An Annoying Paradise - Daria - part 4 - Watamote (1)
Daria walks into the music room expecting to see Sachiko-sensei but sees a different woman instead.
"Hi. My name is Megumi. I work for Harmony Project."
"Am I fired?"
"Why would you think that? Sachiko, Risa, and Ai all have high praise for you."
"They do? They must have really low standards."
Megumi laughs. "Actually, I came because I have to debrief you."
"You can't have my underwear."
Megumi laughs again. "Daria, there was someone who was fired."
"Was it Ai-sensei for sending weird videos?"
"You got one of those? Those are great, aren't they?"
"Maybe in retrospect. Not when I got them."
"No, Ai is fine. But we kicked Haruko out."
"I would like to say I am surprised, but I am not."
"Paparazzi pictures surfaced of her drinking at a club. We can't risk being associated with her."
Daria smirks. "If you had some huge role for her, would you have bought the pictures to cover the situation up?"
Megumi turns serious. "Daria, Harmony Project is a business and we are here to make money first, and girls' dreams come true second. Yes, we would have paid off Friday magazine (2), but we have no such plans for her."
"So, why do I need to be debriefed?"
Megumi starts talking in a spooky voice. "Daria, teen idols are the angels of Japan. However, it is possible for an angel to fall from grace. There are people out there who prey on fallen idols. Some say they can smell a fallen idol. Since you know Haruko, I am worried that the problems coming her way might rub off on you."
"We never really hung out."
"Good. One more thing. Did you like Haruko?"
"I admired her a little bit for her self confidence even though she had no ability."
"Daria, sometimes a fallen idol can get into huge problems. Some times these problems are so bad that if the fallen idol has no one that cares for them at all, they will be totally lost."
"This is starting to sound like a magical girl manga. (3)"
"The question is, would you be willing to risk it all to save Haruko if she gets in trouble?"
This question stumps Daria.
"Well, hopefully we won't have to revisit this question seriously."
"Am I on hidden camera?"
"Always assume that you are."
Sandi walks into one of the art workshop rooms. "Hello. I was asked to do a modeling job. Is this the right place?"
Three boys who were discussing a manga around a table look up. One of the boys responds. "We did. We are looking for someone who can be the lead character in our manga. Can you do 'tsundere'?" (4)
Sandi makes a disgusted face. "Tsundere? You losers must be really brave to do a manga on so outdated a character type. I am an existentially bored princess type."
The three boys nod in agreement. "You're perfect!"
"Whatever. I need to do this assignment to stay in the modeling guild. What do you want me to do?"
One of the boys sets up a video camera. "We need to capture your expressions so that we can infuse them into our character." The boy turns the camera on. "Each of us will make a lame confession to you and you will just say the first thing that comes into your head."
Sandi looks down her nose. "If this is some lame scheme for you geeks to get to talk to a beautiful girl like me, know that I will file a complaint."
The boy setting up the camera gets up. "Perfect! Now, I will go first. My name is Kuro Junichi. (5) What's your name before we start?"
"Biumi Sandi." (6)
"Great." Junichi gets into character. "You know, Sandi, I have been admiring you from afar for some time now. I was wondering if you would be my girlfriend?"
"What sort of a car do you have?"
"Car? I take the subway to get to this school like everyone else."
"Surely you must be kidding? Do you think a glamorous princess like myself would stand for riding on a subway on a date? As if!"
Another member of the manga guild gets up after preparing a second camera. "I will go next. I am Kasshoku Jirou." (7)
"So Sandi, do you think that you are cool enough to go out with a guy like me?"
"Obviously not. I will never be able to be cool enough to wear a Bleach T-shirt. (8) That's been out of fashion for years."
The third boy, after setting up a third camera, gets up. "My turn. I am Kiiro Jurou." (9)
"Um, Sandi, I was wondering if you would accept my confession letter?" Jurou mimes holding an envelope in front of him while bowing.
"I don't accept confession letters that have been reused. Don't think that I can't see that there was another name that was erased on the outside of the envelope. Loser!"
