Chapter 5:

Chikako’s Date Part 1

Paradise on Earth


School went about as normal as you would expect. At lunch, I got teased by Daitan about going on a date with a returnee “Because a Japanese native would know not to ask after talking to me for five seconds.” And I talked to Yasashiku after school about when we were going to reschedule our wrestling watch. Since I already promised everyone else their own time over the course of this weekend and I want some time to myself, I told Yasashiku it was going to have to be next Wednesday at the earliest. she took it much better than I thought so I celebrated the lack of physical pain on my way out the door. Unfortunately, this celebration led to me being distracted which led to me having another “incident” with Hayami. This time the episode involved us bumping into each other (which happens with a decent frequency), and in our confusion, I accidentally grabbed where I shouldn’t have in order to stop her from falling face first into the tile. Hayami wasn’t offended or anything, like normal since these things are accidents, and asked if I could meet her tonight after my “date”

Thanks Daitan. Or, whoever told everyone—but probably Daitan.

What’s interesting is that Hayami asked me to come over to her house. Since we play MMO’s together or hang out in a group, the idea of visiting each other’s places has just never come up. So I’m curious about how that is going to go.

Anyway, I decide to ask Kaiyo if I could borrow her bike so I could get to the cafe faster, and without any resistance, she said “sure” but only if I promised to walk home with her every day next week. Except instead, I walk to her place. Meaning I will have to walk all the way to her house, and then all the way to mine, in the summer heat. I get this feeling she just likes making things uncomfortable for me for the sake of it sometimes, but despite my reservations, I agree.

Having what I need, I bike all the way across the little area on the fringes of Tokyo where I live, to the American-style cafe. Where I find Nori sitting at a table in front, strumming an air guitar while humming the chords to herself.

What a nerd.

I almost don’t want to sit down I’m so embarrassed.

As I’m just standing there, Nori decides to do the thinking for me and starts air strumming even more intensely. After which, she does what I assume to be three YoYo’s Strange Escapade poses.

After finishing her final pose, she pulls out her earbuds with her left hand, right hand still pointing, and says, “You’re late.”

“And you’re weird.”

Seven minutes late, to be precise, but did that truly justify embarrassing me? I wanted to shower because it was hot, and I spent too much time lazing about, it’s that simple. I’m sure that’s no different from Nori, given how she’s now in green shorts with a tucked in white t-shirt. Unless...she didn’t shower.

Ew.

Believe it or not, my mind isn’t constantly cycling through images of sweaty girls like a rotisserie.

As I was locking up Kaiyo's bike at a rack by the street, Nori tells me, “Insulting the person who waited almost twenty minutes for you? Good grief.” She then shifts her navy blue baseball cap from the left to the right.

“If you’re gonna reference YoYo’s, at least quote from the same part you’re stealing the pose from,” I respond indignant.

“Well, maybe Part 3 isn’t good enough to quote from,” Nori remarks as she takes her hat off and puts her hands on her hips.

“Part 3 is the most iconic!”

“In Japan maybe.”

“It was made here, and you are speaking to me!”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever Emperor HiroSato” she dismisses sarcastically while waving some hand motion that is equally dismissive.

I roll my eyes as I stand up to walk to my seat. When Nori is getting back into her chair, she puts on her cap and whispers loud enough for me to hear, another—but slightly different “Good grief.”

I motion with my whole hand towards her as I’m sitting and scold “Thanks for now quoting the correct part after I told you to.”

“I didn’t do anything because you told me to,” Nori bites back with a smile. “I did so simply because I enjoy it. You don’t own me.”

“Well aren’t you so brazen after being so pathetically nervous yesterday?”

Did Sachio’s hype bolster her ego that much?

Nori leans back in her chair and says with arms crossed “Who wouldn’t be nervous?’ I think is the obvious response to the question you’re proposing. I am an otaku after all, as are you. I understood even before coming here that they aren’t fully accepted, and I’m not going to use my ‘foreigner card’ when I’m a citizen. You’re really bad at asking yourself the right questions, you know? Maybe you should get that checked out.”

“I don’t need a doctor to check my common sense!”

