Spirit hunter kaiji: I can't believe i died just to be brought back as a spirit detective
Far from the city, deep into the mountains, past the meadows and the fields, at the center of a mountain chain, surrounded by temples and ruins, a lush forest that has sustained life for thousands of years, and at the foot of a volcano you’ll find a small village at the center of it all. Connected to the world by a single road that tunnels through a mountain. Isolated, vibrant, hidden, beautiful, remote, lively. A land few were lucky to know. And those who did, took it for granted until they came back. But this land has its secrets, and although the general public doesn't know it, in the shadows there are those that protect the balance between the living and the dead. They call themselves, spirit hunters.
The sun rises on another day in the town of Kyokai. The farmers have been up for hours, but the school kids are just getting up. The trains are running, the roads are already starting to congest, the day’s only just starting and yet it’s already way too crowded with not enough space to go around. The same goes with everything else, really. In this town, more than anywhere else, it’s first come first serve. But that's just in the mornings. Which is why one boy, in particular, is always oversleeping.
“KAAAAAAAAAIJIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!!” the screaming retches a particular boy from his blissful slumber. “IF YOU DON'T GET UP YOU’RE REALLY GOING TO BE LATE.”
The boy catches a glance at his alarm clock; it reads 7:50. At first, he doesn't believe it, he must have misread it, surely this must be a nightmare induced by his grandma's yelling and he'll soon wake up to a much more manageable 7:45. Then the screaming continues “KAIJIIIIIIIIIII!”
This bedhead pillow magnet is Kaiji. And he’s just grappling with the fact that this is his reality. “aw man, this is bad, 7:50 is too little, I’ve been cutting it close with a 15-minute commute. Now I’m gonna have to make do with a ten-minute commute or be stuck outside. Dammit. I’m gonna have to haul ass today.” He yanked on his uniform as fast as he could and ran out the door just as his grandma was about to go inside and get him. He dashed out so fast he left her in a cloud of smoke. “Sorry Obasan, I gotta run, thanks for waking me up,” he said as his voice trailed off into the distance. “that boy, always in such a rush” and for the most part she would be right, but the rules don't apply to Kaiji the same way they apply to everyone else. For him, things always seem to work themselves out at the last minute. If there was a hypothetical moment where someone could be “on time,” no matter how small the window, if anyone was gonna hit it, it’s Kaiji.
But that's easier said than done. He’s never been this late, or early depending on how you look at it. In other words, his earliness had never been so close to being late.
“If I take my usual route, I’m not gonna make it, I’ll have to cut through the park straight through the trees. That alone will shave a couple of minutes, but I’m gonna have to sprint the rest of the way there. Aw man, I hope Mr. Tanaka isn’t the one at the gate today.”
Kaiji leaped over bushes and weaved through the trees. This was a test of endurance, speed, and agility, unlike anything that came before it. “Once I’m past the park it’s just a straight shot to the gate.” Kaiji burst through the hedges disturbing a nearby couple on their morning walk. Imagine walking your trail as part of your daily routine when suddenly a mad man appears in front of you seemingly out of nowhere. He was about to propose as well. Anyway, leaves are flying, Kaiji is running, and he finally notices who’s at the gate, the man, the myth, Mr. Tanaka. He particularly didn't care for Kaiji's attitude towards deadlines and tardiness. He hated how, no matter how evident his tardiness was, he always somehow made the cut, he was always just barely safe. And he would never learn until he failed. “Mr. Kaiji, it’s not enough to be on time, you have to be better than that” he would always say. So this morning where Kaiji was cutting it closer than ever Tanaka had had enough. He saw this as an opportunity to finally teach Kaiji that lesson. Kaiji was just a few tens of meters away but if he wasn't so irresponsible he would have already been here by now he thought. So he grabbed the gate and looked at his watch in anticipation. Watching the seconds tick by. “He’s not gonna make it.” he realized. “he’s fast, but not that fast” He grabbed the gate with both hands and prepared to slam it as fast as he could the second the clock struck 8. You could see the power and energy emanating from this man as he prepared to ultimately show his student the importance of responsibility. Kaiji saw as his teacher was getting ready to lock him out rendering his efforts in vain. All he had was a couple of meters left, it was close but he could make it, it was just a little more. A little more strength, a little more effort, his muscles were fuming, his heart was pounding, as his feet slammed on the ground the shock went all throughout his body. A sprint to the finish he thought. One mad dash to the end. And then… Mr. Tanaka’s watch went off. In Tanaka’s eyes, his fate was sealed. And he shouted, “I’m sorry Kaiji but this is for your own good” as he slammed the gate with all his might as fast as he could. He was panting as the exertion really was something to behold. So much in fact that it kicked up dust all around them. He couldn't see his face but he knew he was stuck outside. “It’s about time you realize the truth. It’s not enough to be “safe” as you put it. You have to take extra time just in case something does happen so that in that worst-case scenario you still have time to burn without being late. It’s not gonna work itself out forever Kaiji.” But as the dust cleared, Kaiji was nowhere to be seen. At least not on that side of the gate. “no, it can’t be... how did you-”
“Well, you see, it wasn't really my fault this time” Kaiji said.
