Jaku-chara Tomozaki-kun - Volume 2 - Chapter 3
And so, it was morning on the following day.『Election campaigning』began immediately.
「My reasons for endorsing Nanami-san for the post of Student Council President are! One, as a senior in the same track and field club, she is always livening up club activities as a mood maker, and since she livens things up, um, I believe that similarly, she will enliven the entire school! That is why I endorse her! Also, as for her campaign pledges……」
「Hello! Good mooorning! Thank youuu！」
In front of the school gate, Mimimi and a girl who looked like her junior were standing side-by-side as they called out to the other students. The girl was giving a speech, while Mimimi engaged directly with the students. There was quite a crowd.
The junior giving the speech was, in a voice relatively loud for a girl, confidently standing upright, livening up the atmosphere in front of the school gate with her behaviour resembling a cheering squad. At times she seemed to stumble over her words, which was likely due to nerves. Still, for a high school student, that level of confidence was probably more than enough. Had Mimimi accepted me as her endorser, I would have been standing in that spot…… I shuddered at the thought.
「Ohー! If it isn't Tomozaki! Good morning!」
「Ohh, good morning.」
Mimimi turned to me and gave me a big wave, saying「Doesn't this suit me?」or something while showing off the sash. She's as full of energy as always.
「Ah, this girl here's my endorser! She's a junior from the track and field club!」
「I was watching her just now, and thought, yeah, that was the right choice……there's no way I could have done it.」
「Her voice is loud, dontcha think?! We've known each other since middle school!」
「Thank you very much!! The name's Yamashita Miyako!!」
Having her voice praised, Mimimi's junior Yamashita-san replied in an even louder voice. However, it's certainly true that when giving speeches, things like the loudness and qualities of one's voice are important. No matter how good the content is, there's no meaning to it if nobody is listening, after all. In that respect, one could consider Yamashita-san to be extremely suited to the post.
「But thank you too, Tomozaki! Because of how troublesome it seemed, a lot of people turned me down…… even by Nakamuu and the others.」
「Y-You asked Nakamura?」
It certainly seemed like he would have turned her down……especially for something that seemed as troublesome as this.
「I'll let you know if I need anything, okay!」
「Ah, yeah, if you're alright with me.」
I took care to put on a natural smile as I spoke. Don't you think those words『If you're alright with me』were pretty riajuu-like? How about that! Such were my thoughts as I said「Bye then」and headed towards the school building. Nakamura had been asked by Mimimi, while in my case I had offered and been rejected. In other words, me losing to Nakamura there was inevitable. Yeah.
I passed through the school gate, and after a bit of walking, caught sight of a crowd gathered in front of the school building.
As for what was being carried out there? Hinami's campaign speech.
「That is to say, we are striving for a school under Hinami Aoi, someone who just about anyone will agree is Sekitomo High's super main heroine. As for all of you gathered today! Even you over there pushing up your glasses! Yes, you! Even the one yawning over there! You are witnesses to a grand step forward, to history in the making! Hinami's intelligence! Popularity! And looks! Whoops, might her appearance be of no relevance here?」
Those gathered laughed at the slight slip-up in his overly exaggerated, old-fashioned elocution.
Different from Yamashita-san's booming, cheering squad-like voice from earlier, it was a voice that sounded like a normal one used in conversation, yet for some reason, it carried extremely well. It was clear, easy to comprehend, and not to mention, fluent. In no way did any of it feel forced. I recognized that voice.
It was Mizusawa.
「Be that as it may, in no way are we taking this lightly. Have fun when it is time to have fun, and be strict when it is time to be strict. Such a balance is crucial. Ah, if it isn't Kobayakawa-sensei! The wobbly chairs in the science classroom haven't been fixed yet, have they? Starting with those kinds of minor complaints, using her ability to come up with pragmatic plans and put them into action, the one who will get everything done is Hinami Aoi, I say!」
「Oohhh～, that sounds greaaat!」
The science teacher Kobayakawa-sensei laughed happily.
