Chapter 14: Center of the World (1)
Translator Note: In the image above, Kei has written 亡八, someone who has forgotten their 8 virtues (i.e. someone who lives a life of debauchery or visits houses of ill repute). Not that it has anything to do with the story in this volume other than what is hinted here, but you might guess who Kei could be referring to and what activities probably happened. *wink wink*
“Do I stand right here?”
“Yeah, and then on the signal, you’ll gesture with your hand behind you and say, ‘Construction is nearly finished on this building—’ The camera will tilt up on the shot as you’re introducing it.”
They were putting together a report on newly-built commercial skyscrapers and other lesser known landmarks around Tokyo. It was a perfect day for filming outside—calm, bright and with low humidity. Kei wanted to wrap everything in one take and get back to the studio. He stood by with a smile that didn’t look at all affected by the winter cold and waited for the director’s cue.
All of a sudden, there was a shadow overhead that darkened his view. His hand holding on to the microphone and the color of his suit became a level darker, and the shadows at his feet spread out like a stain.
A cloud? On such a clear day?
Kei looked up at the sky beyond the building, and at the same time a crew member shouted, “Look!”
“It’s a blimp.”
There was a large vessel floating in the clear, blue, winter sky, and a mini version slowly trailed below it.
“Hey, I think I see Jipangu TV’s logo on it.”
“Try zooming in with the camera.”
“Hold on… Yeah, it’s their logo.”
I don’t care, I just wish it’d get out of the way.
They couldn’t film with an unnatural shadow and advertising for a rival network in the shot, and there wasn’t a simple and quick way to ask it to move. Pedestrians stopped in their tracks to marvel at the blimp and take pictures with their cell phones, but Kei could only suppress his anger at the feeling like they were being looked down upon. It was so obviously a PR stunt designed to get people to stop and gawk at it; it made his fingers itch and he wanted to claw it out of his system.
The camera operator looked at the frame and read the words written on the exterior. “‘Newsment—making news entertainment, a brand-new show starting this spring.’ …Wow, they rented a blimp just to advertise a show.”
Kei didn’t know which was more expensive: leasing a blimp or leasing out the ad space in all the train stations and trains.
“Who are the people in the pictures?”
“Umm, they’re announcers from the network… ah, I can’t remember their names. One’s a veteran, and the others are…”
At the mention of the lineup, people recalled a number of reputable names from the network’s roster. They could all bring in ratings to the show, to put it in crude TV terms.
“That’s an impressive lineup.”
“What time is it airing? Morning? Evening?”
“It’s at night. I heard it mentioned before. They weren’t getting the numbers they wanted with dramas or food shows, so they switching to the news.”
“Seriously? That’s a major change.”
“Wait, when you say it’s airing at night—”
“So it’ll share the same time slot as The News…”
The blimp hovered close by, casting its shadow like a dark hole. But no, it was still up in the sky at a distance. Damn this fine weather.
In the spring, Jipangu TV was starting a brand-new news program called Newsment airing in the nighttime block. It would be hosted by their network announcer Kadomatsu Nobuo with the model/television personality Kizaki Ryou as his regular assistant, and there would be a daily rotating cast of colorful commentators who would analyze and discuss the major domestic and international news stories of the day. Jipangu TV was most known for their variety shows, and it had been about 10 years since they last branched out into news programming.
“This says Asahi TV’s The News holds clear reign of the weeknight 10pm time slot, but the newcomer to the fight, Newsment, could challenge its hold at the top.”
“Hmmph…” Kei responded with disinterest at the article that Ushio had read aloud from a sports and news paper. After the announcement was released to the public, the newspapers rushed to report on the upcoming news program. Kei knew what was being written about them without needing to be told.
“So you have a rival on the scene?”
“Every show in the same time slot is a rival.”
