I'm translating from the official Korean version of Gakuen Kino. I don't have the Japanese version for reference (my Japanese isn't that great either), so please bear in mind that there may be inconsistencies throughout. As Gakuen Kino is a series rife with puns and reference, expect some things to be lost in translation.
Gakuen Kino Chapter 1: Kino’s Refreshing Arrival! ~Here Comes Kino
It was morning.
No matter how you looked at it, it was morning. The bright sun had already climbed quite high in the eastern sky, warming the summer ground.
A single structure stood boldly in the midst of a viridian forest. In the centre was a cylindrical building, sandwiched in between a pair of rectangular buildings that rather resembled bland apartments.
In one of these buildings was a certain room. You couldn't say it was particularly spacious, but it contained all the basic necessities, like a desk, dresser, and a bed. It was almost like a school dormitory in that everything was very standard--in fact, it was a school dormitory.
On the desk were a few notebooks and textbooks, as well as the kind of stationery that a male student could never use without being teased by his classmates. A sailor uniform hung in front of the dresser. And by that, I don't mean the actual sailor uniforms worn by muscled navy officers. It was just a summer sailor uniform worn by schoolgirls.
The owner of said uniform was lying on the bed.
A frugal mattress lay on the wooden frame in the corner.
The girl was asleep, her head turned away. She was covered with a thin blanket that was plastered with cutesy firearms company logos like "Heckler & Koch", "Colt", and "Smith & Wesson". It was not the kind of blanket most people would know where to acquire. The lavender pyjamas she wore were covered in comical renderings of quotes like, "Open fire!", "Deploy the machine guns", and "Contact the artillery corps!". They were the kind of pyjamas that even those well-versed in the field would not know where to acquire.
She was perhaps in her mid-teens. Her short black hair currently stood up on ends like a bird's nest. Eyes closed, mouth half-opened, and breathing quietly, the girl slumbered peacefully under the sunlight filtering through the green curtains.
"Hey! How much longer are you planning to sleep? Wakeupwakeupwakeup! Wake up!"
Someone's voice rang through the room. Of course, it wasn't the girl's voice. Nor was it the precise alarm clock, nor was it the ringing of a phone. It was the voice of a young boy.
"Wake up! Wake up!"
Who in the world could this voice belong to? There was no one else in this room.
"Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!"
The voice began shouting orders, even louder than before.
"Ahhhh… I can't eat anymore… but I wanna eat… but it's all about resolve… yeah, I have a separate stomach for all that…"
The girl muttered these strange things, and went right back to sleep.
"I don't believe this…" Complained the voice. And…
"Beep beep! Beep beep! Beep beep!"
It began to imitate a beeping alarm as loudly as possible. After 20 seconds of sustained beeping, the girl frowned in annoyance.
"Beep beep! Beep beep! Beep beep!"
The girl sleepily reached out for the digital alarm clock at her bedside. Of course, the beeping was not coming from the alarm clock. It had been set at exactly the time she needed to wake up. But the girl mercilessly pounded her fist into the clock. Its plastic frame rattled from the shock.
The girl retracted her hand and fell back into sleep. She breathed out peacefully.
"Heeeeey! Beep beep! Beep beep! Beep beep! …This is getting tiring… Beep beep! BEEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEP!!!"
The desperate voice once again rang out throughout the room.
The girl sat up, eyes still half-closed. She reached back for her alarm clock to check the time.
That was the time displayed on the screen. It was a very real number.
It took the girl 3 seconds to process all of this. Her eyes opened wide. The words tumbled out of her mouth.
"Ah… I-I-I…" She took a breath.
"I'm late!" She screamed.
The movements that followed were almost too fast to follow. She pulled off the blankets and ran into the bathroom in her pyjamas. She returned at lightspeed and complained to the empty room.
"Why didn't you wake me up?!"
The voice, whose hard work had been rewarded, (understandably) replied angrily.
"That's just what I've been doing all morning!"
"Argh… You know I can never wake up if all you do is yell. You should have beaten me awake!
"As if that's even possible." The voice replied.
"Ohhhh, why does this have to happen every day? In my next life, I hope I'll be the kind of person who can wake up easily even at the crack of dawn." The girl muttered, and quickly began to change, taking clothes off, putting clothes on, getting into the sailor uniform, and finally smoothing down her messy hair. The few rebellious strands were--
pushed down with spirit.