He couldn't believe it. He turned to see the boys in a stance resembling a power ranger and an umpire signaling that a runner was “safe.”
“My alarm clock broke this morning so I only see this as me defending myself against the universe that’s conspiring against me” said Kaiji.
Honestly, even in the best of circumstances he still couldn't get through to him. “Kaiji how many times have I told you by now? A hundred? A thousand? One of these days you’re gonna be late and you’re gonna hear me say:” Kaiji had heard him say this so many times he could recite it by heart. So he said it along with him
“you can’t be on time, you can only be early or late.” Kaiji and Tanaka said in unison
Tanaka glared at Kaiji's smug face before dismissing him “go on get to class you’re about to be late to homeroom as well” said Tanaka
Then Kaiji scurried off to class. But he had time to spare. Because what they both didn't know was that Mr. Tanaka’s wristwatch was running 2 minutes fast. So Kaiji was never really in any danger of being late. Bet even then he was still just barely safe.
Kaiji, being a second year, he walked upstairs to the second floor of the building. First years took class on the first floor, second years took class on the second floor and third years took class on the… well, you get it. He finally walked into homeroom and made his way to his seat.
“Hey, you’re early today, did you get stopped by Mr. Tanaka?” a familiar voice said to him
“Ha! it would be weird if he didn't, it’s basically part of my daily routine at this point. So, what did I miss?” Kaiji asked
“Not much of anything really, the teacher isn’t even here yet. She must have gotten held up doing something else.” The friend said
“What are you doing after school today?” asked Kaiji
“you wanna go to the diner again?” asked the friend
“it's the fries man! there so good!” Kaiji said.
And with that, the teacher swung open the door making her grand entrance she liked to start every day with. “Good morning class” the teacher said
“Good morning miss Baumann” the class responded in unison
“Today I want to take this moment to remind you all of the field trips to the mountains we’ll be taking next month, remember to have your legal guardians sign your permission slip if you want to go. But if you don't plan on going that's fine just throw it in the trash or whatever” she said to the sinker of those in the back of the class.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not like most teachers, I was a student just like you, I know how boring it is to have an adult come up here and go on and on about useless nonsense. That was until I realized that nonsense wasn't so useless after all. I’m not gonna be on your ass to study or do your homework, you're grown-ups now, it’s up to you whether or not you take advantage of me while I’m still around to help you out.” at the back of the class, one of the boys said to their friend “she wants us to take advantage of her” and laughed as if it was the funniest thing ever said in human history. “I’ll be grading you whether or not you turn anything in” she added “your failure is yours alone.” she stayed silent as to let the message sink into the room full of obnoxious teenagers half listening to her warnings. “and with that out of the way, I have some special news today, we have a transfer student, our very own Neuse kind! Come on in and introduce yourself!”
A girl with short black hair walked into the classroom with a bravado that most people wouldn't have in high school. She walked to the center of the room, took a deep breath, and held out a peace sign. “I’m Kairi Ishikawa, but you can call me Kairi. I’m outgoing, I like music, I practice archery, and one day I want to be an Olympian.” The class was quiet, Too quiet. This wasn't the reaction she was hoping for. It almost filled her with dread. Worst case scenario, she thought, they’d laugh at her display. But it felt like they were stunned, no, the room was filled with a quiet dismissal. It was hardly encouraging to say the least. “well then it's a pleasure to meet you miss Kairi.” Said miss Baumann “Class!” upon hearing miss Baumann’s call the class said
“it's a pleasure to meet you miss Kairi” in unison
the reluctant hospitality accompanied by the low groans of an unmotivated student body reminded Kairi of one of her zombie movies. The thought gave her a laugh, the realization that she’d be taking class along with a hoard of zombies was, in a way, strangely exciting. But at the same time, none of her zombie movies had a happy ending. She wasn't sure how she felt about that.
“don't worry board moaning is their default. This is what I have to deal with every day.” the teacher's comment slightly put her mind at ease; At least she wasn't the only one who noticed. “Go on, take a seat” said miss Baumann
Kairi slowly approached the hoard not sure of whether to run or stand her ground. There were no open seats at the back of the classroom. The only open seat anywhere was in front of our boy Kaiji. When she saw him, she noted that he didn't look like the rest of the hoard. He wasn't smiling at nothing like a deranged lunatic or anything but there was an air of exhaustion and spiritlessness that emanated from most of the class. But with him, it was quite the opposite. It was as if his spirit couldn't be wavered by such mundane things as boredom and monotony. She could relate to him in that regard.
