An Annoying Paradise - Daria - part 5 - Bleach

Daria and Jane stand in front of their lockers.

Minamo runs up to them. "Daria-senpai! Big trouble!"

Daria raises an eyebrow. "Oh? Do you have a zit?"

"Much, much, much worse than that. Didn't you see Good Moo-ning Japan (1) today?"

"I try to avoid that show."

"Oh my god. I watch it every day. One of the debuted girls is an extra on the show."

"So, what was on it?"

"You might want to sit down."

"We're in the hall."

"Oh, right. Well, Haruko was on the show."

"What?"

"It gets worse. She was signed by Ajax."

"Wait, she's a cleaning lady now?"

Minamo face plants. "Ajax is another idol company, a rival company to Harmony Project."

"Are Harmony Project and Ajax numbers one and two?"

Minamo blushes a little bit. "Seven and eight. But, it still gets worse."

"Oh?"

"She was signed to be the lead voice actress of a new anime, Love Idol War."

"Well, good for her. I'm glad to hear that someone sees something in her, even though I didn't."

"But, I haven't even told you the worst part yet."

"She sings on the anime?"

"That's kind of assumed. But, they asked her who she considered her rival was and she said Asamura Daria."

"This has got to be a joke."

"No, it's not. Natsuko saw it as well."

"She said her rival was someone who isn't even acknowledged by her own company?"

"Crazy, right? Well, I have to get to class." Minamo runs off.

Jane nods. "Well, so much for anonymity."

Daria looks panicked. "Tell me about it."

...

Manako approaches Daria after math class. "So, did you hear the news?"

"Minamo gave me a report."

"Funny isn't it?"

"What's funny?"

"The comic!" Manako pulls out her smart phone and shows Daria a four panel comic strip (2) from The Wired.

Daria giggles.

"It's called Tsundere Princess and it's by the manga guild. I am glad you thought it was funny. I showed it to Chisako and she gave me a vacant look and said she didn't get it."

"That's nice, but I thought you were talking about Ajax signing Haruko."

Manako makes a face. "It just means that we have to try harder. We, and you especially, can't lose to her."

"At what? Underage drinking?"

"At popularity."

"I don't want to be popular."

"Yeah, yeah, the writer thing. But, you'd be surprised about how many people ask me about you."

"That stinks."

"Anyway, I was wondering if you would like to come over to my house tonight. There's a game I want to show you."

"Will I still be able to get married after this game?"

"It's not a hentai (3) game. I promise. And, if it is, you don't have to help me with math."

"As expected from the queen of 'azatoii'." (4)

Manako makes the peace sign.

"Well, normally I would be eating ramen with Jane, but she's been seeing a lot recently of a certain boy, so I suspect that tonight is okay."

...

Tomuru and Jane slurp ramen noodles at the ramen shop close to the school.

Suddenly a tall cross-dressed man sits next to them. "Mind if join?"

Tomuru looks nervous. "Um, Jane, this is Josephine."

"How do you do. I've heard a lot about you."

"And, I've heard a lot about you. So much so that I had to come see for myself if there was a girl even more perfect than myself."

Jane fidgets nervously.

"But, I can see now that Tomuru was correct. However, Tomu-kun?"

"Yes?" Tomuru looks down in a guilty way.

"How is this in any way, shape, or form discreet?"

"I guess it isn't."

"Well, please try harder. I won't stand in between the two of you, but know that this girl could torpedo your career with a single Friday's picture."

Tomuru suddenly smiles. "I know what to do. You should hire Jane!"

Jane looks shocked. "Now wait just a second here buddy-boy. I have never been accused of being a bishounen. (5) And, I have no desire to be drooled over by a bunch of fan girls."

Tomuru laughs. "Not as a boy idol, but as a cd cover designer."

Josephine smiles. "That's not the worst suggestion I have heard this week. Jane, Tomuru did show you me your paintings on The Wired."

"Why, thanks."

"But, I don't have much say in the design department."

Jane shrugs. "Oh well."

"One more thing, Jane."

"Yes?"

"Do you hang out with any girl idols?"

"Just with my friend Asamura Daria."

Josephine does a double take. "That Asamura Daria?"

"Wow, word from the TV show travels fast."

"What TV show? T and myself are childhood friends and we still get to get together for drinks every other week. T praises Daria to the skies and thinks she will be Harmony Project's biggest star."

Jane smirks. "I keep telling her that and she doesn't believe it."

"Well, it's best that Daria stays a long way away from Tomuru, just in case."

...

Manako shows Daria her home gaming system and microphones. "Here it is, your new best friend."

"Jane will be disappointed."

"Well, not literally. The game is called Superstar Singing."

