[translation] Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi ~ Yokozawa Takafumi no Baai 6, Ch. 11 part 751
Type: Novel Translation
Title: Yokozawa Takafumi no Baai 6
Series: Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi
Author/Circle: Nakamura Shungiku, Fujisaki Miyako
Forum Discussion: HERE
Notes: Sorry for the wait! Tis the season for shopping and fic fests, which cut into my translation time. You can also view the book in-progress on Pressbooks for what’s likely a more pleasant reading experience!
This time: While searching for Kirishima to discuss some work matters, Yokozawa wanders into a meeting with Oosaki-sensei, where he gets to size up his competition first-hand.
Chapter 11 (cont.)
Hoping to be able to peek into the lounge area, Yokozawa stopped off on the third floor before heading back to the Sales floor. The third floor of their new building was where the lounge, meeting rooms, and break rooms were located, and Yokozawa often came to this floor when he had meetings with representatives of other divisions.
He spotted Kirishima immediately—he was seated at a table near the entrance to the room conversing happily with a woman with a bob cut. The woman was, in all likelihood, Oosaki Ryou. She was a far cry from the shy, glasses-wearing bookworm Kirishima had described, but time tended to change one’s appearance.
The third person seated at the table next to Oosaki-sensei was her literature editor, Chiba. His plump physique was his trademark, and his knowledge of the best eateries in the city trumped even the most lauded gourmet magazines.
Hitomi had assured him that the meeting was over, but the trio didn’t seem ready to disband any time soon. Giving up for the time being in light of bad timing, Yokozawa turned on his heel, intent on heading back to the Sales floor to just fire off an e-mail, when a voice stopped him.
“……” This time it was Kirishima who’d spotted him, and Yokozawa bit back the regret that he shouldn’t have gone out of his way to come looking for the guy—but it was too late now.
“Perfect timing. Got a moment?”
“Oh—sure.” It would’ve seemed suspicious to poke his head in and then claim that he was too busy to chat, so with a stiff nod, he made his way over to the table. The gaze of the other two meeting attendants upon him was heavy and uncomfortable.
“Oosaki-sensei, please let me introduce you—this is Yokozawa, he’s in charge of comics sales here. He’ll likely be the one who sells your own piece in the future.”
“…I’m Yokozawa of Sales. It’s a pleasure.” In a panicked rush, he reached into his pocket to pull out his business card case. That moment of hesitation had been because he couldn’t help but think about how he would probably be changing departments soon. If he transferred to Literature, he’d no longer have anything to do with comics sales.
But as Kirishima had reminded him, nothing was set in stone yet, so until the final word came, he was in charge of comics sales.
“And this is Oosaki Ryou-sensei. I believe I mentioned her before, but I’ll be working on the comic version of one of her works.”
“I look forward to working with you—I’m Oosaki Ryou.” The woman who drew to her feet politely received Yokozawa’s business card before bobbing a small bow. She looked him square in the eye, her manner smart without even a hint of timidity. This was indeed that Oosaki Ryou.
She wore her hair in a bob and was clothed in a pantsuit with a pair of high-heeled pumps and perfectly applied makeup—and Yokozawa’s eye was drawn in particular to her bright red lipstick.
“I’m looking forward to being able to read her works in comic form. Truthfully, I thought perhaps the story might be more suited to the shoujo manga genre, but in light of Oosaki-sensei’s wishes, we’ve decided to ask it to be serialized in Japun instead.”
Yokozawa had already heard that Oosaki-sensei had been the one to request the serialization in Japun, but not wanting to interrupt Chiba’s explanation, he instead offered a blithe response. “Oh, is that so?”
“And just between us, apparently Oosaki-sensei and Kirishima-san went to the same college! …Though, you don’t seem all that surprised by this, Yokozawa-san…?”
“Ah, I actually heard about that earlier, up on Japun’s floor.” Thank goodness he’d already been briefed on this point by Hitomi. Even if he could feign ignorance, he wasn’t nearly skilled enough to pretend to be shocked by something he already knew.
“Chiba-san—you said ‘just between us’, but are you sure you haven’t been babbling this to everyone you come across?”
