Thursday, April 2, 2015

Full Metal Panic! Volume 11

Unpleasant-looking letters were written near the names of schools he hoped to enter “all “D”s and “E”s, instead of “B”s and “A”s. Of course it was the results chart of the nation-wide mock entrance exams. He had returned to look at it several times during the day, but naturally, the contents didn’t change. Looking at that piece of paper with vague revulsion, Shinji Kazama sighed miserably. He understood very well where those results came from: in the English test, weird sentences he didn’t remember seeing before; in world history, a question about some South American country; and in ancient literature, of all things – the Tale of Genji.

Come on - why Genji? That thousand-year-old fantasy of empty love for love’s sake, written by a woman abandoned by some playboy - and this decides modern people’s lives…?

Shinji was lost in those dark thoughts, but even though he saw that the world was decidedly unfair, results were everything - and his were far from satisfactory.

And it was already January of the last year of high school; the main exam was only a week away. It was a grave situation indeed.

He let out another sigh. Thinking that nothing could be done, he lifted his eyes and gazed forlornly at the classroom. It was lunch break, but the atmosphere in class 3-4 was quite tense. Students were either intently staring at their books, or fast asleep, tired from all the studying. A group of girls who took the test together with him were quietly discussing the results. Some boys were pretending not to be concerned - “eh, what test?” - and were playing a card game. There were people who had already decided on their future careers, but mostly, his classmates were enveloped by the same uneasiness that stuck to them like a wet silk gown. The feeling of having something always stuck inside your chest that makes it impossible to laugh from the bottom of your heart, even at the best of jokes.

Their future careers, however, were not the only reason for that general feeling of anxiety, especially for those who were in class 2-4 the previous year. The fate of Kaname Chidori and Sousuke Sagara was on their minds. They disappeared from school almost a year ago. For a time, news reporters and journalists were making a fuss by gathering at the front gate of the school, but they disappeared, too; the repairs of the school building were finished before summer vacation. The culture and athletic festivals went by as usual, and the school became very quiet. No explosions at unexpected times, no angry shouts from Kaname, no screams of students caught in the turmoil, and no emergency broadcasts from Kagurazaka-sensei. It returned to being a normal school, like it was before Sousuke first came there. However, Atsunobu Hayashimizu had already graduated, principal Takako Tsuboi moved to a different school. Her change of post was not directly related to the incident, but after something like that happened, staying there was unreasonable, and she went through the motions and quietly moved on, even though she honestly wanted to stay. She announced it at the graduation ceremony in March, and true regret could be heard in her voice.

“I would have very much liked to stay as principal, and wait together with you for your friends’ return, no matter how much time it takes...”



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