Haruka's Diary
Chasing After Rainbows: April 2009

30 April 2009

368th post: Still around

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I'm in the middle of coming up with ideas for the 4th story. I could come up with ideas as I write along, but that could lead to drifting off from my original intention and could result in monotonous parts.

Translating my stories from English to Japanese (and vice-versa) is not easy: I would need to reconstruct the entire paragraph that uses different words, but mean the same thing. Also, taking into consideration of what readers might already know. Sentences are added to describe to the readers on what is going on but those might be removed in another language version because it would be common sense to them. An example would be that the school year in Japan starts in April, but other countries might be in January or September.

Looking at how many parts I had already written, the average number of words for each part, it's not likely that I would translate everything by myself. Add that to the list of things to do and, erm, let's just say it's long and not get paid for it.

I'm just exhausted.

(I did not skip no. 367: It's due to be out in about 12 weeks.)

Pie-chart of people viewing asuna888.blogspot.com (my anime blog in Japanese) for 29 April 2009. Sad to see that 28.37% of this is IE6.

26 April 2009

366th post

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(Newest post before this)



I went to an electronics store and the supermarket yesterday with dad yesterday evening (Everyone else were working or studying). The crowd there was unbelievably crowded! Even the cashier had very long queues. I don't see what's the occasion...

At the electronics store, I saw interesting stuff. I'm not really up-to-date in this kind of things, but there were a lot of stuff that would have been sold at a higher price not too long ago. There were a large range of LCD/Plasma widescreen TVs, DVD Player/Recorder (some even had HDD or VCR (!) built-in), mobile phones and whatnot. Spotted some Blu-ray players too. Dad was impressed by the TV that was playing a movie trailer at 1080p.

There are game consoles (Xbox360, Wii, PS3, DS) there, but did not have interesting titles or were for consoles that I don't have. The Xbox360 is a good console, but I have been hearing a lot of it having hardware issues quite frequently. Also, I understand region locking of DVD/BD movies, but not video games where the language could be different or not officially sold elsewhere due to marketing reasons. I also spotted a media center-like device that connects to the TV via HDMI (among other connections) and supports Wi-Fi. Useful to play media content from the PC, but whether it would work with video formats/codecs I have or use it as a recorder is a different thing. Also saw Windows Vista Anytime Upgrade (Home Basic -> Home Premium) disc, Windows Vista Business (not sure what version it was, but it cost about 300USD), and "Microsoft Office 2007 Student and..." edition. I plan to replace an old 2002 WinXP desktop PC badly: It lags like crazy when I go to a page in Firefox and play an embeed video in standard quality. I can even hear the loud sound from the processer, despite me cleaning the inside for dust earlier in the month. Holding off because of the nearing release of Win7 and that the old PC is still working, though now I normally use a 2007 Vista laptop.

At the supermarket, besides cheaper but lower quality products from the electronics store, I headed to the bicycle section. There are interesting bicycles there, with one costing as much as a Apple Mac computer, but I don't really want to replace my old bike with a lot of visible rust. It works just fine after pumping the tires at a petrol station near my house and adjusting the height of the seat. I was smaller the last I rode it, but the bike did seem quite large back then. I have been walking/running or taking the public transport a lot during that time interval. Stocked up on fruits, drinks and snacks too. Total cost was 5 times less than usual.

Speaking of VCR, the one sitting in the living room since 1996 seems to turn itself off in the middle of rewinding, the remote control does not work properly, pressing the rewind button on the unit would have it record (!) instead. Needs to be replaced with the newer DVD-RAM/RW or HDD-based recorder. The PS3 does seem to be a good Blu-ray player.

22 April 2009

Losing Identity (Part 15)

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Morning had arrived. I found myself on the bed of a room that is not mine, but then I remembered that I was visiting my dad's university friend regarding his son's passing away. I was shocked to learn that his son had entered me and that it's also possible that I could be him before the merger and now think and behave very much like me, Haruna, right now. It's hard to tell, because I have mixed memories and knowledge of both. It kind of conflicts if I want know what I was doing prior to the merger, on top of the knowledge that my memory of another childhood friend with me (Saeko/Itsuki) was modified when he turned into a girl. I don't know what to believe now: I don't even trust my own memory...

After taking a bath, I headed to the dining table for breakfast where everyone is. I don't know what he prepared, but it's certainly better than what I can prepare myself with. Saeko seems to be in a hurry with something. Everyone else seem to noticed this too.

Me: "Saeko, why are you in such a hurry? We would be in this country for several days, and today's only the second day..."

Kyousuke: "Yeah, it's not like we are rushing to catch a plane or something..."

Saeko: "Mamiko has disappeared! The group that went to the hotel yesterday told me, that she vanished into thin air at the hotel!"

Kyousuke: "You're saying she disappeared? How is that possible?"

Me: "In any case, we should start searching for her."

She couldn't have gone that far, since Mamiko is in a wheelchair and can't move around by herself, but her disappearing into thin air and not knowing where she went to is worrying. Since Mamiko is in some ways like Saeko, as the former is the latter's clone, she should know where she would have gone to, but judging by how worried she is, she doesn't.

I would like to help Saeko with the search, but I have no clues as to where to start. Kyousuke and I packed our bags as we headed towards the hotel.

The Father: "It might not have gone as planned, but feel free to visit us again soon. After all, you do have the soul of my late son residing inside. I'm sure he would be happy to see us again, but of course, he would be happier to be with you."

Somehow, those words did not have an impact on me. I thought it would, but it didn't.

Me: "Yeah, I'll let you know. Let my dad know that I dropped by to say hi."

We hurried down to the hotel to search for clues. Saeko reminded us that due to the accident, Mamiko is unable to communicate even if she wanted to. Sometimes, when I look at her, what I see is a body that doesn't respond at all, even if you do things to her that would normally force her to, like having your fingers too close to her open eyes or tickling her. Even touching her most sensitive parts of her body results in nothing. But her eyes looks as though she's trying to say something that no one can guess what it is. Saeko seems to have the closest correct guesses though.

Since the room she disappeared in is for me, Saeko, and Mamiko, no one else was in that room when she disappeared. That means that no one knows when Mamiko disappeared since reaching the hotel.

We searched around the room for clues when Saeko seem to be having a strong headache.

Me: "Saeko! What's wrong?"

Saeko: "Argh! I don't know what's going on, but something is telling me that she had time travelled to the time and hospital where we first met my clone. I don't know who is sending me these visions, but Mamiko is safe. Strange, I never had this kind of things before..."

Seeing that Saeko had somehow gain the ability to know where her clone is in real-time, there isn't really much for the rest of to do than to wait. I decided to head out to explore the shopping district that surrounds our hotel.

I don't know what to expect, but there are a large variety of shops here. I hear from somewhere that I should go to another place by train should I be looking for electronic goods or cheap goods (with questionable quality and service) as the rent here is high, which translates to higher costs of goods. However, there are some things here that I can't find elsewhere, so I should look out for "hidden" shops located at the upper floors of shopping centres. Before I knew it, I found spending a lot of time shopping for clothes.

As I head back towards the hotel, I heard the sound of vehicles screeching to a halt, but without the sound of a collision. I wanted to get to the scene quickly, but the crowd, students asking for donations, and promoters are preventing me from getting there quickly. I gave up trying to get there quickly.

Upon reaching back at my hotel room, I was surprised to see Mamiko back. On top of that, she's now able to move normally.

Me: "You really made everyone worried! Don't do that again without letting anyone know!"

I said that as I hugged Mamiko tightly. I noticed that her body under her clothes is unusually slippery when I hugged.

Mamiko: "Um, Haruna? Is there something wrong? If it's about my body or my disappearance, I can explain it to you, Saeko too."

This is the first time I heard Mamiko's voice other than through the radio frequency receivers. She sounds a lot like Saeko, but more lady-like.

Mamiko: "Shortly after I reached the hotel with the others, something seemed to made me to time travel to the time and place where you two first saw me, but at a different part of the hospital that seemed to be some kind of office. As you might already know at that time, moving my body seemed impossible as my muscles are paralysed from that accident, which also affects my facial expressions and vocal cords. So basically, I lied flat down with my face on the floor when I time travelled into that time, not being able to move and unable to call for help. I had to endure having my body behaving like a dead body: Letting gravity and the force move my body parts when carried around by others, and at the same time, not able to take control of my body or even communicate. I tried to send a message by them having to look at my eyes, but nobody, not even Saeko, seem to understand what I was trying to say. But they do seem to know that I was attempting to. Fortunately, I found out that I was able to manipulate the air waves in such a way that nearby receivers would broadcast my thoughts."

Saeko seem to feel guilty on that last sentence. Mamiko was forced to see Saeko waving her hands too close to her eyes that she felt uneasy. Saeko got shocked when Mamiko expressed her anger through a nearby television. I was there at that time.

