TLNC Chapter 1 – Denpa Shōnen to Bungaku Shoujo

Boy Meets Book Girl

*Bungaku Shoujo means Book Girl. Denpa means Radio Waves but can also mean weird. Shōnen means boy.

The light novel club at North High was, as I expected, a gathering of misfits. I joined the club hoping to hone my writing skills but none of the members looked serious about creating anything, again as I expected. I accepted the invitation from an openly otaku classmate, not because he caught me reading a light novel in class, but to find a place where I could write in peace.

I had sworn off joining anime clubs in middle school but alas here I was, well at least it was better than the anime club in middle school. The only time I visited my middle school’s anime club left me with a terrible sour taste in my mouth; primarily due to my overwhelming disappointment with the club members’ ignorance of what I considered to be universally recognised anime.  During the club’s introductory session in the school’s projector-equipped university-style lecture hall, we were asked to share our names, areas of interest, and anime recommendations for the semester, while the president who sat at the front of the hall compiled a list on their computer.  At the moment I figured that it was safer to pick a more mainstream anime so I said I really liked The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The president raised her eyes from the computer and then cocked her head  to ask me how to spell the anime’s name. I walked out during this introduction event and never came back. All that they did in that club was watch anime in the darkened room, if I wanted to do that then I would just do it alone. The reason I hated that place, ugh I still remember the One Piece sticker on the school notice board advertising the club, was that I realised that those kinds of places are stagnating ponds for those who cling to socialising and the wish to be a part of a community rather than to be the flowing river of action that I wished for.

Coming back to the present moment, whatever I thought of this sorry lot in front of me, it was clear by the merchandise strewn across the room, the shelves stacked with manga and light novels, the Bishoujo posters on the wall from classic visual novels and finally confirmed by their own dishevelled looks, that these were no casuals.

There were three members in the club, two boys who I was already acquainted with and a mysterious gloomy-looking glasses-wearing girl with long hair down to her waist.

The girl was reading a large tome, definitely not a light novel, by herself, while the boys were playing a card game, Old Maid by the looks of it. It was against the rules of this strict Prefectural School to bring playing cards to school but then why would they allow this club in the first place?

If I wanted a place to read my light novels in peace then this was perfect. I was no longer so shameless or idiotic enough to read light novels with illustrations of beautiful girls on their covers in public. Of course, when I did read novels I used a plastic cover to hide the illustration, but I still didn’t want to risk it, and get bullied for it like I did in middle school. Damned brats could  be so cruel, I didn’t expect high school students to be any different. I for one, didn’t feel any different now than when I was in middle school.

The club room was located in the Arts and Liberal Sciences building located adjacent to the main building across the school courtyard. Above the entrance there was a sign which read “Literary Club” with a line struck through it and below it written with a magic marker it read “Light Novel Club.”

Even though this was supposed to be the Light Novel Club, all that I could see were manga volumes, and a few anime DVDs lining the walls. There were also a few board games and an old CRT television with a prominent antenna attached to it. The only light novel-related thing I could see was a large panda plushie from a light novel which got a popular anime adaptation a few years ago. The room was modest in size,  about a third of an ordinary classroom, with enough space to accommodate a few tables and chairs for club activities. The atmosphere could either be described as cramped or cosy depending on how generous one wanted to be. There was no heating, but thankfully it was still spring.

“So you want to join our Light Novel Club?” asked Tanaka, a short and scrawny boy who was also a classmate. “Ah yes, I did notice the anime illustration in the novel you were reading furtively this morning. Although it was a pretty smart idea to hide the book cover with a plastic cover, you’d failed to take into account that light novels have illustrations inside them too.”

“Can you play Othello or Chess?” asked Yamada. “Tanaka here sucks so much at them that he refuses to play.”

Yamada was an otaku friend of Tanaka who sometimes skulked into our classroom during breaks to meet with Tanaka, presumably because he didn’t have any friends in his own class. However due to his size and height he always managed to get noticed  and most girls in our class gave him dirty looks inviting him to leave, not that he cared, no sometimes he looked like he relished it. Gross. 

