Part 33: School Culture Festival
BGM: Doorway of Summer
School was a place Jessica liked, where she could let out her stress from the days when she was forced to live formally. For the cultural festival today, she had formed a group with her friends, and had announced that they would perform light music on a temporary stage. She had kept on preparing and practicing for that, and had really looked forward to today... but there was one thing that had worried her.
She looked at the clock. There was still a little time, but she was uneasy. Would that person really come? After taking a single deep breath, her heart jumped when all her friends suddenly started speaking in shrill voices.
"Isn't he?! Isn't he?!"
"I heard Rin's boyfriend's re-ally smart! Is it true that guy's a glasses beast?!"
"No way, no way, my husband'll be a pretty bo-y!"
Jessica didn't have a boyfriend. She had many friends of the opposite sex, but no special 'only one'. But Jessica was a little famous around the school, and everyone thought it would be natural for her to have a fitting partner.
Furthermore, her pride had caused her to act like that was the case. So she had slyly been able to trick them somehow until this year. But for various reasons, she hadn't been able to escape this year's cultural festival...
"Jessie~. Is your boyfriend he~re?"
"What kind of person is your boyfriend, Jessie? At least give us a hint. What kind of relationship? What kind of relationship?!"
"Awesome, he's a working man, right?! Will he come in a suit?! Of course he'll be wearing glasses, right?! Kyaa-!!" "Heeeeeey, he doesn't really exist, does he? If you come clean now, we'll let you join us! Let's cry together during this cultural festivaaaal!"
"No no no, he exists he exists he exists, I told you, he really exists... ahahahahahahahahahaha...!!"
Jessica's bitter smile was covered with cold sweat. It was starting to seem doubtful whether she really had deceived her sharp-witted friends...
BGM: Towering Cloud in Summer
"F, f, fake?! Wh, who...?! I can't think of, anyone...!"
Shannon's ridiculous plan surprised Jessica into hysterics. Even so, it was probably more realistic than the unrealistic methods running through her head about getting a boyfriend in the big rush before the cultural festival.
"For example, what about Kanon-kun?"
"K K, Kanon-kuuuuuun?! N n, no way, no way!! Anyways, I'm sure Kanon-kun has work on the day of the festival... and I don't want to bother him..."
"Of course, I've fully checked the schedule. Kanon-kun has that day off."
"...Wh... why are you always so clever at times like this... No, wait! It'd be even worse if he's off... I can't pull him away from his precious break just for my own vanity!"
"If you don't pull Kanon-kun away, he'll always be shut away by himself, so I think it would be perfect if you could forcibly pull him away."
"Y, y, you think so? No, but, I'd feel bad for Kanon-kun..."
"Then try everything else... How about meekly confessing to everyone that you don't have a boyfriend?"
"Sh, Shannonnnn~!! You aren't really worrying for my sake, are you, you're teasing me, riiiight?!!"
Jessica wrestled about with Shannon, her eyes teary. But Shannon was unconcerned, laughing with her usual smile.
"Yes, this is to get you back for making fun of me and George-sama all the time."
Listening to Shannon's comeback, the likes of which didn't happen even once a year, Jessica hugged her cushion and rolled around on her bed, pretending to faint in agony. She was so frustrated that she couldn't stand Shannon's smile, which looked so triumphant, but right now, she was the only person Jessica could talk with. She could choke herself to death with her cushion later.
"Why not, Milady? It's a cultural festival, but it's also a chance for you to have fun with Kanon-kun."
"No, that may be true, but, no, no, no, no...!!"
Jessica buried her head in her favorite pillow to hide the fact that her face had grown bright red. And she grumpily chewed the fingernail on her thumb. It really was a reaction to be appreciated.
And they were both right in the middle of puberty. They could never talk enough about things related to love. That's why they were able to expose these topics to each other. So Jessica had heard the details of how Shannon's and George's love was progressing, and on the other side, Shannon had heard the details of what type Jessica liked, and what kind of man she might be interested in. Judging by Jessica's reaction, maybe it had been unrefined to speak of that in detail...
