Chapter 6 – May 15, I was strangled by her

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.

I don’t feel pain or unbearable, but I’m about to die.

“Save!” (TN Snark: Keima, is that you?)

The one yelling that was not me, but Nitadori, strangling me by the neck. This line is terse, yet it sounded so slow and long to me.

However, I can’t comprehend what she meant at all. (TN Snark: she means reload the save state. You hit a bad end.)

It was probably 5 seconds since the moment when she choked me. And then, in another 2 seconds, I probably won’t be able to think of anything else.

I think the ghost lights are just a self-defense system in the brain now? It probably can help me look for clues in my past experiences to save me, I guess.

I can clearly remember what Nitadori said, but I had no idea.

Anyway, why did Nitadori want to kill me? (TN Snark: because you set a death flag).

I did not know.

I didn’t know the reason.

 

Thursday, May 15th.

Time flew by fast, and it has been more than a month since the After Records and the new Semester started.

I was riding that usual Limited Express train, seated at my old seat, the left side seat on the last row in the free seating carriage.

The sky at home is really bright, but the weather report stated that it would be raining in Tokyo, so I had a foldable umbrella in the side pocket of my backpack.

The train departed on time.

After sitting on the same train ride for more than a month, I realized very well that the day got longer. When I stood on the platform on this day, I felt that the sun was rather high up.

There were 13 After Records in all, so tomorrow, it will be the 7th, halfway through.

During the first session, I probably did see Nitadori in the recording room, but I couldn’t remember.

During the second session, I met Nitadori on this train for the first time.

From the third to sixth session, we went to Tokyo together for 4 consecutive trips, and I answered a lot of questions. (TN Snark: You sure that’s not your escapade?)

They included everything, from the delusions I had since young, till the intention I had to write novels.

The struggles before submitting the work to Dengeki Bunko.

The method of writing novels.

Publishing fees and taxes.

So, what will she be asking about today? (TN Snark: Ask you out.)

I guess I said everything I could talk about now, right? (TN Snark: nope, another 217 pages to go.)

Thinking about this, I continued to space out, and then, I saw swaying black hair.

 

“Hello, sensei, doing well?”

“I’m fine, thanks. What about you?”

“I’m fine too, thanks.” (TN Snark: Is this a drama class or something?)

First, we started off with a conversation even an elementary school kid can translate into English. (TN Snark: or any language for that matter)

“For you, enjoy.”

Nitadori, who handed me the shopping bag, is not wearing a skirt, but jeans this time, with a green military jacket and a blue sweater. (TN Snark: Trooper, we’re mean, and very very green!)

Nitadori placed the bag behind her, and placed her jacket on it. Then, she ties her usual long her carefully behind her, letting the hair drape down her right shoulder to her chest before sitting down.

I accept the convenience store bag.

“I’m tucking in. Thanks.”

With a rippling sound, I take out the sea salt flavored potato chips and the bottle of tea.

“Thinking about it, I’m seeing your back every day at school, so I know you’re pretty lively. I’ll probably be seeing the blackboard a little better if you’re lethargic.”

“I guess.”

Nitadori’s always sitting behind me every day during class. No matter whether it’s the classroom, or anywhere in school, we’ll definitely not talk to each other.

There are times when I pass by Nitadori on the corridor, but even after finding her, I won’t talk to her.

Thinking about it, I do find this kind of relationship very strange. While I’m thinking about that, Nitadori said the same thing as she sat beside me.

“It’s strange…we’re seated in front and behind each other, so close together. During the After Record, there’s a thick soundproof glass between us, and right now, we’re côte à côte…” (TN Snark: Well, it’s strange to translate a story into English and leave the original English term in it, so why not French? Thanks Misogi.)

She seemed to be rather incredulous too.

And it’s a mystery as to why she wouldn’t use the common term ‘side by side’ instead.

The train continues to move forward.

While I’m still chomping on the potato chips, the train conductor arrived early to check the tickets.

The conductor today is the woman I met several times before. She probably has an impression on us taking these sets every Thursday.

After checking the tickets, Miss Conductor proceeded to leave.

“You two are always together–what kind of relationship do you have?” (TN Snark: let’s face it, you’re hoping that she’ll ask that, aren’t you?

Miss Conductor never asked such questions. I wonder what should I do if she was to ask, but a conductor wouldn’t ask anything regarding a passenger’s privacy.

“Now then…”

And then, as before, Nitadori’s questioning time was about to begin–

Or so I thought, but I was still hungry, so Nitadori started talking about some harmless weather issues. (TN Snark: I don’t think this is the reason for her talking about the weather…)

According to the weather report, she said, Tokyo’s weather was bad, and that when heading to the recording studio the next day, I should be careful not to fall down. (TN Snark: I think you’ll have more pressing issues…)

“Erm…can’t I skip it?” (TN Snark: Fast forward)

I asked as I rolled up the bag of potato chips.

“We’re not going to school!” (TN Snark: And I’m not going to work)

Nitadori chuckled heartily.

Of course, both of us were merely joking. After Records was not fun and games. We were not having lessons at school, but doing work. We cannot skip work without unless it is a valid reason (some will ask if skipping classes is okay). (TN Snark: Kids, just get your credits)

In the past, whenever a voice actor isn’t around due to illness, the others would act it out and assume he was around. I do find such a scene really intriguing, I do find that it’s not conducive.

And during the next week, the voice actor on leave would act alone with a pre-recording.

I do find it tough, and at the same time, I’m moved by their outstanding acting. (TN Snark: let’s be honest, many will be in tears just seeing one perform in front of them)

 

“Now then, I’ll be using this notebook today.”

Nitadori’s holding the notebook that appeared last week.

I remember what I last talked about last week being about income and taxes. Nitadori didn’t open her notebook at all during then. (TN Snark: Pandora wept…)

“You got a lot of questions to ask, I guess?”

I asked.

“Yep. About a certain theme, or I’ll say, all kinds of questions. If you want to explain more however, sensei, please go ahead. Also, please forgive me if the question offends you in any way. If it’s a question you can’t answer due to your work, please tell me straight away ‘you shouldn’t be asking this question’.” (TN Snark: Sigsawa writes this stuff. If it offends him, he wouldn’t be writing this…)

“Got it.”

“Now then–”

This time, Nitadori actually opened the notebook.

However, she cautiously made sure not to let me see the words on it, pointing her finger on the pages.

“Erm…”

Does she really need to worry about having so many questions? (TN Snark: Yeah because you have a 3 hour time limit from your stop to Tokyo…)

I was starting to worry what would have happened if I was to reject the first question? Would it ruin Nitadori’s mood? Or would it cause the opposite effect and guilt trip her such that she will shrink back? (TN Snark: That’ll end the chapter, and then we’ll just move to next week.)

What exactly is the problem Nitadori is referring to–

“Erm, this–when publishing a book, you’ll sign a contract with the publisher, right? If you have to do so, how will you do it?” (TN Snark: Note to self, Posting Rule isn’t considered common law)

“Phew.”

“Why are you relieved?”

“No, well, I’m wondering what should I do if I can’t answer the question.” (TN Snark: You’ll just end the chapter and move on to the next one)

“Ahaha. I guess this question is fine, right?”

“No problems.”

“The answer is?”

“Yes.”

 

For my situation–I’ll sign a ‘publishing contract’.

There is a kind of publishing where 4 pieces of A4 size printed paper are stapled on the left side. Of course, this is the style Dengeki Bunko goes with. I don’t know what style does the other companies or editorial branches go by. (TN Snark: I know it’s very intrusive, but honestly, if I were a reader, and I am, I’ll hope to have an actual one to see)

I showed her a copy of the contract, saying,

“There are all kinds of clauses on it…I did spend all my effort to read them, barely, though I can no longer remember the specifics.–” (TN Snark: Have you decided to become Phoenix Wright when you grow older?)

I did say during the previous week that ‘the first 50 copies printed would be used for promotion, so it is not counted as publishing fee’. This clause itself is clearly written in the contract.

Interestingly, the contract also stated ‘when the author buys a book, he gets to enjoy a 20% discount privilege’. Whenever a work was published, I would receive 10 copies, and for every reprint, I would receive another, so I did not use this clause to buy a book. (TN Snark: Why buy when you can receive for free? It’s like Kenji Inoue getting copies of Baka Test in Japanese, Korean and Chinese…)

“Also, you need to fill in your address and name on the actual contract. In this situation, you need to write your actual name, put a stamp on it, and the contract is complete. Of course, the company’s name and stamp are on it before then.” (TN Snark: Somewhere in the editorial branch, the HR must be going ‘make a contract with me~’)

The contract included my work of the same series title, so I only did sign one contract. (TN Snark: Now I’m imagining Kamachi signing contracts for all his series…)

Before ‘Vice Versa’ was published, I stamped at the editorial branch. There were 2 copies of the contract, and one of them is left for me to keep. (TN Snark: Now I’m wondering if it’s a carbon paper)

“I see…the publisher is very thorough in what they do.”

Nitadori said, sounding impressed. Thus, I feel that I have to say something.

“Yeah. Also–nobody did sign a contract.” (TN Snark: Erm? What?)

“What?”

“I did sign a contract before I published my work, but–”

 

It was something a senior of mine told me at the end of year party.

We were chatting on this back then, and once I said that I signed a contract before I published my book, that person simply told me.

“Ah, I did sign a contract for my debut work recently too.” (TN Snark: Japanese labor laws probably never went in depth into this…)

“Eh?”

The reason why I was shocked was that this person had been writing under the Dengeki Bunko brand for a few years.

He had been publishing books for more than 10 years, and that work had been adapted into an anime. (TN Snark: The way you put it sounds like it’s 10 years of being a temp)

“Eh? In that case, erm…what did that author do over the past 10 years?” (TN Snark: Printing money, that’s what.)

Nitadori asked a sensible question.

“I asked a similar question.”

“And then.”

“He answered, ‘oh, it’s always been a verbal agreement’.” (TN Snark: Kids, remember this well, verbal contracts are legally binding as long as they are reasonable and done in good faith. Think of it as asking for plumbing service and then agreeing to pay beforehand.)

“…”

It’s no wonder that Nitadori’s stunned. (TN Snark: Wait, why am I going back to my law studies again?)

To be honest, I was stunned too, so shocked myself.

It’s fine that there’s no problems if the money was sent to me, but I really was shocked by such a strange thing done by the publisher since I assumed I had to sign a contract.

There’s more to this.

After hearing our conversation, another senior near me agreed, saying,

“Ah, now that you mentioned it, I just signed it recently. I didn’t know anything about a publishing contract before this.” (TN Snark: Aren’t there any standards to this company…?)

And then, another senior author refuted,

“No, wait. I signed it before I debuted though?” (TN Snark: Oh gosh)

“Me too…”

In other words, there are those who ‘signed before they debuted’, and ‘those that didn’t get to sign’. Right when I was wondering why that was the case…I knew my answer.

Those that won prizes with Dengeki Bunko would have signed contracts.

Those that debuted without signing contracts were the ones who did not win prizes, and were nominated instead. (TN Snark: Tsk, the bias)

But anyway, since I did sign, I suppose everyone else would have signed as well. (TN Snark: So what you are saying is that under the new format, everyone has to sign? Got it, thanks.)

“That’s how it goes, I think.”

I answered the first question, but I don’t know if that is good enough for her reference. (TN Snark: You’re not making this easier for us either, Sigsawa)

“Now then, the next question is–”

Nitadori opened her notebook.

“What does an author ‘confidentiality’ include? Voice actors can’t reveal things like the work, script and so on, so I guess authors are the same in this sense?” (TN Snark: I can so imagine the Council of Ten doing the same thing…)

“Hm.”

Luckily, it’s another question I can answer.

Perhaps Nitadori chose the easiest questions for me to answer.

Confidentiality–

Strictly put, it seems to refer to ‘legal obligation’, so I didn’t know if there’s such a law in the world of authorship.

I’ll treat this term as ‘until the work is officially published, nobody can reveal what they know in work to those not involved’. (TN Snark: Doesn’t stop the spoilers)

“The easiest way to understand this is the release date. For example, even when Dengeki Bunko decides on a publication date, nobody can talk about it until the official release. Dengeki Bunko’s mail magazine will be the earliest to release the news, about 2 months before the official release date. There are some exceptions though, like an event announcement.”

“Then, if you announce on your blog or twitter before then–” (TN Snark: Does this author even have one?)

“Of course not.”

“Anything else?”

“Like events, signing meets information…ah, and there’s something more important.”

“What is it?”

“News like an anime or a cross-media work, especially the animation of the work. Most of the announcements will be made at such events, so there is a need for secrecy until then no matter what.”

For myself, I had been handling the news of ‘Vice Versa’ getting animated cautiously. This is because the staff numbers and money involved in such a large planning is much more than the sales of the light novels. If I did not take leave from school, I suppose I would be terrified of letting slip of the news, to a point where I won’t tell my mum either.

“I see…so it’s kind of similar to being a voice actor too.”

Nitadori said, but I feel that voice actors would always have it tougher than authors.

Once they hear the news for auditioning, they would know that the work was to be animated. They would know of it earlier, and also, there isn’t just one work for them. Of course, they can’t leak the news, so they’ll be very cautious to avoid news of it leaking.

Leaving that aside, I continued,

“If I know of another person’s information, I can’t talk about it either. During the end-of-year party last year, I learned of some things when I was chatting with the senior authors…it’s said that those authors with good contacts will know that a certain person’s work is going to be animated.” (TN Snark: So in other words, Sigsawa is one…)

“I see…they’re of the same line of work after all.”

“No matter whether it’s news about others or oneself, we have to deal with it using the usual attitude. Leaving aside my own news, I can’t leak anything about the plot of another author’s latest volume.”

This is also what I heard–

It’s said that in the past, the author or illustrator could go to the editorial branch and obtain a new book from Dengeki Bunko before the official release.

The books are released on the 10th every month, but they would be sent to the editorial branch at the end of the previous month. The editorial branch will give 10 copies to the author. It depends on the holiday dates, but they typically send it out on the 29th or the 30th.

So during this time, from the beginning of the month to the 10th, one can see stacks of new books in the editorial branch. Anyone that shows up early for a meeting can pick it up to read.

In the past, as long as anyone requested for it, he can take the book back (it’s not considered as publishing fees, so it’s kinda sorry to the author). We can’t take them now though, as it’s a measure to prevent the plot from being leaked.

 

“Personal information is like work information; there’s a need to keep it a secret.”

I added on.

“Amongst the authors I met at the end-of-year meetings, there’s someone who completely hid his identity. There’s one who openly revealed his personal information, but never revealed a photo of himself.”

“Oh, they’re just like you, sensei.”

“They’re like me. Thus, I have to use the information of others as my own and be thoroughly careful with it. I don’t have much chance to reveal about myself, so I’m having it easy.”

“You don’t manage a blog, Facebook, Twitter or anything like that after all.” (TN Snark: Then how do you live your life online?)

I nodded.

I couldn’t possibly do such things when I have to keep my identity a secret. No, some people might be able to handle this well, but I can’t. I’ll definitely mess up somewhere.

Thinking about this, I asked Nitadori about something I was really curious about.

“Speaking of which…Nitadori, do you write a blog or something?”

“Ah, erm…I guess…”

Nitadori seemed a little off from her usual, stammering away.

“I did…think that I should open a blog. Especially since I’m taking the role of a named character for the first time.” (TN Snark: Don’t the agency normally open one for you?)

“But you haven’t?”

