Volume 2: The Girl in Red
Lunch break. The moment has finally come. I head towards the cafeteria, carrying the single volume of “The Failure of Magic Academy” , her favorite light novel.
“Izayoi, let’s go grab some food together.”
“Sorry, I have something to do…”
“You’ve got an unnecessary air of dignity. Alright, maybe next time.”
Right now, I’m more focused than ever. It’s crucial to make a good first impression. If I want to become close with her, I have to leave a positive initial impact.
Ah, I’m so nervous. But I have to go.
I leave the classroom and make my way to the cafeteria, thinking about her along the way.
Hihara Karen generally spends her time alone. She’s a tsundere type who struggles with interacting with people and expressing her emotions effectively.
Now, how should I approach her? The simplest method is to read a light novel in front of her. If she sees me reading her beloved “The Failure of the Magic Academy,” she’ll surely be intrigued and want to talk about it.
And then, she’ll start a conversation. If worst comes to worst and she doesn’t initiate, I can always take the lead if I sense she’s interested. We can develop a relationship without any awkwardness.
Hehehe, I’m quite the strategist. But now’s not the time for jokes.
I arrived safely at the cafeteria. As I look around, I spot her immediately.
Eyes and hair as crimson as a blazing fire. She has twin tails and her figure… Well, a woman’s charm is not solely about her appearance. Nevertheless, she’s sitting alone, just as I expected.
“Excuse me, I’ll have the curry.”
I wait a bit until I receive the curry after paying. However, I realize something at this moment. I hadn’t considered that it would be strange to sit right in front of her without any prior interaction. There are plenty of empty seats around, so it might seem unnatural. Well, is it okay?
“Here’s your curry.”
I’m getting nervous. She’s incredibly cute, and my heart is pounding so much that my arm is trembling.
Should I go for it today? There’s still time before reaching a bad end. No, when else will I do it if not now? Procrastination won’t lead to anything good.
—Let’s do it.
I slowly approach her. By the way, she’s also eating curry. When I get closer, she seems to notice me and turns her face toward me. I need to calm my heart, gather courage, and ask her to share the meal with me.
“Uhm, would you mind if I join you?”
“…There are plenty of empty seats around though.”
Don’t say that! Ignore the slight awkwardness! Having my approach shot down so abruptly almost breaks my spirit. But I can’t back down over something like this.
“Would you mind if I join you?”
“Eeh? Well, I guess it’s fine…”
If I assert myself, it’ll work. Considering our past lives, I’m actually quite a bit older, so perhaps it’s my mature presence that convinced her.
I wonder how it appears to others around us. Do they think I’m interested in her? That’s probably the only way it looks.
“Oi, isn’t that the Dual Pistols?”
“The Double Destruction?”
“That chuunibyou guy, right?”
“Does he have a crush on Hihara-san?”
I can’t hear anything. I can’t hear a thing about Dual Pistols or Double Destruction.
Ignoring the surroundings, I focus on what’s in front of me. She continues eating her curry without looking in my direction, showing no interest whatsoever. Well, that was expected.
I deliberately make sure the title of the book is visible to her as I start reading. And then, she immediately reacts.
With her clear reaction, I inwardly smile and continue flipping through the pages of the book, pretending as if nothing happened. She seems eager, but due to her slight lack of social skills, it’s not easy for her to approach me.
“This book is interesting. Ahh, I wish I could discuss it with someone.”
I mutter loudly enough for her to hear, as if talking to myself. Her eyes widened in response, realizing that I’m a fan of “The Failure of Magic Academy.”
“Do you… do you like ‘The Failure of Magic Academy’?”
“Yes, I absolutely love it. It’s a masterpiece.”
“Right! It’s a masterpiece!”
Yes! It’s a hit! Yes! Yes!
It went well. While she’s not good at interacting with people, once she opens up, she becomes incredibly friendly.
“Do you like it too, Senpai?”
“I really really really love it!!!!!”
Suddenly, she gets up from her chair with such force that her tension rises a hundredfold. She makes a loud clattering sound and attracts the eyes of those around her, but she doesn’t care. She must be happy to meet her comrades. In the story, she looked lonely because she didn’t have any otaku friends. ……
“W-who do you like!!!”
“I guess Teru-kun?”
“Yes! I love Teru-kun so much! If someone asked me who I wanted as a boyfriend, I’d answer ‘someone like Teru-kun’ because I love him!”
Her eyes sparkle with an intense enthusiasm. I knew it, but her persistence is quite overwhelming. By the way, Teru-kun is the main character of “The Failure of Magic Academy.” He’s male and lacks magical talent, but his guts, courage, and various strategies make him an incredibly popular character.
