Chapter 33:

Chapter 33: Actors, Acting, and Actuality

Becoming A Seiyuu? I'm In!

“It’s true that commonly, companies will accept people with natural talent or good-looking traits, but that doesn’t allow you to belittle Aki! You’ve no idea how hardworking Aki is. Even till this morning, he kept on practicing by imitating dialogues, acting lessons, singing online, and even visit the company to take part as a voice actor! He sacrificed the wealthy life he possessed at Niigata to come to Shibuya because it’s his passion!” - Mura.Bookmark here

Unfortunately, Mura’s presumption has eventually showed its correctness the longer they stayed there. Even though Kenji acting all friendly towards The Seiyuu Club, there was an invisible hollow in him which halted Mura to voluntarily return the friendliness. Ishi could not shake his eyes off from the faltered Aki since Mura has uttered out his observance, however he could not simply accuse Kenji that way. Their seniors seemed just fine to join the company as singers instead of voice actors. Bookmark here

Was his methods actually a forceful effort onto those seniors? He was fully aware that Kaji, Shimo and Taku were singing trainees, and Nami and Matsu were on attempt to be singers before agreeing to Ishi’s scheme. It strengthened Kenji’s point to assign them as singers instead of voice actors.Bookmark here

Then, what about Aki and Tori? Tori could be fine to locate him as whoever’s manager, but Ishi could not think of such possibility for Aki. He was one of the online streamer for Animation Competition Aki and Tori once participated in, together with the media club of Izumi Junior High School. Despite the lack of voice acting experience, Ishi still could perceive Aki’s brilliant acting. Bookmark here

He knew Aki wanted to be a voice actor. He knew Aki would not back off just simply. Bookmark here

“How about you guys?” Kenji’s interruption gasped Ishi at one point. The elder was looking at them; a bunch of first-years. “You are Fuku’s cousin, right? Are you going to be our artist too?” Bookmark here

Calm down, Ishi. You can do this! At the same time his mind constructed a sentence, he recomposed his pulsating heart beat and panicking breathing. “No, I don’t. I’m here for recruiting my club members,” Bookmark here

“It’s a relief then,” Kenji smirked at the wary Ishi. “You, and this fellow. What’s your name, young man?” He gestured his hand towards the emotionless Tori near Mura. From his action, Ishi could tell that Kenji was aware of Mura’s identity as real voice actors, probably on the same par as Miyu. Bookmark here

“I’m Tori, a first-year in Bushida Academy,” said Tori, monotonously and without looking into Kenji’s eyes. He squinted at Kenji’s forehead instead. “I’m the same as Ishi. I came here not to become an artist. I just want to support the recruitment of my club members.” Bookmark here

Kenji propped his face with folded arms to his chest, nodding in agreement – as if. Frankly, the satisfaction inadvertently portrayed on his complexion basically meant Fuku’s recommendation was nearly in vain. He has done some background checks on The Seiyuu Club members and discovered the previous activities of Matsu, Nami, Kaji, Taku and Shimo. He even figured out Ishi’s relationship to Fuku and Mura’s job hiatus. Bookmark here

Only two people intrigued him the more he investigated. Aki and Tori were total strangers in entertainment industry. The only thing he could find was that both of them were participants of Animation Competition – the same project Ishi came across their names back then. Nothing significant for Aki and Tori beyond that project. Bookmark here

“You were the one acting as 0001 during that competition, right?” Kenji estimated while locking his gaze at the stunned Aki. Bookmark here

Aki lowered his face to hide the insecurity he accidentally endured. He eventually nodded to Kenji’s accurate guess. “Yes, I was 0001 back then.”Bookmark here

Tori covered his mouth as his mind recalled the incident when they were first year at Izumi Junior High School. After Ito, Kishi and Aki have exposed themselves, Tani bravely admitted his complot with those two. <0001> was the animation project Mori has wanted to liven. However, Mori’s refusal to assign Aki as the voice actor pissed him off, therefore he stole the script from Mori’s drawer and handed it to Ito and Kishi. Bookmark here

Pondering to himself, Tori quietly thought. Were Ishi, Mura and Fuku-san having something else up their sleeves for Aki? If that so, what would it be?Bookmark here

“Have a battle between you and Nae-kun!” Bookmark here

Kenji’s announcement petrified everyone there. Fuku, too, was surprised by Kenji’s decision because he did not remember agreeing to a battle between Aki and that Nae-kun. The Seiyuu Club was perplexed as they heard, clearly, another alien name. Bookmark here

