TLNC Chapter 16 – Aftermath, the mistakes of our youth

Aftermath, the mistakes of our youth

The short story was released with a poorly made, horribly acted “making of..” video CD as a bonus for the magazine, featuring myself as the protagonist and the club members and patrons and maids of the maid café acting out different roles in the story.

Naturally, as the one who wrote it, I objected to being cast as the protagonist in this farce. However, the patrons at Moe Delight Maid Café Empire reached a consensus that I was the one who looked the most like a probable generic light novel protagonist among the members of the Light Novel Club. Unfortunately, they were right, as I would have to rewrite the story so the protagonist would be and look like an otaku if Tanaka or Yamada were to take the role, so I had to bear this cross.

My horrible acting, and the amateur cinematography (sorry Yamada & Tanaka who were in charge of filming and editing – I at least dodged those bullets), were made worse by the fact that we didn’t have any proper sets and just had to improvise with whatever costumes we could scrounge. How did a Computer Club amateur magazine turn into amateur filmmaking? I am not sure, but it had something to do with our being out of ideas. The intention was never to make a film in the first place but to gather reference material for the illustrations which Yamada made for the article.

One of the Maid Cafe’s patrons, the shades-wearing fellow who had paid the maids to sing when we first entered the Maid Cafe, was an instructor at an Aircraft Mechanic school, so we were able to film the scene inside the old dusty jet and inside their hanger. Obviously, the jet we filmed in was not airworthy, but rather a real piece of junk that students at the aircraft mechanic training centre used to train on. Naturally, it had worn-out seats and was coated in dust, so I guess any unfortunate souls who bought the magazine and bothered to watch the CD, will just have to imagine the high-end private jet.

Asahina played the role of Dr. Teufel wearing a cheap lab coat and a wig. The plane was inside an aircraft hanger owned by the Aircraft Mechanic Training Institute, so we borrowed some overalls from there and had Akane-san play the aircraft mechanic girl. The other men in lab coats were played by patrons at the café… The Aircraft Training Institute agreed to help us on the condition that we would credit them by placing their three-winged angel logo prominently at the start of our film and in our magazine, but honestly, I doubt any third years from our school will want to join their aircraft mechanic training institute after watching our CD. The “Laboratory” was also the Shades-wearing man’s weird futurist cold-war-era-built house which came with an underground bunker to protect his anime merchandise in case of nuclear war. We used this location for Room 101. Pointing at a cabinet filled with only Fujiwara Hazuki figurines I asked him whether once the nuclear apocalypse happened the survivors would be able to appreciate the finer details that Ojamajo Doremi brought to the magical girl genre. To which he replied that he didn’t really care if there were any survivors as long as his merchandise survived. “In fact, in some ways, it might be better if there weren’t any survivors,” because some of the things on his server were “better left there untouched and unseen.” What would be too dark to see the light of a nuclear scenario? I couldn’t imagine it.

You can imagine the rest of the locations though; a university, a hotel, a local CRT TV store, the local park and the beach next to the hangar etc… It was frightful how many avenues these otaku had infiltrated without us even realising it… Call it The Ota-March Through The Local Institutions.

The most difficult task was carrying the heavy CRT screens to the man’s house… Those things don’t just look bulky, they’re heavy enough to kill a horse or at least cripple it. It’s insane to think they had these things hanging from ceilings in airports and other places in the past, and yet if it were up to Izumi, we would move back to those dark years without any regard for those who had to carry and set them up. Once Izumi found out that there was a computer lab scene I was forced to change the story to her whims regarding the presence of CRT screens, as should be obvious. The Maid Cafe’s most crooked-and-yellow-toothed, bespecled, scrawny (and obese) inhabitants egged on her ideas with cries of “Yes, yes..” and “Tensai Shoujo (Genius Girl).” Dysgenic would be too kind a way to put it because they had chosen to be that way, then again I doubted very much that they were in need of my kindness. The only reason that this was acceptable was that Izumi was more insane than they were and they knew it. While this display of Denpa-fied mental instability was going on right behind me, I was forced to change the story’s details on my laptop under Izumi’s watchful bespecled gaze.

Makoto was played by Izumi, and given that she could play no character other than herself, she used her real name and I had to do the impossible task of writing a heroine character who acted like her… I am not sure if it worked. Seriously, any protagonist who would fall in love with her would have to have his head examined. This is the reason why I had no trouble calling her by her first name.

Most of all I was sorry for Asahina, for having to play Izumi’s self-insert character, Dr Teufel.

We were at the club room, or rather Izumi was off somewhere without telling us where she had gone, probably the library.

