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Authors: Nagaru Tanigawa

Tags: #Fantasy, #Young Adult, #Fiction

The Wavering of Haruhi Suzumiya

BOOK: The Wavering of Haruhi Suzumiya
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Table of Contents

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Color Insert

Copyright Page

In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting the publisher at [email protected]. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.

First released in Japan in 2003,
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
quickly established itself as a publishing phenomenon, drawing much of its inspiration from Japanese pop culture and Japanese comics in particular. With this foundation, the original publication of each book in the Haruhi series included several black-and-white spot illustrations as well as a four-page color insert—all of which are faithfully reproduced here to preserve the authenticity of the first-ever English edition.

LIVE ALIVE

The year I started high school.

Now that I think about it, a lot happened that year—the year that the meteorological anomaly named Haruhi Suzumiya began to unleash its fury upon North High—in fact, so much happened that trying to remember it all is sort of a pain, and if I really head back into the albums of my memory, the various episodes carved thereon would be enough to make your head spin, if I do say so myself, and yet I’d like to relate one of them now.

The heat of summer continued to coil over the archipelago; the calendar claimed it was autumn, but it was hot enough that I began to harbor suspicions that someone somewhere had thrown a wrench into the works of some terrible weather-control weapon.

It was the day of the school festival.

A certain reliably insane director/producer’s mess of a movie, complete with special effects that played havoc with the CHR of the cast and crew, had come all the way from said director’s declaration of intent to complete it solely thanks to my efforts. Today was the premiere of
The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina Episode
00
, and though I wasn’t sure whether it was a movie or simply a promo reel for Asahina, it was probably being met with rave reviews at the moment in the A/V room.

I say “probably” because, having absolutely no desire to be further associated with a film whose absurdity challenged the borders of surrealism, I’d decided to disassociate myself from it completely after handing over the DV tape to the guys in the film society.

Fortunately, as brigade chief, Haruhi was even more fired up than normal when it came to negotiating the public-relations arrangements, so she had taken the initiative.

While the students and faculty of North High were beginning to get used to Haruhi’s activities, it wouldn’t have killed her to consider the idle parents and other festivalgoers before donning a certain bunny girl costume from the previous spring, but at least her promotional efforts did allow Asahina, Nagato, and Koizumi to participate in their classes’ activities, which, unlike class 1-5 (which included Haruhi and me), actually involved some kind of effort.

Now I felt as though the skies had cleared, and I was as calm as the mirrorlike surface of a serene pool. With the completion of the digital editing of the film, my work was done, and shaking my slightly sleep-deprived head, I had time to maybe walk by Nagato’s fortune-telling booth or snicker at Koizumi’s play. North High might well have been a shabby public school with a shabby festival to match, but still, a festival was a festival and they didn’t happen every day, so it would be nice to enjoy the mood.

Plus, there was one duty I had to fulfill, which took the form of the scrap of paper I had clasped in my hand.

It went without saying that said scrap was a coupon good for a discount at Asahina’s class activity—which was a yakisoba café.

When even the cheapest tea became heavenly ambrosia when prepared by Asahina, surely yakisoba prepared by her hand would be finer than the finest Chinese kitchen could prepare—more than enough to raise the anticipation gauge in my mind to stomach-growling levels. As I ascended the school’s staircase, it felt more like I was flying up on winged shoes.

But just as I crested the stairs and felt as though heaven’s gate lay just before me, the voice of a fellow traveler doused my mood in lukewarm water.

“Man, they could’ve at least let us eat for free.”

Who could be the owner of such an ungrateful tongue? None but my classmate Taniguchi. I had invited him along only out of guilt from the way he’d had to jump into the pond during our location shoot, and he should’ve been grateful to get that much. What more did he want?

“I had to dive into a pond! And I wasn’t getting paid! By the way, nobody invited me to a screening. Don’t tell me my scene got cut. Thirty percent off yakisoba ain’t enough reward for getting wet like that.”

Enough of your grumbling! Asahina went out of her way to give us these coupons. And she was the one who hadn’t been fairly compensated for her work in that movie. It was enough to make me want to call up the Academy and get them to give her an Oscar.

“If you don’t like it, don’t come. Just get lost already,” I said.

“Aw, c’mon, Taniguchi. We were just going to wander around and eat stuff anyway, right? We should be thankful for the company,” said his companion.

It was another classmate, Kunikida, who had a model-student face that was somehow different from Koizumi’s.

He continued. “Plus, if we go with Kyon, we might get something extra. A bigger serving of cabbage, maybe. That’d be worth it, right, Taniguchi?”

“I guess.”

Taniguchi readily agreed.

“But that depends on the flavor. Hey, Kyon—Asahina’s not doing the actual cooking, is she?”