“Hm, well…I’m a little scared. But not that I’m scared of writing…it’s that I’m scared of those hateful comments.” (TN Snark: Ahh…)

“Ah, I see.”

I understood that feeling very well. (TN Snark: Don’t we all)

The internet is filled with kind and hateful comments.

And also, the hateful comments are the ones more likely to leave an impression.

“Sensei, will you actually care about the thoughts and ratings on the internet? –Actually, this is something I really want to ask.” (TN Snark: Or you can be Hikaru Sugii and get caught for fluffing his work and insulting other authors on 2ch imageboards…)

“Yes, and no.”

“In what sense?”

 

There isn’t really any author who doesn’t care about the readers’ thoughts. (TN Snark: Except Kamachi, but we know he’s an .exe)

If there is, that person’s rather strong. (TN Snark: Or isn’t a person)

Including me, authors with published works will care about the thoughts and criticism, very concerned with them, in fact. (Of course, they’ll care about their sales volumes.)

In the past, feedback was practically through letters from the readers. Once the works are published, the readers will write to the authors and tell them how they feel.

Thanks to the internet, we’re able to know about their thoughts faster than before.

I feel that with the internet community, from anonymous imageboards, personal blogs to Twitter, facebook and other prominent social websites, I’m able to know of the readers’ thoughts on the day the books are released.

However, there are good and bad to this.

I never told Nitadori about this. The editorial branch will filter the reader letters, and those slandering letters that would affect an author’s confidence will not be sent to the author. (TN Snark: I can so imagine this happening for voice actresses in particular…)

It’s different on the internet.

As long as an author looks for it, he’ll be able to find unfiltered, belittling remarks.

“Sensei, have you looked at the thoughts regarding your own works?”

The answer is yes. Yeah, I answered briefly.

“Amongst all the works that were released till this point…has anyone said anything bad about your works?”

“Of course. I guess.” (TN Snark: Haters gonna hate)

Huh? Nitdadori muttered as she tilted her head.

“‘I guess’…what do you mean?”

I answered.

“I chose to forget about it.” (TN Snark: By taking Refrain?)

 

As for who taught me this–

To be honest, I forgot.

Was this something I thought of? Or was it what the editor-in-charge or other editors taught me? Was it a suggestion from another author I met somewhere? Or did I learn it from a book.

But when I looked at the reviews on the internet, surely I would do this. (TN Snark: Hmm, maybe I should do this too)

This was the

Just read the good comments, forget the bad ones.”

Method.

“So basically…how do you go about doing this?”

Nitadori asked as she brought her face closer. (TN Snark: Oh just kiss him already, you.)

I answered as I looked aside.

“It’s not that hard. First–”

I read all the comments I found on the internet until the very end.

There is kindness on the internet. (TN Snark: Well, there is kindness everywhere, just know where to find it)

No, I feel that there’s a lot more cases of kindness compared to malice. This is what I think.

If I look for it, I can find,

“It’s interesting.”

“Looks fun.”

“I want to continue reading.”

“The characters are really amazing..”

And so on. These are the kind of comments that praise the work, ‘nice work’.

And I’ll earnestly accept such praises.

While looking, I would express my thanks, and use this praise as motivation.

Also, I would remember the title of that site. (TN Snark: Just bookmark it already…)

 

If however,

“What’s this? It’s so boring.”

“Refund me.” (TN Snark: I don’t think you can refund a book, pal)

“Terrible novel.”

Such criticism is written–

If I’m to read such thoughts–

“What will you do?”

“I’ll go back immediately.” (TN Snark: Cue Abe Simpson gif)

“Back? Where?”

“To the site praising me.” (TN Snark: Just be a member there and start posting already…)

“Ah!”

Whenever I read the feedback on the internet, I’ll always read the ones praising my work.

I’ll use that moment to forget all about the comments that belittle and slander my work. I’ll alway have the thought that someone is willing to praise my work, and end my collection of feedback.

Even if there are those who feel that I’m despicable, I don’t intend to give up on this method.

“I see…”

“I did read this line in a book ‘someone may belittle a work, but the author should never apologize’.” (TN Snark: Does an author know who to apologize to anyway?)

“Oh?”

“And on the other hand, I have to say without a care ‘it is a pity that it doesn’t fit your tastes’. When I first read these words, I really couldn’t understand, until I became an author…where I really understood this thinking.”

“In other words–”

Nitadori gave me a serious look as she told me,

“You cooked up a ‘delicious meal’, so you don’t have to care about those who didn’t like it?”

I nodded firmly.

“Right. That’s because I had no choice other than to do that. When I write my work, I find it interesting. I don’t intend to submit a meaningless work to the editor-in-charge. Also, I’ll listen to the editor-in-charge, and edit the work to make it more interesting.”

“Yeah.”

“That’s how a work is born…so no matter what kind of comments there are, I can’t do anything about it. If everyone praises it and say that ‘it’s nice’, I’ll be happy. However, I know that things aren’t going to be like that. I strongly believe that I can’t ignore the thoughts of my supporters just because of the negative criticism. Thus, I won’t care about it.”

Of course, I do believe that there is ‘harsh criticism born out of kindness’.

Like for example ‘It’ll be better if this part is changed like this’. ‘This part isn’t well written. Better to rewrite it’. I do feel a few times that ‘yeah, this guy’s right’. (TN Snark: Izuru, take note)

But even so–

An author can’t let himself be dragged along by the views of an outsider. (TN Snark: Too many cooks spoil the broth, but if the main cook is bad in itself, I don’t think CNT will be enough to remove everything bad)

No matter what anyone else says (except for the editor-in-charge), I’ll write based on my own thoughts.

If it sells well, it’ll be my victory along with the editor-in-charge, and we’ll work hard to create the next work. (TN Snark: It’s a never ending battle…)

If it doesn’t sell well, it means that we lost. I’ll work hard to make sure the next work sells.

“When seeing and hearing reviews about my work–I always think of the Aesop of ‘The Miller, the Boy and the Donkey’.”

When was the first time I read that story?

I couldn’t recall when it was, but I probably won’t ever forget about this in my entire life.

“Erm…what kind of a story is it? I think I heard of it somewhere.”

Nitadori asked.

“Well, one day, a Miller and his son went out to sell a donkey–”

There was a passer-by who told them, wouldn’t it be easier to ride on a donkey? So the Miller let his son sit on the donkey.

Another person they met then said, the son shouldn’t relax, the father should ride on it. So, the father got the son off, and rode on the donkey instead.

And then, they met someone else, who said that the duo could ride. So, they did.

Then, they met another person, who told them the donkey was pitiful to have two people riding on it.

“Ah! Now I remember!– They then carried the donkey to ease its burden, so they carried it. But the donkey started moving and fell into the river. That’s how the story ends, right?”

“Yep yep.”

“So it’s an Aesop…I didn’t know. This story is saying that without any objective viewpoint, you’ll be toyed around by everyone, and end up with misfortune, right?”

“Yeah. Also, an author’s predicament can be summarized as this story…there’s no novel that can satisfy every reader, so as long as someone praises it, the author will stick to the formula–that’s a lesson I can go with.”

I saw this story somewhere before.

Whenever an author writes, there’s a need for something, something other than a computer, pen and research materials.

That’s ‘self-confidence’.

The self-confidence to believe that I can write.

The self-confidence to believe that I can write interesting novels.

Thus, I’ll borrow the power of my supporters.

In other words, I don’t need the power of those who don’t support me

“The saying goes that humans will improve as long as they’re praised. This definitely goes too for authors.”

“Not that ‘authors are humans too’?”

“Ah…yeah, that too.”

 

“I did think of how blessed I am as an author.”

I suddenly mentioned something Nitadori never asked about.

And having said that, I thought she would be stunned.

“Well…why’s that?”

But Nitadori asked. I answered,

“That’s because when I write, I’m able to begin writing, and in writing, i can write novels. I don’t have to think of myself as an author, but I was happy to learn that I was able to debut, happy that I was able to get a reprint. Once the work started to sell, and the editor-in-charge told me to write continuations, I was happy. The animation of the story also made me happy.” (TN Snark: No mention of the manga?)

“…Sensei, looking at you, I understand very well that it’s your real emotion, not faked, right?”

“Erm, yeah.”

I had no acting skills.

“So tell me–sensei, do you think you’re special in any sense?”

Unlike before, it was a sharp, piercing question.

I shook my head.

“No, I think I’m someone with a lot of experience, a rare thing in that.”

“Then what kind of person do you think is special?”

“I don’t know.”

“…”

“I don’t think such a person exists, right? Ah, if you say that there’s a ‘very special’ person to anyone, I do know about that, like a lover, a family member, and something like that. In other words–”

Nitadori’s giving me an intense stare. She looked serious, but it’s a little different from the look she showed during the After Record. Then, she continued to ask, seemingly interrupting me, (TN Snark: She jelly)

“It goes by what that person think, is it?”

Overwhelmed by the pressure,

“Sorta…I guess.”

I timidly answered.

 

I looked over at the flowing scenery outside the window, drinking my tea–

I felt that we were going off-topic. What was the question we were talking about anyway?

I wondered.

I capped the plastic bottle as I turned my head to the right, and found Nitadori pondering with a very serious look on her face.

I was worried if I did say something wrong, but in any case, I can’t take back what I said. Even if she does ask a similar question again, that’s the only way I can answer.

Nitadori turned her face towards me.

She gave a tender look, but the glare behind the glasses was sharp.

“For an author, for every sensei who made their debut till this point, have you encountered any difficulty?”

 

“Difficulty…”

I heard this question, and muttered to myself as I pondered. I had to think of it separately.

“I guess ‘difficulties an author would face’ is different from ‘difficulties I encountered after becoming an author’.”

“Then, sensei, please answer according to your decision.”

“In that case…I’ll first start with difficulties I encountered…”

“Right.”

If it’s this question, I’m confident enough to conclude.

I answer briefly, without any concern,

“None.” (TN Snark: Showoff…)

 

“Huh?”

“I didn’t really have any particular difficulty.”

“Erm…is that true?”

“Erm, well, I did say that I’m a fortunate author. Even if I have to mention any issues I faced, I can’t think of any.”

“…”

Nitadori remained silent, looking stunned.

“I’m really unfortunate to meet such a frivolous guy. Anyone would have met one or two difficulties at least. Hardships allow a person to grow. You won’t grow if you don’t face any.” (TN Snark: Cue the Joker…)

I really hoped that she wouldn’t have such thoughts.

But even so, I didn’t have any. I got nothing.

“The biggest difficulty I had till this point was in Middle School, the tough process I had until I was able to write. I mentioned it before, and that was before I became an author. I did say that I never had a situation an author fears most, that ‘the story isn’t used at all’…and I did say that I restrain myself to ignore the harsh reviews on the internet…the volumes I had are selling well…and they’re getting adapted into an anime…”

Maybe there are things I can find tough to deal with in such trivial stuff.

For example, like I was harassed by a mean-spirited drunkard on my way to the hotel, or that I spent some time last year focusing on writing novels, and I end up having hip pains at such a young age, and so on. (TN Snark: Do you have short telomeres or something?)

Even if I wasn’t an author, I would be harassed by a drunkard. It’ll be another story altogether if there’s a special drunkard who specialized in harassing authors (looks like such a story is interesting too).

I adjusted by sitting posture to adapt to the waist pains, and did some sports as well. On mom’s recommendation, I went for acupuncture, and for the time being, it’s cured.

Thinking about it, I guess there’s none.

“E-erm…what kind of difficulties do you think an author would have?”

Nitadori narrowed the focus of her question. This question is within my expectations however.

 

The biggest issue an author would face–

That would be, if I can’t write, or that I don’t want to write, my life as an author would die. (TN Snark: No Work No Life)

Without a job, I wouldn’t have income, unable to maintain my lifestyle. It’s common for an author to lose his job no matter what. (TN Snark: Or anyone for that matter)

Authors are irreplaceable. Even if there are few exceptions, the works of that author is such that he’s the only one capable of writing it.

This was something I saw in a certain essay, and I could already understand that feeling.

“Is that so…it’s not strange to be out of a job at any given moment…I guess voice actors are the same in this sense. They’re scared because ‘there are as many as they want when it comes to replacing them’.”

Nitadori lamented.

I once heard that there are many who aimed to be voice actors, and that it’s difficult to actually debut, or break from the intense competition.

Compared to the authors who were able to survive, which one is harder? (TN Snark: Reminds me of Sore ga Seiyuu)

I don’t know, and of course, Nitadori doesn’t. I guess nobody knows.

“So you came to high school to study because of this reason, sensei?” (TN Snark: No, you came to high school because you need to establish the setting of this story)

I nodded.

Of course, this was partly due to the objection I had from the people around me, but in the end, I decided to go along with my will. I did once think that ‘I might as well not study’, but now, I felt great that I didn’t give up on my studies.

‘Vice Versa’ is selling very well now, and I can continue to write, but I don’t know when will it stop being a bestseller. Also, I don’t know when I won’t be able to write.

In that case, I don’t think an experience of ‘I wrote novels in my teens, and my work was adapted into an anime’ would come in handy. (TN Snark: I think that’s better than most teens of your age. What can I use?

In comparison, I guess scholastic experience of graduating from high school and college, together with what I learned in school would probably be more useful. (TN Snark: Not so much nowadays when degree holders are a dime in a dozen)

Both looked similar, but in fact, they’re different. The ‘academic history’ and ‘life experience as a student’ is different. If I could only choose one, it’d be the latter, but I wanted both.

“After graduating from high school, I want to study in college, and at the same time, continue writing…finally, I’ll choose to work, try looking for other work.”

“Then, assuming that your works become more popular, and you write a lot of them, and for example, you earn a few billion Yen, equivalent to the career earnings of a working adult…will you give up on writing?”

“If that…ends up being the case…I guess I won’t be able to give up on writing. I’ll be relieved that I won’t have to worry about my life expenses, able to write the novels I like, so I’ll feel really happy, just like I am now.”

“I see.”

Was it just me? Nitadori looked relieved when she answered. I really couldn’t understand what others are thinking.

“I feel that it’ll be an idealistic lifestyle for me to be able to live out my life just by writing–nobody knows what is in store in the future. I feel that I have to first seriously consider the situation when I can’t write, or don’t feel like writing. Because of this, I need to do what I can do right now, and I guess that will be writing and studying.”

“I guess–I’ll probably do that too.”

Nitadori finally chimed in.

The atmosphere just feels depressing for some reason.

Normally, a 17 year old boy and a 16 year old girl wouldn’t be talking about such matters, right? (TN Snark: I’ve been talking about this since 14…)

Shouldn’t we be talking about topics where we feel hope for the future, happily discussing our future dreams? Not brood over here, wondering what’ll happen if we lose our jobs? How do we prepare for our lives? And stuff like that. (TN Snark: Life…dreams…hope, where do they come from, and where do they go…?)

No matter good or bad, I do find that we aren’t ordinary.

Of course, we aren’t special either. (TN Snark: That feel…)

 

“Now then, I’m going to change the direction of the topic a little with regards to ‘the next question I want to ask an author’!” (TN Snark: I suppose the last pause is meant for a commercial break to change the mood…)

Nitadori spoke with a cheerful tone, probably intending to eliminate the depressing mood.

I was about to ask her what kind of question she would be asking, but she asked something really ordinary.

“Sensei, where do you live?” (TN Snark: Well, that’s a fastball)

This had nothing to do with being an author.

It’s easy to answer this question.

“West side of the school. You’re able to see a new white building opposite, right?”

“Eh? Is it over there?”

