Chapter 3:

Jin’s Afternoon

Paradise on Earth

Be it that I am walking home with her, I should probably contextualize my relationship with the current outside hitter of the girls’ volleyball team and my childhood friend Jin Kaiyo.

Jin Kaiyo, while still in the same grade as me, is on track to become one of the best outside hitters in the prefecture if not at least on the eastern side of Honshu. She used to play tennis in middle school, but after encountering the story of a certain orange haired volleyball player, she found herself deeply compelled “Within her very soul” to start playing volleyball when she got to high school.

And played she did, to the point where was able to earn the trust of the new team captain at a rate only normally seen in a sports manga. Who, to be fair, was a bit desperate for some positive energy after the basketball team fiasco the year prior. And boy, does Kaiyo bring energy in spades. Even watching her during practice I could tell she was restless, ready to spring into action at any moment like a playful cat. Except now she has her recently acquired, thin braided ponytail swaying back and forth as she bounces from one leg to the other. And, as I’m sure some are wondering, Sachio did make the comparison that Kaiyo was the kind of person to break her wrist and play the international game against Korea anyway.

You could almost argue she brings too much energy, because from my understanding after she gets home, she goes straight to bed after an hour or so—and by the time she wakes up she only has barely enough waking hours to study and keep her grades looking good. Though you wouldn’t be able to tell on the surface since her grades are better than mine, I have a high suspicion Kaiyo is a genius in denial.

Additionally, she can talk your ear off about whatever is going between Belarus and the EU or whatever. she apparently picked up an interest in politics during the three years of middle school we hardly spoke, and by hardly, I mean never. That happened because her mom moved to a different part of town, she went to a different middle school, and our parents had a falling out at some point.

Nevertheless, before middle school, Jin Kaiyo and I were basically inseparable. People often accused us of dating in fifth grade, but neither one of us pleaded to be in the same class all throughout elementary school, it just sort of happened and we continued talking because of it. It doesn’t hurt that my dad’s boss is Kaiyo’s mom, so we were around each other basically our whole lives before 7th grade.

Which is why we hadn’t even recognized each other initially when we reconnected last September. One morning while I was at my shoe locker, she bumped into me on accident and knocked my Trithorn wallet out of my hands. We both initially apologized and during the five seconds she picked up my wallet for me, she noticed the three triangles on the front and mentioned that she used to play Princess Twilight all the time with her childhood friend. Which to both of our surprise turned out to be me after a nostalgic conversation.

What surprised me the most about Kaiyo when we started talking again was not her personality, she was basically the same boyish gamer girl but older and more politically aware, what really surprised me is how much she changed visually since we last spoke.

Kaiyo was a very chubby kid when we grew up and much paler than she is currently, especially now because she was outside for so much of the summer. She also used to keep her hair extremely short to the dismay of her mom. But when I met her last year, she had grown it out just past her ears and now her hair unbraided reaches her lower back. She is also significantly thinner, to the point where you can almost see her ribs. It doesn’t seem to be affecting her performance though so I can assume the transformation occurred during the tennis phase.


Bphm-ts-kack-Bphm-Bphm-kack-Bphm-ts-ts-kack-Bphm-Bphm-Kack-tsh-tt-tsh-tt-tsh-tsh-tsh, hai!”

“Are you done?”

What you heard was not a bug or a video game sound effect, no, that was Kaiyo attempting to beatbox and thinking she sounded cool.

Not that she didn’t sound cool or anything, but she still looked goofy dancing in the middle of the side road as we traveled back to my house. I’m currently pushing her light blue bicycle that has her duffle-style school bag resting in the basket. My thin leather school bag is also sitting in it, which knowing that, and understanding that her bicycle has a bit on the back where I could theoretically sit, one might reasonably ask “why is this moron allowing his childhood friend to beatbox down the street in the late August heat instead of having her bike him home?”

Honestly, great question.

I’m asking myself the same thing today, or really any other day the weather is inconvenient.