On the other hand, the only girl in the club room right now was currently  ignoring  my presence altogether as she turned a page in her book without even looking in our direction.

“What about her?” I asked.

“Oh, that’s just Izumi. She comes with the club room. Just ignore her.”

I made a face as if to say “What are you saying? She can hear you!” but Izumi didn’t seem to be offended. I checked to see if she was wearing earphones but that wasn’t the case. Unless they admitted deaf students to our schools he must have heard everything we said.

“Let me explain. This formerly was the Literary Club but with only one member left, Izumi, the club was about to close. Takahashi-san, the Student Council President, wanted to shut down the Literary Club to hand over our club room to a student association with more students like the Engineering Design Club rather than let it be used as a personal space for Izumi, his words not mine.  If Izumi couldn’t find some members for her club then the school was going to take the Student Council’s side of the argument. Now that’s where I and Yamada, the conquering heroes, came to the rescue.”

I cocked my eyebrow at this hero stuff but there was no reaction from Izumi at his claim of having saved her. Perhaps I should ignore it as well. Putting that aside I can see how the school might have seriously considered shutting down the literary club. This was a high school geared towards getting students to take the sciences at university, so humanities-related clubs like the literary club got scant attention. In any case, most schools were neglectful at best about student-run associations because they don’t really affect how well students do at university entrance exams which are what most schools’ reputations and therefore bottom lines are based on.

“The school refused our request to start our own manga and anime club. However,  we found out that the literary club was about to be closed due to a lack of members. Izumi accepted our offer to let us use the club room for our anime club activities. In return, we joined her club and saved it from closure.”

So she didn’t have a choice but to let you do as you please with her club room, or she would lose her club entirely?

“Then why is it called the light novel club?”

“Because we renamed the literary club to the light novel club. Of course, we couldn’t get away with calling it an anime club so we compromised with calling it a light novel club.”

“And the school allowed it? And Izumi was fine with it?”

“Yes, light novels are novels. We just told the teacher who’s the club supervisor that giving the club a more modern name would help the literary club get more members, though I am not sure if old, senile Okabe-sensei even knows what a light novel is, but he consented. As for Izumi, she’s fine with it as long as it remains a book club in some capacity. Also, it wasn’t a complete lie when I told the supervisors that it would help get more members. That explains your presence today.”

So basically this club was an anime club pretending to be a light novel club pretending to be a literary club.

“And the literary club member you stole this room from is fine with that?”

“Now, now, we didn’t steal it. We saved her club from being disbanded.”

Tanaka protested.

I sat across the table and looked towards Izumi who was sitting sideways from me reading from a book she held up high close to her attentive face rather than letting it rest on the table. The sunlight from the open window fell on her face and on the pages of her book which she occasionally turned. The light breeze occasionally moved strands of her long black hair. She held her back straight and, noticing that I was looking at her, assumed that I wanted to read her book and wordlessly handed it to me. The title of the book was written in a European language other than English, why would she assume I could read this?

Izumi closed her book, its weight caused a thump, and she subsequently looked towards us.

Since you are so keen on finding out what happened, I’ll let you in on the truth before you make up any fantasies . My older sister asked me to keep the club she used to be part of from closing. I owe her a favour, so this is my way of paying her back. I tried to get new members for the club by myself… but that didn’t work.

How touching, such a devoted sister, no wait there was mention of a favour being exchanged, and yet it’s still better than my relationship with my brother. 

Tanaka shrugged.

“Well, there you have it. I only invited you out of pity because people were giving you looks for making strange faces and disturbing smiles while reading your novels in class.”

Strange faces? Disturbing smiles? Was I really making such expressions in class?

Responding to such an obvious taunt as Tanaka’s remark of having invited me out of pity would be beneath me so I let that slide. Besides, there was something more important that I needed to ask him.

“Why didn’t you tell me this in class, earlier? You could have just told me in class and I would have stopped.”