Mizusawa's way of speaking, the way he projected his voice, and his use of intonation, they all had a tinge of enjoyment. It felt just like he was doing stand-up comedy. There was no ceremonious feel to it, and there was something about it that drew people in. Or rather, Hinami, so you chose Mizusawa as your endorser, huh. Well, whatever. Listening to this, it does feel like there'd be nobody else more suited for the job.
At the side of the crowd Mizusawa had gathered, Hinami herself was gathering a crowd of supporters. She was shaking hands with a student who looked like a first-year of the not-so-cool type.
「Thank you for cheering me on!」
「You're from the tennis club……am I right?」
「Eh, ah, y-yes! How, how did you……?」
「I thought I had seen you hitting those volleys during track and field practice! So I was right!」
「I'll be counting on you!」
Then, Hinami released her grip. His eyes agitated, the male student stared at his hand that had done the handshake, then after a small nod, closed it tightly. He's had his heart completely snatched away. Well, just standard fare for when a not-so-cool person gets told something like that by Hinami.
Still, how is she doing that? As one would expect, she wasn't noting the club activities of each and every student, but it seemed like she was doing something similar. Taking a look, I could see several people waiting their turn for a handshake with Hinami. What's is this? She's practically an idol, isn't she?
While observing that scene out of the corner of my eye, I passed through the crowd and entered the school building. I then thought of something.
──Certainly, nobody could win against Hinami in something like this.
I arrived at the classroom. In line with the self-study task, I started up a conversation with Izumi.
「Have you seen what's going on at the front? Hinami's thing.」
Izumi spiritedly turned to face me.
「Yeah, I saw it, I saw it! That was such a big crowd.」
「That's what you call being too strong.」
I gave her my honest impression.
Even as she expressed agreement, her expression seemed to indicate her mind was on something else. For a moment I wondered what it could be, but it was probably……how at nearby location, in a similar fashion, Mimimi too was working on her election campaign.
To be perfectly honest, anyone seeing that would have given up all hope of victory. That wasn't to say that Mimimi was no good, but that Hinami was way too competent. Though based only on my limited interaction with her, I knew Mimimi's communication skills, her popularity, and her personality. To me, if not for Hinami's existence at our school, they were of a high enough calibre for her to be elected with ease. However, her opponent was on another level.
「Ah, more importantly, here!」
Perhaps out of consideration, Izumi changed the subject, handing me something. It was the broken stopwatch I had passed to her the other day.
「Ohh! So that must mean……!」
「I've mastered the mini-jumps!」
Izumi sharply saluted as she spoke. For whatever reason, she was making a slightly strange face, probably due to bashfulness.
I wonder what I should say in this situation. Pondering, I thought back to the conversation with Mizusawa.
──At a time like this, shouldn't wouldn't it be very riajuu-like to say something like this?
「You're making a weird face.」
It kind of feels like we're having super friendly conversation now! Amazing! Mizusawa's amazing!
It feels like if I continue in this way, self-studying while trying several things little by little, my self-study period could turn out to be quite useful. Incidentally, after that conversation, when Izumi told me「I'll hang in there!」, I tried for another playful「You talk too much!」courtesy of Mizusawa, but was met by a despondent「Ah, sorry」. Uh, yeah. How diligent of you. I'm the sorry one.
And so I did this and that, then went here and there and keeping at it, the school day drew to a close.
There was no after-school meeting today, and it wasn't like there was any conversation or tone of voice practice for me to do either, so thinking to myself, 'Right then, how about I head straight home? It's been a while. Might be able to practice some facial expression control', I made my way out. But just as I was leaving the school building, I caught sight of Mimimi. She was campaigning, alone. Why is she doing it alone, I wonder?
Dear oh dear, looks like a self-study task has popped up. My thoughts resolute, I called out to Mimimi.
「What are you doing?」
「Oh, if it isn't Tomozaki! By all means, take one!」
Mimimi handed me a small sheet of paper.
Upon receiving the sheet, I saw various election pledges printed on it. They went something like this.
１、To conduct greeting exercises, and aim for a feel-good
２．To establish a suggestion box, and by accepting the opinions of students,
aim to build a better school.