Nitadori blinked her eyes, and I nodded, “Yeah.”

“It’s near school…”

“That’s why I chose to study there…” (TN Snark: My favorite option, wake up 15 minutes before school starts and get there on time. Bread in mouth and crashing into a girl around the corner never happened though.)

 

There’s a somewhat large building less than 100m away from our school. It’s only 3 years old, somewhat new.

Mom and I moved there last December, and before that, we were living next to that library.

The reason why we chose to move houses was because this place was close to school. It would take me 5 minutes to get home from the school back gate.

“I see. The shorter the return time is–”

“The more time I’ll be able to use to write, and mom’s working time is a little shorter.” (TN Snark: For us normals, the shorter the return time, the more time we can spend playing games)

“Well, both aunty and you were able to make this decision without hesitation.”

“It’s a little far from the library, but we got no choice for that. I have enough money to buy my own books, and able to check information on the internet.”

“Did you…buy the house?”

Nitadori’s eyes below the glasses widened as she asked.

“Impossible, it’s rented.”

Besides, I don’t earn that much.

But even so, renting a house was expensive. The real estate agent told me when we rented the house that it was probably the most expensive in the area.

Mom was aghast by the high rental, but was against me paying for the rent until the very end. However, I insisted that this was a ‘must’.

“The reason for that…well…there’s 4–no, 3 of them.”

I nearly blurted out my true thoughts, and corrected myself.

Nitadori did not appear to mind about such a mistake, and instead, asked me.

“Assuming that the most important reason is that it’s very close to school…the other reason is that the rent’s considered as your expense?”

I nodded.

We rented a 4LDK in the building. The 4 rooms include my mom’s room, mine, and a storage room used to put a library of bookcases. The last room is for standby just in case something happens, and currently used as a standby storage for books, since I don’t know when I’ll be using it. (TN Snark: Just build a library for personal use already)

Amongst them, I classified my room and the two storerooms as ‘workroom’. They take up about 40% of the place, so I can classify 40% of the rent and utilities bill within my expenses.

The expenses is a lot, but the tax rebate is also rather big.

Also, I’ll be staying here for at least two years in high school until I graduate. Luckily for me, I have enough to pay it it.

“And after that?”

“For college, I want to aim for Tokyo.” (TN Snark: Now you’re sounding like a countryboy aiming for the city…)

I answered.

“Oh! You decided on it already?”

Nitadori asked happily.

“Right now, I only decided on ‘Tokyo with its literature branch’. Also, the thing about the location is that it’s about an hours ride from the editorial branch.”

“I see! You want to write and study at the same time? I’m thinking of going to college too if I’m not too busy with my work! I’ll choose a school near Tokyo.”

“We’re going to be entrance students next year…but let’s hope we can get in.”

“Yep. But let’s start working hard from now on!”

Ah, this really feels like a conversation any ordinary high school student will talk about. I’m happy about this. (TN Snark: So true…)

Nitadori asked,

“So, two years later, if you decide to move to Tokyo, sensei, what about your mother?”

I replied that it that was the case, mom said that she would move to an apartment near the hospital, one with enough space just for herself.

“I see–so, what’s the last of the three reasons?”

Nitadori managed to guess two of the reasons, and asked me the final one.

“Because I wanted mom to stay in a better house. When I lived in that old apartment, I would hear noises from my neighbors. Mom moved houses next to the library for my sake initially, so I wish to use this opportunity now to repay her. Go to be prompt with it.” (TN Snark: What noises?)

Once she heard my answer,

“Ah! I see… sorry…”

Nitadori frowned once she heard my reply. She looked disappointed in herself, and seemed to be telling herself, “I shouldn’t have done that!”. There isn’t a need for her to do that.

“A-Also, I want to live in a fancy rich house too! That makes it four reasons!”

“Ahaha. Thanks.”

My concern was so obvious, and since she thanked me again, I really can’t calm down.

“E-erm…I chose the highest floor so that I get a nice view! Well, you see, when writing, I need to rest my eyes, and it’ll be great if I can see the hills outside the window!” (TN Snark: Can you see a nice boat?)

“You can see a rather pretty view from the school, but I guess you’ll be able to see something better from the roof of that building.” (TN Snark: Wanna fly?)

Nitadori seemingly recovered a little as she said so. Thank goodness. We continued our conversation.

“Yeah. The view’s really amazing when it’s bright out there. My house is very near school. You can visit whenever you want to.” (TN Snark: Oh?)

“Eh–!? Really?”

Nitadori looked rather surprised, and I answered,

“It’s fine. I don’t have anything to hide anyway.” (TN Snark: Not even your porn stash?)

In any case, this probably is the first time in my life that I invited someone to my house; it’s a good thing that I rented out an apartment. Also, even though it’s not something I may say, but the apartment my mom rented was really old.

“R-really? Ca-ca-can I really g-go-go look at a professional author’s workplace? R-really?” (TN Snark: Popcorn please)

I saw Nitadori’s delighted face, and in my heart, I was feeling confused. (TN Snark: Ah, the tradition of having a dense male lead)

Was there really a need to be so frantic and affirm this over and over again?

My room isn’t located in some famous theme park located on the Tokyo Bay anyway. (TN Snark: No, but you’re Alex the lion to her)

It’s definitely a new, pretty room with a nice view–

Nitadori herself appeared to be some rich person. (TN Snark: And you aren’t?)

I gave up on thinking on whatever I didn’t know, and intended to tell her the main points,

“But I can’t allow it when mom’s sleeping, especially when she’s working on night shift…I guess the best time will be…on days when she’s working?”

“Wh-when she’s not at home! R-ri-right! I-I get it!” (TN Snark: The desire sensor is active on this one)

“…?”

I looked away from her, thinking carelessly. Mom’s duty schedule changes rather often, so I need to be sure first. (TN Snark: You sure you aren’t Snake Plissken here?)

“Ra…”

Suddenly, there was a trail of raindrop appearing outside the glass window, and it multiplied quickly.

“Is that the rain…”?”

The rain instantly got heavy, and the train continued to race through the rain.

There was still some time until sunset, but it was dark outside the window,probably because the thick clouds covered the sky. There were times when rumblings could be heard, and the rain drenched the windows.

The weather forecast was accurate. If the rain is so big now, what about when we reached Tokyo?

I had to travel a bit from the Iidabashi to the hotel, and my legs might be drenched as a result. However, it’s not too far away, and I can call for a taxi.

I felt that it would be easier for me to take this train until the very end and ride on a taxi afterwards, but I decided. ‘As long as this train can get me to wherever I need to, I won’t need a taxi’, so I thought.

I am earning some money, and after deducting some of my life expenses, I will be left with some money. Even if I do occasionally take a taxi in Tokyo itself, I won’t end up spending all my money.

However, I won’t say ‘scrimping is a scourge’, but I do try to save whenever I can. It’s only when I’m feeling unwell that I take a taxi. (TN Snark: You treat money like a video game? So do I.)

 

The train passed a few stops, and the carriage was not as packed as before. I had been to Tokyo a few times till this point, but I guess this should be the fewest number of passengers on board.

There’s still an hour and a hour to the terminal.

I was wondering what she would be asking next. That interviewer was currently in the washroom.

While spacing out, I found this time to be really boring.

And so, I tood up, and took out the ‘Vice Versa’ draft I printed from my backpack.

If this is printed as a book, this will become the 11th volume. The 6th chapter of Side ‘Shin’ is planned to be released on September.

It’s already written, but as long as I have the time, I’ll read through it again, checking through the chapters and thinking of potential plot developments.

With the increase in number of volumes, the plot of ‘Vice Versa’ began to change drastically.

In Side Shin, many countries ended up being subjugated or allies of Sin as he aimed to conquer Reputation. The 7th volume had the Country of Movement providing resources and weapons to Sin as thanks for him saving them. (TN Snark: Just a reminder that the story’s from Shin’s perspective in Reputation, and Sin’s perspective from Earth. It gets confusing, I know.)

Of course, Yui, who had a crush on Shin in Side Sin, started to have feelings for the serious yet kind Sin, started to falter. (TN Snark: Anzu for Yugi?)

Pluto and Sin crossed swords again in volume 9. However, the country that betrayed Pluto sent an assassin onto the battlefield, hoping to kill them. With Sin and Meek’s huge contributions, the assassination plot never happened. (TN Snark: Pluto’s bark is worse than her bite…)

Pluto decided to ally herself with Sin and work together. The war expanded on a larger scale in volume 11, and the two countries fought together.

And so, in this volume, Meek died. (TN Snark: I suppose we can guess why you’re getting strangled)

 

I had planned on Meek’s death for a long time. (TN Snark: And your own death flag)

Speaking of which, in the plot I thought of, basically almost all the homunculus would die. (TN Snark: How? By returning to Father?)

Some of these homunculus would obediently follow their masters and die in battlefield. Some were executed by their Masters for partaking in treacherous acts and assisting rebel leaders.

I too felt that the plot was too dark, but I really created these artificially created beings based on this concept, so I got no choice with this. In contrast, I’ll try my best to avoid letting the other characters die. (TN Snark: Too bad you don’t have actual people dying…)

After seeing that Meek would die in the draft, the editor-in-charge said,

“Meek and Doska are pretty and popular homunculus. Isn’t it better not to let them die?”

I had the opposite thinking though. I feel that since they’re pretty and popular, their deaths will cause an impactful, tragic element to the plot, cooking up the atmosphere of the story.

I guess if fans of Meek and the others are to hear of this, they’ll be enraged.

“Who died and made you king?” (TN Snark: What’s a king to a god?)

They might even say this.

But in my novel–I’m the God. (TN Snark: Until you get strangled)

I created the world, the characters and their fates. The voice actors inject life into them, but the author can kill them.

If I hear that,

“I’m God, so what?”

I guess I might try replying that.

But currently, I don’t have the chance to do that. (TN Snark: Given your personality, I don’t think you dare to either)

 

I checked through the part in the draft where Meek was to die.

At the end of this volume, there would be a massive battle on a wide grassy field between armies of many countries. It would end with Sin, Shin and Pluto’s camps winning.

After they returned to the main camp, Pluto said to Sin, who lost many of his subordinates and two family aides,

“My side lost Meek.” (TN Snark: Well, that went as well as Chico dying…)

And upon hearing that, Shin responded,

“I see.”

Shin in turn,

“…”

Stood there without a word (it wasn’t winter, so he didn’t have his usual muffler on)

Pluto never did mention of Meek’s final moments.

 

When we discussed this volume,

“Is this really okay?”

The editor-in-charge noted; it seemed he was more taken aback then he was during the plot. (TN Snark: More like he doesn’t want his waifu dying…)

Shouldn’t an important character’s death be more vividly described? In a certain sense, this was an expected response.

Then, I mentioned what was in my mind.

Of course, I did think of a valiant, beautiful death, like shielding her master from an arrow, and dying while standing straight up like Musashibo Benkei.

However, I depicted such a death scene for another homunculus.

That was how Dasko would die in the plot later of. When the master was pursued to a narrow corridor, Dasko blocked the enemy’s thrown spear with his abdomen, and laid by the side, blocking the enemy’s pursuit. He continued to fight on until the very end.

Meek’s dead was the complete opposite.

Anyone who read war biographies would know that the deaths on a real battlefield is so merciless, so brief.

Turn a head around, and a comrade’s head was gone. Moving forward, the fellow soldiers begin to disappear. Fly in the air, after the military plans pass through the clouds, one is gone. Think that a buddy’s not hurt externally, and the next day, he’s lying icy cold on the bed.

I feel like I’m writing ‘I dropped quite a bit of pocket change, and I tried to pick it up, but I found that there’s several thousand yen gone, not just a thousand or two.’ What I’m trying to depict is a battlefield where human lives are easily lost.

“Ah, if that’s the case…”

The editor-in-charge agreed with this begrudgingly, and then said,

“But it’s fine if you rewrite that entire part now. Yep, no problems at all.”

I knew very well that he was implying “can you please rewrite this part~?” (TN Snark: Your editor-in-charge is Shinbo, right? Worrying about Sayaka?)

But as long as nothing special actually happens, I won’t change it.

As for what that ‘special’ is–

I didn’t know at all. (TN Snark: Strangle play, of course.)

 

Nitadori returned, and I finished checking through my script.

I put the draft into the large brown draft bag with the words ASCII Media Works, and slipped that bag into my backpack. Before Nitadori sat down, I put the backpack onto the rack.

Nitadori continued to tidy her hair for a while, before sitting down, and said,

“What that…the draft?”

“Yeah. That’s the draft of the 11th volume to be sold in September.” (TN Snark: 9/11…)

“Wow! I want to read it!”

Nitadori lifted her head to look at the rack.

“No can do. Not when I’m watching.” (TN Snark: ‘Over my dead body’ was what I wanted to translate this as, but given what happens later, nah)

“This means…it’s fine as long as you aren’t around, right? Hey, sensei, there’s a trillion Yen at the washroom.”

Of course, I knew that she was joking.

“I see. It’ll take you a long time to hand it over to the police, is it? If you take 10% of that money–please treat me to a beef bowl.”

“I really have to hand it to you–well, I won’t just go around peeking into your stuff, sensei. But if the draft’s stolen before the work’s published, that will be really troublesome, right…” (TN Snark: You won’t peek, so you’ll just read through everything, right?)

Nitadori said, and drank the tea. (TN Snark: How I wish they drank from the same bottle…)

She’s right I thought.

If the bag itself was stolen or snatched away, the situation would be serious.

A laptop contained data, but at the very least, it contained a password. This isn’t the case for a draft though. (TN Snark: A laptop can be hacked, dude. A draft can be reduced to nothing if you splash coffee onto it…sobs…)

If someone with ill intent is to pick up a draft of the ‘Vice Versa’ continuation, what would happen?

“I tried writing a sequel. Everyone, please look at my second work!”

That person would probably post something like this on the internet, I guess?

In that case, what’ll happen to the real draft of mine.

If I release the light novel without changing the work–

“A professional author just copied a work from the internet!”

The readers would probably think this way.

If that’s the case, I’ll probably show the date of the file and sue him in court, maybe? Shall I fill in the report form first? How do I report? With which agency? (TN Snark: I think it’s more likely that they’ll be thinking you’re that poster…)

“Sensei?”

If I have to go for a court case, ASCII Media Works will probably do something, right? The company will pay for what seems to be some extremely expensive lawyer fees, right?

I’ll appear in court in a suit, right? I really want the judge’s gavel that’s used whenever he hits it and shouts ‘silence!’. But Japanese judges don’t actually use gavels, so I don’t know where to get one. (TN Snark: Just get one from Online Shopping or something…)

Or maybe the editorial branch won’t want to context (what they think is) a very troublesome court case, and have a change of attitude, and told me ‘too troublesome to fight a court case! Rewrite this! It’s a chance to make the story more interesting’, I guess? (TN Snark: Given how your editor-in-charge is hoping that you’ll spare Meek, I’m thinking this is more likely.)

“Sensei?”

However, a plot I had been writing for quite a while isn’t something that’s easy to change, right? Won’t I lose the direction if I change it drastically? If the series is to be ruined because of this, what’ll happen to all the hard work I put in till this point?

“Hey, sensei?”

But in that case, I might as well change directions and write ‘Side Sin’ into one endless barrage of comedy, and continue to quietly write 5 volumes of developments that’ll shock the readers. After a while, I’ll switch back to ‘Side Shin’ and continue writing one serious story after another– (TN Snark: sounds like my translation schedule planning)

“Hey!”

Twack! I felt a light hit on my shoulder.