Mamiko: "Shortly after my appearance into the room, he brought me to a strange room with stuff you would see in sci-fi movies. He then made wear a swimsuit that was tightened upon putting it on, but felt like I wasn't even wearing it. With it, I now don't need to feed myself or even need to go to the toilet at all. I can still eat and drink as normal though. However, I can't remove this swimsuit, as though it is part of my body now."

Saeko: "You sure it can't be removed? Let's see..."

Saeko tried to put her finger at one of the openings, but can't. She noticed that there were no gaps between the swimsuit and the skin.

Saeko: "I give up, what else did he do to you?"

Mamiko: "Let's see... oh, he attached a mind-reader device on my head, and wires on my body. The swimsuit seem to automatically turn into the connecting interface of the wire if close enough to any part. I don't know what he did to me next, but he put me in some kind of water tank and appears to be programming me somehow, as my body moved beyond my control, me saying gibberish, and visions of things I never seen before. The total time of this seemed like forever. To tell you the truth, I don't even know what he programmed me with. Next thing I knew, I was wearing the clothes from before, but with the swimsuit still on me. At that point, I was able to see what the other me, of the time I was from, was doing."

Saeko: "That explains a lot on why I have been having visions today: they come from you... I think I can read yours too! Now I don't need to worry about feeding you, as I don't need to."

Me: "So that's when you found out you can now move again?"

Mamiko: "Well, yes. He also did say something about accumulated time traveling through massive usage of regular transportation, but I don't understand what he meant by that. It was just after that he send me back to our present time not too long ago."

Saeko & Me (at the same time): "That was when I heard the loud vehicle screeching to a halt!"

We looked at each other as we both said the exact same thing at the same time.

Mamiko: "Yeah, I think my sudden appearance had shocked them. Haha. Too bad the wheelchair is useless now, but keep it just in case."

Saeko seemed to be somewhat jealous of her clone on the idea of not needing to bother with daily needs just to keep alive and healthy and want to say something bad, but she instead say,

Saeko: "Um, once we get back, I would like to see what else he did to you, something we can't do here. Who knows what else you can do now."

We continued chatting on until late at night, where we had forgotten about the others who might still be worried about Mamiko. I'm sure that the rest of my life would be just as happy. In fact, I would like to be with Kyousuke with the rest of my life, along with my childhood friend that resides in me.

Who knows what lies ahead, but I would like to do it together with him. For sure.

Chapter 7
Part 14 | Part 16
Related: Alternate Dimension Part 13, 14, 15

[Author's note 1 (April 2009): Okay, I don't really want to continue this any longer as I'm doing a total of 3 stories' worth at the same time. I have already in my mind to start a 4th. I want to end the 2nd too with it having even more parts that the rest, but I can't end the plot abruptly. Probably after the events that would avoid Kotomi Miyazawa's the train incident and the evil organization brought down. For the 3rd, I currently have no idea how to end this, but it certainly would be closely be following the main character of the 2nd story. Writing stories involving the same setting and meeting each other more than once can get confusing to write, not to mention errors and conflicts if both are about the same thing, but in a different point of view. Should I want to continue part 15 of the first story, I might remove this message. However, based on what I have already written for the 1st story, I don't see how to continue without drifting too far or starting from scratch. I don't want to have my stories to be like anime with a lot of filter episodes: taking up a lot of time just to get to somewhere. FYI, I started writing the first part of this story in August 2008, 9 months ago.]

[Author's note 2 (April 2009): Some of you might have noticed that "to be continued/continued from" might be on the left or the right. The left alignment is the old one, so I want to keep the consistency for all parts. I wonder how many words have I typed for each part alone though? Seems a lot.]

[Author's note 3 (July 2012): I have decided to continue this for a while longer until Haruna graduates from Mihara Academy as graduation is something not focused on in the other stories, and (for the more recent parts) those have more focus on an another school (Mizuho Academy) and less about Mihara Academy. Come to think of it, maybe I could also use this to explain what the original Saeko does before the 2nd story special (published May 2010) and her point of view right after the protagonist of the 2nd story disappeared from there. Other stories I already wrote are set many years after this one, so I feel awkward to "turn back the clock" just to cover this. If you haven't figured out from the URL or the earlier notes, this was the original ending of my very first blog story. I still haven't figured out the name of this story, though.]

21 April 2009

Inserting Closed Captioning to YouTube Videos

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Like this sample video, I might place subtitles. To enable it, if it doesn't by default, hover over the arrow pointing up at the bottom right and click on "CC" (closed captioning). The arrow pointing to the left indicates other subtitles available for the video and the option to translate the provided subs into the language you want. This way, you can have one subtitle track at a time, have it in your language, or none at all. To tell if the video has closed captioning, look out for a "CC" icon below the "Subscribe" button.

To upload a soft sub to youtube, go to the video you want to put it in, under "Video Owner options", select "Captions and Subtitles" and upload a SubRip (.srt) file. I tried SubStation Alpha (.ssa/.ass) file before, but it doesn't work.

Video above demonstrates widescreen video, high definition, closed captioning (including timing), video & audio encoding when uploading, and having wanted sections of a full-length video.

In case you were wondering what the format of the .srt file is, here's a sample:
8
00:00:32,000 --> 00:00:35,000
Whatever they will be doing, they will be eating this, eating that.

9
00:00:35,000 --> 00:00:39,000
And then... okay?

10
00:00:39,000 --> 00:00:41,000
I would present back.


11
00:00:42,000 --> 00:00:46,000
Or you would fight with the monkeys there for nuts and beries.


The numbers are the time in hour:minute:second,millisecond format and how long the video would appear according to the timing of the video you would put this in. Of course, the numbers above the time start from 1, but the sample above shows that you do not need to place a leading zero.

Since it's a .srt file, you can either open it up with Notepad or a subbing program. Don't forget to save.

Once you are done, select that file and language of the subtitle. Title is optional. If you want to put up an updated version of the file, delete the old one and upload the updated version in it's place. It's normal if the view count increases by a small amount during the subtitle upload/update/delete process. This also includes pressing that HQ/HD button.

How to have the video as HD? Make sure the video is 1280 x 720 (16:9) encoded in h.264, MPEG4, MPEG2(?) or DIVX/XVID, with 44100 Hz of audio. As to how to edit your video, well, I can't really help you with that part as there are so many programs available, other than that Windows Movie Maker would not be suitable for this. If you must use WMM, avoid the default settings, have the output resolution closest to 1280 x 720, and re-encode to the formats mentioned earlier in a different program. Due to the double encoding, visual quality might be lost in the process and spend more time transcoding, especially on a computer with insufficient processing power. Don't forget that, except for certain special accounts, YouTube does not accept files larger than 1GB or longer that 10 minutes.

Here's an uncut 4:3 version that is hard-subbed (irremovable subtitles), standard quality, out-of-sync audio and video, with funny fonts, colours and size for typography:


Speaking of K-On!, I have put up the draft of the opening and ending lyrics post on the Japanese version as the album containing the proper lyrics is not out yet. Since the current lyrics are based on what is heard, there may be misinterpretations of the actual words. It will appear on the anime blog in Japanese when it's ready. And if I feel like it, the English version too.

Closed captioning is rare on youtube, but it seems to be increasing lately.

Here's another video that basically summarizes what I was talking about:

16 April 2009

Disorientated Feelings special: "Train Incident"

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[Revised: 19 April 2009]
(Related: "Alternate Dimension (Part 25)")


I had just come back from the time pane of Hisakawa-san's school festival of last year and I am now walking from the safest spot I could reappear from where I started time travel. Since I had to wear my summer uniform in that time pane so as to not look out of place, I am feeling now feeling freezing cold as it is now winter. I wish I had brought warm clothing along...

I have now certainly missed seeing my boyfriend as a girl, but I have to turn her back into a boy partly because of what I had just found out, and for the sake of me being able to marry him. What I had found out was that I was supposed to be born as a boy, but during mom's pregnancy of me, uncle used a machine of some sort that would turned me into a girl. I have been having visions of it since after graduating from middle school.

I would like to congratulate on the experiment being successful, but the idea of doing something to someone out of their will is wrong, especially when that someone is me. Too bad I had live too much as a girl since birth that I don't even know if I would want to live as a guy, let alone what it is like. However, I would rather turn my boyfriend back to a guy, who was turned into a girl not too long ago, than to me, who has never even lived as one before. Besides, he has a female clone of himself that he can control as though he is her anyway. All records and modified memories of people that know them would say that they are fraternal twins at birth.

As college entrance exams are nearing and me being in my third and final year of high school, should I even bother? If so, which college of where and what course? With my knowledge in chemistry and biology, and me working with my (mad) uncle at the hospital, I think a science course would be suitable. But what about accommodation, fees and.... gyaaa! Let go of me!

