“Haa~, I’m finally getting some rest. ……, I’m a little tired, so I asked for an extra bento today!”
“Your mother’s food is delicious, Mitobe. My favorite was the hamburger steak.”
“Ah W-When Kagurazaka-kun was designing the character, I prepared the hamburger……. I-I’m glad you liked it.”
“What, I will tell you something. …… It’s amazing that you can cook and make pastries, Mitobe. I can only draw.”
“Eeh!? K-Kagurazaka, you arm wrestled my father and won, right? My father participates in arm wrestling tournaments as a hobby.”
It’s raining today, so we’re eating in the classroom.
Lately, Mitobe doesn’t care about the eyes of our classmates when we eat in the classroom.
Probably because there were more important battles to fight than that.
Also, there were a few more changes than before.
“Hey, Mitobe, um, in math, I’m having trouble understanding this part, can you help me?”
The number of students who came to talk to Mitobe has increased.
Although the overwhelming majority of students were boys, girls were also talking to her.
When it was a boy, Mitobe grabbed my arm and tried to hide.
“—Pl, please look elsewhere!”
Everyone must have come to understand how cute Mitobe-san is.
…… I was proud and at the same time ……, something kind of pain in my chest was born.
As I watched the boys’ disappointed backs as they left, I asked Mitobe about it.
“K-Kagurazaka-kun! Don’t turn them into cinders! …M-mou…… don’t say anything weird anymore. Yeah, it’s because ……, Kagurazaka-kun has made me a very high priority. So when a boy who seems to have an ulterior motive talks to me, jealousy is ……. I-I spoke like I was describing a character! Forget what I just said!”
“I -I see I’d like to forget that, but ……, I understand what you’re saying. ……”
Mitobe squirmed and ate her lunch as if to hide her embarrassment.
Was I jealous? She may be right.
Mitobe is special to me.
By being with her, I was able to develop empathy for others. If it wasn’t for Mitobe, my life would have been very different.
While hiding her face with her lunch box, Mitobe said to me.
“W-When I first met Meguru-san, I thought she and Kagurazaka-kun were good friends, and I got jealous of Meguru-san, so …… we’re even.”
” …… That means that I’m a high priority for you, Mitobe…”
She stuffed a bite of her burger into her mouth.
I gave up on talking and ate the hamburger, squirming.
“…… this is embarrassing, so this topic is closed! L-let’s eat lunch. …… Huh? The classroom is strangely quiet.”
I looked around the classroom.
A few of the boys looked frustrated and were crying.
Most of the students looked surprised.
After a moment of silence, a murmur returned to the classroom.
‘…… Mitobe, isn’t she super cute? Wow, your skin is too beautiful.”
“Yeah, it’s such a waste. She should have worn something more fashionable.”
“I mean, Hayato …… is so normal.”
“Your smile is just awful. …… It’s amazing what love can do.”
“I wonder if they’re dating. Hayato, He was a little strange, so I avoided him.”
“He stood out because he was so unnatural. When he is with Mitobe, he is more normal, maybe he is too good-looking. ……”
The volume of the students’ voices was not loud enough to reach Mitobe.
Tetsuya, Kyoko and Misuzu were also looking at us.
“Kyoko, you said terrible things to Mitobe, didn’t you? You need to understand what you did wrong before you–“
“I- I know. …… B-Besides, everyone except Misuzu was making fun of Hayato.”
“…… I’m just as guilty for not being able to stop you.”
…… There are a lot of things I don’t understand about the three of them, but when I put them together with Mitobe’s novel, I think I understand a little bit more.
–It’s called guilt.
The character in the novel had solved the problem by discussing it, but how should I solve it in reality?
To be honest, I’m still not interested in the three of them.
However, I feel uncomfortable spending time with the three of them like this.
Can I consider that I have grown up?
…… I told Kyoko not to show her face at all, didn’t I ……?
No matter how bad Kyoko was, hurting people is not a good thing.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I do know that Kyoko was hurt.
I stared at the three of them for a while.
I suddenly noticed a strange mascot character hanging from Misuzu’s phone.
“That’s–, let’s give it a shot.”
It might be a good starting point for our discussion.
“Mogu, mogu? Hmm, what’s the matter? Heh? Kagurazaka-kun?”
I stood up and went to the three of them.
The air in the classroom changes.
A sense of urgency was created.
The three of them had surprised looks on their faces, but they seemed to be enduring something.
They probably thought I was going to yell at them. I would not do that.
I called out to Misuzu.
“Hey, Misuzu. Isn’t that mascot Beatrice, the heroine who was transformed into a pet next to the hero in the story “I Built a Slave Harem, but the Slaves Betrayed Me and Expelled Me from the Guild–“?”
“I’m looking at a few manga a day. My dad has a kindle that he keeps adding to. And I have a stack of manga. I don’t understand the feelings of the devilish protagonist, but the pictures are so striking…”
I hope this is the start of something that will make our bad mood a little less bad.
Perhaps if we talk to each other about our favorite things, we can start a conversation.
The tension that had been dominating the classroom turned into a groan.
The attention of the class turned to Misuzu.
“T-that reminds me, when I went to Summer Comi, there was a cosplayer who looked exactly like Mayusame…”
“O-oi, that tsundere serious committee chairman?”
“Well, she likes BL, doesn’t she? Maybe she’s an otaku. I don’t really care.”
“Yeah, she watches a lot of anime.”
“She has a beautiful voice, maybe she will become a voice actress.”
