Prologue Part 1

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VOLUME 6

Prologue – C OMIKEEEEEEEEEEETT!!!

Prologue Part 1

The year was just on the verge of ending. Hello, this is Aikawa Ayumu.

It was New Year’s Eve, and a rather solemn feeling lingered in the air. Today was that important day where we would toss away all the good and bad that came during the previous year like a huge pile of garbage and meet the new year completely fresh.

And on that day, underneath a sky filled with pitch-black clouds, I found myself in the midst of a crowd.

There were people in front of me, and to my left, and to my right, and behind me. People people people people everywhere.

I saw someone wearing a black jumper jacket. And someone with a black down jacket. And there was someone with a black duffel coat. And a black long coat. I found myself surrounded on all sides by people with the exact same fashion sense.

Well, granted, I was wearing a black down jacket myself.

Exactly how many people were here? It was patently clear that there were more people than the entire student body at my school, at least.

Oh, by the way, just to be clear, it’s not like I was going to my first shrine visit of the New Year one day early right now or anything.

I let out a breath, watching wistfully as the air misted white in front of me.

“… Ugh, what time is it right now?”

“Six twenty-nine.”

I was answered by the bespectacled guy next to me, who also was watching his breath mist in front of him.

His name was Orito. Orito something-or-other. Yeah, I honestly didn’t really care what his first name was.

He had slicked his hair into spikes in order to try and be more popular with the ladies, but nobody really cared about him. It was quite pitiful, honestly. And he was also pretty obnoxious… I don’t think any of the readers really want to know either, so I’ll forego describing his clothes.

There was also a girl standing behind me.

Her name was… well, her real name was Mael Strom, but that was her name when she was with an extremely suspicious lot known as the vampire ninjas, so when she was with normal people she called herself Yoshida Yuki. But because of her short hair and how little she was fazed when she got dirty and her ability to eat a watermelon slice in three seconds and her brat-like personality, people just twisted the pronunciation of the kanji in her name and called her Tomonori instead of Yuki.

Ugh, now I’m tired. I always get tired when I have to introduce her.

I’m not sure if it was because she was on the track team, but Tomonori seemed to love shorts. Today, Tomonori was wearing denim shorts and stockings.

She had a jacket on too, but she really did look a bit cold.

She had sacrificed her body temperature today all for the sake of being fashionable.

“But seriously, look at all these people! I’m just getting more and more pumped!”

Tomonori stamped her feet (maybe she was trying to warm herself up?) as she excitedly spoke to me. I just sighed, my facial expression as frigid as the winter sky above us.

“You sure have a lot of energy this early in the morning… ugh, what time is it now?”

“Six thirty.” The spiky-haired guy next to me pushed his glasses up.

“It’s fine, it’s fine! It’s nice to wait in a line like this once in a while!”

I almost mistook her for a dog with how energetic she was right now. This little rascal was on the track team, so she probably even had fun during those winter marathons they made us run in gym class.

On the other hand, I was a lazy zombie who for as long as I could remember didn’t belong to any school clubs. I also wasn’t that good at running, and I hated the cold.

So there was no way I could agree with Tomonori here.

“Yeah, Aikawa. Weren’t you the one who told us you wanted to come here in the first place? To Comiket.”

Yes, we were currently at an event called Comic Market. It was the biggest doujinshi (1) convention anywhere in the world.

In front of the line, I could see a strange building that looked like two big upside-down triangles lined up side by side.

Just last week, I was actually still helping Ms. Boobs-… sorry, I mean I was helping a girl named Nene-san with her doujinshi.

I really wanted to see the sight of that doujinshi actually being sold on site.

And when I had told those feelings to this bastard Orito over here with the cloudy glasses, he turned to me and went “Oh, really? Well I’m going anyway so maybe we should go together?”

I really have no idea why, but I actually ended up taking him up on that offer.

If this had been half a year ago, I would’ve definitely just ignored him. How the hell did it come to this?

It was New Year’s Eve, the last friggin day of the entire year, and yet here I was making a huge, stupid mistake.

“Also, why exactly is Tomonori here? Ugh, Tomonori, exactly what time do you think it is right now?”

Tomonori was an energetic outdoors type. I swear I remember her room having a lot of sports equipment lying around.

