Chapter 2:

Chapter 2: The Lore Episode

Reborn as the Protagonist: I’m a Weeb Who Got Isekaid Into My Favorite Anime and Now I’m Gonna Make the Side Character Waifu Fall in Love with Me

“Are you okay, Hiro?”Bookmark here

In spite of my miscalculation, Yuko still lets me walk her home after school. Clearly, I haven’t blown my chance just yet.Bookmark here

“What do you mean?” I ask, trying my hardest to sound cool and casual and like I don’t already know exactly what she means.Bookmark here

“I’m not sure… You just seem… different today”Bookmark here

Neither of us says anything for a while. Honestly, I’m not quite sure how to respond. I mean, yeah, I may know how to thwart an apocalyptic laser monster, but I don’t know how to cut the tension of an awkward silence. Bookmark here

I don’t think there’s any amount of magical energy that can do that.Bookmark here

It looks like I’ll have to play my cards carefully from here on out. I can use my knowledge of the show to navigate all the big dangerous encounters that are, no doubt, fast approaching, but as far as interpersonal relationship drama – this is all new to me.Bookmark here

There was never an episode where Yuko asks the protagonist why he was acting weird that day, so I’m gonna have to make this up as we go along.Bookmark here

“Well,” Yuko says as we reach the end of the sidewalk, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” She finally shifts her gaze from the ground below up to me and locks onto my eyes. Her vibrant blue hair dances in the breeze as the streetlight overhead clicks on. The sun is going down for the day.Bookmark here

“Be careful, those earthquakes today were scary.”Bookmark here

That’s right, I quickly learned that no one but me could see the monster attacking the city. Just like in the first episode of the show, everyone assumes a massive earthquake hit near the school. Thanks to my bucket trick, the building is still intact, and class is still in session tomorrow.Bookmark here

Maybe I should have let that laser beam hit the school afterall. Just a little…Bookmark here

“Don’t worry about me,” I try to reassure her, “I’ll be fine.”Bookmark here

She stomps her foot.Bookmark here

“Dumbass! I never said I was worried about you!” She storms off towards what I’m assuming is the direction of her house. I dunno. They never showed it in any of the episodes she’s in.Bookmark here

-Bookmark here

I’m able to find my own apartment surprisingly easily. To be fair, the protagonist’s apartment shows up on screen a few times, so I knew what I was looking for.Bookmark here

On the way up the stairs I pass an older woman, the landlord, who insists I call her Obaachan.Bookmark here

“I had a lot of leftovers,” she says, pushing a plastic box into my hands. My day had been such a crazy onslaught of hectic events that I didn’t even realize how hungry I was until there was food in my hands.Bookmark here

“Thanks!” Bookmark here

It’s all I can think to say, but it must have been enough. Obaachan smiles brightly.Bookmark here

We both just stand there politely for a while. Bookmark here

Like I said, interpersonal relationships are not exactly my specialty. You wanna know the names of every staff member who worked on the movie version of this show? I’m your man. You wanna know what to say to make new friends? Me too.Bookmark here

“Ah-” I let out a small, surprised noise as something pushes past my ankle. Bookmark here

I flinch, more startled than I’d like to admit, and watch in slow motion as the bento box hits the ground and pops open, splaying rice all over the stairs. I try to say something but stop. There’s a cat, all black, pacing around the spilled food. That must have been what I felt just a second ago. Bookmark here

“Oh, shew, go on,” Obaachan says, “That darn thing has been hanging around here all afternoon.” Bookmark here

The black cat stares up at me, eyes never blinking, and then runs off with one of those little hotdog pieces sliced up to look like an octopus.Bookmark here

I always wanted to try one of those.Bookmark here

-Bookmark here

Inside, the apartment is sparsely decorated, just like I remember it from binging the show. It’s a studio, the bed shoved into the corner and a kotatsu centered in the middle of the room. A sliding glass door leads out onto a patio just big enough to stand alone on. I close the door behind me and head for the bed, my long day still weighing heavy on my body.Bookmark here

Scrrrtch, scrrrtch, scrrrrrrtch.Bookmark here

It’s that cat again, standing outside on the tiny balcony. It paws at the glass door, clearly wanting to come inside.Bookmark here

