日常- nichijou, Arawi Keiichi
It's late autumn. The air is quite frigid today.
The principal of Tokisadame High School walks up to a building located next to the train tracks. He looks up at the sign that reads "Shinonome Laboratory" and nods to himself. Good, it looks like the hired men have managed to get the sign up properly.
He rings the doorbell.
An unfamiliar dark-haired girl answers the door. "Ah, hello! Can I help you?"
The principal stares blankly at the girl.
"Um, excuse me?" asks the girl.
The principal blinks. This should be the correct address. "Is there a Hakase living in this residence, by any chance?"
"Oh, do you know the professor?" The girl smiles.
So it is the right place. "In a manner of speaking."
"Then please, come in." The girl leads the principal in and sets down a pair of slippers. "The professor is in the living room over there. I will make some tea for you." She bows slightly and then hurries to the kitchen.
The principal slides open the door. "Hello?"
Hakase looks up from her coloring book. She smiles hesitantly. "Oh, it's you."
"How have you been doing, Hakase?" The principal seats himself in front of the table.
"I made lots of inventions!"
The principal chuckles. "That's good to hear." He turns his head in the direction of the kitchen. "By the way, who's the nice girl? Is she a new worker at the orphanage? I don't recall her face."
Hakase shakes her head, brimming with pride. "No, that's Nano. I made her."
The principal splutters. "Huh?..." The principal regards Hakase with a bewildered stare. He must have misheard her. "What do you mean?"
Hakase nods. "Yeah, a week ago. I didn't like those orphanage people really much, so I made a new person that's much better!"
"You did?" The principal gapes.
The principal pinches the bridge of his nose. "I thought cloning was illegal?..."
Hakase shakes her head. "No, no, Nano's a robot! A robot!"
"A robot?" The principal blinks. The girl hadn't looked anything like a robot. Is... Is Hakase becoming delusional?
He looks Hakase up and down. Then again, this is Hakase. Building a robot might not be that out there for her. "Were the orphanage people giving you trouble?" asks the principal. "If there are any issues, I can easily set things right."
Hakase pouts, crossing her arms. "No, they're all the same. 'Hakase, stop dith...dismantling the smoke detector!' 'Hakase, stop going into the washing machine wiring!' 'Hakase, stop trying to make kerosene!'"
The principal rubs his bald head absently. "Well..."
"So I made Nano t' make those people go away!"
Hakase grins smugly. "Mm! It worked! They thought that Nano was an orphanage person, so they din't send anyone after that!"
"Nano's way better than those orphanage peoples!"
The principal sits up, alarmed. He frantically looks around the room, but then relaxes when he remembers that the house hadn't been a burning crater when he arrived. "Um... So now that those orphanage people are gone, have you made anything... explosive? Or flammable?" The principal holds his breath.
Hakase thinks for a moment before shaking her head. "Nah. I dunno why, but with Nano, I don't really feel making that sorta stuff anymore."
"Nano's really nice, y'know?"
The principal breathes a sigh of relief. "Ah, that's good, then."
The door slides open and Nano walks in with a tray. "Sorry for the wait," she says cheerfully, setting down a cup in front of Principal.
The principal tentatively takes a sip, assessing the taste. Not bad. He takes another sip. At least this girl seems to know her way around a kitchen, if she's taking care of Hakase.
Nano seats herself. "I see you've already familiar with Hakase, but I don't believe we've met." She bows slightly. "My name is Shinonome Nano, and I'm currently spending my days taking care of this little one here." She smiles at Hakase.
The girl's speech is surprisingly human-like. The principal still has doubts as to whether this Nano is actually a robot.
He inclines his head towards Nano. "I am Shinonome."
"Oh, we have the same family name?"
The principal nods. "That's right. I guess you could think of me as a sponsor of this 'laboratory'."
"Ah, then thank you very much for the support." Nano bows again. "I was wondering where all of the extra money was coming from."
"Well, Hakase does appear to be a child prodigy. It would be a shame for that to go to waste."
Nano smiles, tousling Hakase's hair. "That's true."
Hakase chuckles childishly.
"So, what brings you here today?" grins Nano.
"I came to catch up on what was happening with Hakase and her inventions." The principal turns his gaze to Nano. "Which brings up an interesting point. Hakase mentioned earlier that you're a robot?"
Nano blushes, looking away. "Well..."
"Nano gets sorta embarrassed about that," Hakase chimes in.
It is now that the principal finally notices the wind-up key on Nano's back. Has it really been there the entire time? His old age must be catching up to him. He's not as observant now as he's been in the past.
"Well, if you are, there's nothing wrong with that," says the principal, lifting his cup. "As long as Hakase is well taken care of."
Nano nods again. "Yes, I'm proficient in that area. When I was tasked with my primary mission, I made sure to read up on it. So far, I've read 985 books about housekeeping, cooking, taking care of children, and the like."
