Chapter 5 – May 8, I was touched by her

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I’m a High School Boy and a Bestselling Light Novel author, strangled by my female classmate who is my junior and a voice actress.

This is my current predicament.

She—

Eri Nitadori continued to choke the sides of my carotid pulse with her icy hands.

Her hands were really, really cold. I could feel time from the sides of my neck.

I remained prone on the floor, and Nitadori was crouched on me. The only thing appearing in my sights was her upper body.

That would mean her hands reaching at my neck, her face, and the long black hair draped down the sides like curtains.

The backlight dimmed her teary face. It look really tragic.

Having cried so much, the tears gathered on the inside of her glasses, and slowly rained upon my cheeks. The tears fell gently, wetting my face little by little.

Nitadori opened her mouth, probably trying to say something. Once she was done inhaling, she uttered,

“W—”

It’s long,

“h—”

In fact, it’s probably rather fast.

“y—”

But I guess it’s rather slow to my ears.

Why?

Why did things end up like this?

The ghost lights continued to linger in front of my eyes.

 

May 8, Thursday.

I took the usual Limited Express train from the local station, and sat at the usual seat.

It was the week after Golden Week ended, and the number of passengers riding were obviously fewer than the prior week. I might say it was back to normal.

The weather was clear, but the gusts were strong since morning.

My body shook violently along with the gusts as I waited for the train on the platform. It was said that there were strong winds in Kanto, where I am going to, but I hope the train won’t delay because of this. (TN Snark: Author actually based the setting on an actual train station )

I hear the announcement in the train before it departed–

I recalled the After Record during the prior week.

 

Last Friday, at the After Record of the ‘Vice Versa’.

Nitadori was dressed in plain clothing easy for moving in, and arrived earlier than the editor-in-charge and me, greeting her seniors over and over again.

Then, the recording began.

 

The 5th episode of the anime–

The last battle in the first volume of ‘Vice Versa’ was about to begin. (TN Snark: is this a 10 episode one Cour ala KonoSuba?)

The first half of the anime episode was dubbed as ‘part A’, and Shin knew of Sin’s struggles.

Sin would only show his tender side to his little sister Ema. In fact, Sin hated war, but understood that only a crusade could save his country. (TN Snark: To Zanarkland…)

And so Shin, who unwittingly knew of this, decided to take Sin’s place so that Shin’s country would not be ‘defeated’ in battle.

Shin disguised himself as Sin, and deliberately allowed himself to be captured by Pluto’s forces.

In the ancient city where the enemy’s main army was stationed, Shin was dragged to Pluto–and easily revealed to be an imposter.

We caught Sin! The subordinates were exuberant, but Pluto retorted, (TN Snark: I was about to put ‘barked’ instead of retorted, but that’s just lame)

“You fools! He’s just an imposter who really looks alike! Does this guy’s eyes look like one of a King?”

Shin nodded,

“I suppose.” (TN Snark: Such a dazed protagonist-like response.)

And Pluto stood in front of Shin, smiling amicably,

“Well, I do praise you for having the guts to sneak in alone.”

“Th-thank you very much! Can I head back now?” (TN Snark: Well, it’s kinda tame what happened compared to anything that would have happened in a much darker series)

“Sure, I shall send you on your way.” (TN Snark: The Lannisters send their regards.)

And with that, Pluto personally drew the sword, and sliced Shin apart.

His corpse broke apart.

After that was the commercial. (TN Snark: Cue Aijou Yuujou.)

 

The anime After Record–

Before recording every main segment, they would have rehearsals, (Typically, it would be twice, but if the recording time they arranged for at the studio was insufficient, they would go through with once), actual recording, checks for mistakes, and preview records. (TN Snark: Oh Shirobako, how I missed you.)

I don’t know how it goes for other anime, but this is the case for ‘Vice Versa’. (TN Snark: I suppose this goes for this anime, and vice versa.)

 

The break after Part A’s recording was about to end.

They were about to start recording ‘Part B’.

At the beginning of part B, Meek finally spoke for the first time.

 

This pretty glasses girl who sits behind me in class, who sat beside me in the train the day prior, and loved horse sashimi–

Had the script in hand, facing the thick soundproof glass, standing in front of the microphone.

Right beside her is a famous male voice actor playing the role of Shin. He’s rather handsome, has amazing acting skills, and practically had no NGs in the recording of part A. (TN Snark: He’s a riajuu, right? Is that what you’re implying?)

I–

And most of the people there realized it.

Nitadori’s script was shaking terribly.

 

Of course, the script of paper and ink wouldn’t shake on its own.

Nitadori’s left hand was shaking slightly.

The left hand wasn’t shaking much, but the front end of the script was shaking rather hard.

Nitadori’s mouth was opened slightly, and she appeared to be muttering something.

Even the powerful microphone could not pick up on the voice, so I guess she probably was just muttering in her mind. This continued on for a while.

Her hands were shivering, her mouth moving as though she was chanting a spell.

I wondered how nervous Nitadori really was–

I was in a safe zone buffered by a layer of glass, and I couldn’t comprehend that at all. (TN Snark: Glass class.)

It was the first time she was voicing a named character.

The first scene where her character would speak.

And inside this studio, the one who really ‘wanted to run away at this moment’–

Was me. (TN Snark: Are you a zealous parent or something? Hori, is that you?)

But no matter my thoughts, the monitors everywhere aired the animation.

The production of the anime ‘Vice Versa’ appeared to have gone really well, and most of the animation was already comparable to the quality of the actual broadcast (though without the voices).

I heard from the editor-in-charge that this was a rare occurrence. (TN Snark: 変な話…)

It was said that during the After Record of most anime, the visuals showed–

Would typically be the moments of the characters, uncolored, or hand-drawn manga styled straight from the storyboard.

In such moments, they would use the character names and marks to indicate the moments the voice actors are to speak.

According to an editorial I saw on a magazine, if the anime is complete, it would be much easier for the participating voice actors to follow the expressions of the characters. (TN Snark: Unless the visuals are atrocious)

 

Part B–

At the beginning of that scene was Meek, pushing a wheelbarrow that contained the severed parts of Shin. (TN Snark: Orin?)

The location was the dark basement of the castle, where nobody else was at.

Meek was obeying her master’s orders, silently pushing the wheelbarrow to dump the corpse. (TN Snark: I’m imagining Ikaros…)

She threw Shin’s corpse into an underground drain that acted as the waterway, and there were several ploops heard. (TN Snark: Ploops of what?)

Meek was about to return after she was done with her mission, but she turned around upon hearing water, and found Shin revived–

“KYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!” (TN Snark: I thought of translating it as ‘no’, but I guess the good out ‘kyaah’ works)

Meek’s first line was a shrill, long, long, long scream. (TN Snark: Well, first impression counts, so…)

In the novel’s narration, I wrote,

“Her scream shook all the stones forming the tunnel” (TN Snark: Luckily the author had it as ‘stones shaken’, anything more and he’ll be deader than dead buried under the rubble)

 

I liked seeing all kinds of animation, and viewed the voice actors as stars.

So, during the 5 weeks I observed the After Record, I was so happy that I forgot I was working, and I enjoyed the actors’ performances as much as I could.

The performance of these famous voice actors is really amazing, and I feel really moved every week to be able to personally witness their performance. (TN Snark:

And then–

As for that rookie voice actress who is younger than I am, the girl was so nervous, her hand was shivering all this time.

“KYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!” (TN Snark: Normally, in such scenes, it’s the girl who’s naked instead.)

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Her performance did not move the underground rocks, but instead, moved something deep within my heart.

I didn’t remember exactly when Nitadori’s hand stopped shaking.

The shaking of a script couldn’t be recorded, so she probably regained her composure before the recording began.

I was completely mesmerized by her vocal performance that was displayed before my eyes.

 

Shin, who was supposed to be a corpse in pieces, revived after his body dipped in the water, and he emerged from it. (TN Snark: All hail the hourai elixir.)

Why did he take so long to revive? The readers would often comment when it came to this point. My main focus back then was to express, and back then, I didn’t notice this part at all.

Also, since Shin was chopped up, the clothes on his body fell off, so in this scene, Shin was naked. (TN Snark: Cue Sexyboy)

Stark naked as he stood in front of her.

“…”

Meek shrieked, and fell limp on the floor, remaining silently.

Normally, in a novel, this will be passed off as an ellipsis–

But in an anime, a voice actor will use a breath to indicate the reason why a character is remaining silent. In this situation, all Meek felt was fear.

I heard Nitadori’s breathing as she shivered due to fear.

“Arghh! It’s cold! I’m freezing!”

And Shin deliberately said such exaggerated words so that this girl (though she’s a homunculus) who’s timidly looking up at him wouldn’t feel scared.

“Erm, sorry for scaring you–eh, woah!”

Then, Shin realized that he was naked, but there was nothing that he could use to cover his body. (TN Snark: And all tension in this story is gone.)

“It’s cold!”

Shin had his back turned on Meek, rubbing his body with both arms.

Till this point, I saw that Shin’s crotch was nicely covered by Meek’s body or the torch on the wall– (TN Snark: Feels like Wild Wild West all over again.)

Looks like a little bare butt is okay.

Then, Meek asked,

“A-are…you not going to kill me?”

Instead, Shin turned back, asking with a dumbfounded look.

“Hm? Why?”

“I’m your enemy…I intend to kill you.” (TN Snark: If you wanted to kill…you would have done so.)

Meek slowly stood up, and finished her words.