Someone grabbed a hold of me while I was deep in thought. They certainly caught me by surprise. I saw two men in white jackets that had certainly blend in with the snow on the ground. The style they are doing to me is the same as what my boyfriend's clone had went through, but due to the her body is structured, she can't be killed even though she really looks like she is at that time. Even Mamiko herself is surprised on finding that fact out: she thought that she was going to die after thugs stabbed her with a knife several times with blood stains all over, but finds her body to be back to normal, as though it never happened, and once those thugs had went away. However, does these two men holding me means that they gave up chasing her as they found out that she is impossible to die and now they are after me? Does that mean that I will actually die? Oh, no... I'm going to die, I'm too young, please don't kill me... I started to sob and cry as they torture me for no apparent reason. What did I ever do to agitate them? I can't think of any reason besides me working for my uncle's company and having a relationship with Hisakawa-san.

As I tried my fruitless struggle getting away, one of them unscrewed the cap of an unlabeled brown glass bottle commonly used for medicine. The man who had a hold of me forced open both of my eyes while the other seem to pour that liquid onto my eyes. That bottle contains too much liquid to be eye drops, but I know it can't be good. I tried to close my eyes, but the fingers that forced them open are too strong for me. Also, I can't even move my arms as they restrained them. I cried as I was forced to see something that I don't want to.

They poured the liquid onto both of my eyes and they are burning with pain. I don't know how much they poured, but the bottle is small, and I can hear it being smashed on the ground. Next thing I knew, they rapidly spun me in circles a lot of times and tossed me onto something. That was the last time I was able to see anything for the rest of my life: liquid of some sort from that bottle about to land onto my eyes.

Once I had recovered from that fall, now that the pain has subsided, I tried to open my eyes to see where I am.

Except that I can't. Huh?

I tried to force my eyelids open with my hands, but that doesn't work either. Hold on, where did my eyeballs go? I feel nothing but emptiness under my tightly sealed eyelids that now feels like the skin on the rest of my face. It's like there never was an opening for my eyes. Scraching there now feels like scratching chin. Oh no, don't tell me that I would be blind for the rest of my life! I'm not used to getting around blind. And with my eyes gone, anything that relies on it is now impossible or extremely hard. Except for the extreme case of entering someone else's body or the inability of obtaining nearby people's visions via telepathy, it's impossible for me to gain my vision back as the optical nerve of my eyes are badly damaged.

It's a good thing that I'm still alive now, but with my vision having nothing but pitch black now, it's hard to tell. Those thugs spun me around and threw me somewhere, so even though I have a good sense of direction, them throwing me here while I'm still dizzy made it useless. If only I could still see, this wouldn't be a problem.

I lied down on what felt like snow and tried to cry loudly. Why did they take my sight away? My life is now ruined by those selfish idiots. How can I see the result of mixing chemicals? How can I even read or write words now? I don't even understand braille. How will I be able to use the computer? How will I be able to play video games? How will I know the faces of people I never met? How can I even cook or prepare meals? How? HOW?

The thought of now not being able to even do the simpliest things saddens me. I would rather be deaf or bound to a wheelchair than to become completely blind. There were no tears as the opening for what used to be my eyes, and the eyes itself, are now gone. Even my eyebrows are missing.

Voice 1: "Hey! Get out of there! Hurry!"

Get out of where? Why must I hurry? Where's that voice coming from? Why am I hearing a lot of voices shouting in the distance?

Voice 2: "Hurry! You're going to be killed!"

What's with the tone of the voices? They sound like I am in grave danger. I thought that those thugs who took my sight had ran away, so what now? There sounds to be a lot of people now.

At that moment, I hear the repeated bells that indicate an oncoming train, but it sounded that I am between the two sets of them. Oh no, I might be at the multiple train tracks that I might have seen in the area before they attacked me. The problem is which direction am I facing? If I don't get out in time, I could seriously die here! But which way is the way out??! I can't see!!! (Why do they assume that I can still see? I don't even know where "this way" is.) The loud sound of the crowd and the rail crossing alert bell seems to come in all directions. If I recall, the track is this wide and the crossing barrier is now down. So if I walk a certain distance and hope to hit the barrier, I know I would had reached safety. If not, I would have to turn 45 or 75 degrees, but can't even tell how much that is with my blindness and dizziness impairing me by a lot.

I hit a rail track. My guess is that safety is 90 degrees of its direction. Ah, safety zone, where are you? I don't want to die here! I can hear the trains quickly approaching! The surrounding crowd sounded more worried, and some exclaimed that I'm not going to make it. Ah, the position of the rail tracks tells me that I'm facing the right direction (I think), but how much further? The whole world seems larger when I can only see darkness. I can hear a train behind me, so I guess I'm safe. Ah, just a bit more....

Instead of hitting the crossing barrier, something large and fast-moving had hit me from the front. Don't... tell... me... that... I... was...

[Author's note: Kotomi Miyazawa was killed by an oncomming high-speed train at that point.]

***BAD END***
(not the actual and final end though)

Alternate Dimention (Part 25)

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Seeing that Kotomi had programmed Mamiko so that my clone would perform as though she has been performing for a long time and with perfection. I don't see the need to hang around there. Since my mind is merged with my clone, I would immediately be able to know what happened and be able to control her regardless of my location anyway.

If I recall, I was able to time travel. Accidentally found out when I was raped, was very confused back then on why they even attacked me in the first place and feeling the parts of my body they touched being different from what I was used to. What I was brought back to were what my classmate, Haruna Kobayashi, had experienced on the day she was mysteriously frozen stiff. The time I was brought to was the few seconds before I was brought back in time. I even saw myself vanishing into thin air in front of the people who raped me. Come to think of it, I think it is those same people who ran over and stabbed my clone later on. I would like to bring them down, but I don't know anything more about them other than belonging to an organization targeted employees of my company. The director said that I was targeted more than anyone else.

As I recall from some days ago, Kotomi had set the date to have something to happen to me this December. I don't know what she did, nor do I know how to check. How does she know something I don't when it was me who made and programmed the device? Will it affect me if I time-travel? I'm even curious about the future...

Embarrassingly to say, unlike my girlfriend, I myself don't know how it works. Ahhhhhhh!!!

I see nothing but bright white light. Next thing I knew, I found my self curled up and asleep on something soft. I tried to get up, but my body feels as though I had been sleeping for hours and struggled to get back up. Since when did I fall asleep? I don't even remember feeling drowsy. And, as though expecting me, I saw two sets of couples with familiar faces, who looked as though they rushed down from work, that appeared before me. I noticed that I was sleeping on a large bean bag and spotted toys for children and my stuff (though it look old) lying around. The place seemed to be a large western-styled house. I can't really see the outside, but commercial products and wall sockets tells me that I'm not overseas.

I looked at myself: I'm still wearing my school uniform that consists of dark shoes, folded knee-length socks, a skirt and a blouse with a ribbon and vest. It seems that whatever Kotomi did back then did not affect my physical traits or that the countdown timer only counts how much of my time has passed and will happen if the amount of time that has passed for me when time travelling is equal to the time if I didn't time travel at all to the time Kotomi had set to. Therefore, it has not affected me yet. But who are these people, and how do they know that I would appear in front of them?

A woman, who looked very much like me (though older), approached me. She then stared at me for a while and then touched me everywhere as though searching for something. I would mind a lot if people did the same to me, but since she is of the same gender and looks very much like me, I don't really mind as much. I looked at the other people: the other man looks very much like Kotomi and the other man looks like the older me in my male form. The other woman looked like Kotomi's childhood friend, Hiroko Kyohara, that I just met. It seems that I have traveled into the future where the counterparts of people I know are in front of me. But that doesn't explain why there are male and female counterparts of me at the same time.

As though knowing what was on my mind, the lady who checked me said that she is my clone while the male is me of my future. I tried to see what my clone is seeing, but instead of the one in front of me, I saw the one of the time I was from. Well changing back seems fair. After all, becoming a girl in the first place was not expected, and that the Kotomi I met at my recent school festival helped to turned it back probably knows that I don't know how to operate my device. What I'm more shocked is that everyone here is married to each other. My female counterpart is pregnant, while Hiroko has a 2-year old child. My future female counterpart said that she was shocked of being able to make and soon give birth to a child. As I found out, her husband is Jun'ichi, Kotomi's younger brother. Both couples have plans to have another child too.

On the question of how they know I was coming, my future selves simply said that I am their past selves and know what to expect (what a basic answer...) and knows why I came to their time pane or the time pane I came from, though they add on to say that the only time plane I could come from as myself as a female is the second year of high school, which, to them, is a long time ago. Izumi said that Aiko, her cousin, has succeeded her father as the director of my company. Izumi's older brother, Shin'ichi, is now the assistant director. None of them mentioned anything about Kotomi, neither do they seem to want to talk about it.

Me: "Erm, where's Kotomi?"

There was deep silence that only the clock ticking could be heard.

Jun'ichi: "Well, Kotomi-oneechan found out that our uncle had done gender-change experiments to her before she was born. He also did the same to my younger brother and sister too. Me and my younger sister, Izumi, are the only children in my family he didn't experiment on. Kotomi said that her life was already ruined since her very birth and that her very existence was a mistake. After finding that out, she went back to a particular festival some time ago, which, to you, is just last week."