The other two boys stare intently at the monitors of their cameras, then look up.
Junichi smiles. "That was absolutely perfect. You can go now."
"I thought you needed me to act like a tsundere."
Jirou nervously laughs. "Oh, don't worry. We're changing the project name to 'Existentially Bored Princess'."
Sandi smiles. "A much better name."
Jurou nods. "You can go now."
"Yeah, I need to be in a geek free zone."
Daria and Jane place their bowls of ramen down on a table in the ramen shop close to the school, the same ramen shop that the guild week post party was in.
"Thanks for meeting me on such short notice."
Jane smiles. "Hey, I was getting worn down from all the guild work." Jane breaks her chopsticks and starts slurping her noodles and noisily slurps in between replies. (10)
"I just don't know what to think. Somehow, I think that it's my fault that Haruko got canned."
"And, why pray tell is that?"
"People like Natsuko and Minamo have never had a bad word to say to me, but I was always negative towards Haruko."
"Natsuko and Minamo are in your fan club."
"Even so, maybe I shouldn't have been so hard on Haruko?"
"Now, which Haruko are we talking about?"
"What do you mean?"
"Are we talking about the Haruko who refused to do any homework or practice for six months before you got here, or are we talking about some other Haruko who somehow would have turned her whole life around on one nice word from you?"
"Somehow I think those two are the same person."
"Their not. No matter how I look at it, she is the reason why she got kicked out of Harmony Project."
"Even so, I wish I had one hundredth of her self confidence."
"Daria, Daria. Do you remember ten minutes ago when we got in line for our noodles?"
"And when someone got behind us in line, didn't it make you feel better?"
"That's it! While Haruko was in Harmony Project there was at least one girl you could feel ahead of."
Daria nods and slurps her noodles.
"Come on, I am sure there will be other people you can feel superior to."
"I wonder then if I should go tomorrow?"
"Natsuko and Minamo want me to go to Cyberia all ages night with them."
"I should go as well."
"You don't have to."
"I was put on this earth to cause trouble. There's only so much trouble I can cause from my room."
Quinn looks through a book of basic dress designs while putting stick-on accessories on the dresses. Suddenly her phone rings. "Oh, hi Sandi! I haven't heard from you in a while."
"Well, I have decided to forgive you for that outdated dress design."
Quinn rolls her eyes. "Well, don't worry, it won't happen again. And, if it does, I will ask for a different model."
"That might be just as well. I am now a famous manga model."
"Really? How fashionable."
"Three geeky guys wanted me to pose for them."
Quinn raises an eyebrow. "Did all of their first names start with 'J'"?
"How did you know?"
"I have them in my history class."
"I am sure they were all talking about what a great model I was."
"Actually, they were."
"And, how beautiful and nice I was."
Quinn gulps. "Well, you did make a strong impression."
"Of course, they even changed the name of their project in my honor."
"Yes, it is now 'Existentially Bored Princess'. Named after me."
"Well then I will have to talk to them, um, to see how their progress is going."
"Prepared to be blown away."
"That just might happen."
Daria and Jane barely have time for their eyes to adjust to the dim lights of Cyberia before they are set upon by Minamo and Natsuko.
"You could try calling me Daria in the club."
Minamo shakes her head. "Anyway, I want you to know that me and Natsuko are one hundred percent behind you in this Haruko situation."
"Did you guys ever try to support her?"
Natsuko frowns. "Of course we did, but it was like talking to a brick wall."
"Well, at least someone tried to encourage her, instead of being blunt."
Minamo smiles. "Maybe you did the best thing for her being blunt. Support didn't work."
Daria half smiles. "I guess."
"Anyway, we want you to meet our friend. She is also intermediate. There is a four person dance that we want to try and we need a fourth person."
"Won't I screw things up?"
"It's not hard. Come on, give it a try!"
Daria looks at Jane.
"Go ahead, Missy, have fun."
Daria is led by Minamo and Natsuko to a third girl, who is shorter and a lot prettier than the other girls.
