Chapter 3:

Try your best, try again, keep trying!

An American Otaku

It was during lunch where it began. The cafeteria of our school building expanded into the courtyard allowing us to eat outside if the weather permitted it. Among a small group of students, underneath the redbud tree with the clusters of rosy pink flowers throughout its branches, is where I started to shiver and feel a cold chill go throughout my body. I took a deep breath, narrowed my eyes and raised my hand over my mouth and began to cough. I paused and once more a bit louder I coughed into my hand. I tried my best to convey a sad expression on my face as I brought my hand away from it.

“Blood!” Anthony shouts, “Are you coughing blood?” He turns towards the students whose attention has turned towards them. “It’s tragic, she just discovered the lover of her life and the lover of her life just discovered her. Now she must reveal her illness and admit to him that it doesn’t matter what will happen, how they thought they would be together, they can’t be.”

Isabel brings up both hands but instead of coughing she plants her face into them, “I can’t believe I let him talk me into this.”

“Sounds great right?” Anthony continues, “Are you emotions moved, are you hanging by every word that’s describing every moment? Well this is Anime, and we have a club dedicated to it! Join! Join! More information is on the bulletin board in Hall A, if you want to think about it more.”

Isabel shows off a nervous smile as the students walk by and head back in as they get ready for class.

The next day.

In a deflated if not weary manner, Isabel says out loud, “Oh no I’m late for school! No time to eat breakfast.” She places a piece of toast in her mouth and begins to run through the school yard.

“Behold!” Anthony says with as much passion and exhilaration you can muster into his voice, “A common event that occurs in anime. A girl running late for school with toast in her mouth!” He turns to his assumed audience while nodding. “No time for breakfast, so she must chew as she goes. Is it kawaii? Is it moe? No, it’s culture! Unlike our cartoons, anime plays a more profound role in Japanese culture. Such an iconic scene repeated over and over. What will the result be? Will consumption of rice in Japan go down because they are eating too much toast?” He rambles on, “We must learn Japanese culture to learn anime and learn anime to learn Japanese culture. Join the Anime club and become educated!”

In his mind fireworks go off as he finishes up his statement. In spite of all the effort the crowd starts to head in as lunch comes to an end without acknowledging his grand speech.

“Hmm, we don’t seem to be quite getting to the crowd.”

Isabel takes the toast out of her mouth and sighs.

“Maybe we should try advertising in full cosplay at school.” Anthony starts to wonder, only to have his thoughts immediately shut down by Isabel.

“Like hell we are!” Isabel pauses and then in deep thought stares at the school, “Maybe we are taking the wrong approach.”

“Don’t worry, anime will find a way! If people won’t find anime, anime will find them.”

Isabel doesn’t pay too much attention to his comment but she does reach into her backpack and pulls out a poster that advertised the club and puts it on the door.

“Let's head to our next classes.”

Anthony with his hands resting on his head and shoulders out, nods in agreement and they both walk out the lunch room and head in separate directions to their respective classrooms.

Remaining in the courtyard was one other student with long braided hair, chocolate brown eyes that matched his lightly moisturized, clean brown skin. He stood faraway from where the other students were gathered, leaning against a tree in the shade with his trademark double zero hoodie on. Throughout the entire week, during their presentation, Trey did not take his eyes off of Isabel and Anthony once. After they exit the area, Trey walks up to the poster she puts up and pulls it down.

“Ugh, anime was a mistake.” He says with all the disdain he can fit into his words.


Not paying much attention to the teacher as the day comes to an end, Isabel thinks, “Maybe an anime club wasn’t a good idea. I don’t know why I thought of it becoming some world changing event for me in my life. I guess a part of me wanted that excitement I got from anime to be present in my actual day to day. I think I let Anthony get me caught up in his non-stop overenthusiasm.” She turns and looks back at the teacher who seems to be saying something important as the class comes to an end.