“Oh no—of course not! It’s only—well, as he said! Yokozawa-san simply gets around! As expected from such a talented salesman!” Chiba explained following Kirishima’s question, clearly flustered. He clearly had no qualms about using Yokozawa to distract from the awkward revelation.
“I actually wanted to surprise Kirishima-kun with that information myself, and now you’ve gone and ruined my plan, Chiba-san.”
“I’m so sorry, it was just such an amazing coincidence that I got over-excited and…” He rubbed his head, clearly uncomfortable with the attention now.
“Honestly, though—until I heard from Chiba-san, I had no clue that Oosaki-sensei was that Oosaki-san, so I was shocked indeed!” Relief spread over Chiba’s features at Kirishima’s charge to his rescue.
“Perhaps—but I wanted to see you shocked! And you really didn’t notice, Kirishima-kun? Even though my real name and pseudonym hardly differ at all?”
“I hadn’t the faintest idea. I actually thought that Oosaki-sensei was a man, so it never crossed my mind.”
“Since I never show myself to the masses, everyone assumes that as well.”
“That’s likely due to the strong influence of your debut piece; they’re merely projecting the image of the stalwart protagonist onto the author.”
“Oh come now, I’m not nearly as drab as all that,” she protested, though she didn’t seem to wholly dislike the characterization. Getting a sense of unease from their conversation, he attempted to interrupt the chat with a casual question of his own.
“When you say they hardly differ at all—does that mean your real name is also ‘Oosaki-san’?”
“Ah, my real given name is written with the radical for ‘word’ on the left and the ‘kyou’ radical from Kyoto, as ‘Ryouko’. When I submitted my piece for the Newcomer’s Award, I hadn’t given any thought at all to my pen name, so I just took off the ‘-ko’ and wrote my name in katakana. It’s ridiculously simplistic, don’t you think? If I’d known I’d still be in this business for so long, I really should have thought up a better name!”
“I think it’s a fine name. Even names given a lot of thought can be difficult to read or too hard to understand, and then you risk it being hard for readers to remember you, so it’s actually quite useful from a marketing perspective.” Difficult names with a lot of character did stand out, but names that you could read at a glance and were easy to write tended to make orders go more smoothly.
“Ah, so that’s how you see things as a salesman, is it? Then perhaps it’s for the best I went with a simple name. I never intended to hide my gender, but perhaps it’s thanks to that pseudonym that I’ve been able to retain an air of mystery.”
Kirishima had described Oosaki as a quiet sort, but the woman before them now was certainly talkative. There were some who tended to speak more when nervous, but she didn’t seem to be forcing herself to fill in the gaps in conversation.
“So then, if you went to the same university, does that mean you two were in the same department?”
At Chiba’s question, a fond expression of nostalgia bloomed on Oosaki’s features. “Indeed; we attended the same lectures. I didn’t have much occasion to speak to him, but that was only because he was in a completely different league from me. He was popular among both men and women alike, a regular celebrity!”
At her praise, Kirishima smiled wryly and gently corrected, “I only happened to have a lot of acquaintances because I was a member of large clubs.”
“It’d probably be scandalous nowadays, but back then, there were tons of pictures of Kirishima-kun floating around amongst the female population! Some even said that he’d been scouted by a talent agency during the campus festival, and a lot of girls would’ve killed to be with him.”
“Someone’s certainly embellished the details; I only happened to give a small interview to a magazine for the campus festival.”
“Now don’t be shy—the very reason they wanted to interview you in the first place was because of how cool you were!”
“He’s still quite popular among the ladies here in the office as well. Right, Yokozawa-kun?”
Yokozawa panicked, not expecting to be drawn into the conversation at this point, and wary of Kirishima’s eyes on him, he responded innocuously, “Oh—yes. He’s quite caring for his subordinates, so a great many are fond of him.”
“He always took care of people even back during our college days. He’d hold study sessions to help his kouhai with their work and give them advice—everyone really relied on him.”
“You’ve certainly done your homework.” For someone who had claimed to never have opportunity to speak to Kirishima, Oosaki seemed quite knowledgable on his history. ‘Celebrity’ though he might have been, was it really normal to know this much about another person?
