Before we get started: This story is imagined as a sort of Galaxy Quest conceit — someone travels to a distant land and quite unexpectedly finds herself in a world where conventions of anime are real. You should still be able to enjoy the story even if you don’t know anime; you will be no more confused than Allison is herself.
Don’t worry about learning all the names in the first episode; you will have a chance to meet the characters later. At first I didn’t even bother to give many of the characters names as they are just voices in a crowd. We will all learn to remember the names together.
Allison Crenshaw walked up the nearly deserted street toward her new school. She felt awkward in her uniform; the skirt seemed shorter on her than it did on the other girls. She walked alone, clutching her books to her chest, practicing her Japanese under her breath.
“Hey, watch out!” Allison turned just in time to see the kid on the skateboard before he crashed into her. She fell, books flying, conscious of her short skirt.
“Watch where you’re going, stupid!” the kid said. The boy was perhaps twelve years old, and he wore the uniform for her school. He had added a backwards baseball cap to the standard issue.
“I’m sorry!” Allison said from where she sat on the concrete.
The kid brushed himself off and recovered his skateboard. “Jeeze, the dummy doesn’t even know which side of the sidewalk to walk on,” he said to himself. He smiled at her, his grin large and toothy. “Well, see you.” He hopped back on his skateboard and continued down the street towards the school.
Allison pulled herself together. Her knee was scuffed, oozing blood slowly. “Oh, man,” she moaned, “my first day.”
“Are you all right?” The male voice was smooth and resonant. “Let me help you.” Allison looked up into the large, almost violet eyes of the young man as he knelt down next to her. With great care he began gathering her books and stacking them neatly. “Don’t mind Daisuke. It’s always someone else’s fault when he crashes.”
He stood with her books and offered his hand. She took it and rose to stand next to him. His skin was smooth and cool, and even when she stood he was quite a bit taller than she was. He looked at her with his odd-colored eyes, eyes that seemed as deep as the ocean.
“Thank you,” she said. She could feel herself blushing under his gaze.
“You are going to the academy?” he asked.
“Uh, yes, I am. It’s my first day.”
“Ah, of course. That explains it.” He handed her books back.
“Why you’re late.”
“Oh, my gosh! I’m sorry, I have to go!”
Allison took three quick steps and turned back to him. “It was nice to meet you.”
“I’m sure we’ll run into each other again. Goodbye.”
“Bye!” Allison ran up the street. “Oh!” she said and turned back once more, “My name is… Allison?”
There was no one there.
As Allison ran down the empty hallway she practiced her Japanese. “Please excuse me. I am sorry I am late.”
She reached the door of the class and composed herself as well as she could before cracking open the door, still out of breath.
“Ah, here she is now,” the teacher said.
Timidly Allison stepped into the room, feeling awkward in her school uniform. “I’m sorry I’m late,” she said.
The teacher glared at her fiercely. “I will overlook your tardiness this once,” he said, “but you are not in America anymore. We expect our students to be on time.”
Allison glanced around nervously. The rest of the class stared back at her with a strange intensity.
The teacher turned to address the students. “Class, please allow me to introduce our new transfer student…” He scowled at the paper he was holding as he tried to pronounce her name. “Arrisawrn…”
It didn’t matter what he said. Upon his utterance of the phrase ‘transfer student’, the class broke into pandemonium.
“Transfer student!” called one student as he dove under his desk.
“We’re doomed!” shouted a panicky girl, cowering in the corner. “So young… I’ve barely lived at all.”
“She’s so cute…,” said a boy holding a handkerchief to his nose.
“Everybody stay calm!” bellowed another girl over the noise.
“I don’t see what the big deal is,” huffed a pretty blonde.
“Don’t turn me into a monkey! Please don’t turn me into a monkey,” sobbed another boy.
The teacher seemed unaware of the bedlam. “Allison has come all the way from America. She may not be familiar with all our customs, so be sure to do your best to help her feel welcome.”
The girl who had shouted for calm addressed the teacher. “Sir? She can sit next to me. There’s no one at this desk.” Allison watched as the girl dumped the previous occupant of the indicated desk onto the floor.
“There’s no one here, either!” said the blonde girl as she kicked the boy who was cowering underneath the desk next to hers. “She can sit next to me!”
“I’m class president! She will sit next to me!”
“She should sit by me. I’m the most popular, and I can explain to her who everyone is. Someone has to tell her.”
The boy under the desk just sobbed. “She’s going to turn me into a monkey. I just know it.”
Another girl, near the back, spoke quietly. “It would be most harmonious if she sat there.” She gestured toward a desk, its previous occupant impossible to determine in the mayhem.
“Good suggestion, Hitomi,” the teacher said. “That desk has been empty ever since…” The class fell silent. “Is that all right with you, Ruchia?”
The girl at the adjacent desk nodded. She was pretty, her long black hair glinting almost bluish in the light. “Yes, I would like to have someone there. Miss Allison, would you honor me by sitting in the seat next to mine?”
Allison stood at the front of the room, paralyzed with confusion and fear.
“Monkey, monkey,” the boy sobbed.
“Oh, cruel fate! So young, so much life ahead of me,” wailed the girl in the corner.
“Transfer student,” mumbled a girl who wore thick glasses, recording the event in her journal. “Commence observation.”
“Miss Clrensharwl?” asked the teacher.
Allison snapped out of her state. The class seemed to be settling down. Numbly she went to her desk and sat down.
The teacher said, “Now, if you will turn to page 143 in the text…”
“Hello,” said the girl next to her. “I’m Ruchia. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“You’re from America?”