Now that he mentioned it, I seemed to recall that she’d said she was in charge of table service—but what did it matter? I gave him a questioning look.

“Oh, I was just thinking she’s probably a lousy cook. Like, I could imagine her putting in sugar instead of salt or something.”

Nobody gave Asahina any credit—not Haruhi, not this guy either. I didn’t care how much of a cartoon maid character she looked like; people that clumsy only exist in the realm of the imagination. All she might worry about would be misplacing her time machine and if she really was a time traveler, though even that was doubtful.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Kunikida. “I’ve been hearing rumors that it’s a cosplay café. The waitress costume from the movie and that bunny girl outfit from before were crazy enough, but I wonder what she’ll be wearing now.”

“Seriously.”

Taniguchi nodded heartily—neither of them had grown as accustomed as I had to seeing Asahina in her maid outfit. I had to spare them some pity.

As we crested the stairs and entered the hallway, I imagined the scene. Speaking of waitresses, my brain had already been tainted by the image of her wearing that sexual harassment–inspiring waitress costume in the movie, so what could be better for cleansing both eyes and mind than the sight of her elegantly bringing us our yakisoba wearing a proper waitress outfit? I’d always felt Haruhi’s tastes were too gaudy. She had the ironclad nerve to stand at the school entrance dressed as a bunny girl, which might have suited her perfectly, but if she thought everyone possessed such nerve, she was sadly mistaken.

Asahina wearing a waitress uniform handmade for her by her class…

On this matter, I had no choice but to agree with Taniguchi. I was very much looking forward to seeing it. Oh, yes.

Green rubber sheets had been laid down to cover the floor of the school hallways, like some sort of cheap red carpet. Normally, inside shoes were required inside the school, but out of consideration for visitors, outside shoes were allowed for the two days of the festival. There was quite a variety of people walking around too. The art and culture clubs all had presentations set up, and many attendees seemed to be related to the members. The festival was also a place for neighborhood residents to kill some time. It was also pretty common for students to invite their former middle school classmates who’d wound up going to different high schools. This made it the year’s only chance to make a pass at the students from the girls’ school at the bottom of the hill. It wasn’t just guys like Taniguchi who were looking for love.

There in the hall where anything besides a North High uniform would stick out, the three of us forged ahead like sardines swimming toward bait as we navigated the second-year students’ classroom displays, finally stopping between the Whac-A-Mole game room and the one doing balloon animals.

The mouthwatering scent of frying wafted out, and there was a sign that proclaimed
YAKISOBA CAFÉ ACORN
. The line that snaked out of it was longer than for any other classroom. But that wasn’t what first jumped out at us.

“Hey! Kyon and his pals! Over here! Welcome, welcome!”

It was a voice and smile totally unmistakable, even from ten meters away. Save Haruhi when she’s thought of something annoying, I know only one person who can smile that brightly.

“A table for three, then? Welcome!”

It was Tsuruya—and dressed as a waitress, to boot.

Standing in front of a desk placed outside the classroom entrance, she seemed to be in charge of selling tickets. And probably attracting customers, come to think of it.

“Hey, whaddya think of my getup? Looks pretty schweet, eh?”

Tsuruya moved agilely along the line toward us.

“It sure does.”

I kept a pointlessly low profile as I gazed at Tsuruya.

I’d been so occupied with my visions of Waitress Action Asahina that I’d totally forgotten that Tsuruya was in the same class. Taking in the sight of this long-haired upperclassman, Taniguchi and Kunikida looked like fishermen who’d caught a trout, only to find a bass attached to its tail. And who could blame them? I didn’t know who’d designed the outfit, but evidently there was a master dressmaker in Tsuruya’s class. It had a different look than the outfit Asahina had been made to wear for the movie; neither too gaudy nor too plain, it gave the wearer an elegance without being distracting, working with her natural charm to bring it to a maximum; it deserved a Costume of the Year award, surely.

The point is, the effect was enough to make me resort to abstract terms like this. And if that’s what seeing Tsuruya did, a glance at Asahina would no doubt render me immediately unconscious.

“Business looks good,” I said.

“Ha ha ha! Yeah, they’re really biting!”

Tsuruya lifted the hem of her skirt slightly and, ignoring the glares of the rest of the line, continued.

“It’s terrible yakisoba made from the cheapest ingredients, but look at how many people there are! I can’t stop laughing!”

Her laugh seemed genuinely happy. It wasn’t hard to figure out why the line out the front door was composed entirely of guys. Looking at Tsuruya’s smile made even me feel strangely pleasant. I suppose it’s true that men are the more easily wiled sex.

BOOK: The Wavering of Haruhi Suzumiya
4.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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