３．To commit to expanding the selection of goods at the school store
４．To work towards enlarging the scale of the athletic festival.
「What do you think!?」
「What I think? Even if you ask me, well……」
Frankly, there were parts that bothered me. Or rather, they such that I found myself questioning why she wasn't bothered by them. However, it didn't have very good implications, so I was conflicted over whether or not it would be a good idea to speak out.
「What say you of these pledges, Tomozaki!? Appealing!?」
I wonder what I should do.
Suppose I don't say it. I probably won't be able to come up with a good excuse, and likely won't be able to smooth over the matter either. So it would probably feel suspicious. However, if I simply speak my current thoughts as they are, I should be up to the task. After all, that is something that has been my specialty from the start, and now I can even throw in a tone or facial expression.
「Hmmm.」Though hesitant, I decided to say it.「For a pledge……the format is……」
Mimimi looked at me with an expression that indicated she had absolutely no idea what I meant. Ah, as I thought.
「Um……for example, this bit here.」
I calmly pointed at the part marked with a「４」.
「Look at this.」
Mimimi stared hard at it, but with an「Eh? There's nothing odd there, right?」, she turned to examine my expression. Whoa, that is close. That's a sense of distance only this riajuu would have. For an instant, I froze.
「Umm……so yeah, this is the only one that uses a half-width character……you can see the size is different, right? It's kind of narrow.」
「……Ah! You're right! That's amazing, Tomozaki! Are you a detective!?」
Not at all, I just know a little about computers.
「Also……this too, I guess.」
I pointed at the『、』after the『１』.
「Look at the others. They've got…… full-width periods, I think they're called? But this is the only one with a comma. I think it was probably a conversion error or a typo……」
「No kidding! They're all Japanese dots!」
「Things like that, well, those familiar with it will see it right away. You could say that it looks messy to them, or that it doesn't really give a good impression. Though this might just be what I think.」
It wasn't like my knowledge of such things was good enough to be a backseat driver here, so I downplayed the matter. There were other small things that had caught my eye, but I decided to leave them unsaid.
Once I finished my explanation, with her expression sparkling, Mimimi opened her mouth.
「……Tomozaki, might you actually be an unexpectedly capable person?」
Rather than that, as a gaming otaku I use computers a lot, so I just pay attention to things like that……
But when I really think about it, Mimimi feels like the sort to live her life by going with the flow, and that endorser girl also didn't seem like the type to pay much attention to detail. Hmm, doesn't that mean that this trait of mine might be of a little use? Thinking that, an idea flashed into my mind.
Hinami's assignment to『Get your suggestion accepted twice』. As well as, the best-case『Become Mimimi's endorser』plan. If I were to bring them into overtime of my own accord, then……
After a moment's hesitation, I opened my mouth.
「If it's for brain-like things like this, I think I can help out……」
For an instant, Mimimi was left open-mouthed by my words. And then.
Her expression lit up to an astonishing degree. Is that a positive response?
「Thinking about the minor details like this isn't a specialty of yours, right Mimimi? I think I'd be able to handle those instead, see. Particularly the computer-related things, stuff like that.」
At those persuasive words conscious of my stake in the matter, Mimimi silently nodded.
「Yeah, not bad at all. It's true I'm not very good at those things……and……」
When I prompted her, Mimimi's eyes lit up, and she burst out with the following.
「── 'Brain', I like the sound of that!!」
I reflexively replied with a「Haah?」.
「Good! It's really good!『I have the Brain, you know』……I wanna say it! I really really wanna say it! Tomozaki, don't you want to say『I'm the Brain, you know』as well!? You do, don't you!?」
The comical way in which she changed her voice when saying those lines somewhat reminded me of Hinami.
Did the sound of that have to take priority over the other things, though? Well, it's not like I don't get what she means.
What's up with that?
「Umm, so is what we just talked about……」
「It's an OK! But, really, I'm grateful for your help. Actually, after school Yumi-chan isn't around, you see～」
「Ah, she's the girl from this morning! Since she's my junior from the track and field club, I want her to attend after-school club activities. That's why I told her I'd handle things on my own after school! Well, I was the one who told her, so don't mind it!