She grabbed her light beige bag and her keys. The moment she was about to dash out the door, however, the voice spoke up again.
"Hey! Don't leave me behind again!"
The girl hurried back and grabbed a small phone strap lying on the desk. It had a simple design, made with green leather and yellow metallic decorations. Because she didn't have a cell phone, there was a key (that wasn't her room key) hanging from the strap.
Extraordinarily enough, the disembodied voice had been coming from this phone strap the whole time.
The girl moved over to the door and reached out for her western belt. It was by the door so she wouldn't forget. She put it around her waist and secured the buckle. There were several green pouches hanging from the belt. Over her right thigh there was a brown leather holster holding a revolver. Naturally, it was just a model gun that did not go against any firearms restrictions. But that was besides the point that most girls did not carry around such things, model gun or not. But thinking too much about things like this would slow down the pace of the story, so please don't worry about it too much.
The girl opened the door with incredible force and ran out of her room. The sound of the door closing and being locked echoed down the hallway, as well as the voices of the two people(?) running down the hallway.
"I'm definitely late, Hermes! It's all your fault!"
"Why is it my fault? You're the one who slept in, Kino!"
And so the high school student "Kino" and her mysterious cell phone strap "Hermes" noisily began their day.
A single student ran furiously uphill towards the school gate under the clear summer skies and the shower of flower petals.
It was the very sailor-clad girl that had very recently run out of the deserted dormitories. As a side note, the security guard cheerily commented to her, "Haha, you're always late for class every day even though you're running at mach speed. Good luck!"
The girl's name was Kino. She was in her first year of high school in this institution. This academy was divided into the high school and junior high school divisions, and was co-ed. About half the students lived in the dorms, and the other half commuted by school bus.
"I just might make it this time!"
Cruelly enough, the moment the holster-and-pouch-clad Kino shouted these words, the school bell began to toll. There were still hundreds of meters between Kino and the school on the green hill. It was quite a steep climb at that. This was a great source of complaint for the students who had to travel to and from the dormitory cafeterias for lunch every day.
"I guess I'm late again…"
"Late as usual, huh? You reap what you sow."
The dejected Kino and the cell phone strap Hermes sighed in unison.
Kino trudged towards the school mournfully. Her bag, her holster, and her pouches, and even her scarf and uniform suddenly felt very heavy.
"Kino? Aren't you going to run?"
"Nah, I'm late anyway. I might as well wait for first period to finish…"
"No motivation, huh? I don't care about school, but I hope you'll be a bit more enthusiastic for the 'Battles'." Said Hermes. It was really out of nowhere. Kino continued to toil up the hill and asked,
"'Battles', huh? Is all that really true?"
Hermes got a little angry over that.
"You don't believe me? Then how do you explain the talking cell phone strap? If this wasn't true, you'd be just some crazy human talking to herself."
"I guess… but what do you expect me to do, suddenly saying that I have to 'become a warrior of justice and battle the demons who have taken up residence in the school'?" Kino asked wearily, wiping the sweat on her brow with a handkerchief.
"Don't worry, Kino. Right now, your original battle prowess and memories have been sealed away to allow you to have a normal student life. Once danger arrives, you can transform into a warrior of justice and fight the evil armies that plot to take over the universe! After all, you're the hero chosen by the Goddess herself!" Said Hermes, in a completely different tone. Saying something like this was the kind of thing that could get an adult's head checked out.
Kino looked up at the blue skies over the green hill and muttered,
"I just don't think I have that kind of power."
"You'll know when the time comes."
"I don't really want that time to come. I just want to live a normal school life."
"Even thought you're always late for school?"
Eventually they reached the point where the school building and the gates were visible. The iron gates were shut tightly. Of course, there was a side door for pedestrian use.
"Ack… This isn't good."
Four students stood there. They wore sailor and white standing-collar (summer uniforms) uniforms. They all wore armbands that read "Student Council Special Duty Team". It was the "Unusually Energetic Student Council that everyone wants to join", "The Team That Makes Delinquents Wet Their Pants Club"'s Special Duty Team's Uniform Regulation Division. They didn't check every day, but it seemed that they had picked today to do spot checks outside the gate.
"Why today… of all days…?" Asked Kino, who got to class on time yesterday.
The Council members were like predators stalking their prey. Kino slowly approached the gates and asked Hermes,
"Oh right! Could I just transform now and get rid of those four…?"