Me: "Really? No wonder she looked sad and seemed to be enjoying her last days of her life and suddenly, a week later, she's her usual self."

Jun'ichi: "Well, after the Christmas of your third high school year, people from that crime organization you might have heard of, had splashed acid at her eyes when she was caught off guard when she was deep in thought of what her uncle did to her. The acid has caused her to permanently go blind on both eyes, made her dizzy, pushed her to the train tracks, and ran away. According to witnesses, she tried to get out of there upon hearing an approaching train. But, being dizzy and just became blind, she doesn't know which way the way out is. Other people tried to guide her way out by shouting, but the noise of the oncoming train and the rail crossing were too loud for her to hear them. Unfortunately, she got hit by an oncoming train and died on the spot. She was the smartest girl ever..."

Itsuki: "Here's the newspaper article from then. You can keep it."

My future male self gave me an old-looking newspaper that is dated about a year and a quarter after the time I was from. It's true! They did not lie to me. Tears now seemed to flow out of everyone's eyes. My future selves approach me.

Mamiko & Itsuki: "We don't know if this event is fated to happen, but it's possible to ask you, our past selves from the year before it happened, to help us to stop those guys before it happens, or the very least, prevent Kotomi from being hit by the train. We know it might seem impossible as, in our time, it has already happened, but who knows? A miracle can happen."

Me: "I can do it? It sounds like a large responsibility and I don't even know where to find them."

Mamiko: "Well, we don't expect you to be able to do it, but we would be very happy if you did. Actually, you are the one that would be happy since we are the future you. Everyone around us too. If you still don't believe us, here's a CCTV footage from that day. You can have a copy of this too."

She switched on a storybook-sized device that appeared to have nothing on it, inserted a storage medium I never see before attached to it, and somehow ran the video. The image projected was in mid-air. I didn't know that thing was the TV, even more so due to a lack of a visible power chord.

The footage first showed a place with only a few people and the tracks visible. The date of the video was the day before the newspaper they gave me. Kotomi was seen walking along the side of the tracks, but with those people being camouflaged in the patch of snow with their white coats, separating the road that runs parallel to the tracks. They look different from the people I always encounter, but the way they approach their victim is the same: to target anyone who works for my company, to, from victim's point of view, appear out of nowhere, harm their target to the extent they think would kill them and the victim not being able to get away, after everything, run away until out of sight and scare bystanders if necessary.

I saw them pounce on her, splash some kind of liquid from an unlabelled brown transparent glass bottle at her, and dropped the bottle, smashing it into pieces in the process. Kotomi seem to be screaming in pain as she has both her hands on the eyes and running around aimlessly. Those guys grabbed spun her around many times to make her lose her sense of direction on top of just becoming blind, and pushed her to a patch of slow between the tracks for both directions so that she doesn't know she's there. Kotomi manages to get up, but is now clueless as to where she is as her eyes remained forced closed.

The rail crossing had lights flashing and the barrier lowered. By now, bystanders on both sides have appeared and appear to be shouting at her. Kotomi now seem to be panicking and crying even more now and runs around in circles, partly because she's still dizzy. Unfortunately, before she reaches safety, a train hit her. A lot of blood was seen splattered around and Kotomi now looked lifeless. Paramedics and police soon appeared (some of them were seen looking at the CCTV camera), moved the train away a bit, cordoned off the area, and covered Kotomi's body completely with a sheet after photos and some samples were taken.

I can't believe what I just saw. Mamiko now makes a copy of the video and a digital version of the newspaper report into a file onto a storage medium that devices of my time can read. It looks quite old for something I consider new or current for my time. Mamiko forgave me saying that it's hard to find a fresh new one and strongly recommends that I immediately copy it off to another storage device as it's prone to become unreadable due to age. The Internet is obviously out of the question due to it's time sensitive nature.

As they wave at me happily saying "Good luck!" I pressed random buttons in the hope that I would reach my present time and figure out a way to prevent the incident. Seeing that it happens during the winter break, between Christmas and New Years, it's hard to imagine how to prevent due to a lot of people out (increased train frequency) and about on top of it possibly being a snowy day. Also, should I warn Kotomi? If so, when and how? Giving her knowledge of her own death itself could result in a drop in her morale or even commit suicide earlier, but there's also a possibility of preventing the incident from happening in the first place.

I found myself inside a room. It seems to be Kotomi's bedroom as the door is locked and I can hear children running around outside. I hurriedly copied the contents of the old-looking storage device onto her computer and transfer them to mine. Maybe I should leave a copy on her computer somewhere.

Oh, look at the time! She could be coming home now! I should better power down her computer and head back to my time: Mamiko of my time pane is pretending to be rehearsing but Kotomi seems to be looking high and low for me. I guess I am needed even though I am not acting tomorrow.

Chapter 5
Part 24 | Part 26

14 April 2009

361st post

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Lately, I have been trouble coming up with something to write here that I think I need a long break or reduced intervals of what I'm doing. That's why you hardly see any non-story related posts here.

Unless I have the time, my next vector could be a long time away from the latest (v0074; right). The regular interval is once a week. I might still do the stories here. Which story I would do, however, is quite random. I might even modify the earlier parts. You would know that it has been modified by the date I place at the top, though minor things like placing a link to a following part won't be counted.

Well, this break won't start immediately though, probably from somewhere after the first week of July onwards. I probably won't come on much, seeing that internet access would be either be very limited or expensive. This also means that I might not be able to watch any Summer (or complete 24-episode spring) anime. The earliest I hope to be back would be by this Autumn this year, latest would be before my 22nd birthday. The awkward thing about the time I was born is that I could be born on a completely different day in the GMT/UTC +10h timezone onwards.

Where would I be going to? Well, it's a secret, so big that I won't mention it when it's over. What I can say is that it would be with someone I know from somewhere well and would meet a lot of new people. Can't guarantee that it would be a happy experience though.

And no, although I would like it to happen, I won't be married in that time frame as I'm not financially ready. Neither will I know if the people i will/have meet/met are suitable for me. With the country's declining population, ending up with a foreigner as my partner and having 2 or more children is a possibility. I could even be that foreigner. Erm, why am I even mentioning my personal things? Could be because I wrote a lot of stories from the main characters' point of view. (^_^;)

Time seemed to have passed by a lot quickly than when I was younger. I thought I was watching anime (using it as time reference) like "Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu" (before it became popular), "Welcome to the N.H.K", "Darker than Black", or "Lucky Star" (again, before it became popular) not too long ago on TV. Notice the titles I mentioned are 2006/2007 anime.

This post turned out to be longer that I thought it would be.

11 April 2009

Disorientated Feelings (Narration overview special)

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[Author's note 1: This is what I would have written in narrative form or the point of view of minor characters if I had started in the timeline of Part 4 & Part 5. With that, it includes what the heroine didn't see/know that is related to the storyline. Might also include content from Part 8, the other two stories, and content I have yet to put up.]

With the graduation from middle school still fresh in her mind, Kotomi Miyazawa begins a new chapter with the start of her high school. With this new start, she have decided to go with a new hairstyle that shocked her family, as they were not used to seeing her with it and made her more attractive.

During the self-introduction, what made her stood out from the rest was that she said that she could have gone to the well known academy at the top of the hill the school is at, but chose to go here instead so as to help the others. She also added that she's the niece of the well-known Kenji Hirano, works with him in a job position that would require a degree, and knows several foreign languages well. Because of her beauty, smartness, and what she just said, everyone gave her a big round of an applause. The teacher added on to say that Kotomi is one of the top scorers for the entrance examinations. What everyone didn't know, however, was that Kotomi herself wasn't aware what she just said.

Later on, the guys of class 1-1 found opportunities to secretly took photos of her and send it to people they know in the upper years or the photography club for prints. However, it's those upperclassmen who started the "Miyazawa Kotomi-chan Fan Club" and that the photography club is secretly known among the guys to be selling and taking photos of girls around the school. With them being aware of Kotomi's enrollment, they would try to find every opportunity to focus on her. Kotomi is aware that someone has been sneaking around and secretly taking photos of her, but pretends to not know about it as, in her mind, she has more important things to do than to deal with them. Itsuki Hisakawa was one of the guys who bought photos of her and other girls from a guy who was just about to take a photo with an SLR camera behind the bushes when most of the clubs were actively promoting their clubs.

In the evening of Kotomi's first day, she arrived at the largest hospital in the city to work. Her colleagues did not recognize her at that time and mistook her for just another visitor as she was wearing her new high school uniform and had a new hairstyle. It wasn't until Kotomi greeted them, heard her voice, and showed her employee pass, when she entered her workspace that they realize it's her. At first, they thought she was trespassing as it's an employees-only area working with potentially hazardous chemicals. Except for her and her cousin, Aiko Hirano, everyone working there are in their mid-20s or older.

