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TLNC Chapter 11 – Meeting the Maid Café Manager

Meeting the Maid Café Manager

We entered a tight back-room which smelled of cigarettes. There was a computer in the corner, some lockers next to the wall which was covered with a wall-paper featuring white stripes interspersed with red roses. A delinquent-looking, trouser-wearing, long-haired woman of indeterminate age was sitting across us with a mischievous grin plastered across her face. She sat on a foldable chair turned the other way round, placing her arms on top of the backrest while she smoked a cigarette. At least by the fact that she was holding a half-burnt cigarette, I could say that she was older than us. The pony-tail wearing maid stood smiling with her hands together in in front of her, next to the delinquent-looking woman.

As always it was up to me to speak in these situations.

“Thank you for welcoming us Manager-san. I am Ishikawa Isshin, from North High’s Light Novel Club. I am hoping that our club will be working with you.”

I straightened my hunched back and bowed.

“A Club President, a maid, and two otaku high schoolers.”

The woman touched her chin and acted like she was thinking of something. She was wearing dark purple trousers which were flared at their bottom, and her untucked white shirt with its two top buttons unbuttoned revealed a cross necklace and a chest as flat as a cutting board. On the table to her side there was a military-style jacket which I guessed belonged to her. It may be that she was going for some kind of gangster stereotype? Or maybe I have met too many people who like to dress-up recently.

“No, actually the maid is the Club President.”

“And who are you then?”

“Well, let me think, you could say that I am the club’s writer, at least in this case, though it would be too presumptuous of me to say that.”

The slightly annoyed look in her eyes said “but you just said it,” but after inhaling and exhaling another puff of smoke the look in her eyes was reset to a neutral one and her thin lips went back to a mischievous smile.

“Well, you see I am not here just on behalf of the Literature Club but also North High’s Computer Club, so you could say I am a representative for both clubs.”

“And what could busy high schoolers with a bright future ahead of them, like you, have to do with a little maid café manager like me in a little maid café like this? Hm-mm.

My mind went blank and I couldn’t come up with an answer fast enough.

“I could take the girl,” She said pointing her cigarette butt at Izumi who as usual had no reaction. “To be a maid, she would need some polishing but her base stats are fine. I could not take any of you boys though, we don’t do cross-play, we are a rather… traditional maid café. Fufufu.” She laughed at her own joke. “But where are my manners? I am Naomi Hoshino, the current proprietor and manager of this Maid Café, although I leave most of the event planning to Lucia, sorry I mean Akane-chan over here.”

“Lucia” was the maid name of the pony-tailed girl who served me, and I guess her real name was Akane.

“Nice to meet you, Ishikawa-san! Both of us want to hear your proposal! So do your best!”

No more Master Ishikawa? Just Ishikawa-san? Well, I guess once I passed the threshold from the cafe to this room we were back in Japan. Also, don’t cheer me on, “Akane-chan”, this was my best.

“Have you ever done a robot maid themed-event at this maid café?”

“Robot-“

“-Maid?”

Hoshino started that statement and Akane ended it with a questioning look. I know what I was going to do was an embarrassing mistake, but I did it anyway because I had no ideas for what such an event would actually entail. And so I resolved that I must get their attention with incendiary philosophical nonsense that’ll probably get us all kicked out.

“Consider the following: Maid Cafés exist as a way to fill the void of intimacy for its patrons, but this illusion can only last as long as money exchanges hands. I suppose the same could be said in any ordinary Japanese household where the husband forks over his salary to his wife or has to buy gifts for his mistress, so there is nothing wrong with Maid Cafés, it’s reality that is already wrong, but Maid Cafés are not real. Therefore Maid Cafés are correct…”

The only one who seemed excited at my incoherent speech was Yamada. He held his hands together close to his chest as if in prayer and nodded his head with his eyes closed. Oh dear. Tanaka yawned. Izumi was reading a book while standing… come on Izumi that’s too much! At least pretend to care. She should be the one trying to convince them in the first place.

Well, in any-case what mattered was that the reaction of the event-manager-san and manager-san would be to be left with their mouths hanging open about now. I didn’t know where I was looking while speaking so it took a while to catch their reactions. Therefore I continued blathering.

“But what if-“

Naturally I had nothing of any substance to say. My only chance was to shock them, to say a lie big enough they would believe it, but alas, their reactions at this wildly gesticulating high-schooler were just boredom. I had at least hoped for disgust. Akane, for the first time, looked like she had to force herself to smile. This is the worst possible outcome.

“But what if maid robots were real, is that what you are trying to say, Ishikawa-san?”

That was Akane-san.

“Argh! I knew this maid café would be trouble when I inherited it from my father. I should have just stayed with my biker buddies, and told the old man to go to hell with his last wish. I have absolutely no idea what the hell you are talking about Ishikawa-kun, huh? Are you making fun of me!?”

Biker-buddies? Wait, was Hoshino-san, maybe, really part of a biker gang? Great! I messed up.

Hoshino got up from her foldable chair as if to clobber me with that chair, pro-wrestling style.

“Now, now, I am sure Ishikawa-san meant that as part of the setting!”

Akane said as her pony-tail waved and as she stepped forward between us, the woman whose nerves popped on her forehead as she stood with a closed fist, and the boy cowering with his hands up.

“Setting?” “Setting?”

Both me and Hoshino-san said simultaneously.

“Yes, a post-apocalyptic setting where maid cafés and women exploit men, and maid bots are a necessity.. That kind of setting for an event. Right Ishikawa-sama?”

