The King’s Harem
On April 21st, 2015, Ryuji Takahashi stepped onto the school grounds of Nakatomi High School for the very first time. Hundreds of others followed behind him into the green gates of the school, some more ecstatic than others to start the new year. Of course, Ryuji was one of the more eager ones. Becoming a 10th grader in Japan meant new changes and fresh beginnings. Optimistically, he couldn't wait to experience what high school had to offer him-- whether it'd be meeting new friends, going on dates, or simply having fun in his elective classes.
Standing just beyond the green gates of the campus, Ryuji stared up at the school building that eclipsed him. He thought it looked exactly like his middle school: White, bland, and boring, yet the large banner in the middle of the structure which read "Heisei 27: Welcome All High School Students!" gave it a charm which his previous schools never had. In the front of the school, just before the steps, proved another familiar sight however. It was a gigantic board with everybody's names printed on it, dictating which class they would have for the rest of the term.
As soon as Ryuji started to walk to the crowd of people around the board, he was met with a sudden cry of his name. He turned around, surprised to see accustomed faces. Walking together, a band of his close friends from middle school approached him.
"Ryuji! So you came to Nakatomi after all!" his first friend, a guy with honey-colored hair and dangerously friendly eyes, Yuuto Ueno cheerfully shouted across the campus. Ryuji waved openly, walking away from the gates and towards them, meeting in the middle.
"We were afraid you weren't going to come," Yuuto commented and wrapped an arm around Ryuji's shoulder, as if teasing him.
Another voice came up and now it was another close friend's turn to talk. "Why didn't you tell us?" Haruto Nishimura, a short boy with uninviting dark brown hair asked.
"Mm, I think I forgot," Ryuji answered; his friends unimpressed. Conversations ensued: Talking about the school in front of them, about how slick the new high school uniforms are, what each friend was doing during the one-week vacation they received. Then, the first of many female voices came up.
"Ryuji. Sorry that I didn't wait for you this morning," Chihiro Kimura-- a long childhood friend and neighbor of Ryuji-- said.
Ryuji brushed it off, "Don't worry about it. How'd I get to school before you though?" After he replied, he noticed a plastic bag in her hand.
Chihiro held it up. "I went to buy some buns from the convenience store. I thought you would want some, since I know you don't eat breakfast." She smiled, and the world seemed to light up around her when she did. "The others too," Chihiro quickly added on.
"Oh yeah, thanks Chihiro," Ryuji smiled and grabbed a meat bun from the bag.
"CHIHIRO, you're so kind!" Yuuto wrapped his arm around her shoulder as he stole an anko bun from the bag. He let go of her and unwrapped the packaging, then devoured it in a minute. Others emptied the bag quickly. Chihiro brushed off the aggressive appetites of her friends and took their hunger kindly, asking them if they wanted buns tomorrow. All said yes and gave her a coin for the next day's breakfast.
Soon, they found themselves all walking towards the board with their class dictations on it. It was very ordinary behavior for high school friends to want to be in the same classes as each other, so they trotted to the board with a glimmering hope in their eyes, praying that their god would grant them a warmhearted miracle to greet the new school year. However, their dreams and wishes were quickly shot down as soon as they scanned for their names.
Ryuji and Haruto found their names in class 1-A. Chihiro was to be in class 1-B, and Yuuto was to be in class 1-C. All other friends were scrambled in between them, most going to class 1-C with Yuuto or class 1-D. Groans and moans of sadness and disappointment rushed through their friend group, but some smiles appeared too.
"This doesn't mean we're going to not be friends anymore," Ryuji provided reassurance to his friends, "in fact, this could be an okay thing." He paused for a second-- enough time for several confused faces to pop up-- then continued, "You know how the saying goes: Absence makes the heart grow fonder."
The group stared at Ryuji, as if just finished recording the hottest album of the year, but in fact he was just quoting Peter Pan.
Yuuto, who was the most sad and mundane about the ordeal, prompted up, "RYUJI'S RIGHT! We'll still be friends even in different classes! There's nothing to worry about!"
"But how? We all became friends because we were in the same class, y'know," somebody else mumbled. Yuuto shushed them quickly.
"Then how about this?" Ryuji suggested, "Chihiro's going to buy buns for everybody tomorrow. Let's just meet in room 1-A in the morning then. We'll hang out until school starts. If you don't come, then you don't get food."
Chihiro nodded in agreement. "Let's... let's make it a tradition," she murmured, clutching her cute cat wallet in her hand with everybody's money inside of it. "I'll buy buns every morning."
"W-wait, every morning?" Haruto took surprise at Chihiro's generous offer. Chihiro and Ryuji passed a convenience store on their way to school every morning, but stopping to go in and buy buns would eventually become a hassle. "That's not necessar--"
"YEAH CHIHIRO!" Yuuto shouted and clapped his hands for her. "You're too kind!"
Ryuji added, "I think that's a great idea, Chihiro. Though that means we're going to have to leave ten or fifteen minutes earlier than we usually do, right?"
Chihiro's face turned red. She couldn't believe she forgot about Ryuji! They walked to school together almost every single morning. She didn't want to burden him with something as boring as buying buns all the time. "You don't have to come with me," she asserted. "...I'll just go a little earlier. Eventually, you'll see me at the convenience store on the way to school, so we can just walk together then."
"It'd feel weird walking without you," Ryuji told her. "Even for a short amount of time."
Chihiro argued, "I don't want you to get up earlier because of me..."