“Nae-kun has returned home, hasn’t he?” Fuku’s tone deepened, as if he was sustaining himself from lashing out his dissatisfaction. Possibly he was irritated by Kenji’s abruptness. “Besides, why a battle, out of the blue?”Bookmark here

“I won’t let someone without natural talent join our company, Fukkun!” Kenji clenched his teeth, yet his lips twitched a smile. “I want to know how far this guy can flaunt himself.”Bookmark here

Kenji lifted Aki’s chin upward to collide gaze with him. Aki did brace himself up, but his shuddering limbs could not really keep up with the tension. Kenji slightly pushed Aki’s face aside. Bookmark here

“Trembling already, huh? Guess you can’t do much-“Bookmark here

“Aki can do it!” Bookmark here

All eyes shifted from Kenji’s mischievousness to Mura’s conviction. Mura literally glared furiously at Kenji, conveying his anger towards the elder though in exposure, Kenji obviously has surpassed him. Kenji might have more experience in judging people’s ability and talent, but downgrading someone was beyond rude. Moreover, he has lived with Aki for half a year, and they even worked together for Ishi’s plan. Never ever once he heard Aki whining of exhaustion or boredom, enlightening him that Aki really wanted to be a voice actor. Bookmark here

“It’s true that commonly, companies will accept people with natural talent or good-looking traits, but that doesn’t allow you to belittle Aki!” Surely Mura has forgotten to respect Kenji as his senior in voice acting. “You’ve no idea how hardworking Aki is. Even till this morning, he kept on practicing by imitating dialogues, acting lessons, singing online, and even visit the company to take part as a voice actor! He sacrificed the wealthy life he possessed at Niigata to come to Shibuya because it’s his passion!”Bookmark here

“Mura, get a grip!” Ishi clasped on Mura’s forearm, accidentally called him by his real name in front of The Seiyuu Club. At this rate, it would be useless to hide his identity anymore. “Fuku-nii, Mura is right. For your information, Aki has been adoring voice actors, including you and Kenji-san. He wanted to move people by voices, like how all of you have done all these while. Nothing could beat Aki’s ambition, and I want to make sure no one could wither his determination too!”Bookmark here

The deathly glares were not too transparent, but judging from the tone, everyone could figure that Ishi was pissed off. The more they tried to defend Aki, the more Kenji appeared as annoying. The tight atmosphere strangled them, especially Aki because it was him that has become the topic. Bookmark here

“Kenji-kun,” Fuku flatly spoke, “I’m sorry. But I believe them. I believe in Aki’s diligence.”Bookmark here

The air altered a bit when the entrance was swung open by someone from the outside. A head bobbed in, and The Seiyuu Club was puzzled at the presence of the head-ducking guy they almost ran into at the elevator earlier. His face was too gloomy, as if he would shed tears in no time. Bookmark here

“Speak of the devil,” Kenji fathomed his arms, welcoming the timid guy in. “Come here, Nae-kun! I have a favor for you.”Bookmark here

So, this is the Nae-kun, huh. Tori watched how the Nae-kun guy awkwardly walked to Kenji and never lifted his face up. They still could see how he looked like – a timid guy believably a socially introverted nerd. The sling bag dangling from his shoulder was gripped really tightly, like he was resisting from a pain or fear. Bookmark here

“Let me introduce you. This is Nae-kun, our voice actor!” Kenji purposely emphasized the ‘voice actor’ while sneering at Mura and Ishi. “He had his audition before Miyu-kun today, so you haven’t seen his acting yet.”Bookmark here

A weird sensation seeped into their mind, ingesting the odd turn of event. The way Kenji introduced Nae was like the younger was practically a secret weapon of the company. He wanted Aki to have a battle with that Nae-kun? Bookmark here

“I don’t feel right, Ishi,” Mura leant his back against Ishi and whispered, “Despite his appearance, I don’t think this Nae-kun is bad in acting.”Bookmark here

“Me too, Mura,” Ishi gulped at their own assumption. Bookmark here

The guy named Nae-kun wore a pair of black round spectacles and stripped long sleeves, wrapping his neck with a muffler and putting on long boots as if it was already winter. His attire might be unsuitable for the season, but the longer they saw him, the larger their doubt grew. Bookmark here