Everyone fought over the same limited piece of the pie when it came to viewership ratings, but no matter how much Programming analyzed and stared at the data, no one could definitively say what worked or what didn’t work when it came to the show contents. There were times when the numbers would shoot off like a rocket for the most trivial, unremarkable story, and there were times when it would be like cardiac arrest for the most time-consuming, in-depth, highly-produced report. Producer Shitara liked to say that ratings were like report cards: they were important, but they didn’t tell the whole story. Of course, if the ratings fell to dangerous levels, regardless of whoever tried to intervene, if the material or the presenter failed to deliver, they would be gone. New shows were always ready to fill whatever openings were available—there was no such thing as “forever” in TV.
“But don’t you pay more attention to shows in the same genre?”
“News programs come in all different flavors, and it really comes down to viewer preference. If a show comes in to take our viewers, there’s not much I can do to get them back. If anything, it would come down to Asou-san.”
The News was unmistakably Asou Keiichi’s show. All of the commentators invited on as “special guests” were ultimately nothing more than chess pieces for him to use as the host of the show.
“Whatever show airs first will always be the subject of scrutiny by outside research teams. I’m sure they’ve already studied our programming blocks and commercial placements, but we can’t do much about it until they actually go on air. ShitaraP also said it’s not a good idea to tinker with the format just a year after a major revamp of the show.”
Ushio looked surprised. “Hmmm, I’d have thought you’d be more panicked. I still can’t quite pinpoint what brings out your competitive side.”
“Average people don’t need to understand.”
“Yeah, yeah, help out with this average person’s work, would you?”
Ushio handed over, more like pushed over, a piece of one meter square, nearly black fabric with patches of colors on it.
When Kei spread it open, he saw that it was embroidered in various areas with multi-colored threads, resembling a fireworks pattern. The pattern was patchy, and it appeared far from complete.
Kei repeated, “What’s this?”
“I can’t disclose who the client is yet, but it’s for a commercial I’m working on advertising a big sale for a large department store. I need to embroider circle patterns with sparks radiating from the center like a firework that I’ll use for filming. I’ll have a number of them exploding one after the other.
“A number of them? How many do you need?”
“Dunno, until I fill up the time that I need? So help me out with one of them. I want as many different styles as possible for each one, so I’ve been asking everyone I can to help me out.
Are you trying to gather a thousand stitches from a thousand people for good luck?
“You damn masochist.”
“Whether I’m one or not, Kunieda-kun would know best.”
“Actually, I think you’re the one who has a bit of it in you.”
“Oh my god, I said shut up! I’m not gonna help you if you keep it up!”
“Ahh, sorry, sorry. Please, please help me out. I’m in a bind heeere.”
“If you’re gonna lie, put more effort into it.”
With an irritating shamelessness, Ushio handed Kei a threaded embroidery needle.
“Wow, Kunieda-kun! You’re amazing~! I knew you’d be good at this~!”
“I’m gonna stab you.”
The firework pattern had three layers of concentric rings embroidered on the fabric, and Kei started to add a fourth layer of sparks to the outside. Each spark was a small dot the size of a grain, and the work consisted of repeating the embroidered dot around the fabric. It wasn’t hard work to embroider each of the dots, but he had to sew the stitches, check the pattern, sew more stitches, check the pattern, sew more stitches, check the pattern, fix the stitches… For a TV commercial that Ushio described, the video footage would likely be at most 30 seconds long. It could be trimmed further to accommodate the commercial copy and the model that would likely be overlayed on top of the clip. To Kei, it didn’t feel like an efficient use of time, but Ushio was perfectly okay with spending an entire day’s worth of work on a single second of video. Apparently he had also hand-dyed the fabric to get the dark navy blue mixed with ultramarine effect that he had wanted. What was this fixation of his on these little details? Was it really that different from buying materials that were ready to use?
“You really seem to like things that are tiny and neat.”
“Not really,” Ushio denied, his tone light and breezy. “Quite the opposite, in fact. Can’t you tell by looking?”
It was true that when it came to necessities around the house, everything was large, warm and maybe a little rough, and it was why Kei could accept this place so easily. Also, when Ushio cooked, it wasn’t like he prepared intricate kaiseki dishes.