My high school debut was over. Oh well, not like I cared about that. Still, I wanted to pass off as relatively normal. I guess I should stop reading light novels about evil demon lords ruling another world while I am in class or in public at least. I wouldn’t want a repeat of middle school.

“I didn’t know how you’d react, and of course, I couldn’t invite you before making sure you were the real deal. I had to observe you for a few weeks to see if you always read light novels or were just a casual. Also, I did want to keep my promise to Izumi of getting more members to her club.”

“Wait, is she the club president?”

“Yes, that’s why it worked. If I or Yamada had asked for it then it wouldn’t have worked.”

 Well, I can see why the school’s staff would trust her over two shady guys like these two. Still, I doubted she was that popular amongst teachers. She gave me the impression she was the kind of girl who looked outwardly studious but neglected any subject she didn’t have any interest in… This quality may sound endearing or even bold until you have to deal with it. Had one of these oddballs in middle school, a scrawny girl who for three years ignored lessons and scribbled manga-style drawings in her notebook during class to the point where the teachers pretended she wasn’t in class, let her be and carried on with lessons. Though with her grades she’d never be able to get into a school such as this, so I didn’t think Izumi could be such an airhead. 

“So what do you do in this club?”

“We do whatever we like. There’s no hierarchy or mandatory activities.”

Sounds kind of boring if “doing whatever you like” means sitting in a classroom engaging in indoor hobbies but “boring” suits me well too.

“So, are you in?”


Well, it would give me somewhere to write and read after school away from my annoying, snobbish older brother. I completed a form to join the club and handed it to Izumi who accepted it without saying a word. Then I took a seat, pulled out my laptop, and looked around for a power outlet. 

My laptop had till today been nothing more than some deadweight I carried around in my school bag. I always brought my laptop to school in the hopes that I would get a chance to write during breaks but that hope never materialised until now.  Classmates who otherwise paid no attention to me would always be nosy about what I was doing whenever I pulled my laptop out of my bag. 

I tried other places to write too – the school library had a transparent glass pane next to the school canteen through which I would be visible to classmates who came to eat at the school canteen – and they would ask me what I was doing holed up in the library. 

Trying to write on the school roof was a disaster as I ended up having to hide myself as two students appeared and started making out while I was crouched behind a wall next to the entrance to the roof with my laptop on my knees. 

Going to a café after school also turned out to be unbearably awkward as I would end up feeling like I was imposing myself on the cafe’s proprietors and waiters by overstaying my welcome. Not to mention the looks that some café-goers would give me with my papers and notes out. There was also no guarantee that some students from my class would not show up.  Maybe if I were part of a group it would be less awkward though I wouldn’t know. Finally, the local library’s opening hours also aligned pretty much with school time so no matter how fast I ran there, it was no use.  When I heard from Tanaka about this club what went through my mind was not to use this as a place to read light novels as he suggested, no, my intention was to work on my draft for the JNC Light Novel Writing Contest which accepted submissions this fall… but Yamada stopped me.

“Sorry but no electronics are allowed in this room. That’s the only rule imposed on us to use this room by Izumi.”

Izumi looked like she was finally going to speak up.

I pointed towards the television in the room.

“That’s an exception.” Izumi retorted. Well, except it wasn’t much of a retort.

I thought we could do whatever we liked. Well, what did I expect from a club founded on deception?

Tanaka and Yamada had looks of sympathy on their faces, which was something I neither desired nor appreciated.

The Light Novel Club

The Light Novel Club

Status: Ongoing Author: Released: 2024
Ishikawa Isshin, a freshman at North High has decided to join his high school's Light Novel Club, hoping to get some inspiration and quiet, to work on his novel for a light novel writing contest. Unfortunately for Isshin, the club's non-talkative bibliophilic book girl and old-tech obsessed club president, Izumi, as well as other members of the school faculty are intent on getting in his way by dragging him off to participate in miscellaneous after-school club activities.  Will Isshin remain the reluctant member of the club and continue to regret his decision to have joined? Or will he come to love the club, and discover the true purpose of the Light Novel Club?  


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