“Ah…well, but…I guess that’s fine. Go ahead if you want to kill me. That’ll be useless though, so I don’t really recommend that you do that…” (TN Snark: Kill me. I dare you.)

“…?”

“Well, I’m immortal…in this world…you can tell, right?”

Meek stared at Shin for quite a while. The color of the beautiful eyes are different, one wine red, and one yellow, and they are emphasized.

And then, Meek was on the verge of tears saying,

“If only I can’t die…if that happens, I can continue to fight on and protect my master…”

“Humans are born, and fated to die. This goes for me too, but my presence here is just an exception…I just came to this world for a little while…I don’t have any idea as to how I’m to head back to my own world…” (TN Snark: People die when they are killed.)

And upon hearing Shin’s sad reply, Meek’s voice became harsher.

“But I’m not human!” (TN Snark: No Longer Human.)

“…?”

Shin tilted his head.

From here on, Meek let out a long spiel of words.

Meek was smiling, but it was not one of happiness, instead being one born of anguish.

“I’m a Homunculus, a created being—not a human!”

“…”

“Please look at these eyes! The left and right eyes are different in color! This is the proof of a homunculus…you probably don’t know that, do you? The materials used to create us are gathered from corpses. When we are created, we are granted with only one eye. We are then brought to our masters…and we have a gemstone put inside. That is the other eye. The gem eye is a proof of loyalty, and a symbol of one not being a human!” (TN Snark: Eat your eye out, Pegasus J. Crawford)

When she rattled off with this long line of words, shown on the screen is a terrifying scene of the ‘eye embedding moment’. (TN Snark: Alright there, Syaoran.)

It probably would be too grotesque to be shown directly, so the anime displayed it through silhouettes.

“I’m a homunculus, only to live for my master…”

Meek’s monologue.

She muttered as she slowly put her hands at the back of her waist. Over there were her favorite daggers that were cross sheathed.

A flashback aired, showing Meek’s past.

In the visuals, the others showed her some curious stares, looking at her as though she was a monster. In the town, she was scorned mercilessly by the people around her, and occasionally, brutalized without reason.

 

About this part—

Even I thought it was ‘too dark’.

The homunculus in ‘Vice Versa’ were typically unfortunate.

They were born to be slaves, and had to obey their master’s orders. Due to their unique eyes, anyone around them would be able to determine who they were, and not think of them as human.

Homunculus had far superior athletic abilities than humans, and if they had that intent, they could easily kill any master who was careless, but they could not do so. That is because their hearts were infused with the order ‘to absolutely serve their masters’.

Because of such characteristics, the people who became the masters of the homunculus would typically think of them as ‘puppets with a conscience’.

Well, I did write the relationship between Pluto and Meek (This has to do with the fact that Pluto’s actually female) as a beautiful relationship between master and servant.

Pluto’s personality was that of cruelty and lack of mercy. She viewed all subordinates as equal, no matter homunculus or humans.

In other words, she would call out to her subordinates however she wanted, and they would do their best to fulfill her orders.

 

Shin heard Meek’s words with his butt facing her, and turned around.

Shin really wanted to tell her something, so he forgot that he was completely naked, saying with utter seriousness.

“Please don’t be so frustrated about comparing yourself with other people.You—are you after all.”

Meek’s hands were weakly slumped, not holding anything.

“…”

She was viewed as a ‘human’ for the first time in her life, and widened her heterochromia eyes.

“Ugh, it’s cold…”

To settle a showdown with Pluto, Shin walked off while feeling really cold.

In the strategy both Shin and Sin came up with, Shin was to create a ruckus, die, and revive, and then die again, causing chaos in the enemy camp. He’s the main character, but his actions feels like some zombie or some demon king in a horror flick.

Shin moved on to completely his mission.

“Wait!”

Meek called out with a serious voice. It was sudden, and Meek was different from before, not using any formalities. This was the first time Meek spoke like that.

“…”

So a fight is inevitable? Shin turned around sadly, but saw Meek take off the muffler on her neck, handing it to him, saying,

“Please…use this…”

“Eh?”

Shin hesitated for a while, and then smiled,

“Oh!”

He immediately beamed, and took the muffler with both hands, but right when he was about to put it on his waist—

“I guess it has to be like this after all.”

He wrapped it around his neck.

The protagonist—

Was naked, wearing only a muffler.

 

Of course, I actually wrote the story with this in mind.

In fact, after it was animated, it did look rather hilarious. He really looked like an unabashed pervert there.

Laughter could be heard from the control room.

 

“Thanks, it’s warm.”

Shin beamed at Meek.

“Next, I want some pants…”

Shin muttered as he began running.

“…”

I let go of Master’s enemy. But I’ve completed the mission of ‘dumping off the corpse, and Master never commanded me on what to do after that. But that man’s Master’s enemy, but he treats me as a person, but—

“…”

Meek was starting to feel conflicted, and she let out some white breath, watching him leave.

Right in front of her eyes was a shaking butt.

 

Nitadori made no mistakes in her lines during the rehearsal.

The sound director gave all kinds of instructors, but as an amateur, I did not know what was the problem.

After some instructions, the sound director asked me,

“Sensei, is there any problem with Meek’s parts?”

“None!”

I immediately answered.

After that, everyone made a rehearsal, and the official voice work began—

As for me, all I did was watch and just let myself be moved, shouting in my heart ‘wow, it’s amazing’.

I suppose that if I had turned around during Nitadori’s recital, I would be able to see Nitadori as she was. However, work was different from class after all—

Wondering that, I observed the performance of these professional voice actors.

 

Something else also happened on that day.

It was when the recording ended.

I chatted with the anime makers and the editor-in-charge for a little while, so I left the control room a few minutes later.

I exit the studio lobby, and found the voice actor portraying Shin talking with Nitadori by the wall.

It was a scene of a senior talking to a junior, but Nitadori had her head slightly lowered, and she did not look right.

It might not be an appropriate choice of words, but I had the mental image of ‘a handsome voice actor flirting with a female high school girl’.

When this voice actor was confirmed to be playing as Shin, I searched through the internet—

‘A handsome guy who has scandals with many voice actress’.

I managed to find a website that contained such rumors, and looked through all of them.

There were many exploits on the website, but I did not know how truthful they might be. Besides, I decided not to believe in internet rumors that easily (if I do, my real identity will probably be ‘an experienced female author in her 30s who writes with a different pen name and loves BL works.) (TN Snark: Case in point, Mizuki Nomura)

Personally, I don’t hate this voice actor.

I think that his voice and acting skills are brilliant, really suited to act as Shin, who starts off timid, only to gradually get stronger.

But when I see him talk with Nitadori happily—

This voice actor just feels like some evil wizard aiming to bring Nitadori to another world I don’t know of. (TN Snark: Well, if he’s unmarried and at least 30, he qualifies for one.)

But even so, this isn’t something I could gossip about, so it was fine.

I told the editor-in-charge,

“I’ll be going first then.”

This was a line that could be used at any given situation, and right when I was about to pass by them,

“Ah, sensei! Please wait!”

The voice actor spoke to me directly. The voice was exactly the same as Shin’s, so I thought I entered the world of ‘Vice Versa’.

I stopped, turned around, and he asked,

“Yo, what do you think of her performance?”

Her, in this case, would refer to Nitadori. As for performance, it would refer to her acting.

I was surprised, but Nitadori appeared to be more surprised.

“…”

Her eyes were widened more than before, and it felt as though her eyes were about to pop out from her glasses frame.

I merely glanced aside at Nitadori, and immediately turned my glance to the handsome, pristine face of the voice actor.

“Really amazing.”

I answered earnestly, with no sense of pretense at all.

That voice actor isn’t a mirror, so I can’t tell what sort of face I made back then.

And I don’t understand why that voice actor would suddenly smile like that.

“Of course, isn’t it? I was telling Nitadori about this.”

But the voice actor then said,

“I do remember that you’re 17, sensei?” (TN Snark: forever 17)

I nodded, and he then pointed his palm at Nitadori, saying,

“I heard that she’s 16. It’s really unbelievable. Both of you are way too young.” (TN Snark: Meanwhile, at 16, I was doing my O levels. Such is life.)

And then, he lamented,

“From now one…it’ll be the era of you youngsters…” (TN Snark: Stop making a death flag out of nothing!)

No wait. This guy should be 25.

Before I can understand his words while I remain rooted, this voice actor said,

“Nitadori. This sensei will be writing stories that will get animated. I know sensei has that kind of foresight from his scent. All I have are sharp ears, and a decent appearance. In other words, you might be in sensei’s care from now on, so you should take the opportunity to shake hands with sensei now, and increase your chances of interacting.”

He said some words I couldn’t comment on, and prompted Nitadori to reach her right hand.

Nitadori slowly reached her slender right arm.

“I’m a rookie, and I’ll continue to work hard to play as Meek. Please continue to take care of me.” (TN Snark: This is when you be meek)

“…”

After much struggle, I manage to reach out and hold her hand.

Besides, in this life of mine, I have never held a girl’s hand before.

“Th-thank you.”

Saying that, I touched Nitadori’s hand.

It was really, really—

Cold.

 

And while I was immersed in my thoughts.

“Yahoo!”

Nitadori was seated beside me before I knew it, and we were so close that I could feel her breathing when she greeted me, startling me.

“Woah!”

I let out a strange squeal, twitching my body, and ended up hitting my back against the wall. Nitadori laughed, and asked,

“What language is that?” (TN Snark: Well, it’s Japanese since I’m somehow able to translate that.)