She rests her chair back on the ground, “Sato, when you ask me obvious questions two days in a row what else is a girl supposed to do? I would hate for something to be broken up there and nobody did a thing about it.” Nori says with a look of faux-concern. “Because it definitely seems like there is.”

“Wow, thanks.

“No need to thank me, just someone doing their best to help the needy,” she says as she pulls her hat farther down her head with a mischievous grin.

I need to pull this train away from the “roast Sato station,” fast.

“Hey Nori, what song were you listening to?” I ask, trying to transition the conversation.

“The opening from Daigun,” Nori answers after looking a bit confused because of my conversation change.

“Da-what now?”

“Is it not popular here?”

“I think Sachio read some of the manga because I recall her mentioning it before, but I don’t remember a show.”

“Wow, the Japanese have a weird taste in anime.”

“Anime is made for Japanese!”

“Well ‘I hate the Japanese!’” Nori exclaims in a gruff voice while pumping her fist in the air.

You know, I think she should be careful about quoting Yoseph in public when she doesn’t look one hundred percent Japanese.

I’m not sure how to respond for a second, but soon I get a brilliant idea that can win me this conversation.

“Hey, is the main character pretty?”

Nori looks at me for a second confused, but eventually skeptically answers “Uh… he’s not not attractive.”

“So maybe in reality you are too caught up in the beauty of the main character to determine the show’s proper value. Obviously, most Japanese otaku understand this because we don’t obsess over such petty things, maybe that’s why the show isn’t popular here?” I suggest while trying to be as smug as Hayami on a bad day. Because I don’t think I could ever compete when Hayami is genuinely trying to destroy me out of sheer smugness.

“…”

Nori looks so baffled she doesn’t know how to respond.

“I win! Gahaha!” I exclaim pretending to succeed while leaning my head back and placing my hands on my hips. I tried my best to evoke both Ditose and Kaiyo.

“….stupid.” Nori lets out while I’m still laughing.

“Excuse me?”

“That’s all I could think of when I heard you say all that, stupid.”

I stop laughing.

I can’t have a win with these girls, can I?

“Says the person who passionately advocates for BL Doujinshis involving Kon and Gillua, not even Gurabika!” I exclaim more baffled than initially intended.

“Because it’s beautiful and pure, I’ve already explained this!”

“I bet you like catboys too.”

“What’s wrong with catboys?!”

“I knew it!”

“There’s nothing wrong with catboys, that’s just obvious,” Nori states very matter of fact with her arms crossed.

“I feel as though you’re the reason there’s like, 800 anime about Oda Nobunaga becoming a dog.”

“Implying that those two things are the same.”

“I’m a humanist, not an animal rights activist. It’s against my code,” I say, trying to sound smart while extending my index finger.

"So you would shoot the shishigami then? I don’t think Miyabaki would be a huge fan of yours."

"If the disaster that followed only affected Japan then I'm sure he'd laud me as a national hero."

"And then take a trip to Austria to celebrate!"

We both got a kick out of that one.

Talking to Nori is fun.

After we’re done laughing, the waiter finally comes to our table and asks us what we would like. I order a glass of lemonade and some nice looking strawberry waffles, with the hope of not getting anything on the blue stripes of my white shirt as I tend to. Nori already ordered an Apple juice when she was waiting for me. And for her meal, she asked for a hamburger with lettuce, ranch, and tomato, on top of a fat plate of fries because “Japanese serving sizes are too small.”

As the waiter leaves, I decide to get to know Nori better since all I’ve learned so far in this conversation is that she likes BL, a niche anime, YoYo, and catboys.

Trying to be friendly, I ask, “So Nori, why did your family decide to move back to Japan?”

“Well, that’s why I wanted to talk to you today Sato,” Nori responds as she takes a sip of apple juice.

“How so?”

“I don’t remember,” Nori states very matter of fact after she finishes her sip.

“Like, your parents didn’t tell you?”

“No, I mean outside of a vague feeling about you, I don’t remember why I’m here,” Nori reaffirms while looking away and stroking her chin like she’s a seiyuu in an interview.

“I’m not following,” I say confused.

“What I’m trying to say is…”

Nori finally looks back at me.

“I don’t remember anything that happened before walking into Class 2-B yesterday.”