Yamada had fallen asleep and was drooling over a drawing he was making for the Computer Club’s magazine, he was obviously ruining his work but I didn’t wake him up because it was too disgusting.

As for me, while I was supposed to work on this strange story I was distracted by Tanaka bobbing his head while listening to music on his Sony SDAT (Sound Only Device) portable cassette player. Likely, another forced purchase by Izumi’s idiosyncratic tendencies.

At that moment I wanted to do anything else other than write, so my gaze moved to the discarded palm-sized rectangular cassette case that Tanaka had left on the desk. I was slowly losing consciousness in this hot room while quietly trying to read the list of 90s idol J-pop music titles off of the cassette box when a stack of papers landed on my desk with a crash. When I turned around with a frown on my face I was met with a bookish girl’s disinterested gaze, as if she had not just slammed something onto the table and startled me.

I sighed.

It was more than 300 pages of a character profile for Dr Teufel’s character. To be exact it was 344 pages in a rather small font, and it included explanations for Teufel’s backstory going back sixteen generations and her demonic bloodline… I skimmed over this document, which she might as well have scrawled on the city’s walls with her own blood (not that my desire island story would look that out of place on the walls next to hers), and looked back at her unemotional face to see if an explanation was forthcoming even though I had already guessed her purpose.

I had mastered the useless art of understanding what she meant just by looking at her. Needless to say, it was always some unnecessary and unreasonable request, and this was going to be no different, so rather than an ability, understanding her, might be more accurately described as the opposite of a skill.

It hadn’t even been a week since we had accepted the Computer Club’s request, so she must have stayed up all night to write this during the last few days. Her eyes didn’t look tired at all despite that, maybe this stuff about a demonic bloodline was more than Chuunibyou delusions.

I must have come across Izumi in the school’s corridors before I joined this club. Now that I know her appearance, I see that we came across each other frequently, even if we just passed each other in silence without acknowledging each other, so I don’t know when I first saw her. Still, if I hadn’t joined this club I never would have imagined that those unemotional eyes hid so much insanity behind them. Izumi raised her head innocently to inquire if I had something to say.

I asked Izumi why she wouldn’t play the character herself, rather than expect me and Asahina to read her instruction manual, so she replied that: “A creator ought to maintain some distance from his character, if I played my own character then it would never be accepted.”

This was met with exultations of praise by Yamada. Nobody asked for it but he explained his semi-reasoning.

“Izumi-san is so moeru right now that it woke me up, she’s right though, if Izumi were to play her own 2D character then her 3D character would slip through and it would be ugly.”

Izumi didn’t quite glare at Yamada but slightly tilted her head in his direction with the same neutral expression that she always carried on her face.

“It’s not like that… I am not saying you have an ugly heart, I am only saying that everyone does.” Yamada corrected himself. “But… Anyway, that is why I reject Idol and vtuber otaku.”

“No, you can’t separate the Seiyuu from the character.”

Tanaka, who was apparently an idol otaku as well, rejected Yamada’s thesis. And by Thesis, I mean it might as well be a 4ch post or scrawlings inside of a toilet.

Thereafter I stopped listening to their useless conversation and skimmed through Izumi’s detailed notes again to create Dr Teufel. Come to think of it, I still needed to return those notes to her, I wouldn’t want to keep something as cursed for longer than necessary because if someone came across it, they might think that I wrote it as well. The story that I had just written was enough of a burden to carry. Asahina’s idea of using a pseudonym had not been entirely useless, as the name “Zero Circle” implied that it was a group’s or circle’s effort rather than my own doing. It might also mean that this club was the zeroth circle of hell, that is to say, my own circle of hell.

Honestly, I doubted that this CD would make any sense to anyone, even if they had read the short story. I guess things went out of control due to suggestions by the maid cafe patrons. They seemed particularly keen on entertaining Izumi’s crazy ideas. Who even has CD players at home these days anyway other than Okaku who buy Blue-Ray disks and obscure physical music releases from Comiket? Certainly not the average ***flix-watching high schooler. We could have just put a link to a video site but no, Izumi’s autism about physical media meant we had to make some CDs with awful covers. The CD cover consisted of a photo of Izumi’s spectacles. What did we even mean by this? I don’t know. In any case, what’s physical about CDs and DVDs anyway? They’re still digital media. No, that’s not the point. This “film” didn’t have to exist in any form, including physical, digital and spiritual, to begin with. This was going to be another dark chapter in my life, of course, my parents and my snobbish brother were going to find out about this and laugh at me, but I’ll delay regretting my life choices until that actually, inevitably happened.

