Monday, May 9, 2011

Ore No Imouto Ga Konna Ni Kawaii Wake Ga Nai, Chapter 3 Part 2

We are sitting in the corner sofa seat on the second floor of the closest McDonalds from Pretty Garden. Two tables are put together to make a seat for four.

I sit besides Kirino, facing me is Saori, and facing Kirino is the final participant. We have drinks in front of each of us. Kirino, Saori and I bought drinks downstairs before coming up, and just a few seconds ago, we met the final participant.

By the way, ever since the four of us met up, no one spoke a word. After seeing the final participant, I my eyes opened wide. She's dressed really amazing in a different way from Saori.

Oh yeah, I didn't really see this person's face much but... She was sitting in the opposite corner from Kirino all alone and fiddling with her mobile. Since she is looking down the whole time, I can't see her face, but she has some beautiful black hair.

And I guess you call this... cosplay...

She was wearing was a dress in midnight black too. Many rose flower petal-like frilly things were attached to it, making it seem gorgeous. She can probably participate in a ball with this.

"It's been bothering me forever but, looking at it from close, she looks very much like... Suigintou.[1]"

That was Kirino's comment. But you see Kirino, this stands out in another sense different from you, eh? I don't know what role she was cosplaying, but this is apparently putting in too much effort. It's too serious.

After checking that everyone has taken their seats, Saori introduced us.

"These two are, Kiririn-shi, and our special guest, the big brother, Kyousuke-shi. This is our community member..."

"...nickname, Kuroneko.[2]"

The final one finally raised her head and randomly introduced herself. It was a blank emotionless tone.

"U-Um, I'm Kiririn. N-Nice to meet you."

Kirino spoke nervously. It's somewhat unfitting for her, but she was like this the whole time during the offline meeting.

"I'm Kousaka Kyousuke. Excuse me for suddenly participating."

I follow my sister and introduce myself. A response comes in a dark voice. "...right. Well, nice to meet you, for now."

I'll keep it simple but, that Goth-Lolita[3] woman was a hell of a beauty. That said, she was quite a different type from Kirino. Long straight black hair neatly cut at the forehead, white skin, pointed eyes, and a birthmark under her left eye. I don't know if it’s the right way to describe the woman in the dress but she's a ghost-like Japanese-style beauty.

I guess the red contact lenses are part of her cosplay.

The looks of her said she was mean and gloomy... like she would start using black magic anytime. She is beautiful, but had none of the glamour Kirino had. It's like a black aura of negative vectors were streaming from all over her body.

"It looks like everyone's arrived, so I'm going to ask now. What was your intention of luring me into some place like this, administrator?"

"Haha! I told you back then. I wanted to invite you into the secondary party. But it really was close. The instant I finished talking, you started off, so I had to chase you like crazy. You don't even give me time to invite you!"

Saori elbows the Goth-Lolita lightly, but she stays expressionless. She hasn't changed her expression a bit since she appeared, which is way too creepy. But now I know why Saori was running off.

Ah hah. Now I start to understand this Saori woman's intentions.... The reason why she chose these two, Kirino and the Goth-Lolita...

This secondary party must be held with the purpose of inviting those who had been excluded in the offline party just now, and have them enjoy themselves too.

That's why no one else is here.

"I'd like to get friendlier with those who I didn't have the chance to talk to as much," she says.

That's a good way of wording it. Despite how she looks, she can think for others quite well.

Maybe she sensed our situation when she didn't ask any reason why I was tagging along with Kirino, and let me participate here as a special guest. Then, maybe like she looks, she has huge generosity.

Kirino looks like she still isn't feeling secure and sips her cola frantically. She doesn't seem to notice, but the Kuroneko seems to have noticed. I guess that's why she had been looking unhappy ever since the first meeting.

Well, we're thankful of them in a sense, but we feel somehow uneasy as she is being merciful to us, since we can see her intentions. Well, I really can't do anything about that. Kuroneko must feel quite troubled too, since I feel quite troubled myself.

But you see, if I were the administrator, I wouldn’t make the effort to specially invite those that got excluded.