The principal gapes. "I didn't think it was possible to read that many books in a week."
Nano looks away, blushing. "I have a speed-reading function."
"Yup!" Hakase beams proudly.
The principal raises an eyebrow. "So, you're saying that you're well-versed in taking care of Hakase?"
Nano nods emphatically. "Yes."
"Well, from what I've seen so far, I can't doubt that." The principal sighs. "Nevertheless, taking care of a child isn't something that can be taken from only books. There's a human aspect as well."
"I'll learn," Nano says seriously.
"Right..." The principal pauses for a moment. "There's also the fact that you are a robot, and there are unforeseen complications associated with robots that would not arise normally. For example, what if you experienced a glitch that jeopardized the safety of Hakase? Or what if Hakase wanted something, and exploited you by exercising her advantage of being your creator, regardless of any health or safety hazards that her desires entailed?
"I wouldn't do that!" Hakase protests. "Nano's really nice!"
"I have confidence in Hakase's programming skills," Nano says firmly.
"Well, she's a six year old."
"Well, she's like a super-prodigy six year old."
The principal sighs. "While I can't deny that, even she might make a few errors."
Nano stares unblinkingly at the principal.
"In any case, my primary concern is Hakase's safety." The principal looks up at Nano. "You're probably the most complex invention that Hakase has made yet, so..." He reaches inside his pocket and pulls out a slip of paper and a pen.
Nano and Hakase lean forward to look at what he's writing.
The principal pushes the sheet forward. "Here's my mobile phone number. I carry it around with me at all times, so call me if something goes wrong."
Nano picks up the paper, smiling. "Memorized. Thank you, Shinonome-san."
The principal nods. "Or call me if you need any other sort of help. Like if you want advice on life or something. Either of you. Don't call too often, though. I do have work."
They both nod.
"Well, I'm glad that's out of the way." The principal sighs.
"Was there anything else you wanted?" asks Nano.
"Well, I came in the first place to check how the new building was holding up," says the principal. "Do you like the layout? You don't mind the train?"
Hakase blinks. "What train?"
"A train passes right by your house. You didn't notice?"
"Huh?" Hakase looks very confused.
"Never mind." Maybe children can filter out sounds very easily at that age.
"Hakase has been going on all week about how she loves the new place," Nano smiles. "She's always saying how it's so much roomier in here."
"Yeah, here's so less crowded than that other place!"
"Thank goodness, then," says the principal.
A few seconds pass in silence.
"Did you come to see anything else?" Nano takes a sip of her tea.
"Ah, yes. I also came to check on Hakase's progress with her inventions." Principal rubs his bald head absently.
"Oh yeah!" Hakase shouts, raising her hand. "I made tons!"
Nano smiles as Hakase runs off towards the cupboards to grab something.
"First this!" Hakase comes running back to the table with what looks like a giant pane of glass.
"Oh?" Principal assesses the object. "What is this?"
"This is... the Ultimate Safety Glass!"
It sounds like there might actually be a real-world application for this one. The principal leans forward. "Hmm. Go on."
Hakase smiles. "I got the idea from last year, when all the windows blew out."
The principal coughs.
"They were telling me not to go near the glass because it was too sharp," continues Hakase. "Sharp is bad. Sharps makes cuts. Hakase doesn't like cuts."
"I see," nods the principal.
"So, I created a window that isn't sharp when it breaks!" Hakase props it up against the wall.
"Really?" This could be very helpful for the principal. It's only his first year at Tokisadame, and there have already been five incidents of students accidentally kicking a ball through a window.
"Here, look!" Hakase picks up a hammer and slams it against the pane. It's a cute effort, but the glass is barely cracked.
"Huh?" Hakase stares at the tiny crack for a moment before taking a step back. "Lemme try again. YAH!"
Once again, the hit barely deals any damage.
"Are you sure this is going to work?" asks the principal.
"Yes," says Hakase, not looking away from her target. Her eyes narrow with stubborn exasperation.
"How do you know if you've never tested it before?"
"I just know, okay!?" Hakase rushes forward and swings the hammer a third time. Once again, she barely deals any damage.
"What do you think, Nano?" asks the principal.
The smile never leaves Nano's face. "I'm sure that her invention will work the way she intended," she says. "She just needs more strength to test it."
The principal stands up, walking towards the glass pane. "Well then, allow me to try."
Hakase slowly hands the hammer over to the principal. "Uh... Here."
Hakase takes a few steps back as the principal lifts up the hammer. After ensuring that the child is a safe distance away, the principal takes a step forward and slams the hammer into the glass with calculated force.
The pane shatters. Glass shards fall onto the ground.
The principal blinks, taking a step back. It felt as if it had more or less the same strength as a normal pane of glass.