“…”

While the train accelerated gradually….

I recalled the sight of that Nitadori last week, and compared it to the her this week. This difference between them really confused me.

No. I do know both of them are Eri Nitadori.

I do understand that the one wandering between different worlds is me.

“Sensei, you’re giving a distant look. Are you thinking about anything? Is it about the next work?” (TN Snark: Please, work never ends)

“Well, I guess.”

I immediately replied. It was a lie, but the reply was smooth. No, this can’t really be considered a lie after all; I can insist that everything I’m thinking is about the plot of my next work. It’ll be fine if the topic of my next light novel is ‘my classmate is a voice actress’. (TN Snark: You will title it as ‘I’m a High School Boy and a bestselling light novel author, strangled by my classmate who is my junior and a voice actress’)

“Wow, so cool; just like an author.” (TN Snark: Yeah, and you were like a voice actress)

“…”

“Eh? Where’s the usual reply?”

“…I’m an author after all.”

“Good good.”

Rather than Nitadori who’s using formal language out of respect,

“Hello. Over here! It’s Katsudon for today!” (TN Snark: Blessed are the Meek)

I prefer the Nitadori who hands me the plastic bag filled with potato chips with a smile on her face.

Well, I suppose the term like is mostly a matter of contrast.

I pulled out a bag of salt flavored potato chips and tea groin the bag, and Nitadori said,

“I got a list of questions. Stone I have lots of things to ask, I went ahead to remember.” (TN Snark: And you ended up with only 1…)

“It’s like a magazine interview, isn’t it? To be honest, you really helped me out here. I’ve been wondering about what I should talk about today?” (TN Snark: A magazine interview that lasts for 5 weeks?)

“Wow. Thanks for that.”

Nitadori took out a little notebook, and opened it.

I had a little glance, and those are some nice words.

“Ah!”

Nitadori hides the questions from me, probably because she doesn’t want me to know beforehand.

 

I guess anyone will be hungry at this moment, and I graciously munch on the chips and drank the tea. (TN Snark:

I did ask Nitadori if she wanted to have some, but as before, she didn’t take one.

I guess it’s because it’s a gesture to treat me? Or that she’s refusing politely because she’s worried about looking bad if she’s to eat on the train? Or that–she already ate a packet before she boarded? (TN Snark: Who do you think she is? Tsutsukakushi Tsukiko?)

I don’t know her actual intent (I guess I don’t have to think about that last guess), but I can’t force her to eat. I indulge myself in a third of the packet, tied it up, and drank some tea.

“Now then–fire away with the questions.” (TN Snark: BANG! RIP Spike)

And I say this inside this train that’s moving on against strong headwinds.

There’s about 3 hours till our destination, and I guess we can have a really long conversation here. (TN Snark: Yeah, and all on a single topic)

“First off, I don’t know…actually, I don’t know whether I can ask this question…”

It’s rare for Nitadori to stammer like this.

“Eh? Erm…”

In case of whatever question it may be, I prepare myself.

Nitadori sounds a little apologetic as she continues, (TN Snark: Again, blessed are the Meek)

“Eh, I thought…I shouldn’t be asking such questions. But I’m still curious about it no matter how I tell myself this.”

What exactly does Nitadori want to know about me? Feeling terrified, I shivered a little–

“Ah.”

I immediately thought of a few possibilities. If that’s it, I heave a sigh of relief inside.

And then, I asked, just in case,

“Maybe–it’s about my earnings?”

“Are you an esper…?” (TN Snark: No, I’m the Imagine (ation) Breaker)

Nitadori answered in surprise.

“No, I’m an author.”

First, I answer that, and then, Am I wrong? I quipped.

Nitadori looked a little embarrassed as she answered,

“That’s right…it’s about money…I know it’s rude manners to ask this question.” (TN Snark: Money money money)

And then, she showed me a determined look,

“But since I finally managed to find someone who knows about this, I want to ask if he agrees to it. I feel that in my future life, I won’t be able to find anyone willing to answer me such questions.” (TN Snark: Well that’s true, because everyone’s shy about asking it.)

And while Nitadori’s showing such an intense will,

“Yeah, sure.”

I promptly answered. (TN Snark: Sigsawa you showoff…)

 

The matter of asking someone else about his earnings was truly rude, and even I, a high school boy, know about this.

The following is all off-topic–

In the country of New Zealand, famous for their sheep, one simply does not ask a farm owner how many sheeps they had. That is because it appeared that people could estimate the earnings through the number of sheep they have. (TN Snark: So count the number of books sold? Oricon always has those figures.)

That was a trivia I read in a miscellaneous magazine, and I don’t know if it’s real or not. However, if I’m to go travelling there, I might try asking such questions, so I think it’s better for me to pay attention to this.

Back to the point.

I do know it’s rude to ask others of their earnings. (TN Snark: Then don’t entertain such questions…)

But I also know that there are those driven by curiosity to understand the earnings of the unique jobs.

Since I was young, I too wanted to know about an author’s earnings. What did it mean to ‘live on royalties’, and how much tax to pay. (TN Snark: You liar. Hands up, how many of you readers actually dreamed of how much money you’ll earn?)

When I became an author myself, earned the publishing fees and the experiences of declaring my earnings, I gradually began to understand them.

 

About my income–

Obviously, I can’t talk about this with people who don’t know that I’m an author; if the other party knows that I’m an author, I do feel that I can treat it as a normal conversation. (TN Snark: Then don’t share it with us!)

Leaving aside my mother, till this point, I often discussed this topic bluntly with the senior authors during the refreshments after meetings at the editorial branch, and the end-of-year parties over the past two years. (TN Snark: The son earning more than the mother…)

Of course, we weren’t just doing this to satisfy our curiosity.

When my books started to sell well, the senior authors began to tell me about tax reductions. (TN Snark: Again, from the guy rumored of tax fraud. Ain’t the Databased author though…which happened a year or two after this volume was written, and I guess Mamare never did read this book)

Some of them blatantly told me of their yearly earnings (as what the words implied, the top selling authors’ earnings are really on a different scale from the rest.)

I won’t tell anyone of their yearly earnings. At the same time, I don’t think Nitadori will let slip whatever I told her.

And besides, I don’t think that Nitadori’s approaching me for the sake of money.

Or I should say, though it’s just a guess–

I get the feeling that Nitadori’s family is really rich. (TN Snark: Well duh. Two different houses in Japan should signify something…)

 

Upon hearing my answer,

“Really? About that money…”

The bespectacled Nitadori asked with a worried look on her face.

“Yeah, sure. Well, basically, keep this–”

“I won’t say it out! I promise!” (TN Snark: Don’t worry, we won’t hear. We’ll read)

She answered before I can finish my sentence.

Having decided to tell Nitadori, I scanned the train carriage as a precaution.

The train today is rather empty, and only two people are seated at the seats right at the front.

 

An author’s earnings.

As anyone would know, an author’s earnings is mainly derived by the publication fees of a book.

Also, there appears to be a ‘manuscript fee’ for publications in a magazine or a newspaper, a ‘speaking fee’ for speeches, ‘source fee’ and ‘copyright fee’ for an anime or movie adaptation, but I never received them.

The anime is yet to be completely made, so I’ve yet to receive the fees regarding this.

“Because of that, the scale of this will be the publishing fees in this company. Or to be precise, I’ll only talk about publishing fees.”

“Yep.”

“Now then, before I talk about how much the publishing fee is–I’ll like to talk about the definition.”

“It’s a Royalty, no? The publisher will be printing your work in books, sensei, so this money is a ‘copyright fee’ for you.”

“Yep. That’s impressive.”

“Actually, I did research through the internet when I designed the questions. I did check on why it’s called ‘publishing fee’! It’s not a tax, is it?”

 

As Nitadori had mentioned, the publishing fee isn’t a tax. (TN Snark: But it’s taxed)

Back when a publisher printed volumes, they would stick some kind of an author’s stamp on the last page called a ‘colophon’, something called an ‘inspection stamp’. (Some do stamp it directly on the book). The publisher will use the number of inspection stamps, and pay the money to authors directly.

This system is similar to ‘printing fees’, (like giving tax to the author), it is also called ‘publication printing fee’, and then simplified as ‘publication fee’.

On a side note, this ‘publication printing fee’–refers to the amount of money to be be paid when producing books. Authors with works in book form are paid according to the ‘publication fee’ pro-rata to the price plastered on the book.

 

In the end, people gave up on such a troublesome method, and chose not to go with inspection printing, so the method was scrapped.

In books that are slightly older, their back ends will contain the words ‘inspection stamp is scrapped’. I did see them in an antiquarian bookshop.

“Well, even if I don’t know that kind of history…anyway, the publisher will give the author a royalty known as ‘publishing fee’–and the money is pro-rated ”

“Uh huh, so how much is it, roughly?”

“Normally, the fee is around 10% or so. My situation is the same, and excluding the sales tax, 10% of the book price will be the publishing fee.” (TN Snark: For those wondering. SAO volumes in 2013 sold on an average of 300,000 per volume. Start counting)

“Always?”

“I don’t know if it’ll change in the future. Of course, I do hope that it’ll increase. I did hear that the rates for those extremely popular authors do increase, but I’m not sure what the actual situation is.”

“I get it. Then, I’ll use this 10%. In other words, if the book’s sold, the fixed rate of 10% will be your earnings, right, sensei?”

Nitadori asked to confirm, but I shook my head.

“No, that’s not it.”