“Err, Oh, me? Yeah ofcourse. That is absolutely what I was going to say from the start. I was just g-getting to that point. As long as you understand!”

Nice catch! Akane-chan, are you an angel?! This kerfuffle had gotten Yamada’s and Tanaka’s attention but Izumi was still reading, until she reached the last page. I guess she’d be a fine role model for a robot maid event, it would be a very boring event though. Well, first let’s get out of here in one piece.

“U.N. Owen was… Unknown.”

Izumi muttered absentmindedly into the awkward silence which had materialised.

“Oh, I forgot the girl and the otaku were there. You know what? I am tired of this. I am going to go back home and handle the accounting, you handle the events as usual including this one.”

“But what are you going to do when I am no longer here, Hoshino-nee-san?”

“I’ll close the damned place! Too much trouble, and too many weirdos.” She said eyeing me. That hurt. “And I am saying this as a former bike gang leader.”

Hoshino-san swept back the strands of her dark purple hair back with her hand and left the room. When she opened the door a bunch of maids and “masters” fell into the room. Ah I guess they were all eaves-dropping on my Reich-chancellor act. I wanted to disappear.

However, something unexpected happened, some of the patrons who had heard parts of my barely coherent speech were interested in helping making the event happen, although some were worried that if the Maid Café got publicised too much then it would become just another tourist and riajuu hotspot, kicking out any real otaku. We came to the conclusion that the location of the maid café would be kept hidden within the school paper article on the “robot maid café event (name is subject to change).”

I just hoped that they didn’t expect me to instigate some kind of Maid Café Putsch to overthrow the Japanese Post-war Constitution and this Maid Café’s ex-gang leader manager/owner.

All’s well that ends well?

The price was still too high.

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?  

Comment

  1. Stefankeys says:

    Writer’s Notes: If you have read so far, thanks for putting up with my mediocre writing. Here’s some thoughts that went into writing this kind of story:

    Do you remember those light novel rom-coms with a reluctant male protagonist who is forced by a crazy girl to join some club with an unclear purpose where characters just ended up messing around? It all started with Haruhi, who’s the god of this universe or something, then came Hyouka, MM!, Oreimo, Oregairu, Oreshura and all the other Ores out there. The world has moved on from that trend, though apparently I and a certain artificialnightsky have not entirely done so.
    I could waste your time telling you about why this genre might have fallen out of favour (e.g. Japan’s low birth-rate meaning less school goers, fantasy isekai appealing to both school students and people in their early 20s) but it’s all pure speculation, it could just be that people just got bored with it and wanted a new trend, so let me tell you my feelings instead, which at least I can be certain of.
    Recently I tried re-watching some of these shows but I could not be excited by scenes of teenage couples going on a trip together to the countryside… And the accidental fan-service could only elicit recognition in me, “Oh they did the thing… you know, the thing, when the guy falls on the girl and accidentally gropes her! I recognise that convention!”…. And yet I can still easily get excited by an overly drawn out battle scene in a Shounen anime like Dragonball Z, which is aimed at an even younger audience than high school rom-coms… Have I regressed? Or is it simply that Shounen manga classics are timeless? It doesn’t matter.
    The point which I am trying to get at, is that the authors of these school club novels must have been around the same age as I am now, when they wrote those novels. Were they only writing club room novels to appeal to their core audience of a younger age group than themselves while not taking part in the self-indulgence of these self-insert stories? That’s an interesting question, but it wasn’t one which I set out to answer by writing a story like this.
    No, the reason that I chose to write an after-school club story, was because it was the path of least resistance. Here, there are no organisations with difficult to remember names, no action scenes which are a pain to write, no giant robots or fantasy creatures that are difficult to describe. You have all been to school, unless you are an African child soldier who’s somehow reading this, so you know the rules, the drill, you already know the formula.
    The “short stories strung together” structure that some of these, like Haruhi, follow also made it easy to write.
    Every time I have tried to write fantasy or sci-fi I just got lost in the details, of the world-building and character motives, so this time, I told myself, I am going to try something easier first. I know that some of these stories, well Haruhi, has some sci-fi/supernatural elements but that’s just flavour, it’s not the main course. I do admit, it’s a flavour I like, it’s good bait at least, and I haven’t gotten to read enough of Haruhi to find out how deep the bunny-girl hole goes.
    The romance scenes are still a pain to write, for one because of how embarrassing it is to write them… Did those writers have a neurosurgeon cut off their nerve for shame? Romance is more embarrassing than the fan service scenes, because writing fan service can feel more like a pilot going through a pre-flight checklist before take-off, than anything else. (Did the hero accidentally grope the heroine and then get slapped? Yes. Checked. Was there a glasses girl? Yes. Checked. Ponytails? Twin-tails? Bobs? All present. No anomalies. Checked. Red hair? Red headed heroines are a go. Excellent. Check- Etc…)
    —–
    The appeal of these stories, to me, might be summed up as: “You can’t repeat the past!” “Why of course you can! It just takes a little imagination.”
    I am not saying that Gatsby should have read some light novels to relive his past safely, then pointed at Daisy and said “3DPD”, and walked off with Nick to help him write some better novels, but it would have been a very different novel.
    [An aside: Come to think of it, at 47k words, The Great Gatsby might as well be a light novel, at least it would be if it wasn’t so dreary, and if its characters were quite not so dislikeable, and if there were some illustrations. There are some good passages and lines, like, you know the one, but I just can’t get over how detestable the characters manage to be. Had a similar experience with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams recently. Not a single character I could stand. Another American piece of literature. I guess I’ll stick to actual light novels for now.]

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