“Uh, yes, that’s right.”
“I have a brother in America. He went there to play baseball.” The girl’s bright face clouded for a moment. “I haven’t heard from him in a long time. Not since the time of the giant explosion in Kyoto.” She brightened again. “But I’m sure he’s just busy. I bet you have lots of questions.”
“I don’t mean to be rude, but shouldn’t we be listening to the teacher?”
Ruchia laughed. “You’re pretty funny.”
“This is Seiji,” Ruchia said, gesturing to the boy on Allison’s right.
“Hello,” said Allison. She held out her hand for Seiji to shake, then remembered where she was. She bowed awkwardly. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Seiji narrowed his eyes and studied at her, his eyes partially concealed behind his long hair. “Skilled at Japanese, but unfamiliar with our customs,” Seiji said as if she wasn’t there. His voice carried a rough strength, and an unnatural intensity. “Are you here with your parents?”
“Seiji!” Ruchia said. “That’s no way to talk to someone you’ve only just met!”
“Please excuse me,” Seiji said, suddenly stiffly formal.
“Don’t mind him,” Ruchia said. “He doesn’t know how to act around anyone.”
Seiji returned his gaze to the desk in front of him. Allison half-expected it to catch on fire. He looked back up and caught her watching him. Allison blushed for the second time that day.
“Your knee,” he said.
“Your knee is injured.”
“Oh! Yes, I fell on my way to school. That’s why I was late.”
He nodded slowly. “So, it has started already.”
She was interrupted by a poke on her left arm. “Hey, Ruchia, aren’t you going to introduce us?”
Allison turned back the other way, but she still felt Seiji’s gaze burning into the back of her neck. Standing next to Ruchia was a pretty girl, slender in an athletic way. She had spiky black hair and an open smile filled with teeth. She poked Allison in the arm once more. “Wow. So lifelike.” She turned to Ruchia. “You always said Mika would make a good transfer student one day.”
“My name is Allison.”
“Riiiight. From America? No parents around?”
Ruchia came to her rescue. “Tasuki, I don’t think she knows who Mika is.”
“Ah, that’s how it is, then?”
“Allison, this is Tasuki. She doesn’t mean to be rude. She thought you might be… friends with Mika. We all live in an old monastery together. I kind of thought you might know Mika, too, but then I saw your knee.”
Tasuki winked. “You don’t think Mika could do that?”
“Oh, no,” Allison said, finally understanding something. “This was an accident. There was a boy on a skateboard—”
“Daisuke!” the other two girls said together. Behind her she heard Seiji mutter “Daisuke. Of course. He shall answer for this.”
“I don’t know what his name was.”
Ruchia said, “It was him. Anyone who mentions ‘injury’ and ‘skateboard’ in the same sentence is talking about Daisuke.”
“The guy’s a rolling disaster,” Tasuki agreed. “So you really don’t know Mika? Let’s hope she doesn’t try to dismantle you, then. Oh, look, it’s lunch time. My favorite time of the day. Come on!”
“How do you guys learn anything?” asked Allison.
“We study all night, of course,” said Ruchia.
Kouta leaned against the railing, looking down into the courtyard below, where Allison was enjoying her lunch. Tasuki had a huge bag of food, and was throwing it back with abandon, while Ruchia nibbled demurely. Allison’s eating habits seemed perfectly normal.
“Too normal,” Kouta said to himself. Out loud he said, “All right, let’s call this meeting to order.”
Kaneda snapped to attention. “Yes, sir! Meeting number one of the Emergency Committee is now called to order!”
Kouta surveyed the knot of his classmates who had gathered for the Emergency Committee. Most seemed excited, but Seiji, leaning against the railing off to the side, hands shoved in his pockets, was trying to hide his worry. He understood what was at stake, at least. “We have a transfer student.” Kouta began. “She seems normal, but we know that’s impossible. We need to learn her true nature and figure out what to do about her.”
“I think she’s a robot,” said Shinta.
Kaneda looked skeptical. “Maybe. Her knee was injured, though.”
Shinta was not to be dissuaded. “That’s convenient. What better way to allay suspicion?”
“You could be right, but she didn’t seem, well, roboty.”
Bando spoke for the first time. “Yeah, you saw how confused she was. Totally clueless. She’s an escaped lab experiment for sure.”
Kouta looked over at his friend. “You’ve been awfully quiet, Seiji. What do you think?”
“I think we need to get a good look at her teeth.”
“You think she’s a demon?” The eyes of some of the younger students went round.
“It fits the facts.”
Naota paled. “Oh, God, you’re right. She’s going to turn me into a monkey for sure. Why’d she have to transfer to our school?”
“Relax. Not all pretty transfer students who appear out of nowhere and don’t understand the local customs and have no parents bring untold destruction.”
Naota was not reassured. “Name one who didn’t. You read about that one in Osaka, didn’t you? They’re still rebuilding.”
Seiji spoke up. “She’s not living at the old monastery, is she?”
“No, she’s staying with distant relatives of some sort,” Kouta said.
“Let’s at least be thankful for that. If she was at the monastery with all those other girls…”
“It would change everything.”
Shinta’s eyes glazed over. “Hot springs… towels slipping…”
“The only thing worse would be if she was secretly sleeping in someone’s closet,” Seiji said.
“She could sleep in my closet any time,” Shinta said.
“Don’t even think that!” Seiji said. “You may as well kill your mother yourself!”
“I’m just saying she’s cute, that’s all.”
“Careful,” said Kouta, “or you’ll give yourself another nosebleed.”