But honestly, it’s not that hard to understand given our history. We used to walk home together all the time as kids with our little red backpacks and yellow caps; sometimes going to the local convenience store to get ice pops or something. Now as near-adults, we find ourselves doing the same thing because that’s what we’re used to.

The amazing effects of pavlovian conditioning.

Anyway, Kaiyo was apparently done when I asked her, and I thought she was going to keep grilling me on the new girl, but she didn’t. She took her bike back from me and we silently baked in the late afternoon heat on the way home for a bit. One of the benefits of knowing Kaiyo for so long is that we don’t feel obligated to fill the void up with words all the time. Because outside of teasing me that I was in love with the new student for her “Korean features,” our conversation about Chikako Nori didn’t really go anywhere because I honestly knew little about her outside of having a sense of humor and BL Doujinshis being her hill to die on. So, after finishing that train of conversation she started beatboxing when we were comfortably silent after a few minutes.

When we got about halfway to my house, I decided to ask Kaiyo about a topic I knew she’d have something to say.

“So, how are your girls?”

As I expected, Kaiyo’s face lit up like a proud mom being asked about her kids.

“I was hoping you would mention them! I swear you should call my Cabaret club the PRC because we’re on track to be the fastest growing money maker in the world. I’m on the third district now, so things are getting really difficult, but I just have to keep grinding to level up my girls. You have to train a hostess how you would train a martial artist, with time, discipline, and lots of alcohol!”

“Hostess girls aren’t Jackie Chan!”

“Who’s to say Jackie Chan can’t be a hostess?”

“I feel like it would lower Asia's appeal globally if he were to do that.”

“I feel like it would save the Japanese economy if he were to do it here.”

"At the very least make him a male host."

"I think you would be a good host."

“Why am I the host now?”

“Under my supervision it would be a piece of cake, trust me. I'd dress you up in a nice dark blue suit, put some make up and lipstick on you, and bam! You can even keep the glasses and just be the otaku host."

"Oh, I'm so happy I can keep my glasses while being a host, wonderful."

"Hey, I'd pay to see you at least once," Kaiyo affirms with a thumbs up.

"Glad I'd have at least one customer."

"Yeah, I'd pay for an hour or two with you."

"Now you're making it sound bad!"

"So you're saying you want me to dress you up in a pink skirt and then have me pay for an hour with you?"

"That's even worse!"

The conversation with Nori about the rope feels almost nostalgic at this point.

"I think you're underselling yourself Sato; you could be a hot commodity if you put yourself out there."

"I would rather be a cold commodity in my room thank you very much."

"That's very wasteful, you know the planet is dying right?"

"If the choice is between me wearing a dress for my career and Tokyo flooding then maybe Zhinkai had a point!"

“It’s funny, you would definitely piss off Mrs. Shimizu if she heard what you said right now.”

For context, Mrs. Shimizu was our teacher from fifth grade who was really into Shinto and a huge environmental activist. She would go on and on about how the trees are gods and stuff like that.

“I disagree,” I say while pointing my index finger at Kaiyo.

“Why’s that?”

“If Tokyo flooded then her ex-husband would probably get caught in the rapids. She would start worshipping me at that rate.”

“I would be offended if I was claimed to be paper all the time because I killed a man.”

We chuckled to ourselves for a minute and then went silent again for a good stretch of time. Instead of basking in the intense heat of the sun’s rays, we basked in our genius while the cicadas buzzed along in their own grating tune. I’m glad Kaiyo is enjoying the Yakuza Fight recommendation, the hostess minigame in particular I thought she would find enjoyable. Since I know she doesn’t have a ton of time to play games anymore and wants something that she doesn’t have to put tons of investment in to get anything out of it. Because of this, she trends more towards FPS games and things like that, because she can play a match and then do other things. Sachio had suggested gacha games at some point to her, but she declined because she would be too tempted to use money her mom would scold her for spending. So, sending her a game you can thoughtlessly chop into sections and pace easily was a lifesaver for her.

While we’re walking by the rows and rows of generic suburban houses, almost at my place, Kaiyo eventually breaks the silence.


“Excuse me?”