“For our next assignment, you will be researching and writing a paper on one of the preselected topics. This paper will contribute to a big portion of your grade this semester.”

“yyyyeah, research paper.” She says with an obvious sarcastic tone.

The teacher goes on, “You will be working in pairs…”

“Great. Why on earth do they do these things?”

While Isabel was complaining to herself, someone approaches her and she’s caught out of her daydream as the person casts a shadow on her. She turns and looks up and sees someone who she has never spoken to before but has seen sitting across the class.

“My name is Trey, Trey Foxx. Are you ok with being my partner for this project?”

Trey? Odd, I don’t recall ever interacting with him, maybe he thinks I’m really good at these types of things. Regardless, I guess there’s no reason to say no. “Sure, I’m ok with it. My name is Isabel Rivera. Nice to meet you.”

In response to Isabel’s greeting Trey nods and then continues on, “Since tomorrow is Saturday, how about we get an early start on it. You know the earlier you start the earlier you finish.”

“I guess I don’t have any plans.”

“No need to go overboard, just like only 2 hours or so of initial research to establish our ideas and goals and then move on. We can meet up at a library and be out at 10am, still with the rest of our day.”

Quite meticulous, this one. “Sure, I’m usually up early anyway. I like to get up to read manga…to read early in the morning anyway.”

Trey catches her little “slip” and narrows his eyes in response but doesn’t acknowledge it. “Are you far from the North Lake Library?”

“No, I actually live right by it. I’m not too far from the school, I live in the downtown area.”

“Great, I do too. I’ll meet you there tomorrow at 8am.”

“Ok.” Isabel says, slightly befuddled.

“Alright, I’ll see you then.” Trey says as he turns and walks out the classroom.

Isabel watches him leave then packs up her books and supplies and makes her way home.


It was dawn and Isabel was wide awake reading a manga but couldn’t focus for some reason. She stops, puts down the manga and looks out the window.

“The sunrise is really nice and the breeze feels good.” She looks around the room, “Only 6:45am, if I walk there now I’d get there after it opens at 7am. No harm in getting to the library early, maybe I can get some reading done there.”

Isabel heads into the kitchen to get something to eat on the go. After looking around she decides against the toast and instead grabs some sweet bread with sugar topping on it. Takes a bite of it and heads out the door.

The library was nice, one of the bigger ones in the state. It was two stories and sat on the riverside of the downtown area. Isabel walked in and set her things down at a table but instead of reading she instead opted to walk around a bit. There was a section with magazines, which was always a bit more busy than the books outside or the research materials. Then there was the nonfiction, usually the science books were the biggest draw here, a lot of people started to find things on Astronomy very interesting, black holes and stuff you know. Even this early though the most active area was downstairs in the northeast corner, the children’s area. The children's area has a bunch of little kids playing. It was a closed off area where picture books surrounded the walls and toys littered the floor. The parents relaxed by sitting on a bench and drinking various different types of coffee drinks. This was my favorite area. For some reason it was the most comforting, I really enjoyed all the kids playing with each and getting along. It was a calming site, I wanted to just stand here and smile.

“You know all the kids get along because they’re the same, they want the same things and thus work towards.”

Isabel turns around shocked to see Trey standing behind her.

Trey continued, “Eat, play and sleep. Natural desires, it’s when we get order does things get more complicated that we have to form a society to make sure that we work towards the same goals.”

Isabel not knowing how to respond to this sudden barrage of statements just watched him.

“You ready to get started?” Trey said

“Yeah sure.”

Trey takes a seat at the table that Isabel sat her things at they begin to discuss their research paper.

“We can start researching different parts of the topic and then get with each other to write out how we are going to map out the paper.” Isabel said.

“Sure. I’ll start working on the first points of the and the introduction, leaving you with the final ones and conclusion.”

They make their way into the bookshelves and select their respective books and then sit back down. Not much words are shared between them as they begin gathering down their notes.