“Hm?”

I turn to the rest, and saw Nitadori seated there, rubbing her right hand with her left. She then muttered,

“Your shoulders…are stiff…”

“Beef?”

“I’m saying that your shoulders are stiff! I’ve called you a few times!” (TN Snark: With how spaced out he was, you could have said ‘your lips are stiff’)

Ah, I see. I guess my thoughts went far away because of my delusions. For a moment, I didn’t know what to say.

“I’m an author…” (TN Snark: And I’m a translator…)

I’m getting a little confused.

“You’re not recovered yet?”

81022

“No, I’m fine, yep.”

“Great! I guess your shoulders are different from a girl’s!” (TN Snark: ワシは男じゃ)

“Eh? Erm, yeah–no, that’s not it.”

I don’t know how soft are a girl’s shoulders, so I corrected myself. (TN Snark: Wanna try?)

And then, I said,

“Erm, where were we at?”

“We talked about the part where ‘what if the draft’s stolen’–forget about this part. Let’s talk about the next question!”

Nitadori said as she regained her smile,

“Sensei, what do you think ‘is important for an author to do’? I think it’s difficult to ask ‘what’s the thing ‘you pay attention to most’. You can say anything you want, as long as you find it important.”

Luckily, she didn’t ask me what’s the most important thing, or else I would have spent a long time thinking about it.

But if it’s ‘important’, I can think of a few.

“First–”

“First?”

“I think I should be studious and make notes. Jot down everything I think of.”

The job of an author is to put everything together, and write it all down into a story. Any point always start with a moment of inspiration.

“When do you get an inspiration?”

“Hm, the answer to that is…’I don’t know’.” (TN Snark: When it comes, it comes)

I answered honestly,

“Hm?”

Nitadori tilted her head.

“To be honest, I really don’t know. There’s always a random moment when I have an inspiration, and when I think about it, that’s the moment of inspiration.”

“I see–so what about when you say ‘right, let’s get down to writing’ and sit in front of the computer?”

“Of course I do…in fact, it’s tougher for me to think of sentences and plot. I feel that most of my inspiration don’t show up at those times though. When an inspiration shows itself, that’s the time to take notes.”

“Then, up till now, when do you start to have ‘inspiration’?”

I can answer that question.

“For example–”

The easiest example would be when I’m enjoying other works. As long as I’m moved by something, I’ll have the desire to directly connect that inspiration with my delusions. This can be said to be my act of ‘taking books as toys’ which I had been doing since young. Right now, I can also turn manga and anime into toys, though recently, I do feel that it’s an act of ‘taking inspirations’.

At the same time, when I’m listening to music, whenever the lyrics or melody gets me excited, my mind will suddenly think of images. I’ll use it as the background music, develop all kinds of delusions, and gain inspiration from it.

Another situation is the complete opposite to this, when I’m spacing out. Like when I’m having a shower, using the bathroom, and, though it’s not a good thing, even during lessons. When I relax, my mind will suddenly come up with ideas. In the past, I would often end up in plot lines where I don’t know how to write, and I’m troubled by it. Most of the inspiration for such plot lines would suddenly appear in my mind when it’s emptied.

Also, it happens when I’m focused on doing other things. For me, I do often come up with inspirations when I’m riding a bicycle steadily on a flat road.

“I see…there really is a variety of them.”

“Hm, so as long as I have an inspiration, I’ll definitely jot it down. I won’t note it down with a pen unless it’s during class; I’ll use my computer or my smartphone and record my inspiration as words. I’ll always tell myself ‘I can’t complain about it being a hassle’.”

“So I guess you’ll forget after all?”

I nodded firmly in response to that.

“Right, because I’ll forget–man’s memory really is unreliable, and everything we think of, we’ll forget. We’ll even forget the points we thought of. The proof of that is that for a certain scene in a certain story, I thought of it 3 times in all.”

“Eh? Why’s that?”

“Back then, I had the idea ‘I thought of a very touching scene! This character had such an experience, so let’s use this!’ and then, I’ll record it in my smartphone. When I’m in my room, ready to enter the same scene into my Word file on the computer, when i open the file–”

“You find that the same scene is there?”

“Yes. That scene exists already. And then, I also mentioned in the file ‘this is the second time I thought of this idea’.” (TN Snark: Override save state)

 

Ideas do appear suddenly.

And then, they’ll vanish immediately. (TN Snark: Gone with the wind)

It’ll be a waste if I don’t record it down properly.

As I said, I might repeat the same plot point a few times–and there are probably quite a few points I forgot.

Thus, whenever I have an inspiration, no matter how stupid it is, I’ll record it down. I’ll record it completely, and keep it safe somewhere so that I can use it in the future.

The senior authors too did say the same thing.

I heard that one senior author would often have ideas whenever he’s driving. He’ll then record it down through voice. He’ll often bring a voice recorder into his car, and have it placed right next to the driver’s seat. It’s said that even without looking, he can tap the record button with one hand.

And as I heard, whenever he’s driving at night or on long distance, listening to music he likes, the moments of inspiration appear more often. This is similar to me riding on my bicycle. (TN Snark: You gotta keep rollin’)

It appears that person does drive around often to change his mood. He would race however he wanted to on a nearby highway in the middle of the night.

I do think it’s kind of cool to drive on the highway in the middle of the night looking for inspiration.

When I’m at the age where I can obtain a license, I do plan to go for driving classes. Thus, I set as expenses for that part.

 

“I see…taking notes…”

Nitadori muttered as she wrote down something on the opened notebook with a little pen she took out. She’s taking notes. (TN Snark: She’s basically going ‘way ahead of you’)

I’m just staring at her, not leaning over to peek. (TN Snark: Staring at where? Her pretty face?)

“Oops.”

But she covered the notebook, and glared at me from beneath the glasses.

She slammed the notebook shut, and asked,

“Anything else? Is there anything that’s important?”

“Well…hm, there is.”

“What is it?’

“It’s a little repeat on what I said before ‘it’s important to be confident in myself’–don’t look down on myself, and whatever I’m writing.” (TN Snark: In other words, writing swag)

 

This was when I was editing the draft of ‘Vice Versa’.

Back then, I was a first year in high school, 15 years old.

When I was working so hard to edit the draft, I suddenly had a thought.

Was this novel really worth publishing?

 

“So…it’s something like being uneasy?”

Nitadori asked. Looking at her expression, I seemed to see a doctor who’s very worried for her patient.

“Right. I really had a thought in my head, whether the novel that appears in my eyes is really suited for selling and earning money. The life experiences I gained in life isn’t enough, so can I really release this novel I wrote based on my reading experiences as a commercial product? Thoughts like that.”

“But…the one who decides on that is the editor-in-charge, right?”

“Yes. But back then, I was so scared that I couldn’t think calmly. Thus, I gave the editor-in-charge a call, begging him tearfully.”

I find it embarrassing, but it was a fact, so I was left with no choice on this matter. Also, when explain this, there’s something else regarding the past I have to mention.

“In the end?”

“In the end–” (TN Snark: It doesn’t even matter)

 

The editor-in-charge,

“In other words, you’re wondering if your novel is shallow?”

Right right. I said this while holding onto the receiver firmly.

“It’s fine to think that way. Just write a novel only you can write at this moment.”

The editor-in-charge was blunt in his response.

 

For an author, life experiences are very important. I feel that many creative works are born as a result for that. (TN Snark: I don’t think there’s much of life experiences to be used when writing Isekai stories, unless they’re taking reference from the genre…)

However, the saying that ‘I can’t write because I never experienced it’ does not necessarily hold true.

No author would create a murder experience for the sake of narrating a killer’s mental state (that’s what I think, and I hope to be the case).

So don’t look down on yourself, and write your own work.

 

I understood very well the meaning of those words said to me as I continued with my work.

Soon after, when I become an adult and read through ‘Vice Versa’ again, I might think,

“So this is the novel I wrote when I was younger.”

But as long as I could think,

“This is a novel I could only write when I was younger.”

It’ll be fine,

“This is an entertainment novel, so if you find it interesting, anything goes. If it’s interesting, the readers will be happy. You’re young, but you’re able to write a fun story–so no matter what, you have to abandon your troubles and continue writing. That will bear fruit.”

The editor-in-charge mentioned this over the phone.

And I too repeated the same words to Nitadori.

 

“I see…it’s really amazing, I feel. For example, if 10 years passed since you started, when you’re 27, sensei, what kind of novel will you write?” (TN Snark: 10 years later, I’ll still want to translate a horror story)

I started to imagine my future in response to Nitadori’s question, an ideal future where I’m successful in anything I do. (TN Snark: For me, my imagination is that you two will get married)

My dream is to continue writing ‘Vice Versa’ and focus on the series as much as possible. Based on the current plan, I feel that it’ll end at 20 volumes or so.

I had already decided on the final developments. When I wrote the first volume, I had a vague idea on what I was going to write for the ending, and after discussing it with the editor-in-charge, the ending was decided.

I don’t know how fast I can continue to maintain my volume releases this year as I repeat it, and next year when I take the Entrance Exams, but in these 3-4 years, I simply want to continue focus on writing ‘Vice Versa’.

If the anime sells out well, I’ll be delighted. If there’s a second season, or even a continuation thereafter, I’ll be even more delighted.

I want to enter college, and study while writing a new series. Right now, I still don’t know which of the inspirations I have that I should use. (TN Snark: Try using your future college experiences, and title it ‘Golden Time’)

And then, after I graduate, I’ll find work–

This is the ideal future I can think of, but of course, the future may not be be that successful for me.

I may end up failing my exams, and if the anime doesn’t gain much discussion, the discs not selling well, and the popularity of ‘Vice Versa’ declining heavily, the series gets aborted before it reaches volume 20, I felt dejected, unable to write the next work.

Or I may end up with some mental or physical disease that made me unable to continue writing or attend school. Worse, I might end up in a fatal accident. I can’t be sure that such things won’t happen to me. (TN Snark: Well…there’s always insurance)

Thinking about this, I don’t want to continue thinking.

What kind of novel? I thought of what Nitadori asked me again, and answered,

“Well…I’ll probably use my past experiences and write a story about college students? Or a story about people working in society? A novel about authors?” (TN Snark: Titled…long title)

“What about a story about voice actors?”

I saw Nitadori say this with a somewhat expectant look on her face, and I had an idea,

“Not bad. The protagonist is a high school girl who works as a voice actress, with long hair, bespectacled–”

“Yeah yeah.”

Nitadori chimed in happily,

“When she brought her dog out for a walk, she picked up a mysterious mushroom, and became a giant. She went around destroying cities while looking for horse sashimi. A giant machine of the JSDF went over–” (TN Snark: SUPERSIZE ME!)

“Right right! I’ll take half of that model appearance fee. Get down to work!” (TN Snark: Suddenly I’m imagining Nitadori as the domimatrix type)

Nitadori threatened me happily,

“I-I’ll try writing this soon…”

Saying that, I reached my hand out for my smartphone, intending to record this idea. (TN Snark: This feels like one of those Pokestudio films…)

 

“Also, is there anything else important for an author?”

“Yep.”

“And that is?”

“‘Stick to the deadline”” (TN Snark: Don’t stick to the deadline? You’re dead)

“It’s here! The ‘deadline’–speaking of which, I never exactly asked about the deadline before.”

I nodded. Now that she mentioned it, I didn’t explain it properly either.

“Now then, let’s explain about the deadline.”

“Please do!”

 

Deadlines–

Of course, it refers to the latest day the novel has to be completed.

Magazines have deadlines. Books have deadlines.

In my case of writing a pocket book–when publishing a book under Dengeki Bunko, when exactly is the deadline?

Most likely, only those involved would know. At that moment, I was frustrated as to whether I should tell Nitadori.

But though I was frustrated, as before, she was someone ‘involved with this work’, (TN Snark: You just want an excuse to share this…)

“Please keep whatever I say now as a secret.” (TN Snark: Thanks for sharing with all the members on Baka Tsuki~)

“Got it.”

I believed her, and continued on,

“The deadline for Dengeki Bunko works would be typically set as ‘4 months before the official release’.”

“Hm…in that case, if the volume is to be released on the 10th next month–”

“In June, that means that I have to finish my manuscript at the end of February.”

“That’s rather early…”

Nitadori muttered.

I too felt this way when I first heard of this. Assuming that the books are to be printed at the end of May, what will they be doing for 3 months? (TN Snark: Start writing the next volume, unless you’re George R.R. Martin)

I only knew of the entire process in the end, so I told Nitadori.

“Well, assuming that I finish the work at the end of February, finish my manuscript.”

“Yes?”

Nitadori opened the notebook, and began to write something. She probably intends to convert the process into a flow chart or something.

“The original draft will become the first manuscript, and as mentioned before, it’ll be sent to the reviewers. They will take about 2 weeks to do that before sending it back to the editorial branch.”

“Oh–that’s long.”

“Yes, it’s very long. A certain author once said that he would plan a very long vacation during that time. If there’s no other work during that time, he’ll be really free.”

“I see. So after 2 weeks…you’ll receive the draft from the reviewers…then your own checks…”

“Author review.”

“Right. You’ll send the author review back to the editorial branch for the second manuscript review, right? How long will it take until it returns to the editorial branch?”

“Typically about a week and a half until 2 weeks. Once the second manuscript is settled, the original will be sent to the printers along with the illustrations. There’s still another 2 months left, so I suppose they could easily print the books with much ease.”

“I see…”

The sound of Nitadori’s pen reaching stopped.

And this would be the end of the explanation about the deadline–as if.

 

“Now that’ll be the schedule for the abnormally ‘obedient kid’.” (TN Snark: What’s with the ‘abnormally’…)

“Huh?”

Nitadori’s glasses turned to me.

“This thing that’s commonly called the ‘obedient kid schedule’.”

I said.

Of course, this term wasn’t coined by me. I heard a senior author say it before, and this is a term that somehow popped up between authors and editors.

“…”

Nitadori thought for a few seconds.

“In other words…4 months before the release is basically the ideal deadline?”

I nodded.

“That’s the case. And there are quite a lot of authors who won’t follow that deadline. They’ll do what we call ‘delaying the deadline’.” (TN Snark: Feels like those students who decide to do their project assignment on the last week possible when it was given for 6 months…)

“In that case…how does the schedule go?”

Nitadori flipped the notebook open, and it appeared she intended to take notes again, but I feel that it’s a little waste of effort.

“I can’t really explain in detail. The schedule will differ according to the author’s progress at that point.”

“…”

Nitadori tucked the pen into her notebook, and slammed it shut. (TN Snark: You can just read this book, Nitadori…)

I continued to explain.

 

I said that the deadline was 4 months before the release.

Those that could abide were obedient kids.

There were really a lot of people who wouldn’t abide by it. If I have to ask which one is more common–according to what I hear, it’s undoubtedly the latter. (TN Snark: Glad I’m not the only one who likes to submit my homework late)

I hear that Dengeki Bunko would first decide on the release schedules within the next half year to one year.

Of course, the plan isn’t really set in stone, but during this time, the editors and authors would have conversations like ‘which volume will be released this month’.

The release schedules is made, partially based on the decision to make promotions, like, (TN Snark: Thanks for being honest.)

“It’s going to be animated, so let’s publish this book on this month”.

“This series has been providing releases every March, so again, let’s set it to March.”

“There’ll be works of awardees published in February, so we’ll release the works of those that won awards in the past”

(Because of this, in every February, the new books would be put together with the winners of that year, and the book collar on it would have the works ‘UU Winner of the XXth OO Awards.” also, there won’t be works of authors like me who did not win any award.)