“Apotheosis, Sato. It means to worship someone so much that they become a god,” Kaiyo tells me very casually.

“I see why you thought of the word, but I feel like there’s more to this.”

“Well, in the United States Capitol Building there is a painting on its dome done by an Italian artist called “The Apotheosis of George Washington.”

“And he was the first president, right?”

“Yes, but what’s interesting about the painting is that it was built right at the end of the civil war, when at that point people had been making up stories about George Washington for decades. So it’s like, after such a difficult time for a country, they decide to honor their own existence by worshipping someone else and creating all these meanings for him. But I don’t know if I could ever handle something like that,” Kaiyo told me unsure.

“Why’s that?” I ask confused.

“Because if I loved someone enough to paint an immaculate portrayal of them, I would want it to be someone that can provide an awesome amount of good to me and others. But there is only so much a single person can provide another, especially if their attention is divided among so many people, that I wouldn’t want that person’s attention to be given to anyone else because then it doesn’t mean as much. What I’m trying to say is that I think putting in all that effort for a person like that would be too much to bear.”

I let that sit for a second. It’s complicated feelings I’m not used to dealing with, but I think I can manage. I know Kaiyo’s mom wouldn’t listen to stuff like this so I’m sure she’s been thinking about it for a while now. We’re at my house now so I would look terrible if I didn’t end our conversation on a good note.

“I think I understand what you mean,” I say as we stop in front of my house.

“You do?” Kaiyo asks as if she expected me to call her a moron or something.

“Yeah, if you put a lot of energy into someone, you do that because they’re special. And I don’t think it’s wrong to want them to think you're special, at least a little more than others. As long as you try your best to communicate that.”

“Okay…” she quietly mumbles to herself while nodding her head and resting her bike on the fence in front of my house. “Well, we’re here.”

As I remark that “you’re right,” She pulls me in for a hug.

This is a thing we’ve started doing recently since April or so. Hayami is shorter than me so she will destroy my lungs with her presidential hugs. Kaiyo, on the other hand, is I think around 180cm tall. So when we hug, I end up under her chin instead of her shoulder, it’s much less awkward that way believe it or not. I can hear her heartbeat when I do this, it’s always a bit fast but ends up slowing down as the hug continues—I don’t think Kaiyo gets to hug too many people honestly.

It’s honestly very calming, even though the heat is still blaring down at us which compounds with the warmth we already feel from each other. Normally I would complain about Kaiyo’s sweat after the hug is over but I’m sweaty too at this point so I guess we can be sweaty together. I don’t know how long he stood there hugging each other, it can’t have been for too long, but I can imagine it looked pretty silly from the outside.

“Thank you for listening to me,” Kaiyo says in one of the most feminine voices I’ve heard from her since reconnecting.

“You’re welcome,” I reply as sincerely as I can.

Eventually, the hug stops and Kaiyo says to me while handing me my leather bag, “well I should be off, my mom will be mad if I don’t call to tell her that I’m back by a certain time and the cicadas don’t allow me to cover my tracks.”

I walk up the path towards my front door and turn to tell her that “I’ll talk to you tomorrow!” While waving.

She holds her hand up to signal goodbye. But just before she leaves, she asks me right as I’m at my doorstep, “Hey Sato!”

“Yes?” I say while turning around again.

“You come to practice sometimes with Sachio, and I was just curious, what do you think of her?”

I just stare at her for a second trying to understand what she just asked me.

“She’s a good friend, why do you ask?”

“No reason in particular, just making sure you weren’t begging her to buy an overpriced bottle of sake without telling me, because then I would need to collect my share.”

“I didn’t sign up to be your host boy! Now goodbye!” I yell while unlocking my front door.

“Hahaha bye! Say hi to your sister for me!” she yells back before taking off on her bike towards her house.

That girl is going to become prime minister or something one day. But I feel like she’ll put me in an early grave before I even have a chance to vote for her.


As requested, when I see my sister in the living room and say, “I’m home,” I also mention that “Kaiyo also says ‘hi’ hope you appreciate that.”