Hermes ignored her. Except for the whole 'talking-cellphone strap' thing it seems like he actually had some sense.
"Hey you! We need to see your student ID!" Ordered a sharp-eyed second-year girl.
Kino, who had given up on getting rid of the Council, dejectedly took out her ID from her bag. A snake-faced third-year boy snatched it and compared Kino to her picture.
Kino glared at the student, a stark contrast to the prim expression worn by the girl in the photograph.
The boy was about to say something, but stopped himself. He returned the ID and asked accusingly.
"Kino, High school division, first year, class ___. Tell us. How many times were you late this term?"
The teachers recorded student tardiness rates and not the Council, so Kino's lateness record really has nothing to do with these guys. In other words, they're just being douchebags. If a student answered, they would retort with, "That's quite a lot, isn't it?" or "are you lying to us?". If a student didn't answer, they would just bully them, saying "So many times that you can't even keep track, huh?".
"I'm not quite sure… But It's definitely less than 200,004,500 times." Kino replied with a straight face. The 4-against-1 pressure intensified.
"We'll be checking your belongings for contraband!" The sharp-eyed girl and another female student approached Kino. Kino frowned again, but she couldn't do anything about it since same-gendered council members had the right to search student belongings.
The two students dug through Kino's bag.
"Doesn't look like there's anything in here."
Although it was only right that they praise Kino for following the rules, they returned the bag with oddly disappointed expressions on their faces.
"Can I go in now?" Kino asked. She was about to go in when she heard no answer, but another council member stopped her.
It was another second-year boy. He pointed to Kino's waist.
"That's been bothering me for a while now."
Hermes, who had been hanging from Kino's belt, thought to himself, 'Yeah, it's definitely a little weird to carry around a model gun.'
"Aren't those pouches against uniform regulations?"
'Huh? those pouches?!' Hermes thought.
Kino glared and replied rebelliously.
"Um… I've never heard of a rule like that before. What's it to you?"
This really pissed off the Council members. They surrounded Kino and approached slowly with the intent of finding something, anything against school rules. Eight hands reached for the pouches on Kino's waist. Kino braced herself defiantly.
"Hey, what do you think you're doing?"
If these students didn't have Student Council Armbands, this could practically count as a crime scene. Scary, huh? Don't try this at home, kids. Looks like power really does corrupt.
A clear voice rang out at the school entrance. The four Council members flinched at once and looked in the direction of the voice. Kino followed their gaze out of offhand curiosity.
He was a tidy-looking young man with a melancholy look in his eyes. His slightly long black hair danced in the wind. His pristine white uniform was topped by a single katana strapped to the belt.
He walked over quietly, gaze unwavering. The sound of his every step rang out clearly. The morning sun shone off the katana. A dove flew past him. In slow motion, at that.
"A-ah-Shizu-" One of the girls stammered in shock, and, blushing, called out his name.
His name was Shizu. A third-year in the academy's high school division. As a side note, there is a rumour that he'd been held back about 5 years and is actually over 20 years old. Of course, this is only a rumour.
With his handsome good looks, elegance, top-of-the-class academics, and athletic skills, Shizu was the most famous student in the entire school, bar none.
A princely figure that monopolized all female attention in the school, his disinterest in dating and his gentlemanly grace in all necessary interactions (in-class science labs, for example) only served to increase his popularity and his fantastic awesomeness… and I'm forgetting where all this is going, but anyway, he's a really extraordinary guy.
He didn't join any clubs, and was always on his own. A lot of people though he was a lonely sort of guy who didn't even have male friends, let alone female ones, but they stayed mum on that topic in fear for how their social lives could be ruined if they said anything like that. Shizu was that kind of a guy.
His trademark was the katana at his side. Nicknames include "The Katana Nobleman", "Prince Shizu (used mostly by girls)", "The Swordfighter Man", and "Prettyboy Samurai (used only by guys)".
Shizu approached the five students silently with charismatic elegance. The male students took a step back as if faced with a predator, and the female students stood rooted to the spot as if in a trance.
Shizu stopped and looked directly at Kino. He was much taller than her, so he was technically looking down at her, but there was nothing overpowering about his gaze.
Both Kino and Shizu were silent. The stared at each other for about 3 seconds. Veins started popping on the Student Council girls' foreheads.
Shizu looked forward again. He adjusted the katana with his left hand and began walking. The Student Council members got out of his way.
