Miracle Chef Mori Manami
# 01 - Frying Pan Flash! The Miracle Chef Awakens!
Most people don't believe that magic is real. Most people believe that magic is the result of illusions, or that it's for make-believe, or that it just doesn't exist.
Most people don't cook their own food, either. Most people pay someone else to harvest the plants or slaughter the pigs, or pay someone to prepare the food. Anyhow, most people aren't connected to the food they eat.
I'm not most people. Not only is my friend Manami an excellent chef, she's also got some sort of magic touch. Really, she does. All she does is cast some sort of magic spell, and then Foo! she knows exactly what food to use.
And here I was thinking that, of the three of us, Himeko would be the magic user. Oh well, I suppose I shouldn't be too worried about it. After all, you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.
Hmm, well, I suppose I should start at the beginning. After all, it's a very good place to start.
My name is Kamikura Ichiko. My best friends are Mori Manami, Natsuno Melody and Nonohara Himeko. I'm some sort of sharpshooter aspiring to be a world-famous businesswoman, Manami wants to go to The Aoi Ribbon, a cooking academy in America, Melody is the resident computer expert, and Himeko... well, we're not too sure what she wants to do, but we're all sure she'll be good enough at it as long as it doesn't involve being femenine.
Oh, right, I need to introduce some more people. Let's see... There's Manami's boyfriend Tetsu, Himeko's boyfriend Daichi, we also have Hibino Hikaru, who is forever trying to get Daichi to notice her... then there's Daichi's romantic rival, Arisaka Sei... there are others, but they're not as important... unless I've forgotten them somehow. Oh well, if I remember them, I remember them.
Uhh, let's see. The whole thing with Miracle Chef Mori Manami started about the same time that we had to fill in for the Kendou Team. We didn't know it then, even Manami didn't know it, but she'd cursed the food so that if the Kendou Team ate it and then decided to go eat somewhere else afterwards, they'd all get sick because of it. Which is exactly what happened, except Tetsu wasn't there that day to eat it and so didn't get sick. Lucky him, he got to watch us get stomped by the other school's Kendou Club. Not Team, Club.
Well, it just snowballed from there. Himeko played Cupid somehow and got Manami and Tetsu together, and then after that Hime-chan and Daichi became an official couple.
About a week after that, Daichi's family moved a town over. Hime-chan wasn't happy to hear it, but it's not like Daichi moved away forever - he worked out a way to show up at school every morning like normal, so that was that. Hikaru, though... she wasn't happy to find out that Daichi did it just so that he wouldn't miss Himeko. She was even ranting about catching the two of them dancing in super-formal clothes in the school gym on a Sunday.
Like Hime-chan would wear anything like that, or that Daichi would go to the school when he didn't need to. Plus, Hikaru was saying that she almost got to marry Daichi by using magic.
Nobody could take her seriously when she started talking about the supernatural like that. At least, at the time, neither Manami or I could have taken her seriously.
We know better now.
Ahh, well it really got going about a week after that. I had the bright idea to try and get everyone at the movies on the same day. It was a movie that Himeko's papa took us all to see, since he directed it, but Hime-chan walked out of it in the middle, Daichi never showed up, Melody fell asleep in the middle of it, and Tetsu says he's never seen it. Thankfully, I was able to buy enough tickets for all of us to go (and it used up all my spare money for that week), so since it was free tickets again (except for me), and since we brought rope to tie down Hime-chan so that she couldn't walk out again, we all got to sit through the movie.
After that, Manami decided that it was her duty to feed me since I paid for the tickets. On the one hand, I'm really wanting free food at this point, and she offered, so it's like "why not?", but then I also got the bright idea that she had to feed all of us, not just me, because of the whole friends thing.
Long story short, Manami fed us. It was good, but then Hibino... no, it wasn't Hibino, it was Robelia... I knew I was forgetting someone... I probably forgot her because she looks like Hibino and I already said her... anyway, Robelia showed up and said that she had been sent to find Himeko. I think she was expecting something like that, because she went and pulled Robelia aside and... hmm, you know, maybe it was Hibino, because they started to argue and then Daichi went back there, and then Tetsu decided that he was full, but that he loved it... The long and short of it was that everyone left before long except for me and Manami.
Since my parents were out of town, I decided to invite Manami over for the night.
It got weirder from there. Normally, the weird stuff only happens when Hime-chan's involved, but apparently we've got other weirdness magnets around here. Arisaka Sei, for example. I did a little research on his past, and he has no past. Nothing. Not even any records of where he moved to, from... not even any records of his birth. He did not exist until he started going to Icchu Middle.
Why are you looking at me like that? I'm sure you remember Melody. She and me and Manami and Himeko are all good friends, and she was with us when we met Arisaka. It's just that Melody fell in with the Modern Tech club, the Go club, and ended up in classes on the other side of the school most of the time, so yeah. But I tell you she's a technological wizard. I wonder if being the daughter of the school network administrator has something to do with it.
...where was I? Oh, right. We ran into Melody on the way to my place. She said that she thought she saw Hibino chasing Daichi chasing Himeko chasing Hibino earlier, but she chalked it up to being tired. I figured that since Himeko still hadn't done her homework for tomorrow, me and Melody and Manami could all just have a night at my place, relax and unwind and stuff. We started to talk about stuff like boyfriends and whatnot. Manami started to space out.
That's when Melody asked me about if we'd seen Arisaka since Himeko had smacked him with her schoolbag. "Um, what? He was at our school, he was in Hime-chan's class for a year, how could you miss him?"
"What are you talking about? There weren't any new transfer students the past couple of years, and I'm certain that this 'Arisaka Sei' never went to our school to begin with."
"That's funny, I remember seeing him come out of class behind Hime-chan every day for a year and a half..."
"There were no records of him."
