Chapter 1:

Chikako's Arrival

Paradise on Earth

Some would say sitting in class near the window would be uniquely distracting, but in my experience, not more so than anywhere else. The advantage of window seats is that, if you are sitting close enough, you can see the ground. The ground is where life happens. It’s where students who are late can be seen franticly rushing in, and where birds perched on the trees sing as the cherry blossoms fall around them. Even on cloudy days like this one, life happens on the ground. If you’re not at the window, then you find yourself staring into a grey empty void as I did for so much of my first year.

Now, after being stuck in the middle of the classroom my first four semesters—I get to sit in the back by the window. I can understand why anime tends to put the main character back here. After all, you can put some visual metaphors outside the window, and the MC is in a good spot to see any other character in the room, so if you need to look at anyone you can still do it from their point of view.

Speaking of looking at other people, the new exchange student keeps passing glances at me while she’s giving her introduction. What’s her deal? I’m trying to mind my business over here by staring out the window at nothing. She’s looking at me as if I’m sitting over here with my underwear on my head. Up to this point, all that seemed to happen was Mr. Matsumoto establishing that the new girl was supposed to introduce herself in the same way any new student is supposed to.

“Good morning,” she said, slightly shaken because of whatever I was doing. “It’s nice to meet you all. My name is Chikako Nori. I look forward to learning with everyone.” I looked to read the name sitting behind her on the blackboard, with the neat lettering I’m going to assume she probably wrote it. Interesting that it’s spelled with the character for knowledge and not love or something. Maybe because having a name like “love, love” would be too much for a single person to handle. I mean maybe she could, she has to be at least 172cm or something because she’s tall enough to rival Mr. Matsumoto, and with me it’s not even a joke.

Anyway, she bows and takes to her seat in the row to my right close to the front. As first period begins, I look out the window again, thinking to myself how weird that non-encounter was. I swear she was looking at me, not that I necessarily minded too much of course, I won’t lie she is a pretty girl. With feminine pixie cut like a model’s and cute features that fill out her face, I would’ve been flattered if she was looking at me for the right reasons.

Not that I necessarily desire to talk to her though, I want to have an easy and comfortable high school life. I’m going to focus on entrance exams anyway, so I don’t really see a reason to try super hard in school or anything; stable is a good way to describe my academic record but nothing special.

Honestly—what I really want is normalcy and talking to Nori would probably be anything but normal given my luck with girls this last year.


“You can’t be serious,” Daitan asks me with a pointed look.

I finish my rice and ask back, chopsticks in hand, “What do you mean? You saw her walk up to me, you saw her talk to me, and you saw her walk four seats back up to her desk. I’m just telling you what she said.”

“But…” she rolls her eyes and exhales. “I just can’t believe that girl, who looks like a K-popstar, would immediately dash out of her seat at the start of lunch to ask if you’ve met before because you seem important. Do you even know her?”

“No but, you never know. Maybe she recognizes what a stable and dependable guy I am?”

“Yeah, if by dependable you mean dependably argue that Lode Neass is better than Sindam Bleed for three hours, then I guess.” She remarks as she closes her bento box.

“Sukazu is a better Arika any day of the week and you know it!”

“My point stands, you’re an idiot.”

After that lovely comment, the teacher for fifth period walks in. Beginning class and thus ending another one of my amazing conversations with the rarely expressive, silver haired beauty Honoka Daitan who sits two seats to my right.

Honoka Daitan is a girl who moved to Kanto from Yamanashi Prefecture two years ago. I think her parents owned a tourist trap or something like that, and when they got divorced, her Dad decided to move to Tokyo to be closer with Daitan’s grandparents. Daitan doesn’t really have a reputation at my school unlike some of the other people I know. In fact, normally she is extremely quiet and keeps to herself. The only reason I talk to Daitan in the first place is because when my ex-best friend Hiroshi Kazuma went on a date with her last year (which went terribly by the way), he somehow convinced her to continue being friends. I personally would never deny any help in clowning on Kazuma, so we also became friends very quickly. Kazuma moved to Tokushima last summer and stopped talking to me for some reason, but Daitan and I never stopped associating with each other.

Good ol’ Daitan.

Cool-mint Daitan.

Usually unfriendly Daitan.

Did I mention she’s a loli?

I should’ve made fun of her for being a loli again.

Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, after I got to see her in a swimsuit during the daytrip to the beach, I developed a new appreciation as to what petite bodies can look like in real life. Maybe flat is justice after all? I wish I could ask Kazuma he would’ve gotten a kick out of that.