“Eh?”

 

It was not about ‘once the book was sold’.

It was about ‘once the book was printed’.

The book would first be printed, and the meaning of that would be equivalent to ‘being made into a commercial product’.

And,

“The number of volumes printed will determine the revenue.”

“Then, for an extreme example–”

I knew what Nitadori was trying to get at, so I continued from her words, saying,

“Assuming that a book has 100,000 copies printed. The publisher estimates that the book can sell about that much–however, the book couldn’t sell after it was printed, and in fact, only 5 copies were sold.”

“That’s really drastic! That means that he and his family were the only ones who bought that book, right?”

Nitadori giddily grinned as she said that, but after saying those words, I felt a little heartbroken within. How would that author feel? There’s a chance that even I may end up like that.

Well, my books are selling well, so I won’t mention it for now. I continue on,

“But the author is able to get the publishing fee of 100,000 copies. Assuming that a book is sold for 500 Yen, 10% of that would be 50 Yen, and multiply that by 100,000, that’ll be 5,000,000 Yen.”

“Eh…I never knew that before. I always thought it was counted based on sales amount.”

“Allow me to say that I heard that such a system actually exists. Dengeki Bunko however counts this through printed volumes.”

Then, assuming that I get the publication fee that’s 10% of the book price.

As the name implied, Dengeki Bunko is a paperback publisher. As for what a paperback is, it’ll drag on, so I decided to omit it–anyway, it’s a really small book.

The price of a paperback light novel ranges from 500 to 700 Yen. The prices is dependent on several factors, and the easiest to understand will be–

“The book thickness? Number of pages?” (TN Snark: oh Kawakami)

“Of course, I won’t know the actual numbers of the prices, pages and volumes. That was what the editor-in-charge told me when I asked him on the pricing.”

“So the pricing isn’t done by you, the author, sensei?”

I shook my head, saying,

“It’s decided by the editorial branch…or rather, the publisher. But as I said, the thinner the book, the cheaper it is. Using the series ‘Vice Versa’ as an example, the price is typically around 600 pages. Actually, I wanted to make the book cheaper…”

“Eh–why!?”

Nitadori was really surprised.

It’s not unreasonable for her to be so shocked. If the book is pricer when sold, the author’s income will increase accrordingly.

But even so, I state my actual thoughts.

“Well…it’s because the main demographic of light novels are Middle schoolers and high school students, and there are younger kids in elementary school who will read them. I feel that readers do buy the books using their pocket change, so even if it’s cheaper by 10 Yen, it’ll make them happy.”

“Ah…now that you mention it, that’s true. The more I like such books, the more I want to look at other works.” (TN Snark: Cue Kamachi.exe)

A thicker book would have more ample content. Even as an author, I do find it worth it to write it, (TN Snark: Meanwhile, at the engineer Kawakami’s workplace)

However,

“I saved up, and I’m finally able to buy a new volume!”

Even so, when I do receive such comments from a fan younger than me–

I do feel that it’s a good thing, even if it’s 10 Yen cheaper. (TN Snark: I think sending in a letter will cost more than that 10 Yen)

Of course, I hope to attract more people to buy the books with a lower price, and increase the final sales volume (and earnings).

I said before that I do increase the number of paragraphs to improve the readability. Because of that, I do often feel a dilemma. (TN Snark: this ain’t a microeconomics class!)

 

I continue on with the publishing fee.

“The book price is determined by all kinds of factors. The publishing fee is set at 10% pro-rata, and to calculate the earnings, there is one factor left–”

“The volume!” (TN Snark: let’s have fun figuring out if it’s the sales volume, book volume, and so on…)

“Yep.”

“But how is the number of volumes set…?”

 

When talking about printing volumes, we’ll be talking about income.

For an author, the total income = all the publishing fees receive. It’s the same case as with the sheep in New Zealand.

While I intend to explain this, the Train Conductor arrived. It’s a man today.

As usual, we show our tickets for him to stamp.

The explanation was paused, and I took a little breather, drinking some tea.

 

The conductor left, and there were no new passengers sitting next to us.

I begin to wonder, how exactly do I begin explaining the printing volumes–

And then, I realized that I had yet to explain what is the printing volume.

“Erm…I’ve been mentioning this ‘printing’ volume for a while…”

“Yes.”

“The printing volumes can be classified as ‘initial printing’, ‘reprints’, and ‘total prints’.”

“Hmmm?”

Nitadori frowned, looking perplexed.

“I’ll explain in order–”

The initial print refers to the number of volumes printed for the first time. If it is a profitable work, like a serialized sequel, there will be more volumes printed in initial print.

The reprint refers to the additional printed volumes due to the printed book being popular.

And as the name implied, the total volumes referred to the total of the initial print and the reprints till this point. However, the total volumes will be classified as ‘total volumes for this particular volume, ‘total volumes for this particular series’, and ‘total volumes for this particular author’.

“I see. I often hear reports in the news of ‘a certain bestselling novel reaching a million copies, yet the initial print was a few thousands’, and such.”

“Such books weren’t much of a topic, and once they got hot, they were printed over and over again, and it ended up like that. The reprint volumes might even reach a few thousands in an instant.”

“So in other words, there’s no fixed figures for the initial print volumes and reprint volumes?”

“Right. The initial print is determined by several factors. If it’s a popular series by a renowned author, the number of printed volumes will increase.”

 

For an author, the more volumes in the initial print, the happier they will be.

There are two reasons for it. First off–

“The more volumes printed, the more copies that can be displayed in the bookshop in one go, and the book will be bought easily.”

“A book that’s easily bought will be much more likely to be popular.”

Another reason was that the publication fee will increase (Of course, this refers to the number of printed volumes.)

“Thus, authors do work hard every day, praying for the initial print numbers to increase.”

“Praying is important, since wishes do come true–so, sensei, how many copies of the first volume of ‘Vice Versa’ was printed?”

 

Leaving aside the number of reprints–

I’ll talk about the first printing of m volumes,

“The first volume of ‘Vice Versa’, the initial number of copies was 27,000.”

“Is that…a lot? Little, or?”

Nitadori asked. It’s a question to be expected.

Anyone unfamiliar with the industry won’t have an idea of context with regards to this number. Speaking of which, when the editor-in-charge told me of this figure at first, I too timidly asked the same question.

And the editor-in-charge answered,

“It’s about the same as the works of those who won awards in the Dengeki Novel Prize award! You didn’t get an award, but the starting speed is the same!”

Nitadori exclaimed happily,

“Amazing! That’s decent!”

“Yeah. To be honest, I’m rather happy.”

I casually mention about this–but I heard from authors working under other publishers that the number of 27,000 is ‘quite a lot’. It’s Dengeki Bunko, so they can sell this much.

That author said that his debut work had less than 20,000 copies, and also said that the difference is due to the power of Dengeki Bunko, who had the largest stake in the industry. Of course, I never told Nitadori about any of this.

The factors leading to improved sales after a volume is published is of course down to an author’s own ability. He taught me the important logic ‘that if a really interesting story is written, it’ll be popular’.

Leaving that aside, i continue with my own words.

“And then, 27,000 copies worth of publishing fee entered my pockets. The price of the first volume is 590 Yen.”

“In other words…”

Nitadori began to ponder beside me, while I went the old fashioned way of relying on a tool of civilization. I don’t have the mental capability to be able to calculate such numbers.

I took out the smartphone from my pocket, unlocked the screen, and activated the calculator.

Then, I quickly tapped in the numbers.

590 * 0.1 * 27,000, so the answer is 1,593,000 (in Yen).

The moment I intended to say this number.

“It’s 1,593,000 Yen, isn’t it?”

Nitadori simply said.

“Eh?”

I let out a surprised voice, and turned my head to the right.

“Hm? That isn’t it?”

Nitadori nonchalantly asked.

“No…that’s right.”

Nitadori’s hands were not holding a cellphone, and her notebook was closed.

Even if she wanted to peek into my smartphone screen, she couldn’t. I often had inspiration of creation on the train, so I had a protective film on the screen to prevent people from peeking.

In that case, there’s only one possibility.

“Did you just…do a mental sum?”

“Yep?”

“How…?”

“Multiply by 30,000, and I’ll get 1,770,000, and then take 10% off.”

“Ah, yes, I see…”

Hearing her say this, it seemed calculation wasn’t that tough–

No, it’s still not easy.

The time she spent doing mental sum is the same as me using a smartphone? How smart is Nitadori exactly?

“Amazing…”

I marvel earnestly, muttering,

“Yep, I feel the same too.”

Nitadori then nodded her face and glasses, beaming as she answered,

“Huh?”

“1.5 million is a huge sum.”

“Ah, you’re referring to that…?”

“Hm?” (TN Snark: Cue the typical misunderstandings in a romcom)

 

The train raced forth against the headwinds

Other than the noise outside the train, there was the occasional howling of the winds. Till this point, there were no stalling on the train ride.

Well, I guess that’s better than the train flipping around. I just need to reach Tokyo tonight.

“I guess…1.5 million is a large sum…”

I forgot about the ‘huge misunderstanding’ both Nitadori and I had, and blurted out my real thoughts.

For me, a first year in high school, 1.5 million is really a large sum. Speaking of which, I remembered that when I did the calculations back then, I found the number to be so surreal, I nearly fainted from shock.

“I can buy a car with that!”

I yelled alone in that room.

Even though I did not have a license.

 

Before I continued with the explanation, I thought of something I forgot. It’s something pretty minor, but I decided to talk about it for the time being.