Paying no attention to the hypnotized gazes of adoration and the antagonistic glares of defeat and envy, Shizu passed by them, dignified, and headed for the school.
Only once he had passed out of sight did the Student Council members let out a breath. Looking at their staring into the newly paved road, one would wonder where all of their previous aggression had gone. Kino ran towards the school building without a care.
"That was close. I've heard about that guy, but it's all about the looks, huh? Not that I think he's a bad guy or anything."
Hermes replied, "Yeah. But you know, that guy--"
"Yeah, him too." Kino nodded gravely. She and Hermes said in unison,
"Isn't he late?"
Let's move back a bit in time.
"I am the Goddess of this planet." Said the self-proclaimed Goddess. Wait, I guess it'd be more accurate for her to call herself a self-proclaimed Goddess.
She was beautiful. Dressed head-to-toe in glamourous clothing and accessories, with a serene halo of light shining from behind her, she did sort of resemble a Goddess. If you looked closely, her floating feet were also quite Goddess-like. Not only that, the entire space consisted of nothing but blue ground and yellow skies. The kind of mystical, Goddess-made space that could not exist in real life.
Standing in front of the Goddess were two humans and a motorrad.
One of the humans was Kino. She wore a black jacket and a brown overcoat, a hat that covered the ears, and a pair of goggles. Around her waist was a thick belt. Holstered at her right was the Legendary Persuader "Big Cannon ~ Shining Iron Demon Destroyer". Of course, in appearance it was no different from Kino's original "Cannon".
The other person was Shizu. He wore a green sweater that was layered at the shoulders and elbows. At his side was a cheap katana, one of the many he carried around in a black bag, as a replacement for his beloved sword that was broken into five pieces during his battle against Riku, who turned out to have been a spy of the Galactic Overlord.
The motorrad was Hermes. He had shifted from spaceship mode to his usual two-wheeler form, complete with luggage. He stood on his centre stand.
The two people and the motorrad had left their home planet and travelled to the depths of outer space in order to defeat the Galactic Overlord. (Please refer to "Kino's Journey - The Beautiful World-" Volumes 20~134: 'The Space Arc - Chapter of Travels', 'Stock Market Arc - Trap', 'Stock Market Arc - Revenge', and 'The Space Arc Part 2 - Into the Sea of Stars')
The Goddess slowly spread her arms.
"I have something very very important to ask of you. This planet is in grave-- are you listening to me?"
The two people and the motorrad were conversing among themselves in the Goddess's presence. It seemed as though they had no interest.
"Hey!" The Goddess shouted with a hint of indignation. Kino and Shizu looked up at her, annoyed.
"I'm afraid we've only stopped by this planet to rest and stock up on supplies. There's nothing we can do for you, as we'll be leaving soon."
The Goddess was shocked. She cast down her eyes.
"You are the true heroes destined to fight against the Galactic Overlord's schemes to take over the universe. Your actions are known throughout the universe! How could you turn me down like this? This small planet is under constant assault from the Overlord's minions--"
The two people and the motorrad had stopped listening to the Goddess from around "…true heroes destined…". They had instead moved on from their discussion about supplies to a heated debate, with Kino arguing that they should stock up on more meat than fish, and Shizu arguing that fish was a better choice.
"--our last hope. Because I lack power… all I can do is watch from afar and grieve for them. That's why I have chosen you for your prowess in battle and--"
Kino used the Goddess's speech as background music to her argument that meat was more likely to retain its original taste even after defrosting, and that there was a wider range of meals that could be cooked with it. Shizu acknowledged Kino's points, but argued that fish was rich in DHA, a substance not found in meats, which helps in preventing Alzheimer's. Hermes quipped that he didn't care what they stocked up on, as long as they didn't exceed the maximum load like last time.
The Goddess was furious.
"I admit this is a pretty backwater planet, but how dare you ignore a Goddess like this?!"
There was a flash of light and a loud rumble, as befitting a Goddess's rage. The two people glanced at the Goddess, as if tired of having to listen to her. And that was it. They soon agreed to follow Shizu's suggestion of a 2:3 ratio of meat and fish.
"To think… I'd be treated like this… you're horrible!" The Goddess sniffled. Four seconds later, she was all-out crying like a lost child. Kino and Shizu looked at her, annoyed. Hermes mumbled, "Ah, she's bowling her eyes out."
Kino said nothing. Shizu chimed in instead.