Kotomi's uncle, and the director of her company, Kenji Hirano, had earlier went to visit the branches owned by the company in the city to see how things are progressing. (The company also has branches in various cities overseas. All the employees know very little on the ones working outside their branch, except for the people at higher level.) That evening, he entered the office to check with something he was reminded of. He took out an old box labeled "Documents regarding a device to completely modify a person's gender" in German. In it contains various documents, such as experiments that he had done to his younger sister's fetus 16 years ago to change its gender during it's development. The experiment was a complete success as his sister gave birth to a healthy baby girl. DNA checks shows that the change was absolutely complete as there were no visible traces that the baby was originally meant to be developed as a boy and that the baby has now developed to become a young lady. He also did the same for some of her children born later on so that there are alternating patters of the gender of her children. He has future plans to develop one that would work on a grown up or even on oneself, in addition to other things. The device could even be as small as a watch.

As he was looking through for other stuff in the box, someone knocked on his door. Without thinking or looking at the door, he asked that person to come in. As he looked up when he realised that there was silence, he saw a female high school student, that had a famillar face, staring at the box he was holding. He asked to himself, "Who is this girl? What is she doing here? Why does she look so familar? I have to ask who she is.", since he doesn't recall anyone with that hairstyle and uniform.

Kenji: "Excuse me, miss. May I know who you are, or if you had any business with me?"
High school girl: "Uncle, don't you know who I am? I'm Kotomi Miyazawa, your younger sister's eldest daughter... Why does everyone here today not recognize me?"

Upon hearing her voice and the tone of familiarity used, he realized that it's his neice, the one whom he did experiments on 16 years ago! As the documents contains photos of her mother, he hurriedly stuff the documents into the box and pushed it aside before she knows what it's about. He doesn't want her to know that it was him who was behind changing her gender at birth, which she doesn't know. However, she was already suspicious of what her uncle was doing since she entered. Looks like he has to do this at an another time...

After waiting for his daughter, Aiko, the three of them headed to the hospital carpark in the basement where his car is parked. On the way to send her neice home first, she talked about an international programming convention she saw in the papers in the morning. Kenji got excited as it could be an opportunity to employ someone to assist with programming and the mechanics from there. He then brought up the topic of the first day in high school of the girls. His daughter said that the school was so big that she got lost finding the exit when exploring and only got out with directional signs and the help of others. His neice said that she met up with an old kindergardern mate of hers and became friends with her again but her setence seem to end mid-way.

After dropping Kotomi by her house, Kenji said to his daughter if he recognized her cousin earlier that morning. She replied that she didn't, but since she knows her well, seen the uniform on the day the results came out, and that she heard Kotomi's voice from behind as she calls out in a famillar tone, the surprise wasn't that much to Aiko.

On the day of the international programming convention event, Kenji and some of his collegues attended the event. What they are looking for is someone who can do programming reasonably well, and not necessary one who comes out at the top. If there are many canditates, which is expected, they would look at their background, with top piority given to the young and less fortunate ones.

At the end of the event, they have spotted some candidates. A man in his 20s from that country that seem to know Kenji's daughter's classmate well, and a local guy who is of the same age and school as Kotomi. These two have displayed their fine skills who had to overcome their financial hardship to be here. Although one of them won the whole competion, he still fits the creteria they were looking for. Kenji does not know who his collegues has chosen, but he's ready to prepare the legal documents and accomodation should the foreign candidates be interested to work in this country. Otherwise, they can work at their branches or afflites, but can't garuntee the working environment or pay there.

The starting work day for the local winner is some time after golden week. The manager of there will be informed to look out for a guy named Itsuki Hisakawa.

*****

On a particular lunch break some days later, people of class 1-3 were about to head towards the cafeteria when they heard a commotion from down the corridor. First, they heard the noise of a table, followed by a girl's voice they never heard before, followed by a loud noise. They hurried to the corridor and saw a girl lying on top of a guy, kissing him. They couldn't see the girl's face, but she seem to have the hairstyle of the famous Miyazawa-san. Since they heard a voice different from hers, they immediately conclude that the girl was an imposter and started spreading the rumours. The guys were excited that there was a girl who would do such thing and even congratulated the guy whom she kissed for being so lucky. The girls were thinking of doing the same thing to attract the guys, but what they saw was too perfect for them to do. There are however, people who are angry that there is a girl who would dusguise as Miyazawa-san and think that it made her look bad.

During the music club, Itsuki Hisakawa seems to have problems concentrating and the way he played the instruments is obviously out of tune. Some of them knew about the incident that happened to him earlier and adviced to head home early for the day. At the shoe locker, Itsuki met up with Kenjiro Tanigawa, his classmate and best friend, as he was changing shoes before heading out.

Kenjiro: "Oh, Itsuki. I thought you had club activities today?"

Itsuki: "Kenjiro... They made me head home early from the music club today."

Kenjiro: "Why? What happened to you?"

Itsuki: "Promise you won't tell anyone else? Not even with our other classmates?"

Kenjiro: "What are you talking about? I'm your best friend! I would keep this matter only between ourselves. So what is it all about?"

Itsuki: "Well, I was heading towards the cafeteria during lunch earlier today and walked past class 1-1 when a girl popped out of nowhere through the front door and landed on top of me."

Kenjiro: "Oh ho ho! Was she cute? What's her name? What did she do to you?"

Itsuki: "Well, she claims to be that famous Miyazawa-san, but I can't see her face as she seems to keep covering it with one of the books that had scattered around when she fell on me and quickly ran away. When she was on me, her face was too close and I was too shocked to tell. Her voice doesn't sound like Miyazawa-san we both know, but she does have her trademark hairstyle..."

Kenjiro: "Wow! She even goes to the extent to claim that she is that goddess of ours that is the main reason why all the guys like to be in this boring school. On top of that, that girl even had her timing, location, and even the hairstyle perfect! She really have a huge crush on you and used this chance to kiss you and make it look like an accident!"

Itsuki: "The location? What do you mean? And why would she fall for a nobody like me who does poorly at grades? I barely even passed the entrance exam of this school while Miyazawa-san scores the highest ever: a perfect full score!"

Kenjiro: "Well, true, but didn't you know? Class 1-1 is Miyazawa's classroom! That girl who was pretending to be her even bothered to rush down to her classroom, waited for you to walk past the front door, and pounce on you! It's not everyday our teacher would held us back that would take up that much of our lunch break, so she picked the perfect timing and used Miyazawa-san's name so that you don't know who she really is. I'm sure you would get a love letter from her quite soon. Ah! A secret admirer! Your luck seems to be turning around. Hahahaha. I wish I would be as lucky as you! I don't even have a girl following me around."

Itsuki: "Do you think that it could be Miyazawa-san herself?"

Kenjiro: "Hahaha, I don't see how that is possible as she don't seem the type who would be interested who scores as bad and poor as you and there are already a lot of guys who are interested with her and you are competing with them to get her attention. Look at the bright side: there is someone interested in you."

Itsuki: "Thanks."

Unknown to them, Kotomi overheard most of their conversation from the rooftop. Some days letter, Itsuki found a strange letter in his shoe locker one day. It wasn't the love letter he was expecting.

Itsuki Hisakawa
Assistant Information Technology Programmer
Research and Development Department

Dear Mr. Itsuki Hisakawa,

It's been brought to my attention that I have an uncontrollable affection for you. I would like to appoint a rendezvous with you inside the storage room on the third floor of your school. Please do not bring anyone along. If there is no one inside, please wait close the room door and wait for me inside. It is of uttermost importance that I would meet up with you. If someone who doesn't understand the language I have been writing to you were to look or query about this letter, please disregard what has been mentioned here, except my name, and instead mention to them that someone from the United States is congratulating you for being employed into the company at such a young age.

On Friday, a dam burst in a southwestern suburb of Jakarta, Indonesia, killing at least 52 people and displacing a further 1,490. Officials, however, warn that the death toll will likely increase. The cause of the accident appears to be due to heavy rains that night, which overfilled the Situ Gintung lake behind the broken dam. "The dam was an old dam, 16 metres deep. Last night, because of heavy rain, the dam could not hold back the water so it broke," said the governor of the Banten province, Ratu Atut Chosiyah.

The breach occurred at approximately 02:00 local time (UTC+7), when many people were in bed, asleep. "People were still sleeping and couldn't do anything. Many people are still trapped and the rescue is ongoing," a local official said to Agence France-Presse. Rescue efforts were hampered due to a deluge of mud and debris from the dam. "We're still trying to get into the houses, but the problem is, mud is getting in our way," social affairs spokesman Mardjito said.

The President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, offered his condolences to the victims of the disaster. "We will provide emergency help to the victims. For those whose homes were destroyed, the government will help with the repairs," he told Metro TV. A major concern following this flood is the risk of water-borne diseases such as malaria. These problems are made worse by the local climate being very hot and humid. The Situ Gintung dam was built early last century, during the Dutch colonial rule. It was holding back a lake of about two million cubic metres of water.

Ps. Please forgive me for writing to you in this manner. I'm not familiar with writing this way myself. The above news from the second paragraph onwards was to just make this letter seem longer.