Did the protagonist have a cat? Bookmark here

Not that I remember…Bookmark here

I decide to ignore it, choosing instead to plop facedown on the bed in the corner. I’m halfway to dreamland when-Bookmark here

The jangly sound of shattering glass rings out beside me. I bolt out of bed and- Wait, no. I don’t. I can’t. I can’t move at all.Bookmark here

“What the hell?” I mutter.Bookmark here

It takes a bit for my eyes to focus, and I see the cat seated on my chest, its tail swishes back and forth mischievously.Bookmark here

“Get off!”Bookmark here

And then, because this is an anime, it talks back to me.Bookmark here

“No.”Bookmark here

“Huh?”Bookmark here

“We need to talk,” it tells me. The voice sounds unmistakably feminine, so I guess it’s a girl.Bookmark here

My stomach growls and the cat gives a quick look of surprise before narrowing its eyes again. I’m suddenly reminded that it ate the food Obaachan brought me, that it ran off with those octopus hotdogs before I could try them.Bookmark here

“I don’t have any food for you,” I say.Bookmark here

“I am not looking for food, you simpleton.”Bookmark here

“Of course not, you already ate.”Bookmark here

“You cannot possibly be referring to that hot dog… Are you still upset about that?”Bookmark here

“I wanted to try it! Obaachan made those just for me!”Bookmark here

“No, she did not. Those were leftovers. I heard her say so.”Bookmark here

“Well of course she’s gonna say that. She was just being nice. It’s a thing nice old ladies say. Besides, it wasn’t yours to take.”Bookmark here

“It had fallen on the ground; I know that humans refuse to eat food with even a little dirt on it. You would have thrown it out.”Bookmark here

“Wait a minute,” I say, thinking out loud, “You did that on purpose, didn’t you? You wanted me to drop the food so you could run off with it.”Bookmark here

“I am afraid we do not have time to continue discussing such trivial matters.”Bookmark here

The cat leaps up off of my chest and lands gracefully on the tatami mat. Bookmark here

“That’s easy for you to say, you got to eat dinner. My dinner.”Bookmark here

“This is why I hate humans.” The cat says.Bookmark here

Before I can ask what exactly she means by that, my room is engulfed in an otherworldly green glow. The cat stretches dramatically, seemingly able to extend its limbs. The creature’s face begins to shift, eyes and nose growing larger, whiskers vanishing into its fur, fur vanishing into its skin, skin growing paler and paler.Bookmark here

Before long, the cat is gone. In its place is an extremely tall woman. A woman who looks very familiar to me.Bookmark here

“Ciel?” I ask.Bookmark here

“No,” the woman says. She extends her arms and I see a feather as black as ink as it tumbles and floats to the ground. In one swift move the woman arches her back, unfolding a pair of angel wings extending from her shoulder blades.Bookmark here

She looks just like Ciel, the angel character from the show. The one with the flaming sword who manages to save the protagonist from the monster in the first episode. The only difference is, where Ciel’s wings were made of pure white feathers, these wings are a black as night.Bookmark here

“Ciel is my sister,” not-Ciel tells me. “I am Sylvie.”Bookmark here

“Ok… So what do you want, Sylvie?”Bookmark here

“I have been sent here by my superiors to prepare an earth warrior for the coming apocalypse.”Bookmark here

Oh, yeah. That.Bookmark here

“Wait a minute, isn’t that your sister’s job?” I ask, knowing full well the answer. Like I said, Ciel, the angel-winged-woman with a giant sword covered in flames was supposed to be there to catch my fall. Bookmark here

“Well,” she starts, and for the first time she changes her expression. She goes from palpable indifference to slight annoyance. “She was technically asked first…”Bookmark here

“So where is she? Why wasn’t she there at school today when that giant monster showed up and wrecked the city? I could have really used the help.”Bookmark here

“You speak as if you were expecting her.”Bookmark here

I was.” How do I explain this to an angel, do they have DVDs and streaming anime sites in heaven? Do they have manga? Can they even read?Bookmark here

“And what do you know of Ciel?”Bookmark here

“She shows up in episode one, helps the protagonist fight off the sky monster, tells him about the apocalypse… wait a minute, that’s what this: the info dump.”Bookmark here