“The commercial will air in the summer, so I wanted to do something with fireworks. Then I thought about how I wanted the fireworks to look and came up with this pattern. That’s all there is to it. I don’t think that being too time consuming or too much work are valid reasons not to do something. Yeah, it can be a pain, but I feel much better about it than if I didn’t have the budget to execute an idea.”
First and foremost for Ushio was the question of what he wanted to make. The means he used to express his work didn’t hold any particularly special meaning. It could be clay, dolls, embroidery—it didn’t matter, as long as it fit the image of what Ushio was thinking of at the time. And what Ushio wanted to make was always being refined inside his head until it came to the time to actually produce everything. Where did this simple line of thinking come from? It baffled Kei who never had to think about what he wanted to do when it came to his work.
Of course, he wanted to do a good job. Every day, he always felt the need to do his best and manage his work professionally. But it was all work that was assigned to him. Someone wrote the script, someone edited together the footage, and Kei would smoothly read everything in his crisp and proper pronunciation (that someone decided on, but he didn’t know who). He would make the appropriate comments for a set topic at a set time. Kei did it because it was a job that not everyone could do. He should have felt no sense of uneasiness or dissatisfaction with it.
But when he looked at Ushio, he sometimes wondered what it was that he was doing. He didn’t have any particular motivation or enthusiasm for his work; it was mainly propped up by his hard work and vanity—
Ugh no, stop. If I start thinking this way, I’ll end up denying the way that I’ve lived my life.
Kei warned himself against his errant thoughts and continued matter-of-factly with his needlework.
“Here, I’m done.”
Kei returned the fabric with the needle and thread still hanging from it.
“Looks great,” Ushio said as he admired Kei’s handiwork. “The circles look nice and round, and the sparks are evenly spaced out like a clock.”
“Praise me more.”
“You really can do most things if you put your mind to it.”
“You’ve only realized it now?”
“Now that you’re in a good mood, I have something I need to tell you.”
Ushio worked on tying off and removing the needle and thread. “There’ll be people coming into the studio starting next week for a while.”
“Hnn— For a documentary they’re doing.”
Kei could tell from Ushio’s voice that he wasn’t excited about it. Ushio didn’t like being thrust into the spotlight. He wanted to make his films, and if he earned enough from them to live on, he was satisfied. Kei didn’t know of any other person in the industry who shied away from fame and glory as much as him.
“Who’s it for?”
It wouldn’t be a tiny segment like Kei had done for the evening news; it was a full-blown documentary taking up a one-hour block. The show had aired for nearly 10 years, following the lives of athletes, CEOs of IT companies, world-class artisans, and the like, under the tagline: Zooming in on the human inside.
“Whoa…” Kei made a face.
“Everyone they profile on that show has like one liners they spit out with a straight face like they’re condo salesmen. And there’s always this jarring narration with weird pacing. Like it’ll go, ‘Tsuzuki Ushio knows.’”
“Yeah, I guess that’s the effect they’ve been going for lately.”
“They’re like the epitome of snappy one liners in Japan. The King of One Liners, One Liners of the Year, One Liners Selection for 3 years in a row. You’re really gonna be on their show?”
“I kinda have no choice here since it’s for work. It’s the same as when Shitara-san asked me last year to document the process. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have to.”
“How long is it gonna take?”
“About a month… Probably until the beginning of April? They initially asked to follow me for half a year, but there was no way that was happening. In return, they’re probably gonna be glued to me the whole time. They wanted me to let them know as soon as possible if I had any concerns about anything, but there’s nothing but my work here.”
“Sounds like we won’t be seeing each other for a while,” Kei announced. “Even if you can escape from the crew for a bit, don’t you dare come over to my place, ask me to come over, or even call me on the phone! Understood!?”
“Huh, does that mean you want me to do those things?”
“I’m not a comedian doing an opposite day gag! I’m. Being. Serious.”
“Your cover’s the most important, huh?”
“Boo, here I was getting excited that you might feel lonely without me.”
Isn’t he using the wrong adjective to describe himself?
“Anyway, I’ll be busy too. I have a narration job for a TV special and multiple interviews coming up.”
Those who are in-demand are always busy.