With regards,
Ms. Coltrane Gorbachev
Medical Science Research Assistant
Headquarters
Itsuki was at a loss of words on what the letter contained. He brought it home to verify the contents. Just who is this Coltrane Gorbachev written in the letter? He went to the time and location stated, and it turned out to be Kotomi herself. She also showed him the entrance to the roof that no one else seem to know how to get to. That was when Itsuki started to become Kotomi's boyfriend. Itsuki thought that the title written below the name is fictitious just to make it look real, so he didn't think much about it.

*****

In the May of about a year latter, 2 dramatic events happened: One of the candidates that Kenji Hirano chose at the International Programming Convention was killed in an accident with a truck, but his soul transfered to his childhood friend. Kotomi's boyfriend was working on something, but it somehow turned him into a girl called Saeko Hisakawa and the world around her seem as though Saeko was born a rich girl where she is staying at a luxurious recently-completed apartment instead of a run down house. On top of that, Saeko was clonned later on. Of course, Saeko herself was shocked herself on what happened and found out that she's attending the other school, where Kotomi's cousin is.

Because of this, and not knowing that Itsuki is now Saeko, Kotomi had became depressed that her boyfriend is no longer coming to school anymore as she can't find him. However, when asking around for Itsuki's whereabouts, nobody, not even Itsuki's classmates, seem to know who she was talking about. Describing what Itsuki did the year before seem pointless as it, too, produced the same results. It was that very week that Kotomi planned to confess to him that she loved him, but her boyfriend seemed to have vanish into thin air. She didn't even want to go on a holiday her siblings were headed to and would rather work.

During the preparation for her school festival, there seems to be a comotion going on that there is a girl called Mamiko from Kotomi's cousin's school running around with Itsuki's best friend, but Kotomi was not able to spot the girl at all. When Kotomi saw the news report of the stabbing incident on TV before the summer holidays ended, she found the faces and the behavior of the so-called twins awfully familiar, but wasn't sure. Like other news reports, she doesn't find the names Saeko and Mamiko Hisakawa a link with the rumors going around or the patient who was admited at the hospital she works at, despite the victim spotted in the news wearing the uniform in question in both.

Some days later, Kotomi spotted a girl of a different school wondering about. Since there have been a lot of rumors floating about this girl called Mamiko appearing here a lot of times lately, she immediately accused the girl of being a spy as the school she is from would be having their own festival shortly before theirs. It's wasn't hard to find her as her uniform itself stands out from everyone. However, she found out that this Mamiko, apart from her feminine appearance, voice, and behaviour, she resembles very much like someone she met a long time ago. She thought hard, and could only think of her boyfriend who disappeared months earlier. Kotomi exclaimed and apologized to her as she recalls her uncle telling her that Itsuki had become a girl, but didn't believe it and had to see with her own eyes. She has to ask this Mamiko the exact details of what happened the year before to confirm that the girl is her boyfriend. (Kotomi's boyfriend is now a girl? How confusing.)

She then offers Mamiko to have a walk around and show Maimiko the various stalls and attractions. What Kotomi found strange as they walked around was that even though she knows that the girl she is with is her boyfriend from last year, the feeling of being attracted to seems to have mysteriously disappear and is able to talk normally. To add on to the confusion, Kotomi doesn't know which names or gender-specific terms to address her boyfriend as, besides her family name. Itsuki is her name before she became a girl, Saeko is the current name, and the Mamiko with Kotomi now is her clone, but Saeko is able to control her clone as though she is her.

On the day of Aiko's school festival, at a cafe in the college section, Kotomi is sitting next to a sleeping Mamiko. Mamiko was crying loudly out of control earlier. When Saeko appeared there later on, Kotomi checked if the devices that was used to transform her boyfriend back in May, on both Saeko and Mamiko, is the same. It turns out that they are exactly identical. With some figuring out, Kotomi has set the device on Saeko to make her turn back into a guy before the upcoming Christmas in such a way that Mamiko still exists and that they both have the same house as now, which, of course, Kotomi didn't say. This means that one of them would go to the same school as Kotomi, while the other remains there. Mamiko still remains a girl because, technically, the clone is based on what Saeko/Itsuki was at the time of cloning. The merging of minds is a seperate event, so after changing back into a guy, Saeko/Itsuki would still be able to control the clone, as though they are Mamiko.

[Author's note 2: This is as far as I could go. It's not that I don't want to reveal spoilers, it's just that I haven't come up with anything to fill in those parts other than what is already mentioned. Storyline for the 1st story is rarely mentioned here as it has a completely different storyline that the only thing in common is that it takes place at the same city. Notice that Haruna Kobayashi (1st story) did not meet Kotomi Hisakawa (3rd story), but the both of them knows Itsuki/Saeko/Mamiko Hisakawa (2nd story) and that the storyline of the 3rd story heavily relies on the main character of the 2nd story.]

09 April 2009

Disorientated Feelings (Part 9)

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[revised: 10 April 2009]
(Continued from Part 8)

I'm hiding between the shelves and some equipment in the store room on the third floor. The room is lighted only by a small window positioned near the roof. There is a switch for the lights, but I don't want to switch it on yet. The store room seems to have a lot of things used for events, but there are things in here that seemed untouched for years that could belong to my seniors who graduated many years ago and now lay there forgotten. Reason why I'm hiding in a place like this is to make sure that Itsuki-kun would not bring his friends along before I approach him since the letter I dropped into his shoe locker yesterday does indeed look awkward.

I heard Kenjiro-san's voice along with Itsuki's voice saying about why someone called "Coltrane Gorbachev" would drop an official-looking letter in a foreign language, in Itsuki's locker specifically instead of his house. I giggled hard when I heard them say that name. "Coltrane Gorbachev" is the name I used to sign off in the letter in question: "Coltrane" is the western name that sounds closest to my given name, and "Gorbachev" (Горбачёв) is the surname of my late-great-grandfather that I could have adopted if he had brought his wife, my still-alive great-grandmother, to live overseas. Because my parents had me early (I'm only half their age), she does look too young to be my great-grandmother. Some of my classmates even have parents of her age!

Kenjiro: "This seems to be the place..."

Itsuki: "Are you sure? This looks like a normal store room. Why would that person want to meet me in here?"

Kenjiro: "Don't ask me, it this Koetrane Gobache who summoned you."

Itsuki: "It's Coltrane Gorbachev. You pronounced it wrongly."

Kenjiro: "Well, I, unlike you, have trouble pouncing foreign names written in the Latin alphabet, so don't blame me for that. Let's just enter this room to find out who it is, okay?"

They opened the door of the room I'm in and can hear the crowd from the outside. I would like to get out of my hiding spot, but only when his friend leaves and have the door closed, when I would switch on the lights.

Kenjiro: "Hmm, there isn't anyone in here. Well, I'm heading for lunch. See you later!"

Itsuki: "Hey, Kenjiro! Where are you... Hmm, I might as well see what's in here"

Hisakawa-kun entered the room and closed the door behind him and proceed to where the switch is, which is behind me. Like the style when I first met him, I covered my face with something and use that same voice I used as I approached him. After I switched on the lights of course.

Itsuki: "Who's t-there? S-Show y-yyourself!"

I appeared in front of him as soon as he said that.

Me: "Itsuki Hisakawa, eh?"

Itsuki: "You're Coltrane Gorbachev, right? The one who dropped this letter in my shoebox, and from your looks and voice, you're also the girl who has her brea... um, who crashed into me.

Me: "Yeah. That's right, that's was me too."

I could have sworn I heard him saying about my private parts. I would whack him if he said it on purpose, since if the shape of it is so obvious with all my clothes on. I don't know why I have such things or what's so great about those, but I don't like people to talk about it.

Itsuki: "So who are you? You made the letter to look like it came from the company I work for, and you are impersonating that famous Miyazawa Kotomi-san here? In fact, how do you even know where I work? I know that Coltrane Gorbachev can't be your real name since Coltrane is an American surname and not a given name. Gorbachev is Russian surname too. Also, why are you even hiding your face like from before?"

I can't take it any longer. My giggling turned into and uncontrollable laughter and I found myself rolling on the ground, laughing loudly. Oh no, my cover is blown in front of him: I unconsciously switched to my normal voice when I started laughing and my cover came off when I fell onto the floor. I tried to stop laughing and get serious as soon as it started, but my body forced me to continue on uncontrollably.

Itsuki: "Oh wait a minute, you are the famous Miyazawa-san all the guys have been crazy over. There has been rumors floating around lately since that incident that a girl tried to impersonate you, but I never thought that it would be you yourself in person to appear in front of me! Why?"

Me (still laughing): "I'm not sure why myself, but I started to become interested when I first saw you. Remember the two girls in the manager's office on your first day of work? One of them is me. That was when I started developing feelings for you that I can't explain myself."

Itsuki: "So my manager's daughter's friend I saw back then is you? Well, since the faces of every one there is new back then, I'm not really sure. But what's with all this secrecy just to meet me?"