“What on earth are you mumbling about, human?”Bookmark here

“You’re here to give me a bunch of exposition. To explain all the lore of the series so I – and the viewer – can get all caught up on what the bad guys are up to.”Bookmark here

“You continue to speak in riddles…”Bookmark here

She sighs and stares out the window wistfully.Bookmark here

“Never mind all that. Look, I already know everything you’re about to tell me. In episode two, Ciel rambles on about her sisters. You never actually make an appearance on the show, but if she’s the sky angel, than you must be-“Bookmark here

“The earth angel.” She finishes my thought for me. Her green eyes twinkle, reflecting the streetlight outside of the window.Bookmark here

“So… where is Ciel?”Bookmark here

“Oh? Have we finally encountered a subject on which you are not fully informed?”Bookmark here

“You know, Ciel is a lot nicer to the protagonist.”Bookmark here

“The protagonist… I believe he is the reason I have been summoned here.”Bookmark here

“He? You mean me? I’m the protagonist now.” It’s hard not to flash a beaming smile after uttering these words. I sound so cool!Bookmark here

“No, it is quite clear to both myself and my superiors that you are an imposter. We believe you have been summoned here in place of the protagonist, as you refer to him.”Bookmark here

“Are you telling me you know who I really am?”Bookmark here

“We know enough. You are not from this world. You do not belong here. I presume that is why you have unearned knowledge of coming events.”Bookmark here

“That’s pretty much spot on, but you still haven’t answered my question.”Bookmark here

“Yes… Ciel…”Bookmark here

Sylvie folds her legs up like a pretzel and leans her chin on her fist. She looks very pissed off.Bookmark here

“It seems that airheaded brat has run away.”Bookmark here

“She ran away? What the hell does that mean?”Bookmark here

“Ciel has shirked her duties. All in favor of running off with this… protagonist.” She clicks her tongue, annoyed. Sylvie looks up at me, as if suddenly remembering I’m here too. “The other one, of course. Not you. The real protagonist. The two of them seem to have developed an escape plan. We have no idea where they are.”Bookmark here

“Hey! Screw that guy,” I say, shaking my fist without even realizing it, “if he doesn’t wanna be the protagonist, good, I’ll gladly take his place.”Bookmark here

Sylvie stretches her legs out and yawns. She’s really starting to get on my nerves.Bookmark here

“I highly doubt that you have what it takes to protect this world from what’s coming.”Bookmark here

“Oh yeah? Who do you think killed that big eyed monster who popped out of the sky this morning, huh? Me. I did it. And without any help from your sister or any other magical beings I might add.”Bookmark here

“That monster, as you call it, has not perished. It has simply gone into hiding to lick its wounds. It is still very much alive, and my superiors anticipate that it will return in the very near future.”Bookmark here

She’s stumped me there. We’re entering uncharted territory now. None of this stuff happens in the actual show. It’s all new to me.Bookmark here

Sylvie finally stands up straight again, although her wings continue to keep her feet from touching the ground.Bookmark here

“And that is why I am here now. I have come to take you to begin your training. You will be given more power than any human being has ever possessed. After months of rigorous training, no creature shall be more powerful than you.”Bookmark here

“Oh, no thank you.”Bookmark here

“Excuse me?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, I just… don’t really wanna do any of that.”Bookmark here

Sylvie looks exasperated. She finally lands, feet fully on the ground. I’m assuming that’s not a good thing…Bookmark here

“I beg your pardon, but I believe you were just mouthing off to me about how you were the protagonist now, and how you defeated a monster all by yourself-“Bookmark here

“Well, not defeated, necessarily. He is still in hiding. Like you said.”Bookmark here

“What is the meaning of this? Explain yourself, human.” Her eyes are glowing green. It’s hard to look away and yet at the same time I’m terrified just looking at them.Bookmark here

“Look, calm down. All I’m saying is that I don’t need to bother with all of that training stuff.”Bookmark here

“And why not?”Bookmark here

“Because I already know how to do all that.”Bookmark here

“Do all what?”Bookmark here

“Energy blasts and stuff.”Bookmark here

“Really?”Bookmark here

“Really. See, there’s this girl-”Bookmark here

I’m still thinking we’re in the middle of this back and forth conversation when I’m struck with what feels like the worst migraine of my life and the biggest panic attack imaginable all at once and all lasting for less than a half of a half of a half of a second.Bookmark here