“Hmmm— Well, I guess it’s good timing. One more thing…”
“The reporter for Persons… I think they’re called navigators? Anyway, it’ll be Kizaki Ryou.”
Ushio looked a little awkward. “They have a couple of presenters for the show, and he happened to be in charge this time. He’ll be coming over and talking to me… They did ask me if there was someone in particular who I wanted, but I left it up to them to decide. I never guessed it’d be the guy who’d be competing in your time slot.”
So he was worried that I’d be bothered by it? Only an idiot could come up with something so stupid.
Kei easily replied, “It doesn’t bother me.”
Ushio had things he needed to do for work. Frankly, Kei only had a vague memory of what Kizaki Ryou looked like. His ID card probably said: Tokyo, Metrosexual District. Even if it bothered him, announcers and models were a far cry from each other. Even if their shows were in direct competition, the guy probably wouldn’t be reading the news. He was probably just a pretty set piece, the young male version of the female announcer used to attract a certain demographic.
Make sure to look pretty for the camera.
Ushio sighed at Kei’s tepid reaction. “I worried over you for nothing.”
“Why is worrying over me nothing to you!?”
“I just thought you might be unhappy about it.”
“You should be grateful for my magnanimity.”
“Thank ya, thank ya, then let’s wish each other good luck.”
“You better not get carried away by the director’s flattery and whatnot and make up some snappy one liner.”
“And if I do?”
“I’m gonna play it at your funeral.”
“Don’t propose to me so smoothly. You’re making me blush.”
And you’re not even blushing, stupid.
“Does that mean I’m dying first between the two of us? Not that it matters to me,” Ushio said with a smile, getting up from his chair to sit next to Kei on the bed. “Place your accent dictionary in my coffin for me when the time comes.”
“…You’re such an idiot!!” Kei shoved Ushio away with everything he had and flung himself down on the bed to face the wall.
Kei ignored him.
Kei swatted away the hand that gave his shoulder a shake.
“Who’s crying!? Damn moron.”
They were just teasing each other, but then it became all too real with the details, and a painfully raw video clip kept playing in the back of his mind. It made him a little choked up—
Dammit, I hate my strong imagination sometimes.
“Don’t be so shameless asking for materials I need for work.”
“I don’t plan on dying any time in the near future, and I’d like to be by your side for the rest of my life if I can. But man, you’re a workaholic.”
“Kei.” Ushio dropped his voice so that it was low and gentle. “I’m sorry. We won’t get to see each other for a while, so show me your face.”
“You’re trying to act sorry, and yet you phrase it as an order?”
But Kei allowed Ushio to turn him over and wrap him in a tight hug.
“I thought you wanted to see my face.”
“I do, after this.”
His nose and mouth were pressed up into Ushio’s shoulder, making it difficult to breathe, but Kei didn’t feel uncomfortable in the least.
Ushio whispered, “Oh…” as he played with the hair at the back of Kei’s head with his fingers. “It’s already been a year now.”
The upcoming spring would be their second one since they had met.
“What about it?”
“I used the word ‘already,’ but it feels more like 10 years have passed.”
“…What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Umm, just exactly what it means.”
“I can’t tell if it’s good or bad.”
Did it mean that he’d had enough of him?
Ushio gently patted Kei on the back when his body started to slightly stiffen.
“It’s a good thing, of course. In 10 years, I’ll have 100 years worth of you.”
Kei buried his face deeper in Ushio’s embrace. His trapped breath felt hot. When he tightened his arms around Ushio’s back, Ushio teased without a trace of his usual flirtation in his voice, “Are you trying to make an artist’s ink rubbing out of me?”
Kei slightly moved his lips away from Ushio’s shoulder. “…It’ll be ok if we text each other.”
“And one more thing!”
“…D-Don’t you dare cheat on me…”
“I could barely hear that!” Ushio laughed, and the faint vibrations transferred to Kei and made him lightheaded. “I want to say that I’m not like you, but ok, don’t worry.”
“You just said it, dammit, and I didn’t cheat on you.”
“Just to let you know, until the day I die, there’s no statute of limitations.”
