Chiaki and Mika could easily imagine it: with Yukari and Seiji’s personalities, in addition to their common interests, they’d surely be happy together.
They seemed likely to become a blindingly bright beautiful couple that everyone would envy.
Just imagining it made Chiaki and Mika feel like it was wrong to stop them from being together... they would feel really guilty about it!
So they didn’t dare imagine any further, as they instinctively felt afraid.
"The only lucky part is that Seiji still isn’t that romantically interested in her yet; although I can tell that he’s been slightly moved, he hasn’t got there yet."
"Yeah... if we didn’t go this morning, then..." Mika clenched her hands tightly.
She didn’t dare imagine the possibility of Yukari and Seiji developing a relationship either.
She felt it was great that she was able to receive information from Shika about Seiji’s date with Yukari. This was despite Shika being worried about the same possibility as them, which was the motivation behind her telling Mika this information.
Yukari Asamiya was simply a girl who gave people tremendous pressure and just happened to match Seiji so perfectly to the point where it was scary.
A period of silence fell between them.
"What should we do, Chiaki?" Mika asked weakly.
"First, we need to tighten our defenses." Chiaki rubbed her chin. "With Kagura-san as our spy, we should be able to keep track of Seiji’s movements and respond appropriately just like today. Next, we need to increase our own level... our understanding and enjoyment of otaku culture."
"Yukari Asamiya’s strongest advantage over us is the fact that she has the same interests as Seiji. Her strong self-confidence stems from knowing this. If we want to compete with such a girl, apart from obtaining the exact same weapon, there’s no other better method."
Mika nodded in understanding. "But how are we supposed to increase our level? Just watching some anime and reading some manga by ourselves... I think it’s still difficult."
Interests weren’t cultivated that easily. It would actually be quite difficult to like something that a person originally had no interest in with just a short period of time.
"Indeed, it would be very difficult just by ourselves," Chiaki said. "If we ask Seiji to help us... well, firstly he’s busy writing his novel, and secondly he’d probably believe that we’re just forcing ourselves."
"Yeah..." Mika said.
"In that case, we can only find someone else around us who’s familiar with otaku culture. Someone that’s interested in it, has ample free time, and can teach us how to ‘become otakus...’ There just happens to be a perfect candidate around us." Chiaki smiled.
"You mean..." Mika also thought of someone as she came to a realization.
"Miyamoto-san!" "Kaho Miyamoto!" the two of them exclaimed simultaneously.
She had a free day today and, just like usual, she was browsing the internet at home and having fun reading things she was interested in.
Suddenly, her cell phone rang.
When Kaho checked the caller ID, she saw that it was a number she didn’t recognize. Although she felt it was a little strange, she still decided to take the call.
"Hey, hello, is this Miyamoto-san?" a voice asked.
Kaho recognized that this open and direct-sounding voice indeed belonged to the tomboy that was her classmate. "Yes, hello... Wakaba-san?"
"It’s me, Chiaki Wakaba. I’m sorry to bother you by calling. I wanted to ask you something—are you free this afternoon?"
"This afternoon... yes."
"Then, could you come out for a meeting? I have something I’d like to request of you."
‘Something to request from me?’ If this had been a manga, Kaho’s forehead would have question marks drawn all over it.
"What... is it?"
"Even though I could tell you over the phone, I still feel it’s better to ask you in person, since it’s an important matter. Could we meet up this afternoon?"
Something important? Kaho was even more confused, and she also felt some pressure.
With her personality, she wasn’t the type that liked to get involved in others’ affairs. But this was Chiaki Wakaba, Seigo’s good friend, so she felt that she should at least hear out her request first.
"Alright," she replied.
"Thank you, in that case..." Chiaki asked if the time and place she specified would be alright, and Kaho had no objections, so they settled on that.
"Mika will be coming together with me as well. Also, please don’t tell anyone about this meeting. Including Seigo," Chiaki added.
"Eh?" Kaho's eyes widened in surprise.
‘Uehara-san’s coming along as well? And we need to keep this secret, without even telling Harano-san? Why!?’
"I’ll explain when we meet up," Chiaki said. She had anticipated her confusion. "That’s it then, Miyamoto-san."
Chiaki hung up.
Kaho had a dazed expression on her face. Only several seconds later did her brain begin slowly working again.
Just what was going on here!? She sunk into an enormous state of confusion.
Later that afternoon...
Kaho arrived on time at the agreed-upon meeting location, a coffee cafe in the business district. Chiaki and Mika were already there waiting for her.
"Good afternoon, Miyamoto-san," they greeted.
"G-good afternoon, Wakaba-san, Uehara-san."
Kaho felt nervous when faced with the greetings of two of the most beautiful girls in her class.
Seigo wasn’t here right now, so for her to be alone with these two... she felt an immense sense of pressure.
She even reflexively tried looking around for that gentle and reliable figure of his, but she hurriedly restrained her impulse and did her best to look more spirited.
After she sat down, a waiter came over to take her order, and Kaho randomly ordered one of the cheapest coffees on the menu.
"I’m so sorry for suddenly calling you out like this," Chiaki said, starting the conversation, "but Mika and I had something really important we’d like to request of you."
"It’s alright," Kaho said, nodding. "But what is it?"
Kaho saw the two girls exchange glances before lowering their heads to her in unison.
"Please teach us about otaku culture!" they exclaimed spiritedly.
Kaho looked at them, stunned. "What?"
She was astonished to hear this.
"We would like to understand more about light novels, manga, and anime, and be able to like them and appreciate them more," Mika said, lifting her head to look at Kaho.
"Simply speaking, we would like for you to help us cultivate an interest in otaku culture." Chiaki also lifted her head and looked at Kaho. "I have some understanding of otaku culture, but not much, while Mika’s understanding is basically zero. We want to learn how to like otaku culture, but it’s quite difficult to do it by ourselves without anyone’s help, which is why we thought of you. We are making a formal request for your assistance."
Kaho finally understood what was going on as she listened to the two of them.
"You’re doing all this... for Harano-san?" she asked.
Mika silently nodded. Chiaki smiled and also nodded.
Kaho didn’t know what to say to all this. She was shocked to her core by the will of these two girls.
In order to get closer to Seigo Harano, they actually lowered their heads towards her, asking her to teach them otaku culture and saying that they wanted to learn how to like it. This was...
Kaho didn’t even know how to describe it.
She wanted to say something, but didn’t know what to say, so she fell silent and averted her gaze.
"Are you willing to help us, Miyamoto-san?" Chiaki asked.
"This might be an unreasonable request," Mika said, "but we really do need your help,"
Kaho slowly looked back at them.
After thinking deeply about how to express what she wanted to say, she finally spoke up: "Otaku culture... isn’t something that a person can teach. It isn’t something to be ‘learned.’"