(And no, Gakuen Kino is not over. It is an ongoing series, even if Mangaupdates tells you otherwise or something.)
After this on the Sigsawa front will be Lillia and Treize, the sequel to Allison.
Get the PDF here.
Chapter 8.5: Out of Focus
When the girl stood by the window of one of the school’s club buildings,
“They’re practicing really hard.”
The baseball team was warming up for the game.
They were just having another Sunday practice. Not knowing that the team would soon enter a match against a crew of weirdos(Re: The Take Action Now Club), the girl forcefully closed the curtains.
“Let’s get to work.”
She was a fifth-year student at the academy—a girl in her second year of high school.
Her trademark was her long black hair, which went all the way down to her back. She always wore black tights with her uniform skirt—just as she did today.
Her classmates often said things like, “The girl who never shows her legs”, “She must have a dragon tattoo”, or “She’s got a jet engine equipped underneath”, but she didn’t care.
She was in the archive next to the school library.
Things like sex ed textbooks, foreign photobooks filled with nude pictures, and almanacs full of photos of corpses filled the room—things that couldn’t really be left lying around for everyone to see.
But what interested the girl was the color printer in the room. It was a powerful machine that could make prints as large as size A3+.
Why did she need the printer? It looks like the laptop and camera she just took out of her backpack will answer that question.
The camera was a rough single-lens reflex. An Olympus E-5. It’s a rather expensive model. A thick, heavy telephoto lens capable of zooming from 50 to 200 millimeters was equipped to the camera.
Yes. She was going to print out the pictures she had taken, using school supplies.
She was originally part of the photography club.
When she first started at the academy, there were nearly a dozen students in the club, and they had their own room.
They had a wonderful club office in the second building of the school, which was equipped with computers for image processing, a scanner that could transfer film to the computer, and the latest printer on the market(at the time).
But for some reason, they never received any new members; students graduated one after another, and the girl was finally on her own this year.
Because clubs were not officially recognized without at least three members, the photography club was disbanded.
Naturally, she lost the clubroom. The scanner and the printer broke down as though on cue. Even the supervisor, who loved photography, had to transfer away because of family issues.
So all that was left was the Photography Lovers’ Club. It had a single member, and almost no one in the school knew of its existence.
But there was a silver lining to this cloud.
The girl had always been part of the library club, which allowed her access to the archive key and the printer in the archive. Maybe she was happy with that—the girl never tried to recruit anyone else into her club.
And for the past half year, she had been working away on her own.
The weekend was the perfect time. Because she lived near the school, she could walk over, check her photos on her laptop, edit bits here and there, then print the ones she liked.
Food and drinks were forbidden in the archive, but she sipped tea out of a large thermos she had brought.
“Hm. This one’s nice. It’s got such a cute expression.”
She was just printing out a photo of a cat she had shot while taking a stroll on Enoshima. But the distant cheers and clanging from the baseball match in the grounds were suddenly replaced by screams and shouts.
She stood. She did not forget to pick up her trusty E-5. The batteries and memory card were always set to go. She even left the lens cap off most of the time.
She cautiously approached the window and peered outside.
“...It’s a demon!”
There was a demon howling on the mound in the baseball diamond. She could also see the baseball team running for their lives.
There was only one thing to do.
“It’s picture time!”
Yes. Holding up her E-5 and zooming in as much as she could, she caught the demon in her sights. Although she was still too scared to open the bulletproof window.
Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.
Because she had it set to burst mode, the camera continued to take pictures as long as she held down the shutter. She had also set the focus to automatic.
She stopped shooting for a moment and examined the photo she had taken on the screen. The demon was clearly visible.
This was a scoop. Many people had seen demons in the past, but no one had ever successfully taken a picture of it(except for the school’s security cameras).
She could title the piece, ‘The Demon on the Grounds’ and submit it to her favorite photography magazine for a prize! Maybe she’d get prize money and a new memory card! Or maybe she should take it to the press for a special payment.
Her nostrils flared as she fantasized about the possibilities.
Suddenly, a deafening roar sounded overhead. And before she knew it, a large, white object was hovering over the grounds.
It happened so suddenly that, rather than assume it was the man-made vehicle called a helicopter, she began to fear that a flying demon had suddenly appeared.
At the time, her camera was pointed away from the demon. She was so shocked that she forgot to take her finger off the shutter; the camera continued to snap away in burst mode.
The grounds were obscured by dust, and the helicopter slowly began to fly away. Then the wind carried away all the dust. It had only taken several dozen seconds.
“That gave me a scare…”
Finally restored to calm, she turned back to the grounds. Oh? Mysterious Bishoujo Gun Fighter Rider Kino was already facing off against the demon.
She had no idea where the warrior of justice had come from. Maybe the helicopter? Either way, she was fast.
“Maybe I should get away. I’d hate to get caught up in this mess.”
The students at this academy were all trained to escape in the case of a demon attack. Now that she had the demon on camera, she had no reason to stay. The girl had no intention of playing wartime photographer.
She quickly packed up her laptop and prints, locked the door, and left.
‘I guess I should stay away from the school today.’ She thought to herself, leaving out the back door.
When she returned home, she hurried back to her room. The rest of her family had all gone out, and the house was deserted.
“All right! I’d better back up my data.”
If she didn’t make backups, she might end up tragically losing all her photos. She quickly opened up her laptop.
Then, she inserted the memory card she took out of her camera.
It was there. The demon. The girl brought up the photos onto the screen, one after another.
They were pretty good photos, even to her eyes.
Though it was a lucky coincidence, the exposure was just right; and not only that, the demon’s ferocity, malice, and subtle hint of pathos were all clearly conveyed in the picture.
It was the platonic ideal of a demon. If such a thing existed.
Thrilled at the scoop, she carefully saved the photos onto an external hard drive and began to delete the photos she had accidentally taken in the dust storm kicked up by the helicopter.
She deleted one picture of brown dust after another.
That was when her finger stopped over the delete button.
In one photograph was a girl in school-issue sweats, standing in the dust storm. She was just a tiny figure in the corner. Zoom in.
The girl in sweats was also wearing a gun belt around her waist.
The student had heard of the only girl in the academy who went around with a gun belt—the one who was more than enough. That alone, however, would not pique her curiosity.
But when she moved on to the next picture—
Her eyes turned to dinner plates.
The girl in the photo was clearly glowing bright blue, just like those glow-sticks people wave at concerts.
“Wh-wh-what is this?!”
The girl with the gun belt was glowing, but our poor photographer did not understand why. Was the gun belt girl actually descended from firefly squids?
Taken aback, the girl went to the next picture.
And she figured out the truth.
The third picture cleared up everything.
The girl in the photo was no longer glowing.
The girl in the photo was dressed differently.
She was wearing a school uniform. And a pair of sweatpants under her skirt.
“This is Mysterious Bishoujo Gun Fighter Rider Kino!”
Just as the girl concluded, the figure in the photo was the school’s mysterious celebrity.
‘Calm down and think.
‘There’s a girl in sweats and a gun belt on the grounds.
‘Then, she starts glowing suspiciously.
‘Then, Mysterious Bishoujo Gun Fighter Rider Kino appears.’
She finally understood.
“Talk about one heck of a scoop…” She mumbled.
And from that deserted room—
“Hey, did you find something interesting? Can I see?”
—came a voice.
Not taken by surprise at the voice, the girl replied,
“I think I just shot something incredible…”
Chapter 8.5 End