today, aren’t you?
Ryo: HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! YAAAAY!
Ryo: WOO! LOUDER, GUYS!
Ryo: Why are you celebrating even though you don’t know what’s going on? If you’re that easily carried away, sellers of lucky jars* can easily make you buy from them you know? Are you okay with that?
Torao: A lucky jar, eh? Sounds interesting. So, what’s going? Is it your birthday today?
Haruka: Is that so? How old are you now?
Ryo: Twenty five.
Minami: And now you are lying about your age. I did not know you also have a human side, Ryo-san.
Touma: Huh? Then shouldn’t we be saying “happy birthday”? What does it have to do with an anniversary?
Ryo: You guys know that big shopping mall called Sorairo, right?
Haruka: Ohhh. That mall established in the city centre several years ago…
Ryo: Yes, that place. They were expecting they would attract a lot of customers but it didn’t really stand out as much as they expected. They’ll be celebrating their 4th anniversary and will be doing a renewal opening.
Torao: They’re already gonna renew after four years? Isn’t that too fast?
Minami: It is most probably because they were not able to achieve the results they wanted. Perhaps they want to boost promotions and reform the business as early as possible.
Ryo: Exactly. Instead of slowly ebbing away, they’d rather rise from the dead like a zombie.
Touma: Now that’s a harsh way of putting things.
Ryo: It seems that on their 4th anniversary, they’ll do everything to market the mall even if it means using a big deal of budget. Regardless of whether or not they can gain the money back, it seems that they’re giving it their all in promotions. They were looking for celebrities who’d be a good representation of a 4th anniversary, so they decided to drag ZOOL along.
Haruka: They’re celebrating their 4th anniversary, right? We’ve just debuted though.
Ryo: You might not be celebrating your 4th year anniversary as ZOOL, but hasn’t it been four years since you first met each other?
Haruka: No. We didn’t meet four years ago.
Touma: We’re talking about four years ago, right? We never encountered each other at all.
Ryo: Oh come on, don’t say that. Just remember. Torao, you were in high school four years ago, right? What were you doing back then?
Torao: I was the student council president.
Touma, Haruka, Minami: You’ve got to be kidding me.
Torao: But I’m not!
Touma: Oh come on, Tora. Don’t make up your own story just like what Ryo-san does. You’ll get strangled later.
Torao: I’ll be the one strangling you later. I was a model student. Is it really that unbelievable?
Ryo: (taking down notes) Okay…so Torao was the student council president of a prestigious school…
Torao: What the hell are you writing down?
Ryo: There’s no way I’m showing this to you. How about you, Haruka? Can you tell me what you were doing four years ago?
Haruka: Me? There’s this church in our neighborhood and I was part of that church’s choir.
Touma, Minami, Torao: You’ve got to be kidding me.
Torao: I didn’t know you were such a good boy.
Minami: How adorable.
Touma: I wanna see Haru wearing a choir dress. Do you have a photo?
Haruka: I don’t. It wasn’t really anything special. A lot of kids in the neighborhood were part of the choir too.
Torao: (taking down notes) Haruka was a member of a church choir. How about you, Minami?
Minami: I was an actor in “The Cursed Snake in the Mirror.”
Touma: Ohhh, I know that. That was a hit horror movie, right?
Torao: I was too scared that I never watched it.
Haruka: I would close my eyes whenever an ad of that movie showed up.
Minami: Here is a photo of me during that time.
Touma, Haruka, Torao: (shocked)
Touma: That’s so scary. Is that really you, Mina? Were you wearing prosthetic makeup?
Torao: No human can ever do a facial expression like that.
Minami: (chuckles) What an honor. The last scene of this movie is actually quite famous. Would you like to watch it?
Haruka: No thanks. We’ve had enough. At this rate, I won’t even be able to go to the toilet tonight.
Ryo: I feel you~ Even going to the bathroom feels scary, right? When I close my eyes while taking a shower, I can’t help but imagine things– What if there’s a pale woman reflected in the mirror? What if there’s a creepy child staring at me? What if there was a shadow on the windows?–
Haruka: Stop narrating horror scenarios! That’s so insensitive of you.
Ryo: Huh? Haruka, someone’s behind you…
Haruka: STOP IT.
Ryo: (evil chuckle) Okay, noted on that. So…Minami was in a film shooting… How about you, Touma?
Touma: I was a member of NO_MAD. I went to school too, so I can say I was similar to how Haru is now.
Haruka: Is that so…?
Touma: What’s with that reaction? Being a student is an important and fun period of one’s life.
Ryo: Huh? What about those who didn’t have fun?
Torao: There’s no way you weren’t able to have fun. If you simply go with the flow, you’d get a girlfriend, leave a legacy in your club, and live a fulfilled life.
Haruka: We’re not like you who’s a student council president living an ideal life.
Minami: I also do not have any fun memories about school. I was too busy with work that I wasn’t able to go to there much. Hence, I cannot recall anything I would consider a memorable experience.
Torao: Is that so?
Minami: Yes. When I went to school after being absent for a long period of time, I received plenty of valentine chocolates to the point where I felt sorry for those who gave them.
Haruka: Don’t you consider that as a fun student life?!
Touma: Haru, Haru! You know what? I got lots of chocolates too! After all, I was already an idol back then!
Haruka: Who cares?! Even I have received valentine chocolates before!
Touma, Torao, Minami: From whom?
Haruka: …Not telling.