Me (getting serious, almost angry): "If you know that I'm popular, surely you know the answer to that. There have been guys sneaking around since day one, taking photos of girls, especially me, without permission, and selling it to other guys like you. I pretended to not be aware of this, because it would just spoil my image, but they are invading my privacy and make me feel uneasy. On top of that, I have a reputation that I unknowingly started to keep here, and I'm not going to let this annoying feeling growing inside me, that everyone of our age seem to have, to go out of control. Because of this annoying feeling growing inside me, I have to relief it to a specific someone away from everyone else. And that unfortunate someone happens to be you. Even my friends and family never see me other than my happy and sad faces. Even so, it would come back again and need you again. If I find out that you tell anyone about our relationship, including that Kenjiro friend of yours, I would see what to do with you. UNDERSTAND?!"

Itsuki (scared): "Y-Yes, m-madam!"

Why is he replying to me like in the military where I am in a higher position giving out orders? Did I shouted at him angrily unknowingly? Hmm, my throat feels dry and my ears were ringing with the last word I said, so I think I did... oops.

Me (normal): "Oh, sorry, I seem to suffer from a mood swing sometimes. The anger came from the frustrations that had built up over time but have been unable to release. I thought you were the right person to release it at and not mind. Anyways, except for here, the school roof, at work, our houses, and when I say it's safe to do so. pretend we don't know each other as though we are random strangers. I will strategically plan and contact you when we would meet face to face as boyfriend and girlfriend. Ah, and here's my phone number and email address by the way."

Itsuki seems to be at a loss of words. I guess he's not used to seeing a side of me most have never seen before.

Me: "Erm, Coltrane is the closest western name I could think that has my given name, Kotomi, the closest pronunciation. And Gorbachev is my great-grandfather's birth surname... I might use that name again in the future.... Erm, Hisakawa Itsuki-san? Hello? What about we have lunch at the roof? I know the way there."

He's still in his shocked state, but did not resist when I pulled him to the roof via the hidden opening in the storeroom and the narrow staircase. The wide open area of the roof and the bright sunlight above brought his senses back.

Itsuki (running around): "What the... this is the legendary school rooftop that everyone is clueless on how to get to! Since the school has 4 levels, everyone has been searching around the fourth floor, but I didn't know the entrance to it is hidden in a storeroom on the 3rd floor. How did you find it?"

Me: "I was looking around at every corner of the school building, since I realized that there was a fan club full of guys dedicated to me was following everywhere I go to, including the quiet corner at back of the school. It wasn't easy trying to look for it. Recalling how odd it is about the windows around the storeroom and the water tower visible at the top of it, I took a look at the rooms there for any hidden opening. Sure enough, I found it at the storeroom on the third floor."

We sat around the shaded area of the "shack" that contains the stairs where we came from and had our lunch there together with our lunch boxes, but since we spent so much time downstairs, lunch had ended quite soon and had to quickly finish our food. We didn't have a proper conversation.

We departed from each other, where Itsuki departed at the third floor, and me finding out that the bottom of the stairs leads to a relatively deserted area where I would be able to get out safely without being found out that we are going together.

I still don't know why I am thinking of him a lot or want to go out with him though.

(To be continued in Part 10)

07 April 2009

Alternate Dimension (Part 24)

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On the day before the festival at my former school, Kotomi asked me for help. She didn't say what exactly it was, other than it being an emergency and that only my clone should come with me right after my school ends. Kotomi is my girlfriend, and me as her boyfriend, which would be correct until May earlier, but since I have become a girl, things have gotten confusing. In fact, she doesn't even know what name she should call me other than my family name. I understand, since I have 3 different names: Saeko is my current name, Mamiko is the name I gave to my clone, and Itsuki as my original name. Even though it seems like the names of three different people, they all refer to me, and it's not even a pen or display name. I'm confused myself...

Well, her school is just at the bottom of the hill my school building is at, with the train station in the middle. It's not that I never been there before, but the feeling of heading there is different than when I was still a student there. It's the feeling of being an outsider when I travel past my middle or primary school after graduating from there.

Mamiko seems to be attracted to pretty things at the shops near the train station for some reason. In fact, it's the very same shop Kotomi would drag me to at unpredictable times and spend a long time there. I decided to leave Mamiko there without telling since she could be there for hours.

*****

As I got closer to my former school, I can start to see more students from that school walking past me. I can hear whispers that range from, "Isn't that Hisakawa-san, the girl genius? I hear she is as good as Miyazawa-senpai.", to guys saying among themselves about wanting me to be their girlfriend. Maybe now I know why I feel like an outsider when heading towards my former school.

I arrived at the school gate. From there, I can see that the place is already heavily decorated with all the decorations, banners and booths set up, along with rehearsals. Kotomi doesn't seem to be waiting there, so I headed to her class at 2-1. Well, this doesn't seem to be the suitable place to wait with all the crowd and chaos going around there. Mamiko seems to have realized that I'm already there and that she's still at that shop.

With my school uniform glaringly different from the one I'm at now, I receive many stares from the people I walk past. Some of which that, apart from earlier, recognize me as the "spy" of my school, or Kenjiro's rumored-to-be girlfriend. I'm not his girlfriend, but because he was my best friend before that change, resulting in me knowing a lot about him and him knowing me, have somewhat turned me to have an affection for him rather than being close buddies. The opposite has happened for me with Kotomi, except that she still knows the me before the change. Also, apart from the fact that people are looking at me and that I'm now a student of another school, walking around the school feels completely different.

As I walked past the shoe lockers, I was reminded of the first letter she sent to me. At first, it looked like an envelope from my company. As there were rumours spread about a girl pretending to be Kotomi who landed on me and not sounding like her, it is actually Kotomi herself with her little-known singing voice as I found out from her later on, people seem to find some opportunity to look at my back whenever I open an envelope. When I first looked at the letter, it does look like an official letter from my company written in a language that people peering behind me would not understand. When I had a closer look, the first few lines were about apologizing for writing in that fashion and what I should say if people who saw the letter asking what it's about. She also asked me to meet at a particular storeroom during lunch 2 days after reading the letter (does she knows when I'm reading it?). That room, as she reveals to me, has the only staircase in the school, and hidden, that leads to the roof many were clueless on getting to. The rest were filled with extracts of recent news. What I found odd about her signature is that the name she use was that of her given name and a surname of her great grandfather that seemed too foreign. She even added her job title below the name, which seemed kind of pointless as it's not work related, but necessary to make the whole letter to be a company letter rather than a love letter. Well, the signature is one of the first places to look.

I soon reached the class of 2-1, Kotomi's classroom. There seem to be commotion going on in there and the doors were wide open with pieces of black cloth to cover the light from the outside. I took a peak inside to see that there seems to be some kind of an open area at the centre, surrounded by chairs. The class now looks like a totally different place. Since there's air conditioning, it's not really stuffy in there.

Someone in the classroom noticed me and, without warning, alerted everyone in there to my presence. The guys who were standing in the middle turned to look at me and have the sigh of relief when they saw me. It seems that Kotomi only told them to expect a girl of an unnamed different school to arrive to help the class, but wasn't expecting that someone to be me. Yes, I'm infamous in this city not only because of being the victim of a stabbing and hit-and-run incident in crowded areas not too long ago and magically survive to as though it never happened, despite witnesses seeing me in a near-death state. However, there also seem to be reasons pointing to events that happened before May that I either don't recall happening, or slightly different. As to the question to where Kotomi was, they said that she is helping a lot of people around the school and would only come in later.

The guys explained their situation that a girl who would have been performing tomorrow have fallen ill. They gave me the copy of the script and I looked at it: The play is about family problems, so there would be a lot of emotion portrayed and may include singing and/or playing of instruments. I have never acted before, so it looks like I need Mamiko, my clone, for this: I don't want to suffer the madness of rehearsing at such short notice. Besides, she is somewhat like an android and looks and behaves a lot like me, but more feminine. On top of that, during the recent festival at my current school, she just wonders around the campus aimlessly while I was stuck with playing music for my music club. Now, it's her turn, though I might want to pratcise myself to get a sense of what the play would be about. I might also want to ask for a digital copy of the script so that I can "program" Mamiko with the acting easily.

Speaking of her, where is she? She's still not here yet, but my senses tells me she's in the school somewhere. It also sounded that there are a lot of guys trying to peep inside, but had been shut out by Kotomi's classmates, with some taking care of the outside. Knowing the guys of this school, they would either be after me or Kotomi, or both.

*****

After some practicing, I headed towards the vending machines for a break from all that rehearsal. At that time, a girl who introduced herself as Hiroko Kyohara, Kotomi's classmate and childhood friend. She knows me as her best friend of another school and it's very obvious from the uniform I'm wearing. Hmm... where have I seen that face before...