「Ahh, I get it.」
What a good senpai.
「That's why I might appreciate it if, for after-school, you could help out, Tomozaki. Though I did already refuse your help once! Tehe!」
While sticking out her tongue, Mimimi distinctly said「tehe」out loud.
Still, this is great. With this, my self-study period should become even more meaningful. Though it is a little scary.
「Okay. Well then, I wonder what I should do for today.」
「You get to it right away, don't you Tomozaki! As expected of a guy who can work!」
Saying this, Mimimi struck my shoulder with a little more force than was necessary. Ow.
However, this is looking good! I might have let the position of endorser get away from me, but I managed to become the『Brain』.
Additionally, though I may have delayed it, I got a suggestion accepted! With this it should be objective completed. No complaints, right Hinami?!
「Ah, but Tomozaki. Can I ask a question?」
「What is it?」
Mimimi peered into my eyes as she spoke.
「Why are you so eager to help out?」
After which I came to a realization. That's right, of course.
I had previously volunteered to be her endorser and been turned down. After which, now I was saying I wanted to become the brains. Of course she would question why I wanted to get involved so much. This is bad, what should I do? If I were to answer honestly, then『Because Hinami told me to』 ── wait no, 『To learn the art of conversation』, but there's no way I can say that. Just as I my thoughts reached that point, I had a flash of inspiration.
「It's Hinami, I──」
Here, yet again, I came up with an excuse so readily that even I was surprised.
「──I want to try taking down Hinami.」
As I spoke, I realized that I was saying it with the meaning『in Life too, as nanashi against NO NAME』.
Mimimi, blinking those large eyes of hers, watched me intently. I continued speaking.
「Look, she never ever loses. Don't you think she's too much of a kyou-chara? That's why it'd be nice if she could lose just once……I like games, see, and the stronger my opponent is, the more fired up I get, no doubt about it. That's why I want to compete against her, and if I can take her down, that'd be super fun for me, basically.」
Mimimi listened with a serious look on her face. And then.
She put a hand on my shoulder. Then, with a sympathetic look on her face, she laughed.
「Tomozaki, might you be a super don't-know-your-own-place person?」
「L-Leave me alone!」
Certainly, as things currently stand, there's too much of a difference and it wouldn't even be a contest. Mimimi opened her mouth wide and laughed cheerfully.
「But I think that's good! Don't tell anyone else, but actually I too am someone who doesn't know their place, you see!」
「Eh? You too, Mimimi?」
「Yep. That's right!」Then, she grinned slightly.「Since, I too want to win against Aoi.」
Seeing those eyes that were difficult to judge if serious or an act gaze far into the distance, I was bewildered.
「Is, is that so.」
「Still, I'm glad! To tell the truth, you know, I was thinking that if I just tried really hard it might all work out somehow. But well, Aoi and Takahiro's gig this morning, did you see that?」
「Yeah, I saw.」
That had been incredible.
「Looking at that, you see…… honestly, I couldn't stop myself from thinking『Ah, there's no way I can do this』.」
Mimimi smiled somewhat frustratedly as she spoke.
It's true that the way it went, anyone who saw that would have to regard it as a perfect election campaign they couldn't possibly win against.
「And so, I thought to myself『If I keep doing the same thing, it's not gonna work!』, see. If I don't change something, I can't win. That's why this is exactly what I need! Please change something! I have high expectations, Tomozaki!」
Then she hit my shoulder again.
「Ow! Eh, umm, I'll do my best……」
Though I had the feeling way too much was being expected of me.
「And so, it's time for a meeting! Ohhー!」
So in the end, in spite of being the one to extend the invitation, I got carried away by the momentum.
 An Ouendan is, roughly speaking, a cheering squad, but not quite the same. Look it up if you're interested.
 Original is Mandan (漫談)
 When typing Japanese, there's a process of converting what you've typed to the kanji/symbols you want, as some things might be written the same in hiragana/romaji but have different kanji and thus different meanings. You basically select from a list as you type.