An Annoying Paradise - Daria - part 2 - Serial Experiments Lane

Daria and Nichijo breath heavily at the bus stop.

"Why did we run for three bus stops when we could have just took the first one?"

"Daria, if you want to be able to fake being an idol trainee, you're going to have to develop endurance."

"And singing, and dancing, and general body control."

"One step at a time."

"Oh, here it comes."

Daria and Nichijo board the bus.

"What are you doing here?"

Daria and Nichijo stare at Quinn and Stacy. "Why wouldn't we be here? Why are you guys here?"

Quinn gets a smug expression. "We are starting at Tokyo Fine Arts School."

Daria makes a face. "How did you convince Mom to pay for it?"

"Well, most people who go to TFAS get a huge tuition discount if they join one of the schools guilds. So Stacy and I have joined the fashion design guild, as you would expect from the fashion club."

Nichijo thinks for a minute. "Quinn, I happen to know a little bit about TFAS."

Quinn looks at Nichijo blankly. "Who are you and why do you know my name?"

"Ame Nichijo. You make fun of my fashion everyday in school even though you're my kouhai. (1)"

"Someone has to do it. But, you're not her."

"I am wearing my hair up. Doesn't it look cute?"

Quinn looks at Nichijo for a minute trying to picture her in her usual severe hair style. "Oh, sorry."

"Anyway, did you know that joining the fashion design guild at TFAS has nothing to do with coordinating outfits and has everything to do with," sinister pause, "sewing?"

Quinn looks sad. "I know. Sandi and Tiffany bailed when they heard that and went for the modeling guild."

Nichijo laughs. "They are going to be so mad when they have to model clothes that they would rather die than be seen in."

Quinn nods. "I know, but the alternatives were even more disgusting."

"So, you're willing to to brave the fashion classes?"

"I view myself a fashion avatar. If I am not able to design my own style then I will be forever limited by other people's vision."

Nichijo smiles. "You're willing to work?"

Quinn hangs her head. "Please don't say that too loud."

Stacy squeezes Quinn's arm. "It's okay. We'll get through this together."

"Stacy, I don't think that fashion design is all that collaborative."

"It's not? Quinn, don't leave me alone." Stacy starts whining.

Daria and Nichijo roll their eyes.

Nichijo thinks for a minute. "Quinn, you realize that the fashion guild does three shows a year and you'll be expected to exhibit a design each show?"

Quinn nods.

"And, if it's not up to standards they can kick you out?"

"No-oooooo!" Quinn looks miserable.

Daria studies Quinn. "Quinn, this isn't like you. What is the real reason you're joining TFAS?"

"Daria, you wouldn't understand. Once the word got out that my own sister was an idol and I wasn't then the entire fashion club would be branded as losers and we would become the school outcasts."

"So, it wasn't just that you were jealous that I was standing out more than you?"

"Well, of course there's that!"

...

"Class, we have two new transfer students starting today. You first."

Daria and Nichijo stand at the front of the class. Daria writes her name on the blackboard. "My name is Asamura Daria. However, my last name is a translation into Japanese of my father's last name. He is from Germany and his last name is Morgendorrfer which means morning town. That's where we got Asamura. I am an idol singing trainee from Harmony Project, please take care of me."

Much to Daria's surprise no one teases her.

"And, now you."

Nichijo whispers to Daria. "Ready for the big reveal?"

Daria nods.

Nichijo writes her name on the blackboard. "Here is the kanji for my name, Ame Nichijo. However, I am joining the fine arts guild so using my current name would be too ordinary."

Several members of the class face plant. (2)

Nichijo looks at the teacher. "Was it that too bad a pun?"

"We have many students studying Manzai comedy." (3)

"Okay. So, I will be using a kira-kira pronunciation of my name. (4)" Nichijo writes her name on the blackboard in English. "My name is Jane Lane."

Daria hears many of her new classmates murmur "cool name".

They sit down in seats next to each other. "Jane, huh?"

"Please call me that from now on."

...

Jane and Daria put their books in their lockers.

"Daria, big trouble. A girl is approaching who looks like she's going to beat you up."

Daria doesn't look up. "I know who that is." Daria turns around. "Hi, Natsuko, Minamo."

"Daria-senpai!" (5)

"Oh, this is my friend Jane. Jane, this is Natsuko and Minamo, by fellow idol trainees, although they are both way ahead of me."

Jane smirks. "They won't be for long."

Minamo gathers up her courage. "Daria-senpai, do you have a sister?"

"Why yes I do. Her name is Quinn. Although, in our previous school, she referred to me as the strange international transfer student who lives with her."

Minamo gets giddy. "I knew it! I knew it. She's in our homeroom now. She looks just like you."

"She does not!" Both Jane and Daria say this in unison.

"She's so cool. I want to wear the clothes she designs."