"That rules me out."

"Give yourself a chance for once, it's fun. Watch me."

Daria watches as Manako sings "Sakura Night Fever". (6)

"... Halloween, Valentine's, Hina Matsuri ..."

Daria points at the screen. "What are those weird lines?"

Manako pauses the game and points at the lines on the screen. "These lines give you an idea of pitch and duration. Watch this." Manako resumes the game and deliberately goes off pitch and off duration in her singing. A second colored line which up to this point had been drawing over the initial lines diverges and starts going up and down.

Daria's jaw drops. "Whoa. I though that the colored line covered the first line automatically. Were you getting a perfect score?"

"Well, it is easy mode."

"No way I can do this."

"Hey, math is hard for me as well, but I will ask for your help."

"Well, maybe."

That's the spirit. "Give it a try."

Daria tries to sing the song but gives up halfway through, unable to match the pitch or the phrasing. "I told you I would stink at this."

"That was your first try. Let's try it again in free style mode. The lines will not grade you and you can try to match your pitch to mine."

"Okay."

They make it through without a mishap.

"Dar-dar, you wouldn't believe how many girls who are idols are tone deaf."

"After hearing Haruko in practice, yes, I would!"

"But, you're not one of them. If you can match my pitch then with a little bit of work you can match the pitch of the song. Try it again."

Daria makes it through to the end of the song, scoring around 30%. The machine gives her a rank of amateur.

"There, that's a start."

"But, this is easy mode."

"A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. You have at least made the first step."

"What if I don't want to make the next step?"

"Do you have this console at home?"

"Yes."

Manako hands her a game and a microphone. "Here. These are spares. Pick a song and practice tonight until you can get through it."

Daria looks at the game in horror.

...

Quinn works away at a dress design in her room, using the same two transparent sheet trick that Risaki had shown her.

The phone rings.

"Hello Sandi. How are you?"

"I have never been worse! Didn't you see the manga?"

"I did. It was so funny!"

"Did you see the title? It was supposed to be 'Bored Existential Princess' not 'Tsundere Princess'. I was mortified to be associated with a project with so lame a name."

"That? I asked Junichi, Jirou, and Jurou about that. They said that they changed the name back."

"I knew they only asked me to do the project because that was the only way they could talk to a pretty girl."

"Wait, I talked to them."

"Only about the project."

"That's true."

"But even worse, even worse, was the character design. They used me as the character design for a character who was fat!"

"The character was just chubby."

"Are you implying that I am not fashionably thin?"

"Of course not."

"So, Quinn, you need to talk to your mother. I need to sue the manga club for deflation of character."

"You mean defamation of character."

"Whatever. Are you implying that my character hasn't be deflated?"

"Sandi, it's just a legal term. I know this because I have gone to my mother many times for offenses against my purehearted girl nature that rivaled the insult of that manga. And, in every case my Mother shot down the idea saying that it would be laughed out of court."

"But this case is serious!"

"I'm sorry Sandi, but the legal system is cruel and insensitive to fashionable girls like us. I don't want to see you get hurt."

"Grrr!" Sandi hangs up.

...

Daria and Jane stand around their lockers before class.

Manako walks up. "Dar-dar! Did you get through a song?"

"Oh, Manako. This is my friend Jane Lane. Jane this is Inabu Manako."

Manako looks at Jane closely. Ame Nichijo?"

"I have been known to answer to that name."

"Don't you remember me? We were in ballet class together."

"There are some episodes in my life I try to forget."

"Dar-dar, your friend is the best dancer of all time."

"Figures."

"I haven't done it in years."

"HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!"

Daria, Jane, and Manako turn around to see Haruko flanked by a shorter girl with an impressive figure.

"Asamura Daria, I told you I was going to be a star and I became one. Beda!" Haruko sticks out her tongue and pulls her eyelid down.

Daria smiles. "You know Haruko, I think that you've changed. I think that the sticking out of your tongue was the first thing I have ever seen you do that wasn't done in a halfhearted way."

Koharu looks furious. "Let's go!" Koharu and the other girl walk down the hall.

Manako looks shocked. "Daria, that was savage. True, but savage."

"Thanks, I guess."

"You should be a poisoned tongue idol."

Daria looks flustered.

Jane smiles. "See? There is something you can excel at."

...

Daria walks into the music room and sees Sachiko talking to a talk crossed-dressed man. "Excuse me, are you Josephine by any chance? Jane told me about you."

"Bingo! You must be Miss Daria. I can see that everything that T says about you is true."

"Umm."

"Oh, you're the type that doesn't take complements well?"

"I usually respond with a poisoned tongue comment."