She had said that because the discussion wouldn't progress if Jessica kept rolling around on the bed. Jessica had been thinking about Kanon ever since he had shown up. There were almost no young men on Rokkenjima. So maybe it was natural for Jessica, as a girl in puberty, to become interested in Kanon. But if anyone said that, it would destroy the romance of a maiden's pure heart and love at first sight.
Shannon had been with Kanon the whole time at the orphanage, so she had known him before they had started working. So Jessica had asked persistently about what his hobbies were, what his favorite food was, what type of girl he liked. It was clear to Shannon that Jessica was infatuated with Kanon.
"Come on. Isn't this a good chance to take Kanon-kun on a date?"
"B, b, but but but, Kanon-kun might also have someone he likes, so... wouldn't he take it badly if I made him go with me just to show off...?"
"Wo-w, George nii-san sure is incredible, being able to understand future trends. Awesome. No, wait! Are you saying that my type is in the wrong time period?! Uwaa-uwaa-uwaa-, I give u-p!!"
...In the end, Jessica agreed to Shannon's plan of having Kanon act as her boyfriend, but she had to waste several days before that...
Jessica regretted calling out at such a bad time. Kanon always had a sour look, but he had some bad days and some good days. Unfortunately, this reaction was the former.
"N, n, no, umm, well, ...errr."
All that confidence and effort she had piled up by practicing in front of a mirror all night was wiped out in about five seconds... Jessica turned bright red and hung her head. When he saw that, Kanon took a deep breath. Jessica thought he had been shocked, and her face went pale.
"...I heard from Shannon. This is about having me go with you to the school cultural festival, right, Milady?"
"Huh? Ah, aaaaaaahhh!! Nice, Shannon, yeah right! Y, yeah, yeah. Th, that's right, but, umm, err! D, d, do you have any plans that day...?"
"...I was strictly ordered by Shannon to work specially for you on that day, Milady. I have never been to high school, so I don't really understand, but I hear it's a place where girls feel very ashamed if they don't have a boy with them. And I was particularly ordered that the daughter of the Ushiromiya family not be in any way inferior to common people."
"Waha, wahahahahahahahahahaha, Shannon, I'll beat you to death late----r!!!"
Jessica kept yelling with a strange voice, and a broken smile, like a tea kettle filled with boiling water. As Kanon watched this, he sighed again.
He fully understood what Jessica intended by inviting him. However, it would be really annoying to go along with the lady's game of love.
But Shannon had talked to him persistently. He was very indebted to her. He couldn't refuse. And that brooch was in his pocket. Couldn't this strange turn of events also have been brought about by the magic power residing in this brooch?
It was a truly odd exchange between Jessica, who was still rambling on in a strange voice, and Kanon, who took a deep breath...
BGM: Doorway of Summer
"Huh, ah, ah, sorry!! Wh, who...?"
As my friends all gathered together, they were looking this way with hard to describe expressions, whispering to each other! in small voices that weren't small anymore. Even I feel kind of shameless. Did I just say 'sorry, who'?! Like I don't know who's shown up...! Aaaaaaaaah, it's useless, it's useless, my mind is blank...
"She really had a boyfriend?! No way, seriously?!"
"Jessica, you traitor!! Isn't that really awesome?!!"
"He's younger?! I never heard he was younger?!"
"Where where?! Where where where's Jessie's boyfriend?!"
"She really does like young boys!!"
"He, h, h, h, hey! A, aren't you late, wahahahahaha!"
"...I didn't know where the entrance was. I apologize for being late."
"R, right, umm... that outfit suits you, doesn't it? Wahahahahahahaha...!!"
"...Shannon, ...said normal clothes wouldn't do, ...yesterday, ...we bought this. It probably doesn't fit me..."
"Wa, wahahahahahahahahahahahaha, that's not true! Shannon, when I get back I'll promote you two leveeeeeeeels!!"
