The Day Everything Changed
It was Friday July 1, 2005, which was the last day of classes at Ryouou High School before the two month summer break. Now, keep in mind that since this is Japan, this was only the end of the year's first trimester, as the school year had started on Monday April 4, 2005. Most of the students as well as the faculty were looking forward to vacation, and expected a quiet last day of classes.
Unfortunately, it wouldn't be the case this time. For 4 young girls, all first-years, 10th grade in Japan, it became a day they would never forget. And for two of them, Konata Izumi and Kagami Hiiragi, it went down as one of the most terrifying days of their lives. However, it was also the day that would wind up making their true feelings for each other known.
Thursday June 30th, 3:30 pm
After an agonizingly long day of first trimester finals, the dismissal bell rang. As the classroom emptied out, the teacher for that class, Nanako Kuroi, shouted out to her students, "Now don't forget, class, the results of your trimester exams will be posted by tomorrow morning". As the students exited Ms. Kuroi's classroom, one could see them all in their school summer uniforms. As there were only one for each gender (Guys= military style uniform. Gals= sailor fuku uniform) it was kind of hard to tell who was which at times.
Among the students exiting, were Konata and Kagami, who, like everyone else, had just finished their final trimester exams. Konata sighed, "Man, I'm bushed. That last exam was brutal". Kagami responded by saying, "Yeah, I know what you mean. It was a doozy. But then again, I'm not the one who spent only one all-nighter studying". "Well, after tomorrow, we won't have to deal with school for the next 2 months"! Konata exclaimed. They then heard a familiar voice behind them say, "Yoo-hoo! Sis! Kona-chan! Over here!". They both turned around and they saw Kagami's twin sister Tsukasa Hiiragi, running up to them. Konata greeted her with a resounding "Hiya Tsukasa". "Wasn't that last exam hard"?, Tsukasa asked. "Yeah", Konata and Kagami both replied at once. "Hello everyone!" came the soft spoken voice of Miyuki Takara, another friend of theirs and the youngest of the four girls. Kagami greeted her with "Oh, hey Miyuki".
As the four girls were talking about exams and the upcoming vacation, another girl by the name of Sakura Takahashi (高橋 サクラ) peered out from behind the door. This girl was a 19 year old second year student, having been held back twice. Takahashi was also one of the school bullies, having beat up every girl that she thought had it better than her, which pretty much equated to all of them.
As she looked out the door, she saw the four girls leaving and said to herself, "Damn that Hiiragi! I hate her so much! She always has all the luck!". Out of all of Sakura's potential victims, Kagami, for some reason, was the one girl that she absolutely despised, although Kagami was always oblivious to this fact. While walking out, Sakura thought to herself, "Well, all that will change by tomorrow. If all goes well, she'll be in a full body cast by the time I'm done with her!". With that she gleefully ran home to plan her evil deed.
That night, our four heroines had met at the downtown Teen Center. All of them had changed into more casual clothing. After a few minutes of searching, they finally found an empty table and sat down in it. "So now that we're here, what should we talk about?", Kagami asked. "Oh, I have one.", Miyuki responded, "You know how my father is always away on business?". "Oh yes, and how you hardly ever see him?", Tsukasa asked. "Yes, well, he finally got some time off. So he'll be home again with us for a few weeks. He should be here by the time school ends tomorrow.", Miyuki said joyfully. "Wow, that's great, Miyuki-san." Konata replied. "You know, my cousins are staying at my place for the summer, too. They could be here by the time I get home tonight", she continued excitedly.
"Not to mention our birthday is next Thursday", Kagami and Tsukasa both chimed in at once. "Oh yeah! That's right!", Konata said. "You two are going to be turning 16, is that correct?", Miyuki asked. "Yes, of course we are!", the twins said eagerly. Konata responded, "That's totally awesome. I totally know how that milestone feels". (Konata had just turned 16 back on May 28th, while Miyuki would be turning 16 in a few months, on October 25th). "If I'm correct, your birthday is on the same day as the Tanabata festival", Miyuki stated. "Oh, yeah. That's right", the twins chimed in.