Oh, and also—


That was the color of her swimsuit in case you were curious.

It went well with her chin-length hair that goes past her ears like a straight line.

Very cute.


“Sato… Mr. Junichiro Sato!” I hear from a very familiar snarky voice, “look up!”

I raise my head after trying to map out what my schedule will be for the day since school just ended, only to receive the toe of a dark brown shoe directly into my frontal lobe. Sending me flying out of my chair and into the wall at the back of the class, eventually leading me to the floor.

That tells me it can only be Setsuko Yasashiku, not that I doubted the voice could be from anyone else. Most could only dream to have the leg strength that girl has.

“Sato!” I hear from my right. I can barely make out the image because my glasses fell off in the chaos, but with the white that I can only imagine being a shirt and the extraordinarily long darkness that I imagine to be her hair—I can easily guess that person to be Shizu Sachio.

I push myself onto my knees and rub my eyes. While I’m still kneeling, I reply, “It’s okay, I’m fine. It would honestly be weird if I didn’t receive physical violence from class prez at least once every three days.”

“I’m glad you understand,” I hear from Yasashiku above me. “If I didn’t, then your heart would stop beating and your ears would be full of wax because apparently, you’re hard of hearing.”

“I mean when you don’t show up for a fifth of the year it’s hard to tell the difference between your voice and an earthquake siren,” I say as I try looking for my glasses.

“What was that!?” she demands, as she slams what I assume to be her foot down on the chair in front of her.

“N-nothing!” I shoot up to say. “I was just saying how lost I would be without you!”

“I thought so.”


I breathed a sigh of relief, only to have my breath stolen again when Sachio took my hand to give me my glasses. She sets the right temple in my right hand as a cue to grasp, along with my left hand which shortly follows suit. I use circular glasses with thin black wires, so they smudge really easily if I don’t hold them like that.

As I’m putting my glasses on, Sachio notes to me, “Don’t worry I cleaned them. Cleaning round lenses like yours is more difficult than you’d think, but I hope I did ok.”

As I look at Sachio with significantly more clarity than the fuzzy white and black blob I saw her as only a minute ago, I am greeted with a large toothless grin. Sachio is the type to mostly smile from the eyes anyway, it’s just even cuter when the smile is this big.

“You did wonderful Sachio, thank you,” I respond with a small smile of my own.

“I’m just glad you’re alright Sato.”

After spring break Sachio has been in much better spirits. In fact, at the beginning of the school year, she started pulling her bangs back and parting them in the middle slightly, while keeping her side bangs the way they were. Not only exposing her pale forehead, which is larger than you would initially assume, but also making her look even more like a certain female rakugo storyteller than she already did. She also started coming to school more, by that I mean ceased to be absent 80% of the time. Maybe that night she spent at my place near the beginning of spring break had something to do with it, who knows really?

Now with perfect vision, I look up to face Yasashiku who is giving me this dirty look. She is still sitting on top of the desk in front of mine with her thick legs still crossed as I expected—along with her pumpkin hair tied into pigtails, betraying what should be an intimidating figure. She is also wearing the long-sleeved button up for our standard school uniforms but has tucked in the sleeves to her elbows, pairing it along with the school standard dark blue skirt with plaid light blue stripes makes her look powerful at the very least. As I’m standing up, she continues to give me this indignant look like I forgot to change my shoes at the front door or something.

“Don't get any more of your filth in my classroom, okay?”

“What did I do!? I just looked at you!”

“With how often I’ve stepped on you I would assume you have a thing for dirty feet.”

“At what point did this 'stepping' take place!? Kicking me in the face is not stepping!”

"I'll kick you somewhere else if you keep talking like that!"


This girl sometimes.

I mean if she was “worried” about my heart stopping before it’s definitely working now.

I’ve stood up and everything.

Yasashiku makes a “Hmph” sound with a satisfied smile on her face, I think that’s a good thing? Then she asks me, “So, are you still going to go watch Kaiyo practice today?”

Given that her red glasses are on and that I hadn’t told her this information, she most likely read my schedule draft while I was scrambling on the floor. I don’t know what Yasashiku’s deal is, out of everyone else I know I probably give her my attention the most.

“Uh..yes? I wrote it down in my schedule for a reason after all. Kaiyo likes it when I’m there, she says she’s better at practice. And with how much time you guys take up I have to fit my hobbies in somehow,” I remark as I point at both Yasashiku and Sachio who has stood up at this point.