"Don't you mean, 'bawling'?"
"Yeah, that's right! You're definitely a smart one, unlike Kino. Not surprising, considering you used to be a prince--ow!"
Kino, having given Hermes a good kick, took the handles and folded the stand. She turned her back on the weeping Goddess without a care.
"Mackerel and Cod would be best, I think." Said Shizu, following Kino.
All of a sudden, the two stopped instantly. They neither blinked nor breathed, as if they were frozen to the spot.
"Hmph! That's what you get for ignoring a Goddess." Said the Goddess, wiping her tears with a handkerchief. She rambled on at length about the failing belief in Gods, the shortcomings of modern education, and about wanting to see her parents again. Talking into thin air like that really made her look pompous.
"I will have you help us, whether you like it or not. The Overlord's minions have infiltrated the schools set up by the humans of this planet in order to taint bright young minds with evil. You two must go undercover as students and defend against these minions vigilantly. I will alter your characterizations so as to avoid suspicion and change your memories in order to avoid mental dissonance."
"Got it. But what about me?"
The question was posed by Hermes. The shocked Goddess pointed a shaking hand at the motorrad, which was not frozen (though you couldn't tell just by looking).
"H-how? I stopped your time!"
"I guess motorrads are immune." Hermes replied nonchalantly. Maybe that really hurt the Goddess's pride. She glared at Hermes.
"Well, I don't need you anymore! I'll turn you into scrap metal!"
"Scrap doesn't sound too good." Hermes said matter-of-factly. "I'd prefer to be a strap instead."
Kino, having entered class between homeroom and first period, took morning classes as usual. Hermes, having nothing to do, counted the number of times Kino's stomach growled (9 times) and the number of times others could hear her stomach growl (5 times).
Fourth period ended 10 minutes early thanks to the teacher.
"Other classes are still going on, so take care not to disturb them." Said the teacher while leaving, and within 3 seconds anarchy had descended upon the classroom.
Kino took advantage of the chaos and left the classroom faster than an Olympic sprinter--she put on her red 4th year indoor shoes(by that it means 4th year in the academy--first year of high school) and raced down the hill towards the student cafeteria at the dormitories.
The cafeteria was still empty.
"This is bliss~. Thanks for the meal." Kino muttered, putting her hands together, and began to eat her supersized cold noodles.
And she finished it all. Quick as ever.
Kino left the cafeteria before it was crowded with other students. In one had she held a plastic bag from the cafeteria shop, and in the other she held an orange juice box with a straw sticking out the top. She walked over to the main school building.
"The weather's so nice today." Said Kino, looking up at the clear sky with a smile on her face. Since there was no one else around, Hermes voiced his agreement from the belt.
Kino, having eaten an early lunch thanks to class finishing early, mumbled to herself,
"Lunchtime is so rellakthing~"
Her pronunciation was a little off because she was holding a straw with her teeth, but I'm sure you can all figure out what she was saying. Just for reference, it was "Lunchtime is so un-lacking". (1)
"The classroom's not that comfortable, and I can't bring food into the library… where should I go, Hermes?"
"I get so bored when other people are around because I have to keep quiet." Hermes complained. Kino briefly fell into thought.
Struck by a sudden burst of inspiration, she spoke--
"In that case…"
The school building was an L-shaped, four-storey structure. Occasionally it was mistaken for a 3-story building because it was built on a slope with the entrance on the second floor, but let's set that aside for now.
On the long side of the L-shaped building was an accessible rooftop. It wasn't a very popular hangout among students, however.
Power lines stretched into the distance, where the green hills and woods faded into the landscape. In the east were the bright red roofs of a newly developed neighbourhood.
The view was decent, but few students frequented this location. Part of the reason might have been that the rooftop would get very slippery after it rained--but it wasn't the main cause.
"It's because everyone's allowed to go onto the roof. I bet if they made it against the rules, people would be flocking onto the rooftop." Hermes said to Kino as they climbed the stairs from the fourth floor to the roof. Kino quietly scolded Hermes for talking because someone might hear him.
Kino was almost at the top of the stairs, within sight of the metal doors to the rooftop, when something caught her eye.
"Huh? Is someone out there?"
Kino was slightly disappointed by the fact that one of the doors was wide open. After all, she wouldn't be able to relax and enjoy her snack while talking to Hermes if someone else was there.