“I spent a lot of time in the Library, so I often caught glimpses of those sessions. I was quite the bookworm back then myself, so I could always be found with my nose buried in a book. I was a dreadfully dull student, and I doubt Kirishima-kun even noticed me.” It seemed she’d been one of the fawning masses who had looked up to him during their years in college together. As she spoke about their time in university, her eyes sparkled with reminiscence.
Listening to her talk about Kirishima, though, made Yokozawa’s chest throb uncomfortably. Hoping to drag her away from the topic, he tossed out a question that had been on his mind: “Um, may I ask why you’ve gone out of your way to accept this media-mix offer now, when you’ve turned them down thus far?”
“Kirishima-kun actually asked me the same thing only moments ago. Well, it’s largely due to the fact that, when I heard the suggestion from my editor, it struck me as a very sound, well-thought-out plan, which put me at ease.”
“After discussing the situation with the producer and director, I realized how deeply they’d read my work, and I realized that I could rest easy with the job in their hands.”
“With that level of confidence, then I’m sure we can expect great things from the movie version.” Oosaki’s response was textbook—though the fact that it sounded so rehearsed may have been due to preconceptions on Yokozawa’s part.
At the very least, one thing was becoming clear: he did harbor some degree of jealousy toward this woman.
Despite what ulterior motives she might be hiding, though, a job was a job, and he hated the narrow-minded side to himself that couldn’t control his emotions despite recognizing this truth.
In stark contrast to Yokozawa, who even now was slipping into a mire of self-loathing, Oosaki’s expression was full of bright joy.
“And also—and this is a rather personal point, mind you—I really wanted to work with Kirishima-kun, since I’d always admired him. So having that dream finally come true has just thrilled me.”
Glancing over at her as she spoke, Yokozawa saw she had Kirishima fixed with a feverish gaze. No matter how you sliced it, those were the eyes of a woman head over heels in love. Given that even Yokozawa, dense as he was, could tell—it had to be glaringly obvious to any onlooker. Yasuda had been right on the money. And in light of how knowledgeable Oosaki was on the subject of Kirishima, she’d probably been in love with him since college.
“Then I suppose that would make Kirishima-san the savior of the film department. They’re over the moon at the opportunity to turn one of Oosaki-sensei’s works into a movie before any other company gets their hands on your work.”
“You exaggerate, Chiba-san! I’m sure the producer’s passion for the project was what appealed to Sensei the most. After all, the whole reason Oosaki-sensei’s agreed to let us draft her script is because you’re here, Chiba-san. Isn’t that right, Oosaki-sensei?”
“Eh? Oh—oh yes, of course!” Oosaki responded with a smiling nod to Kirishima’s prompt. Chiba began to scratch his temple, looking not entirely unhappy at being the center of attention.
“Oh no, not at all—I’m nothing… Though that reminds me, did you know beforehand that Kirishima-san was an editor, Sensei?”
“I’d heard through the grapevine back in college that he’d been conditionally hired at a publishing company, but nothing more beyond that. But then a few years ago, I happened to see an article interviewing him in a magazine, and it was there that I learned of his work as an editor.”
There’d been a period when both Kirishima and Ijuuin Kyou, the author of Za Kan, had routinely taken interviews together. The sight of an attractive mangaka and his editor together apparently appealed to readers, and all manner of magazines had asked to do pieces on them. It was a chance for some great free publicity, so for a time, they’d enthusiastically agreed to the requests. Oosaki must have caught sight of one such article.
“I’d partly given up any hope, as literary fiction and manga don’t exactly have much crossover, but when I was offered the chance to publish a comics version of my piece, I realized this would be that opportunity I’d been waiting for.”
“It seems you’ve got high hopes pinned on you, Kirishima-san! Give it your best!“
“Well now I’m just worried as to whether or not I can meet those expectations of Sensei’s,” Kirishima responded lightly, giving a self-deprecating shrug of his shoulders.
“Oh, I by no means meant to pile on the pressure, so don’t worry. By they way—why don’t we dispense with the ‘Sensei’ and polite language and all? It feels so formal and unrelaxed…” Despite this being their very first meeting, Oosaki seemed quite straightforward. Perhaps she was aiming to close some of the distance between herself and Kirishima with this move.