"Daria, this is Chisako." (11)
"Please take care of me."
"Daria is remedial."
Chisako smiles. "Don't worry about it Daria, I was remedial for a couple of months. But, I got the hang of it somehow."
"Um, sorry for asking this, but is that your real name?"
"Yes, it is."
"Are your parents tall?"
"Yes! They were the tallest couple in their high school!"
Daria face plants.
"So, have you danced with a group yet?"
"No problem. We will walk you through it."
Jane watches from a distance with a bemused look.
Jane turns around to see a pretty boy. "Can I help you?"
"Are you an idol?"
"Sorry to disappoint you, but no. If you're looking for idols, some trainees are over there."
"Actually, I am not disappointed. I am not allowed to talk to girl idols."
"Why is that? Do they have a protection order against you?"
"No, Josephine would kill me."
"Josephine? Is that your mother?"
The boy laughs. "No, he is the head manager at Jeneral Entertainment. And, yes, that means that I am a 'Jenny Boy'."
"So, why is a big star like you talking to me?"
"I am still a trainee. But Josephine has told me that I am on the fast track and I will soon be put into a group."
"So, why talk to me?"
"Well," the boy blushes, "at Jeneral Entertainment, we are allowed to have all of the cheap affairs we want so long as the girl looks trashy."
"I'll have you know that this look is actually quite fashionable."
"Oh, sorry, I didn't mean it that way. But, we are not allowed to be seen with girl idols or go steady with girls of substance."
"Girls of substance?"
"Girls who look like they are doing the idol a favor by going out with them. It would be a turn off to the fan base."
Jane rolls her eyes. "Of course."
"But, so long as we keep it a secret, we are allowed to go steady. But, I would have to clear you with Josephine."
"But, why wouldn't I go out with him then?"
"He already has a guy."
"I see. So, if we are going to be going steady, maybe I should know your name?"
"Tomuru. But my friends call me Tomu."
"I'm Jane Lane."
"Oh, yeah. Lane from the wired. Do you go to TFAS?"
"Yes I do."
"I haven't seen you around."
"I'm in the fine arts guild. I also wear my hair up at school."
Tom looks at Jane for a minute. "Oh, I have seen you."
"The big question is, is Jane from school a dream of Lane from the Wired or is Lane from the Wired a dream of Jane from TFAS?"
"Good question. So, do you want to get some ramen and discuss it?"
"Twist my arm, you silver tongued devil. But, I should tell my friend Daria." Jane points to Daria who as if on cue falls over trying to keep up with her friends.
"Is she an idol?"
"She's a remedial idol trainee."
"She's so lucky! I was like that once as well, but I had great senpai's who looked after me and didn't let me get discouraged. Are those girls her senpai's?"
"Yes, but a couple of them don't act like it since they are younger."
"Confusing, isn't it? But, she has your phone number, right?"
"You could send her a text message so you don't disturb her practice."
"I'm never going to get this!" Daria pouts.
Chisako tries to comfort Daria. "Now, now. It's not like we are experts. We're just intermediate. We're probably throwing you off with our own bad dancing."
"Throwing me off enough to fall down?"
Chisako smiles. "Wait right here, a friend of mine just got here." Chisako runs off.
Natusko and Minamo look dejected.
Minamo looks down. "I feel like a failure."
"Minamo, no one is paying you to teach me. They're not going to demand their money back or something."
"But, I wanted to dance with you."
Chisako returns with another girl. This girl has chubby cheeks and long black hair. "Daria! This is Manako."
"Daria smiles. Oh, we're in math class together."
"Manako is an official trainee and she is a member of the interpretive dance guild. Manako, Daria is a remedial trainee."
Manako looks guilty, then bows low in contrition. "Sorry! You must think that I am a rotten senpai."
"Chisako was telling me that they were trying to teach you the four person dance we did in practice on Wednesday."
"Wait, intermediates and officials practice together?"
"Yes, we'll all have to get in sync if we want to stand on stage together."
"So, line up behind me and do what I do."