The classes came and went and before they knew it, it was 2 o’clock; it was time to go home. But, hardly anyone ever did. To Kaiji the day was just starting out. First stop, 60’s themed burger town diner where you can order a quarter pounder with extra cheese and wash it down with a delicious milkshake. But for Kairi, none of that was on the table. She could go, but no one wants to eat alone. To her, the day was winding down to a slow mundane end filled with TV and hot ramen at home. Kaiji was putting his notebook in his bag when he noticed a little key chain dangling from Kairi’s backpack. It was the little blue bomber he was so familiar with. he couldn't help but say something. “I like your keychain, where did you get it?” he asked
“oh, this? My best friend gave it to me for a going-away present” she said
“oh cool have you ever played any of the games he’s from?” he asked
“no. I can’t say I have. Are they any good” she said
“oh my god yes I mean they’re haaaaard but it’s so worth it when you finally beat a level you've been working on for hours. And when you master it you can breeze through It no sweat. If you have the console I can lend them to you if you want.” He said
“yeah id like that very much maybe I could trade you something In exchange” she said
“nice! Hey, are you hungry? Me and my friend were gonna grab a bite to eat at burger town diner, you wanna come?” he asked
“hmmm it’s not too expensive is it?” she asked
“not at all! It’s as cheap as they come!” he said
“Well okay I’ll take your word for it, but if I’m broke afterward I’ll never forgive you.” she said “so your name is Kaiji right?” then she held out her hand at Kaiji's friend “and what’s your name?” she asked
“Benjamin, but don't call me that, I make everyone I care to know call me Ben”
Burger town diner was a humble little restaurant. The owner was only 30 and the reason he opened up a themed restaurant was because he missed the 60s aesthetic. And, clearly, he wasn't the only one. it saw a lot of traction amongst high schoolers but all kinds of people ate there. it reminded the older generations of their childhood memories and served as a vessel for the new generation to make their own. Kaiji's group got to the restaurant and they picked out their booth. The booth Kaiji always picked, the corner booth that felt like one big couch. The waitress asked what they wanted to start off with. Kairi ordered a water, Ben ordered a root beer, and Kaiji ordered a Shirley temple. And they each ordered their food.
“so what brings you here? to our small empty yet crowded town?” Ben asked
“well mostly because of my parents, apparently, there’s a lot of history yet to be discovered in the temples of Kyokai.” Kairi said
“oh, are they historians? Kaiji asked
“My dad is, my mom’s an archeologist.” She said
“How are you liking it so far? Ben asked
“I’m not sure yet, the ruins are pretty, but the jury still out on the people, I’ve only been here for a week so far” she said
“well on behalf of the town I wanna say, welcome” said Ben
Kairi noticed that Kaiji seemed disinterested in the conversation staring off into the distance. Ben immediately knew what she was thinking and said “don't worry about him, he always gets like this when we come here. he’s just really excited for the food so he’s watching the kitchen to see if they’re almost done”
“Oh no I wasn’t-” Kairi said
“it’s okay, trust me he can’t hear us, we might as well be in a different room”
“aw yes!” Kaiji exclaimed
“I guess the foods done” Ben said
the waitress brought over the food, Kaiji pounced on his burger like he had been stranded on a deserted island. Then he finally came back to reality.
“So archery, that's cool I’ve never met anyone that was into archery” Kaiji said
“yeah I guess between ballet and singing and something that was actually fun it's a no brainer, my dad used to read me robin hood as a child so I’ve always wanted to try it.” she said
“But you don't just want to try it” Ben said “this morning you said you wanted to take your skills to the Olympics, so you must be pretty good”
“I mean I did win the nationals but there’s always room to improve” Kairi said
“what really?! you’re a national champion??!” Kaiji asked
“yeah but that was junior league like 3 years ago, I’m nowhere near as good as I need to be. Plus, that was with a compact bow, it’s nowhere near as difficult as with an actual longbow, then there’s traditional Chinese archery versus modern archery, it's honestly a lot” she said
“well, I don't know anything about archery, but it seems to me you know what you're doing and what you have to do to get better, so I’m rooting for you!” Kaiji said
“thanks” Kairi almost started blushing.
“likewise” said Ben
then the waitress brought over the bill
“let’s see what’s the damage” said Ben after one look he balled his fist and jabbed Kaiji in the shoulder while letting out a strong HEYAA
“it's super effective!!!!” Kaiji said in a mocking pained expression
Kairi got anxious, was it really that much? “can I… see the bill?” she asked
Ben handed it over to her and her jaw dropped “WHAT?! 15 DOLLARS? FOR ALL THREE OF US??”
“I don't know how they stay in business but I’m not complaining If the food is delicious” Ben said
“My god that's cheaper than cooking at home! I’m gonna come here more often!” Kairi said
“I knew you would like it! now you have to forgive me!” Kaiji said
“forgive you for what? She asked
“you said if you were broke afterward you'd never forgive me. Since you're not, now for whatever happens in the future you have to forgive me.” Kaiji said
“Okay then. that's a Deal” she said
“hey Kaiji are you okay?” a womanly voice asked
“Sorry, I was just thinking back to how this all started. And how I got here”
“well focus up we’ve got a mission to do”
End of chapter 1