Those who didn't fit in with the atmosphere of a first time meeting would probably not come to the next meeting, so Saori could have just forgotten about them.

So this is what I believe. This strange fashion jumbo woman is a good person.

"By the way, Kuroneko-shi, there’s no need to address me formally as 'administrator.' You can just call me 'Saori.' Since we're all here, no need to be polite, all we need is to do have fun."

"You've got some nerves to call yourself 'Saori' with a body like that."

This Goth-Lolita... the moment she said we don't need to worry about being polite, what could she be saying?

"Oh my, no one ever told me that before."

"Of course not. Since your nickname fits perfectly with your internet personality, you were acting like some high-class lady. But the real deal is like this. This is nothing other than fraud. It's even bad as a joke. I'll give you some good advice. You can start calling yourself 'Andre' or something. Then people won't get confused. Oh yeah... your weird way of speaking, and how you're dressed... you're..."

"Some Ugly-Otaku from what era?"

Sudden honest words came out of Kirino, who had been all frightened and small.

"H-Hey! Not needing to be polite doesn't mean you can say whatever horrible stuff you like!"

Well, I did think stuff like that too... but you're not supposed to say it aloud!

She invited you two, who were excluded. What kind of horrible way to return the favor was that? Especially you there, Kirino! You've been all quiet until now, and that was your first comment? Kneel down and apologize! Don't just be looking aside and drinking cola!

But Saori, who was humiliated like that, seemed not to mind.

"Well well, Kyousuke-shi, no need to be so serious. I do appreciate you standing up for me, but such words like that are only as effective as a light breeze. Rather, I would say it feels nice. So don't mind it, really. You can humiliate me all you want too."

"I was about to think you were a really good person, but with your final line, now I don't really understand."

How tolerant can you be of people bad mouthing you?

As I was looking at the situation dimly, Saori puts up a finger and swings up to the table.

"And so, now that we've become comfortable, how about we introduce ourselves once again?"

"Though I don't really think that conversation we had now justifies as becoming comfortable..."

That wasn't a bad proposal. But Saori's remark made everyone silent.

Come on you two... say something will you? It's uneasy now.

With no other option, I tried to persuade them.

"Don't you think that's a good plan?"

Still no response. It looks like that Kuroneko and Kirino are confused.

Kuroneko probably isn't really into this kind of thing, and for Kirino the failure she had back then must be affecting her. Hmm... If they make you introduce yourself out of nowhere, then it's quite difficult...

Though outsiders shouldn't speak up like this, I guess it can't be helped here. I made a proposal.

"Then, how about we ask a question one at a time to the person being introduced? Then it will be easier to speak up. Oh yeah, passing is fine, so go on take turns!"

"Hmm great idea! As expected of Kyousuke-shi. So then, let's begin with questioning time for Kuroneko-shi!"

"...Yeah being so bossy."

Saori tries with obvious gestures to calm Kuroneko down, who was eyeing her sharply.

Kuroneko blows on her hot coffee, takes a sip, and murmurs something like it didn't really matter.

"Well it's fine then. And so, I did reveal my name. What else am I to say?"

"Well, then my question is... let me see..."

I expected she would ask 'the easiest question', but she didn't.

"How about, 'what freaked you out the most in your life'?"

"...don't you have any questions that are normally for introductions? Why are you asking stuff they would ask during interviews for game show TV program participants?"

I have to agree with that. I can't expect what this jumbo will say... But Kuroneko didn't protest any further. You're quite calm now.

And the conversation went more and more smooth.

"So what was it, the moment in life I was freaked out the most? That will be..."

Kuroneko was thinking with a plain expression, and then continued talking blankly.

"Oh yes, it was when I was dancing Caramelldansen[4] with cat ears and a tail to upload to Nicovideo[5], and my little sister saw me. Even I was freaked out that time."

I don't know what the Nicovideo stuff is, but I now know you aren't the silent type like you look at all. Since half of what you said is like encrypted to me, I can't really make any comment.