The Cafeteria in the story was obviously the maid café. The maids like Akane were the only ones who could act really. They had a few wigs and costumes they could use from past maid café events. We could use them to add to the off-kilter vibe to make the viewer ignore that what they watching was a mistake. The little girl whom I picked up and carried in the scorching sun, from the beach to the hanger, was none other than the little sister of one of the maids.

Surprisingly the only thing we got in trouble with the school was because I mentioned alcohol drinking within the story, but of course, there had been no alcohol or mind-altering substances involved in the making of this… which somehow, in my mind, made it worse.

Honestly, I just had to write the story around whatever locations around town were available to us. For example, the Jeep that Stella drove was a World War II jeep abandoned by British soldiers during Japan’s occupation, which was now owned by one of the military otaku at the Maid Café.

For a shot of the Desire Island itself, a photography-otaku at the maid café was able to give us some footage he had obtained with a drone on a trip to an island off of Okinawa.

Of course, the last scene had to be in the Light Novel Club because the condition for us to help the Computer Club was to gain publicity and earn recognition for the Light Novel Club. For a couple of weeks, I was teased by my classmates for staring in that video but soon it was as if nothing had ever happened, except for one more headache, a new girl joined the Light Novel Club. Will I be able to handle her and Izumi too?

One does not care to admit them, the mistakes of one’s youth.

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?  


  1. Stefankeys says:

    Writer’s Notes: Thanks for getting this far into my story.
    In a way I wanted to go against what I said in the previous “writer’s notes” by trying to write something that wasn’t just slice of life. I have been told that readers don’t like it when you change what the story is about mid-way because it’s like breaking an unspoken promise at the start, and yet I wanted to try to alternate between club (indoor) and outdoor scenes. This short story has mostly been an outdoor activity.
    The things which happened within the Desire Island had to be down to earth enough that the characters would plausibly be able to (badly) re-enact them for their amateur “making of” film. This affected both the things the characters could do (they couldn’t fly or have outwardly visible cyber-genetic addons for example) but also the settings which were used were limited by that.
    I had already started writing this arc before the previous literature club meeting so I could not implement some of the suggestions I got there but I’ll be sure to put them into effect in the next arc.
    Oh yes, I suppose I should mention that the Kakuhido are real:
    As for “Love Capitalism” it’s a term used by a Japanese writer called Hoda Tohru:
    I probably should have gone into more detail into what any of it meant but I was worried that the expository character dialogues were already too long to retain people’s attention.
    The simple format which I tried to follow for writing dialogue is basically this:

    “Character A Line”
    “Character B Reply”
    Character A does something.
    “Character A says something.”
    Character B does something.

    In other words to keep to this turn-based action-dialog format then I would have had the characters do a lot more stuff if I wanted them to to keep on speaking.

    As far as possible I tried to avoid the “She saids” and “He saids” for reasons that are hard to describe, but basically it feels fake, embellished, melodramatic, overdramatised, too much like a “narrative.”

    In general I tried to avoid that sort of thing. Off-topic Rant incoming.

    A few years ago, I watched an Aircraft Accident Investigation Documentary about British Flight 9, , which encountered a volcanic ash cloud from the eruption of Mount Galunggung in Indonesia on June 24, 1982. All four of its engines failed due to the ingestion of volcanic ash. However, the flight crew managed to restart the engines after descending to lower altitudes, and the aircraft safely landed in Jakarta, Indonesia.
    During the flight, the crew and passengers witnessed strange lights outside the aircraft. It was St. Elmo’s fire, a phenomenon caused by changes in the electric field in the atmosphere likely due to the volcanic ash in the air.
    Crew and passengers were interviewed about their experience, none of them were trained writers or anything but their accounts were clear and felt real. Unfortunately, among the passengers there was also a novelist on the flight, a little fat middle-aged white woman, and she wrote a novel about what happened on the flight. Every time she opened her mouth it became impossible to take anything that had happened seriously, it was just surreal, she spoke like the narrators in one of those “literary novels,” who take half a fucking page to describe a slight movement because the narrator has to feel like they’re the centre of everything, and by trying too hard they end up removing any meaning or weight that a scene would have otherwise had if they had plainly stated what had happened and their feelings. Maybe this was just a shameless attempt to promote her novel but if it wasn’t then it would be even worse.

    End of Off-topic rant.

    Finally, I’d like to add that many things like the fake light house with a statue of mother Mary, the monastery on a misty hill in Genova with CRT tvs affixed to ancient walls, or the black TV remote with way too many tiny multicoloured buttons are things from my life that shouldn’t mean anything to anyone else. So I do worry if they’ll have any effect on others. I don’t like taking photos so maybe this is my form of a photo album. Of course I’ll soon forget many of the things I referenced.

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