“Oh, is that how you feel?” Sachio responds while looking down.

She looks so despondent, stuff like this happens from time to time since Sachio is quite sensitive. Something I seem to occasionally forget when we’re in conversation. Unlike Yasashiku who fires back, Sachio waves the white flag.

“I mean, it's not a bad thing! I love talking to you all! I wouldn’t trade any of you for anything, even the world!” I say as I emphatically point my index finger toward the heavens. Or in this case, the ceiling since I’m not sure where in the sky the heavens would actually be.

Sachio gives me one of her trademarked fatigued smiles, “Well, if that’s how you honestly feel then… okay.”

I glance over at Yasashiku who’s looking out the window, now with her arms crossed along with her legs, and she's… red in the face?

Not as red as her glasses which she took off, but still.

What does that mean?

I ask, “Are you okay?”

“Of course,” she snaps back. “I just have a hard time handling how cringy and stupid you are sometimes.”

I roll my eyes, “Whatever you say.”

Suddenly, as if we were spoken to by a nervous apparition, we hear a, “Um… excuse me.”

All three of us turn to face Chikako Nori who had been apparently watching us act like lunatics for the last few minutes. I also realized how I should probably go soon, so I get my things ready while Nori continues talking.

“It’s nice to meet everyone. I was wondering if I could come to the gym with you guys? I don’t really know the school very well and I heard the volleyball program is really good here,” Nori says. She is speaking a lot more timidly now than when she was more casually talking to me earlier today. Which I can partially understand—Yasashiku would probably dropkick anyone: man, or woman, or child, regardless of nationality or legal status if she felt threatened enough. But she’s not an evil snake god or anything, she’s not that mean.

Yasashiku asks before anyone has a chance to—with the tact of someone who’s skeptical and maybe slightly irritated but is also trying to be nice, “Hi, Nice to meet you Nori. I’m sure my friends wouldn’t necessarily mind, but—why didn’t you ask me earlier?”

Wait she considers us friends?

When the hell did this happen?

Did some shift in the solar system happen in the last two minutes?

Nori begins to look even more nervous than before and asks, “What do you mean?”

“Well, I’d thought Mr. Matsumoto would have told you by now but I’m Setsuko Yasashiku, the class president. You could’ve asked me during lunch to show you where the gym is, I’m sure nobody would've cared as long as we stayed on campus and didn’t break anything. So, I’ll ask again since making new students feel welcome is one of my responsibilities, why didn’t you come to me?”

Yasashiku is being weirdly serious, I’ve never seen her like this before at all. The question she asked was trying to be nice but came off cold and dangerous, like she was holding a dagger of ice and was waiting to strike.

Nori takes a breath to calm herself and says with greater confidence, “Uhm, I haven’t really played sports for a club before, and I didn’t plan on joining any sports teams when I moved here. But after hearing some of the girls in class talk about the volleyball team during lunch, I thought maybe it was time to try something new after all.”

She finished with a quiet smile like she escaped a lion’s den.

I don't think that’s an inaccurate allegory either.

Yasashiku thinks for a few seconds and then responds nonchalantly, “Makes sense to me, is everyone else okay with this?”

I pick up my bag as Sachio responds with, “I’m okay if Sato is okay with it.”

Putting all the pressure on me? Thanks guys.

I start walking backwards towards the door while giving my response, “Either way is good with me because while I’m not opposed to going with Nori, I don’t know if you guys have noticed but there has been a recent trend in the last year with—”

Suddenly, with my back, I hit what feels to be two bouncy balls. Whomever that pair is attached to then takes their arms and wraps them around me insanely tight, squeezing me in an intense bear hug. During which I hear, “Lil’ Juuuuuuuuuuun!” A name that didn’t surprise me at all given the current lack of oxygen in my body.

“Hello Madame Hayami!” I barely squeeze out of my lungs before I stop breathing altogether.

“Good afternoon Ms. President,” Yasashiku and Sachio both say as they begin walking towards both of us from across the room.

“Good afternoon everyone!” Hayami exclaims as she pokes her head out from behind my back and begins to loosen her grip ever so slightly, while continuing to hold on to me of course.

Now that she is no longer killing me Hayami asks everyone, “So what are you guys talking about? If it’s quick then maybe I can help?”

“Our new classmate Chikako Nori wanted to tag along with us as we walked to the gymnasium,” Yasashiku responds very matter of fact.