The story is set in a simple world where magic exists during the medieval period. It starts with Teru-kun enrolling in the magic academy, and it’s a harem story, by the way.
“Teru-kun is definitely cool, right? Especially his lines.”
“Yes, right! Teru-kun has so many amazing quotes! I remember all of them, but the best one is… ‘Stay by my side. Just trust me and wait.’Right!!”
“That’s from the end of the first volume, right?”
“Yes! You know what I mean!”
Ah, what a great impression. She’s finally able to express herself freely after being unable to speak much before. I haven’t seen someone get so excited about a story like this before…
“The end of the first volume is so good! In the anime, it’s the third episode!”
“I got so excited that I ended up shouting, and the neighbors even complained!”
Complained about shouting? It’s something that wouldn’t normally happen during an anime, but with her level of otaku enthusiasm, it’s quite possible. I’m not surprised at all.
“You really love it, don’t you?”
“Of course! I bought the light novels, the manga adaptation, and all the DVDs for watching, and then I bought them all again for storage!”
And then I bought them all again for storage!” [TL: Like an echo]
“Wait, Kihara-san is an otaku?”
“I had no idea…”
“She’s a hardcore fan, huh?”
“I thought she was a cool beauty.”
The people around us are quite surprised, but I’m not shocked because I know that Kihara Karen owns around 5,000 books, including light novels and manga. This level of enthusiasm doesn’t faze me.
“That’s amazing. I’ve been wanting to rewatch some anime, so I’m really envious that you have the DVDs.”
“Come to my place sometime!! I won’t be able to sleep until I finish watching the third season, so let’s watch it together!”
“Absolutely, I’d love to.”
Things are going really well. It’s a much better development compared to my previous encounter with Gindou Kohaku. To be invited to her house after just a short conversation… That’s great from my perspective, but isn’t her personal safety a bit too lenient? It gives me a feeling of being simple minded.
Afterward, she continues talking passionately about “The Failure of Magic Academy” during our lunch break.
My name is Noguchi Natsuko. I’m a first-year student in Class A at Minna no Iro High School, just an ordinary high school girl. However, the students in Class A, to which I belong, are a rather unique bunch.
Among them, the one with the strongest personality is Gindou Kohaku. I thought she was a perfect superhuman with both beauty and brains. I call her Gindou-san. Lately, it seems like she’s interested in someone.
Kuroda Izayoi. He’s an average-looking student who somehow gives off an unconventional vibe. Gindou-san is clearly concerned about this male student.
Recently, she keeps glancing at him whenever she gets the chance and occasionally mutters things like, “Why didn’t you walk with me today?” She seems to be questioning herself.
Gindou-san is easy to read. She may not admit it, but she probably likes Kuroda-kun. I don’t really have anything to say about it, but there are only two things that feel strange about the process of her falling for him. The first one is: Why did she start liking him in the first place?
She seemed to have built walls between herself and others when she entered the school. Although she interacted with everyone with a smile, it felt like she was protecting herself with a solid barrier, never truly opening up or trusting anyone.
However, it seemed as if her strong barriers were torn down in a short amount of time, and her attitude changed. It’s not like she’s completely open-hearted yet, but she started interacting with others. I believe something must have happened to bring about this change.
Something must have influenced her way of being. I heard rumors that Kuroda protected her from a stalker, but is that really all? No, there must be more to it.
Even when Kuroda was beaten up by delinquents, she was visibly shaken.
His actions up until then, as well as something decisive that happened on the day of the stalking incident, all combined to create a chemical change. That’s my speculation.
Well, there’s no point in pondering over it further, but it does pique my curiosity. She definitely won’t answer if I ask, and she won’t bring it up herself.
Now, onto the second point of uneasiness. This is not about Gindou-san but about Kuroda-kun.
What was he trying to do exactly? I thought maybe he liked Gindou-san, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. However, would someone risk their life for someone they don’t even like?
There’s also the possibility that he’s just a genuinely good person. In fact, that’s the line of thinking I’m inclined towards.
But there’s something else, something hidden beneath his overwhelming goodwill. It can’t be seen, but it feels like there’s something there. It’s just a gut feeling.
And even within that overwhelming goodwill, there seems to be something more. Again, it’s just a hunch…
It’s like there are so many exceptional people around. I’m surrounded by unique individuals, and it’s quite perplexing.
—-I feel inferior as an ordinary person.
“How about having lunch together? Shall we eat lunch together? Hmm, how should I phrase it?”
As I watched Gindou-san practicing inviting him to have lunch together, even though it was still during the fourth period, I smiled.