"Hmm, maybe he's just not in the computer system yet."
"No, no, there'd be a paper record, too. I was helping dad put the paper records in to the system. There was never an Arisaka Sei at Icchu."
"Well that's... very strange, actually."
We were at my house. I looked at Manami as I unlocked the door. "Did he ever say when his birthday was?"
"...huh? Oh, Tetsu hasn't told me yet."
I had to keep from hitting her. "Not Tetsu, Arisaka."
"I think it was sometime during the summer break... Are you ever gonna let us in, or are we sleeping out here tonight?"
Oh, right. I still had the key in my pocket.
Ahh, so we got inside and set up the beddings and all that stuff and Manami pulled out some cooking supplies and started cooking stuff to eat... I don't remember what she called it, I think it was a Strawberry Quiche or something like that... it was pretty good though. And then Melody pulled out her anime collection, and we watched that. I wonder if she doesn't have some sort of magic pocket to keep all that stuff in, there's no way she could fit all of it in there normally, and yet she pulled out her entire collection of Hana no Mahoutsukai Mary Bell...
I never wanted to hear the words "Mary Bell Tambourine!" after that night... It's a good thing that we didn't have class the next day, we watched the whole thing... or at least, Melody and Manami did. I'd rather have some sort of action anime over a magical girl show, anyway.
Anyhow, I was trying to sleep, when Melody and Manami started to get silly with things, prancing around and pretending to be magical girls.
"Mary Bell Tambourine! Say, Manami, wouldn't it be cool if I was a magical girl like Mary Bell? "
"What, and have magic tied to flowers? Nah, I'll pass. If it was food, or something..."
"Heh, you'd be Miracle Chef Mori Manami... what'd your magic words be?"
"Hmm... I dunno, probably 'Frying Pan Flash!'"
There was a burst of light. I rolled out of the bedding and looked at Melody. She was at a loss for words, and she was rubbing her eyes as though someone had caught her by surprise with a flash camera. So, I looked at Manami.
"Do that again."
Manami looked at me, but she also looked dazed. "Uhh, sure." She held her right hand out in front of her, half-open and with the palm down. "Frying Pan Flash!"
There was another burst of light.
"Hmm, that'll be useful... hmm..." My eyes adjusted to the darkness again. "We'll have to remember to not let you do that in the dark, though."
Melody chimed in. "Bad for the eyes and all that. Say, can you do a sort of transformation or disguise or something?"
"I dunno, I just found out about it when I did it a little bit ago."
"Melody, does Manami really need one, though? For all we know, that flash of light is all she can do right now. Anyhow, let's get some sleep. Hime-chan'll want to know about this."
"...I don't think we should tell her just yet."
We all looked at Manami. "Why not? We're her friends, and-"
"I don't think we should tell her just yet. Remember what she did when she found out that I liked Tetsu? I don't want her to go overboard like that."
And that was that. Manami and Melody kept trying out new spells, new combinations, they even tried to see if Manami was like Sailor Moon...
I rolled over and went to sleep. "We can worry about that stuff later, let's just hope that she never needs to use it in a fight."
The next morning, I woke up to a strange sight. Melody had slept without any clothes (as usual; she's a strange one even for us)... but that's not the strange sight. I laid a blanket over Melody and went down to see Manami cooking... and talking to a second Manami?
"Is this a new spell or something, Manami?" I asked.
"-and it's very important that you don't let Himeko know just yet. Okay?"
"Uhh, sure, I wasn't going to tell her just yet anyway, but is there a reason for this?"
"I can't tell you without blowing eighteen months of secrets, just believe me when I say that Himeko finding out is a bad thing for now."
"When can I tell her?"
"By the time it is safe to tell her, she'll already know about it."
With that, the second Manami left. Disappeared into thin air.
"Umm, good morning Manami."
"A-aaaah! Icchan! How much of that did you hear?"
"That we can't tell Himeko without blowing eighteen months of secrets or something like that."
"Oh, good. Look at this."
She held up a locket. It was colored like an egg-shell, and it looked like an egg when closed. Melody wandered down the steps, without the blanket.
"G'mornin Icchan, Manami. Icchan, where's the towels? You moved them from last time."
"Mama moved them to the upstairs closet. Manami, can we tell Melody if she promises not to tell Hime-chan?" I motioned for Melody to come closer, which she did.
"I think we're supposed to keep it a secret from as many people as possible, but I don't see why Melody can't be allowed to know." Manami opened the locket (inside was a picture of The Aoi Ribbon), raised it over her head like Sailor Moon, and called out. "Miraculous Lunchtime Disguise!"
There was a glow of light, and Manami's clothing faded from her Pyjamas and into some sort of maid costume, and in her hand appeared a spatula that looked like it was made of gold.
Manami's face was still Manami's face, but it looked different somehow... not sure how, though.
"August said that it would work better if people didn't see me use that spell, but it's supposed to make me harder to recognize."
Melody started to get excited. "Oooh, did she tell you how to make your magic work?"
"Outside of the disguise spell, no. She said that the spells would come as I needed them. Oh, yeah, she also gave me this book." It was a book with the English word for miracle on it. "Apparently, the powers I do find out about get recorded in here automatically. Look," she opened it up, and on the second page was a diagram with "Frying Pan Flash" written under it. The next page had the egg locket and the words "Miraculous Lunchtime Disguise" on it. The first page just had a recipe on it. "She also said that we could share recipes using this first page, all I have to do is remember to write it down."
So, yeah, that's how Manami became Miracle Chef Mori Manami. But that's not the end of the story. After all, we had to keep it a secret from Hime-chan. And besides, it's not like Manami wasn't going to become a weirdness magnet because of this.
Next time, on Miracle Chef Mori Manami: "Flaming Curry Rice! This Is A Problem!"