"Oh Kuroneko-shi, you have quite a cute personality. And you also have a little sister?"

"Yes. Her jaw dropped like she saw something impossible."

Of course. Just like I am now. I would understand how she felt exactly.

And we went on talking about Kuroneko's sister, but for the whole time, Kirino spoke not a single word. I guess she's still nervous.

But with great timing, Saori asked Kirino to speak up.

"So then, next is your turn, Kiririn-shi. Ask some questions to Kuroneko-shi."

"Oh, eh? Me? Umm..."

Suddenly being pointed at by Saori, Kirino blinks.

"N-Nothing much... I guess? Let me pass..."

...stupid Kirino! What the heck are you doing? Saori was being considerate of you and didn't ask the most obvious question to make! Ask it! Ask about her clothes!

It looks like my wishes didn't get through to Kirino, she looks down and shrinks.

I guess it's like her getting excluded back there traumatized her. That's why...

What should we do... I scratch my cheek and ask a random question to Kuroneko.

"What's your favorite food?"

"Fish. Is this enough?" Kuroneko blurts out like she finished her duty.

Damn... this woman doesn't seem to know proper manners addressing an elder...

"So then, next is Kiririn's turn to introduce yourself."

"Oh... Me...? Umm... Well... I'm Kiririn..."

Kiririn is all stiff. Though she gave her name again, she's still looking down.

As if she won't allow the atmosphere to get dark, Saori speaks out at a great timing.

"So then, questioning time for Kiririn-shi! Go on, Kuroneko-shi!"

"Why are you dressed so awkwardly? I would understand if you were going to some mass date in Shibuya, but it's just wrong to dress like that when you're going to an offline meeting in Akiba."

This Goth-Lolita asks the most sensitive question without hesitation.

She's almost getting traumatized, so don't ask that!

Yeah, I did send telepathy to ask about the clothes, but that was not for you!

"Mmm...."

It seems like Kirino who had been all gloomy felt offended by this, and talked back at Kuroneko.

"Sorry for that. But I couldn't help it. These clothes suit me. Y-You yourself are..."

"...you are what? Say it out louder, will you?" Kuroneko whispers like she's sneering.

Whoa... Amazing. It seems like we are being looked down on.

"Grr..."

Blood was rushing into Kirino's forehead veins. Uh oh... She's trying to hold herself back...

Kirino, who is normally short tempered, is using her normally nonexistent self-restraint ability, and takes a deep breath. She must be raging inside, but didn't show it from the outside. Something small would trigger her to explode. I'm worried...

Hoping she would do something about the heightened tension, I eye Saori but...

Saori makes a face like she's saying 'Is anything wrong?' And cocks her head sideways cutely.

It looks like she will keep silent on this and do nothing. Geez... What is she thinking?

With the smell of black powder in the air, their conversation continues.

"Let me revoke that pass I did before. Let me ask you a question. What kind of cosplay is that dress for? It isn't Suigintou, is it?"

"Oh, this? Of course it isn't Suigintou. It's so different. Do you even have eyes? It's the Queen of the Night from maschera.[6] Don't tell me you don't know it?!"

I don't. Even if you seem surprised that we don't, that doesn't make a difference. It looks like Kirino didn't know either.

"Hmm? Maybe I might have heard the name before... was it an anime?"

"Yes. '~maschera~ Lament of the Fallen Beast'. It's an action anime with the best story and animation this season. They air it on Thursday evenings, so be sure to watch it."

"Oh that's umm... Meruru's back-program. If I remember, they call it a fail style, horrible drawing, jakigan, chuunibyou, anime. " [7]

I imagine a button with a skull and bones being pressed right now.

"I heard something I can't ignore. What did you say? Meruru? You aren't talking about "Stardust Witch Meruru," are you? Heh! Battle Magical Girl[8] anime are so out of style! Those are for retarded children and stupid men who only care about moe.[9] It’s just a crappy anime. Look at the viewer percentages. That program is more like the back program. Now quit talking about your delusions."

