"Memoirs of a Student" (part 5)

(previously: 1 2 3 4)

Izakaya Takahashi wasn’t the best place around, but it was conveniently located, clean, and reasonably priced. And besides, they’d been coming here for years, now.

Shinohara leaned on her hand, her elbow on the table. “I just feel like I’ve hit a wall, is all. The project’s not going anywhere.”

Kazami, impeccably dressed as always, reached out to grab another piece of karaage. “When you originally told me about it you said it was going to be autobiographical.” He neatly popped the chicken in his mouth and set his chopsticks down again.

“I know, it’s just…” She stared ruefully down at her glass. “When all is said and done there just isn’t that much there. Who’d want to read about a young girl in love with fairy tales who wasn’t quite depressed?”

“I would,” Kazami offered. Shinohara looked up to see him smiling.

“Well, thanks,” she said, making the effort to smile back. “But I know you would say that.” She looked back down. “I’ll put it this way: there’s nothing that makes my story stand out from anyone else’s.” Morosely she tossed back the remaining contents of the glass in one gulp, then clunked it back down on the table.

“Wakaba, you should probably slow down…” Kazami said anxiously.

Shinohara smirked at him. “Which of us has always been the more lightweight?” she tossed back, raising her hand for a refill.

The room spun for a moment, and Shinohara blinked. Okay, maybe Kazami was right. She picked up her chopsticks and went for some hiyayakko.

Kazami was still watching her, and she sighed. “Look, I know I’ve got something here. Ohtori had all that intrigue around it, you know? Even if those of us who went there didn’t notice it at the time.”

“I guess so,” said Kazami, sounding unconvinced.

She pointed her chopsticks at him. “Sure, it was just a boarding school. Except the vice-chairman lived in that giant tower on campus, and there were all sorts of rich families and child prodigies there, and there was that bizarre forest on the campus grounds that no one ever actually went into. And then a prestigious school like that just closes, a few years after we graduate? I’ve tried looking into it but there doesn’t seem to be anything in the public record.”

“And what about the non-public record?” Kazami asked, as if it were the obvious response. Shinohara stared and he reddened. “I-I mean—”

“Tatsuya…” Shinohara said slowly. Kazami cut himself off. “That might be it.”

“What?” the other said, nonplussed.

“If I can figure out what was going on at Ohtori Academy…” The idea was unfolding in her mind now. “If it’s not just a record of us students but of what happened, then people will want to read it.”

A bashful smirk crept onto Kazami’s face. “You’re an investigative journalist and you didn’t think of that?”

“Oh, Tatsuya!” Shinohara said, but she was grinning now. “See, this is why I still talk to you. It’s gonna be sad when some girl snatches you up.” She grabbed another piece of hiyayakko. “Which reminds me, have you been seeing anyone lately?”

Kazami blushed again. “N-no, no luck there. You know it’s just…” He looked away uncomfortably.

Shinohara rolled her eyes. “Honestly, Tatsuya, you have got to get over it. We were fourteen.”

“I know!” Kazami answered, a hint of indignation in his voice. “It’s not that. I swear it’s not.” He paused to collect himself. “It’s more like…that I haven’t found anyone as interesting as you. Maybe if we hadn’t stayed in touch…”

“Yeah, maybe,” Shinohara echoed. “But at least you’ve grown up. After all, you were kind of an asshole back then.”

Kazami raised his hand to object, then stopped. “Yeah,” he said, a slow smile growing on his face. “I was.”

Shinohara laughed, and they clinked their glasses together and drank.

I had to do actual research for this one, and by “research” I mean I rewatched the one episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena that this guy appeared in. (Episode 19, if you were wondering.)

It’s both part 5 of Memoirs of a Student and day 5 of NaCreSoMo 2018, and while I had this particular idea before March actually started it’s still a story where I have no clue where it’s going. Those who’ve watched Utena know the world of Ohtori doesn’t actually make sense. Internal consistency is a lie. How am I supposed to come up with a satisfying outcome for Wakaba’s investigation and those who made it out of the school?


(something spoiler-free about cars)

*cough* Anyway, it’s been interesting how much this has evolved already. Parts 1 and 2 stand on their own, and were really the core of the whole thing, but even from part 3 the world started expanding. I do feel like the new parts are starting to take away from parts 1 and 2 a little, though, which is too bad. Maybe I can make up for it by writing further parts in that style?

Oh, and on Tatsuya himself. The show plays him for laughs, in a way that doesn’t exactly make sense, but he’s explicitly said to be a good person. Why did I brand him an asshole? Because even though he did have a crush on Wakaba, he was definitely edging into “she belongs with me” kinds of thoughts at the end of the episode. And he probably tried again in high school, although maybe Yurika beat him up.

Since it’s NaCreSoMo and therefore people are slightly more likely to click into this blog, I’ll include my summary of Utena again, slightly tweaked: it’s a twenty-year-old anime purportedly about a middle school girl who gets drawn into a series of magic duels over a fellow student. The first season sets up the duels and the characters, the second takes a detour to lay some themes and groundwork, and then the third builds on that groundwork a spaceship which then flies to the moon and blows it up. Seriously, the third season just goes off the rails, and that’s where all the real discussion is…though the whole show has heavy themes of sexuality, toxic masculinity, and growing up and letting go.

Note that there’s also some disturbing sexual content in there (especially in season 3), including rape, and the earlier episodes will not prepare you for it. I wouldn’t even exactly disagree with someone who refused to give the show the time of day because of that.

There is a thriving fandom even twenty years later, though, and knowing that I only have one friend who’s invested enough in Utena to read my fanfiction tempts me to post this on one of the actual fanfiction sites. The main thing that’s stopping me is the not knowing where this is going—I’d have to be very clear up front that every post might be the last, leaving the story unfinished. What do you NaCreSoMo folks think?

Part of NaCreSoMo 2018.