“In this promotion fair, we shall bundle all the popular works together.”

 

Of course, authors know of the ‘obedient kid deadline’–

But though they knew, they might not be able to do it. (TN Snark: Or they don’t want to)

Sometimes, there was absolutely no chance to make it based on the writer’s speed and the other work at hand. Or I should say, it’s very common.

Amongst them, there’s those that finish the ‘previous work’ on the day before. In other words, they were warriors who would begin writing after the obedient kid deadline.

“Can they make it?” (TN Snark: Yes we can)

“Those are the ones who would ‘make sure to make it’. Because they’re able to make sure the manuscript makes it, even if they don’t rush it, the authors and editors are rather calm, I think.”

 

Every author’s writing speed to complete a light novel volume will differ. Some require 3 months, some require 3 weeks.

However, the common point between most authors is that ‘the closer it is to the deadline, the faster the writing speed’.

A senior author I met at the end-of-year party said before,

“Right! The energy hidden within the body will be released. I can feel the burning flames within my body. I want to pass on this passion to the readers.” (TN Snark: Procrastinators, leaders of tomorrow)

It sounded cool, but I just felt that it was fire lit on his bum. Of course, I did not say that though.

 

“Even if they do delay, I guess…there’s still a limit to it, right?”

What Nitadori asked really made sense.

“Of course there is. In other words, I think that’s the real deadline.”

“So…when exactly is that?”

Nitadori leaned over to me, probing as she asked.

“I don’t know…till now, I never had a problem with the deadlines.” (TN Snark: Showoff)

I never tried to test the limits, so I didn’t know.

“You’re a good kid!”

“Th-thanks.”

“Want me to pat your head?” (TN Snark: Yes please)

Nitadori chirped happily, quickly raising the left hand that’s near me.

“No-no need for that.”

I panicked, and refused her.

It’ll be awkward for me if my hair’s oily. It’s embarrassing to let a girl pat my head after all. (TN Snark: That’s what you’re concerned with!?)

“Really?”

Nitadori looked a little displeased as she moved her hand back to her thighs.

I continued to explain the deadlines.

“According to what I heard at the end-of-year party, it is very common to see authors who are late by two weeks.”

“Are there later ones?”

“There are those cases of dragging on by a month or longer.”

“So in other words, a book that’s to be published in June–”

“It’s not done at the end of February, March passed, still writing in April, that kind of feeling.”

“And they can still make it…”

“To be precise, I think it’s the hard work of the editors that allowed for the books to make it on time.”

“I see.”

“But if in the meantime, there’s the end of year or the Golden Week, there wouldn’t be enough time, so we got to be careful. Many companies will take leaves. This period is commonly called the ‘end of year catchup’ or the ‘Golden Week catchup’.”

 

When an author abides by the obedient kid’s deadline, the editorial branch will have more than enough time to go through first reviews and second reviews–

The longer an author’s manuscript drags on, the more pressing the situation will be. The illustrator, checkers, printers and editorial branch would all be affected.

What I’m going to say next is what I heard from the editorial branch and other authors. Currently, I haven’t done so, and I don’t ever intend to do it.

“It’s said that if the draft drags on for too long…they’ll have no choice but to cut off the second review to make it in time for the progress. Of course, there’ll be a higher chance of errors.”

“What’s supposed to be two checks ended up becoming one check anyway.”

“Yeah. If it drags on so long until it gets serious, they’ll pick up the method of ‘submitting in parts’.

Submitting in parts would refer to a relay of submitting the manuscript.

After an author is done with the draft, he’ll send it to the editorial branch, which is the submitting part. The editorial branch would also hand the files over to the checkers and the printers, and that act itself is also submitting.

Thus, partial submission to refer to,

“It refers to sending over the completed parts because the manuscript is not fully completed (because that bastard of an author just wouldn’t finish it).”

That would be the last resort.

“I see…in other words, try to make sure the manuscript makes it on time, right?”

“If they don’t do it, the volume really won’t be able to be published…but I don’t want you to misunderstand. When they really can’t make it, a professional author will inform the editor-in-charge before hand, asking him to delay the projected release date. Thus, for those that don’t do that, they’ll definitely finish the draft even if they have to stay up for a few days.”

“Oh, just like an author.”

“I’m an author.”

So it’s used in this particular part this week, though it’s a little different somewhere.

Feeling somewhat strange, I continued on,

“I feel that since the editor-in-charge understands this logic, he’ll trust the author. All the matters is that there’s an interesting work written at the end.”

“Phew, hearing that makes me really tense! It’s like ‘there’s still three days! No time to sleep!’ that kind of feeling.” (TN Snark: Now you’re guilt tripping me on the translation deadline thingy)

Nitadori smiled as though she had nothing to do with this,

“I’ll…definitely make sure not to end up in such a situation…”

I muttered.

I don’t want to stay up late to work, and I have no confidence that I can complete my work while staying up all night.

If someone asks me to finish writing a hundred pages in the next 3 days, I’ll probably be crushed by the pressure rising up my head. I’ll think of running away. (TN Snark: And where are you going to run to?)

And thus, this is one place that shows an author’s actual personality.

Some would stick to the obedient kid’s deadline as a target and abide by it.

Some would give up on abiding by the deadline right from the beginning, and would often delay their work by 2-3 weeks.

Some would delay the manuscript such that they’ll submit it a month later.

There is also the possibility of those who would start writing after the obedient kid’s deadline, engage in a skirmish with the editorial branch, and barely manage to make it until 2 months later. (TN Snark: Why are these guys hired again?)

 

I drank my tea, and realized something.

And thus, I capped the bottle, asking Nitadori,

“This deadline thing reminds me of something…I never told you anything about the illustrators, right?”

“No! Sorry–I mean yes, you haven’t.”

And while Nitadori blurted out this strange mistake, I said,

“Alright, how about we talk about this?”

“Please do!”

 

The reason why I would link from the deadlines to the illustrators is that there is also a deadline of an illustrator’s work. If it passes the deadline, the book won’t be released.

I heard that there are cases of the author finishing the work early, but the book was unable to be published because of the illustrator–

Such cases are quite common. When that happens, even authors can’t do anything about it. (TN Snark: So just take a vacation, or continue writing)

This isn’t my personal experience, so let’s leave that aside for now.

The illustrator for ‘Vice Versa’ is someone with outstanding art skills, and works really fast.

That illustrator’s able to match the release dates of mine that are considered quite fast, and whenever it is done, the illustrator would read through the story before providing illustrations of high quality. (TN Snark: Thank you very much, Kuroboshi-san)

That illustrator really helped me out greatly–my heartfelt thanks truly are hard to express.

In light novels, illustrations are important.

It is said that,

“For a work to sell out very well from the beginning, illustrations are key. For a work to sell for a long time, story is key.”

When someone enters a bookstore and sees the cover, assuming that the cover illustrations are really attractive, ‘how active will this character be?’ they’ll be curious and start to read. (TN Snark: Well, the one who won the Koremitsu war in Hikaru wasn’t on any of the covers…)

But after almost two years as a light novel author, I have a slightly different thinking to this.

“For a work to sell out very well from the beginning, illustrations are key. For a work to sell for a long time, story is key, but the influence of illustrations are also very important.”

That is what I think. (TN Snark: The more famous an illustrator, the more likely people will want to pick it up? Sounds familiar.)

“I see…speaking of which, how do you choose an illustrator? Do they go by an author’s wishes and choose one?”

Nitadori asked.

That was also one thing I wanted to know about before I became an author.

“Sometimes, they will go by the author’s wishes. I do know of some authors who are like that. Those authors noticed a certain illustrator on some doujinshi or website, and requested to work with that illustrator, and the editorial branch agreed to it. However, typically–”

“Typically?”

“The editor-in-charge would choose one, and that’s the case for me.”

“I see. So how was it chosen for you case, sensei?”

 

That was during Spring Break two years ago, before I entered high school.

I was desperately correcting the manuscript for the 1st volume of ‘Vice Versa’, and writing the draft for the 2nd volume–

“I think this one’s suitable. What do you think?”

The editor-in-charge sent me some doujinshi released by a certain illustrator, and the web address.

I had a look at the doujins immediately, and back then, I didn’t have internet at home, so i went to look at the website from a cafe.

The first thoughts I had back then was–

“Your thoughts were?”

“To be honest…I didn’t really have much feeling about it.”

Nitadori widened her eyes beneath the glasses, and leaned forward enthusiastically.

“Is that so? –I really like the illustrations of ‘Vice Versa’. I feel that the visuals of the anime are pretty, and has the key features pat down, but I prefer the illustrations in the novel. Ah…please keep this a secret from the anime personnel…” (TN Snark: Now where have I heard that line before?)

“Ahaha, I know–now that I think back about it, I’m able to feel that, yeah, it’s great.”

“Erm…when you saw the illustrations for the first time, how did you answer the editor-in-charge?”

“I honestly told what I was thinking to the editor-in-charge, and then I said, ‘but about the illustrations, I don’t really know. Please decide’.”

“Then…maybe you wanted to say ‘this person can’t do, please switch to someone else’, right?”

“Well, the chances of that isn’t zero.”

And Nitadori said,

“Huh…I’m surprised.”

She leaned her back on the backrest.

“But back then, I didn’t have the time to propose an alternative.” (TN Snark: More like, who else can you think of?)

Back then, I was correcting the manuscript. I ended up correcting the first volume until the 6th manuscript, and after doing so until the end, I was thinking, How is it possible to have so many changes?

“Finally, the editor-in-charge chose that person. That person did provide some illustrations for some single volume financial magazines, but never had experience drawing light novel characters. However, I heard that the illustrator was really enthusiastic, and according to what I heard, the reply to the editor-in-charge was ‘please let me do this!'””

“Ohh!”

“And so, we met once.”

That was in the middle of April, when I was in my first year. Back then, I was finally done editing ‘Vice Versa’.

This illustrator read through the draft of the first volume that was yet to be completed carefully.

And then, the illustrator brought a few rough sketches of the main characters, and basically all the appearing characters too, drawing them to fine detail.

Looking at the illustrations, I thought.

Ah, so Shin and Sin look like this.

 

“Was it perfect?”

“It was a little different–for me, perfect would mean that the illustration fits the imagination in my mind completely.”

“Then…?”

Nitadori looked surprised. Well, I can’t fault her for this. I should have explained beforehand.”

“I didn’t have any character visualization in my mind. All my mind could see were ‘Shin’, ‘Sin’ and words, no clear image.”

“Then…is it the same now? Is it the same now that you’re writing with available illustrations?”

I nodded firmly.

“It’s the same now too. While I’m writing, Shin is ”Shin’–in kanji, it can be written as Makoto. In my mind, Shin isn’t converted into an image, but directly extracted as a word. It has been the case ever since I started writing light novels.”

“Ah…”

Nitadori let out a voice with a stunned look.

It was to be expected. Even I didn’t know why I didn’t have an image of the characters in my mind. (TN Snark: Because you’re not the illustrator like Kamiya)

 

Also, the illustrator helped me out in another way.

And that would be designing the characters’ costumes and equipment design.

“I’m unfamiliar with costumes, so leaving aside the Middle Ages style fashion Reputation had, I just don’t understand…the current trendy clothing. I did buy some trendy magazines for reference…but I still didn’t know. When I was introducing the clothing in those paragraphs, the strange rhythm really was interesting.”

“Hmm, like ‘something’s is a must’, ‘matching of this soft material’, ‘A cute style needed’, and something, like that, right?”

‘Yep yep. That’s it.”

“Then when writing ‘Vice Versa’, the illustrator’s very familiar with current fashion, and designed them for you, right?”

“Right. I’ll write in the draft ‘(clothing design is unconfirmed, leave it to the illustrator)’. Of course, if it’s something related to the plot…for example, the clothing is used for some plot or some foreshadowing, I’ll try my best to think about it. Basically however, I’ll leave it all to the illustrator.”

“And then?”

“The illustrator reads through the first draft, and sends me proposals for the design of the characters’ clothing, either a rough sketch or some information. And then, I’ll edit my draft based on the suggestion.”

“I see…”

 

I drank some tea to soothe my throat.

“What kind of person is the illustrator? All I know is the name.”

Nitadori took out the first volume of ‘Vice Versa’ from her bag,looked at the cover, and asked me.

And then, she looked at the illustrator introduction on the cover flap.

Horizontal words were written on it, the pen name, ‘I live in Tokyo, I love kotatsu and cats’, a ‘I’ll do my best’ to show the enthusiasm, and the web address.

I recalled about the illustrator, wondering how much I could divulge.

The information an illustrator would reveal would differ based on different people. Many would only reveal their names.

I heard that there was a myriad of reasons. They include ordinary working adults, designers, game company staff, animators, and so on. (TN Snark: How do they even find such people…)

There were also those with famous pen names, only to deliberately work with another pen name in light novels. In this situation, some would declare it openly, and some would not, but one could tell who they were through the art style. There were those who were unrecognized, and so at the end of year lucky draw, they would admit ‘it’s me’.

As for the ‘Vice Versa’ illustrator–

That illustrator did reveal some brief personal information on the site, and as far as I knew, would attend doujinshi sales platforms. (TN Snark: Okay, a doujin artist. That’s common.)

Thus, I decided to tell Nitadori about some brief information people would have found out if they really looked into it.

“Of course, the illustrator’s older than me. 20 years old back then, 5 years older than me, so I’m guessing the illustrator is 22 years old now. I heard of this from the editor-in-charge. Typically, an illustrator would be younger than an author, and there many in their twenties.” (TN Snark: Everyone’s older than you…)

“So what kind of person is this illustrator?”

“Hm, simply put, it’s a ‘pretty older sister’. Like–” (TN Snark: Death flag)

“It’s a female!?” (TN Snark: Kuroboshi died for this.)

Nitadori’s reaction was rather exaggerated. This wasn’t a hyperbole; her face was leaning towards me, and she grabbed onto me, ostensibly not letting go. (TN Snark: Oh someone’s jelly)

I retreated as I said,

“Re-really? You didn’t know? –Ah, I see. I guess you really won’t know if you didn’t go to a doujinshi exhibition and meet her…” (TN Snark: Nakajima Yuuka?)

“What kind of person is she?”

‘Well….if I have to say, a pretty lady.”

The illustrator’s a beauty, one of a different mold from Nitadori.

The impression she gives is that of a diminutive person, with a slender figure. When she first met me at the editorial branch and got up to greet me, I was taken aback by how low her eyes were.

The hair dyed chestnut brown was at shoulder length, and I wasn’t sure about the clothing, but in any case, it gave a plain vibe.

My impression of it was basically ‘a new arts teacher’.

Nitadori said as she leaned her body back,

“I-I didn’t know…I thought…it would have been a man.”

“Well, you probably wouldn’t know if nobody actually mention it. She’s able to draw some very cute female characters, and the male characters muscles are ripped too.”

Actually, this illustrator is a muscle enthusiast, but I never told Nitadori about this. (TN Snark: Alright, I’m going to nickname this illustrator Yukari Miyako-san)

Because of that, Sin’s subordinates were all machos.

The characters had no elaborately designed clothes, and based on her preferences, they would show off their biceps, or their calves while wearing shorts (all I wrote in the story was ‘just some ugly men’).

The generals had to be muscular men, and it seemed that was the only part she would not concede on. She once said “there’s nothing prettier than a toned tricep surae!” Just to note, she’s referring to the calves. (TN Snark: Are you illustrating for a light novel or a biology class?)