Tetsuya looked as if he had squashed a bitter bug.
I feel even more guilty coming from Kyoko, ……. Why?
Misuzu’s body reacted with a jolt at the word “voice actor”.
“I-I’m not an Otaku……,I- I’m not trying to be a voice actor,……, I-I’m …… hick,……, I’m …….”
Tetsuya leaned closer so that only I could hear him over a whisper.
“I know you don’t mean to offend her, but ……, she was made fun of for trying to be a voice actress in junior high school. ……”
Kyoko’s voice was shaking as she repeatedly told me.
I looked around.
My classmates had complicated expressions on their faces.
I had only tried to walk up to the three of them. But had I made the wrong choice?
I felt like I had done something terrible.
“Y-you got it wrong, I didn’t mean to—“
Just as I was about to be wrapped up in my guilt…
I felt a warm touch on my hand.
“Don’t worry, Kagurazaka, did nothing wrong ……, I’ll help her–, Inomata-san.”
Mitoobe-san stood in front of me as if to protect me.
“Eh? Ah Mitobe-san ……, I-I’m sorry ……. I won’t get involved anymore.”
“Don’t be afraid of me! Inomata, you’re a rearranger! To be honest, I’m not mad at you anymore! It was because of the notebook that I became friends with Kagurazaka-kun–“.
Mitobe-san let go of my hand and shook both of Kyoko’s shoulders, who looked stunned.
“Nothing ‘but’! You and Kagurazaka-kun were childhood friends, right? Then you know that Kagurazaka-kun is beginning to understand people’s feelings and pain! Why don’t you face him better! You should just apologize normally, talk to him normally, and be a normal classmate!”
“…… normally ……, I see, I, Hayato is still broken ……, normal or not ……, that’s right ……, I should have treated him normally …….”
Mitobe now turned to Tetsuya and said.
“Tetsuya-kun, don’t push yourself too hard! Even if you put on a show and look big, it’s not cool, right? If you want to be a friend who cares about the two of them, throw away your own pride–“
Tetsuya then fell silent. He must have been thinking about what Mitobe had said.
Mitobe continued to face Misuzu.
He rubbed Misuzu’s back as she cried.
“…… It’s hard when people make fun of the things you love, isn’t it? I know because I’ve been there too. …… You’ve been living in hiding, haven’t you? …… Everyone is like that, everyone is hiding something from the world. –But, I was able to change when I met Kagurazaka-kun. I’ve made lovely friends and care about, and there’s nothing to be afraid of anymore—- that’s why……”
Mitobe continued to spin her words.
The words are filled with thoughts.
“If you’re serious about becoming a voice actor, don’t worry about the details! Your actions alone could make your dream come true! So don’t cry just because of this little thing–just because you remember that you were made fun of!”
Misuzu held back her sobs and hung on to Mitobe.
“…… Y-You don’t know how hard I’ve been working!! I-I don’t care how hard I try, my talent– you don’t understand!!”
“I don’t know anything about voice acting, but I know what it’s like to chase a dream. I used to struggle with it too.”
Mitobe showed Misuzu the phone she was holding in her hand.
The top page of the site shows a link to her novel site.
On the top page, there was a sign that said, [It will be comicalized!] I’m going to be a part of it.
“I’m going to be a manga artist with Kagurazaka-kun ……, no, I’m a manga artist. But we still have a lot of work to do. There are many obstacles that we have to overcome together. –Hey, Misuzu, you should show your effort and seriously pursue voice acting. If you’re crying, it means you’re frustrated, right? Then–“
Misuzu was no longer crying.
I can feel the strong power in her eyes.
She must have been inspired by Mitobe.
In a sniffling voice, Misuzu released her words to Mitobe.
“……Thank you, I-I definitely don’t want to lose to you. ……I’m very frustrating, T-That’s why, that’s why I–I’m going to be a voice actor and play the heroine!”
The buzzing affirmation of the class is strong.
“You’re right, it’s lame to make fun of someone for trying.”
“I mean, being a voice actor is super awesome.”
“Wait, what do you mean Mitobe and Hayato are manga artists?”
“A-Amazing, a manga artist …….”
I faced Misuzu.
” …… I’m a newbie, but I became a manga artist. So, Misuzu, go forward.”
Misuzu nodded her head.
I tapped Tetsuya lightly on the back. A slap was heard.
“Ouch! Oi Hayato!? What are you doing?”
“…… I can’t follow her, so I’ll leave the rest to Tetsuya.”
“O-ou, ……. I’m going to go to the courtyard for a bit.”
Tetsuya’s tone was indifferent, but his mouth was smiling.
He took Kyoko and Misuzu and left the classroom.
Mitobe had a blue face.
“I-I think I said something really rude ……, ugh …….”
“Thank you, Mitobe. I couldn’t have said it like that.”
“…… I-I did it because I didn’t want to see Kagurazaka-kun in trouble. ……”
“By the way, I can’t get the words ‘lovely friend’ out of my head. …… makes me very happy. Thank you.”
Mitobe’s eyes widened and she smacked me on the shoulder.
“D-don’t! I’m so embarrassed, please don’t remind me! T-That was meant to say I like you as a friend–but, that’s why ……, ugh …….”
I tapped Mitobe-san’s head lightly.
“Haha, you’re right, it might be embarrassing to hear you say that. ……with that said, Mitobe-san is also my lovely friend–“
Putting it into words makes me feel even better.
I went back to my seat with Mitobe, who had a bright red face.
I felt that my face was also a little bit hot.