"Viewer percentages? What the heck are those for? Understand this. The program I watch is the front-program, and all the others are back-programs. This is the law in this world, so remember. From what I can tell, you don't even watch Meruru! If you saw the final battle in the first season, you would never make such stupid remarks! Oh how pitiful... You didn't watch that... The animation was intensive and matched the super cool insert song! Don’t underestimate kid's anime!"

"You're the one who should shut up! What did you call it? Chuunibyou? I hate everything about that word! Every time works have any element that's considered so, they criticize it with that word without any discussion about the real content. What a bunch of tasteless idiots! And you're just one of those pigs too?”

What is this? Why are they suddenly fighting now?

"Hey... Wait, wait, wait a second... Don't stand up you two, take your seat! Calm down, it's just anime."

"JUST ANIME?"

Kirino and Kuroneko both look at me at once.

"S-Sorry, I shouldn't have said that."

Shit... anime otaku are scary when they’re serious. I look to Saori seeking help, but she's sipping orange juice like she doesn't have anything to do with it. I whisper to her, "Do something about it, will you..."

"They've become so comfortable with each other. Haha. It looks like they were unexpectedly a good match."

"Do you have eyes or what?"

Since no one stops them, their argument continues.

"Heh, you've got a great personality. That's why you get ignored by everyone in the offline meeting. Do you understand?"

"Look who's talking. I was watching you being all alone playing with your mobile. Soooo gloomy. No one will dare to strike up a conversation with you."

"Shut up... I suddenly felt like looking at some funny images about Asame-Shimbun.[10]"

The two glare at each other. Both of them are beautiful... but what a low-level argument this is.

Honestly, both are pointless. Geez... why do beauties always have some problem with their personality? Thanks to you people, my prejudice against beauties has become even worse. Normal is the best after all... ah, I want to see my childhood friend for no reason now...

As I kept trying to ignore reality like that, Saori snuck in to break up the ugly argument.

"Well then, since the talking has finally gotten somewhere, why don’t we shift to the next topic. Oh yes, it's my turn now."

As Saori's voice goes through, everyone focuses on her. She smiles with her cheeks up.

"So then formally again, I am 'Saori' Bajeena. I am the administrator of the 'Otaku Girls Get Together' community. As I've written in my profile page, I'm 15 years old. A 9th grade student. If I remember right, I'm the same age as Kuroneko-shi."

She was carefully trying to open up a conversation, but Kuroneko makes no reaction and ignores her completely.

Oh so these two are one year older than Kirino. I expected Kuroneko to be around that age but... Saori... she's younger than me...?

I looked at Saori thinking it's unbelievable.

"By the way, my three sizes from top to down are, 88, 60..."

"No need to tell me that."

"Heh. They're the same as Fujiwara Norika.[11]"

"Listen to me! Don't say it so proudly!"

Damn it. Why am I making all the comments alone...?

This is becoming way too much now.

I didn't come here to practice my tsukkomi skills...

"Someone please hurry up and ask her a question..."

Out of energy, I ask for help. Unexpectedly, it was Kuroneko who responded.

"Then, the question everyone must have wanted to ask, I will ask. Saori-san, what is that ugly otaku fashion and way of speaking?"

I really wanted to ask that! I praise her in my heart, but I was worried she might just respond by saying that's her natural self. If that happens, should I pull my sister out and run from this pervert?

My worries did not come true. This is the response Saori gave: "Oh my how embarrassing... Actually, this is my first time organizing an offline meeting. I put in a lot of effort to make up a personality that suits a leader so that I will be liked by everyone as much as possible. I'm a more quiet girl normally."

Err... are you seriously saying that? Is how you speak part of acting and not just how you dress?

There's tons of things I want to ask but... I still can't believe the part about her being normally a quiet girl. That's only what she believes herself.

Kuroneko, who asked the question, blinks her red eyes in surprise.

"I don't understand why putting in effort results in that. Heh, but it must be better than misunderstanding and fully equipping herself with brand name clothes, only to fail and get excluded."

"What the heck? So annoying... You can't argue about that can you? What is with that overkill Goth-Lolita dress? I didn't think someone would wear something like that to an offline meeting, even in Akiba!"