“Erm…sensei…it’s very rude, but I want to ask something…”

“Hm. What is it?”

“Do you…have to meet that illustrator during meetings?” (TN Snark: It’s very rude, but are you a stalker?)

That’s not the case. In fact, the authors and illustrators hardly meet.

I shook my head, saying,

“No, the discussions with the illustrator is done by the editor-in-charge over the phone. The editor-in-charge deals with the cover, the color illustrations, and where the illustrations are to be. I’ll only request when I have vivid images in my mind.” (TN Snark: No Skype?)

“So after you’re done with your meetings, you two would have a meal with the editor-in-charge…or something like that?”

“We only had it once in the beginning. Back then, we’re so tense that we hardly talked.”

“Do you have her mail address or contact…?” (TN Snark: Now are you his mom or something?)

“I do know–”

“Will you send messages to her?”

“No, of course not. That’s because it’s pointless for me even if I do know her mail address. The editor-in-charge would be CCing the files to her and me anyway.”

“I-I see…”

In fact, the number of times I met the illustrator can be counted with one hand. However, we did talk a lot. (TN Snark: Let’s face it, it’s the illustrator who talked a lot more, right?)

“Two years ago, when I first attended the end of year party, we had a long chat. Neither of us knew of anyone else at the place, so we were at a corner, shivering away.”

“To-together?”

“That’s because when we saw the namecards of the people walking in front of us, we realized that those were really big names. Of course we’ll be terrified. Both of us were going ‘ohh! I found this sensei!’, ‘that sensei’s walking in front of me!” and so on, and that’s how we somehow established the conversation.”

 

At the end of my first year in high school, I attended my first ever Dengeki end of year party. I was really delighted.

As I said before, both of us were nervous right from the start, and intended to stay in the corner the entire time. Let us just watch those authors and illustrators happily.

“Found you!”

The editor-in-charge however dragged us out, and brought us everywhere to greet.

“It’s him! The High School Boy author!” (TN Snark: What are you, some zoo attraction?)

And then, I was going around greeting everyone.

Us rookies, the illustrators and me, went around greeting everyone.

The illustrator’s a beauty, so she’s very popular (amongst the guys, at least).

As for me, I was viewed like an exotic animal, and somewhat popular. Back then, I was so scared that I was frozen stiff, so I couldn’t remember what I said.

During the lucky draw, the illustrator won a portable game console, and for her speech, she said,

“It’s my 4th one, and I think I might break it again, but I’m really happy! Thank you everyone! I’ll try to make sure it lasts until Spring!”

That triggered a massive laughter from the crowd (I heard from the editor-in-charge that she really destroyed it last March. He said that it was not a good thing to use it while having a bath.) (TN Snark: What were you doing playing a game in a bath? Are you Keima!?)

 

“Can I talk a little more about Dengeki’s end of year party?” (TN Snark: Again, you just want an excuse to talk about it.)

I asked.

“Of course you can. Please continue to say what you did with that illustrator in detail.”

Nitadori agreed, speaking with such harsh stare and strange words.

 

Dengeki Bunko’s end of year party invites all the authors and illustrators to participate. Basically, anyone who worked under Dengeki Bunko or the Dengeki Bunko magazine flagship are invited to participated.

The date was on a certain Friday in December, and the location was at a massive plaza located close to the editorial branch in Tokyo.

I, a first year in High School when I debuted, was invited as well.

It was nerve wrecking, but I was looking forward to meeting many of the senior authors (not meeting them face to face though), so I decided to participate.

Dengeki Bunko organizes two gathering events for authors to meet.

The first would be the ‘Dengeki Awards Ceremony’ and the after party. The other would be the end of year.

I did not receive any awards, so I was not invited to receive any prizes. Thus, I was not sure how the award ceremony went.

I heard that there were a lot of people gathered in the hall–including the Chairman and the CEO, and there was a rather solemn ceremony held. It seemed the winners would walk up the stage, receive the trophy, and state their thanksgiving.

I had already debuted by the time I knew of this, and I felt it was a good thing that I did not try to force myself to win an award. I did not tell Nitadori about this.

However, it was said that the winners in that batch would meet and get to know each other, exchanging numbers.

Knowing acquaintances right from the beginning might help one build courage. Those are all my competitors however, so if I can feel the distance between us, I might feel very despondent.

In any case–

I won’t be able to experience such a feeling in my life again. (TN Snark: It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you get there)

 

Back to the end of year party.

As I said a while back, the editorial branch would pay and book a room in a luxurious hotel for me. I would first proceed with the check-in, put my luggage, and then head to the place.

Then, I met the illustrator. As I said, we were shaking in a corner like a borrowed cat, only to have the editor-in-charge grab us by our necks. (TN Snark: A cat is fine too, said the editor)

After we did our introductions and chatted with the senior authors, I realized that everyone was very cordial.

Those that knew that I debuted at 16 would continue talking about this. Those that did not know would be rather surprised.

The first end of year party I had in my life ended in greetings and tensions. On a side note, i did not win any prizes in the lucky draw.

The Dengeki Bunko End of Year party would have a first meeting and a second meeting. The whole thing starts from 6pm, and ends at 10pm.

There would be pamphlets for a ‘third meeting’ distributed in the venue, which some authors and illustrators would attend.

This activity was not organized by the editorial branch, but by the authors themselves.

The participants would ride a bus or taxi to a place a little distant, and have it at a KTV place. It would start from 11pm, and if anyone stayed on, it would last until the morning.

I was interested in it, but I still had reservations participating as a 16 year old. It was a pity, but I gave up on it. (TN Snark: Because you can’t drink…legally)

So the alternative was that I decided to head to the hotel cafe for tea with the illustrator. (TN Snark: So both of you were in the same hotel.)

 

“J-just the two of you?”

“Uh? Yeah. There were a lot of people who couldn’t make it to the third meeting, so a few authors and illustrators came to the same cafe as us…we were the only two at our table.”

“A-and…then? Wh-what did you talk about? Please tell me in detail!” (TN Snark: Well, it’s not bed talk, that’s for sure)

Nitadori seemed exceptionally enthusiastic when the topic was about the illustrator. I said a lot, so I guess I had no choice in the matter.

“We had been talking about the characters in ‘Vice Versa’. Serious topics, I’ll say. I mentioned the image of the characters that would appear later on, and the illustrator drew on her sketchbook…”

“Phew.”

Nitadori was (or appeared to be) relieved. I did not know why she was relaxed at all, but it was pointless for me to talk about it, so I continued,

“Well, the illustrator had to take the last bus ride back home, so we bade farewell. I went back to enjoy the luxurious hotel, and the next day, after a visit to Akihabara, I returned home.”

 

There was something I did not tell Nitadori. Or rather, I could not possibly tell her–

Back then, the illustrator was passionately talking about ‘BL’ (TN Snark: Kuroboshi died for this…)

BL was an acronym for many things, but over here, it refers to ‘Boys’ Love’.

I don’t fully understand what ‘Boys’ Love’ is about–but I guess it refers to a genre that describes ‘love between boys’.

There are many kinds of BL works, including manga, novels and games. I also heard that doujinshis of pairing beloved male characters together and ‘fostering their love’ further were very popular.

My illustrator really loves BL. Well, you can tell from her doujins that she draws those kinds of things, and she continues to draw such things even now.

Also, she really loves Shin and Sin. Her eyes were blazing as she rattled on about this topic in front of the author without restraint, saying that she’s really elated to be able to draw them. (TN Snark: So…no wonder we have both of them on the cover)

It’s rare in light novels to see covers with only male characters. It appeared that she’s very enthusiastic to be able to draw such covers.

“But I can’t draw doujins of Shin and Sin now. It’s so sad…” (TN Snark: I’m so expecting the title of a doujin to be called ‘The Garden of Sinners’)

It was said that the editor-in-charge warned her sternly when they first met.

“Looks like I can only buy them. This is so sad…”

I heard that as long as there’s doujinshi of ‘Vice Versa’, she would desperately ask her acquaintances to buy them for her. Apparently, she would pray to the stars, hoping for the actual work to be popular, to increase in reputation, and result in an increase in doujins. Recently, I also heard that she was dancing in joy when she heard news of an upcoming anime.

“Even if my arms are snapped, I’m going to draw them with my mouth! Please keep writing!” (TN Snark: This reminds me of how Miki Tamano is always at the top of the food chain in Baka Test…)

Well, she’s requesting me because of such reasons.

To be honest, I don’t understand that realm. She was really scary when she was passionately talking about BL– (TN Snark: It’s the shadow realm)

But there was no doubt that she really had ‘love’ for the work, and was able to finish it in an outstanding manner.

 

“Of course, I attended the Dengeki end of year party last year.”

I couldn’t say the real identity of the illustrator, but I talked about what happened the previous year to Nitadori.

Same as before, I went to the end of year party in Tokyo, stayed there, and returned home.

“Last year, the illustrator and I went to the third meeting together. That had something to with me taking a break from school back then, and I personally felt that it was fine for me to stay out until morning. I had fun.” (TN Snark: Your definition of fun doesn’t sound convincing…)

That was 5 months back. There were a lot of things that left quite a deep impression on me, so I really remembered them well.

The first and second parties were the same, and this time, I did not win anything in the lucky draw.

The difference was that for the first time, I met the authors who debuted the previous year.

Of course, everyone else was older than me, but as an author, experience wise, I was of an earlier batch. There were some who read ‘Vice Versa’ before they won awards. They were all shocked to know of my age. (TN Snark: Well, next door, we have a light novel author and a younger sister who’s his illustrator. Not sure how that works out, but okay)

And then, when I participated in the third party–

It was really messy, and at the same time, interesting.

The location was a wide dining room in a massive karaoke room.

The senior authors led the rest by dividing into different groups, and we took the bus to the location. Some also took the taxi there.

There were approximately 50 authors and illustrators who took part, and it was a blast.

At first, everyone would introduce themselves and say a few words, and the organizers would collect the entry fee, and toast to everyone. The editorial branch prepared namecards during the first party, so at the third one, everyone continued to use the same one. If not, we wouldn’t be sure who was who.

Those that wanted to go sing would visit the karaoke room, while those who wanted to talk could continue to talk there.

I waited in the dining room until the first bus arrived, so I spent quite a long time with a few senior authors.

I talked a lot about being an author, and I heard–a lot of gossip I really shouldn’t mention here.

On a side note, a few authors appeared to have assumed that I was a female before the end of year party last year. (TN Snark: Are they so desperate?)

Also, only my age was revealed, so a few of them thought of me to be some ‘pretty high school girl author’ or something. Where did the ‘pretty high school girl’ come from?

I learned of the experiences of the other authors, the details they did not divulge in their personal information.

Everyone had different experiences. We’re all professional authors, but some were of the working class, some debuted in college, some graduated successfully, some chose to drop out, some had to write and hide this fact from their company (so they could not appear in public at all), and some were public servants who worked after having been granted approval from their superiors. (TN Snark: Ah, Mizuki Nomura, her work, and writing stories)

I was moved. Authors too had their means to survive.

And so, I honestly said that everyone had unique experiences.

“You have a unique experience yourself too!”

Everyone retorted. (TN Snark: Are we in Kansai or something?)

I’ll explain beforehand that ‘those things I heard from the other authors’ and told Nitadori afterward were basically all from the conversations back then.

At the third party, not all would be here to chat. Some would have a toast, and then head to the karaoke room, never to return. (TN Snark: Go now, if you want it, another world awaits you)

It seemed that they would start singing from 11pm or so, until past 7am the next day. How much do they like to sing? (TN Snark: I don’t know. You can say the same for drinkers)

Some authors too would toast, and after that was done, bring out their game consoles to play a monster hunting game or something. They were yelling happily, giving serious looks as they pursued the enemies. (TN Snark: And btw, there are light novels of Monster Hunter written under the Famitsu Bunko label)

I found a few authors gathered around the dining table, distributing cards. They then lowered their heads suddenly, closed their eyes, and patted their thigh with one hand.

I was surprised, and wanted to ask if there was a strange ritual about to begin. Only then did I realize that it’s a card game where the participants are to determine who’s not the alien amongst them. (TN Snark: I think a Blind Man’s Bluff will be more hilarious though)

All I knew was the name of the game. Patting the thighs consecutively was to bluff the other players by masking the sounds when raising hands.

We could stay until morning, or not to do so.

Including my illustrator, a few of them took the last ride home. Those that came from afar gathered in droves and took a taxi back to the hotel. They would then hand over their namecards to the organizers.

I got along with a certain senior author I met at the editorial branch, so I participated in all kinds of conversations, getting to know more authors and illustrators.

At midnight, everyone was feeling hungry, since the dinner from the first two parties was long over. (TN Snark: And no drinks?)

And on the tables,

“Right, let’s eat something!”

There would be large plates of food and sweets served, along with juices and alcohol for anyone to drink to their hearts content. (Even so, there won’t be any situations of a savage drunkard looking for trouble, or anyone coercing a non drinker to drink).

After 3am or so, a certain author was completely drunk and collapsed on the sofa, sleeping blissfully. (TN Snark: This really feels like it belongs to some manga scene or something)

And another author saw this, giving a serious look, saying,

“Hey…you got to be kidding…he’s just…sleeping.”

Another author said,

“He’ll murder his characters in his work without mercy. Only when he’s sleeping does his face look like an angel’s.” (TN Snark: Is that Shiden Kanzaki…?)

“Yeah…don’t write the word ‘meat’ on his forehead? Don’t do it, okay? Don’t do it.”

“We won’t. Aren’t we authors? If we want to write, we’ll write novels.” (TN Snark: Don’t turn him into Angra Mainyu…)

“You’re right. Anyone brought a pen?” (TN Snark: You’re an author. You’re expected to have one)

“Are you going to write?”

“Writing on the body…I think I’ll write a really short prose, maybe? Everyone, let’s work together.”

“So the ending is that the editor says ‘Well written, let’s submit this draft’, and whisk that guy away?” (TN Snark: Take a photo of him and snapchat it to the editor)

“No–we’ll just forget to write on the ears and spare them.”

“Then it should be the other way around.”

In fact, for precaution sake, nobody wrote anything.

I took the first bus back to the hotel. Of course, this was the first time I took the first Tokyo bus ride on a Saturday.

Once I got back to the hotel, I spent till it was past 11am. I quickly had a shower, checked out at noon, and left the hotel. (TN Snark: And you never stated what you did after that.)

 

Having heard everything, Nitadori sounded amazed, saying,

“It seems like you enjoyed yourself a lot…”

She really seemed envious.

“I really did. I’m looking forward to the end of year party this year too. Those that debuted this February will probably be participating too.” (TN Snark: Well, I don’t think there’ll be rookie hazing…)

“By then, you’ll be ‘an author with an animated work’.”

“Ah, well…that kind of gathering isn’t discriminated based on age and experience. The authors with animated works aren’t those that would put up a front.”

At the very least, I felt that nobody would act boastful in front of everyone. Looking at the current phase, it’s a little delusional of me, but I hope to become that kind of person.

 

The train continued to rush forward in the rain.

This track would often pass by mountainous areas and tunnels, so if the rain was too big, it would stop to avoid any potential rockslides–currently, there was no problem or error to be seen.

I had a look at the watch; there was still an hour to the terminal.

I told Nitadori that there was still enough time to answer some questions.

“Then–please talk about the animation.”

Nitadori chose this question out of her notebook, probably to add on from what we were talking about. She then continued,

“Being an author is already a rare thing, but I guess an author whose works are made into an anime is rarer, right?” (TN Snark: Will you like to call them rare or medium rare?)