“Sorry. There’s something I made a mistake about. In fact, I didn’t get the publishing fee for 27,000 volumes.”

“Eh?”

Nitadori looked more surprised than I thought, so I panicked,

“Ah, no…it’s not some serious mistake. It’s about 27,000 copies worth! To be precise…I got ‘26,950 copies’ worth of the publication fee.”

“Then…where did the 50 copies go to? For the Angels?”

“No…it’s not wine.”

I didn’t know if Nitadori was serious or just joking around, and it didn’t matter, but I made a little retort. This ‘Angel offering’ refers to the evaporated portion of wine when brewing wine using a wooden barrel.

“But both of them might be the same.”

“How so?”

“Those 50 books are used as samples. You can think of them as books that can’t be sold, so they won’t count as part of a publication fee. Of course, I don’t know if the other editorial branches do use the same standard.”

“I see. So the Angels are the editorial branch!?” (TN Snark: So what are the demons? )

“But, well…it’s tough to calculate, so I thought I’ll explain this with the 1.5 million Yen calculated from the 27,000 copies.”

“Got it!”

 

And thus, that was the first sum of publishing fee I obtained in my life. As for when, and how I obtained this money–

“Of course, it’s through a banking transaction. The editor-in-charge asked me for my bank account, and I told him that I didn’t have one, so he told me, ‘go open one then’. So, I went to a major bank branch to open a bank account. The big sister at the counter taught me a lot of things back then, and asked me ‘have you started working part-time’?” (TN Snark: Yeah and my previous job was being the devil)

The moment I mentioned this, Nitadori’s eyes got sharp, and she quickly changed her tone. (TN Snark: oh she jelly)

“Hey~that’s not some part-time work. This is a professional author debuting at Dengeki Bunko, you know? A respected sensei at work, you know?” (TN Snark: Sigsawa you showoff)

If Nitadori was to accompany me to open the bank account, would she really say such a thing? Just imagining such a scene alone is interesting to me.

“Ahaha–no no, how can I divulge my identity?”

“Ahaha–so, what next?”

 

The first time an unnatural amount of money was suddenly deposited into this account that only had 1,000 Yen was–

The following month after the first volume was sold, the end of September.

Just a little moment before then, I received a postcard from ASCII Media Works.

I flipped the attached part, and found that there was a ‘payment slip’.

Recorded on it was the ‘title’, ‘number of revisions’, ‘account items (publishing fees or draft fees, and so on)’, ‘summary (number of volumes, money, printing rates),’ and all kinds of information.

Of course, it included the sum of money.

“It’s the amount just now, right?”

“No, less than that.”

“Why?”

“Because there’s a need to deduct tax.” (TN Snark: boy am I glad to be an accountant)

 

Once I start getting into details on this, this will get really long, so I simply told her the amount of money I received.

Before the money (publication fee) enters my account, the ‘income tax’ will be deducted first. This is called ‘tax withholding’, a tax system the country does to prevent taxpayers from evading tax.

The deductible would differ based on earnings, so I can’t generalize this.

That’s because the ‘tax’ will increase based on earnings. The higher the earnings, the higher the tax rates. This is the system they call ‘cumulative tax rates’.

“I’ll leave aside the difficult part. The income tax will be deducted from the publication fee before it’s given to me.So, I have to work hard and report the amount of tax I have to the government…I’ll talk about that later.”

I think that there’s still ‘this thing’ I have to explain–

For the time being, I continue to explain the earnings of an author.

“Once the tax is deducted, part of the first volume publication fee was transacted into my account successfully, and I felt really happy.”

“Congratulations!” (TN Snark: isn’t it too late for that?)

“Th-thank you. But thanks to you, ‘Vice Versa’ is selling really well, and there was already a reprint at that moment.”

“If it’s as what you said, it refers to printing more copies, right?”

“Right. The readers will read the books displayed in the shop. When the book is selling well, the bookshop will tell the ‘distributor’, ‘please provide more of this book’.”

“‘Distributor’, as in?”

“Erm…the official name is ‘publishing distributor’, and it refers to the dealers who provide the flow between the publisher and the bookshop.” (TN Snark: teh_ping sensei can teach you everything about logistics)

“I see.”

“Once the distributor receives the orders from the bookshop, it’ll request for volumes from the publisher. The publisher will then provide some from its warehouse, and the distributors deliver them to the bookstore.”

“I see…so publishers have some level of stock, right? I guess so. It’s impossible to print so many books at one go.”

“Right. When the orders increase, and the warehouse stock drops, the publisher will then say, ‘right, let’s print’.”

“Righto.”

“Of course, the one who decides whether to reprint or not isn’t the author, and it’s probably not the editorial branch. I’m guessing that it’s probably the sales branch.”

“I see, I see.”

“As for reprint volumes–it’ll typically be between 2,000 to 3,000 volumes. That’s my personal experience, and from what I hear from the other authors, it’s the same.”

“2,000 to 3,000. In that case, the amount of publication fee you get–you be from 118,000 to 177,000 Yen.”

Mental sums again. This was when I really understood that my brain was wired differently from Nitadori’s.

I feel that even if I’m to praise her now, we won’t come to a common agreement, so I continue,

“I’m really grateful to be able to get that much money without being able to do anything.”

“Yeah. Your commission increase after you finished a job.”

I nodded. After earning that money, I really felt that ‘reaping without sowing’ really fit this situation.

“If the popularity increases, the sales volume will grow, and if the supply isn’t enough, they’ll print thousands of volumes, no tens of thousands. Erm, well, I…”

“Wow!”

“Well, I guess I shouldn’t be ‘talking about the future’–”

I used both hands to gesture moving my belongings from my thighs to the outside of the window,

“We’ll leave this aside for now..bye bye…”

And Nitadori waved outside, saying that.

 

The first reprint of my first volume of ‘Vice Versa’ was 3,000 copies.

It was a certain day in August, during what is commonly known as the obon

Mom was working as a nurse, and never had any breaks during obon and the end of year. I was alone at home, writing all day long during the school holidays.

And it was then that the editor-in-charge called me.

“There’s a second print ! Congrats!”

The first reprint would be specially denoted as ‘second print’.

As for whether it was considered fast or slow, I didn’t know

“Thank you very much!”

All I could be confident of was that I was really happy (later, the editor-in-charge told me that there are works who had quicker second prints, mine was rather fast).

And while I was indulging in my delight and intending to hang up,

“So if there are ‘any parts that require typographical corrections’, please contact me by tomorrow, latest.” (TN Snark: Yep, more work.)

The editor-in-charge said.

And so I asked,

“Erm? What is that?”

 

Typographical errors–

“It’s a little off from the earnings, but looking at how this is going, I think this is the most suitable moment to do this…can I explain?”

“Of course. Please do.”

Typographical errors typically refers to the errors when ‘transplanting words’.

In other words, if there are any errors the block aligning workers in charge of typography (the people in charge of aligning blocks, arranging the words), checking on the miscues will be to correct them.

Of course, people nowadays don’t use moveable type of printing. Thus, in current situation, mistransplants would refer to the typical ‘wrong words’. That is what I mean. (TN Snark: Typos, just like you see in this chapter of text. I get the excuse of being the only one who cares though.)

Last week, I mentioned that as an author, I had to check through what I write, and hand them over for the editors and proofreaders to check, and I had to check them again–

But even so, there would still be mistakes.

Basically, this was my own mistake (and nobody else realized it).

There are rare occurrences of the editors making mistakes (and nobody else realizing it). The typos on the content page and the story synopsis would be categorized under this.

“The typos that managed to evade a few eyes and show themselves to the public–will be corrected during the second print, the first reprint. Thus, the editor-in-charge told me that when the second print is decided, he’ll ask me to hurry and send over the corrected parts. This is because the publisher wants to hurry with the rerelease and avoid a stockout of goods, missing out on the selling opportunity.” (TN Snark: Corporates…)

“I see…now I know that book correcting is such a case.”

Nitadori looked impressed as she nodded away. I too only knew of such a thing back then.

“After that, what about you, sensei?”

“I was really happy about publishing my first work, and I reread the first volume so that I could write the next volume, but I didn’t find any typo errors. So, when I checked each word and sentence—”

“There was none?”

“I found 5 cases of them…”

During the first print of the first volume of ‘Vice Versa’, I found 5 instances of erros till this point.

There was one case when I missed out a period.

There was once when the furigana of the word ‘hem’, suso, was written as ‘sode’ instead.

Ema, who typically addressed herself as ‘watashi’ in hiragana, addressed herself as ‘watashi’ in kanji in a certain area.

What was supposed to be typed as ‘conquer the world’, (seifuku), ended up as ‘school uniform the world’ (seifuku)

And there was once when Shin and Sin’s denotation was completely reversed.

 

“About that last mistake…I thought to myself ‘I can’t make such a mistake no matter what’…so when I found out about the error, I was really devastated.”

The names of Shin and Sin were so similar, it was common to have mistakes in changing text. Speaking of which, it’s really troublesome to have to change the text.

Ever since I discovered that mistake, I started activating the function to ‘record Japanese characters in the dictionary’. If I type the hiragana ‘shi’ (し), it’ll come out as ‘Sin’ (シン). In other words,

しんはいつた。

Change→ Shin said.

しはいつた。

Change→ Sin said.

しんはしのむなぐらをつかんだが、しは、だまつてしんをにらみかえすだけだつた。

Change–>Shin grabbed Sin by the collar, but Sin merely looked back at Shin silently. (TN Snark: What is this, a tongue twister?)