Hakase grins. She runs forward and picks up one of the shards. "See? It's not sharp at all!"
The principal takes the shard out of Hakase's hands and looks it over. At first glance, it does appear to be a typical glass shard, but upon closer inspection, he notices that all of the edges are rounded off.
He gently touches the edge with his left hand. When he feels no pain, he applies more pressure. Still no pain. He flips it around to several different parts of the shard's edge and slides it around on his hand experimentally.
No cuts at all. Amazing.
"It feels incredibly smooth for what's supposed to be a glass shard," says the principal, staring at it with interest.
"Mm!" Hakase beams. "I designed it that way."
"How did you make this?"
Hakase is bending down, picking up several more of the pieces of glass. "Um... I dunno how to explain it..."
"Do you have the blueprints for it?" The principal points at the remains of the pane of glass.
Hakase tilts her head. "What's a blueprint?"
She's kidding, right? The principal shakes his head. "Never mind. It's not important."
"Hm." Hakase shrugs, popping a piece in her mouth.
The principal rushes over, slapping both of his hands on her shoulders. "What are you doing!? Spit that out now!"
Hakase smiles cheekily. "Silly. I designed it so that I can do this, too." She starts chewing, breaking the piece in her mouth into smaller and smaller fragments.
Sweat trickles down the principal's face. "What are you doing? Why are you eating that!?" He turns to Nano. "Nano, why don't you do something!?"
Nano smiles apologetically. "I'm sorry, I should have warned you. I thought that Hakase was going to explain it to you. But that's not glass in her mouth. That's sugar."
The principal can feel the world spinning around him. "Sugar?..."
Hakase swallows, smiling. "Mm! Yummy!"
"Sugar? Explain, Hakase!" The principal locks an intense glare onto Hakase.
The young professor doesn't seem to be affected by the glare. "I made the glass outta sugar."
"S...sugar?" The principal takes a wobbly step back. "Why?"
Hakase waves her hand dismissively. "If the window breaks, then it's such a waste, right? So I made sure that it's something delicious!"
The principal gapes.
"Nevertheless, you shouldn't make a habit out of it," scolds Nano, smiling. "Eating pure crystallized sugar like that can't be very healthy."
"Heh, heh." Hakase rubs the back of her head.
"Um," says the principal, putting his hand on his forehead. "Could you change the material of this safety glass to something non-edible? Getting people into the habit of eating the remains of a broken window is an absolutely horrible, horrible, horrible idea."
"But I like it," protests Hakase. She crosses her arms.
Is this just a phase she's going through? The principal sighs. Nevertheless, after overlooking the bit about the sugar, this glass design is actually quite groundbreaking. That's right—as long as the students don't know that the windows are edible, things should be fine.
"So, this 'ultimate safety glass' is just as strong as normal glass?" asks the principal.
Hakase smiles. "Yup!" She runs off to the corner of the room to fetch the bucket of water. "Also, see this!" She pulls it over and dumps it onto the glass shards.
Contrary to the principal's expectations, the glass does not dissolve. Okay, how does that work? It's chemically sugar but isn't soluble in water? How does that even work!?
"It's just like normal windows and it can keep out hail, snow, rain, and snain!" Hakase boasts.
"Sorry, snain?" asks the principal.
"Er, that's her word for part snow, part rain," explains Nano.
"Ah... So she means sleet." The principal sits down at the table, sighing. "Well, this is a very innovative design. I'm impressed."
Hakase grins sheepishly.
"May I have a sample?" asks the principal.
The young professor lights up. "Oh yeah! Sure!" She rushes over to the cabinet and drags over another pane of glass, handing it to the principal.
"Thank you." The principal looks the pane over. "If we can reverse-engineer it, and if it passes all of the longevity and strength tests, I hope to get it into use at my school. It would make things a lot safer."
Hakase chuckles sheepishly, rubbing the back of her head.
"You're going to reverse-engineer it?" asks Nano.
The principal sighs. "Honestly, the task of trying to obtain and decipher a list of instructions from Hakase takes much longer to do than simply reverse-engineering the finished product."
Nano blinks. "Is her handwriting that bad?"
"It's not only her handwriting. It's how she phrases things, and her unconventional use of acronyms and short forms. And this if she actually manages to write out the list in the first place."
"I see." Nano looks up at Hakase. "Good communication skills are important in life. We'll try to work on that."
The principal nods. "Will you? Thanks."
Hakase frowns. "Ehhh."
Nano smiles, putting a hand on the professor's shoulder. "Come on, Hakase. Don't be like that. We'll work on it."
Hakase looks at Nano for a moment, and then grins. "More importantly! D'you all wanna see my next invention?"
The principal sits up. "Oh?"
Hakase rushes over to the cupboards. "Okay, this next one..."
日常- nichijou, Arawi Keiichi