"...This place is kinda filled with girls. It's uncomfortable."
"Y, y, yeah, isn't it?! C, come on, let's not hang around here, let's go to the stage, alright? 'Cause it'll be my turn really soon! Come on come on come on!!"
Jessica was just as uncomfortable. It looked like it was hard to be bathed in everyone's interested gazes. When he saw Jessica's appearance, Kanon thought that he might have made things difficult for her by coming.
"...I get the feeling that I'm getting in the way. Am I a burden?"
"I, I, I told you, no way!!"
"...Please tell me at any time if I am in the way..."
WH didn't do a Tip for this one - 'boku' is one of Japanese's many first-person pronouns, one that's masculine but a bit on the softer side.
"Ahiiiiiiiii, you, you, you aren't a burden, Kanon-kun!!"
"...What should I do, Milady?"
'ktkr' is an acronym for 'kita kore', roughly 'o shit here it comes'. This whole sequence must have been pretty rough on the translation squad.
"Nooooooooo, don't call me Milady todaaaaaaaaay!!"
"...R, really? Understood, Jessica-sama."
"S s s, sorry, Kanon-kun, just for three seconds, could you close your eyes..."
"Th, ...then I'll close them."
...When Kanon opened his eyes, for some reason, there was a horrible tragedy in the room. Everyone had been driven into the walls, their arms and legs outstretched. Jessica put her brass knuckles in her pocket before Kanon opened his eyes.
"A, anyways, let's go over to the stage. Our turn is coming up soon, so wait in a seat for bit. 'Cause we have to get ready! If you go straight to the end here, there'll be a temporary stage, so you'll know where to go. Please wait there!"
She pushed Kanon's back, as looked like it would be hard for him to go by himself, and chased him out. Even though Kanon was confused by Jessica's attitude and panic, which he had never seen before, he followed her instruction, and headed in the direction she had indicated. After seeing him off with an awkward smile, Jessica slammed the door shut and yelled loudly.
"There you go, you saw, right? Did you see, are you satisfied?! Wahahahahahahahaha, how pathetic!!!"
"...Ugugugugugugu, I lost the bet."
"I was sure that Jessie didn't have a boyfriend."
"That wasn't a boyfriend, right, she's just harassing one of her servants, right?"
"Waaaah, Jessie's boyfriend's incredibleeee...!"
"Sh, sh, shut up!! Come on, let's get ready!!"
When Jessica took the brass knuckles out of her pocket again, everyone energetically returned to their tasks.
BGM: White Shadow
When Kanon went down the corridor as Jessica had told him to, he ran into a temporary stage set up where the vending machines should have been. It was probably being rented by the hour by some group or circle. Groups from the school where singing songs, but the place was already getting excited. Disliking that clatter, he approached a dark wall alone.
...So this is what they call high school. It sure is noisy. That's what Kanon thought. Then he remembered Jessica just now, acting in a way that he'd never seen before. Honestly, she was in such high spirits that alcohol might have been involved. To him, the greatest virtue for people was to always be composed and intellectual. In that sense, it was very hard for Kanon to get used to the atmosphere in a school cultural festival.
...He had the responsibility to report everything he saw and heard to the Master. So he also had to report about how Jessica had acted without restraint earlier. At the very least, it was not fitting for the daughter of the Ushiromiya family. The Master, Krauss-sama, and especially Natsuhi-sama would probably be angry. If I am to report it in a way that protects Milady, should I blame it on inappropriate school friends...?
Kanon thought back on how Jessica had acted earlier, and sighed again. He could understand Natsuhi's headache a little now. Come to think of it, Natsuhi-sama, as the president of the PTA, should have gone to an informal gathering after attending the ceremony in the gymnasium. Hadn't she said that she wouldn't be there to see Milady's event? That was probably for the best.
"...Crowds are unpleasant. What in the world is going on?"