Doesn’t that sound more like a proposal?
It was a long time before Kei could bring himself to look at Ushio’s face.
It wasn’t that the stress from not seeing each other didn’t accumulate, but one and a half months could fly by in a blink of an eye for a working adult. The new spring season didn’t directly affect Kei, but the entire network was a flurry of activity. Shows came to an end, new shows started, shows changed over. And in between there were TV specials. Staff hurried to rearrange sets, and there were new posters and commercials released to the public. With all of the commotion, February and March passed by at breakneck speed.
The new fiscal year began the Monday of the final week of March. The networks bustled with all of the new changes, and Newsment, sharing their same time slot, finally made its debut. Anyway, they needed to get a good gauge on their competition, and so the team gathered into the conference room after their broadcast to watch the show’s premiere that they had recorded.
The title screen lasted about 10 seconds with a pop-like CG backdrop and a colorful rainbow stretching across the screen. In contrast to the brown tones used for The News, the studio was mainly white with a long curved table for each of the presenters to sit.
“It really looks impressive when there are a lot of people.”
“Yeah, but it feels more like a morning news and talk show.”
People chattered about their first impressions of the show.
Sitting at the center was the main host of the show, with a commentator sitting on his right and Kizaki Ryou sitting on his left. He certainly looked like a model. He was only shown from the waist up, but it was obvious that his body was well-proportioned and statuesque. His face gave a smooth and sleek impression with his slender nose and jawline. Kei felt like he was a run-of-mill, pretty TV personality who could be found on any channel.
The camera briefly panned over the table, returning to focus on the three presenters in the middle, and the host started to speak.
“Good evening. Tonight we’re bringing you the premiere of our brand-new show Newsment. I’m the host of the show, Kadomatsu Nobuo. Every day, news is reported to the public, but perhaps you may watch the news and ponder, ‘But what does this story actually mean?’ We strive to deliver a news program where our viewers can easily understand the important stories for the day, so that you can watch the news and go to bed satisfied that all of your questions have been answered. Helping me out with the show is my very reliable partner, Kizaki Ryou-san.”
“Good evening, I’m Kizaki Ryou.”
He bowed slightly towards the camera with a hint of a smile, and it was like his face was a photographed still for an extended moment. He was indeed a model. It was difficult to control facial muscles to such a degree, and a slipup could result in a poor impression for the viewers.
“I’m sure that everyone is well aware that we’re airing in the same time slot as The News. But I would like to say that it’s not something I’m too focused about. If we can one day catch up to their ratings, it’d be a wonderful bonus…”
“Please don’t say something so passive on our first show.”
“Alright, then I shall say that I’d love to catch up to them by tomorrow night.”
“This is a live broadcast, you know. Please watch what you say!”
“Whoa… they didn’t beat around the bush. They actually talked about us.”
“They have guts.”
“Do you think it’s scripted?”
“Kadomatsu-san looked a little flustered. I think it was all on the spot.”
“That Kizaki Ryou sure has a lot of nerve.”
Normally, no one would mention their competition on air. It could remind viewers that other shows were airing, causing them to change channels. It was common sense to limit any impetus that would provoke the viewers to channel surf, but they were starting from the bottom of the rankings, so maybe they had no fear or maybe they were looking for some laughs.
But what surprised Kei the most was Kizaki’s manner of speech.
How come he’s so good?
From the pauses, the articulation, the pronunciation, there was nothing that anyone could point to and complain about. It wasn’t just a pure self-assurance in his manner; it was the product of years of training at an announcer school or some other specialized program. He was a TV personality, and it wasn’t strange for management companies to send their talent out for training. But between the perfectly set hair that looked like it came out of a magazine (the kind of style that would be impossible for an amateur to achieve on his own) and the clear and strong manner of his speech, the disconnect between the two wasn’t necessarily a formula for success when it came to typecasting.
However, it was clear that Kizaki Ryou was not a mere brainless resident of Metrosexual Heights. For a young man who didn’t aspire to become a comedian or an actor, to be able to speak so smoothly in front of a camera as he did must have taken an incredible amount of initiative and hard work. Moreover, his voice made people want to respond to it. There was no logic to it, more an intuition or a feeling.