She doesn’t respond because of course she doesn’t, my sister doesn’t talk to me or really anyone in my house anymore. So, I leave her and move to my bedroom.

My home is honestly so banal it’s not even funny. It’s your standard two bedroom, one bathroom home that most Japanese people would recognize. But upstairs in my room, that’s where I at least try to spice things up. Across from where you enter there’s a few Destiny/ReturnDusk figures on my micro manga and light novel bookshelf at the end of my bed. As well as two wall scrolls above my bed, one from that one anime about not living because of a lack of games, and the other involving my favorite dandere from that manga about the five sisters—shame how it ended though. And to the left from where you enter there is my desk that faces my bed with my precious PC and Powerstation on it. Unlike some other Otaku such as Sachio, whose room I’ve already seen, my room is very neat and tidy. Which to be fair is mostly due to a lack of money instead of desire, but I will definitely cap my dakimakura ownership at one if I ever have the chance to purchase anytime soon.

I know Hayami was signaling to me earlier by mentioning my username that she wanted to play tonight as soon as I got back. As I was setting up Last Fantasy XVII I get a text from Yasashiku, it reads:

“You back yet?”

Along with an impatient cat sticker.

I respond:

“Yes, but I’m playing games with Hayami tonight so I can’t talk a lot.”

“That’s fine.”

“I just wanted to make sure you didn’t force your foot fetish onto Kaiyo”

“Kaiyo would have the foot fetish not me! (ʘ言ʘ╬)”

Yasashiku takes a second to respond, much longer than she normally does.


“I’ll take your word this time.”

This time!?

What a woman.


“Are we still on for smelling what the stone is cooking tomorrow?”

“It’s ROCK dumbass!”

She then sends me a frustrated cat sticker.

“And yes.”

As it turns out, Setsuko Yasashiku is really into pro wrestling. It’s much easier to imagine it now as the abrasive but actually responsible class president. However, it sounds like a comedy bit to imagine her watching NeoJapan every week when she was a gyaru. She apparently watched a lot of subtitled American wrestling DVDs as a kid with her dad. Nowadays it’s much easier to find wrestling stuff from my understanding, and when I started helping Yasashiku with her problem I would be over at her place. By being nosy while she went to make both of us coffee, I so happened to discover the previously mentioned DVDs. So, it became a thing between us to watch old wrestling matches from time to time.

To my understanding, Yasashiku kept relatively physically active to be like her wrestling heroes which is why her thighs are so thick. But she has never done a wrestling move on me because wrestling “Requires consent and I would never say yes to touching a man who’s played a dating sim.” So at least I can avoid that pain.

I confirm with Yasashiku the time, 4:00pm, and start the game. As I’m about to message Hayami that I’m online, I think about the conversation I had with Sachio today about Basuna. Which made me think about a different show I’ve talked to Sachio about that I realize in reflection, she probably held back her opinion on because I like it.

So I message her:

“Hey, how do you feel about Chias Gregory? I get this hint from what you told me today that you would say the same thing about her.”

She quickly answers back with a:

“Hi Sato ( ´ ω ` )ノ゙”

She then takes a minute to respond, but I know it’s because she’s thinking and not because she’s doing something else. Sachio is the kind of person to respond immediately if you message them.

“Basically the same.”

“I like the show normally but that just makes it worse for me.”

“I think Ashita is better.”

“And I would ship the MC with Liba any day of the week.”

“Sounds about right, thanks.”

“Thank you for asking (˶′◡‵˶)”

That was pleasant.

If I asked Daitan the same question she probably would’ve snapped back with “Why are you asking me? Look up what other people are saying who agree with me online and stop being a lazy ass.”

Or something to that effect.

Anyway, I message Hayami that I’m on and she sends me a winking sticker in return, meaning my guess was correct.

So, for the next few hours, my night will be filled with playing my mid-tier ranged character on mid-tier maps trying to keep up with Hayami’s much higher level close ranged sword fighter. Who of course, jumps into situations she would normally die in knowing I will save her, all the while pretending to be a noob who doesn’t know any better.

It’s a fun time, for her I mean.