We sat down on the floor around there and discussed among ourselves. She said that it must have been tough for Kotomi to be popular because of her brains and beauty. (She also commented that it might apply to me in my school too.) Except for Hiroko, her family, and her boyfriend (me?), she would have to put up a convincing fake smile in front of everyone. That somewhat explains why she sent love letters to me in the form of an official corporate letter. Hiroko added on to say that since her boyfriend of another class in the same school disappeared 4 months ago, Kotomi got so depressed that she didn't feel like doing the things she normally does. She even have to force herself that fake smile and struggle with her studies so that her fans would not notice, which she told Hiroko, was unbearable. Sometimes, Kotomi would come to her house and release all the sadness she has been keeping in Hitoko's arms. She finally said that since the preparation of the festival started, Kotomi has started to get over it and move on.

This Kyohara-san seems to know that Kotomi had a boyfriend, but doesn't know who exactly. Tell you what: the boyfriend who disappeared 4 months ago is the girl whom you were talking with earlier, which, of course, I didn't say to her. Imagine the shock and everything else it would bring. It still irks to find the girl who is staring back at me when I look into the mirror is me.

Mamiko seems to be talking to a shocked Kenjiro at my former class before Kotomi called her to head to somewhere at this time.

Chapter 5

03 April 2009

Review of Winter 2009 anime

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Links:
Autumn 2008 list + review of Summer & Spring 2008 anime
Winter 2009 list
Spring 2009 list

The Winter 2009 anime season was a big letdown. However, in this review, I would also include 24-episode anime from the earlier Autumn 2008 season I could think of. For a review of 12-episode and the first half of the 24-episode shows, check out the review I did on New Year's Eve.

Known to be carried over from Autumn 2008 season:
  • Gundam 00 Season 2 - Never watched this. However, I did watch some of the episodes of the first season in 2007 and some in the related world of Gundam. Except for Code Geass (including R2) and Marcross Frontier, I find anime that are set in the future/space, and/or have large robots are difficult to follow. Time traveling too.
  • Michiko e Hatchin - It follows a prison escapee and an abused orphan in Latin America to meet together to form an unlikely pair. Mentioned in the earlier review that I had dropped after the first few episode due to late and irregular scheduling. Or maybe it's the theme.
  • Skip Beat! - Instead of continuing to high school, the heroine follows a friend out of lust, who later becomes a famous star and dumps her. She works her way up to fame as revenge. Along the way, she picked up what she has been missing resulted from being dumped in a cruel way. Dropped because the heroine is an idiot? Maybe it's the inconsistent character design (cool, normal, chibi), or that other anime I was watching at that time, like Toradora!, looked better. I seemed to confuse the ending of this with the ending of Michiko e Hatchin as they sound alike.
  • Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae - Dropped, as mentioned in the earlier review. The first 18 episodes usually contains the typical storyline that goes like: Victim got bullied or lost someone/thing precious. Attacker made the victim feel worse. Victim can't take it. Victim goes to a site that appears only at midnight and type in name of who they believe the attacker is. Hell girl visits the attacker and sends them to hell. Victim receives a permanent mark on the chest that reminds them of the request and would be sent to hell when they die.
  • To Aru Majutsu no Index - Dropped at first few episodes, but picked it up again some episodes later. In the episodes that lead me to drop at first was because of the episodes had a lot of arguing and very little change of location. The episodes I found the most interesting was when Touma went for a break and to meet up with his family, after having his memories erased some episodes earlier. On the day he met up his family, Touma finds that almost everyone had their bodies swapped, except that they themselves did not notice it. What I found odd was that the last few episodes is focused on characters that were only introduced around that time instead of something that has been built up since the beginning or middle of the season. A second season, To Aru Kagaku no Railgun, focuses on the two secondary characters of the first. Also one of the few anime that is sharp and does not look upscaled if viewed at 1080p.
  • Clannad After Story - One of my favorites and a continuation of the first season in 2007. I heard somewhere that "Clannad" means a clan or family in a particular European language. Since the teaser after the end of the first season, I was somewhat expecting that the first few episodes to be the life after school and the appearence of Tomoyo and Nagisa's daughter, Ushio. However, that did not happen until the second or third quarter. What confused me even more was that there was a Tomoyo special that had Tomoya's graduation and wasn't expecting any for the second. What I saw instead was three: Tomoya's graduation batch, Tomoyo's graduation batch (or rather what happened during the storyline), and Nagisa's special graduation. Too bad the HD broadcast looked like upscaled version of what-is-then-to-be the DVD version
  • Toradora! - Including the previous 2 entries, this is one of the few anime that I actually liked with catchy opening and ending themes that also matches the atmosphere of those episodes. When I first watched it, I didn't know what to expect. Like Suzumiya Haruhi of Spring 2006, I watched it before it became popular and managed to watch it until the end. When I watched the first episode, the character design seemed to be a grade lower as compared to the covers of the light novel version (which I have never read), but seeing that everything else is excelent, I would overlook that. When the opening first appeared in episode 2, I had been wondering, "Where is this Kawashima Ami I see in the opening? I don't see her in the episodes", until episode 5, where she makes an appearence. Fast forward to the last few episodes, I can see that the storyline has made a lot of progress and that the characters have changed a lot, most noticably Ami and Minori. In fact, it seems that their entire school year spans the whole series (so far) nicely. I feel that there's something not right about the scene of the final episode, where during Takasu's grauation (slightly after a year after the events of earlier in the episode), he meets Taiga again. According to fans and forum boards I go to, people seem to want a second season, but the chances of that are either slim or won't happen for a long time as the volume of the light novel it is based on was released just a few weeks/days of that episode.
Winter 2009 anime:
(Sadly, I have to say that all were dropped. So I would only say the ones that I did watch.)
  • White Album - At first, it does seem like something I would watch. Also one of the few anime that takes place in 1980s, follow college students, or appear sharp on HD broadcast. I have to congratulate them for being accurate of what it was like back then with the heavy reliance of payphones as almost nobody has a mobile phone that were the size of bricks. However, the storyline seems to go around in circles. As my childhood days were between mid-1990s to early-2000s, music and fashion from the 1980s (and 1970s) seemed somewhat alien to me and somewhat drives me nuts when I see or hear stuff from that era. The fact that there is a second season and that many bloggers have dropped it after a long time drives me more to drop this.
  • Maria Holic - One ot the rare "dislike watching after watching the entire series". Normally, I would either like it, or drop after a few episodes. The first episode looked promising with how the scenes and music are nicely used with scenery of the forest, and her transfering there due to fear of boys and that both her parents were students and teachers. However, everything seemed to go downhill when Kanako starts to nosebleed excessively and thinks too much at the sight of other girls in a particular attire like what boys would react. Ironically, she is a girl herself. Except for the car driver in the first episode, the crossderssing grandchild of the founder of the academy, and a teacher in the last two, there are no males in the entire show.
  • Akikan! - The anime seems to be a mix of kid's show, perverted people high school students, and promoting of a canned drink product. I can't think of any other way to describe it.
  • Sora Kake Girl - Watch only the first episode. The fact that it is futuristic and with ALI PROJECT is singing one of the theme songs, is a good enough reason to not watch it.
  • Minami-ke: Okaeri - Well, the show itself is not bad as I have watched the previous two seasons. However, if it weren't for Toradora! and Clannad After Story, I would be watching this instead. It's like choosing between eletronic products: expensive but good, or cheap but unreliable.
  • The Tower of Druaga: The Sword of Uruk - Continuation of season 1. However, this was a big letdown and difficult to follow. I didn't like the baseball theme for the opening (don't like sports, especially watching other people doing it). I did however, found the first episode entertaining.
  • Birdy the Mighty Decode:02 - Again, because of Toradora! and Clannad After Story. I have watched the entire first season and liked it, but Tsutomu losing his body again at the end of the previous season was the letdown. Character design, though unchange (apart from them wearing blazers for winter uniform instead of the summer seen in season 1) now seemed out of place with other anime.
  • Sora wo Miageru Shōjo no Hitomi ni Utsuru Sekai - apart from the very long name, this anime seemed to throw you into a crash course for character introduction. Because of this crash-course, I didn't even know what was going on. The video quality I saw on TV looked like VCR quality. Character design looked so wrong, especially Yumemi's friends. Design of the alternate world reminds me of the Arabian culture. 9 episodes seemed kind of short. Ironicaly, the anime producer is KyoAni, which produced anime like Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, Clannad anime series (except the movie, which is by Toei), and the current K-ON!. Hmm, does the second half of Clannad After Story being the same airing season as the anime in question have anything to do with it?
  • Asu no Yoichi! - In some ways like Maria Holic mentioned earlier, this show started off great, but went downhill from there. The main hero spent his first 15 (or so) years isolated from the outside world in a forest with his father and some animals. Yoichi is then sent by the father to their cousins' place. His unfamiliar encounters with the mordern world and girls. At the point where I dropped, an enemy searches for Yoichi, but is unable to find him because he is searching blindly at the wrong places. His sister sighs as she searches properly by helicopter.

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中野区, 東京都, Japan
帰国子女 英語能力は堪能。趣味はアニメや漫画やプログラムコードを編集。通常、あたしの小説を英語で書いてです。Grew up abroad &travelled to different countries. I write my own fictional novel on my blog.