Several female students keep glancing at me. It seems they're all whispering the same things that Milady's school friends had said, and it's really unpleasant. Come to think of it, didn't Shannon warn me? If you walk alone at something like a school festival, you better watch out because a lot of strange people will come and talk to you.
Just as expected, a group of girls I've never met have started talking to me. Their gazes make it feel like my back is itching. Hadn't she talked about some magic words that could chase them off in times like this? Ummm.
"...I am sorry. I am with someone."
"Huh, ah, really...?! I, I'm sorry!"
It's true. It worked immediately... But, while they did retreat, it really hasn't changed the amount of people gazing at me.
"No, it's that kid, Jessie's boyfriend!!"
"No way?! That kid is?!"
"I can't believe it, I was sure he was fake!"
"Isn't he cu-te, he's younger?! How nice!!"
...There's no way I'll ever come to a place like this again. Kanon sighed for about the zillionth time today.
When he looked around, he realized that there were suddenly a large number of people here. And unlike earlier, they were all guys. With this huge crowd, he couldn't even see the stage. Fortunately, there was a fallen beer case nearby, and he tried using that as a footstool. When he did, he realized that there was now a new group on the stage.
No, maybe she could play. I have seen her practicing air guitar before. Natsuhi-sama wouldn't approve of any hobbies outside of study. Maybe she was always practicing in secret. Come to think of it, recently, she's been returning really late from school, hasn't she? Maybe she was endeavoring to practice at school, when Natsuhi-sama wasn't looking.
It really is for the best that Natsuhi-sama didn't come. If Natsuhi-sama found fault with Milady practicing the guitar, even though she had taken such great pains to do it, Milady would probably be dejected...
I can hear Jessica-sama's forceful voice through the speakers. Jessie-sama? Maybe that's her nickname at school. The students in the audience had kept calling out that name. I'm a little offended at this inferior name. It is inappropriate for Milady.
Jessica-sama was in great spirits as they kept calling her Jessie-sama. Everyone was probably a fan. Her mike performance responded to that and grew more excited. It was almost like a song program on TV.
At first, he thought it was superficial, but that feeling had changed into appreciation. It was pretty incredible. Kanon had never listened to music of his own free will, but he had often heard the kind of music that the people of the Ushiromiya family liked. Since that was almost all classical music, Kanon had naturally started liking classical music too. So to Kanon, the song Jessica sang was, how should you say it... very modern. An any case, if Natsuhi-sama heard it, she would probably faint.
BGM: Swee-swee Sweets
This sequence changed a lot in the PS3 version, probably for legal reasons. In the original release, the concert scene looked like this, and the song used was this. Apparently Ryukishi07 is a big Touhou fan.
The die-hard fans who had even brought pen-lights sang along, dancing crazily with the same movements, almost as though it had been planned ahead. On the stage, Jessica-sama also sang enthusiastically, dripping with sweat. He couldn't find a single element that was appropriate for a daughter of the Ushiromiya family... but it looked like she was having a lot of fun.
"""Jessie-samaaaaaaaa!! Jessiiiiie, Jessiiiiiiiiiiie!!!"""
"Thank you!! OK, next up, we've got a brand new one for you! Don't Call Me An Ordinary Magician!"
As I looked at Milady having a great time, I thought. Isn't this Ushiromiya Jessica's true form? Don't I know best that during her life on Rokkenjima, she'd had no choice but to kill her sense of self? Then the time she spent... not as Milady, the successor to the Ushiromiya family, but as a single girl called Jessica, living life to the fullest, must have been very important to her.
I worked close to Milady, saw her in all seasons, and I thought I knew everything about her. But that was only limited to one side of her, Milady of Rokkenjima.
So I had come to think that Rokkenjima itself was our whole world, as though, like in Ptolemaic theory, the ocean spilled off the end of the world into an abyss. But when I look at Milady like this, I realize that this is a horribly narrow outlook. I still can't go along with the excitement of the crowd... But I feel like I can see something that 'cannot be seen' on Rokkenjima.
...I don't know if this is the unseeable thing Shannon was talking about...