I duck down and the feeling passes. Now I’m feeling warm. Now hot. I’m burning up.Bookmark here

I glance upward and see a burning sword, just like the one Ciel wields in episode one, except this one is longer, thinner, with a slight curve at the end. Sylvie holds a shining katana engulfed in swirling black and purple flame just over my head. The heat of the fire singes my wild and unruly anime protagonist hairstyle.Bookmark here

“Ow! Watch it!” I yell.Bookmark here

She retracts the sword. Her mouth is hanging open in awe.Bookmark here

Sylvie does it again. She stabs at me a hundred times in thirty seconds and each time I’m compelled by that painful feeling in my skull to jerk left and right and up and down, swiftly dodging every single blow without even thinking about it first.Bookmark here

“How are you doing this?!” she asks.Bookmark here

“I don’t really know,” I tell her. And I don’t. “I mean, I kind of already tapped into these powers earlier when that monster appeared, so I don’t think I need any training. Anyway, like I was saying, there’s this girl that I want to be with, and I’d rather focus on that right now than on trying to fight monsters in a another dimension, you know?”Bookmark here

“I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood, human.” She sheathes her sword delicately. “With the true protagonist gone and having run away together with my sister Ciel, the opportunity to prevent the coming apocalypse has been squandered. I have not come here to whisk you away to a fantasy world as you have no doubt imagined. The enemies that I am training you to defeat are not coming into this world,” her eyes narrow and she looks cold, deadly, “they are already here.”Bookmark here

Before I can react, I hear the loud BING-BONG noise of my apartment’s doorbell. I turn to look and see Sylvie’s sword slice through the air. The blade plants itself into my door, splintering the wood when it connects. Mere seconds later, the door collapses to the ground. Sylvie’s sword is back in her hand so fast that I don’t even see it.Bookmark here

“Hello? Hiro?”Bookmark here

I lock eyes with Sylvie. That’s Yuko’s voice in my shattered doorway. I give Sylvie a look that says don’t hurt this girl or be weird about it or anything. Or at least, I hope that’s what this look is conveying. Either way, Sylvie quickly shifts shapes back into her black cat form. Her sword falls to the ground with several loud clanging sounds.Bookmark here

“Come on in,” I say, as if everything is normal. I can see Yuko peering from behind the doorframe.Bookmark here

“What happened to your door, Hiro? I rang the bell and it almost fell on top of me!”Bookmark here

“Oh, that. Yeah, that’s a new type of security door. It’s supposed to stop thieves. It traps them until the police how up.” It was the best I could come up with.Bookmark here

“But why would a thief ring the doorbell?”Bookmark here

“To see if anyone’s home, silly!” I grip her shoulder gently and direct her into my tiny apartment.Bookmark here

Yuko gasps.Bookmark here

“Hiro, did you get a cat?”Bookmark here

She’s already crouched down and petting Sylvie like she’s a standard housecat. I would tell her to stop, but Sylvie seems like she’s enjoying it.Bookmark here

“Uhh, no I’m just watching her for… my uncle?Bookmark here

“What’s this thing?” Yuko asks.Bookmark here

She lifts the katana off the ground. Thankfully, it’s not currently covered in flames.Bookmark here

“Oh, uhh.. that’s also… my uncle’s… So, what can I do for you, Yuko?”Bookmark here

She shows me the big box she’s been carrying and unpacks it on top of the kotatsu.Bookmark here

“I made you dinner, just like I always do.”Bookmark here

Now that’s not something that happens in the show. Maybe I triggered this somehow? From what it sounds like, the real protagonist, the actual Hiro, seems like kind of a jerk. Maybe me being here is making things different afterall?Bookmark here

I plan on thinking about it more as soon as I’m done eating the excellent meal Yuko brought. Yuko offers a piece of chicken karaage to Sylvie, still in her cat form, and she happily gobbles it down in an instant. Bookmark here

The three of us sit and eat together happily for a while until our pleasant evening is interrupted by an ear-splitting scream.Bookmark here

It’s Obaachan. Bookmark here

What happened to this door?” Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.