“While I appreciate the thought, I’m afraid that won’t do. Acquaintances though we may be, if I took such a blasé attitude with you, I’d be setting a bad example for my subordinates.”
Yokozawa was bowled over by the response from a man who was known for being distressingly frank with everyone he interacted with. But now that he mentioned it, Kirishima had taken a rather polite attitude with Oosaki. Or putting it another way, it was like he’d erected a wall between the two of them.
This was different from the implication made by Hitomi earlier—Kirishima, as a superior, drew a line between himself and his subordinates, placing a certain amount of distance between them. But with Oosaki, he was treating her nearly as a complete stranger, so formal was he. Yokozawa had seen him interacting with authors often at autograph events and the like, but this polite attitude was something else entirely.
But despite feeling some hesitation when faced with a side to Kirishima he’d never really seen before, he nevertheless experienced a wave of relief. He ought the be ashamed of himself, getting jealous at a time like this, but he wouldn’t deny his true feelings.
However, there was no guarantee Oosaki’s feathers wouldn’t be ruffled by the attitude. Women were dreadfully unpredictable creatures.
“…You’ve got a point. You’re the editor-in-chief, after all. I suppose there’s no helping it while you’re on the job then—sorry for pressing!” It seemed she wasn’t so childish she’d resort to throwing a tantrum; Yokozawa’s worries seemed to have been unfounded.
“Sensei—we’ve got another appointment to get to. Shall we take our leave?”
“Oh, my apologies. Just got caught up in reminiscing. Well then, I expect we’ll be working closely for some while yet, so I look forward to it.” She held out her right hand, clearly hoping for a handshake.
“I’ll do my best to meet your expectations,” Kirishima responded placidly, gripping her hand.
Yokozawa watched her exit the lounge area with Chiba, and felt a great weight lift from his shoulders. After being warned by Yasuda, he’d intended to apologize—but intention was all it remained. The reason he couldn’t shake the feeling of irritation might have been due to his difficulty in balancing logic and emotion.
Regardless of any feelings Oosaki might have been harboring, this was work. Kirishima was unlikely to get swept off his feet by this woman, so he wasn’t worried. It was just…those feelings stagnating in the muck tended to just come bubbling up and out. He thought he’d had a good handle on just how possessive he could be, but once he’d started seeing Kirishima, only then did he come to recognize this worry akin to panic.
He felt like previously, his temper had been the more fearsome of his emotions; he’d dealt with nothing but bitter emotions like frustration and irritation and resentment for so long. But just as he was about to drown in his own thoughts once more, something occurred to him: “Did you not need to see her off?” Kirishima usually saw clients off at the entrance.
“Today was kind of an irregular meeting; we weren’t standing on ceremony, so it’s probably fine. I really need to get back to the editing floor anyway.” He glanced down at his watch and winced. Given the time, it was now a good hour after the ending time written on the whiteboard in the editing department.
“Do you have something you need to get done?”
“I have a few calls I need to make, but I’ve also got a meeting soon. Oh yeah—did you need something?”
“You came down here because you needed something, right?”
It was only now that Yokozawa recalled his original reason for coming down here in the first place. He’d wanted to discuss some collaborative events for the movie, but it didn’t look like he had time.
“I did have something I wanted to talk to you about, but it’s not urgent, so we don’t have to do it right now. I’ll send you the details in an e-mail, so just let me hear your thoughts later.” There was no need to bother Kirishima with such things just this very moment.
“Sorry for making you go out of your way; I’ve gotta run, though. I’ll see you when we get off.”
Kirishima then glanced down at a messages that’d just arrived to his phone and hastily made his way out of the lounge. Yokozawa watched him leave, then released a small sigh.
Maybe it’d been a mistake coming down here. If he hadn’t seen how Oosaki interacted with Kirishima, he probably wouldn’t be feeling so torn up inside right now. It seemed no matter how he tried to keep his cool, his heart still wound up in turmoil.
Draw a line…
He hadn’t been nearly prepared enough for how difficult a task that was proving to be.
“Guess I’ll need to double down on the training…” he muttered to himself, self-deprecatingly. As he stood there reflecting, though, a few editors wandered into the room, likely about to have a meeting. Not wanting to get in their way, Yokozawa took his leave as well.
To be continued…