“Well..I guess.”

It’s not an uncommon sight recently for light novels to be adapted into an anime. Even so, for all the light novel authors, such authors were a minority.

“So please state everything that happened, from when you learned that an anime was to be made till this point. Ah, before that…for an author, how important is it for his work to be animated?” (TN Snark: Always)

 

I feel that for a light novel author, it is a dream to have one’s work adapted into an anime.

First off, I’ll simply be delighted that my work is adapted into a video. It’s impossible not to be happy about seeing my own created characters being able to move and talk.

Speaking of which, I have the feeling that light novel authors aren’t the type that would hate anime, had no interest in it, or never did watch a single one (there are always exceptions, so I can’t be sure).

Also, the work’s popularity would surge instantly because of an anime airing, boosting the sales of the books. This obviously will cause the author to be delighted.

Once it is decided to be animated, what ‘benefit’ is there to an author?

I shall summarize what I heard from the senior authors.

“First off, the published works will be reprinted at an unprecedented rate, and they’ll be attached with ‘anime confirmed’!’ book collars.”

Nitadori nodded.

“I see. The sales volume will increase, right?”

“Yep. In the anime shops, they’ll be placed under the ‘to be animated corner’. Ah, placed here would mean that the book covers will be shown up. The cover illustrations would leave a deep impression, and it’ll be a big boost for the light novel sales.”

“There’ll be an increase in the number of new readers, right?”

“Yeah. Also, once the anime airs, there’ll be a massive reprint if it becomes a hot topic. The original work itself has to sell well, but even so, it seems that those who know of the work through the anime is far more than the original readers. The print volume can increase by 2, 3 times…I heard that if the anime is a runaway success, the sales volume of the original work will skyrocket further.”

“That’s amazing!”

“What I said is the dazzling advantages to it though…of course, I heard of the disadvantages.”

“Oh?…what are they?”

 

First off, the workload required would increase drastically.

There would be script and setting checks right from the beginning, and then there’s a need to watch the After Records, a need to attend some events sometimes, and also, create a special edition noel that is bundled with the DVD or a similar kind of media.

The publisher wants to make sure the volumes are released along with the airing of the anime, so the author has to write new volumes in the meantime, which means the actual workload would increase so much, it can be rather suffocating.

“Of course, I do find it interesting at times, and I feel that some authors won’t feel troubled by it. What’s more scary for an author is…”

“‘Scared of’, as in?”

“I heard that there are cases of the anime ending without being highly discussed.”

 

I watched all kinds of anime, so I understood.

As for what kind of anime would be famous, runaway success, or not at all–

Nobody would know until the results were out (the official airing).

For example, even if an outstanding production team and famous voice actors are gathered, and massive promotions are made, there is no guarantee that it would be popular once it aired.

The anime that was adapted from my own novel might end up buried amongst the many anime aired every season without showing much of a success. I would say that most anime would be of such a case.

When the anime adaptation of the light novel an author writes isn’t popular, and when the DVD and BD sales are low, it’s hard to hope for a massive leap in print volume.

But this was still okay.

“The most worrying is when…an anime is complete just like this, the popularity will decline–this is what they call ‘Owakon’.” (TN Snark: Better for no popularity than declining popularity?)

I noted with a tragic tone.

Nitadori tilted her head, asking,

“What is ‘Owakon’?”

“Well, it is a shortened form of ‘Owatta Contents’, which basically means ‘Content that is over’. It means something that’s no longer popular, that nobody actually paid attention to. It seems it was used as an internet lingo, and for those in the authorship industry, it’s a vexing term, to say the least.” (TN Snark: Reminds me of how it was used for Endless Eight)

“I see…so, well…it’s not a nice thing to say, but for an author, making an anime is a massive ‘gamble’, right?”

I nodded firmly.

I heard the same thing from the other authors. Now that I’m in this situation myself, I too felt the same.

Once the anime gets popular, the work would increase, and the harvest would return massively, so much that it’s enough for anyone to not think of the increased workload as anything much.

But if it doesn’t–

“Thus, an author can choose not to put in bets at all. In other words, a decision to refuse making ‘an anime’. This is an important series I’m making, so rather than being an anime that’s not popular like many, I might as well reject it outright.”

“Really…I guess such people do exist, right?”

“I do hear of such people too, but I don’t know who they are. However…”

“However?”

“That’s undoubtedly the minority.” (TN Snark: Is that you excusing yourself from having a Kino Season 2, Sigsawa?)

 

I too was jumping up in joy when I heard news of an anime.

Of course, after all kinds of investigations, and having heard of many things, I understood very well that it was a kind of betting.

But even so, I decided to call.

“Hm, good job!”

The one beside me now praised me.

“Th-thanks.”

“Thanks to you, I’m able to look forward to working like this!”

“Ahaha, now that you mention it, that’s the case.”

“And now I heard some really precious things from you, sensei! Now then, please explain everything that’s to be done after agreeing to make an anime–when did the anime news come, and how did they reach you?”

 

When does an author know of an anime to be made, and how? I don’t really understand how it goes normally. I’m starting to wonder if there’s a fixed format to this myself.

As I said before, I heard of this news last March. In other words, 1 year and 4 months before the official airing. (TN Snark: How long is the time between anime announcements to the moment they air?)

On a certain Friday in March, I was summoned to the editorial branch.

There was no other meeting to be held, and no need to revise through the draft, so I was worried, wondering what it was about as I went to the editorial branch. After I got there, the editor-in-charge said,

“We received a proposal to adapt ‘Vice Versa’ into an anime.” (TN Snark: Did they discuss this through mahjong or something? If that’s the case, I’m in)

And then, as I said, I gave the okay.

 

A week later, on a certain day.

I went back to Tokyo, and in the editorial branch, I met the people who would take care of me for the first time. Currently, I do feel taken care of.

On a side note, it was snowing on that day.

I felt that there would be an incident as long as there was a huge snowfall in Tokyo, like the ’47 Ronin’, ‘Sakuradamon Incident’, and ‘February 26 Incident”. (TN Snark: Planting death flags for yourself? How appropriate.)

Of course, this was a coincidence, but I was feeling uneasy yet hopeful when I went to the editorial branch–

I nearly slipped at the entrance. The tiles there were slippery when wet. (TN Snark: If you died because of this, that’s not an incident, that’s a plan for you to be reincarnated into Reputation)

There were three men discussing with the editor-in-charge in the editorial branch.

They were the producer in charge of planning, the supervisor (tentative at that time) who was in charge of anime production back then, and the writer in charge of series composition who decided upon the framework of the series.

Everyone is older than I am, and they produced many anime work I am familiar with. I was very nervous.

And it seemed they were surprised when they met me for the first time.

 

The discussion during this meeting was on how to produce ‘Vice Versa’ as an anime.

The length of the anime was decided by the number of episodes, and also, the number of cours that was indicated by seasons. (TN Snark: Of cours)

Each cour is a quarter of the year, in other words, 3 months. When an anime airs for a cour, the number of episodes would be from 12 to 13. If there is a need to air 2 cours, the number of episodes will double.

The anime ‘Vice Versa’ was expected to air for one cour, 13 episodes in total.

The series composition writer told me that the plan was to end the anime at the second volume.

In other words–

First half would be Side Shin.

The second half would be Side Sin. (TN Snark: Again, Side Shin is from the Earthling POV. Side Sin is from the Reputationist POV)

 

“After hearing that plan…I was really, really happy about it!”

I expressed my excitement.

“Why?”

“That’s because if they could convey a volume of work in 6-7 episodes, there is no need to rush.” (TN Snark: Cries at other adaptations)

“How do?”

“Till this point, I’ve seen a few light novels adapted into anime…anyone who watched the original work would have a feeling that ‘yeah, the anime’s running too fast’.”

It appears that I’m not the only one with such thoughts; it’s said that the other authors had similar thoughts. Some would feel that the anime was too rushed, and in contrast, some would say that they’re lucky their work was slowly and carefully made. Of course, I can’t say who they are.

“In other words…there are many plot points that will be omitted in the anime?”

“Right. I do often feel that ‘the plot’s moving too fast’. I found that there were many unique interludes in the original work, but they were all cut out. Of course, I can understand that in terms of production, it was something that had to be done…even so, I felt that the progress was too fast. Too quick to digest.”

Of course, I felt that the production team would argue back.

“That’s not compression, that’s distillation.” (TN Snark: Yeah, and I’m not a lolicon, I’m a feminist)

Or,

“Tempo is the most important thing in an anime. Without plot progression in a show, the viewers will be sick of it.”

And the authors would be speechless.

I did not know which side was better.

But when I heard that the anime ‘Vice Versa’ would be carefully made till the second volume of the original work, I was really happy.

 

Of course, they asked me the planned release schedule.

The editor-in-charge had decided that the fourth volume would be released in April, and the fifth to be released in June.

After that, we didn’t know–

And the producer said,

“Currently, it is hard for us to say, but as long as the anime becomes a hit, we’ll naturally consider making a second season, or a ‘second cour’. We hope that the original work will continue to sell well, for with more copies so, we can think of the second cour as a two season production.” (TN Snark: And as we saw for an anime, EXPLOSION!)

Bam.

“What’s that sound?” (TN Snark: The sound of an explosion)

Nitadori tilted her head.

“That’s…the sound of the ‘switch to quit high school’ in my mind.”

“You can’t do that! –speaking of which, you never did.”

“Well yeah…as history proved.”

“Ahaha!”

The changes in Nitadori’s facial expression was really interesting.

“Men will tell the truth from the background.”

“Ahaha!”

 

After that, it’s as what everyone knew.

I had a discussion with my mom and the editor-in-charge, and decided to take leave from school.

From the middle of March onwards, I was able to make use of entire days, and I began to write the continuation of ‘Vice Versa’ enthusiastically. In fact, at this time, the plans for an anime might go bust.

“Really?”

“It’s said that plans for an anime often stall. Reason wise, if it’s not because an author is suddenly angered and rejected it, or that it’s an issue on the production side…I’m not too sure on the details myself.” (TN Snark: 変な話)

“But the anime ‘Vice Versa’ is already made to such an extent.”

Nitadori smile, saying this

“I’m really…glad. I heard that if there’s something major that shocked society, an anime that would remind people of that particular incident would be delayed…but I guess ‘Vice Versa’ is fine.”

“There’s probably no one in reality who visited another world anyway–now then, next question. How much assistance have you provided for the anime production till this point?”

 

How much does an author need to assist when participating in the anime production? I feel that this question will depend on the work and the author.

For participation, it can be classified as two ways,

“Do the bare minimum of checks.” (TN Snark: MAENO!!!)

“Help as much as my time allows.”

I chose the latter.

I had a lot of time due to my leave from school, and the writing of the continuation was going well, so chose to do that.

Most of the animation companies seemed to be located in Tokyo.

It was said that currently, anime is made digitally, and the data can be exchanged through the computers, so the company need not necessarily be in Tokyo. But even so, many companies were located there.

Thus, the production meetings of the anime ‘Vice Versa’ were also held in Tokyo. To attend the script meeting, I did visit their production office that was located somewhere in Tokyo.

As the words implied, the meeting was a discussion on the script.

Everyone read through the original work, and would look through the script written by the main scriptwriter, giving suggestions to improve.

Such meetings would be held once a week, so I would visit Tokyo every week, on the same day. It was around this time, last year when I first went to such a meeting, and I felt nostalgic thinking about it. I don’t know how about it goes for the other anime, but I heard that the entire production speed for ‘Vice Versa’ itself was one of the faster ones. (TN Snark:You just don’t want to say that it’s the fastest one for fear of being a showoff…but then again, nobody knows how fast is the fastest in such situations, right?)

During the script meeting, what I had to do was to make requests from the viewpoint of an author. However–

“To be honest, there’s practically nothing to be picky about.”

“That’s because…the lines weren’t really omitted, right? I checked the script and the original work, and found that the dialogue was hardly cut off. There was a change in scene order though.”

“That’s right.”

As expected of Nitadori, who read through the original work and the script.

“All I did at most was some minor tweaks, like ‘a little mistake in the terms’ used, and also ‘I hope this character won’t do this thing, since I’m planning to use this as a foreshadowing in future volumes’. Unlike the original work, the first episode of the anime had the scene of Shin and Sin in a battle against Pluto. This edit was really exciting…and I was really impressed.” (TN Snark: Musashino Productions, good job)

“Yeah.”

“So I attended all of the script meetings. All I can say is that this is a really precious experience that allowed me to truly experience the talents of the series composition writer, the scriptwriters and the anime producers. I was really looking forward to every single week, and I learned a lot of things too.”

“I see–besides that, have you provided assistance in some way?”

“Hm, after checking the script, I need to check the settings and design.”

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The editor-in-charge would attach pictures in the mail messages, or tell me the download website. Some were character or weapon designs, and some were background design.”

I would look through those pictures and check. There were a lot of characters appearing in ‘Vice Versa’, so the data was massive.

But I was happy. (TN Snark: You masochist)

Shin and the other characters retained the flair of the illustrator, refined into linear art. Also, there are characters who did not appear in any of the illustrations.

“In that case…what happens?”

“Actually, the illustrator would come up with a few sketch images based on my words. Leaving aside the very unimpressive side characters, she drew all the characters that appeared a few times in the story! I’m really grateful!”

“Heh! That’s amazing!”

Nitadori’s eyes were blazing. I know it’s an expression, but in my eyes, the brown eyes beyond the lens were really dazzling with light. (TN Snark: She’s gonna be Cyclops)

“The illustrator is also in charge of checking the character designs. If there are disagreement in opinions, I guess I’ll back off, but we haven’t had any disagreements in opinion.”

And so, the residents of the world of ‘Vice Versa’ were dyed vibrantly in a similar artistic flair, refreshed as they entered the world of animation.

Meek in the anime did look really different, and two daggers were added for her design.

The two daggers had an elegant design, like an Athame. The blades had large handguards with lumps over them so that they could be used to beat enemies up and damage them.

They looked pretty, and yet savage, a really amazing design.

 

“I’ll also participate in assisting one of the work ‘locahun’. This work is to be done before checking the script, so actually, the order’s reversed, sorry.” (TN Snark: So instead of MonHun, we have LocaHun. Is there something called LocoHun?)

“Locahun refers to ‘Location hunting’, right? That’s like looking at filming locations for a movie.” (TN Snark: Aria…)

“Right. But I heard that it’s English localized into japanese.”

I learned of this term in the book, so when I asked, Nitadori nodded,

“In English, it is ‘location scouting’, right?”

“I see…”

The ‘scout’ here would refer to the ‘scout’ in ‘boys scout’. I checked on it before, so I remembered. It meant ‘investigating’ or ‘inspection’. I felt that rather than ‘hunting for a location’, ‘checking out the location would be a more appropriate term in conveying the meaning. I think the portmanteau should be ‘LocaSca’. (TN Snark: Of course it’s ‘scout’ as in ‘boys scout’. What do you want? A Schmidt Scout? I’m disappointed that you didn’t make a gun reference here, Sigsawa)

“But the anime won’t be using locations that were actually taken, right? Or?”

Nitadori made a valid question. That’s basically it, I answered.

“Of course, the anime is different from a live action movie, and we won’t necessarily be filming there–”

I heard that recently, a lot of anime productions would head to the location that forms a model, and take a large number of photos and videos. That data would be used mostly for background art. Sometimes, the DVD or BD would have a special video involving those places.