 

This isn’t an error unique to ‘Vice Versa’. It was said that the initial print for all volumes will have some form of typo. The reason why people would buy the initial print of the topselling works probably has something to do with this little trivia.

But even so, I want to write a story with no mistakes as much as I can, so the initial print volumes always scare me.

In the 8 volumes that came out later, I did my best to check–but once the official volumes came out, I do find some errors.

“But I’ve never had the legendary level of typos.”

“‘Legendary level’? Is there such a thing?”

Nitadori asked in surprise.

“Yeah. There are quite a lot of infamous typo mistakes in history.”

I honestly answered.

“Wh-what kind?”

 

I do think that we’ll be off topic again–

But I really like the topic of typos, so I’ll talk about it. There’s still some time until the terminal.

The history of publishing can also be called the history of typos, no doubt about that. I’m still too weak, and right now, I’m working hard to etch out this history.

Amongst them, the one most catchy and deemed to be the world’s first typo error is the Bible called the ‘Adulterous Bible’.

In this Bible, the one line in Moses’ Ten Commandments, ‘thou shall not commit adultery, and because of a typo, missed out on the word ‘not’ that would have a negative connotation.

In other words, the meaning became ‘thou shall commit adultery’.

I guess the chances of a typo more ridiculous than this in human history–

I suppose that should be zero.

“…”

Nitadori heard my words, and widened her eyes, her mouth slightly ajar. In other words, she was completely taken aback.

She was looking skeptical as to how could there possibly be such a thing happening in this world, but the fact was that it happened, and I couldn’t do anything about it.

There also a appeared a legendary level of typo in Japanese history.

It was due to several errors, but that bug’s name has probably been changed forever.

Of course, the name of that bug is called cockroach (Gokiburi).

It was said that its actual name was ‘Gokikaburi’, but in the first biology encyclopaedia released in the 17th year of the Meiji Era, the name was transcribed as ‘Gokiburi’ instead.

The book only had a first edition, and no corrections could be made. The later books used this encyclopaedia as a reference, and the name ‘gokiburi’ became widespread, before it was set stone.

 

“Hey…I don’t think it’s really possible, but…you aren’t just making up a story now, are you? Is this an episode of your creation?”

Nitadori showed a skeptical look from beneath her glasses.

“I’m not making this up.”

I waved my hand as I answered.

“Well, let’s leave this topic on typos aside for now–”

I used both hands to gesture moving my belongings from my thighs to the outside of the window, throwing out the topic of typos.

“Now that it ends–where have I stopped exactly?”

So many off-topic stuff caused me to wonder where did I stop in my main point.

“About the first volume of ‘Vice Versa’ having 27,000 copies for the initial print, and another 3,000 immediately afterwards…this part.”

Nitadori corrected me.

 

‘Vice Versa’ really sold well.

By the time the second volume was published in October, the first volume had 3 reprints, and the total sales was more than 40,000.

The initial print volume for the second volume is 27,000 just like before. I heard it’s rather amazing that the figures aren’t any lesser than the previous volume. Of course, the second volume had a reprint in the month it was sold. The first volume was still reprinting back then.

By the time November came, the total number of distributed volumes, including the first and second volumes, was about 80,000 volumes.

And so, at the end of the year, the amount of money I had in my bank account–

Was about 4 million Yen. (TN Snark: Quick, where’s that chart about anime staff salaries?)

 

“4 million Yen…amazing…”

Nitadori widened her eyes as she said that. I was about as surprised as she was, probably more.

“I never dreamt that my work would sell that well the year I debuted, that I would earn so much money…”

This was in no way a humble brag, but my own honest thoughts.

I’m ashamed of it, but when the first volume was released, I once predicted the sales figures, thinking it would happen.

Assuming that the earnings for the first volume was 1,500,000 Yen, and the initial print of the second volume will be reduced, so I’ll calculate it with 1,000,000 Yen. I could earn about 2.5 million yen that year, and to me, that was a lot of money.

“But you’re too naive, aren’t you?”

Nitadori gave a mischievous snicker. I know that it’s an act, but I was still taken aback.

“I-I guess…”

If I actually had a huge sum of 4 million Yen in hand, I’ll feel really terrified. Luckily, the money is transacted into the bank account. If a large stack of cash is shown suddenly appears in front of me, I think I might lose it..

“Of course I’m scared, really scared…to be able to use such a large sum of money. I was happy, but that happiness always comes with fear. I get the money, but I do tell myself not to spend it wildly.”

“In fact, you never used that money, right? After the tax deducted, you practically saved them all.”

“To be honest, I don’t need to spend a lot.”

“Hey, if you can, do tell me, sensei, what did your mom think of you earning that much. Well…did she say anything?”

Well, I’m able to answer that, so I reply,

“Mom only told me two things.”

“What are they?”

“First, ‘use the money for yourself’. In other words, I don’t need to worry about the house rent, food, and family expenditure. I intended to pay though…”

“So you were rejected by your mother? I think I can understand that. That’s a parent’s responsibility.”

“Hm, maybe…”

About this, the situation might change a little in the future–but I guess it isn’t bad to talk about this now.

“And the other?”

“Hm–‘don’t spend like crazy!'”

“Ahaha, anyone would be told that.”

“Yep. Thus, I thought of a few spending rules, printed them out, and stuck it in front of my desk.”

“Really? What are they?”

They’re simple.

‘I can buy the basic stuff for work (stationery, materials)’

‘Before buying, I have to consider. Don’t buy impulsively. Check the price before buying’.

‘With savings, I won’t have to worry about the future!’

‘Don’t carry large sums of cash around!’

‘Don’t tell anyone else that I’m rich!’

That’s basically it.

“I see. Disciplining yourself. That’s impressive.”

“Even so, I bought a lot of stuff.”

I showed off the watch on my left wrist to Nitadori.

“This is the thing I bought with my first paycheck, my memories about ‘Vice Versa’. In October, on the year I debuted, I made up the mind to buy it when I returned home from the editorial branch, and I spent 30,000 Yen.”

I guess a 30,000 Yen watch might be considered cheap.

But I was wearing a watch I got from my Middle School days, and that’s worth 3,000 Yen. The price shot up to 10 times here. On a side note, the scrap on that old watch was about to break, and I was scared of losing it, so I had it as a pocket watch that is hanging in the bathroom.

“No matter how expensive of a watch I’ll get in the future, I don’t intend to throw this one. Even if it’s broken and I can’t repair it, I’ll put it up in the room.”

“Like Meek’s muffler…”

Nitadori noted happily. Yep, that’s right, I do find it similar.

Shin really treasured the muffler Meek gave him in the first volume, and would always wear it on his neck when the weather was cold.

“Also, I bought that little notebook computer I mentioned before.”

I pointed at the rack above me.

My backpack contained the most practical work tool. In fact, the backpack used to hold the stuff was bought using the publication fee too.

“Also, there’s also this, though mom was the one who provided the money first.”

I took out the smartphone I just used for calculating from my pocket.

“The editor-in-charge told me ‘I can’t really force you, but you really helped me out by having a smartphone. I can’t force you, but you really helped me out’.”

“You said it twice!”

“Well, since I had to spend the night in a hotel in Tokyo, it was better for me to have a cellphone…when I was in my first year of High School, I had to head to Tokyo because of many meetings, and I felt a phone was a must, so I got it. The first phone I had was the latest smartphone. I hesitated due to how expensive it was, but with it, I could see maps, check information, and use the tethering function so that my laptop can be connected to the internet anywhere. It’s really convenient!”

I excitedly chatted about the cellphone I finally got in my first year of high school.

“Well, but I never actually thought of getting a cellphone before then.”

That was a fact.

It seemed mom wanted to buy one for me when I entered high school. To be honest, I didn’t really have such a want, and that’s because–

“Basically, I didn’t think a cellphone is a must. I don’t have any friends I can call, and with an internet function, I don’t need to have a call function!”

I heartily finished off my words.

“Ahaha…”

In any case, Nitadori laughed.

“Then, are you using it properly as a phone?”

I glance at the smartphone in my hand, answering,

“I am. The numbers in the phone book are increasing.”

“Who are they?”

“Other than my mom, everyone related to work.”

“You’re a high school student!”

Nitadori said happily.

I too do think that this isn’t normal, but I don’t mind. I do think that adding so many numbers in the phone book is something wonderful.

“Then am I considered ‘work related’?”

Nitadori asked, and I nodded, answering,

“Of course.”

In any case, she is Meek’s voice actress.

Unlike a novel, an anime needs the collective work of many to be completed. They’re people involved with the important work, and in a certain sense, ‘partners’.

“Then–”

Nitadori spoke up.

“That’s why–”

But it was wiped out by my words.

“Ah, please continue.”

Nitadori allowed me to go first, so I was feeling embarrassed as I continued.

But even so, it’s too difficult for me to talk while looking at Nitadori’s face all the time. Thus, I look at the backrest of the front seat, saying my true thoughts.

“I really want to thank all the people involved in the production of the anime, and the voice actors.”

“…”

“As long as I can help, I’ll do so.”

“…”

“If everyone involved in the anime can feel blessed, I’ll be really happy.” (Kono Subarashii Seiyuu)

Having said what I wanted to say, I glanced to the right.

“…”

What was that?

Nitadori looked a little forlorn.

I didn’t know the reason at all, but I knew this topic was inappropriate. (TN Snark: Awkward 3 seconds…let’s move on)

I slipped the smartphone into my pocket.