Touma, Torao, Minami: How cute.
Ryo: How about I replace your valentine memories with a traumatic memory of me making chocolates for you this year?
Touma: Don’t ruin the mood by saying something scary.
Ryo: A student council president, a choir member, an actor and an idol. Four years ago, the four of you, who were living in separate worlds, met each other by coincidence. Do you still remember who the vice president was, Torao?
Torao: The vice president? There were two of them. Which one are you talking about?
Ryo: The taller one.
Torao: Oh. Yup.
Ryo: The truth is, when you went on a date with that girl, the park where you went also happened to be one of the shooting venues of “The Cursed Snake in the Mirror.”
Minami: Really? Were you there?
Torao: No. Also, the vice presidents were guys. We never had a date in a park.
Minami: May I ask what you are trying to do, Ryo-san? What hoax are you attempting to create?
Ryo: Wait a sec. Next is Haruka! Haruka, who was a choir member and dreams of becoming an idol, attended a concert by NO_MAD, whom he admires very much.
Touma: Really? You should’ve told me that earlier! I’m happy to hear that.
Haruka: …That’s not true. I’ve never been to a NO_MAD concert.
Touma: Huh? So I was feeling happy for no reason?! Stop making stories up, Ryo-san. We didn’t meet each other four years ago.
Ryo: Yes, that’s the truth.
Haruka: I knew it.
Minami: Of course, we knew that from the beginning.
Torao: Aww. It would’ve been nice if we really met four years ago as if it were destined to happen.
Minami: You’re such a romanticist, Mido-san.
Torao: You don’t believe in destiny, and yet you call yourself a fortune-teller?
Minami: While I do believe in destiny, I do not believe the members of ZOOL met because of it.
Ryo: We should just fabricate a story then. After all, we received a job for a 4th anniversary celebration.
Touma: Don’t do that! We’ll end up letting them down if they find that out. I don’t want to ruin their anniversary.
Ryo: But we live in a world of lies. It wasn’t Thomas Edison who invented the light bulb, and Apollo never landed on the moon.
Minami: Do not take Ryo-san too seriously.
Ryo: It would cause a big ruckus if we cancel the job at this point. It would be better to just make a story up no matter how forced it may sound. Do you have any ideas?
Torao: I don’t think I can help you with that.
Haruka: A student council president, a choir member, an actor, and an idol…
Touma: Hmm…how about this? You were my fans, and then–
Haruka, Torao, Minami: I object.
Touma: But why?! Don’t you think that scenario is realistic and easy to expound on?
Haruka: But it’s unfair that only you get to have the spotlight.
Minami: I am not willing to be told that my music is influenced by NO_MAD’s songs. Our styles are definitely different.
Torao: And imagine being told “So you were fans of Inumaru-san? What a surprise!” by interviewers.
Touma: (grunts) What story should we make then?
Haruka: How about meeting coincidentally somewhere outside? You know, like, we happened to be sharing the same table at a restaurant.
Touma: That sounds like a nice idea!
Torao: But I don’t eat at fast food restaurants.
Minami: I do not go to fast food restaurants that much, either.
Touma: Hmm…how about a cafe?
Haruka: But juice at cafes costs at least 300 yen. There’s no way middle schoolers would go there.
Touma: You’ve got a point. This made me realize how there really is almost no reason for the four of us to meet each other four years ago.
Haruka: Now that you mention it…
Minami: That may be the case.
Torao: Tell me about it.
Ryo: Meeting someone is a miracle, which is why you should be thankful to the person who made you meet each other. And that person was me. Hmm…I can’t come up with any good ideas either. I give up. Let’s just settle with whatever story we can think of. How about a school rivalry?
Torao: A school rivalry?!
Ryo: Touma, who is a gang leader, picks a fight with a rival school.
Touma: Gang leader?! We’re taking about 4 years ago, not 40 years ago!
Ryo: Haruka is your girlfriend’s younger brother.
Haruka: Huh? Don’t create an older sister for me all of a sudden.
Ryo: And then, Torao is the student council president of the rival school. But little do people know that he’s a delinquent and gang leader.
Torao: Now that’s funny but kinda fits my image.
Ryo: Minami is the rival school’s sukeban*. And he refers to himself as “atai.”*
Minami: What is a sukeban?
Ryo: Alright! Let’s go with that story.
Touma: Really? Is this really okay?!
Haruka: But I don’t have an older sister!
Ryo: You have one. I met her before.
Torao: Stop confusing the kid, Ryo-san.
Haruka: Oh, so it was just a lie, huh? It was a lie…right?
Minami: Ryo-san, what do you mean by “referring to myself as atai”?
Ryo: We now have a story so I’m counting on you for Sorairo’s renewal opening event, okay?
End of chapter 1
While I’m not sure if it happens in real life, in the animes I watch, sometimes there are people who sell jars that are claimed to bring you good fortune and are sold at an unreasonably high price.
sukeban – leader of a female gang
atai – In anime and dramas, atai is a first person pronoun used by female gangsters or women with a very rough personality. (There’s a long history about this pronoun and years ago it was used differently but this is how it is commonly used in today’s fictional works.)
The Cursed Snake in the Mirror – While there weren’t much details given about the movie, I’m guessing it has something to do with the Japanese belief that killing a snake will curse you. Also, a character in Minami’s name, 巳 , means “snake.” This tells us that Minami is probably the snake in the movie.
I knew it. Haruka is an angel.