In the middle of a video clip, the studio reappeared for a moment.
“Looks like operator messed up on the video switcher.”
“The timing of the overlays was a little weird too. Maybe they were a little overwhelmed for the premiere.”
After the video clip ended, the host apologized using a conventional set phrase.
“Please excuse us for the minor technical difficulties just now.”
Without missing a beat, Kizaki chimed in.
“Who would have expected to see a trio forming a traffic light on screen.”
“Oh, it’s their clothes.”
“I see, that’s funny.”
During the momentary blip, it showed three of the guests coincidentally wearing red, yellow, and green. The guests in question looked at each other and chuckled, “We didn’t even notice,” lifting the mood. It was clear that he was quick on his feet too, effortlessly managing a live broadcast issue from the very first day.
After they finished watching the recording to the end, the team started to give their thoughts and opinions.
“It seemed really casual.”
“The studio background music was light and casual. It’s probably their concept.”
“Well our flash news segment is similar to the flashy headlines you read in the sports papers, but it’d be too much to put that craziness in the studio.”
“I think I’d like to watch something like this on weekend.”
“We make our show on the basis that everyone has some common knowledge of the world. I wonder if it’s too big a hurdle for some people to want to watch us.”
“But we organize and write our show so that everyone can follow the stories.”
“I know that, but the image we give off might say otherwise…”
In general, most people came to the opinion that Newsment was pretty interesting, but The News had their own style that they should stick to.
“Well, it’s not like we can predict what’ll happen after watching a single night of their show.”
Shitara would be the one facing pressure from upper management and Programming for any slip in the numbers, and he appeared to be unconcerned about their new rival. Kei thought that Shitara’s habit of acting like a sly, old tanuki1 sure had its uses sometimes. Especially if it helped the people who worked under him feel more at ease.
“Even if we’re both news shows, we have different people working on them, and so of course each one will feel different. There’s no right way to make a show, but I like The News for what it is, and I think we’ve made an interesting show. As long as we share these feelings as we move forward, I think we’ll be fine. They might gather enough momentum one day, and you might hear people saying that we should change our format or move our commercial placements, but well, we’ll think about it if the time comes. Anyway, thank you everyone for staying so late and for all of your hard work today.”
On the way back to the announcer department, Tatsuki walked next to Kei and asked, “What did you think, Kunieda-san? I have to admit that it’s the kind of show that I like. It feels like chatting around the kitchen table and not like a news report, kinda like they’re trying to make a statement about their show.”
“Yes, I can see that.” Kei nodded his head like a kind senior colleague and brought up a topic that was on his mind. “I was quite surprised at how good that Kizaki Ryou person was.”
“Huh?” Tatsuki suddenly stopped in the middle of the hallway when he heard Kei’s comment.
“Kunieda-san… Umm, uh… come over here for a second.”
Tatsuki dragged Kei by the arm to a darkened area in the advertising department.
“You can drop the clean Kunieda-san act now.”
Kei checked under all the desks just to make sure that no one else was there.
“Don’t refer to me like I’m Gian,2 dammit,” Kei sniped with a muffled voice.
“You switch over fast~”
“Shut up. What’s this about?”
“Um, well, do you really not know about Kizaki Ryou? He originally wanted to become an announcer. Of course, he’d be good.”
“Seriously? Is this really the first time you’ve heard about him? I guess you did get in under special circumstances…”
“Don’t say it like I got in through the backdoor.”
“So you also never heard that he made it to the final round of interviews here but didn’t get an offer?”
The interview process for announcer positions varied by network, but at Asahi TV, making the final round of interviews essentially meant that the job was pretty much in hand—it acted as a formality to confirm the applicant’s loyalty and interest to work for the network. To not get an offer at that stage would have meant that highly unusual circumstances had happened. Such as someone who caught the president’s eye and by his judgement revised the hiring roster—… Kei hadn’t taken part of the interview process for announcers, and so he had no idea who had applied that year.