Trying to break the silence, Isabel speaks, “So how do you like Mister Schmidt’s class?”

“It is what it is. I just want to get through it.” Trey responds bluntly

Isabel makes an insincere smile, while laughing softly, “Not much of a talker.” She thinks to herself, “except for what he was going on about earlier. What was that about anyway.”

Interrupting her thought Trey begins to speak, “That’s about 2 hours and I think we got enough down.”

“Yeah it’s a good start.”

“I’m going to check out these to do some extra work later.” Trey picks of a bunch of books that begins to wobbles in his hand making quite a struggle for him since he carelessly forgot his backpack.

Isabel follows him to the libarian as he checks them out, “Hey, you live close by to me let me help you carry some of them back.”

Before Trey got a chance to reply to her offer, she grabs some books off the top of his stack and holds on to them. Trey had no other option but to shrug.

“I live off of orchard street.” Trey says with a more lighthearted tone.

“Great, I live only five minutes away.”

They began to walk, not unlike their time in the library, not much is said, so Isabel opens up with something that has been on her mind for a bit, “So why did you want to be my partner on this project? I know we had to chose someone but you seemed to go straight towards me right away.”

Trey doesn’t immediately responds but keeps walking as Isabel watches him. He then says, “You were promoting that stupid club with that geek Anthony weren’t you?”

“Stupid?! Geek?! Hey…you can’t…”

“You guys should strive to be more normal and give up such silly things.”

Isabel started to visibly get upset with Trey but he continued.

“You know the Japanese, who you admire so much, have a saying that goes like this, “The nail that sticks up gets hammered.” You should learn from it.”

Isabel looks away and starts to get shakened by his words which reflected her struggle to fit in with other people.

Trey continued, “You think you’re happy but you’re not. If you want to be alone forever that’s fine just to try to corrupt others.”

Trey the books from Isabel as they arrive at his home and enters his home, leaving her standing motionlessly outside of his home in deep thought.

“Here’s your package.” A postal worker says mistaking her from the resident of the building that she was standing in front of.

Isabel looks up with a somber expression on her face, “...Oh that’s not for..” She when she sees Trey’s name on the box. She pauses and decides to accept the package. Regretting her decision to not stand up for herself, she saw this as a good excuse to confront him again.

The postal worker hands over the package and walks away. Isabel immediately starts knocking on his door and Trey opens up.

“What, do you still need something?” Trey crassly responds.

“I’ve got your package, mister I know what’s best for everyone and understand nothing!”

“I admire your dedication to changing by picking up a new profession so quickly but I didn’t order anything at all. ‘K, thanks bye.”

Isabel gets red in the face, “Hey..wait! I don’t work for the post office! If it’s not yours then I’ll just throw it away.”

“Fine. Like I said, I didn’t order any…” Trey immediately comes to a pause as an image of a long green haired girl in a bikini comes in mind.

Trey face immediately turns from stoic to shocked and he thinks to himself, “The limited swimsuit version of Code of Heart figure!?! I…I..I ordered that over a year ago and it shows up now!?!”

Isabel notices the change in his expression and looks at him with curiousity.

Trey trying to diffuse the situation, talks more calmly, “Ha..ha ha. Sorry about that I’ve been rude huh.” He slowly makes his way over to the package without trying to come off as anxious. “I’m the only one home, do you want some tea or…I mean juice, not tea..I mean it doesn’t matter. What I meant to say is, would you like something to drink?”

Isabel looks stares at him intensely and then looks down at the package.

“NOOOOOO!” Trey thinks as sweat drops start to drip down his face.

“I should go.” Isabel says as she hands over his package. “I’ve got better things to do.”

As Isabel walks away, Trey sighs out of relief and closes the door.

Isabel walks home and greets her family as she enters the house and heads to her room. She then plops down on her bed and says out loud, “Big Wolf Toys huh. They almost exclusively ship anime merch. Trey if you want a fight of idealologies, you got one.”