So I honestly didn’t expect at all that she would be interested in going to an event where all they sold were books and anime goods.

“Why? Is me being here a problem or something?”

Tomonori’s lips thinned a bit and she gave me a grumpy look. It just made her look all the more like a tomboy.

“It’s six thirty,” Orito muttered next to me, but I ignored him.

“Nah, it’s not like that. I was just thinking about how this is a weird place to go for someone who loves sports so much that she knows the rules for Kabaddi and Petanque and Kin-ball and Taspony…”

“Ohh, Aikawa! You know about Taspony? Let’s play when we get back! Or we could play Indiaca too! I couldn’t find anyone to play with… so that’d be so awesome!”

“…… You actually have the equipment for that?”

“What the hell kind of sport is Taspony…?”

Orito seemed to have trouble following the thread of conversation as he fished out a thick book (to kill time, maybe?) from what looked like a piece of roller luggage.

“Well, to put it simply, Taspony is like what you’d get if you mixed together volleyball and ping-pong…”

“Okay, I’m sorry for saying something that got us completely off track. My point was that I don’t think this is a place where a girl who loves sports should be. After all, this is a… uhh…”

“Place for otaku?”

And there she was, just tossing out that dirty word without a second thought. I really had thought it would be better to not mention that word… well, okay, it’s not like I was turning my nose up on the word “otaku” or anything. It was more just that a small part of me didn’t really want to admit that I was an otaku or something like that…

… Well, whatever.

“Yeah, exactly. And unlike us, you’re not an otaku, right?”

“What are you talking about, Aikawa?! We vampire nin-”

Tomonori the idiot was just about to blurt out the name of the secret organization she belonged to, but she caught herself and let out a few obviously fake coughs to try and cover her words up before continuing.

“Back where I come from, around eighty percent of us were otaku, ya know? If you make fun of otakus, even if you’re Aikawa I won’t forgive you! I’m an otaku too, got it?!”

Tomonori thrust both her hands into the air as she made that declaration, and for some reason applause began to ring out around us. I bowed my head, apologizing to the other people around us for causing a ruckus.

“Tomonori, you’re being way too loud. Although… now that I think about it, I think even that hard-ass Saras liked otaku stuff…”

“My boss is an otaku too! And the chief’s daughter is a net idol, ya know, so she’s probably gonna be around here today cosplaying…”

Tomonori had come from some village located somewhere in Japan. And if she says that eighty percent of people in that village are otaku, then… maybe there are a lot of vampire ninjas in the village that went through a hikikomori phase (2) before reaching adulthood? Wait, no… maybe I should just say that they were being like ninjas and living sneakily in the shadows.

“B-But… also…” Tomonori suddenly went really quiet and meek, a far cry from her loud yelling from just a moment ago.

“Hm?”

“E-Even if I didn’t fit here… umm… if I can hang out with Aikawa… I’ll… I’ll go anywhere, okay?”

“You sure can get pretty shy sometimes too, can’t you?”

“Shaddup! It was super embarrassing and I just ended up blurting out what I was thinking, ‘kay?!”

Tomonori’s mood changed on a dime again, and I couldn’t help but think that she was just a bit cute right now.

I shook my head, trying to get rid of those thoughts, before turning to look at Orito again.

He was flipping through a conspicuously thick volume of something.

“What are you looking at?”

“It’s the catalog. Wait, Aikawa, you don’t have one?”

“Catalog…. what catalog exactly? Ugh, what time do you think it is?”

“The Comiket catalog, of course! Are you an idiot? It’s six thirty-one.”

The catalog was that thick?

I couldn’t help but feel a bit impressed as I stared at that catalog. But then I felt Tomonori tapping me on the back at a quick tempo.

“Hey, Aikawa…”

Before I could ask her what was wrong, she began to mutter while looking somewhere in the distance.

“I get the feeling we’re being watched.”

Well, if we make so much noise then of course we’d attract attention. And after all, Tomonori did look like a fairly cute girl, if you just judged on looks alone.

But, hmm… this did bother me a bit for some reason…

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TRANSLATOR’S NOTES

(1) Basically, fan-made works. Often derivative of other works (commercial anime, manga, etc.) but can also be original works too.

(2) A hikikomori is a shut-in, but it’s a condition that’s often associated with otakuism so I didn’t want to translate it as shut-in.

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