"MMmmM,' Ryuji sighed and patted her head. "You're a really nice person Chihiro. We'll see what happens tomorrow then."
Chihiro nodded in agreement, her face becoming objectively redder and her fingers curling at the wallet in her hand.
Yuuto took sight of this to his own masochistic amusement and whispered into poor Ryuji's unsuspecting ear, "Must be nice isn't it? To walk with a cute girl like Chihiro." Ryuji just gave Yuuto a look, but Yuuto kept going on. "Look at her! I think she's trying to look cute today, isn't she? She has her hair tied into a pony tail. And she wore white stockings too!"
Ryuji rolled his eyes, "That's your own preference of a cute girl, isn't it?" He started to walk away from Yuuto's nonsense. "Plus, she has her hair in a ponytail pretty often whenever I visit her house."
"Now you're just bragging!" Yuuto shot back, following Ryuji as the entire group walked into the doors of the large school, prepared for whatever high school had to offer them.
The first thing high school offered Ryuji was a sense of dread and boredom. He sat in a chair for nearly three hours as a half-dead principal-- the old man with bald spots type-- spoke into a microphone, introducing every single teacher to the mindless audience of students. Then came his own speech about determination and honor which took up nearly an hour, and lastly the speeches from the grade representatives.
Ryuji took note of all the representatives. They were top-of-the-class for their grade, and there was a certain honor to be offered the role of rep. Ryuji was almost certain; no, he felt as if he knew Haruto was going to be the freshmen's rep. He studied so hard and had impeccable grades in middle school, after all. However, a girl stood in his place instead.
"My name is Sana Takaeuchi," she presented her speech in a refined manner, asking the student body to take good care of the school and themselves to prepare for their future. It was a standard speech for the sort.
The junior rep went by the name of Taisei Ikeda, and the senior rep introduced herself as Dina Suzuki. When they sat down in chairs on the stage, the audience could see how the three representatives were vastly distinguishable from each other. Sana looked like your friendly popular girl who has good grades, runs in track, and goes to mixers every month, whereas Taisei seemed like a true introvert who spent eight hours studying a day to earn his position.
Dina stood out the most among them-- a tall girl with blonde curls and eyes battered with make-up until they looked American. She wore the standard school uniform, except her skirt was a thousand times shorter than it should have been, her nails painted and polished, and the buttons on her blazer were gold instead of black. Judging by looks alone, she shouldn't have been the senior representative, but all prejudices disappeared as soon as she opened her mouth. When she made her speech, she sounded like a politician. She spoke with dignity and grace and maintained the sternest voice of all the class reps, not skipping a single beat as she went through her well-written letter to the seniors.
Most freshmen didn't understand if the elegance of Dina was the result of her own personality or the result of seniors being more refined than the underclassmen. Whatever the case, she was somebody Ryuji wanted to remember.
That was the opening assembly for Ryuji. Truth be told, he didn't pay attention for most of it. It felt as if the first half day of high school already sucked the life out of him.
He walked to class 1-A with Haruto-- both of them settling down in an empty desk. They knew by tomorrow, there would be assigned seats, so they hoped to enjoy the little time they had sitting next to each other.
Ryuji examined the room and quickly determined it was very, very similar to the classes in his middle school. The only difference was that there was a larger space for hanging coats and storing brooms inside this classroom, yet the standard brown desks and green chalkboard remained the same. Even the placing of specific posters, bulletin boards, and books were the same, and he thought of the trivial difference between middle school and high school in Japan.
Then, classmates poured into the room.
Since it was a new school, everybody was awkward and tense, and little conversation flowed in the room, and the silence of the space affected Ryuji as much as anybody else. It was a little awkward and maybe even a little pretentious, but he struck up small talk with the person sitting behind him.
Looking at him, he seemed to be another person of interest. "I'm Aoto Nakagawa." He had bleached blonde hair-- a color even paler than Yuuto's honey bangs and Dina's dyed locks-- and the prettiest brown eyes anybody could ever have. They talked about a lot about school and friends, and soon the atmosphere in the classroom warmed up a little as others began to make new friends of their own.
When the teacher arrived into the classroom, she gave a simple introduction. The bell rang at 12; it was a half-day. Ryuji packed up the little he took out, and found Chihiro standing by the doorway waiting for him like a son or a daughter does her parents. He was soon to approach her, but Ryuji's newfound friend tapped him on the shoulder.
"Hey, you know, this is kind of random, but I work at the karaoke downtown," Aoto mentioned nonchalantly, as if a 10th grader working at a bar was commonplace. "There's actually a mixer tonight, and I was wondering if you guys wanted to go."
"A mixer?" Ryuji was somewhat excited. He had never been to one. School was still calm and easy-going right now, so it would be a great time to have some fun. He looked over to Haruto, waiting for a reply from him, but he said nothing. Understanding his decision was the dealbreaker, Ryuji replied, "Sure." He swung his arm over Haruto's shoulder, then pointed to the lovely Chihiro, "Only if they get to come with though."
Aoto shrugged, "IThat's fine. The more, the merrier I guess."
"W-wait, I want to go home and study!" Haruto shouted to Ryuji.
"Study what? We don't have any homework, and there's not a single clue what's going to be on the curriculum," Ryuji patted him on the back.
Deciding the time was right, Ryuji walked off with his childhood friend, Chihiro, his close friend Haruto, and his new friend Aoto out of the school. They took the metro and soon found themselves at a beautiful karaoke bar downtown named "Big Leo."