Daria rolls her eyes. "I will be shocked if she lasts five minutes after the first time she stabs herself with a sewing needle."

Natsuko looks thoughtful. "If she's your sister I think she will last."

Jane and Daria look at each other in shock.

...

"Come in, you must be Asamura Daria ."

"Yes, Enchi-sensei (6), that's who I am."

"Your producer T told me all about you."

Daria gulps.

"I told him that I would do my best to help you."

"Thanks."

"So, Daria, have you written a lot before?"

"Nothing worth showing."

"Well, don't worry. Let me tell you a little secret. The best writing is relating things that you have experienced first hand."

"Then I should quit now and not burden the world with depressing books."

Enchi-sensei laughs. "Well then, here is your first assignment, due next week: Write a description of one of your friends as if you were introducing them in a novel. Figure out what makes them them special and make them pop off the page."

"Do they have to read it?"

"No."

"Good, I get to keep whatever friends I still have."

"Daria, you need to change your attitude a little bit. You're in the Harmony Project idol trainee program. You will be meeting some of the most colorful personalities anywhere. This is a priceless opportunity for a writer to start developing a cast of characters in her head that she can use."

Daria smiles slightly. "I would like to disagree, but I cannot."

...

Daria walks into an empty music class room.

She is soon joined by her singing instructor Sachiko (7). "Good afternoon, miss Daria."

"Good afternoon Sachiko-sensei."

"We should be joined by another remedial student later on. She's never on time so we should just get started."

"Okay."

"Did you do those exercises I gave you faithfully?"

"They got done, not by faithfulness on my part, but by the fact that I had a friend to nag me to do them."

"Wonderful! You're so lucky."

"To be susceptible to bullying?"

Sachiko laughs. "That's a much better trait than to be completely impervious to instruction."

Daria smiles.

Sachiko starts the lessons with warm ups.

Ten minutes later, another girl enters the room. "Sorry I am late!"

Sachiko rolls her eyes. "Daria, this is Haruko. She is also a remedial idol trainee. She's been remedial for six months now because she never does her assignments."

"I do too!"

Sachiko ignores her. "I would hope that you will reach intermediate long before six months. If you do, you'll get to practice with the rest of the trainees."

"As if I needed more humiliation in my life."

"Now, Daria. If I approve you for intermediate, your practices will be fun, not humiliating. However, there will probably always be girls who are ahead of you in singing but they want to sing with you, not to show you up."

"If you say so."

"Haruko, please warm up in the corner."

"Okay." Haruko pouts.

"So, Daria, first we will go ever the exercises I gave you at the audition, then I will give you a new set of exercises for next week."

"Okay."

...

Daria and Haruko walk the halls of TFAS to get to conditioning instruction with Risa-sensei.

"I'm so sorry I was late, but there was this really cute guy who flirted with me and I just couldn't break away."

"Sachiko-sensei looked like she wanted to kill you."

"Who cares about her? It's only a matter of time before they debut me."

Daria cringes, remembering how Haruko sang at practice. "You realize that T won't debut you unless Sachiko approves?"

"If they don't I will just switch agencies."

Daria rolls here eyes. "I hope that works out for you. I'm just a beginner myself, but somehow what you said seems unlikely."

"Just wait until you see me in dance practice."

They get to the room where Risa-sensei waits for them.

"No way! No way! No way! Haruko is not ten minutes late?"

"I'm here!" Haruko strikes a pose.

"Miss Daria, how are you?"

"I am okay."

"Did you do all of the exercises that I gave you?"

"Well, my friend made me do them. However, it was pretty embarrassing that I couldn't do two repetitions in a row of anything."

"But, you didn't give up?

"I wasn't allowed to."

"Excellent." Risa brings a chair over. "This might help you on the squats. Pretend that you are sitting down in the chair. When your butt just makes contact with the chair stand back up."

Daria does this in a clumsy way.

"Again."

Daria does this again.

"There, two squats in a row! You're definitely on your way."

"Well, that's better than falling over sideways."

...

Daria and Haruko walk to the classroom where Ai-sensei waits to teach them dance.

Haruko looks smug. "So, you see how well conditioned I am?"

"I did notice one thing. On the exercises we did together, Risa-sensei would give me tips on what I was doing wrong and how to correct my form but she didn't say anything to you."

"I'm perfect, that's why."

"You were doing the same things wrong."

"I was? Oops."

"Has Risa corrected you many times before and you ignore her?"

Haruko blushes. "Maybe."

They get to the room where Ai-sensei waits to teach them dance.

"Oh my god? Haruko is on time?"

Daria smiles. "I must have chased away all of her boyfriends."

Ai-sensei, who is shorter than Haruko, still looks down her nose at Haruko. "Haruko, what have I said about boyfriends?"