She wasn't doing anything bad by any means, but Kino tiptoed past the supply cabinet and approached the doors. She poked her head out beside the closed door and looked around, blinking her wide eyes. The wind blowing over her face shook her messy black hair.
"I guess you could say that."
Kino heard a voice. It was as clear as ever, and because it was carried over by the wind, it sounded a lot closer to Kino than the speaker actually was. Kino momentarily flinched.
Two people stood beside the railings on the edge of the rooftop, about 10 meters from the doors.
One of them was a girl, wearing the same uniform as Kino. Her long, shimmering hair fluttered in the breeze. Her green indoor shoes indicated that she was in the year above Kino. Perhaps as an accessory for the season, there was a small sticker of a bamboo tree and a wish tag attached to the side of her right shoe. Kino wouldn't know this, but it was a kind of charm among girls--the wish would come true when the sticker fell off on its own.
The other person was a male student with a katana at his side. For reference, there is only one student in this school who typically carries around a sword. One person is enough.
No one else was around. The girl looked up at Shizu tearfully and asked desperately, "But why? Ever since my first day at this school, I…"
Kino could get the gist of the situation. Popular Shizu was on the receiving end of a desperate love confession from a younger student.
Shizu himself didn't seem too annoyed by her, but he didn't look very sympathetic, either. Despite his silence, one could tell that he considered the conversation over and wanted the girl to leave him alone.
The girl and Shizu were silent for the next five seconds.
"I apologize, but I have no time for such things." Shizu blurted out. This was the worst possible timing for such words. Perhaps the Katana Man was cursed with misfortune.
What Shizu meant was, 'I have no time for relationships'. It was, in other words, rejecting the point of the conversation. However, the girl couldn't just accept this so easily. After all, Shizu's words had come just as she worked up the courage to tell him something. What she planned to tell him was, of course, 'Please listen to me one more time'. Understandably, the shock she received was immense.
She froze on the spot in shock. By the time she let out her breath, tears were flowing from her eyes.
Shizu seemed to be a little surprised by this, but he did not try to resolve the situation or console the girl. He merely stood there.
The girl turned around and made a run for the door. That is, straight towards the wide-eyed peeper Kino. On an additional note, Kino was holding Hermes up to the door so he could get a good look as well.
Kino tried to quickly take cover beneath the stairs.
"Hide behind over there." Hermes instructed Kino, who figured out that there wasn't enough time to hide under the stairs. She hid behind the supply cabinet as Hermes told her.
The rejected girl didn't notice Kino as she flew down the stairs in tears.
"That was close…" Kino muttered, as she left her hiding place to take one more look down the stairs. After confirming that no one was there, Kino approached the doors again and looked out at the rooftop. The Katana Man hadn't moved from where he stood earlier.
"I guess this place is out." Kino mumbled, but as soon as she said this--
"I'll be leaving soon." Answered Shizu's clear voice. Shizu himself turned around.
"Pay me no mind," he said. Kino was a little surprised, but she came out to the rooftop, bag of snacks in hand. After all, mulling things over wouldn't do her any good. Seeing her, Shizu's emotionless face turned into a pensive one.
"You're from this morning…"
Kino walked up to Shizu and stood at the same place as the girl who had just received the biggest shock of her life. She first greeted him.
Shizu replied with an empty expression, "I'm sorry you had to see that. However, it is not very courteous to spy on people." It seemed Shizu was surprisingly embarrassed about the whole thing.
"You're pretty popular, arent'cha?" Hermes asked loudly. A flustered Kino tightly grasped the cell phone strap at her waist, but that only served to make her look like a strange girl who just touched her own waist.
"What was that…?"
"N-n-n-n-n-n-nothing!" Kino stuttered, squeezing the cell phone strap as hard as she could.
"Was it you?"
"No, well you see, it m-m-m-might be me! O-o-o-o-or maybe it might not have been!"
"Hm? Anyway, calm down." Said Shizu, as he took in his surroundings again. Kino, face covered in sweat, turned her back to him, crouched over, and whispered to Hermes angrily.
"W-w-w-w-what were you thinking?!"
"Oh, sorry. I just blurted it out." Hermes responded quietly. He didn't sound the least bit apologetic.
"He probably thought I was the one who just said that! What if he thinks I'm a weirdo?"
"Well, don't worry about that."
"Why not?" Kino asked. Hermes' answer came quickly.
"Because he probably already thinks that."