“Okay, is there a problem with that somehow?” Hayami questions sincerely.

More awkwardly than I think even she expected—Yasashiku replies that “Um… no. Not for me at least. I just wanted to know if Sato was okay with it.”

“Well of course Lil’ Jun would love to help a fellow student, right?” Hayami probes as she pushes her chest up against my back even more.

“heh heh, of course, I would love to! Anything for an up and coming member of our tight knit community! We’re like friends or even better, comrades!”

“I thought so,” Hayami states—as if she were just vindicated by a Japanese radio show host after they read her written testimony of her terrible landlord.

Anyway, she begins walking with me still in her arms a few steps forward towards everyone else. As she is doing this she says, “Well if that is everything, I’ll be off. Yasashiku, let me know if you need anythiiiiiiiiii—!”

While I normally would be concerned about whatever Hayami is yelling about, I realize it is about an experience we are both having at the same time. Only from my perspective, I fell backwards, eventually landing in soft darkness after being turned around.

We land with a loud thud on the floor and while I am worried if Hayami is okay I open my eyes to realize my stress is misplaced.

Mitsuru Hayami, my senior, and student council president. By far the most universally liked person in school, if not the most popular. She exudes this candid charisma wherever she goes, basically being able to resolve any conflict she encounters by listening to both sides and always responding with justice.

There was a famous case where she was able to convince the hot-headed captain of the girls’ Basketball team to start practicing outside whenever possible, even during palpably humid like this one; after an incident between them and the fists of some of the girls on the volleyball team during practice. At least as long as the perpetrators on the volleyball team were reprimanded, the team captain resigned, and they got the equipment from the school necessary to play outside. Hayami got all three things handled with seeming ease—they even built hoops and everything. Of course, doing so did cost the volleyball team four people, two of which were their best players. But all that really did was allow some of the benchwarmers the chance to get into a game, because our volleyball team is one of the few sports our school is genuinely good at. And in fact, moving outside during most of the year improved the basketball teams’ performance so dramatically that it became the second-best sport in our school. Somehow Hayami was able to create a scenario where everyone wins.

I met President Hayami last November due to a freak accident similar to this. And it just so happened that we ran into each other in a similar fashion enough times to become friends. It turns out Hayami likes playing MMORPG’s in her free time and wouldn’t you know it, I play the same ones. Hayami became a regular part of my life after that and participates in the friend group regularly.

Nevertheless, back to the important part.

“What do you mean ‘important part?’” One might reasonably ask.

Well, Hayami is rumored to have one of the biggest cup sizes in the school on top of everything else.

And I got to test that theory first hand I realized when I lifted my head to see what happened.

“S-s-s-sorry!” I say as I try to get directly off her and at least onto my hands and knees.

As I do successfully, I notice two things: One, her curly blonde hair spread about like an ocean across the floor, since I hadn’t realized just the sheer quantity that girl has. Two, her face, this kind of thing has happened a few times at this point just in different ways—her face always projects surprise and turns a light crimson, but there’s also something else there and I can’t quite put my finger on it.

It doesn’t really matter anyway since I hardly get a chance to think about it before everyone else reacts.

“Get off of our president you pervert!” I hear before feeling a sharp pain in my behind that sends me careening through the open door and into the hallway with a front flip, eventually squeaking across the linoleum floor into the wall.

I didn’t really feel like getting up after that, so I decided not to and just sat with the pain.

Well, more like lay on my side like a lifeless corpse, but you know.

By the time Nori and Sachio pick me up off the floor, the president was already accepting Yasashiku’s apology for my “dumbass behavior,” in her words.

It’s amazing that she and Hayami have such a casual relationship.

“Well, this was amusing, but it’s best that I be off. I have a meeting with the baseball team I need to get to anyhow,” the president remarks casually while turning to walk away.

“Have a good day Ms. President!” everyone says as Hayami saunters off.

Before getting too far she turns around and says back, “goodbye everyone!” She then turns to me and adds “See ya slime destroyer,” gives me a wink, and walks away.

I slowly turn my head only to be greeted by three confused faces and I’m sure a number of questions that I don’t really feel like answering today.

“Slime destroyer, really?” Yasashiku asks me.

“I’ve had it since I was 10 okay?”

“Ah, well I’m glad the age of the username reflects the mental age of the user.”

Everyone chuckles a little bit except for me.

I’m glad they got a kick out of that one.