 

“Now then, where did I end at…?”

From the topic that was way off point, I proceeded to drag us back to the main point.

“Right! Since we talked about earnings, we’ll have to talk about ‘tax reporting.” (TN Snark: Says the author who was accused of tax fraud…)

The moment I said this, Nitadori raised her right index finger, practically saying I know’!

“I think I heard of it! Like a blue form, red form or something.” (TN Snark: Girl, this isn’t the Matrix.)

“Right–but there’s no red form actually. There’s only a blue form and a white form.”

“Is ? Is that so? I thought there’ll be a red form when the figures are in a deficit?” (TN Snark: By that logic, the other form should be a black form…so how do you fill up a black form? Correction fluid?)

Nitadori said with a serious look.

I didn’t know if she was really mistaken, or just joking around.

In other words, I didn’t know whether it was an ominous omen, or an act– (TN Snark: Relax, you don’t have your main love interest hoping to use super glue to stick a broken pressure cooker together)

I guess I shouldn’t mention this to Nitadori.

I continued to explain.

“I earned 4 million Yen in my first year as an author, and I had to file my tax in the following year, from February to March.”

“I did hear of the term tax filing, but basically, what do I do? Speaking of which, what does it mean?”

“Basically, it means ‘determining how much money you earned, and reporting it to the country’.”

“I see, so tax filing…but for what purpose?”

“There are two answers to this. Why does the country need people to file their tax, and why I have to file my taxes.”

“Then…the country part first.”

“That’s because the country needs to collect taxes. If the people don’t report honestly, the country won’t know how much to deduct, how much tax to collect.”

“I see…then, what about you, sensei?”

“To get some tax rebates.”

“Hm?

 

I didn’t explain it before. As the term implied, the income tax had something to do with the word ‘income’.

The income would refer to the earned money (‘sales money’) deducted by the necessary fees (‘expenses’).

“I did mention that the publisher would deduct the income tax before sending it to me, right?”

“Yep.”

“That’s directly deducted from the sales amount, and has nothing to do with the expenses.”

“Ah, I see…”

“Thus, I’ll report to the country saying that ‘I spent this much, so this is my actual income, and I had too much income tax deducted’, and ask the country to return me some of the income tax I paid. Well, this is the reason for me to report tax.”

“I see…then, what do your expenses contain?”

“First off, the necessities needed for writing. Back then, it’ll be pens and composition paper, but right now, it’s computer and printer and so on.”

“And the rest?”

“I think the more well known ones are probably information, book fees. Movies are considered information too, so I have to include DVD fees. I I want something actual when referencing a work, that thing will become information too. Also…there’s the fees for phone and internet, the transportation fees to head to and back from the editorial branch, and if there are travel fees for material gathering–”

I raised each point I thought of, and Nitadori continued to nod in response.

“House rent and utilities are to be considered, but they’re used for daily living, I can’t get a full rebate. I need to explain how much was used for work, and report that part. And so I did.”

There are many other examples, but I decided to state to this point.

“When filing my taxes, I’ll fill in anything I think of as expenses in the form, and submit it.”

Nitadori showed a serious look as she heard my explanation. I once read in a book that ‘if a student is very outstanding, the teacher will be very motivated to teach’. Right now, I’m really feeling it.

This outstanding student asked,

“But sensei, when calculating and explaining how much tax to pay, you have to prepare some ‘receipts’, right?”

“Right. Thus, when I buy something, I’ll ask for a receipt no matter what, and keep it.”

‘Anyone working in the book industry has to keep receipts!’–having learned of this in a essay from the past, from the day I first submitted my draft I would keep receipts whenever I bought anything. I would first keep my receipts in my wallet, and once I got home, throw them all into a large transparent box.

But when doing that, once I started to actually account, I had to sort out a large number of receipts.

In other words, I had to sort them out by material information, transport fees, and so on. This work is really tedious.

Thus, nowadays, I’ll use a multi-layered document case. I’ll write out the accounting item on every drawer, and after drawing out my receipts from my wallet, I could sort them out into the respective drawers.

 

I did check on the internet on ways to file taxes,

And I learned that there was two of them.

One of them was the very simple process ‘white form’.

The other was the ‘blue form’. The process was a little more complicated, but there would be more privileges to be enjoyed, tax rebates to be obtained.

I heard that when the sum was not too big, simply taking the white form would be good enough, so i did so.

The information to be prepared would be the accounting items, and separately calculate the receipts in a statement. In other words,

“This is how much money I used.”

A form to explain this. I used a calculating software on the computer to come up with this. It sounds simple, but sorting out the receipts and entering the numbers take quite a lot of time.

I took this information, complied the receipts, the pay slips provided by ASCII Media Works (at this moment, I’ll receive a statement for the entire year), and a stamp, and head to the tax department.

“Is it hard to do?”

“In fact, it wasn’t that hard. I just needed to follow the instructions of the uncle, fill in the particulars, and it was done quickly.”

“And then…what happens next?”

“They thought that ‘I paid too much income tax’, and gave me my money in the form of ‘tax rebate’. A few days later, that sum of money, not small in itself, would be transacted to my account.”

“I see.”

“I can put it so lightly right now. But in fact, I had to search everything out by myself, so I really went through a lot of trouble…to be honest, this is the most troublesome thing to me after I became an author.”

“But if that’s last February, you reported your tax this year, didn’t you? Your earnings this year.”

I nodded.

“I won’t ask about the income…but it’s probably increasing, isn’t it?”

 

That’s right.

The income I had last year–was shocking over 18 million Yen.

The reprint of the 1st and 2nd volumes, combined with the initial prints and reprints of the 3rd to 7th volume, brings the total to 300,000 Yen.

I started to wondered the meaning of the words Nitadori said ‘I won’t ask about the money’.

Would that refer to ‘it’s rude to continue asking, so I won’t ask, and you don’t have to answer’? Or ‘I won’t ask, so please tell me’?

I gulped the tea, pondering.

I could tell her, but I didn’t hope that she thinks I’m bragging.

But even so, I’ve already mentioned my earnings for the first year, and she probably can imagine that the next earning will be far more than the first year.

What do I do? What do I do?

Just when I was feeling frustrated,

“Well, for example, if the earnings are about 18 million Yen….”

I could hear Nitadori’s voice.

“Eh?”

“So how much will the tax be? The tax rates will increase greatly, right?”

“…How do you know?”

“Eh? How what?”

“Eh? Yearly earnings…”

“Ah, ahh, I got it correct!?”

Nitadori looked delighted yet embarrassed.

“Right on point. I’m wondering how did you get the figure….”

“Well…the anime announcement was made this January, right?”

I nodded.

“Back then, there was a lot of news on the media saying ‘a popular work that has sold more than 450,000 books’, right?”

I nodded.

“The first year has 80,000 copies, and at that moment, it was 450,000 copies, so deducting that will give me 370,000 copies. In the world of advertisements however, such a number–”

“Right, they’ll make a ‘rough estimate’ (Kiriyoku).”

“”Kiriyoku’?”

“Yeah, it means that they’ll use a slightly big number during release to get people to easily understand–”

“Yeah, that’s it! So I used 350,000 copies to count, and got 18,000,000 Yen.”

“I see…”

This little deduction really surprised me, but it removed any of my troubles. She really helped me out.

“Right. I earned that much money, and I had to handle a second tax.”

 

That happened just 3 months ago.

It was the second time I had to do my taxes, but I don’t want to spend an entire day doing so. If I have that sort of time, I want to use it to write a novel.

I was about to start school again, and my time to spend entire days writing was about to come to an end.

So I left it to a pro.

 

“A pro?”

“Accountant.”

“Ahh.”

“Actually, there are two differences between the first time last year and the second time this year.”

“One of them is that you hired an accountant. What is the other?”

“Well, I switched to a blue form.”

“It’s here! The blue form!”

Nitadori squealed excitedly, and then tilted her head, saying,

“–erm, what does that mean? What is the difference from the white form?”

“Well, when using the blue form to report, you need documents that are more detailed. Thus, it’s hard to hide the money flow, and of course, harder to evade tax.”

But even so, everyone will choose the white form if I say this, so there are many privileges earned when reporting with a blue form.

That would be the unique privilege of ‘tax reduction’. This reduction would be ‘cutting off’. The blue form reporting had privilege function to deduct the sum of money to be taxed, and of course, the tax will be lesser.

Also, another important thing is that if anyone wished to report using the blue form, there is a need to request ‘I’m using a blue form’ a year prior. I did so when I was reporting using the white form.

 

Having talked for so long, I felt thirsty, and Nitadori too was the same, so we drank our bottles of tea.

Both of us lifted our bottles in unison, let the tea flow in, and put down the bottles in unison, it looked as though we were doing ballet.

Because of this, Nitadori was smiling at me–

I was stunned. I did not know what sort of face to show.

I should not be simply answering questions, even if it is a lie or an act, I should at least say something empathetic.

My face sullened, and Nitadori beamed, asking me,

“Is it nice?”

I honestly answered,

“Really nice.”

“Great.”

 

Having decided on blue form report, and to ask an accountant to handle it–

“Now then, I’ll explain what I had to do in detail.”

“Yep.”

“I submitted a lot of documents. That’s all. I submitted all my paypals, a photocopy of my passbook, and as proof that I paid, I had to prepare a whole list of receipts for all categories.”

“So, will the accountant be in charge of counting the receipts, filing the documents, and everything?”