"Wonderful. I can see you going as far as T says you will."

"Nowhere?"

Josephine laughs. "You have no idea. But, to get to the point, please, please, please stay away from Tomuru. He is my ace and I need him not to have a scandal."

"I haven't even met him."

"Good! Keep it that way, for his and my sake."

"Sure."

...

Daria sees Manako before class. "Hey, I got 50% on The Usagi Dance." (7)

"I figured that you would pick that one. Hey, one step at a time."

"I don't know why, but somehow I felt more motivated last night."

"I know why, Haruko has awakened the tiger inside you. You now want to compete and show that you're not as lame as Haruko."

"Maybe."

"Hey strange foreign exchange student who lives with Quinn?"

Daria and Manako turn around to see Sandi.

"Sandi, shouldn't there be a 'senpai' at the end of that?"

"Whatever. You need to get your mother to sue the manga club for deflation of character."

Daria smirks. "For Tsundere Princess?"

"Yeah."

"You can't. Since the character is heavier than you, you need to sue for inflation of character."

"Good point!"

"However, Quinn has much more pull than I do with mom since I am only a foreign exchange student who lives with Quinn."

"I'll get on her right away."

Sandi walks off. As soon as Sandi gets out of earshot Manako starts laughing. "Who was that idiot?"

"She's one of my sister Quinn's friends. In out previous school they formed the self proclaimed fashion club."

Manako gets a sneaky look on her face. "I might need to study her."

Daria looks disgusted.

"However, 50% is a cause for celebration. Let's do ramen tonight!"

"Can Jane come?"

"I thought she had a guy."

"A Jenny boy, so she has to keep things hush hush."

"Of course she can come."

...

Jane, Daria, and Manako slurp noodles together.

Jane breaks the silence. "You know Manako, I am not made of tissue paper. You can talk about me without hurting my feelings."

"Okay, Nichi-chan."

"You snake!"

Daria clears her throat. "Play nice now."

"Um, excuse me? May I join you guys?"

Daria looks at the girl standing next to their booth and then stares at her chest. "You're the girl who was with Haruko, right?"

"That's me. I am Yuuki."

Daria motions for her to sit down. "So, are you also an Ajax idol?"

"I am signed with the Ajax talent agency, but I am a voice actress. I can sing if I need to, though."

"Well, I was worried that having an Ajax idol and a Harmony Project idol at the same table would cause a scandal."

Yuuki laughs. "You won't get in trouble. We're all girls. No one cares about that."

"I was worried for Manako. No one knows who I am."

"Thanks to Haruko, everyone knows who you are."

"I am trying to forget that."

"So, are you trying to following in the footsteps of Ikuda Alana?"

"Who is that?"

"Oh my god! You've never heard of Harmony Project's biggest star?"

"Guess not."

"She's going to graduate from her group in two months. It will be the first time any Harmony Project group has every headlined Budokan."

"What makes you think I will be headlining Budokan?"

"No, no. Alana is famous for staring at the chests of other girls."

"Oh, sorry."

"No need to apologize. They're B-cups. They only look bigger because I have really good posture."

"So," uncomfortable pause, "why did you want to join us?"

"To apologize for Haruko's behavior."

"Shouldn't she do that?"

"I'm kind of Haruko's keeper during the day."

"Wow, they must really hate you at Ajax."

"Not really. If I can keep Haruko out of trouble for the first thirteen episodes of the anime they will write me to the story. It will be my first big break in an anime, so I have to make the show work until then."

"Well, good luck then. That can't be an easy job."

"I will do it." Yuuki makes a fist. "I know if I get into that show I will clean up in anime."

The rest of the table face plants.

...

Daria enters her room and turns on the TV set.

"The Chief started crying. Next, on Hen Kanashii Sekai, there was nothing to be done about it, they had run out of ginger!" (8)

Daria turns off the TV set and picks up the microphone.

To Be Continued

(1) Good Moo-ning Japan (Ohayo GozaiMOOOsu Nipon) is an imaginary show somewhat similar to Oha-sta. This show, aimed a kids and teens will often have idols on the show making announcements, usually standing between extras dressed as cows.

(2) Four panel comic strips are called yonkoma's in Japan. 95% of Yonkoma's follow the formula of establish, development, climax, reaction for the four panels.

(3) Hentai means perverted.

(4) Azatoii means scheming.

(5) Bishounen means pretty boy.

(6) Sakura Night Fever is a pop song by KAN.

(7) The Usagi Dance (the bunny dance) is a children song and is presumably easy to do.

(8) "there was nothing to be done about it, they had run out of ginger!" would be "Shou ga nai - shouga nai!" another horrible Japanese pun.