"What did you say?"

Kirino and Kuroneko again glare at each other. I guess I'll leave these two alone.

By the way, I noticed one thing.

There’s Kirino who dressed up cute with the trendiest brands…

Kuroneko who cosplayed super seriously…

And Saori dressed in ugly-otaku clothes…

Three people with three different styles. Even though their personality and fashion is completely different, there is something shared between these three. It's that they all put in effort to dress up in the hope for the offline party to go well.

"Hmm..."

While hearing the argument between Kirino and Kuroneko, which made no sense, I review the past couple of hours.

Today, Kirino was able to meet otaku besides her for the first time, but honestly they were much different from what she expected. By otaku, I mean the more narrow meaning of otaku, subculture maniacs into games and anime.

I'll say the most obvious, but it's that they all have a hobby they love so much. Yes, that's it. Loving R&B, loving basketball, loving mystery books, loving Japanese calligraphy, it's no different from that.

But until now, I didn't think like that. I thought differently of otaku. Even though I didn't know much about them.

Right now, Kirino and Kuroneko are arguing about anime. But what difference does that have to high school girls talking about how crazy they are about their favorite idol inside a karaoke box? How different is it than celebrities talking about love stories in the corner of a fancy cafe?

Maybe... Just maybe, there is no difference. Am I wrong?

Kirino said she couldn't reveal her hobby because of society's views.

I understand that. Considering the image I had until yesterday, it's obvious how much prejudice society has against otaku. That's especially strong among middle school and high school kids.

...and not all of it is prejudice...

Since THEY are weird. They aren't normal, at least. I, who had prejudice, will speak out now that I was underestimating them. You people are weirder than I imagined!

Well anyhow, there are only three otaku I know now, so there might be the argument that I shouldn't use these three as model examples. Maybe they are quite different from the model otaku figure.

So from here on, this is my current thought, with heavy prejudice: Otaku aren't that bad, are they? Though they are strange.

I look at the huge spectacled woman in obviously otaku fashion.

For example, she's nearly the same age as Kirino, but is great at making relationships smooth. She's strange in every kind of way, but she's praiseworthy in that she fulfils the role of the leader well, helping everyone enjoy.

She’s not the only one who isn't bad.

You'll realize it if you recall all the events today.

The maid cafe they had the offline meeting in, and that huge street that seemed like some festival...

This secondary party too. Other than the fact that Kirino had been excluded and left alone, which was pitiful, there's nothing to have a bad image about. It’s because they seem to be having fun.

They get together with those who like the same thing, and play around...

It even makes me frustrated that I can't join in.

They care about how people look at them? They're afraid of prejudice? Then just come to this side. Now make some huge noise together with us! ...I feel like they are lending a hand out like that. Who exactly is? I don't really know.

If you insist on an answer, then I would say everyone. Even I don't know what I'm talking about though.

That’s why they are all here, doing so out of their own will.

Just like Kirino, who came here in search of friends.

Because look at this, this noisy argument between Kirino and Kuroneko.

Don't you think it's great that they can have such a heated argument like this on the very first day they met? That means they have 'something important' between them that resonated between the two.

From an outsider’s perspective, it might look strange at times.

But it's not something bad, that’s for sure. It's not something you can easily look down on or throw away. Regardless of how strange it might look.

"Haha... You have said many things, you damn human... Fine. Come outside bitch! I shall teach your body the true meaning of fear! You can cry in your next life!"

"Shut up! That's enough, you jakigan dempa woman![12]"

"J-J-Jakigan... D-D-Dempa?! Hahaha... you said something you shouldn’t have said! Aww, so pitiful. I can't save you no matter what happens. It’s too late to be sorry. This negative aura, I can't stop anymore..."

"Are you stupid or what? Don't you feel embarrassed just being alive? How about you just die now?"

Err... Can I take back my comments from before?

Otaku, you see... not all of them are good...