"I was just being polite!"

"Miss Daria, please make sure that Haruko makes it to class on time."

"I'll do my best."

"Now Daria, how did the box step go?"

"Fifteen."

"Fifteen what?"

"Times I fell down doing it."

Ai-sensei laughs. "It's not how many times you fall down, it's how many times you get back up."

"If you say so."

"I'll send you a video this weekend on how to do it."

...

Daria sees Jane outside of Cyberia.

"Daria, I wish you had ridden with me and Trent."

"That's okay. I've seen Trent's car."

"Yeah, it is a little on the sketchy side."

"Have you given up on the new hairstyle?"

Jane laughs. "Trent said that I would look more rock and roll with my old hairstyle."

Daria looks down her nose at Jane. "Didn't he really say that he was embarrassed by how cutesy the new hairstyle was?"

"He might have said something to that effect. But I will still use it at school."

Jane and Daria enter Cyberia. It is a rundown and grimy nightclub. The lights are down very low to hide how badly maintained the place is.

Daria rolls her eyes. "Class joint."

Jane scans the area. "Well, I can see this is an all ages show. Plenty of people from TFAS are here."

"Well, it's only a couple of blocks away from TFAS."

"Including ..."

"Daria-senpai!"

"Your fan club."

Daria rolls her eyes at Natsuko and Minamo. "You can call me Daria."

Minamo shakes her head. "No, no. Daria-senpai is Daria-senpai."

"Is this your first time here?"

"No, no. Natsuko and I have been going to TFAS for a while. We go to most of the all ages shows to practice dancing."

"Wow, are your parents rich?"

Minamo looks embarrassed. "Somewhat. But they were happy when we got accepted as idol trainees."

"I am kind of jealous. If I bomb out as a trainee then I will have to go back to my old school."

Natsuko looks concerned. "Daria-senpai, if you ever need help, we're here for you. Let's do our best!"

"Okay." Daria sounds skeptical.

Minamo hands Daria and Jane some cardboard glasses. "Check these out, there are hidden pictures on the wall that you need these glasses to see."

Jane and Daria try them on.

Jane smiles. "Cool."

"They don't quite work if you already wear glasses." Daria hands her pair back.

Jane bows. "May I keep these for a while?"

"Sure!"

...

Trent's band takes the stage.

"Hello, we are Mystik Spiral Kakko Kari. This is our first live outside of my parent's basement. Please take care of us."

The kids applaud.

"This first song is dedicated to my sister who is also here tonight." Trent points to Jane who waves.

Trent starts singing a song about a sister with really bad rhymes and really poorly thought out lyrics.

The kids applaud enthusiastically.

Daria rolls her eyes.

...

Jane meets Daria at their lockers at school. "What's up?"

"Just my own physical incompetence."

"Aren't you getting good instruction?"

"Didn't I forward you the email I got yesterday from my dance instructor?"

Jane laughs. "That was so funny! It was a video of a cockroach."

"She later sent me the real video. What a weirdo!"

"I envy you. None of my art teachers are like that."

A strange boy approaches. "Excuse me?"

"Can we help you?"

The boy stares at Jane. "Are you Lane from the wired?"

Jane looks perplexed. "The wired?"

"That's the name of the school web site. They had a picture up of this super cool girl who was at Cyberia this weekend, and you kind of look like her." The boy pulls out his cell phone and shows Daria and Jane a picture of Jane at Cyberia wearing the cardboard glasses with her hair down.

"If I told you that was me I would have to kill you."

"So cool!" The boy runs away.

"Are you going to keep your hair up?"

"Maybe."

...

Assignment 1:

Subject: Nomaru Minamo - She is a very polite and conscientious girl. She looks out for her friends and is always looking for ways to help. She dances very stylishly and is not afraid to go to grimy clubs with her friends.

Note from Enchi-sensei: You didn't make fun of her chin!

To Be Continued

(1) Kouhai means underclassman. Nichijo is pointing out that Quinn acts cheeky for someone younger than Nichijo.

(2) Horrible pun time again! Nichijo writes on the blackboard the kanji 雨 日女 (Ame Nichijo) Which means "Rain, Sunny Girl". However, 日常 is also pronounced Nichijo and means "ordinary".

(3) Manzai comedy typically involves a straight man (tsukkomi) reacting to the misunderstandings and puns of the funny man (boke).

(4) Kira-kira names (names pronounced differently than their kanji) are a fad in Japan.

(5) Senpai means upperclassman. Here, Natsuko and Minamo are using it to fan girl Daria.

(6) Sensei means teacher. All students will address all their teachers with this honorific.

(7) Sachiko, Ai, and Risa are not TFAS teachers. They have an arrangement with the school where they can come in and teach Harmony Project trainees once or twice a week. At night they train the debuted idols at the Harmony Project building.