Suddenly, they heard a loud squeak, which was caused by a boy testing the microphone for the karaoke section. Meanwhile another boy was testing the video screen where the lyrics would be displayed. By the way, this teen center had it all. Aside from that, there were also 8 big screen TV's, 12 vending machines, 20 different game tables, 16 different arcade games and even a low-priced restaurant (giving the center the appropriate name of "Everything in One").
Now, getting back to the story, as soon as everything was all clear, the two girls (twin sisters both in their late 20's) who owned the place rushed up to the karaoke area and said together, "All right everyone! The Karaoke section is now officially open!". Then one of them said, "Now as always, we will now pick somebody at random to start us off. Would you do the honors, Hina?". The other girl said, "I will be glad to do that, Yuna, and that somebody will be...", then pointing at Kagami, said "This young lady over here".
Back over at the table, Konata, Tsukasa, and Miyuki cheered Kagami on, as she nervously made her way to the stand. Yuna asked her, "And what song do you feel like singing?". Kagami thought for a moment and said, "Do you have Velvet Darkness?". Looking through the album list, Hina said, "Yep, we sure do. I'll tell the guys up there in the control booth to put it in. Just give us the signal when you're ready". She and her partner then left the stage.
Facing the audience, Kagami took a deep breath and explained, "Um, I haven't done this in a while. So I apologize if my singing isn't all that good.", then looking up at the control booth stated, "All right, I'm ready". At the booth, Hina and Yuna got the signal and said, "Fire it up, boys!". One of them put the CD in, and the other one programmed the lyrics onto the screen.
The music started playing, and the spotlight shined on her. After a few moments, Kagami took a deep breath and began to sing.
I'm carrying so much anxiety alone that it hurts. On sleepless nights it slams me
These days we can't even dream. Boring dreams.
In a corner of this town, as biting as the desert
We held our breath, put our arms around each other and kissed
Our love is laid bare. And melts into the velvet darkness
I'll take your hand. And lead you to where happiness shines its light
Embracing the moment…
It turns out that Kagami had an excellent singing voice despite her thoughts otherwise, and the audience was completely entranced. Back at the table, the other girls were probably the most entertained.
"Gee, Sis sure sings beautifully, doesn't she Yuki-chan?", Tsukasa asked. "Oh yes indeed very much so.", Miyuki answered. "What do you think of her singing, Konata-san?" she then asked, but got no response the first time. "Konata-san?", she asked again a little more impatiently. Konata, who was absolutely and completely mesmerized by Kagami's beautiful voice, simply responded with, "It's the most beautiful singing I've ever heard".
Konata never let anyone know it, but she secretly had a crush on Kagami ever since they first met in the 7th grade. And this was not your standard crush either. Oh no sir, this was a HUGE crush, but Konata had always been too scared to tell Kagami her true feelings for her. "If only I could muster up the courage to tell her", she thought to herself, "If only she knew how I really feel about her" At that time, Kagami finished the song to a standing ovation from the audience. Konata jumped on top of the table and yelled "All right, Kagami! You go, girl!". Kagami smiled and took a bow to the enthusiastic audience.
Chapter revised on Sunday April 15, 2012
Sakura is named after either Hiroyuki Takahashi (高橋 博行) or Mariko Takahashi (高橋 真梨子). The former was the animation director on Episodes 10 and 17. He also did key animation on Episodes 5 and 6, and created the art settings for the anime itself. The latter did key animation on Episodes 9, 15, 24, and the opening sequence, and she was also the assistant animation director on Episode 9.
Velvet Darkness, otherwise known as Biroodo No Yami, was a 2005 single from the group Kinki Kids. At the time our story takes place it ranked in the Top 5 in the Japan Top 40 charts.