When scouting the location with the producer, directors, art supervisor and the artists, I would lead the way. The setting in ‘Side Sin’ was directly based on the town and area I lived in.

When writing the light novel, I would change the terminology completely, so the name of the town was completely fictional.

However, there are those that would recognize the place through the various descriptions. Looking at the readers’ thoughts on the light novel, some are able to say the correct answer ‘this is definitely the place. The reason being…’. (TN Snark: This ain’t a detective drama…)

The basis of the high school Shin and Yui studied at was–not the high school I studied at in my first year, but a private high school I could see from the library. I was a middle school student when I first started out as an author after all.

The staff did not enter the school, merely taking pictures of the scenery they could see, of those who were headed to school, and so on. The artists would not follow exactly when they draw the background, but would modify the scenery greatly.

As for how the inside of the school looked in the second volume, I did use my middle school as reference.

In the anime, the layout of the school was similar to the high school I studied in, but my middle school wasn’t taken as a reference. It was said that the interior of the high school was simply ordinary. (TN Snark: That’s like saying that there’s no need to to research a classroom because they’re all the same…)

Shin’s house was designated at a certain high class residential area in the same town.

Closest to that place was many beautiful residential houses that were just built up from farm land, and Shin’s house was one of them. We went there on a rental minivan, and took photos and videos of that place without disturbing anyone else.

Shin and Yui’s houses were located near a park. Even though we went to that area, we couldn’t find such houses.

Of course, the ancient castle that is the symbol of my hometown appeared too.

“This castle is great! I’m going to set camp here one day!”

The location where Sin lifted his head to look at the castle and yell that with emotion was established beforehand too. Through videos and photos, we recorded the Tenshu from the position Sin stood at.

“Sensei, please try shouting from there like Sin did.” (TN Snark: You broke it, you bought it)

The director told me, the guide to do so. Just standing there was fine, but I would pass on the shouting. Speaking of which, the difference in height between me and Sin is too great.

The train station we took our rides from would also become a scene in the anime.

There was a description of the platform and the inside of the train in the novel, and of course, there were large posters of female characters from the original story placed on both right and sides of the train carriage. I heard that the production team had obtained permission from the transportation company to do so.

If the anime became a great hit, would there be colored wrappings of of Shin and Sin on the trains…? Would a voice actor take over as announcer on the train broadcast? If that became the case, I’ll be really happy, but I’ll feel awkward when it comes to riding on the train.

“Then! When the anime reaches ‘Side Sin’…”

Nitadori noted happily, and I followed up on her words.

“There’ll be a lot of scenes that we saw before.”

“Wow! I’m really looking forward to it!”

“Something worth being happy about is that once the anime becomes a hit, there’ll probably be an increase in number of people going on ‘Pilgrimage’.”

“‘Pilgrimage’?” (TN Snark: So are we Puritans heading to America?)

“Well…that refers to the fans happily visiting the places where the anime is set.”

“Ah, it means visiting the locations? That’s such a grand way of calling it!”

This term really is that exaggerated. I guess it’s because the religious knowledge the Japanese have is a little weaker, so anywhere can be considered ‘Sacred Grounds’. Some might even think ‘well, it’s not just the Japanese who might feel this way’.

Leaving that aside,

“There’s a lot of ‘Sacred Ground’ all over Japan. The number of visitors will increase because of an anime, and some might use them to develop the towns.” (TN Snark: Guilty as charged for visiting Nishinomiya)

“Then when the anime becomes a hit, will you be appointed as a tourist ambassador and be hailed by the town council, sensei?”

Nitadori asked happily. I never thought of such things before.

The possibility…might not be zero–

“If that’s the case, I’ll definitely refuse…I’m going to escape, even if it means moving houses…”

“Eh–that’s a pity!”

No no, not at all.

“Instead of me..how about you be it, Nitadori?”

“Eh? What do I do?”

Looks like Nitadori’s a no go too. (TN Snark: Neither of you are Mikoto Misaka, or Misaka Mikoto. Argh, Western naming conventions…)

 

Back then, besides sleeping, I was checking on the anime and related information, writing future volumes without stopping.

From Summer to Autumn last year, as far as I remembered, I hardly went out, besides heading to Tokyo.

Since I was basically cooking for myself, I could do some simple dishes, so at most, I merely went to the nearby supermarkets for ingredients, or cycle to the shopping mall that was slightly further (there is a bookshop inside too). (TN Snark: The last part is the main reason. Now, if only you can eat books)

Maybe the people living nearby would gossip,

“There’s a tall son living in that house, right? If he’s not going to school, I wonder what he’s doing…?”

“That’s a ‘shut-in’ that’s common nowadays, right? That’s disgusting. I hope he doesn’t start killing animals or something.”

Or have similar discussions. (But it’s just my delusion, I guess) (TN Snark: The ‘tall’ part is good enough to dismiss it as a delusion)

“Actually, I did kill…”

“Ehh!”

“Shin and Sin in the story.” (TN Snark: OMG! They killed Kenny! You bastard!)

“What the…that shocked me…”

“Sorry.”

 

The assistance work in producing the anime included attending script meetings, LocaHun, and design checks.

“Speaking of which, how are we going to handle the image content checks?”

The editor-in-charge asked me when I was done with the above described work.

That referred to the grids that explained how the produced visuals would be displayed through illustrations and script. Basically, the images would be aligned vertically, and there would be the explanation and timeframe designated on the right side. It is commonly known as storyboard. (TN Snark: Oh Shirobako, how I missed you)

This storyboard can be said to be the layout of the anime scenes and actions. The pictures would be drawn based on the storyboard.

“I don’t think I’ll reject any of it, but I want to have a look.”

I answered. As there time was constrained, the editor-in-charge agreed on the condition that I had to ‘reply immediately’.

I was really happy seeing the storyboard the director drew in data format.

Just being able to see a real storyboard alone was exhilarating for me, but there was no way I couldn’t be delighted with the storyboard having my own work drawn on it.

Starting from Shin, Sin, Pluto, Meek to the other characters, it was amazing how they could move like this, and thinking about it

The only nitpick I had was that a certain warrior’s master hand was often mistaken.

 

During the process of the anime production, the storyboard would be made into a layout, and then made into an anime. THere was nothing left for me to check, so I suppose this would be the end of the explanation.

“Would you pick the voice actors…or visit the auditions, sensei?”

Nitadori asked, sounding a little terrified,

Hearing her say this, I believe such situations do occur. I answered.

“No, I didn’t. When the editor-in-charge asked me what I intended to do, I stopped at that point. I like anime, and I have beloved voice actors–but I feel that I’m unable to choose someone appropriate.” (TN Snark: Let’s face it, you don’t want the images of your waifus to be ruined, right?)

“I see…so you never nominated for anyone you hoped to voice?”

An actor say indicate his hopes to some extent, and voice out the impressions he hopes to have from some people. I was asked on that matter too, but–

“I gave no opinion at all. This is the only part where I feel that I can trust the director and sound supervisor. It would be better for them to have full authority.”

“So…when you visited the After Record yourself, what did you feel…?”

Nitadori’s involved in this, so she sounded a little pessimistic as she asked that.

“Those who believe shall be saved.” (TN Snark: Have you become a missionary or something? Francis Xavier?)

I answered clearly.

And then, I saw Nitadori smile.

 

I did reject another work too.

That’s composing lyrics.

The company would create image songs for the anime characters to sing, character songs. They would seek my agreement, and of course, I agreed immediately.

Once a certain script meeting was done, the producer asked me,

“Sensei, are you willing to compose lyrics for the character songs?” (TN Snark: Now I have an idea of where character songs come from…)

And then,

“If you want to do so, you can.”

The editor-in-charge answered.

And then,

“No, I’m not doing it! I can write novels, but not lyrics!”

I answered immediately.

“I see. Well, we have no choice. Guess we shall give up on producing character image songs. However, what about the ending?”

“Erm…has the difficulty increased?” (TN Snark: You jumped from the frying pan to the fire)

I rejected the proposal to compose lyrics for the Opening (OP) and Ending (E).

 

As for the OP and ED for the ‘Vice Versa’ anime–

The titles and singers were announced.

The one in charge of singing the OP is a veteran female singer who sang many OP anime songs, or anisongs for short.

Of course, i knew about her; I did buy a few CDs from her. When I heard that she could possibly be singing for this anime, I was shivering in excitement. I heard that there’s a chance for me to meet her, so I thought that when I get to do so, I’ll have a CD for her to sign on.

The one singing the ED is the voice actress of Emma. She has an amazing talent in singing too, and her identity as a singer might be more famous than her identity a voice actor. She did sing all kinds of songs, including Anisongs and other songs. (TN Snark: Please be Nana Mizuki please be Nana Mizuki please be Nana Mizuki…)

These two songs are great. When I first heard them, I was so moved I was about to cry.

“Eh! –You heard them! Do you…have them with you?”

I saw that Nitadori had a strong reaction.

“Ah, it may be a secret…but I have the data with me…don’t tell anyone that I have them.” (TN Snark: You’re definitely masochistic…)

I shrank back as I said. (TN Snark: Nice of you to be so willing to share with us~)

“Got it…how nice…”

“Well…this is my right as an author.”

“How nice…”

Nitadori gave me a really spiteful look, and as I looked back at her,

“The songs are in my laptop…”

I said something I shouldn’t have.

“Oho!”

The brown eyes under Nitadori’s glasses glowed. Right, they’re really glowing. (TN Snark: She’s becoming an Innovator at this rate)

“Ah, no…that was a lie. Nothing…at all.”

Nitadori in turn,

“…”

Glared at me from beyond the glasses. I turned my face to the window that was washed by the rain.

“Hey…sensei…just a little question…”

I never thought that Nitadori would let out such a scary voice. That’s to be expected of a voice actress, I guess. I was really scared, and my back shivered slightly.

“W-what is it…?”

Nitadori then reverted to her usual voice, grinning as she said,

“There’s a trillion Yen at the basin.” (TN Snark: I should use such excuses next time)

“It multiplied by ten!?”

“If you want it, now’s the time.”

“No, it’s fine…I can survive on the money I earn…” (TN Snark: Showoff…)

“I see…that’s impressive…”

“That’s how it is.”

“I won’t be touching your laptop so carelessly, sensei.” (TN Snark: So you’ll touch it deliberately?)

“That’s because…there’s a password, I can’t do that.”

“I won’t be touching your laptop so carelessly, sensei.” (TN Snark: I get the feeling that she’s going to smash it if she doesn’t get it)

“Well, I say.”

“I won’t be touching your laptop so carelessly, sensei.” (TN Snark: Yep, we have a yandere, ladies and gentlemen)

“……”

Nitadori’s a voice actress. It’s fine to think of her as someone related to the anime. Or I should say, since she’s involved, she knows of my secret which only a few people know of. I feel that she’s determined, and she kept interrogating me, so I’m helpless. It’s raining today, no other passengers on board, and there’s still power in the laptop. It’s great if her hearing the OP and ED will get her more into the role of Meek.

While Nitadori inserted her earphones into my laptop and heard the music, I began to think of many excuses.

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“Amazing…I’m moved.”

Once she heard the ending theme, Nitadori removed the two earphones, saying that.

Was it my imagination? Her eyes seemed to be a little teary.

I guess I probably showed a similar expression back then.

 

I slipped my laptop back into my backpack, and looked at the watch.

There was another 10 minutes until the terminal.

The rain was strong, and the train continued to race on, as if saying I won’t lose to this. Looking at this, I guess the train should arrive at the terminal on time.

I did not put my backpack on the rack, but at my feet.

“Eh, sensei.”

I heard this call, and turned to the right, seeing Nitadori give a serious smile.

“This will be the last question of the day–how will the original plot of ‘Vice Versa’ carry on in the future?” (TN Snark: Blessed are the Meek…)

This question was obviously different from the questions about the authors I answered before. Or I should say, she’s basically begging me to spoil the plot for her. (TN Snark: As the English LN translating circle would call it, ‘barneying’)

Her expression differed from usual, probably because she understood that well. Her face was stiff, and she bit her lips.

I know the feeling of wanting to know the later plot of a story. I too would feel frustrated whenever I’m done with the latest volume of a series I’m following.

Based on my imagination, I’m getting that she wants to know more of what happened to Meek. (TN Snark: Well, that’s not a meek request)

“How is it?”

Again, she asked.

At this moment, i thought of 2 things.

First, Nitadori’s pretty face was too close to me, so close that I’m almost unable to hold myself back.

Second, my back’s leaning against the wall, so if I want to run, I can only break the glass, but I don’t have that much strength.

Third, I told Nitadori so much till this point, and even played the opening and ending themes to her. In that case, I guess it’s fine to tell her, right?

Let me correct myself. It should be three things. Well, the first two can be combined to one.

My heart faltered for an instant,

“That’s–”

And I immediately corrected myself.

Even if it’s Nitadori, I can’t answer this question. I said,

“I can’t answer it now. I hope that you’ll read the book once it’s published.”

Since now that we’re talking about plot in the future, we can’t possibly not mention Meek.

Nitadori’s probably shocked, and maybe depressed.

Of course, as an author, I write for the sake of shocking the readers. I hope that the readers will be really shocked by the developments, that they’ll lament.

However, I still hope that the readers would feel shocked after they read the story.

Right, now, I shouldn’t be revealing the future plot. (TN Snark: You just did to us…)

“I see…”

Nitadori answered, probably because she was somewhat mentally prepared.

“I guess it was impossible…to ask for such an unreasonable request. Sorry.”

The sealed lips curled up slightly.

That anguished smile caused me to recall of Meek whom Shin met for the first time–

I felt that for a moment, my consciousness was dragged to Reputation. (TN Snark: So you died?)

 

The train continued to move on in the city.

We’ll arrive at the terminal soon. It was raining outside.

I decided to make a trip to the toilet before we arrived. There was still some time. The toilets at the station were normally packed, and the ones on the train was more comfortable.

I had Nitadori get up to leave the seat, and moved to the aisle. I would soon return to my seat before I arrived at the station, so i did not take away the backpack by my feet. (TN Snark: GG, you just signed your death warrant…)

I slipped through the automatic doors at the back of the car.

 

I finished washing my hands at the basin next to the toilet, put my handkerchief back into my pocket, and quickly went back to the corridor.

At this moment, I was about to knock into someone.

There wasn’t usually anyone around, so I didn’t pay attention at all. I was taken aback when I saw a shadow appear in the corner of my eye, and hurriedly turned aside–

Only to knock into that person.

I didn’t know how urgent that person was, probably ran here. I couldn’t dodge, and was knocked down really hard.

I really lost balance, my waist falling directly onto the corridor. It hit the floor, and my back hit the wall, causing me to fall with limbs in the air, so it really hurt. Luckily, I didn’t hit my head as I immediately pulled my chin back in.

After I fell, I thought.

It’s really my fault for not looking around before I walked out, but the person I knocked into didn’t have to be that anxious. Didn’t the teacher say not to run on the corridor?

Whose fault is it anyway?

But I guess I should apologize first.

Since I should be the one with a bigger body.

Or I should be asking, is that person alright after knocking into me?

Even I was taken aback, so there’s probably no way that person should be completely unscathed.

Is that person hurt?

If there’s a fracture or an injury, how do I compensate? (TN Snark: You don’t really get a fracture in a train compartment like that, unless you’re made of glass)

What if it’s a doctor with a high yearly salary?

What if it’s a lady who’s about to give birth?

While I was wildly thinking about the worst case scenarios–

The ceiling I could see was covered by a black figure, and I was strangled.

 

It was Nitadori.

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