Daria complies and stands behind Manako who stands in front of a wall that is partially mirrored.
"Okay, let's go!"
Daria makes it halfway through the dance before falling.
Manako helps her up. "You have no idea how close you were to nailing it. When you did the samba part you lost a beat and got foot work reversed. Let's do it again and I'll count slower."
Close to halfway through the dance Manako stops. "Right there! You have to switch twice. It's a little tough, but I know you can do it."
They do the dance again and Daria finishes it.
"Wonderful. Now, you three with her."
The four girls complete the dance without a catastrophe.
Manako puts her hand on Daria's shoulder. "Dar-chan, you made past the first step. However, dancing is not just being in sync with the count, it's being in sync with your partners. Now you will need to concentrate hard when you go to practice to make sure that your partners are doing the same things as you. In this case, you should scold them for falling behind the beat."
"Oops, we are in the same class. Sorry!"
Minamo frowns. "Daria, please keep close track of Manako. She is already known as a schemer who acts in a super cute way to hide her slacking off."
Manako pouts and sulks.
Daria notes that although Haruko used to pout when scolded by their mentors, Haruko would pout in a halfhearted way and Manako was at least putting effort into her pouting. "But, Manako, I am just a remedial trainee. I don't get to train with you guys yet."
"Oh, sorry, I forgot you were remedial. You're nothing like that other girl."
"Is that why you were avoiding me in class?"
Manako looks sad.
"Hey, knowing Haruko, I understand why your wouldn't want to talk to me."
"Thanks, Daria. Trying to help her was torture. Let's be good friends."
Daria gets home and turns on the TV.
"They were demolition experts in charge of blowing holes in a wall, but they fell in love! It's love of the gaps, next on Hen Kanashii Sekei!" (12)
Daria turns off the TV and calls Jane. "So, how did the hot date go?"
"I bagged a Jenny Boy."
"A trainee at Jeneral Entertainment. They produce teen boy idol acts, just like Harmony Project produces teen girl idol acts."
"Are they allowed to date?"
"So long as it's not with a girl idol and as long as they are discreet."
"So, you're his secret girl?"
Daria raises an eyebrow.
Subject: Biumi Sandi - Sandi is the picture of the perfect Japanese girl without any of the skills or nobility behind the appearance. In her previous school she lead a "mean girls" quartet and maintained control through an endless barrage of veiled insults. If she didn't have the intelligence of a carrot she might be dangerous.
Note from Enchi-sensei: Don't forget about her obnoxious vocal mannerisms.
To Be Continued
(1) Watamote is short for the name of a Japanese anime called "WATAshi ga MOTEnai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!". Translated the title means "No matter how I look at it, It's you guys fault I'm not popular!"
(2) Friday Magazine in Japan is a tabloid magazine that has broken in the past many stories that were troublesome for idols, include publishing pictures of them with boyfriends.
(3) Manga's are comic books. There is a whole genre of manga with the lead character being a young girl with magical powers who can usually transform into a more power form as needed.
(4) Tsundere is a character type, usually a girl, who physically or verbally assaults other characters because she is not good at saying that she likes them.
(5) Kuro Junichi means "black obedient one". The manga guild members are supposed to correspond to Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie from the Daria show so Junichi would correspond to Joey since Joey had black hair.
(6) Biumi sort of means Beauty Sea but is probably not a real Japanese name. It might be an alias that Sandi uses to make herself look cooler.
(7) Kasshoku Jirou means "brown second son". He corresponds to Jeffey since Jeffey has brown hair.
(8) Bleach is a very long running popular anime/manga about death guardians.
(9) Kiiro Jurou means "yellow tenth son". He corresponds to Jamie since Jamie has blonde hair.
(10) In Japan it is considered normal to noisily slurp your ramen noodles.
(11) Chisako could mean "small small", this is why Daria has a hard time accepting her name as real.
(12) "Suki da" is "it is love" and "sukima" is "gap" so the title is "Sukima no suki da", another rancid middle aged man pun.