“Right. It’s really easy…of course, I’ll pay appropriate. It’ll be more expensive to just throw everything to him and let him handle. If I’m to sort out the accounting items and calculate before sending the data over, the fees will be cheaper.”

“I see.”

“However, the fees here can be counted as ‘expense’. Comparing the money I pay to get the accountant to handle this, and the time I spend…I guess looking at the results, I think it’ll be cheaper to leave it to him. Of course, that goes different for those ‘I have time, I know what to do, so I’ll handle this myself!’.”

 

Authors earn through the publication fees.

The publication fees will first be taxed before it enters the account.

And through reporting tax, tax rebates on excessive tax is earned.

This is where my explanation ends.

“I said a few times before that the me back then wasn’t very familiar with this. I was practically wandering around in the darkness, dealing with everything.”

“But the editorial branch tell you anything about this?”

Nitadori said it as a matter of fact–

“Nope, they didn’t.”

I shook my head.

“Really?”

“The editorial branch has no duty to explain that much to me…speaking of which, they probably don’t know that much either.”

“Then?”

“Authors can only increase their own knowledge. The only ones capable of helping me out at this point…are the senior authors.”

 

Looking my situation, I practically had no assistance before I submitted the white form. That was because I did not know any other authors. Even the request for a blue form was something I found out for myself.

However, it was a certain senior author who told me ‘just hire an accountant’.

I had the same meeting times as him, so we do meet at the editorial branch from time to time. I practically read through all his works, and I was really honored to meet him.

After that, the editor-in-charge brought me out to eat.

Whenever the editor-in-charge had time and arranged for other authors to meet, he’ll invite parties to gather in a mea organized by the editorial branch, a party.

The location was at ‘Kagurazaka’ near the editorial branch. I think I heard of this place before. This place had some of the old houses from before, and also a lot of posh restaurants.

I’m really happy that the editorial branch is willing to allow us to enjoy such delicious food in such a posh restaurant. Of course, I don’t drink.

While we gather, I talked in depth about my things with that senior author.

That author knew that my work was selling well, and he told me in depth about the blue form reporting. He also introduced me to an accountant him and his author friends really trusted, and really helped me.

 

Now, having finished everything about tax filing–

There was almost 15 minutes till the terminal.

Nitadori asked me the time, and I answered as I showed my watch.

“Now then, the remaining time is short, so I’ll ask anything else next week. Thanks for this week too. It’s really interesting.”

“No problems.”

I recalled that she did say something like that the previous week.

Back then, I talked about reading the fan letters to pass time back then. Will she ask about it this one? I think answering questions would be easier for me.

While I thought of that, Nitadori said,

“Sensei…I got a question.”

“Go ahead.”

Thinking that it was easier for me, I answered,

“Erm…what do you think of my performance last week?”

She asked something I could not answer easily.

She asked me that seriously, staring at me intently.

Obviously, I looked flustered.

“Ah…it’s fine, you don’t have to force yourself…”

Nitadori said dejectedly.

“Erm, if I have to say my personal thoughts–”

Hearing my words, Nitadori turned her glasses towards me.

In such situations, I won’t lie. I’ll just say my actual thoughts honestly.

“Wh-what is it?”

“The participating voice actors really performed marvelously before my eyes. Shin, Sin, Ema, Pluto, Meek and the others, it felt like they came to life.”

I did my best to answer.

“…Tha-thank–thank you very much!”

Nitadori thanked me. Again, I honestly stated my points.

“But…actually, I did say that once the After Record ended.”

“Erm, but, well…the others are there, so I thought that it was that occasion…”

Nitadori said, looking somewhat bashful.

“I’m not that good at faking it.”

Personally, I can’t act. The moment I finished, I realized something I was curious with, and took the initiative to ask Nitadori,

“Oh yeah, can I ask you a question…”

“Go ahead, go ahead!”

She beamed happily in agreement, and so, I raised my doubt.

“Nitadori–when did you start acting?”

“…”

Seeing her look so flabbergasted, I was wondering if I asked something I should not have.

After thinking about it 3 times, I did not think there was anything strange about it.

Soon after, I thought that she did not know what I was referring to,

“Erm…after you read’ Momotarou’, when you heard the questions from everyone in class, I think I overheard a conversation–that you were participating in a drama club in your previous school…”

“Ah! Ahh! Erm! Right! That’s it, you mean?”

I didn’t know–what was Nitadori mistaken about, but it appeared to be settled. The blank look she showed started to move.

“Right! I was in a drama club. I thought what you meant when you mentioned ‘acting’.”

I see, so that’s how it is. I asked the wrong question. Should have asked ‘when did she start acting’.

“Sorry…I might have phrased it wrongly. Also, I overheard your conversation, it seems. Sorry.”

“It’s fine! I understand! About that drama club, isn’t it? Well, please don’t think that you’re eavesdropping. You’re seated in front of me, and it’s weird if you can’t hear. I was answering to everyone else after all.”

Nitadori spoke with her usual tone, and then answered my initial question,

“I did learn a little when I was in elementary school, and I began studying it for real in middle school, for 3 straight years, until I transferred to this high school.”

In that case, she studied this for at least 4 years. No wonder the acting’s really good. Of course, I don’t think that alone would make her a good voice actress however; I’m guessing that she had all kinds of other training too.

“I’ve been studying in an international school all this while.”

Nitadori informed me of this, and I thoroughly understood why she was so proficient in English.

“The drama teacher back then–”

She continued to chirp happily,

“Would say to us happily before teaching us, “Everyone, transform yourself into someone else! You can be anyone!'” (TN Snark: Teacher probably is the oldest Chuu2 I have seen…)

“Was that in English?”

“Of course.”

I started to have a mental image of a foreigner teacher called Mister John or a Miss Jeanne happily chatting in front of everyone. I don’t know English, so when the teacher’s speaking in English, there was subtitles. (TN Snark: I’m not sure whether I should order some Papa John’s, never mind the fact that I’m living in Singapore…also, if that Jeanne was a French during the 100 Years War, speaking English would be enough to deem her a heretic. Wait, she was.)

Nitadori in 7th grade was among the students, and her appearance is the same as she is now, other than her being a little shorter. She has long black hair, and spectacles on. (TN Snark: So are the spectacles Eri’s, or is Eri the spectacles ala Shinpachi?)

“She’s a nice teacher…she said ‘alright, time for acting’–”

So it’s Miss Jeanne. (TN Snark: Activating Luminosité Eternelle)

“To me, that’s like a transformation spell…” (TN Snark: No no no, it’s more like a

I felt that something was amiss.

And then, I immediately realized the reason.

When speaking to me, Nitadori would look at me in the eyes.

This probably was because she was the one raising the questions, that she would abide by the etiquette when talking with people, and look at me in the eyes.

I would be flustered by it, unable to stare at a cute girl throughout as I continue talking with her.

Thus, I avoided it many times. I kept feeling Nitadori’s eyes as I either looked at the backrest of the seat in front of me, or at my knees.

But this Nitadori was different. (TN Snark: So, a reversal of roles?)

Nitadori did not look at me.

Feeling amiss, I stared at Nitadori, but she wasn’t looking at me.

Her eyes were looking at her intertwined fingertips.

“It was the same during the After Record. I would mutter this quietly in my heart.”

I recalled her trembling lips that shivered with the script.

“Ah! That was!”

I could not help but blurt out.”

“Eh?”

Nitadori finally looked at me, her eyes looking over her shoulder.

“That moment…as in?”

She looked at me skeptically. Imprisoned by this stare, I answered.

“It was during the After Record last week…when you were to appear on the B scene, I saw you muttering something, Nitadori.”

“Wah! It’s embarrassing…I’m found out!”

There was no pretense in her words, but her face really went red, and she cupped her head.

“I always did such a thing before recording…wahh, it’s really embarrassing…”

I see. So she did so every time, and nobody realized it?

“Hii…”

She continued to groan. This might be the first time I found Nitadori to be a year younger than me.

Seeing her look so cute, I asked

“That was in English, right? What were you muttering about?”

Nitadori suddenly lifted her head at me,

“It’s time to play!”

She answered with fluency. Her enunciation and accent was just like a foreigner.

“It’s, time–to, play…” (TN Snark: It’s time to duel. Let’s go, I summon Trishula, dragon of the ice barrier!)

I quietly repeated in Japanese enunciation.

I was not proficient in English, but I would pay attention to class.

So, I think I can understand that level of English, anyway. (TN Snark: Says the guy with ‘My Warld the Number First)

Of course, the ‘play’ here isn’t about ‘playing games’, but ‘play acting’.

“I cut off the ‘it’s’, so the little spell I mutter is–‘time to play’.

“Time to play…” (TN Snark: I came to play)

“Alright, it’s time to act! Come on, everyone, break away from yourself and be someone else. I’m going to become someone else now. Time to play, time to play.”

81021

“I see, so you can transform into anyone else when acting?”

“Yep. You can become anyone. Anyone can do it, and so can you, sensei. Want to try?”

“Me? Erm…”

Time to play. (TN Snark: Time to translate for me)

I muttered these words in my head.

I guess it’s impossible for me, I immediately thought.

I’m an author, I write novels.

I can think of fake worlds, write fake conversations.

But I can’t act. I can’t handle fake conversation. (TN Snark: You can act, when it’s not an act)

Right when I was wondering how to explain this to Nitadori–

The train began to broadcast an announcement indicating the impending arrival at the terminal.

So in the end, I missed out on the chance to tell her. (TN Snark: Bummer)

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