“How can I help you, Kenji-san?” Nae asked, almost like murmurs. Bookmark here

“Remember your line earlier, Nae-kun? For your online audition of <Kyoto Ghoul> anime?” Kenji grinned at Nae’s obedient nodding, “I want you to re-act that in front of them.”Bookmark here

“Eh? B- B- But I’m shy! Everyone will be watching me,” Nae shook his head in denial. “I came back because I thought I’ve left something here!”Bookmark here

“It’s just for a while, Nae-kun,” Kenji pleaded. “Pretty please.”Bookmark here

Kenji was acting cute, but to Mura and Ishi, it was purely distracting. Nae exhaled before making his way to the microphone. The club and Fuku were anxious despite their anticipation in Nae’s acting. How could a diffident boy voice act? It would be a golden chance to learn. Bookmark here

Nae manageably controlled his breathing pace. Initially he ducked his head, almost to the point that he might bump his forehead against the microphone boom. While the spectators were wondering what he was doing, he abruptly raised his head and, to their surprise, the face of an entity full of murderous lust emanated on the countenance. Bookmark here

“What?” Mura flinched seeing Nae in such state. Just a few minutes earlier, he was utterly embarrassed and too cautious in his movement. In split seconds, he has transformed himself into an unknown character. Bookmark here

Aki cowered at Nae’s extreme transformation. He recalled the day he pretended to be possessed, thanks to Ito and Kishi’s so-called meticulous plan. Judging from Nae’s play, he could tell that Nae was no ordinary voice actor, even if he was to be compared to Miyu. Aki gradually shifted to the, strangely, calm Fuku. Bookmark here

“One, two, three,” Nae counted with one hand, according to his character in the script, “four, five, six.”Bookmark here

The counting was slow, and Nae’s deep throaty tone successfully terrified the spectators. Nae’s fixated glares on the script alone was enough to frighten them, thus the callous sound in his utterance added on the effect. His twitching lips eventually curved upward, snarling at no one. Bookmark here

“Seven. Eight. Nine. Hee hee heeeeeeeee.Bookmark here

Goose bumped! Aki utterly gasped at Nae’s eerie cackle. Just what kind of anime he was acting actually? Bookmark here

“Tell me. One thousand subtracted by nine. How many is the remainder?” Ceasing from guffaws, Nae’s glaring eyes shifted towards the spectators, shooting horrible stance. His voice tone elevated and everyone could see his visible white teeth. “How many more do you want me to remove your fingers for you?” Bookmark here

The seniors of The Seiyuu Club were stupefied by Nae’s tremendously compelling acting. Even though he was so shy, he could re-act the scene without hindrance, plus his alternating voice control was excellently displayed as well. In short, Nae at the moment was that character itself! Aki wondered if Nae improvised to be as that character, or he took in the character to be himself. Bookmark here

“Hey, you over there,” Suddenly Nae pointed directly at the petrified Aki, tilting “Come here. Untie me.”Bookmark here

The spectators concentrated their focus on Aki, whereas Aki did not know what Nae talked about. He shivered over Nae’s unpredictable movement, yet he tried covering it with his own firmness. Out of the blue, the terror of rejection overwhelmed him, much worse than the effect of Nae’s prestigious play. His mind kept on replaying Atsuko’s facial, exactly on the days he confessed his desire to learn at seiyuu school. Bookmark here

The grimness, the dejection, the procrastination to reconsider, upon that unwanted wish of Aki was indisputably heart tormenting. The fact that his parents were much more important than everything in his life somehow hindered him from making up his mind. He wanted justice, he wanted to be fair in his life, yet he was gifted with unfair parents. Deep inside, the thought of losing his family was much more terrifying.Bookmark here

Contemplation killed him.Bookmark here

Then, this Kenji-san appeared in Fuku’s company – Actually, not really. Aki has already figured his existence in the company when they walked into the lobby, and there was a long list of directors, owners, managers, and artists, in a huge frame hung on the wall. At a glance, he could spot Fuku and Kenji’s name, secretly look up the name in a short time, and discover Kenji’s ill intention towards Fuku’s apprentices. Bookmark here

Definitely it was not written on online articles, but Aki listened to his voice. Aki could read Kenji through voices, and since he has watched a promotional video of Fuku and Kenji for their company, Aki sensed a dissatisfaction incidentally emerged in Kenji’s utterance. His assumption turned out to be correct once he confronted Kenji in person. He knew – Kenji would even disappoint people if he could.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.