Kino had a smile on her face. It was icy. She softly whispered to Hermes, "How far into the summer skies do you think I can throw this tiny cell phone strap?"
"Sorry, I won't do it again. I promise."
Kino took a deep breath and stood up beside Shizu.
Shizu glanced at her and half-mumbled, "As you can see, this is the kind of person I am. I don't understand the feelings of the people who ask out someone so inelegant like me."
Kino briefly struggled for words, before shutting up altogether. She didn't know how to react.
A moment later, as if struck by inspiration, Kino dug through the plastic bag she was carrying and took out a small melon bread. She had bought it not too long ago from the cafeteria shop to eat for dessert. She handed one of the two to Shizu.
Shizu looked at Kino in confusion. Just as she began to think, 'Did I do something wrong?' and began to take the bread back, Shizu reached out and took the melon bread.
"Thanks. I appreciate it."
The two stood against the railings, quietly eating their melon bread and staring out into the distance. The sight of the Holster Girl and the Katana Man standing side-by-side, eating melon bread, was a strange one to be sure, but thankfully no one was watching.
After she finished her bread, Kino said to Shizu, "Thank you for this morning."
"Hmm? Oh, don't worry about it. I'm not too fond of the Student Council myself."
"They almost got their hands on the pouches, but you saved me just in time," said Kino.
Shizu glanced at the pouches and asked, "I've actually been quite curious since this morning. What's in there? Of course, you're not obligated to tell me."
"This? My grandma back in the countryside gave it to me as a good luck charm before I started school here. She said it's a charm that was passed down through generations, and that I shouldn't open it unless I'm in danger." Kino answered honestly.
Shizu didn't make fun of her for having such a strange lucky charm.
"A grandmother, huh? I'm somewhat envious," he said, "I never knew my own grandmother. She passed away not long before I was born. That's why I hold a deep respect for grandmothers."
"I see. I haven't seen my grandma since I started school."
Shizu asked Kino about her grandmother.
"She's a great person. I'm really proud to be her granddaughter. She's good at everything and proud of her work. She challenged herself in a lot of ways when she was younger and came out stronger for it. She joined the special forces in the army and worked behind the scenes to control a country's revolutionary war, started a spy academy, and sniped a legendary 2-km shot from across a canyon. She's practically a local celebrity."
Shizu nodded understandingly. Is it even legal to understand all of that without asking a few questions?
Kino smiled and continued, "next time I see her, I'm going to tell grandma about today as as a souvenir."
Shizu's expression darkened as he looked at Kino's smiling face. Put nicely, it was an expression of holding back his melancholy--put badly, he was just a gloomy, angsty young man.
"You… laugh so sincerely." Shizu suddenly whispered.
"Huh?" Kino asked, with more force than she intended.
"Sorry. I wasn't looking down on you or making fun of you. I just felt that you could truly enjoy the good things in life and laugh about them sincerely."
"What about you, senpai?"
"Me? I wonder… I haven't been able to truly laugh… for a very long time," Shizu spoke, as he took out a pocket watch from his uniform pocket. It was a meticulously crafted piece, and judging from the fact that Shizu did not open the cover, he was looking not at the time, but at the watch itself.
"I wonder how long it's been…" Shizu mumbled, and he put the pocket watch back and went back to gazing at their surroundings.
"Sometimes I wonder."
Kino leaned lightly against the railing, beside Shizu. She glanced up at his face every now and then.
Shizu spoke, looking straight into the distance.
"'Maybe I'm not really the real me'."
"The real you?"
"That's right. Sometimes I find myself thinking that my peaceful life as a normal high school student is just a dream I'm living through… that maybe the real me is living a harsher life, fighting for my survival, consumed by revenge. That maybe the real me is a pitiful man who knows nothing but skills that bring harm to others."
"Maybe that's why I can't bring myself to enjoy these blessed moments…"
It was only after finishing his monologue that Shizu noticed the girl beside him staring up at him. He waved his hand with a hint of anxiety.
"Sorry for saying such strange things. Forget I said anything."
Kino looked up at Shizu and said, "senpai, this is what I think."
"No matter what kind of life you're living, as long as you feel good about yourself, call that the 'good you'! Let the 'other you' worry about his own problems."
"Ah. I see."
"I think you should start with what you can and enjoy yourself." Kino smiled.
Shizu stared at Kino. Kino, feeling like she said something wrong, deflated.