“…Don’t tell me it was the same year that I got in?” Kei asked cautiously.
Tatsuki raised both hands to point at Kei. “Da-dun!” he said, making a sound effect like he was waiting for Kei to finally crack under the curiosity. “Kunieda, you caved~!”3
“I heard that he had several tentative offers from other major networks. He turned them all down because he wanted to get into Asahi. The executives here offered him a regular staff position, like a news reporter where there were chances to be on TV, and tried lots of things to smooth things over, but I guess he wasn’t happy with a lesser offer.”
“None of it has to do with me.”
Kei didn’t ask them to offer him an announcer position.
“But he probably thinks it has everything to do with you. He came right for us at the start of the show; it seems to me like he’s raring to get his revenge on Asahi TV for cutting him from the roster.”
“I don’t care about a loser’s unjustified resentment.”
“Well, I don’t know him either, so it’s not like I know what kind of person he is. Oh, right, Kunieda-san, there’s a get-together for the announcer department next month.”
After Tatsuki left, Kei sat in a dark corner engrossed in his thoughts. He was a little relieved to hear that Kizaki had originally wanted to become an announcer. If he hadn’t, then he’d be on the level of a genius. Although Kei had put up a tough front, it left a bad aftertaste to know that he was the reason that Kizaki wasn’t able to become one.
At Kei’s interview, the network president had told him that the applicants for announcers didn’t click with him. He had tried to select someone from the pool of applicants, but in the end he broke all precedent to go a different course and chose Kunieda Kei. He could have chosen to hire them both, but he didn’t. Probably at the time, Kizaki was simply not up to the standard that the president was looking for. But Kei was unconvinced; he truly thought they both would have been equally good. For Kei, it was like he was recommended a brand-new menu item at a fast food joint, and he had accepted the position because it was offered to him and because he would no longer have to keep job hunting. He had worked hard to get to where he was today, but he would have put in that same amount of work in whatever profession he chose. There wasn’t anything particularly special about being an announcer for him.
But still, I didn’t do anything, and I hadn’t known anything.
Kei felt a little sick when he thought how Kizaki might have known about him for years, possibly harboring all sorts of thoughts towards him, and now he was on a rival broadcast. Kei didn’t like people, but on the other hand, it made him feel uneasy when people didn’t like him. However, Kizaki was a very pleasing, young, handsome man and imagining him saying, Let’s have a fair and friendly rivalry, only made Kei want to snap, Shut up, don’t talk to me.
Ahh, now that he had learned some unnecessary information, he felt conflicted. He cursed Minagawa for being a moron as he returned home to his apartment. That was when he received a text message from Ushio.
“Filming’s finally about to wrap up. It should be okay starting next week.”
Kei sent him a reply. “What’s Kizaki Ryou like?”
“A normal young guy.”
That description doesn’t help. Whatever, we can talk when we see each other.
Kei brightened up considerably at the thought. Last year he didn’t have anybody, but now he had someone he could talk to. He sent a reply, “I’ll come over next week then,” and went to take a bath. Normally afterwards he would finish his own airchecks of the show, but that night he rewatched the broadcast of Newsment’s premiere. Even after a second viewing Kei thought that Kizaki was indeed very good.
- Tanuki – A Japanese raccoon dog. In folklore, the tanuki is known to be mischievous and a master of shapeshifting.
- Gian refers to Gouda Takeshi’s nickname, a character on Doraemon. In the Kikori Spring episode, Gian falls into the Kikori Spring, which is one of Doraemon’s gadgets. Instead of getting the original Gian back, a goddess rises out of the spring and offers Nobita a clean Gian, who looks and acts completely different from the original. Nobita would rather have the messy one back.
- There is a Japanese variety show called Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende that has a recurring special that punishes the 4 main hosts for laughing during a long, elaborate, obstacle-course-like scenario where special guests will jump in to make them laugh. Every time they laugh, the da-dun sound effect plays, and the person is called ‘out’ for punishment— typically a slap on the butt with a Styrofoam pool noodle. I swapped the ‘out’ for ‘you caved’ because Kei was actually correct in his guess.