And after a while, we left McDonalds and, as Saori had planned, we did some light shopping in Akihabara. This incident (let me word it as incident for now) will be a long winding story, and I don't even want to look back at it, so I'll omit it. Rather, you understand, right? If you visit around Akiba with these members, what will happen? Just imagine!

You did? Right? Okay. If you add 150% to the damage I received in your imagination, then that will be quite close to what happened in reality.

Geez. I'm praiseworthy to not have run away.

By the way, Kirino and Kuroneko were dissing each other the whole time. And it almost always had some otaku talk in it. It began with anime, then went into games and manga, about how the couplings are whatever, and how the animation was blah, and how DVD prices are something... Really, I'm impressed at how much stuff they could insult each other with.

As evening began to creep in, and even after the secondary party was finished, it's still like that. They did exchange goodbyes, but still kept hostile about jakigan vs. magical girl anime.

"Hahaha, Kiririn-shi and Kuroneko-shi really seem to have gotten friendly."

"What part of today makes you say that? Maybe you need new glasses."

I'm saying that, but I understand.

Watching Kirino and Kuroneko argue, I raise my cheeks a bit.

Good for you, Kirino. You’ve now found someone you can shout about your hobby to in such a loud voice. I’m sure you will deny that, saying "Not at all" though...

But that's what you call a friend.

"...Well then."

Me and Saori are standing back a little to avoid becoming victims of the ongoing anime otaku battle.

We’re right outside the Akihabara Washington Hotel on the sidewalk. A crossroad is right in front of us.

...As Kirino's brother, there's something I have to say.

With as much heart as I can put in, I bow down to Saori.

"Thank you."

"Oh? Did I do something that deserves being appreciated?"

With a question mark above her head and her mouth in a ω shape, Saori cocks her head sideways.

She probably understands it. But exchanging any more words about it is just uncool.

I said what I should say. I can only hope she understood my feelings. I smiled lightly. "You are a good person after all. Kirino and I were lucky."

"I don't understand what you mean at all, but I'm not such a great person. I've been doing whatever I like. If you believe I am so, then it must be that Kyousuke-shi, you yourself are a good person. They say, other people are mirrors showing yourself."

Saying all that, Saori unsheathes the poster from her backpack and thrusts it like a lightsaber.

The poster shines in the setting sun. Looking at the tip shown in front of me, I let my shoulders down.

"Heh, Just say whatever."

"And I shall."

Saori smiled and showed her back to me. She must actually make very nice expressions normally. The smile was charming enough to make me believe so.

Thick glasses and a bandana on her head with a plaid shirt tucked into her pants...

It's one hell of an ugly otaku fashion. There's nothing that can be uglier.

Saori swings the saber once and sheathes it back into her bag.

"Well then, see you again sometime."

The light turns green. Akihabara station shines in the twilight.

The large back walking off, showing no hesitation, looking proud.

I won't lose to that, and proudly walk towards Kirino.


[1] A character from the anime/manga Rozen Maiden.

[2] “Black Cat” in Japanese.

[3] A fashion subculture originating in Japan that is based on Victorian clothing as well as costumes from the Rococo period. More here.

[4] Some things are just easier to show than explain. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrXslgFa_wc

[5] Japanese youtube

[6] It’s a made up anime. Wiki tells me so.

[7] urabangumi - With programs that air at the same time, they call one of them omote(front) and other ura(back) according to importance.
Jakigan - 'third eye' from 2chVIP stuff. Some random messed up fantasy setting you make up about yourself. (Like you had some third eye on your arm and have to hide it) it’s apparently considered embarrassing. Usually refers to a third eye that holds super powers or something... Don’t ask.
chuunibyou: 8th grade disease - it's said that many people make get these strange perceptions of the world with random delusions at around 8th grade. anime/manga with settings you would imagine in 8th grade are called chuunibyou anime

[8]A sub-genre of Japanese fantasy anime and manga. Think Sailor Moon.

[9] The editor insists on keeping some dignity and tells you to wiki this yourself.

[10] parody of Asahi Shimbun, a newspaper

[12] Translator wrote here that it’s “something like calling her delusional or something, seriously don’t ask.”

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