"…I'm sorry, senpai. I shouldn't be ordering you around like this…"
"No, I found it very helpful. 'Start with what I can', huh?"
The smile returned to Kino's face.
"First thing's first, Shizu-senpai."
"What would that be?" Shizu asked.
Kino put up her index finger in front of his face and uttered, "You should learn to let girls down more gently when they confess!"
Seeing Shizu's laughter, Kino replied, "See? You can do it!"
Shizu briefly fell into thought. Then he recalled what he said earlier to Kino.
The two laughed without a care on the deserted rooftop.
Anyway, what happened to the girl who Shizu turned down? The one that ran down the stairs with tears in her eyes?
She was running recklessly down the stairs, holding the railings, but because she was blinded by her own tears she completely missed the floor of her classroom and ended up on the landing of the semi-basement floor.
When she realized her mistake, the girl smiled at her own carelessness, but started sobbing again after realizing why she was there in the first place.
The semi-basement landing had nothing but the door to the mechanical room for the school's heating systems. Of course, the door was locked. No one came to this place because it was so dark--a place out of sight of most students. Through the window higher up in the wall, the girl could see a sky so blue it looked like it was mocking her.
And she cried. What were those last four years pining for him all for? She knew she didn't have much of a chance, but she at least expected him to let her down more gently. She wanted to be strong and leave with a positive impression. Maybe he would have remembered her fondly, and he might have handed her his phone number and address on graduation day, with an "Actually, I…".
Were all her dreams for nothing? No, maybe this was still the night before she decided to confess, and she was lying in bed, having a nightmare. Today was supposed to be the fated day, so why wouldn't the alarm go off?
The girl's head was filled with all kinds of thoughts. It was a complete mess.
"Do you hate him?" Asked a suspicious, elderly voice. Of course, the girl was the only one there.
Just as she raised her tear-and-snot-covered face--
"Do you hate him?" The voice asked again. The girl snapped out of her confusion in surprise and looked around.
"That is of no importance. What matters, however, is the fact that you hate that man."
Just ash she was about to draw breath and say, "That's not true!"--
"Look, through that window," the voice started. The girl, confused, looked out the window. She could see the rooftop railings, and…
There was a small shadow leaning against the railing. It was unmistakably Shizu-senpai, who had so coldly rejected her. Beside him was a smaller shadow.
It looked like a short-haired girl. She had never seen the girl before.
The girl was standing right up close to Shizu-senpai. Their shadows overlapped together.
To her, it looked like they were standing close and kissing.
"See? Now do you understand why you were rejected?" Asked the mystery voice. The girl stood, frozen to the spot, shaking and covering her face. The fact that there could never logically be a way to see the rooftop from this window never occurred to the girl in her current state.
"It seems your beloved senpai prefers girls like that." The voice added condescendingly. The girl dropped her head. Her long hair covered her face. She stood alone in the dark semi-basement landing like a ghost.
"Are you just going to stand around here in defeat while they kiss under the beautiful blue skies?" The voice sounded almost like it was enveloping the girl.
Splash. A teardrop fell from her face and onto the ground. The first, the second, the third… and on.
After the tears had passed, the voice asked her--
"Do you hate that girl?"
"Do you hate that girl who's taken away your beloved senpai?"
"Or is it that covertly perverted samurai cuddling with your kohai the one you hate?"
She raised her head.
"I see, so you hate them both--in fact, you must hate the entire world."
"No--that's… not true…" she shook her head. However, the voice was relentless.
"Your words deny it, but you've gone through quite a few dot-dot-dots in the past little while."
"Those things, up there↑. You've been fading the ends of your sentences for a while now. You hate your beloved senpai enough to want to kill him. You want that girl to die with the world."
"No… I don't…"
"You continue to deny it, but your heart wants to push them off the rooftop right now. I understand how you feel."
Despite her trepidation, the girl had to ask--
"Who… who are you?"
The voice answered jovially, as if it had been waiting for the question.
"I have just the perfect product for you! Let me introduce to you our latest item!"
Continued in Part 2.
Continued in Part 2.
(1) From translator's notes on Korean printing:
The original wordplay sets up "[Lunchtime is so] relaxing (hima da na)", with Kino pronouncing it as "Hiha ha na" due to the straw in her mouth. The narration then subverts the set-up, claiming that Kino was actually saying "Higanbana", a type of flower known as the cluster amaryllis. It's supposed to be out of left field.